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    DECEMBER 29, 2008 thru
    JANUARY 4, 2009

      News from January 4, 2009

    • Robby Gordon - Dakar Rally - Stage 2: Robby Gordon finished 10th in Sunday’s second stage at the Dakar Rally in Argentina to move up to 10th overall. Gordon completed the Santa Rosa de la Pampa-to-Puerto Madryn stage in 2 hours, 5 minutes and 38 seconds. He is 21:32 behind leader Carlos Sainz of Spain. The third of 15 stages is slated for Monday, from Puerto Madryn to Jacobacci, a 551-kilimoter race.(SceneDaily)(1-4-2009)

    • ‘Smoke’ Rises from Fiesta Bowl Parade: No passing. That was the only rule Tony Stewart had to abide by in Saturday’s 38th Annual Fort McDowell Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. Thankfully, the two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion sat far enough away from the steering wheel of a Chevrolet Corvette that he couldn’t break the one rule just days into the New Year. Instead, the driver better known as “Smoke” sat atop the trunk of the Corvette convertible waving to the crowd along the 1.9-mile parade route, dutifully fulfilling one of his primary duties as grand marshal of this year’s Fiesta Bowl, which features a Monday night match-up between the Big Ten’s Ohio State and the Big 12’s University of Texas.
      “That was like driver introductions at Indianapolis times 10,” said Stewart, referring to the ritual of riding in the back of a pickup truck around the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway before racing 42 other drivers for 400 miles. “This is a huge event and I’m just honored to be a part of it. It’s pretty cool to sort of venture outside our box a little bit and take in a game of this magnitude. With the racing season being what it is, getting away to see a college football game is kind of tough. When the Fiesta Bowl Committee called and asked if I was interested in being their grand marshal, I said, ‘As long as I get a ticket and a field pass to the game, I’m in.”
      Stewart got that and then some. Announcing his presence in the parade were two brightly painted red #14 Chevrolet Impalas. One was emblazoned with Office Depot and the other with Old Spice, his co-primary sponsors for the 2009 racing season – Stewart’s first as a driver/owner with Stewart-Haas Racing, his new home after spending over a decade with Joe Gibbs Racing.
      “Being grand marshal was also a great opportunity for our race team,” said Stewart, who is already an accomplished team owner in the U.S. Auto Club (USAC) and the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, where his teams have won nine championships – seven in USAC and two in the World of Outlaws. “It’s not everyday that we’re able to crossover into other sporting events, so to be able to do that and bring my team and sponsors a little extra exposure was a no-brainer. Plus, we’re going to be back out here in April at Phoenix International Raceway, and hopefully the time we spend here in January brings a few more people out to the race track in April.”(SHR PR)(1-4-2009)

    • Team Dakar USA and Gordon stage 1: Hundreds of thousands of people overwhelmed the capital of Argentina on Friday to see the vehicles competing in the first Dakar Rally in South America. Rally organizers expected 500,000 to cram the parade route past the Obelisk in Plaza de Republica and along Avenida 9 de Julio, said to be the world's widest avenue. The vehicles headed to a park in Palermo, where the rally will officially begin Saturday with a 456-mile stage south to Santa Rosa in the Pampas. The 30th Dakar Rally -- and the first outside Africa -- features 177 cars, 217 motorcycles, 81 trucks and 25 quad bikes with drivers from 49 countries. After 14 stages and 5,950 miles, it will finish on Jan. 18 in Buenos Aires. Sprint Cup Series driver #7-Robby Gordon finished 17th in Saturday's opening stage. Driving the Team Dakar USA Hummer, Gordon completed the opening stage in 2 hours, 50 minutes and 40 seconds. He is 14 minutes, 25 seconds behind the leader, Nasseer al-Attiyah. Carlos Sainz is second, 2 minutes, 17 seconds behind. Sainz was followed within two minutes by Volkswagen teammates Giniel de Villiers of South Africa and Mark Miller of the United States. BMW's Guerlain Chicherit was fastest through the third checkpoint but rolled his car onto its roof after 172 miles and it was uncertain if he would continue. Hiroshi Masuoka, a two-time Dakar winner, had engine problems in his Mitsubish. He was towed to the finish and nearly eight hours off the pace. Sunday's second stage continues south for 147 miles to Puerto Madryn on the coast. After crossing the Pampas, the rally heads into Patagonia, arrives at the Andes next Thursday, drives into Chile the following day, cruises alongside the Pacific for five days -- including a loop in the Atacama Desert -- and then heads back to the start.(
    • Sponsor for Cope? hearing that the #75 Cope/Keller team with Derrike Cope driving is on the verge of signing one of three major/primary sponsorships within the next week. Plans are to run a lmimited Cup scheule and run one or tow Truck Series teams. The team has purchased some Dodges from Ganassi Racing, which is now Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and will run Chevy's in 2009.(1-4-2009)

    • Images: added more 2009 schemes including #17 DeWalt Ford, #55 NAPA Toyota and #29 Pennzoil/Shell Chevy to the Paint Scheme Gallery and/or 2009 Cup Schemes page.

