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December 2003 News Archives


 

  • (12-31-2003)

  • NOT NASCAR but close to me…so….: Auto racing returns to the concrete floor of Atlantic City’s [NJ] Boardwalk Hall next week. On Jan. 9, up to 40 drivers piloting Three-Quarter Midget and 600cc Micro-Sprint cars are expected to compete in four heats, two consolations and a 30-lap feature, with time trials beginning at 5:30 p.m. The action will continue with a day-long program on Jan. 10, concluding with a 50-lap feature at 6:30 p.m. Among the local entries are Danny Sammons of Bordentown, a USAR Hooters Pro-Cup regular, and Levittown’s Bobby Watkins Jr., who competed in the 2003 ARDC Midget Series. Johnny Sauter, who will drive the #30 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing in the 2004 Nextel Cup Series, and Martin Truex Jr., a New Jersey native who will drive for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 2004 Busch Series team, could be late additions to the event. Reserved-seat tickets are on sale through all Ticketmaster outlets. For more information, call 609-888-3618.(Philadelphia Inquirer), Jayski plans to go on Friday and more info at the www.aarn.com site and at boardwalkhall.com.(12-31-2003)

    Changing of the guard
    “The World Center of Racing” – Daytona International Speedway – underwent somewhat of a face-lift on Tuesday as the Winston logo panels from the twin scoring “Tri-lon” towers were removed. The 75-foot towers, located in the infield of the Speedway, have been in place since 1981. The familiar red and white Winston panels will be replaced with new NASCAR Cup sponsor NEXTEL logos in time for Speedweeks beginning in January 2004. (Daytona International Speedway photo)(12-31-2003)

  • Former driver/owner injured in plane crash UPDATE: former NASCAR driver and owner Dick Brooks was piloting a plane on his private airstrip in Woodruff, SC. The plane never left the ground, but went off the runway, hit a bump and overturned. Brooks is in the intensive care unit at Spartanburg Regional. The NTSB will be investigating. Brooks was badly hurt in a motorcycle crash back in 1999.(paraphrased from the www.newschannel7online.com site), Brooks won one race in Winston Cup, at Talladega in 1973, also owned a team back in the early 1990’s.
    ALSO more at the Greenville News: Brooks, the 1969 NASCAR rookie of the year, was cleaning out a hangar for a New Year’s Eve party when he decided to run one of his antique planes, according to Flash Millwood, a member of Brooks’ pit crew and a friend for 35 years. Brooks wasn’t planning on flying and didn’t have his seat belt on, Millwood said. He was being treated at Spartanburg Regional Hospital, a spokeswoman said. Brooks, who owns several automobile dealerships in the Carolinas and Florida, started racing NASCAR in 1969, driving in the first race he ever saw: a road-course event at Riverside, Calif. He won his only Winston Cup race at Talladega, Ala., in 1973. Brooks hung up his racing gear in 1985 then worked as a pit reporter for Motor Racing Network. It’s not the first time his passion for fast cars, motorcycles and airplanes has put Brooks in the hospital. He suffered severe injuries in July 1999 after he wrecked his motorcycle in a field near his home. Brooks has been involved in the fund-raising for the Motorsports Museum of the South, which is scheduled to be finished in Spartanburg next year.(12-30-2003)
    UPDATE: Former NASCAR Rookie of the Year Dick Brooks has been hurt in a plane crash near his farm, authorities say. Brooks, 61, was taxiing his favorite plane down his personal runway Sunday afternoon when a wheel got caught in the grass and turned the plane over, longtime friend Joe Whisenant said. Brooks was taken to the intensive care unit of the Spartanburg Regional Medical Center after the crash, but his daughter Stacy Jackson said doctors expect him to recover. “They are wanting to keep him here a couple of days for observation,” Jackson said.(ThatsRacin.com/AP)(12-31-2003)
  • New #31 Team Members: Scott Miller has returned to Richard Childress Racing as team manager for the #31 car after working with #32-Ricky Craven for a year at PPI Motorsports as the crew chief. Miller will join crew chief Chris Andrews and driver Robby Gordon along with newly named car chief Todd Osborne, who came from Ganassi Racing’s #40 car. Andrews inherited the pit crew from RCR’s #30 team, which he describes as “awesome.”(Yahoo Sports/Sporting News)(12-31-2003)
  • Wilburn to the #77: After more than a decade, Billy Wilburn has left the #2 car to join Penske Racing’s newly acquired #77 team [not announced…yet, see more on my #77 Team News and Links page] as shop foreman. Not only will Wilburn be an asset to first-time Cup crew chief Shane Wilson at the shop, he will work closely with him at the racetrack as well. Rick Carpenter will be team manager.(Yahoo Sports/Sporting News)(12-31-2003)
  • CART and the Frances/ISC? An Indiana judge has cleared away the first hurdles in the planned takeover of CART assets. Judge Frank Otte overruled attempts to slow down the process and thus torpedo the plans of Open Wheel Racing. The CART lawyers argued that if there were delays there would be nothing left. The objections had been put forward by legal teams representing California Speedway and Road America, both of which have outstanding legal issues with CART. Mike Hile, an attorney representing California Speedway said that he is also representing a group of investors which is interested in making a bid for the CART assets. The identity of this group remains unknown although Hile said the bid would come from a company called 88 Corp.
    88 Corp is the owner of California Speedway and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the International Speedway Corporation. This is a leading promoter of motorsports activities in the United States, currently promoting more than 100 events annually. The Company owns and/or operates 12 motorsports facilities. In addition it owns and operates MRN Radio, the nation’s largest independent sports radio network and the Daytona USA theme park in Daytona Beach, Florida. The company also owns major merchandising subsidiaries. ISC is a publicly-traded company but is controlled by the France Family, the owners of NASCAR. It is also involved in another company called The Motorsport Alliance, a partnership between ISC, the Frances and Tony George, the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy Racing League, CART’s major rival.(GrandPrix.com)(12-31-2003)


