ECONOMAKI: A Montreal Mess
Crashes Leave Few Unscathed At Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
MIDLAND PARK, N.J.
Carnage here, carnage there, carnage everywhere. That was the story of Sunday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race held on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve Formula One road course in Canada’s grand city of Montreal. Fan favorite and all-around good guy Boris Said finally got his long-awaited first NASCAR victory in dramatic side-by-side fashion over fellow road-racing veteran Max Papis, but the real story of this race was the amount of equipment that was torn up. Even Said’s winning Ford had seen better days with body damage on nearly every corner. Officially there were 22 of the 43 cars running at the end of the 77-lap race, which was three laps longer than the scheduled distance thanks to the last of seven yellow flags that slowed the pace of the event. TV announcers babbled that it was the last race for this car (NASCAR will go to a new-style Nationwide car full-time next year) on a road course and that may have led to some of the beating and banging and more importantly may have reduced the economic impact — surely approaching $1 million in crash damage — of the crashfest on the team owners, but there were points during the race that it more resembled a demolition derby than a top-level motor race.
Who says electric cars can’t go fast? A team of Ohio State University students set an apparent record during speed runs this past week at the famed Bonneville (Utah) Salt Flats when their Buckeye Bullet made two runs averaging a whopping 307 miles per hour, shattering the old record for an electric car of 246 mph, which had stood since 1999. The Buckeye Bullet was powered by nearly 1,600 lithium batteries similar to the type that run laptop computers. The record will need to be ratified by the FIA before it is declared official.
Ray Evernham seems to have his hands in everything these days. He’s working as an analyst for ESPN on NASCAR racing; a crew chief for wife Erin Crocker’s sprint-car racing team; owner of East Lincoln Speedway in Stanley, N.C.; he recently entered into an agreement with Speedway Motorsports head man Bruton Smith to create a traveling dirt series for Legends cars; and now he’s looking to get involved in driver management. Evernham has gone on record that he has made an offer to purchase Motorsports Management Int’l from its founder Los Angeles-based attorney and racing enthusiast Cary Agajanian. However, NSSN hears the purchase may be part of an effort to take over Agajanian’s business by several of MMI’s current employees. MMI represents Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Busch among others.
More bad news for the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the adjacent office building. Regions Bank has filed suit against Wells Fargo Bank concerning a $95 million loan for construction of the NASCAR Plaza in Charlotte. The loan had been made and funded equally by the two banks to Corporate Plaza Partners, LLC. In the suit, Regions Bank alleges — among other things — that Wells Fargo Bank failed to collect the money from the borrower.
Former F-1 driver J.J. Lehto has almost fully recovered from the serious injuries he suffered when the speedboat he was in struck a bridge abutment at about 45 miles per hour June 18 in his native Finland. Lehto has no recollection of what happened or if he or his friend, who died, was piloting the boat at the time. Lehto’s troubles are not over as officials are still investigating the accident.
Reader John Glenn Printz slapped our wrist concerning the piece in the Aug. 18, 2010, issue of this newspaper which called Jimmy Clark’s 1963 Milwaukee victory the first for a rear-engined car. While the 1963 issues of NSSN also reported Clark’s triumph as a first, Printz writes that the first victory for a rear-engined car on the AAA championship trail came in the 1963 Vanderbilt Cup race. According to Printz, Bernd Rosemeyer’s winning car “was a German rear-engined Auto-Union that had Nazi swastikas painted on it.”
A recent Thursday night race at Thompson (Conn.) Int’l Speedway turned into fight night. As a result, NASCAR, which sanctions racing at the five-eighths-mile asphalt oval, suspended four drivers (Scott Jassaume, Fred Michalski, Scott Michalski and Trevor Michalski) indefinitely. According to speedway press materials, these four and Ruth Michalski “are no longer welcome on the property in and around the race track.” The fracas came during the 15-lap mini-stock feature and resulted in the attack of fellow racer Rick Blanchard, who suffered a dislocated shoulder and several scrapes and bruises. Must have been some tussle.
About 10 weeks ago, modified driver Wayne Anderson, 65, suffered a heart attack while racing at Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. He flatlined and was brought back by the wife of fellow racer Chris Young, who works in an emergency room. The former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion has returned to racing and finished second in a recent modified event at the quarter-mile oval.
A bio on new Daytona Int’l Speedway President Joie Chitwood III published in the recent issue of SportsBusiness Journal revealed some interesting personal information about the 41 year old whose first job was working with his family’s Joie Chitwood Thrill Show. Chitwood names Nike as his most appreciated brand and Roger Penske as his most admired executive.
Legendary British road racer Brian Redman is holding Brian Redman’s Racers Symposium Feb. 2-7 at the Cancun (yes, that’s in Mexico) Hilton Resort. Among those scheduled to make presentations are Richard Attwood, Derek Bell, Vic Elford, Hurley Haywood, David Hobbs and Bobby Unser. For information on reservations, which begin at $3,450 per couple, call (800) 452-8434.
IZOD IndyCar Series drivers Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon were scheduled to make the first Indy-car laps at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in more than a decade during an Aug. 31 Firestone tire test at the 1.058-mile speedway.
The USAC Silver Crown Series will make its debut at Toledo (Ohio) Speedway Oct. 16 when the series runs the Rollie Beale 150, which will honor the Toledo native and former driver. USAC is leasing the track from its owners, who include ARCA President Ron Drager. The USAC Regional Midget Series will also be on the card at the half-mile oval with action beginning at noon.
n Mike Kelly, executive vice president of marketing of Philips-Van Heusen, presented a $150,000 check to the Indy Family Foundation during the events at Chicagoland Speedway. The money, was raised from the inaugural IZOD IndyCar Series Celebrity Invitational Golf Tournament in May at the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course in Indianapolis.