    • Tucson Raceway Park in trouble: The operator of Tucson Raceway Park has pulled out of his agreement with the Southwestern Fair Commission, putting in doubt the future of stock-car racing at the 3/8-mile track southeast of Tucson. The fair commission and the leaseholder, Deery Sports West, are looking for a new operator and said they are optimistic they can find someone before the season starts in March. They said a number of groups have expressed interest in running the track, but they were not ready to name names and no deal is imminent. The track, which is owned by Pima County and leased along with the Pima County Fairgrounds to the Southwestern Fair Commission, is the only paved short track in Arizona. The fair commission leases the track to Deery Sports West, which ran the track for several years before subleasing it yet again to Innovative Racing LLC 2 1/2 years ago. It is Innovative Racing that has pulled out of the agreement, saying it can no longer operate the track. Deery Sports remains the primary leaseholder, but the family that runs it now is based in Illinois, running tracks there. Southwest Fair Commission Executive Director Jon Baker said Deery needs to either run the track or find someone to run it. "We do not intend to shut it down," Baker said.(Arizona Star)(1-4-2009)

      News from January 3, 2009

    • Sad News - Sam McQuagg: Sam McQuagg, the 1965 rookie of the year in what was then NASCAR’s Grand National Series (now Sprint Cup), died Saturday morning. He was 73. McQuagg competed in 62 races in NASCAR’s top series, getting a victory in the 1966 Firecracker 400 at Daytona in a Dodge owned by Ray Nichels. McQuagg worked as a commercial pilot after retiring as a racer. He was a member of the Jacksonville Speedway and the Georgia Automobile Racing halls of fame.(Charlotte Observer)
      MORE: He is survived by his wife, Joy Baggett McQuagg, and three children, Sam McQuagg Jr., Mark McQuagg and Rita Renfroe, all of Columbus, GA. Visitation will be Monday from 6-8 p.m. ET at McMullen Mortuary [3874 Gentian Blvd., Columbus, Ga 31907 706-569-8015]. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at McMullen.( In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Central Assembly of God Church [1219 15th St., Columbus, Ga 31901] or your favorite charity.(1-3-2009)

    • Bodine Challenge starts UPDATE Bodine fastest: The Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge, is an effort to raise funds to keep the U.S. men's and women's bobsled teams at the forefront of international racing. It will again feature NASCAR and NHRA drivers piloting specially made bobsleds down the Mount Van Hoevenberg track outside Lake Placid. Members of the New York State Army National Guard will serve as brakemen, and the U.S. Bobsled National Championships, a four-heat competition over two days, will be held in conjunction with the Bobsled Challenge. This year's Bodine field includes: road racer Boris Said; Joe Gibbs Racing phenom Joey Logano; NASCAR Whelen racing series champions Philip Morris, Brian Loftin, and Ted Christopher; Daytona Rolex pole winner Eric Curran; 19-year-old sprint car driver Tom Tolbert; NHRA Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr.; and top fuel drivers Morgan Lucas, JR Todd, and Bob Vandergriff. Said, whose late father drove in the 1968 and 1972 Winter Olympics for the U.S. bobsled team and was one of the sport's great promoters in his heyday, has dominated the Bobsled Challenge with five wins in six races since its inception. In Race 1 on Saturday, all drivers will compete against the clock in two runs down the track. Race 2 on Sunday will feature head-to-head matchups between the NASCAR and NHRA drivers, with the winner from each division squaring off in a final heat for bragging rights.
      QUALIFYING: Camping World Truck Series veteran Todd Bodine put his experience in a bobsled to good use Saturday evening when he turned in the fastest time in qualifying for the Fourth Annual Whelen Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge at the Olympic Sports Complex. As one of two drivers that competed in each of the previous three Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenges, Todd Bodine, younger brother of the challenge’s namesake, recorded afternoon practice runs of 52.14 and 52.26 seconds. As the last driver up in the qualifying round, the younger Bodine turned in a 52.20 in time trials to just edge Larry Gunselman at the top of the board by .01 seconds. Gunselman, who made 17 starts in the Nationwide Series in 2008, posted the two fastest afternoon practice times (51.81/51.85), but his qualifying run of 52.21 was bested only by Todd Bodine. Morgan Lucas, a NHRA Top Fuel driver, was third-fastest in Saturday’s qualifying at 52.40 seconds. Also representing NASCAR in the event is five-time Bodine Bobsled Challenge winner and part-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Boris Said, 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Joey Logano, 2008 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Champion Philip Morris and 2008 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Champion Brian Loftin. Also participating this weekend is road racing specialist Eric Curran and Danny Bagwell from the ISCARS Dash Touring Series along with NHRA racers Jeg Coughlin, J.R. Todd and Bob Vandergriff. The brakemen for each of the drivers are New York State National Guardsmen. Even host Geoff Bodine, a former Sprint Cup Series driver and founder of the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, participated in the practice session but did not have a run in time trials. He will compete only in the head-to-head portion of Sunday’s finals. SPEED channel is set to televise four hours of the Whelen Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge on Jan. 18 at noon and Jan. 25 at 2 pm. MRN Radio is also providing live coverage of the Bodine Bobsled Challenge all three days.(NASCAR PR)
      INFO: More info and links on my Racing Charity page and On Going Racing Charity News page.(1-3-2009) Comment here

    • Texas World Speedway’s Oval Update: Texas World Speedway in College Station, Texas is pleased to announce that the initial phase of repair to its historical Super Oval is near completion and is expected to be completed in 7-10 days. This phase is designed to get the Oval in “test ready” condition through a combination of grinding, asphalt rejuvenation and general maintenance. TWS is now accepting rental bookings for its Super Oval and Grand Prix tracks. For more information about Texas World Speedway, see contact info at PR)(1-3-2009) Comment here

    • HOF Racing owner re-signs from MLB job: #96 Hall of Famme Racing co-owner Jeff Moorad has resigned as Arizona Diamondbacks chief executive officer and says he has reached an agreement in principle to buy the San Diego Padres. Moorad said Friday he heads a "small but significant" group of investors that has an exclusive right to complete the specifics of negotiations with Padres owner John Moores. Moorad said he hopes the transaction can be completed in the next three months.(, no word how or if this will effect the running of the #96 Hall of Fame Racing Toyota team. Rumors have the team laying off most of the employees, losing support from Joe Gibbs Racing and having only partial sponsorhip for the 2009 season.(1-3-2009) Comment here