    (12-30-2003)

  • Oops….not in Winston Salem this year…. Some NASCAR fans are calling Joel Coliseum in search of tickets to the T. Wayne Robertson NASCAR Winston-Cup Preview, not realizing that the preview normally held in January is moving to Daytona. More than 100 telephone calls since Friday prompted officials to post a notice on the coliseum’s Web site, along with a link to the new preview, which will be held Jan. 7-20 at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach. The new preview, called the NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest, will include numerous bands, pit-stop demonstrations and fan forums with drivers, according to the speedway’s Web site. The fan fest will coincide with the annual NASCAR Preseason Thundertest sessions, and will include drivers from the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.(Winston Salem Journal) see more info on testing, testing dates, driver lists and tickets purchase info for the Fan Fest on PAGE 2 of the News.(12-30-2003)
  • Sad News: Rina Andretti, mother of auto racing legend Mario Andretti, died early Monday at Country Meadows nursing home in Bethlehem Township [PA]. She was 90. Mario Andretti said his mother suffered from dementia, a neurological condition that can be caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Mario Andretti said his mother peacefully passed away in her sleep. Rina Andretti came to the United States from Montona, Italy, in 1955 with her family after spending seven years in a refugee camp. Mario Andretti said his mother was supportive of him, his twin brother Aldo and sister Anna Marie Burley. In addition to Mario Andretti, Rina Andretti is survived by son Aldo Andretti of Indianapolis, daughter Anna Marie Burley of Melbourne, Fla., 12 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. Funeral services and a Mass of Christian Burial are set for Friday.(Express-TimesAND In addition to her three children, Rina Andretti is survived by 12 grandchildren, including Mario’s sons Jeff and Michael, and Aldo’s son, NASCAR driver John, and 19 great-grandchildren. Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday at the Reichel Funeral Home,Nazareth, with a Mass to follow at 11am at Holy Family Catholic Church.(Morning Call)(12-30-2003)
  • Driver tests with Gibbs: As the 2004 season starts NASCAR’s big push for the “Drive for Diversity” has started. Enter “Chewy” Jesus (Pronounced heysus) Hernandez. Chewy Hernandez has run over 36 NASCAR sanctioned events in 2002 and 2003. The last three years he has finished in the top five every year in the Grand American Modified Championship, securing a fourth place in championship points for the 2003 Season. “Chewy” or Chuy is a first generation Mexican American. He is also the ONLY true diversity Winston Racing Series champion in the series having won at Madera Speedway.
    Hernandez tested for Joe Gibbs Racing the third week of December at Concord Speedway [NC]. He was one of 6 drivers that were chosen out of hundreds in a national driver search for Joe Gibbs late model Program [have not heard who the other five were]. Hernandez was given a choice to drive a Chevy or a dodge and he chose the Chevy. “Everything fit really well in the car. The driver before us who shook down the car set up the car pretty good. Curtis Markham who is the spotter for Joe Gibbs Busch cars was also the spotter for this session.
    While NASCAR is gearing up for 2004 and their diversity program, G&G Motorsports Marketing and KWK Motorsports have been working for a while on this program. The program was started over a year ago when Kenny Kinchen spotted Hernandez and has been grooming and mentoring him ever since. “He is a diamond in the rough, he has natural talent and ability, he is the real deal, but most importantly he is the full package, “stated Kenny Kinchen. “We are excited that Chewy had this opportunity to test for Joe Gibbs and hope for the best but in the interim we are continuing to work on our program. We are in the process of securing sponsorship for Chewy for the 2004 season which will include a full season of NASCAR Winston West series along with 4 Craftsman Truck races.(G&G Motorsports Marketing PR)(12-30-2003)
  • Andretti getting looks? hearing that John Andretti has been approached by several Cup and Busch teams after the DEI Busch test at Talladega recently. Supposedly a couple of the Cup teams are ones with drivers who were not expected to be out of rides in 2004. Andretti’s test opened a lot of eyes and the word got around, and now some Cup and Busch teams are at least checking his availability. He is in the #1 DEI Chevy for the Daytona 500 but DEI said they would let him out if he found a full-time ride.(12-30-2003)
  • New #88 Baby: #88 Scorer, Bertica Mullis and #88 employee Tommy Mullis welcomed Gabriella Marina Lopez Mullis at 3:15pm December 28, 2003, 7lbs, 5 ozs. and all are doing well.(12-30-2003)
  • Not NASCAR but Sad News: On Christmas evening last week, 58-year-old John Lingenfelter died at Adams County Memorial Hospital near his home in Decatur, Ind., from complications suffered after a racing accident in Pomona, Calif., in 2002. Tragically, his death was not a direct result of the injuries he suffered in the crash, which occurred during the NHRA’s Mazda Sport Compact World Finals at the Fairplex, but from a serious reaction to medication he received prior to surgery. In NHRA competition, he was a former two-time winner of the prestigious U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis in the Competition Eliminator category in 1978 and 1986, and in 1998, moved to the then-new Pro Stock Truck class, where he finished second in the championship points. Among his other career milestones, he won 13 NHRA national events in Competiton Eliminator, was the first driver in that sportsman category to run in the 6-second bracket, and had scored one of the quickest elapsed times ever recorded in a four-cylinder automobile when he charged to a 7.08 timeslip in his Summit Racing Cavalier. His ready smile and low-key personality made him a popular and familiar figure at the many racing events he attended. The entire drag racing community feels his loss, especially at a time of year when the joy of the holidays and the traditions shared by families and friends take center stage. John Lingenfelter’s energy and enthusiasm for high performance and cars which accelerate our heartbeat will truly be missed. He is survived by his wife, Cynthia, and his two daughters Kerri Ann and Kelly Jo.(full story at ESPN)(12-30-2003)

