Nice Way to Celebrate: On Wednesday, Jan 1st, Marvin and Bettie Panch will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary the only way a real race car driver can -- at Daytona International Speedway with a stock car and a decent-sized crowd. About 250 folks have been invited to the ceremony scheduled for Daytona's Victory Lane. The Rev. Hal Marchman, who has been Speedway chaplain since 1960, will run the show. Joining Marvin and the former Bettie Gong in the Winner's Circle will be the #20 Pontiac that Panch wheeled to victory in the 1961 Daytona 500. The car will be on display outside Daytona USA from 2:30 to 6:00pm on Wednesday. The bride and groom will have an autograph session, open to the public and free of charge, from 5:00 to 6:00pm next to the car.(full story at Daytona Beach News Journal)(12-29-2002)
Harmon in GQ: The January 2003 issue of GQ magazine has just hit the news stands and has feature article on Mike Harmon written by special correspondent.Peter Richmond. The article is titled "Walking Away from Racing's Worst Accident" and it gives the GQ readers some incite on Harmon's life in racing and details on the devastating accident that he walked away from last August at the Bristol Motor Speedway. Harmon states, "I am flattered to be featured in GQ Magazine, I want to thank them for the great exposure that they have given to me. Peter wrote a great story and he let the readers see a side of me that not too many people actually know about.". The article could not have came at a better time as the team is making.plans for the upcoming 2003 season. Preparations are being done for the upcoming test at Daytona, and they will also be doing some testing at Talladega in the near future. The crew has been working diligently during the so called "off season" with.sponsorship announcements coming in the upcoming new year. Plans are to run the full BGN schedule in the #44 and Harmon will also be driving for #93 GIC Motorsports in the Winston Cup Series on a limited schedule that will be announced at a later date.(Mike Harmon and Mixon Motorsports PR)(12-28-2002)
New Head and Neck Restraint: The G-Force Racing Gear Research and Development team spent over two years designing the SRS-1. The design parameters were driver comfort, ease of use, ease of ingress and egress from the racecar, performance comparable to other competing devices and a price that would not break the bank. The end result is that the G-Force R&D team met or exceeded all of these parameters. The SRS-1 was also designed as a complete system to be used in concert with an approved helmet. All helmets with attachment points for the SRS-1 have to meet Snell or SFI certification with the points manufactured into the helmet. They must also meet a test to help ensure the mounting points integrity in the event of a crash. This is a problem with other add-on type devices. The G-Force SRS-1 helmet restraint device consists of a cable that attaches to helmet. See more on the PR for this device, other devices and links on my Safety: Restraint page. No mention of if this device is approved for NASCAR use.(12-28-2002)
Fittipaldi to run 24 hours of Daytona: Road racing veteran Christian Fittipaldi of Sao Paulo, Brazil will be teaming up with Bell Motorsports for the 2003 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. The open-wheel veteran will be racing his first 24 hour event since his victory in a works Porsche at the 1993 24 Hours of Spa with co-drivers Uwe Alzen and Jean Pierre Jarrier. Car owner Forest Barber of Fort Worth, Tex., and Terry Borcheller of Phoenix will drive the No. 54 Chevrolet-powered Doran in the 2003 Rolex Sports Car Series. Brazilian Christian Fittipaldi and Belgian Didier Theys will join them for the Daytona 24-hour race. Fittipaldi has enjoyed success in open-wheel racing, with three seasons in Formula One, victories in the CART Championship Series and a second-place finish in the Indianapolis 500. He will switch to stock cars in 2003, driving the #44 Dodge Intrepid for Petty Enterprises in a combination of ARCA, Busch Series and Winston Cup events. The 2003 Rolex 24 at Daytona is set for Feb. 1 and 2 on the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway road course in Daytona Beach(Fittipaldi Online), Fittipaldi joins Kyle Petty and Kevin Lepage as NASCAR drivers competing in the race.(12-27-2002)
