ECONOMAKI: Party Time Coming Up
Lobitz Gala Scheduled Nov. 14
MIDLAND PARK, N.J.
Despite adverse weather, Ye Ed spent a couple of enjoyable hours Sunday in central New Jersey at the annual Warren Township Hot Rod Show. Well-known midget car owner and motorsports supporter Ken Brenn, who lives nearby, originated it three years ago. This year’s renewal presented by the Warren Township Volunteer Fire Department drew a respectable crowd and a large number of competition cars of all types that were displayed on the broad grasslands of Warren, mostly open-wheel vehicles. Many well- and lesser-known racing types showed up including Stan Lobitz, the gregarious Eastern Pennsy speed shop impresario. In listening on the chitchat going back and forth, Lobitz — famed for his generosity toward racing types — was asked how he pays for his perennial altruism. His response was a wowzer: “I steal three gallons of gasoline from every car that stops at my place,” explained the stern-faced Lobitz. The big annual Lobitz racing party at his facility in Hazelton, Pa., is scheduled for Nov. 14. It’s a daylong affair and everyone is invited. See you there.
The Warren function is known as the Let ’Em All Go Campaign, which pleased Ye Ed no end. It also served to alert guests to the phase III construction project of the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing’s expansion program. The EMMR is located on the Latimore Valley Fairgrounds in Central Pennsy, not far from the Lincoln and Williams Grove speedways. This $750,000 phase III expansion calls for construction of a 6,000-square-foot addition, which will add almost 50 percent to the overall size of the popular project. The space will allow 15 vehicles to be displayed, along with two libraries for racing publications, and an archive storage and utility areas. It is a $1.5 million undertaking with gifts anticipated to cover construction costs.
While padding attendance figures may be a commonplace occurrence with auto racing’s other sanctioning bodies and tracks, the opposite is true for the nearly 100-year-old International Motor Contest Ass’n and its Super Nationals event. IMCA Super Nationals officials are mum or hesitant to give crowd estimates and are instead content with focusing on the event’s car counts and how the event remains as the best bargain for the auto racing enthusiast. Despite tough economic times, the event attracted 804 cars in five divisions, just close to the mark of 816 in 2009 that included six classes. Winged sprint cars were dropped this season from the Super Nationals agenda. For an individual who shelled out $90 to witness six programs of racing, his or her cost was 28.3 cents per race.
The pole-position run by Kurt Busch at the latest Michigan Int’l Speedway race reminded many that his Penske Racing ride is from the only major NASCAR Sprint Cup team currently running Dodges. The team owner, Roger Penske, has shown loyalty to the Dodge brand, which has suffered greatly during this country’s current economic downturn.
Shocked, stunned and amazed are among the words to describe this newspaper’s reaction to the news that the International Motorsports Industry Show and the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show have scheduled overlapping dates for their 2011 events. IMIS, which will hold its third show this Dec. 1-3, has scheduled its traditional week Nov. 30-Dec. 2 for 2011, while PRI, which will be held Dec. 9-11 in 2010, has scheduled its annual gathering at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., for Dec. 1-3 in 2011. Because of the conflict, hundreds of racing businesses, including this one, will be faced with the prospects of picking just one of the shows or the expense of having to staff two events at the same time. There’s shock, but little awe in this scheduling snafu.
There was a taste of Hollywood in uptown Charlotte Sept. 7 for a red-carpet premier of “Petty Blue,” a 90-minute biographical documentary produced by CMT and NASCAR Media Group chronicling four generations of the Petty clan and their place in the annals of stock-car history. Richard Petty was on hand to welcome guests to the event at the posh Mez lounge, along with a host of Richard Petty Motorsports employees, including Robbie Loomis, Kenny Francis and new hire Marcos Ambrose, as well as noted artist Sam Bass. A DVD of the documentary, which is narrated by Academy Award winner Kevin Costner and features bonus materials, including deleted scenes and additional interviews, is available for pre-order online at www.nascar.com. Catch the movie on CMT Oct. 8 at 8 p.m.
NASCAR Media Group has ventured outside of the motorsports arena to produce the 18-part series “The Building of a Program,” based on University of Virginia’s college football program and first-year coach Mike London. Pro Football Hall of Famer Howie Long narrates the series of half-hour shows, which have been picked up by Comcast and DirecTV. NASCAR Media Group executives hope to do as many as 10 similar documentaries next year.
There’s a good bet that many of you reading this column have fast cars. But do you have a fast dinner table? Perry Watkins of Buckinghamshire, Great Britain, does. Watkins recently traveled better than 113 miles per hour seated at his motorized Queen Anne dining table.
According to reports in the SportsBusiness Journal, negotiations between Wal-Mart and Hendrick Motorsports over sponsorship of Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet have broken down, but insiders still expect NASCAR to reach a licensing agreement with the box-store giant.
On Sept. 23 Jack Hewitt will be royally roasted by those who know him best in the Eldora Ballroom. The list includes Shirley Kears, NSSN’s Dave Argabright, Bob Hampshire, Kenny Jacobs, Bill Shipman, Charlie Swartz, Danny Smith, Dick Mahoney, Gary Lee, Brent Kaeding, Rick Nickols, Dave Darland and Darryl Guiducci. For tickets to the Dewitt to Hewitt event in Rossburg, Ohio, call 866-709-2020.
Good news for DIRT modified racers and fans. SEF Small Engine Fuels, which is produced by VP Racing Fuels, will be the title sponsor of the annual Super DIRT Week big-block event at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse. The 39th annual SEF Small Engine Fuels 200 is scheduled Oct. 10 at the historic one-mile dirt track.
After returning to the Indianapolis Speedrome as sanctioning body for midget racing this season, USAC and operators of the fifth-mile asphalt oval have announced USAC will oversee midget competition at the track again in 2011.