    (12-29-2003)

  • What will the #77 look like? UPDATE more; Blaney in 4 races? hearing the new paint scheme for the #77 [not #72] will be Kodak gold with a red stripe on the sides and black trim on the hood and front fenders. The Jasper Engines logo is on the lower rear quarter panels and a small one on the front of the hood. As we ‘know’ rumor has had it for over a month now that Brendan Gaughan will drive the car, which is supposedly being bought into, full or part time by Penske, Shane Wilson as the crew chief. Also rumored is a number switch to #72, however sightings of the car indicate it’ll be #77. Rumors had the announcement last week but it never came. More info on the ‘rumor’ on my #77 Team News and Links page.(12-24-2003)
    UPDATE: didn’t hear it myself and got no response to email to the station, but a few readers reported that a few days ago on a local Jasper, IN radio station [WITZ] interview with #77 owner Doug Bawel about the changes with the team: Brendan Gaughan will drive the #77 Kodak Dodge, joining with Penske, however Bawel didn’t mention anything about a number change to 72. ALSO, supposedly he said that Dave Blaney would drive four races for them in a 4th Penske Jasper car this year [didn’t say which races].(12-28-2003)
    AND….. heard it was announced last week at the Jasper factory that Brendan Gaughan is the new driver, with Kodak sponsorship. The car number supposedly will be #77 and in four races in 2004 with the old Jasper paint scheme to be used to transition into the new scheme.(12-29-2003)

 


(12-28-2003)

 