    • Team Dakar USA clears scrutineering: After months of preparation for what many consider to be the toughest motorsports event on earth, Team Dakar USA completes scrutineering. Scrutineering consists of several hours of activities that include document processing, a GPS instruction class, photos, Iritrack and Tripy installation, and vehicle technical inspection. Both the Monster Energy Toyo Tires Hummer and Vanguard Hummer have drawn crowds everywhere they go. They have quickly become a fan favorite in Buenos Aires. “I’m very excited to be here,” said Robby Gordon. “The response to the Hummers has been incredible. Everyone on the team has worked hard to get all the vehicles ready and we feel we are very well prepared. To conclude preparations, Team Dakar USA is going through all of the support vehicles to make sure the final details are met. All spare parts, tires, tools and other equipment need to be accounted for. The assistance vehicles and equipment are a vital component in the Rally. Driver of the Vanguard Hummer, Eric Vigouroux is also thrilled to take part of this historic race. “It is a great opportunity for me and my co driver, Alex to take part in this edition of the Dakar Rally with a professional team like Team Dakar USA,” stated Vigouroux. The first of 15 stages starts tomorrow Saturday the 3rd in Buenos Aires and travels to Santa Rosa de la Pampa. The stage consists of a total of 733 rolling km and the special has a total of 371km of racing. The Dakar Rally can be seen in the United States on the Versus Network and daily updates will be posted on and and a TV Schedule can be found on my TV Listings page..(1-3-2009) Comment here

    • Sad News - John Rebhan: Former Cup car owner, John Rebhan, passed away on December 30th. Rebhan owned Warren Fabricating in Warren, Ohio. Rebhan owned the #77 car fielded in 11 races over 3 seasons [1979-1981] by John Anderson, Kenny Hemphill and Donnie Allison with Allison having the best finish of 5th at Talladega in May 1981. see a story about Rebhan at the Tribune Chronicle;
      SERVICES: At the family's request, calling hours and services are private. Entombment will take place at Crown Hill Burial Park. Material contributions may be made to the donor's favorite charity. Arrangements are entrusted to McFarland & Son Funeral Services Co., 271 N. Park Ave., Warren 44481. Please visit to view this obituary and send condolences.(Tribune Chronicle)(1-3-2009)

    • Former ISC employees avoid prision time: Former International Speedway Corp. employees William Kilgannon and Todd Polakoff have avoided prison time for their roles in an extortion conspiracy in association with the failed attempt to put a race track on New York’s Staten Island. Polakoff was sentenced to three years probation, while Kilgannon got two years of supervised release, according to court documents. They were sentenced Dec. 12 in U.S. District Court in New York. Polakoff and Kilgannon were among 62 people indicted in February as part of a wide-ranging, 80-count federal indictment that targeted alleged Mafia members, including three high-ranking members of the Gambino crime family. Kilgannon and Polakoff were former employees of ISC subsidiary North American Testing Co., which handles design and construction for ISC.(see full story at SceneDaily)(1-3-2009) Comment here

    • AMS Labor Day Tix on sale Monday: Due to requests for Labor Day NASCAR race weekend tickets, the general on-sale date for Atlanta Motor Speedway's Labor Day weekend Sprint Cup Series race has been moved up to Jan. 5. Those eager to secure the best seats for the first-ever Sprint Cup night race at Atlanta Motor Speedway can purchase their tickets beginning at 9 a.m. on Jan. 5 by calling the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office, by visiting, or by using a authorized Ticketmaster retailer, including The Labor Day NASCAR weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway will feature a Nationwide Series race and Hot Shot Sprint Cup Qualifying on Saturday, Sept. 5 and the Sprint Cup Series race under the lights on Sunday, Sept. 6. For the first-time ever, Atlanta Motor Speedway is offering fans a payment plan to purchase tickets. Race fans can reserve their Labor Day weekend Sprint Cup race ticket for just $20. They will then pay half of the purchase balance by April 5, with the remaining balance due on June 5.(AMS PR)(1-3-2009)

      News from January 2, 2009

    • Sadler to claim GEM breached their contract: An attorney representing Elliott Sadler has filed notice in Iredell County (N.C.) court saying the NASCAR driver intends to claim that Gillett Evernham Motorsports has breached Sadler's contract to drive the Sprint Cup team's #19 Dodges. John Buric, Sadler's lawyer, filed an "application and order extending time to file complaint" Wednesday in Iredell County Superior Court. Sadler has until Jan. 20 to file an actual complaint if the parties cannot reach an agreement on their dispute. According to the form, Sadler plans to seek "injunctive relief, declaratory relief/specific performance, consequential and punitive damages as a result of Defendants anticipatory and actual breach of Plaintiffs' Driving Services Agreement. ... Plaintiffs also seek general, consequential, treble and punitive damages, and attorney fees, as a result of Defendants' tortuous interference ..." George Gillett, Gillette Evernham Motorsports, Anthony James Allmendinger and Ray Evernham Enterprises are named as defendants. Buric said Sadler learned on Tuesday that GEM had engaged in negotiations with Allmendinger about driving the #19 Dodges in 2009. Buric said there had been "communication" with Sadler earlier, telling him that a change was being considered. But he said Sadler did not know there had been actual negotiations until he received phone calls about media reports that Allmendinger was being lined up to replace him. "Elliott is ready, willing and able to fulfill his contractual obligations," Buric said. Sadler earlier this year signed an extension of his contract with GEM that runs through 2010. "Gillett Evernham Motorsports policy does not allow us to comment on potential or pending legal matters involving the race team," said Ryan Barry, a spokesman for the organization.(Charlotte Observer/David Poole)(1-2-2009) Comment here