Some #43 schemes in 2003: General Mills [Cheerios manufacturer] has the Hamburger Helper scheme, the Betty Crocker scheme and the new schemes are Old El Paso and LeSueur Peas for 2003 on the #43 Petty Enterprises Dodge with John Andretti driving. Not sure yet when these schemes will run, no word on if a Pop Secret scheme will run at Rockingham as it has the past 4-5 years.(12-27-2002)
#16 Scheme: been told the 2003 #16 Grainger Ford scheme has been selected, see my Paint Scheme Gallery for the chosen pic.(12-27-2002)
Mayfield getting hitched: on Jan 4th, 2003, #19 Dodge driver Jermey Mayfield is getting married to Shana Sessions.(FoxSports)(12-27-2002)
Sad News: Randy Brown sustained massive head injuries from a snow-boarding accident at Mountain High Ski Resort last Tuesday morning, December 24th. Brown was air-lifted to Arrowhead Hospital in Colton, California in very critical condition and was placed on life support systems until 8:34pm, December 25th. On, December 26th at 8:56am, Brown passed away. Brown was the 2002 Mechanix Wear Speed Truck Challenge Champion. Brown, who was 19, is survived by his sister Wendy, his father Bob, and his grandmother Barbara. Please continue with your thoughts and prayers for Randy's family members. Memorial services are being planned and we will notify of same. The Randy Brown Memorial Fund has been established to help the family with final expenses and donations can be made to Randy's grandmother. and Darel Jay Anderson, 34, passed away December 24, 2002 from injuries received in an automobile accident. Anderson drove the #2 Grand National Sportsman at Magic Valley Speedway during the 2002 racing season. Funeral services are tentatively set for Saturday, Dec. 28, 2002 at an unconfirmed time and location. The family will receive friends from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. at Colonial Funeral Home 2005 So. 4th Ave., Pocatello, and for one hour prior to the services. The interment will follow at Aberdeen Cemetery.(RacingWest)(12-27-2002)
Sad News: Mr. Terry "T.C." Duane Collier of Lakeland died of cancer Thursday (Dec. 26, 2002). He was 51. Born in Delaware, Ohio, on July 24, 1951, he came to Lakeland from Plant City in 1987. He was the public address announcer for Lakeland International Speedway. Mr. Collier is survived by his wife, Carol Collier; son, Robert Collier, Lakeland; stepsons, Dennis Lowell Jr., Gregory Lowell, both of Williamsport, Pa.; parents, John and JoAnn Collier, Lakeland; brother, Rodney Collier, Lakeland; sister, Melody Karavitis, Tacoma, Wash. Services will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at David-Russell Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Good Shepherd Hospice, 50 Lake Morton Drive, Lakeland.(Lakeland Ledger)(12-27-2002)
Bodine news - all three, Todd back with the #26? Geoffrey testing the #26 and for Brett, run Daytona with APR? in the 24 hours of Daytona? Geoffrey Bodine along with Jerry Nadeau embarks on a tour with the Armed Forces Entertainment Program in support of "Operation Enduring Freedom", to help maintain morale for service members in Afghanistan and other Southeast Asia sites for a week. Bodine's brother Brett was supposed to be a part of that group, but business commitments forced him to change his plans. Once back, Geoffrey Bodine will be testing the #26 Haas Carter Motorsports Ford for brother Todd, who is still recuperating from back surgery in November. Geoffrey tested for the team on Dec. 12 and 13 at Talladega Motor Speedway. Haas Carter's Web site said the team expects to have its sponsorship package for 2003 signed very soon, with Todd as its driver. Speculation is that the Army National Guard will be one of the team sponsors [Jayski note: but that is supposed to be the sponsor for the #54 BH Motorsports team]. Geoffrey will also help conduct tests for middle brother Brett Bodine [#11] in January, with Geoffrey testing a second team car to the #11 driven by Brett. Brett is finalizing his 2003 plans, which will likely see the Hooters restaurant chain return as the team's sponsor and involved somehow in the ownership of the team. Geoffrey's plans for 2003 are beginning to take shape after he split with the #09 James Finch-owned Phoenix Racing team last month. Bodine did a limited schedule of races for that team, finishing a best of third in the Daytona 500. Bodine, who has sponsorship from the Miccosukee Indian Gaming casino for a limited Winston Cup schedule, has been shopping for a new team. Geoffrey is supposedly talking to Andy Petree Racing [#33 and #55] about driving for them in the Daytona 500. However, the Web site reported that team owner Andy Petree has secured a single-race sponsor for his #55 car in the Daytona 