  • New Rusty Crew Chief? UPDATE 2 official: hearing Larry Carter, current crew chief of the #74 BACE Motorsports Chevy and driver Tony Raines, is under consideration for the #2 Miller Lite/Penske Racing crew chief gig with driver Rusty Wallace.(12-12-2003)
    UPDATE: haven’t seen anything official but on a unofficial Rusty site there is this: Larry Carter’s previous position as a Winston Cup crew chief materialized last December, when he was named to be the pit boss for the number #77 team [actually it is the #74 team] under owner Bill Baumgardner’s first full season effort into Winston Cup, with driver Tony Raines. Before working for Baumgardner, he had been employed by Travis Carter at Haas/Carter Motorsports with driver #66-Todd Bodine at the wheel.(rustys2crew.com)(12-24-2003)
    UPDATE 2: Larry Carter, a 14-year veteran in NASCAR racing’s highest level of competition, has joined Penske Racing South as crew chief for driver Rusty Wallace and his Miller Lite Dodge racing team. “We’re extremely excited to have Larry join us as our new crew chief,” said Wallace, the 1989 Winston Cup (now Nextel Cup) champion and 54-race winner. “Larry brings an abundance of talent and experience to our program and he is a perfect fit to accompany the qualified staff we already have in place. We can’t wait to get the ball rolling in 2004.” Carter comes to Penske Racing South from #74 BACE Motorsports, where he served as crew chief for rookie driver Tony Raines during the 2003 NASCAR season. “This is a great opportunity and I am certainly thrilled to have the chance to work with such a successful organization as Penske Racing and a champion-caliber driver like Rusty Wallace,” said Carter. “This is a top-notch team with great people and ample resources. I am delighted that they have the confidence in me to lead their team and I’m really looking forward to this new challenge.”
    Carter, a 41-year-old Raleigh, N.C., native, was active in motorsports at an early age, working part-time for a local dirt track team while in junior high school. After receiving a degree from North Carolina State in 1985, Carter worked for a Raleigh government agency for several years and worked part-time for his uncle Travis Carter, a fixture in NASCAR racing for decades. He became a full-time racer in 1990 and first served as a crew chief for the elder Carter’s effort in 1994.
    “Travis was so instrumental in my career and he’s due a lot of credit for me getting an opportunity like this,” said Carter. “Rusty is known for being a driver with the knowledge of every inch of a race car and working with Travis for all those years has given me a similar background that I’m proud of. Rusty knows his racecar from the ground up and I’ve been involved in every aspect of our sport. I started in racing carrying tires and went up the ladder all the way to data acquisition before learning to set up racecars. So I’m very confident that the driver and the crew chief will be working on the same page from the very beginning.”
    “Larry is the ideal person to lead the No. 2 team,” said PRS general manager John Erickson. “He’s a new age type of leader, but has an old school background and should mesh extremely well into our operation. I think he’ll have a level of communication with Rusty and his team that is second to none and his capabilities in working with Matt Borland and the staff of the No. 12 team will be exceptional.” Carter and wife Tracy reside in Mooresville, N.C., with their eight-year-old son Benjamin.(Tom Roberts PR)(12-28-2003)
  • #18 and #20 Shrek 2 Paint Schemes at Lowe’s: In this DreamWorks sequel to the $267 million dollar original SHREK movie all the original characters are back for yet another adventure and are also joined by a few new faces. To continue the hype of the movie release, on May 21, 2004, #18-Bobby Labonte will drive a SHREK 2 themed racecars during the Coca Cola 600 Race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
    AND #20-Tony Stewart will drive a SHREK 2 themed racecar during the Nextel All-Star Race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on May 22nd, 2004.(12-28-2003)
  • NASCAR #5 in Flordia: According to Florida Trend magazine, NASCAR is the fifth largest privately owned company in the state, and publicly traded International Speedway Corporation is the 53rd largest corporation. The survey listed NASCAR as having an estimated $3 billion in gross revenues in 2002, representing a 50 percent increase over the previous year. The figures were based on a study conducted by the California consulting firm Kagan World Media. ISC, which owns and operates Daytona International Speedway and 11 other NASCAR tracks, had revenues of $550.5 million, up four percent in 2002. The private companies ranked ahead of NASCAR in the list were Publix, Burger King, J.M. Family and Adventist Health System.(Gaston Gazette)(12-28-2003)