    • Robby and Team Dakar news: Team Dakar USA and Sprint Cup driver [#7 Jim Beam/Menards Toyota] Robby Gordon are in Buenos Aires Argentina to challenge the world’s most demanding sixteen day off-road race. Team Dakar USA’s objectives are to win the rally, highlight American innovation, determination and pride. The 2009 Dakar Rally covers over 6,000 miles (10000km) of punishing off road terrain. In preparation for the rally, Gordon’s crew spent countless hours prepping the two Hummer H3 race vehicles and support vehicles. Team Dakar USA’s support vehicles consist of a Mercedes Benz 6X6, Mercedes 4X4, MAN 4X4 race truck and two Hummer H1’s. One Hummer will act as an assistance vehicle while a second Hummer H1 will focus in media relations. A third race vehicle will enter in the truck class to aid Gordon and Vigoroux in case of any assistance needed. The MAN race truck is driven by “Turbo” Tom Gevis, it has the vitals to repair the vehicles on the course. The ASO does not allow vehicle assistance during special stages unless that vehicle is entered in the rally. Team Dakar USA has twenty four dedicated individuals that form the roster. Most of the team members are familiar faces in off-road motorsports. They have endured years of racing experience in Dakar, Baja, and Central Europe. In the Dakar Rally that can be the determining factor between winning or even finishing a rally like this. An exciting addition to the 2009 Team is driver Eric Vigoroux and his co pilot Alexandre Winocq. “We are excited to have Eric and Alex on our team, Eric is fast and has finished Dakar Rally’s before. His experience will be an added asset to our team, ”said Gordon.
      Gordon, will make his fifth appearance in the Dakar Rally in 2009. A three-time Dakar stage winner, two time Central Europe Rally Special winner is the only American to do so. Gordon has been competing in off-road endurance races since the early 1980’s. Himself a three-time winner of the esteemed Baja 1000 along with numerous other victories within North American borders, Gordon is attempting to be the first American to win the overall victory of the coveted Dakar Rally. The 2009 Dakar Rally, which takes place between the 3rd and 18th of January, is scheduled to be broadcast in 189 countries. Versus will carry the TV coverage for the USA. A TV Schedule can be found on my TV Listings page. Fans can access news, background reports, photographs, and videos before the start and during the Dakar Rally on PRs)(1-2-2009)

    • Barnes Wins the Polar Bear 150 at the Rock: Chuck Barnes, Sr., who started from the R.A. Jeffrey’s Distributing Company pole, took advantage of blown engine in Brett Hudson’s Chevy Monte Carlo with ten laps to go to take the checkered flag in the inaugural Polar Bear 150 at the Rockingham Speedway Thursday afternoon. Clinton, Indiana’s Anthony White, the NASCAR Technical Institute’s Hard Charger of the race award winner, finished second in his first start on a paved track. Rounding out the top-five were Clint Watkins of Maggie Valley, NC and Bonaire, Georgia’s Tim Jensen and Tony Conway of Louisville, KY. J.D. Frey, a mechanic for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing’s Sprint Cup team, whose entry was owned by Dale Earnhardt, Jr., ran with the leaders most of the day, only to be caught up in a late-race accident.(Rockingham Speedway PR)(1-2-2009)

    • Images: added #98 Menards Ford, #88 AMP Chevy, #88 Nationa Guard Chevy and #26 Crown Royal Ford to the Paint Scheme Gallery and/or 2009 Cup Schemes page.

    • New ride for Petty? UPDATE denied: hearing that after the Daytona 500 with James Hylton, the #08 EM Motorsports team will run Kyle Petty in up to 14 races with sponsorship from Wells Fargo and others TBA.(1-2-2009)
      UPDATE: been told that this is not true and nothing is signed.(1-2-2008) Comment here

      News from January 1, 2009

    • SMI Completes Kentucky Speedway Purchase: Speedway Motorsports, Inc.(SMI) has added Kentucky Speedway to its portfolio of motorsports facilities, expanding its geographic reach into the Midwest. The completed purchase was announced Wednesday by O. Bruton Smith, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. “We are extremely excited about the new opportunities this market is going to bring the company,” said Smith. “Since we announced this acquisition in May, we have been overwhelmed with the response of fans expressing their support and desire for a Sprint Cup event at Kentucky Speedway. We will continue to work with NASCAR to bring a Sprint Cup race to this fine facility as soon as possible. We are going to do everything we can to bring the great people of Kentucky what they want and deserve.” Located on approximately 820 acres in Sparta, Ky., just south of Cincinnati, Kentucky Speedway features a 1.5-mile tri-oval speedway, with grandstand seating for approximately 66,000 spectators, 50 luxury suites with seats for approximately 2,000, private RV spaces, and reserved and unreserved camping spaces. The speedway currently plays host to a NASCAR Nationwide Series race, a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, two ARCA RE/MAX Series races and an IndyCar Series race. Tickets for Kentucky Speedway’s 2009 season can be reserved by calling (859) 578-2300.(Kentucky Speedway)(1-1-2009)

    • Mike Wallace has ride for Daytona 500: Mike Wallace says he's secured a ride in a "competitive car" for the season-opening Daytona 500, providing he can get through the arduous Daytona qualifying process. But beyond Daytona, Wallace said this week he just doesn't know what's going to happen. "We're still talking to people, and they're still interested in possibly doing something," Wallace said. "The only thing that I'm thinking is that I wish it was, like, three months ago -- because the way they're thinking and the way I'm thinking, knowing how close the beginning of the season is, causes me a little bit of concern." But at this moment, like a lot of other guys and women, if you count drivers like his younger daughter Chrissy, who had meetings planned this week with team owner Bob Germain to determine what the suddenly sponsor-strapped Germain Racing team might be able to do to race with her this season, Wallace just doesn't know exactly what he's doing beyond Speedweeks -- though he'd consider racing any of NASCAR three national tours.(in part from Comment here

