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ECONOMAKI: For Some, Change Is Sought

Politics Takes The Place Of Racing

MIDLAND PARK, N.J.
Old Chicagoland friend Cary Capparelli now has his eye on politics. Cary recently entered the campaign for Cook County Commissioner on a “fight excessive taxation issue” and, as a conservative, seeks lesser government. Interested? Details at www.carycapparelli.com. Those of you who would like to make a campaign contribution to Cary’s campaign can do so online at www.illinois.evoter.com.cary.capparelli.com. Good luck, Cary.

Midget racing came in for some interesting and intriguing publicity recently when Belle Clair Speedway in Belleville, Ill., ran a 75th anniversary program of midget races. In 1937 the Kansas oval was one of the first to schedule weekly midget auto races in this country. In addition to the special memorial section published by the Belleville News-Democrat, a “Doodlebug Derby” piece appeared in Time Magazine on Sept. 27, 1937. Copies of the original Belle Clair race program are available for $5 each postpaid from Eileen Waters, 13425 Old Jamestown, St. Louis, Mo. 63033, phone (314) 741-0508. Checks and money orders for these programs should be made out to POWRi Racing and sent to Waters. We are told the winning and runner-up drivers in that first Belle Clair race, Chuck Marshall and Red Hamilton, are still with us, Marshall in Inverness, Fla., and Hamilton in Hesperia, Calif.

We wonder if when Pocono Raceway Doctors Joe and Rose Mattioli gave the approval for the 25-acre solar-energy farm on race track property, they had an inclination they would receive a letter from the PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). But they did this past week. The letter congratulated the Mattiolis on the debut of the solar farm, but asked them to go one step further by serving all vegan food at the facility, which attracts crowds approaching 100,000 to its two NASCAR weekends. “Serving healthy and delicious vegan fare such as veggie burgers, veggie dogs and ice cream made with soy milk, almond milk or rice milk would mean that animals, your customers and the planet could all end up in the winner’s circle,” read a portion of the letter. We can picture last week’s race winner Greg Biffle in victory lane with one arm around a steer while holding a chicken in his hand instead of a trophy.

The Atlanta newspapers pay close attention to auto racing, unlike many other dailies. Recently the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran an interesting piece on the recent successes of driver-owner teams as opposed to their struggles of old. Cited was how Darrell Waltrip, Ricky Rudd, Bill Elliott and Brett Bodine suffered as driver-owners not too long ago. But now, according to the AJC, driver-owner teams are enjoying more success than ever before, at least when a Sprint Cup driver fields a Nationwide or Camping World Truck team. At a recent Nashville Speedway weekend, driver-owners won races in two NASCAR series, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick being the headliners.

Delivered the other day was the heaviest (and most expensive at $100) book ever received by Ye Ed. It was the 792-page tome on the life of former driver Russ Snowberger. It was created with great care by his son, John Snowberger, and covers the career of his dad through the 1920s to the end of the Snowberger era in the 1960s. This huge book includes 562 full color photos! And each book is autographed. Forewords are by Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser and veteran Indy Speedway driver Bob Christie. It’s yours for $100 (plus six percent sales tax for Michiganders) from John Snowberger, P.O. Box 94, Fraser, Mich. 48016. Laid out in scrapbook form this weighty book is crammed with interesting data and photos on the U.S. auto-racing scene covering many decades. Some of you may need some exercise to lift it!

Now that Ken Schrader (not to be confused with Gus Schrader) has completed 40 years of racing, R&R Enterprises has crafted a Ken Schrader T-shirt, available to the racing public from the St. Louis Auto Racing Fan Club website at www.stlfanclub.com for $20 to one and all (plus shipping). Call (877) 730-6953 toll free to order.

A headline at last. Back in the 1980s James Neal was a regular at the weekly stock-car races at the old Ascot Park track in Southern California but as an also-ran, never having won a race. Recently the 56-year-old San Clemente driver was in the Orange County jail after leading a 30-mile police chase on Interstate 5 at more than 130 miles per hour, which ended in La Jolla when the engine in his 2003 Corvette blew up. At last look Neal was pondering his $25,000 bail.

There was good news and bad news in Speedway Motorsports, Inc.’s mid-year report. The good news was the company made net profits of nearly $32 million during the first half of 2010 after losing $3.1 million during the first half of 2009. On the negative side of the ledger, reports showed that admissions revenue was down 16.7 percent, 44 percent of which was attributed to lower ticket prices.

Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) Int’l finished in two hours and 23 minutes, making it the only race this year that was shorter than the pothole repair (two hours, 24 minutes) during the Daytona 500 in February.

Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper, which has sponsored Kasey Kahne Racing and driver Brad Sweet in open-wheel competition this summer, will be leaving auto racing as a sponsor at the end of this season. The company ceased its NASCAR programs at the end of 2009.

Ron and Joan Wimmer, parents of NASCAR driver Scott Wimmer and ASA Midwest Tour driver Chris Wimmer, lost their home in a fire July 27. The Wimmers were uninjured, but lost everything. Still, they officiated the 30th annual Larry Detjens Memorial 48 hours later at State Park Speedway in Wis., the track Ron and Scott Wimmer purchased earlier this year. The race honors Scott Wimmer’s uncle, who was killed in a racing accident in 1980.

IHRA President Aaron Polburn revealed in a recent edition of IHRA’s publication Drag Review Magazine that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. After explaining the disease, he told readers: “If I ever thought I was hindering the progress of IHRA I would be the first one to bow out. Just look at me as a giant Weeble. I may occasionally wobble, but I’ll never fall down. Attitude is everything.” He’s right.

Hot off a tour of modified racing in the Upper Midwest, which included his first USMTS triumph, Ken Schrader has committed to be one of the driver coaches for Richard Petty’s Driver Search II. The second event will be held Sept. 13-16 at three Charlotte-area race tracks and will pit 12 drivers against one another for a one-off ARCA ride in the Oct. 9 event at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway. Dillon Moltz won the inaugural Petty Driver Search in April, earning an ARCA ride at Pocono Raceway where he finished 20th July 31.

Dale Caswell recently earned his 100th weekly IMCA modified victory at New York’s Brewerton Speedway. The triumph made him the 33rd driver in IMCA modified history and the first from the Empire State to reach triple digits in victories.

Longtime West Coast open-wheel racer Hank Butcher is recovering from cancer surgery. Letters of encouragement will reach him at 14995 Firth Court, San Leandro, Calif. 94578.

Like vintage racing? Veteran Florida racer Bill Wendt and his Daytona Antique Auto Racing Ass’n are planning a pair of U.S. Vintage Oval Track Nationals events, with one scheduled for November and the second in February. Both will be held at Orlando Speedworld and feature four days of racing in eight vintage classes, while including car shows and swap meets. For more information, log on to www.daararacing.com.

Straightline racer Bob Hemenway called to report that he traveled 171.17 miles per hour in his non-winged 305-cubic-inch sprint car during speed drills run under Bonneville rules at Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Maine.

Writer and public relations professional Judy Kouba Dominick authored an excellent feature on sprint-car driver Shane Stewart that was bumped from this issue at the last minute. Check it out online at www.nationalspeedsportnews.com. Stewart tuned up for a run at the Nationals title with a victory in Saturday night’s 360 Nationals at the historic Marion County Fairgrounds oval.

Posted by on Aug 10 2010 Filed under Columns. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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