  • Kenseth honored in a hometown parade: Entering his hometown, Matt Kenseth was greeted with NASCAR flags flying from every pole and a temporary population sign that reads, “Cambridge: Population 1,100 and Matt.” Kenseth was in awe Saturday as thousands of fans cheered on their hometown hero in a parade down Cambridge’s Main Street. Later in the day some 2,500 supporters gathered at the Alliant Center for a fan club party. Storefront signs congratulated and greeted Kenseth and his wife, Katie. “It’s pretty overwhelming,” Kenseth said. “You never really totally get used to it. It seems like a dream.” A sea of fans wearing the black-and-yellow colors of Kenseth’s DeWalt sponsorship filled Cambridge for the parade, which featured floats promoting a local pancake breakfast, race cars, the Red Hot Dixie Jazz Band and various members of the Kenseth family. After the parade, Kenseth, who now lives in North Carolina, was presented a key to the village of Rockdale. A key to Cambridge was presented by Bob Nodolf – Kenseth’s driver’s education teacher.(full story at Wisconsin State Journal and an AP one at The State)(12-28-2003)
  • So…where is NASCAR Legend Harry Gant? at Motorsports 2004 – Harry Gant, one of the most popular drivers in the history of NASCAR stock car racing, will be part of the U.S.Smokeless Tobacco Company Motorsports Experience at the Motorsports 2004 Presented by Sunoco show. The three day show takes place at the Fort Washington, PA Expo Center starting at 1 p.m. on Friday, January 16th. Gant was a regular on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit from 1981 to 1994, winning 18 races and 17 poles and finishing in the top 10 in 208 of his 474 starts. He walked away from the sport in 1994 at the age of 54. He tied the modern day record for consecutive wins as he won four consecutive races in 1991. Though he is retired from the sport Gant continues to make personal appearances for U.S. Smokeless Tobacco and will be signing autographs for adult fans from noon until 2pm/et on Saturday, January 17th at the U.S.Smokeless Tobacco Motorsports Experience. Former Winston Cup racer Gant joins open cockpit star turned stock car racer J.J.Yeley and World of Outlaws talent Tyler Walker, current Nextel Cup champion Matt Kenseth, former NASCAR Winston Cup champion Bobby Allison, Busch Series racer Tim Fedewa, and Winston Cup ace Dave Blaney along with a long list of outstanding local and regional racing stars. More info at the www.aarn.com or see more info on the Show on my Driver Appearances page.(12-28-2003)
  • Racing for the Human Race closes: The Racing for the Human Race project officially concluded this weekend. Our goal for the project was to raise $2,995 dollars for Food For the Poor to provide a home, food, and clothing for a poor family in the Caribbean. Thanks to the outstanding generosity of so many of you we not only met but exceeded a goal Matt McLaughlin thought was overly ambitious when this project was started. Matt is still tabulating the exact total, but it is in excess of $3,400. See full update on my Racing Charities page.(12-28-2003)
  • McMurray’s Dad Karting in Daytona: Jim McMurray wants just one chance to brag about a Daytona victory. And to whom will he boast the loudest? NASCAR’s 2003 Raybestos Rookie of the Year and his son, Jamie McMurray. The eldest McMurray is in Daytona to compete in the World Karting Association’s 30th Annual Daytona KartWeek at Daytona International Speedway. The 56-year-old McMurray will take part in Sunday’s Medium Class Enduro competition and Tuesday’s Heavy Class competition. Daytona KartWeek (Dec. 26-30) is the most prestigious karting event held in the United States. “I’ve been coming to Daytona and racing since 1976,” McMurray recalls. “Jaime won the WKA World Championships here (Daytona) in 1988 when he was 14. I have never won at Daytona. I’ve run second a couple of times. But I’ve never won here. McMurray will spend this NASCAR season behind the wheel of his son’s motor coach. That’s fine with him. Although he sure does miss being behind the wheel of a go-kart. Tickets for Daytona KartWeek at Daytona International Speedway and Daytona Beach Municipal Stadium can be purchased at the gate.(Daytona International Speedway PR)(12-28-2003)
  • Benning plans to attempt three races at Daytona: ARCA veteran driver Norm Benning will attempt the ARCA RE/MAX Series, and the NASCAR Busch and Nextel Cup Series events from Daytona International Speedway in February, Catchfence.com has been informed. Benning was successful in making the field in the NASCAR Busch Series in 2003, but his bid to make the “All American Race” failed last year. Benning, who is expected to pilot the #84 Chevrolet in all three races has not announced a sponsor at this time.(Catchfence)(12-28-2003)