    • #22 team looking for sponsors: California businessman Mike Held recently bought out Bill Davis Racing, which has been in NASCAR since 1988. Its flagship car — the #22 that won the Daytona 500 in 2002 with Ward Burton behind the wheel — doesn’t yet have sponsorship in place for the upcoming season. “It’s difficult, there’s no doubt about that,” Held said. “If you think we’re sitting here with something in our back pocket that we’re just not ready to announce yet, I can assure you that’s not the case. ... We’ll keep trying and we’ll keep looking, and we know it’s not going to be easy.” He and BDR Vice President Marty Gaunt have “made the decision, having owned our own teams before, the one thing we both made a pact to do was we would not attempt to do something that is short of funding — it always ends in disaster,” he added. “If we come out onto the track (in 2009 with a Cup team) it’s because it makes good business sense and nothing more.”(Rocky Mount Telegram)(1-1-2009) Comment here

    • Race Scan closes: Bluff City [TN] Mayor Todd Malone is one of 15,693 people who have filed for bankruptcy this year in the Eastern District of Tennessee, a number that is 28% higher than in the previous year. Attributing his difficulties to a souring economy, Malone and his business, Race Scan Communications, filed for bankruptcy Dec. 18. He and his company, which Malone shuttered Oct. 22, are seeking Chapter 7 protection, commonly referred to as a liquidation bankruptcy. In his petition, Malone reports having $118,870 in non-exempt assets, about half of which is Race Scan’s store inventory, and $616,000 worth of unsecured debts. Malone took over Race Scan’s operations in July 2003. The business is best known for supplying NASCAR fans with radio equipment tuned to the frequencies [scanners] used by drivers at the Bristol Motor Speedway. But more recently, Malone said, most of the work involved installing sirens and radios in police cars and ambulances. Malone said he started having cash-flow problems about February or March when high gas prices forced people to curtail their purchases at the race track, especially the headsets he sold through his store. Those high prices and other cost increases also forced local governments to tighten their belts, Malone said, which meant they bought fewer new vehicles that needed sirens and radios. After suffering losses on both fronts, Malone said, he was forced to shut his business down.(Bristol Herald Courier)(1-1-2009) Comment here

    • Evernham still wants a role in NASCAR: Ray Evernham called "The Morning Drive" on Sirius NASCAR Radio this past week after his name came up Monday [12-29] while we [Mike Bagley & David Poole] were talking about the reports that Elliott Sadler will be replaced by AJ Allmendinger in the #19 Dodges next season at Gillett Evernham Motorsports. Evernham no longer has a major day-to-day role in the team he ran after leaving Hendrick Motorsports as Jeff Gordon's crew chief to help Dodge come back to big-time NASCAR competition. He sold most of his interest into the team to George Gillett and his family and has scaled back more and more over the past couple of years. Evernham wanted to make sure it was clear that he's not down on NASCAR or racing. Evernham wants to be involved in racing. But as a team owner, he discovered that was a job he wasn't going to be able to do at a level he could feel good about. Evernham doesn't have a "good enough" switch. You're talking about a guy whose work as [Jeff] Gordon's crew chief help redefined the way Cup teams compete. Evernham and his "Rainbow Warriors" changed the game, helping bring specialization and a level of attention to detail the sport had never seen before. By the time they were done, Evernham and Gordon had three championships together and Evernham had established himself as one of the sport's greatest all-time crew chiefs. Evernham said Tuesday that "it will probably always haunt me" that he didn't win a championship as a team owner, but he's proud of what he helped build at GEM. He's not sure he agrees with everything that's being done there now, but he also said that it's no longer his call. As for the situation with Sadler and Allmendinger, there wasn't much he could say. That's pretty much what has been going on with that story since it first surfaced over the weekend. Sadler signed a contract extension in May and my [Poole] hunch is that as lots of people wearing suits and carrying briefcases are discussing all of that everybody involved has been told to remain quiet until everybody's as happy as they're going to be. If I wanted to hype something Evernham said, I could use this quote: "When I left as a crew chief I said the only way I would come back in that job is to be Jeff Gordon's crew chief again." But that's not Evernham angling for Steve Letarte's job. It just means that Evernham isn't going to be a crew chief again just for the sake of having that title. For right now, Evernham is working on getting East Lincoln Speedway -- the short track he recently bought -- ready for a new season. He even got denim overalls, which is apparently the official working uniform of that track, for the job. See full story at Charlotte Observer.(1-1-2009)

    • Allmendinger to run Rolex 24: For the fourth consecutive year, Michael Shank Racing has signed AJ Allmendinger to be a part of the Columbus, Ohio-based team's assault on the biggest jewel in North American endurance racing, the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The team has two entries in the top Daytona Prototype class. The Rolex 24 event also has a GT class field as well, making the 24 hour race something akin to running a NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the same time, on the same track, as a Nationwide race. Allmendinger sat on the outside pole for the race last year, and very nearly won the race in his first run with Michael Shank Racing in 2006, coming up just under three miles short after 24 hours of hard running to take second overall with Mark Patterson, Oswaldo Negri, and Justin Wilson. "I really like Mike Shank and working with his whole team is always a great experience," said AJ, who would score a custom-built Rolex watch for a victory. "This is just one of those races that you want to have on your resume. There are so many guys who come out for this from so many parts of the sport, its a great event that just keeps getting bigger. Hopefully we can go all the way and end up on top."(

    • Elliott's brother named GM of speedway: Peachstate Speedway in Jefferson, Georgia was renamed Gresham Motorsports Park. Racetrack owners Jim Gresham, Dan Elliott of the famous Elliott family of Dawsonville, Georgia, has been named the General Manager of Gresham Motorsports Park. "We plan to do an Extreme Makeover Race Track Edition" Elliott said in a brief interview. He has been in racing almost all of his life, from short tracks to NASCAR, and he plans to use every resource available to make this the best racetrack in the country. "This track once hosted some of the most famous drivers that ever raced and if anyone can do that again I want to be the man to do it and I want this to be the track where new talent is discovered. I am excited and proud to be a part of the new Gresham Motorsports Park and highly praise the Greshams and Gene Roberts for this awesome opportunity." For further information see Motorsports Park)(1-1-2009)