500. The name of the sponsor has not yet been released, but Web site www.jayski.com reported that it may be motor home builder Monaco Coaches. Petree had been lining up Ken Schrader as his driver, but Schrader signed with BAM Racing on Friday. Petree is now looking for a replacement driver. If a deal with Bodine materializes, the Indian gaming casino, which is based in Florida, will probably show up as an associate sponsor on a Petree car for Daytona. As for the remaining Winston Cup races that Bodine has sponsorship for (thought to be 12 to 20 races), Bodine has not said whom he'll eventually hook up with. Also, Geoffrey Bodine could join fellow Cup drivers Kevin LePage and Kyle Petty in competing in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona sports car event on Feb. 1 and 2. Cegwa Sport Daytona Prototype team is interested in him for the ride in the prestigious endurance race. The team will field a 4.3-liter Toyota-powered Fabcar this year in the series, which makes two stops at Watkins Glen International.(in part from the Star Gazette)(12-26-2002)
APR News: Andy Petree Racing will be allowed to pay back a $5 million loan earlier than expected following approval by a county panel Monday. The Henderson County Industrial Facilities and Pollution Control Financing Authority waived a 45-day notice period to let the company go ahead and repay a loan made by Wachovia bank. The money was in the form of bonds that the state allowed Petree to borrow privately through an Industrial Revenue Bond agreement, authority president Herbert Young said. Such bonds have been in place for industrial development for more than 25 years, Young said. Andy Petree Racing is considered a manufacturing industry, and that's why it qualified for this type of loan, he said. Because these types of bonds are loans and industries have the right to pay them back, the money is not considered a gift, Young said. The money comes from a private source, but the borrower must have state government approval and the authority acts as a conduit, he said. The company struggled to find sponsorship for one car for the 2003 season. That was a far cry from 2001 when Petree fielded a two-car team, with both the #33 car, sponsored by Oakwood Mobile Homes and the #55 car, sponsored by Schneider Electric, posting victories. But a pullout by Oakwood Mobile Homes sidelined the #33 car. And a recent announcement that Schneider Electric will no longer be a full sponsor of the #55 car has put its future in doubt. At one time, Petree employed 110 people but now only has 25 full-time employees. Petree has a single-race sponsor lined up for the season-opening Daytona 500, general manager Steve Barkdoll said. The sponsor will be announced after the new year.(Hendersonville Times News)(12-26-2002)
Air Force Schemes for the #21: hearing that the #21 Wood Brothers Ford with Ricky Rudd driving will have three Air Force Primary paint schemes in 2003. They will run at Lowe's Motor Speedway in May, Watkins Glen in August and Dover in September.(12-26-2002)
NASCAR working to diversify sport: The only black driver to win at NASCAR's highest level never got a proper celebration in Victory Lane. Wendell Scott beat the field in a 200-mile race in 1963, but as the story goes, NASCAR officials were worried about how the predominantly white crowd in Jacksonville might react to seeing a black man hoist the winner's trophy. Buck Baker was declared the winner, and only after two hours of review - with the crowd long gone - was a "scoring error" detected and Scott named the official winner. Nearly four decades later, NASCAR still hasn't seen a black driver celebrate in Victory Lane, mostly because blacks remain a rarity in stock-car racing. Through the years, a smattering of black drivers, owners and crewmen - driver Willy T. Ribbs, car owners Thee Dixon, Reggie Jackson and Dennis Green, Busch series crew chief Tim Shutt - have taken turns working in NASCAR garages or trying to own NASCAR teams, all with middling degrees of success, at best. Currently, the only black driver participating in any of NASCAR's national-level circuits is truck driver Bill Lester. Yearning for a chance to start a team are black men like Herbie Bagwell [www.bagwellmotorsportsinc.com] of Bridgeport, Conn. Bagwell, who says he's a qualified driver, has been working the phones and soliciting on the Internet trying to find sponsors for a team that could eventually make it to Winston Cup. He says he's not looking for any handouts from NASCAR, but is surprised at the reluctance he encounters from sponsors. Headline sponsors pay up to $15 million a season to put their logo on cars in Winston Cup, but drivers can get in at the lower levels of racing for about $300,000. "NASCAR is not responsible for putting African Americans behind the wheel," Bagwell said. "We need to help ourselves. We have resources. I'm a qualified driver and a qualified businessman."(full story at ThatsRacin.com/AP)(12-25-2002)