    (12-27-2003)

  • Congrats: It’s been a joyous holiday for Danielle and Jay Frye, who became first-time parents with the birth of Addison Rece, Dec. 23, 10:13pm/et at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. Addison weighed in at 6 pounds, 8 ounces and was 19 inches long. Mother and daughter were released from the hospital on Christmas morning. Danielle is a reporter for MRN Radio and Jay is general manager of MB2/MBV Motorsports [#01/#10](12-27-2003)
  • Get Well: Carolyn Carrier, who does PR for #11-Brett Bodine [still selling the Brick cars, see my #11 Team News and Links page] is recovering at home in NC following neck surgery on Dec 19th.(12-27-2003)
  • Special Scheme for Tony Stewart at California Speedway in September, a reverse scheme of some sort for the #20 Home Depot Chevy.(12-27-2003)

    (12-26-2003)

  • Atlas Ready for 2004: The Lawrence Group publishes the officially licensed NASCAR 2004 Road Atlas. It includes Locations of all NASCAR Sanctioned Tracks, Maps of all 50 States, Major City Insets, Maps of Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico, NASCAR Information, Cup Location Insets, Fun NASCAR Facts, Perfect for corporate giveaways, premiums and incentives! For more info see www.lawrencegroup.com or buy it at:

    (12-25-2003)

    no news reported on Christmas…..


    (12-24-2003)

  • 2004 Odds: Vegas Insider – Odds To Win 2004 Nextel Cup Points Championship. The favorites are Ryan Newman 3/1; Jeff Gordon 4/1 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. 4/1.(12-24-2003)
  • Herbie and NASCAR? this is from October……Comedy writing team Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant have been tapped by Disney to pen the remake of Herbie the Love Bug. Several previous drafts will be scrapped and the two writers will be starting from scratch. The Lennon and Garant take puts Herbie in the world of NASCAR.(comingsoon.net)(12-24-2003)
  • Cambridge building to house Kenseth memorabilia: Matt Kenseth, the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup champion from Cambridge, WI, will display memorabilia from his racing career in a new building in his hometown scheduled to open next spring. Matt Kenseth wants to give back to the place he calls home. And he believes a venue that will display memorabilia from his burgeoning racing career is the perfect way to do that. The 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup champion has purchased an 18-acre triangular parcel in the Village of Cambridge at the west edge of town, and construction will begin in February on an 11,000-square-foot building which will showcase a collection of race cars and memorabilia that spans his entire 15-year career. Kenseth merchandise, Internet sales and his fan club also will be housed in the building. Village of Cambridge president Don Trieloff anticipates that the facility, which is scheduled to open in May or June 2004, will bring new visitors, excitement and renewed interest in other businesses in the area. One detail that has been discussed but has yet to be finalized is what to call the building. The 31-year-old Kenseth hesitated to call it a museum, but that may most accurately describe the scope of plans and size of the structure.
    The business will be operated by Kenseth’s sister Kelley Maruszewski, who currently runs Kenseth’s fan club and sells merchandise out of the family-owned business. The Matt Kenseth Fan Club Store doubles as a video store, and the family also operates a laundromat and the 10-unit Village Motel in Cambridge. Roy Kenseth, who is the track promoter at Madison International Speedway, will help the contractors oversee construction of the project. The building will not encompass the entire parcel, and further residential or commercial development is planned for the future. While discussions are ongoing for finalizing utilities, road access and sewage structures, Roy Kenseth said the response from officials with the village has been positive. “It’s going to be a beautiful building and will be almost like the gateway to Cambridge,” said Roy Kenseth, whose parents and grandparents also grew up in area. “It is going to bring a lot of people to Cambridge. I suppose there are going to be a small minority of people who won’t like it, but the majority of people will like it. It will be good for the town.”(Capital Times)(12-24-2003)
  • New Rusty Crew Chief? UPDATE: hearing Larry Carter, current crew chief of the #74 BACE Motorsports Chevy and driver Tony Raines, is under consideration for the #2 Miller Lite/Penske Racing crew chief gig with driver Rusty Wallace.(12-12-2003)
    UPDATE: haven’t seen anything official but on a unofficial Rusty site there is this: Larry Carter’s previous position as a Winston Cup crew chief materialized last December, when he was named to be the pit boss for the number #77 team [actually it is the #74 team] under owner Bill Baumgardner’s first full season effort into Winston Cup, with driver Tony Raines. Before working for Baumgardner, he had been employed by Travis Carter at Haas/Carter Motorsports with driver #66-Todd Bodine at the wheel.(rustys2crew.com)(12-24-2003)


    (12-23-2003)