      News from December 31, 2008

    • Petty-GEM merger done deal? UPDATE: Multiple sources have confirmed that Petty Enterprises racing will shut its doors and merge with the team currently known as Gillett Evernham Motorsports. A deal was inked between Petty Enterprises and team owner George Gillett on Christmas Eve, but the terms of that agreement have yet to be divulged. The venerable #43 Dodge covered with the trademarked Petty blue glaze will become part of the Gillett stable with Reed Sorenson expected to be behind the wheel. A formal announcement is expected early next week. Most of the remaining 39 employees at Petty Enterprises will conclude their duties at the Mooresville-based shop on Wednesday. The company moved from its original shop adjacent to the Petty homestead in Level Cross, N.C., in January to what was formerly the Yates Racing complex. Robbie Loomis, Petty Executive VP of Racing Operations, is expected to assume a managerial role under the new partnership, which will likely be rebranded under the Petty banner. Former car chief Ray Fox Jr. will assume a similar role at JTG-Daugherty Racing with the #47 team. David Zucker, who was named CEO of the team when private equity firm Boston Ventures purchased controlling interest in June, is expected to be reassigned to the Petty Driving Experience.(FoxSports), no word on what happend to the #10 ride which Sorenson was supposed to drive.(12-31-2008)
      UPDATE: Although neither GEM nor Petty officials said an announcement was forthcoming, sources indicated that the organizations were ironing out final details. The merger would entail GEM absorbing Petty's #43 car, which according to sources would be driven by Reed Sorenson and sponsored by the Air Force next season. Chris McKee, marketing director of the Richard Petty Driving Experience, confirmed that David Zucker, current chief operating officer of Petty Enterprises and the Richard Petty Driving Experience, will oversee only the driving experience once the merger is complete. Zucker was installed as Petty's CEO after team owner Richard Petty earlier this year sold majority interest in his organization to the private equity firm Boston Ventures in a bid to raise capital and improve performance. McKee added that further details of the merger will come next week. Indications are that the name of the merged organization will be altered to reflect Richard Petty's involvement. Richard's father, Lee, founded Petty Enterprises in 1949. The merger would place four cars under the GEM stable -- the #43, as well as the Nos. 9, 10, and 19 currently in the Gillett-Evernham fleet. Kasey Kahne drives the #9, with A.J. Allmendinger replacing Elliott Sadler in the #19 for next season. No driver has been announced for the #10 car for 2009.( Comment here

    • SMI expected to announced Kentucky deal complete: Speedway Motorsports Inc. is expected to announce sometime Wednesday that its purchase of Kentucky Speedway is complete. The company agreed in May to buy the Sparta [KY] track from Jerry Carroll and his partners for $78.3 million, including the assumption of $63.3 million in debt, and has been targeting a late December closing. Kentucky Speedway will become the eighth track in SMI’s lineup. The company’s other tracks – Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Infineon Raceway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Lowe’s Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway - host a combined 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup events each year. The changeover will come as Kentucky Speedway’s original ownership group continues to challenge in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati the dismissal of its antitrust lawsuit against NASCAR and its sister company International Speedway Corp. All final briefs in the appeal must be filed by Jan. 28. The sale of the track is separate from the lawsuit.(Cincinnati Enquirer)(12-31-2008)

    • R.A. Jeffreys Distributing Company to Sponsor the Pole Award at the Polar Bear 150: The Polar Bear 150 is already one of the biggest Street Stock races in the country and now the competitors will have another prize to claim – a pole award from R.A. Jeffreys Distributing Company. The driver winning the award will have their work cut out for them. With up to 99 drivers starting the race, qualifying will be very important and will be determined through a very exciting ‘European Style’ qualifying format. Several will be on the track at the same time making qualifying runs to get the best time and win the R.A. Jefferys Distributing Company Pole Award. The pole award is not the only involvement that the R.A. Jefferys Distributing Company will have with the Polar Bear 150 – they will be supplying the concession stands with Anheuser-Busch products as well as the New Years Eve Celebration that will ring in the New Year in the Rockingham Speedway’s Infield. The Polar Bear 150, the New Year’s Eve Celebration and the partnership with R.A. Jeffreys Distributing Company are all new traditions for the Rockingham Speedway that are a part of a long term strategy for the track. The Polar Bear 150 kicks off on December 31st with practice during the day and a New Years Eve celebration in the garage area and infield of the track starting at 7:30 p.m. Fans can join the drivers and teams for the celebration for only $10. The race will begin at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday January 1st with qualifying at 10:00 a.m. General admission seating is only $15 when purchased in advance and $20 the day of the race. Kids 12 and under are free with a paid adult. For more information please call the speedway at 910-205-8800 or visit Speedway PR)(12-30-2008)
      RADIO coverage: and Victory Lane Productions will team up to bring race fans exclusive Internet Radio coverage of the Polar Bear 150 from Rockingham Speedway on New Year's Day. Visit to listen live to the race. The green flag will fly at 1:00pm/et on New Year's Day and you can listen to it live on RaceTalkRadio starting at 12:00noon/et.(12-31-2008)

    • Sad News - Sam Yunick: William "Sam" Yunick, 42, son of of racing legend, Henry Smokey Yunick, passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, December 27, 2008. Sam was a graduate of Georgia State and began his journey as an entrepreneur in Atlanta, Georgia in August 1991. Sam and his wife, Sharon, started with one Subway franchise and built it into a successful business with five operations in the Atlanta area. Sam and Sharon returned to Jacksonville in 1996 where Sam started Sync, Inc. which currently employs over 95 people in its various operations. Sam is survived by his wife, Sharon Yunick; two sons, Michael and Patrick; and a daughter, Nicole. More info at the Daytona Beach News Journal.(12-31-2008)