Toyota in Cup - 2007? CTS in 2004: While it’s years from an official announcement, Autoweek has word that an agreement has been reached between Toyota and NASCAR for Toyota to race in Winston Cup in 2007. That’ll be three years after it starts in Craftsman Truck in 2004. Toyota engineers are working on the carbureted V8. It’s still on the computer at this point, but will soon come to three-dimensional form. One problem with the engine is casting it in iron. Most Toyota blocks are aluminum alloy, but engineers found a Toyota facility in Japan that still casts in iron. The Craftsman entry will feature a Tundra body and the Cup car will be a Camry, “whatever the Camry will look like then,” Toyota sources said.(Autoweek)(12-24-2002)
Petree has Daytona 500 sponsor, now needs a driver UPDATE: NASCAR Winston Cup owner Andy Petree has secured a single-race sponsor for his #55 car in the Daytona 500. Andy Petree Racing, based in Henderson County, NC, has been scrambling in recent months to land a sponsorship after electrical distribution company Square D said it could no longer afford to run an entire schedule. The new sponsor's name will be announced after the new year. Petree now must find another driver for the #55 after Ken Schrader signed up Friday with the BAM Racing Dodge next year. Petree had been trying to line up Schrader to drive #55, APR general manager Steve Barkdoll said. "Schrader had the opportunity to drive the BAM car full time, so we told him to take it," Barkdoll said. First Petree was forced to lay off employees, now he's looking for investors for his team. Times are tough for Petree, still scrambling to keep his Winston Cup team afloat. After laying off 25 employees last month, Petree is hoping an outside investor can step in and keep things running. He has enough employees left to send Schrader to the Daytona 500, but more money will have to appear before he can plan for any more races.(ThatsRacin.com/AP)(12-22-2002) UPDATE: hearing the sponsor will be Monaco Coaches, still no word on the driver.(12-24-2002)
Yates Racing Moving: Charlotte-based Robert Yates Racing Inc. will move both its Winston Cup teams into a newly purchased Mooresville headquarters next month, making southern Iredell County the home for all its operations. The move will likely cost more than $6 million, observers say. Yates officials decline to disclose the company's total investment in the deal. Last month, Yates bought the former Eel River Racing building in Talbert Pointe Business Park for $4.2 million, and Yates Racing is in the process of moving its #88-Dale Jarrett and #38-Elliott Sadler teams into the facility. Yates will vacate a 100,000-square-foot Charlotte facility off Interstate 85, near Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, which is now home to the Jarrett team. The Sadler operation will take the place of the Ricky Rudd team, which was already based in Mooreville. Rudd has left Yates. The move to Mooresville will boost Yates Racing's operations there to more than 200,000 square feet. The relocation should be completed before February, when the 2003 Winston Cup season begins. With the transition, the existing Mooresville team shop for Yates' #28 car — which Rudd drove during the 2002 season — will become a chassis shop. That 50,000-square-foot facility is on Rolling Hills Road in Lakeside Business Park. The #28 will be abandoned for the 2003 racing season in favor of Sadler's #38 car. Having the chassis shop will enable the Yates teams to produce up to 90% of their own racing frames. A newly opened engine shop, housed in an 85,000-square-foot building that's also in Lakeside Business Park, will maintain its existing operations.(Charlotte Business Journal - need to register to read)(12-24-2002)
Allison to visit Military bases: NASCAR legend Bobby Allison will visit bases in the Mediterranean, Jan. 7 to Jan. 13. The 1983 Winston Cup champion and three-time Daytona 500 winner is tied for third place among all-time NASCAR winners with 84 victories. He was voted NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver six times:
Souda Bay, Greece: Jan. 7.