  • Get well DW: Get well wishes to three time Winston Cup champion and NASCAR on FOX analyst Darrell Waltrip who had successful rotator cuff surgery last week. The procedure was on DW’s right shoulder. He had the same surgery on his left shoulder in 1997.(12-23-2003)
  • Blaney to the #4? from FoxSports/Larry McReynolds: rumor has it that Dave Blaney may be moving to Morgan McClure since Penske reportedly has bought the Jasper car. It sounds like Kodak may go to the new Penske car, and Truck Series driver Brendan Gaughan will go to that ride as well. Penske also is thinking of changing the number on that car. I think they were talking about #72 to go with the #2 and #12 cars. When you think about it, it’s going to be a completely revamped team with a new owner, a new driver, a new sponsor, a new number and a new manufacturer because now it’s going to be a Dodge. And obviously there will be a new crew chief too [Shane Wilson] ]because Bootie Barker left there last season, and they never really replaced him for the final few races. I don’t know if you can say anything will be the same.(FoxSports)(12-23-2003)
  • Sports Illustrated Mag: In its annual post-season NASCAR issue, Sports Illustrated magazine includes results of a survey of nearly 1,400 race fans conducted at various tracks around the country. Some of the more interesting results include:
    – The best driver of all time? Dale Earnhardt, with 56%, easily over Richard Petty’s 17%.
    – Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the current favorite driver of 28% of the fans surveyed, with Jeff Gordon next at 15%.
    – When asked which driver has the most arrogant fans, 47% said Gordon.
    – The fans’ three favorite tracks are Bristol, with 22%, Daytona, with 19%, and Lowe’s Motor Speedway with 13%.
    – More than half of the fans, 57%, attend two to four races per year. And 48% of them travel 200 miles or more to attend a race, with 25% traveling 500 miles or more.
    – An amazing 19% of fans said they had spent $1,000 or more on NASCAR merchandise in the past year, while 97% of the fans said they’d bought at least one piece of merchandise in the past year.
    – Only 32% said that have been able to get their favorite driver’s autograph.(ThatsRacin.com)(12-23-2003)
  • Sunoco Picks Ad Agency: Sunoco has picked Ominicom’s Millsport to handle development of advertising and promotional aspects of its 10-year deal to be NASCAR’s official fuel, according to Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal. Columnist Terry Lefton says Millsport was picked from five agencies seeking the contract as Sunoco replaces Phillps/Conoco/76 as the official fuel.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(12-23-2003)
  • Sponsorhip Deal Tops Sports Business News: NASCAR’s selection of Nextel to replace R.J. Reynolds’ Winston brand as the title sponsor of its top national series was the year’s biggest sports business story, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal says. A panel of the weekly publication’s editors and writers said the 10-year, $750 million deal ranked ahead of the $2.2 billion broadcast and sponsorship deal struck by NBC and GE with the International Olympic Committee for the 2010 Winter Games and 2012 Summer Games.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(12-23-2003)

    (12-22-2003)