      News from December 30, 2008

    • #8 Crew chief: hearing Doug Randolph will move over from DEI's [now Earnhardt Ganassi Racing/EGR] #15 team, which is now defunct, to the #8 Chevy of Aric Almirola, Tony Gibson, who was the crew chief of the #8, left to be Ryan Newman's crew chief on the #39 Stewart-Haas Chevy.(12-30-2008) Comment here

    • HMS Holdings suing DEI over engines UPDATE 2:: HMS Holdings, which operates the Hendrick Motorsports engine shop, is suing Dale Earnhardt Inc. [now Earnhardt Ganassi Racing after another merger] for $1.5 million for the payment of a termination fee stemming from a contract to supply Hendrick engines to Ginn Racing. Ginn Racing, which also is a defendant in the suit filed Friday in North Carolina Superior Court, merged with DEI in July 2007. As part of the merger, DEI and Ginn Racing signed a termination agreement to a contract that was originally signed by Ginn in 2006. The termination agreement required payments to HMS of $1.754 million by July 31, 2007, and $1.5 million by Nov. 15, 2008, according to the suit. The first payment was made on time. The second payment has not been made, according to the suit. The original engine contract and termination agreement are not included in the suit, so it is unclear how much Ginn was paying to use Hendrick engines. HMS is asking for the $1.5 million, 12% interest and an additional $225,000. Hendrick Motorsports spokesman Jesse Essex said the company is looking forward to a swift resolution of the lawsuit.(SceneDaily)(11-25-2008)
      UPDATE - engines cost $12.8M base: If you’re looking to lease engines from Hendrick Motorsports for a NASCAR operation, you’d better be prepared to open up your wallet. A legal battle being played out in North Carolina courts is offering rare insight into the usually secretive world of the sport’s finances as the Hendrick operation seeks compensation from the Ginn Racing team that wound up as part of DEI in 2007. According to a contract filed as part of the case, the Hendrick engine lease agreement with Ginn Racing called for Ginn to pay a base rent of $12.8 million in 2007 and $13.7 million in 2008 to lease engines for its three Sprint Cup teams and one team in what is now the Nationwide Series. The fee covered Cup engines for 36 race events and up to nine tests or special events and Nationwide engines for 35 events, according to the contract filed as part of a lawsuit by HMS Holdings against Ginn Racing and DEI over the termination fees resulting from the Ginn-DEI merger in July 2007.(Scene Daily)(12-20-2008)
      UPDATE 2: DEI claims that former NASCAR team owner Bobby Ginn is responsible for paying off any termination fees of Ginn Racing’s engine leasing contract with Hendrick Motorsports. Both DEI and Ginn have been sued by Hendrick in North Carolina Superior Court over $1.5 million in fees that Hendrick claims is owed under the termination agreement signed when DEI bought Ginn Racing in July 2007. In its response to the suit filed Dec. 22, DEI claims that DEI and Ginn have a signed agreement that DEI would not be responsible for any claims or payments under the engine lease termination agreement. DEI asks the court to rule that Ginn is responsible for any payments. Ginn has not yet responded to the suit.(SceneDaily)(12-30-2008) Comment here

    • GEM announces new director of sales: Gillett Evernham Motorsports announced the hiring of John Cowart as the NASCAR Sprint Cup team’s director of sales. Cowart, 43, will begin his duties with the Statesville, N.C. team effective immediately. “John brings a wealth of motorsports sales experience that will enhance Gillett Evernham Motorsports’ value to our current and future partners,” said De Cordell, GEM chief sales and marketing officer. “We are happy to welcome John and believe he will play a major role in the team’s quest to become the marquee team in motorsports.” Cowart, a Huntersville resident and University of Alabama graduate, said he looks forward to a new challenge. “Gillett Evernham Motorsports offers an opportunity that is challenging and ultimately will be rewarding,” he said. “NASCAR and Gillett Evernham Motorsports allow great brands the opportunity to market their product or service in a unique and interactive environment that connects with its passionate fans and provides a win-win for everyone involved.” Cowart has served in various sales and management capacities throughout the NASCAR industry since the start of the 2000 season.(GEM)(12-30-2008)

    • Tulare City [CA] Council OKs motor sports complex: The Tulare City [near Frensno CA, approx 250 miles from Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA] Council, in a split 3-2 vote, approved late Monday night the proposed Tulare Motor Sports Complex, a 711-acre project that calls for the construction of a race track, a drag strip and commercial and retail development in south Tulare. Tulare Mayor Craig Vejvoda, Vice Mayor Phil Vandegrift and councilman Richard Ortega voted to approve the project, while councilmen David Macedo and Wayne Ross casted a “no” vote. Fresno-based developer Bud Long, who is fronting the project, said he was excited about the outcome. The vote came at the end of a lenghty, three-and-a-half hour, single-issue special meeting held at the Tulare Senior Center, drawing an estimated 240 people. The project will now go before the Tulare County Local Agency Formation Commission in about a month’s time. The Tulare Planning Comission had already approved the project at a meeting earlier this month.(Visalia Times-Delta)(12-30-2008)