La Maddalena, Italy: Jan. 8, on the Emory Land and on base.
Naples, Italy: 4:30 p.m. Jan. 9 at Capo Landing at Capodichino.
Gaeta, Italy: Jan. 10 on the USS La Salle and in the base community center.
Sigonella, Sicily: Jan. 12 at Jox sports bar.
Rota, Spain: Jan. 13.(Stars and Stripes)(12-24-2002)
Jasper Motorsports adds team members: The #77 Jasper Motorsports team has added six new team members for the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season, including four crew members who will augment the team’s existing pit-stop unit for it’s over-the-wall efforts in support of driver Dave Blaney. The new members of the #77 Jasper Engines and Transmissions Ford team include Pat Marshall, the new Foreman of the team’s Fabrication operations and a recent employee of Hendrick Motorsports in its aerodynamic engineering department; Josh Watkins, an recent engineering graduate of UNC-Charlotte and the team’s fifth engineer; Aaron Piernatt, an addition to the team’s finish-fabrication area in-shop and a former tire-carrier for the #97 Roush Racing Team; the tire changer/carrier combination of Clay Robinson (body shop) and Mike Houston (suspension) and jackman Greg Pasi, all from the #40 Ganassi Racing Team’s pit-stop lineup during the 2002 WC season. The four new additions to the #77 Jasper Ford pit-stop crew join returning tire changer Rich Macco—who will work with Piernatt—and veteran gasman Dennis Cabe in a revised lineup that deepens the team’s roster of over-the-wall athletes. Bootie Barker was named crew chief last month and Kevin Kidd is the car chief(Jasper Motorsports PR)(12-24-2002)
Cope News: Chris Bingham, in Daytona testing for the upcoming ARCA 200, has signed to drive the Jay Robinson #49 Ford for the 2003 BGN season. Winston Cup driver and TV analyst Derrike Cope will serve as a driver consultant for Bingham in 2003. "I'm looking forward to driving for Jay Robinson in 2003," stated Bingham, a native of Bellevue, Washington. "We worked well together during the Daytona test, and I believe his program has all of the elements necessary to be competitive." Bingham has retained fellow Washington native Derrike Cope as a consultant for his racing program. "Chris called me last February with some questions regarding sponsorship," said Cope, the 1990 winner of the Daytona 500. "Eventually our conversations led to NASCAR, and how Chris could begin a career in stock cars," added Cope. Cope who will run his own Winston Cup [#37] team in selected events, plans to enter Bingham in five events in 2003. "It's a natural fit to put Chris in one of my cars for the two Winston Cup road races," said Cope. "Additionally we plan to run him in three or more events over and above the road courses." Bingham's entry into NASCAR will be supported by a Seattle based investment group led by Vernon Horton Smith. Sponsorship for the Jay Robinson Racing #49 BGN Ford and the additional Winston Cup events is being pursued, and Bingham looks forward to making an announcement before the start of the season.(PR)(12-24-2002)
What is up with Pressley? Robert Pressley’s plans for the 2003 season are still on hold. Right now Pressley is playing the “waiting game.” Pressley’s future depends largely on what truck-owner Bobby Hamilton plans to do in 2003. Robert wanted his fans to know that he is extremely happy with Bobby Hamilton Racing in the Craftsman Truck series and his top priority is to return to BHR, driving the #18 Dickies Dodge next season. However, Hamilton could return to the #18 truck if he is unable to work out a deal elsewhere. Pressley does have a couple of other options in the works at the moment; he has had talks with both a Winston Cup team and a BGN team. Both teams are new teams looking to make their debuts in the respective series. Pressely said that the Winston Cup deal doesn’t look too promising but the BGN deal is a distinct possibility.(Robert Pressley site)(12-24-2002)
