ECONOMAKI: General Observation
Army’s Top Dogs On Display At Pocono Raceway
LONG POND, Pa.
Yed Ed saw as many Army Generals face to face in four hours of a weekend reception at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania here as I saw in four years of active military service in the U.S. Army during World War II. The current occasion was a promotion for the Professional Race Driver’s Ass’n.
Elliott Sadler’s Saturday victory in the Pocono Mountain 125 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race was his first win in any NASCAR series race since 2004, but made him the 21st driver to win a race in each of NASCAR’s three national series — Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck.
Data from the racing world tells us that well-known racing driver John Fitch turned 93 on Aug. 1. Born in Indianapolis in 1917, he was the first American to successfully race automobiles on European tracks in the post-WWII era. After earning an engineering degree from Lehigh University, he took to the road courses of the world. In his 18-year career at the wheel of sports cars, Fitch won the 1951 Argentine Grand Prix, the production car class of Italy’s Mille Miglia, Britain’s Dundros Tourist Trophy and this country’s Sebring endurance contest. After placing third in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France, Fitch became the first manager of Chevrolet’s Corvette Racing Team and was the first manager of the then-new Lime Rock road course in Connecticut. He was in the fabled 1959 Formula Libre race there at which oval-track specialist Rodger Ward dazzled the road racing fraternity and their exotic sports cars by defeating them at the wheel of an Offenhauser midget designed for oval tracks. Fitch went on to make many contributions to safety both in motorsports and passenger cars. Happy belated birthday, John. Many more.
Fans of old-line sports cars should know that an impressive lineup of those cars is scheduled to appear at the Tri-Region SCCA Sports Car racing program at Pennsylvania’s Pocono Raceway road course the weekend of Aug. 14-15. Oscar Koveleski, who won that event in 1976, is working hard to see to its success. In an effort to broaden interest in sports car racing, all kids — 12 and under — will be admitted free. Historics qualify and race on Saturday; Miatas and friends get the track Sunday. On-track activity begins at 8 a.m. both days. Not only is parking free, so is camping! The event is celebrating its 40th anniversary.
Representatives from many of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series teams met at Hendrick Motorsports July 27 to discuss ways teams could save money as well as improving the product. Items discussed included shortening races, the current testing ban and restricting the number of traveling crew members. NASCAR officials said they’ll be considering ideas generated from the meeting.
Speedway Motorsports, Inc., declared cash dividends for the second quarter of the 2010 calendar year. Shareholders will receive 10 cents per share of common stock, payable Sept. 17.
The most dangerous place in NASCAR racing may not be Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway or Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. It may be in the seat of one of Jack Roush’s airplanes. The successful team owner and aviation enthusiast crashed his private jet on landing in Oshkosh, Wis., this past week. It was Roush’s second airplane crash, as he nearly died after crashing into a lake in Alabama in 2002.
On July 29, four days after Helio Castroneves was called for blocking in the IndyCar Series race in Edmonton, Alberta, the series issued a statement that it would meet with the three-time Indy 500 winner the following week to discuss the incident and any penalities (for Castroneves’s post-race behavior) would be levied then. We wonder why the series would prolong this situation, which came about due to poor officiating, for yet another week. It would seem to make more sense to get the meeting and its aftermath over with and get back to racing.
The pit area at the July 28 Midweek Mayhem USAC Ford Focus race on the quarter-mile outside oval at Concord Speedway looked like a racing’s who’s who. Among those on hand were Ford Focus supporter Brad Noffsinger, a former sprint-car and NASCAR driver who fielded seven cars for the event; NASCAR and Indy car driver John Andretti, whose son Jarett was wheeling a Focus midget; former NASCAR driver Chad Little, whose son Jesse was racing in Junior Ford Focus class; former NASCAR driver Ernie Irvan and NHRA Funny Car crew chief Jimmy Prock, who was taking in his son Austin’s appearance in the Junior Ford Focus. Third-generation Andy Stapp, who now works at Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, was also on hand assisting Noffsinger with car preparation.
If you are attending the 50th annual Knoxville Nationals Aug. 10-14, stop by the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum and in addition to checking out the fantastic exhibits at the shrine to sprint-car racing, ask for a free copy of NSSN, which will be available to all throughout the Nationals while supplies last.
Longtime National Sprint Car Hall of Fame volunteer Larry Janicsek wondered if Babe, Steve and Andy Stapp may not have been the first third-generation family of racers. However, Andy Stapp confirmed his first race came in 1982, 13 years after third-generation Murie family member Rick. While Stapp’s son Joey is racing karts and headed toward making the Stapps a four-generation racing family, constant reader Walt Wimer pointed out that Lee, Richard, Kyle and the late Adam Petty became the first four-generation racing family in the late 1990s. The Muries, however, still have one up on the Pettys as Rick Murie ran his first race nearly 10 years before Kyle took his first green flag.
The annual Jungle Park Speedway reunion is scheduled for Sept. 25 at the track site near Rockville, Ind. For information on the reunion, contact Jerry Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
M.A. Brown, the noted Tennessee sprint-car owner who was among the pioneers of traveling “outlaw” race teams, died June 28 in McKenzie, Tenn. He was 89. Brown was instrumental in the careers of several National Sprint Car Hall of Fame inductees, as his team rose to national prominence in the late 1960s and early ’70s. The team, with sponsorship from Bruce Cogle Ford, followed an “outlaw” schedule that followed no particular circuit, instead traveling to far-flung events throughout the eastern half of the U.S.
ESPN commentator Vince Welch was involved in a car accident Thursday evening after his son, Dillon Welch, won the USAC Regional Midget Series event at Plymouth (Ind.) Speedway. No one was seriously injured, but ESPN gave Vince Welch, who was supposed to cover the Nationwide race for ESPN, the weekend off to recover. His son and a third passenger were also in the car at the time of the crash.