      News from December 29, 2008

    • Sadler replaced by Allmendinger? UPDATE 2: AJ Allmendinger is set to replace Elliott Sadler in the #19 Dodge in 2009, multiple Gillett Evernham Motorsports team sources told on Saturday. GEM CEO Tom Reddin told team employees and sponsors the news just before Christmas, causing some sponsors to consider leaving, according to team sources. Reached for comment Saturday, GEM spokesman Drew Brown chose not to comment. Sources also said Ray Evernham, who founded the team and sold majority ownership to George Gillett, cleared out all personal possessions from the team's shop, including the 2002 Brickyard 400 trophy he won as owner of Bill Elliott's #9 Dodge. Calls placed to Evernham and Sadler's representation were not immediately returned.(
      UPDATE: Allmendinger will join Kasey Kahne in the flagship #9 GEM Dodge and newcomer Reed Sorenson, who will pilot the #43 Dodge following the imminent announcement of the merger between owner George Gillett and Richard Petty.
      AND Sadler? Sadler's possibilities are rumored to include the #41 Chevy at Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing or the #77 Dodge at Penske Racing should Sam Hornish Jr. replace Helio Castroneves in the IRL IndyCar Series [who faces a trial and possible jail over IRS charges].(FoxSports), no word on who would drive the #10 Dodge of GEM in 2009.(12-28-2008)
      UPDATE 2: Sadler signed a two-year contract extension with GEM in May, and sources say team owner George Gillett will now be forced to buy out those additional two years. Sadler has already begun making calls to try and find a ride for next season. Sources tell Sirius Speedway that Gillett is heavily leveraged from the original Evernham buyout, as well as from a number of automobile dealerships he purchased earlier this year. He reportedly faces a major payment on his Liverpool Football Club, which plays in the English Premier League, as well. A deal that would have merged GEM with Bill Davis Racing fell by the wayside a few weeks ago, reportedly after Gillett was unable to obtain financing to complete the transaction. Gillett has recently been involved in negotiations to merge GEM with Petty Enterprises. Sirius Speedway reported two weeks ago that the merger had stalled, and while that report was immediately denied by a GEM spokesman, Sadler’s release appears to indicate that the deal is indeed in jeopardy. A combined GEM/Petty operation was expected to field four cars in 2009; enough to retain Kasey Kahne, Reed Sorenson, Sadler and Allmendinger. (Sirius Speedway)(12-29-2008) Comment here

    • Changes for 2009 - Crew Chiefs:
      #00 -- Ryan Pemberton left to crew chief Brian Vickers for 2009, Rodney Childers comes from GEM to take over
      #7 -- made numerous crew chief changes in 2008, have heard nothing official, but heard that Kirk Almquist, who came to the team in late 2008, will be back
      #8 -- TBA, no one named since Gibson left for Stewart-Haas
      #10 -- Crew chief Mike Shiplett was suspended by the team in late 2008, no word if he returns
      #14 [was #70] -- Darian Grubbs comes over from Hendrick were he was an engineer, but has crew chiefed before with Jimmie Johnson, garnering two wins
      #17 -- Chip Bolin goes back to the engeneering side at Roush, Nationwide crew chief, Drew Blickensderfer takes over in 2009
      #19 -- TBA, former crew chief, Rodney Childers left to go to MWR's #00 team
      #26 -- Donnie Wingo, leaves Gannasi to take the crew chief gig for McMurray, Wingo had been a logtime crew chief at Gamassi's
      #33 -- Shane Wilson will crew chief Bowyer RCR's new team
      #38 -- Cully Barraclough left at seasons end is is back as the car chief on a NNS ride for Roush, no word who Gilliand's crew chief will be.
      #39 -- Tony Gibson comes over from DEI, Bootie Barker heads to MWR
      #41 -- Donnie Wingo left to crew chief McMurray in the #26. #41 has no driver named, nor a crew chief
      #43 -- Jeff Meendering left and went to Stewart-Haas racing as a car chief.
      #47 -- Frank Kerr will be the crew chief for Ambrose
      #83 -- Ryan Pemberton comes over form MWR to crew chief Vickers, former crew chief supposedly will take a management role with the team.
      #98 -- Larry Carter comes over from Roush/McMurray to take over for Paul Menard and this new team.
      No Changes [so far] for the following teams: #'s 07,1,2,5,6,9,11,12,18,20,21,22,24,29,42,48,82,88,96,99. See my 2009 Cup Team Chart for more changes and info.(12-29-2008) Comment here

    • Bowyer gets news plane: Clint Bowyer recently [Dec 22nd] took delivery of his Beechcraft Premier IA, the world’s fastest and most technologically advanced single-pilot business jet. With a cruising speed greater than 520mph – 50mph faster than its nearest competitor – the Premier IA is the only light jet in the world that satisfies Bowyer’s need for speed. While in Wichita for the delivery, Bowyer toured the Hawker Beechcraft manufacturing plant and signed autographs for employees. “As a NASCAR driver, I have a very demanding schedule that takes me from coast-to-coast on a regular basis,” Bowyer said. “My new Premier IA will allow me to operate more efficiently and effectively. I am proud to own an airplane made in my home state of Kansas. It was great to see many NASCAR fans at the factory today and I thank them for their work on this superior aircraft.”(Hawker Beechcraft)(12-29-2008) Comment here

    • Sad News - Grady Humphryes: Grady Humphryes, age 71, passed away December 23, 2008. Mr. Humphryes was a respected member of the racing community, Mr. Humphryes worked for ML Motorsports, Bobby Allison, Davey Allison and several other NASCAR and ARCA racing teams over his 40 year career. Funeral Services will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Monday, December 29, 2008 at Brown Service West Chapel with interment following at Valhalla Cemetery. Visitation will be held on Sunday, December 28, 2008 from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. at the funeral home. Dearly loved by his family, he is survived by his wife, Angela Humphryes; children, Shelia Humphryes, Angie Weldon (Larry), Scott Humphryes and Andrew Humphryes; siblings, Sox Humphries, Albert Humphries (Eloise) and Gladys Ann Goodwin (Glen); as well as many loving extended family and friends. Memorial Contributions may be made through Bobby Allison Racing, c/o Bonnie Allison Farr, 140 Church Ave., Hueytown, AL 35023. Brown Service West Chapel is honored to serve the Humphryes family.(Birmingham News)(12-29-2008)

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