Sad News: Sahara Hotel & Casino owner and Las Vegas Motor Speedway co-developer Bill Bennett, 78, passed away Sunday night after a lengthy illness. Bennett founded The Bennett Foundation for charitable needs. Diana Bennett said a lot of the charity work her father did was not known to the public. In addition to his daughter and his wife of more than 40 years, Bennett is survived by his son, William A. Bennett of Las Vegas; a sister, Betty Spitler of Arizona; four grandchildren; and two great grandchildren. Bennett's death comes on the heels of the death of his good friend, Ralph Engelstad, owner of the Imperial Palace and co-developer of Las Vegas Motoe Speedway, who died on Nov. 26. Chris Powell, president and general manager of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, issued the following statement today regarding the death of Bill Bennett:
"On behalf of everyone at LVMS, we are saddened to hear of the passing of Bill Bennett," said Chris Powell, president and general manager of Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "It was his vision, along with that of the late Ralph Engelstad, that led to the construction and development of this magnificent facility. And among Mr. Bennett's many contributions to this community was an extremely generous donation to our charitable organization, Speedway Children's Charities, for which we will be forever grateful. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Bennett family."(see full story at the Las Vegas Sun)(12-24-2002)
Spencer's Dad faces charges UPDATE: The father and brother of NASCAR racer Jimmy Spencer [#41 target Dodge] are facing conspiracy charges for what police say was a scheme to steal truck tires for resale at their junkyard. The Luzerne County district attorney's office approved conspiracy charges Thursday against Edgar Spencer and Edgar Spencer Jr., who own and run Ed Spencer Auto Parts in Berwick. Facing the same charges are the racer's uncle and cousin, Edgar W. Spencer and Edgar W. Spencer Jr. of Spencer's Auto Parts in Hunlock Creek. Authorities said they received a complaint from officials at a Wilkes-Barre business alleging that truck tires from their plant were being sold at the Spencers' businesses. McCarthy Tire identified its tires through a code at the plant, a police report says. Edgar Senior and Junior are in Richmond this weekend to watch Jimmy race. Investigators expect all four Edgar Spencer's to surrender either Monday or Tuesday and face theft charges in court.(CNNSI/AP and Newswatch 16)(5-4-2002) UPDATE: One year probation, and 25 hours of community service. That's the sentence handed down Monday for four members of the Spencer family from Luzerne County. Edgar Spencer, Senior, his son and two cousins each pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy and receiving stolen property. They admitted their roles in a scheme to resell stolen tires. Edgar Spencer, Senior is the father of NASCAR driver Jimmy Spencer.(Newswatch 16)(12-24-2002)
New Yates Engine Man: Mark McCardle, who formerly worked for Penske and engine developer Ilmor, will oversee Yates' newly opened, 85,000-square-foot engine facility.(Sporting News)(12-23-2002)
Safety, the Garage and Pitroad: NASCAR is in the process of conducting safety discussions with the owners and principals for each of the tracks on the Winston Cup schedule. Topics include access plans and safety and security measures to be instituted in 2003. Jim Hunter, NASCAR's vice president of communications, says NASCAR will be "very sensitive to the tracks' needs, but we want to make the garage a more secure area than it has been." Although pit tours still will be available, garage passes are expected to be limited to 25 to 30 per team and to about 75 per track for Winston Cup events. That does not include firefighters and safety personnel. In the past, there were no uniform rules involving issuing passes that covered the entire Winston Cup schedule. The garage also is expected to be closed to those without hard cards (season-long access passes) or garage passes during hot times: practice, qualifying and races.(Sporting News)(12-23-2002)