  • Congrats Joseph Raymond Fink, Jr. was born on 12:36pm/et, Saturday December 20, 2003 to Joe and Amy Fink, of Nazareth, PA. He was 6 pounds, 14 ounces and 20 inches long. Joe Sr. does some Busch Series commentary at some sites and keeps track of “Mr. Lead Lap” and any racing at Nazareth Speedway.(12-22-2003)
  • Jerry Nadeau Talks about a Special Holiday and Ongoing Recovery: [yeah it is long, but not much news and I found it interesting and important]
    NASCAR driver Jerry Nadeau, who suffered a serious head injury in a racing accident May 2 at Richmond International Raceway, continues to make progress. In a question and answer session below, the 33-year-old Danbury, Conn. native talks about his onging recovery and how blessed he feels to be home for the holidays. Nadeau’s accident/recovery timeline follows the Q&A.
    Q. How special will this holiday season be for the Nadeau family?
    A. There’s no doubt that I have been blessed to be here, I don’t know how else to say it. I had a very serious accident and was lucky to survive. I don’t remember anything about the accident, I was out cold. But from what I have heard, there was a lot of concern that I wasn’t going to make it. This is going to be a very special holiday for us with it being my daughter’s (Natalie Kate, 10 months-old) first Christmas. And I am here to enjoy these precious moments of life. Some people might say I had a very unfortunate year, but I look at it so much differently. We had a healthy daughter come into our lives and I survived a serious accident. That’s anything but unfortunate and I feel extremely blessed.
    My good friend (IRL racer) Tony Renna didn’t make it. We raced together as teammates in England in the Formula Opal Series. I am so sad about his loss and feel for his parents and fiance. I was glad that my dad (Girard) and I were able to go to Florida to visit Tony’s parents after his accident. His parents were very supportive of him and unfortunately the Good Lord has a list up there and his name was up. He was a good person and I will miss him.
    Q. How has your recovery been going?
    A. As fast as I can go. The good news is that I can do what normal people do everyday, I just can’t race. I know I have a brain injury that I have to let heal and I am not rushing it. My left-side is not coming in as fast as I thought it would. I have feeling, but it just doesn’t work right. It’s like when your arm falls asleep with a tingly feeling. For me, it’s like that 24 hours a day. The doctors say that it should go away, but the problem is they don’t know how long it will take. I have accepted that I’m not fully recovered right now, but I am making progress everyday and I will get there. I know I will.
    Q. What have you been doing to keep busy?
    A. As much as I can. But I do get bored pretty quickly. I have a shop near my house and built a little dirt track there and we play around with dirt bikes and mini bikes. I also have been making a number of appearances and was honored to be asked again to go to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. (Dec. 12) to visit the wounded soldiers. The visits I had there really make you sit back and truly feel how precious life is. I hope I have been as helpful to the soldiers as they have been to me. I am so proud of all of our troops for what they do and the sacrifices they make.
    Q. At one time you were planning to be back competing in Daytona for the 500. How hard was it to accept that you weren’t going to be ready?
    A. It was more of a relief because I was praying every night for somebody to zap me so I could get better. The guys and Jay Frye (MB2 Motorsports general manager) were encouraging me, but deep inside I couldn’t see myself being ready and it was frustrating. I wasn’t upset that Joe (Nemechek) was going to drive the U.S. Army car in 2004, I was more relieved than anything else. You can only do so much to get better. I try to sleep as much as I can to get more rest for my head and do whatever I can to get better. The doctors say I am doing perfect and feel that I will regain at least 95 percent. But what they (the doctors) can’t tell me is how long it will take. I’m going to take it slow, hopefully do a few races in ARCA, Busch and Cup next year and see how I do. If I feel great, then I am going to bust my butt to make sure I am perfectly right for 2005. I can only do so much.
    Q. How much pressure are you putting on yourself to get ready for 2005?
    A. None. I am not going to rush or force this recovery program. There is no magic formula for a brain injury. The goal right now is to make sure the U.S. Army car is going to be fast for Joe next year. I am proud that Joe will be driving the Army car — he’s a great guy The Army has been superb to me. They’re such wonderful people to be associated with. The Army’s motto is never to leave a fallen comrade behind and that’s exactly the way they’ve treated me. I am proud and honored to be part of the Army team.
    Q. What have you learned throughout this ordeal?
    A. I’ve learned plenty about myself. My view on life is a whole lot different. I want to tell everybody who has children to spend more time with them, play with them and be part of their lives. You never know when your day will come. I feel extremely blessed that I can be with my wife (Jada) and see our daughter grow up.
    Q. For the first time since the accident you got back into a stock car and conducted a test session at Concord Motor Speedway (Dec. 9). How did you assess your performance?
    A. I wasn’t totally back, but probably 80-85 percent. What’s important is the test session gave me a baseline to know where I am at and what I have to do. I was hoping to do better, but I set some very high goals when I got there. Concord is a hard track, but overall I thought it went okay, considering I haven’t been in a racecar for seven months. Concord is the type of track if you make a little mistake you can destroy the car. I didn’t want to take any chances and probably didn’t push it as hard as I could have. However, I learned a lot about myself and how far I have come since the accident. I know I have a problem and it’s going to take time. I’m not going to put any pressure on myself or have a targeted date to return. This is going to take time and I’m not going to rush it. We’ll probably test again next month at a different track. Q. It seemed like you stopped coming to races during the end of the 2003 season. Any reason for staying away?
    A. Everybody knows I’m a racer and I have been doing this since I was four-years-old when I started in go-karts. It’s really hard for me to go to a race track and just watch. I’m a racer, not a spectator. I still have that same motto, I am not interested in being a banker or to put shingles on houses. I want to race, it’s as simple as that.
    Q. How much has the fan support meant to you?
    A. The fans, NASCAR and everybody have been absolutely great. One night I was listening to Benny Parson’s radio show and somebody called and asked, “How is Jerry Nadeau doing.” I said to myself, “Oh my God they’re still thinking of me.’ The same thing happened on Dave Despain’s Wind Tunnel show, fans calling in and asking about me. When I hear that fans are still interested, it really gives me a big lift. It pumps me up and makes me more ready to come back. I just want to thank everyone for their continuing support. It is so overwhelming.
    Nadeau’s Accident, Recovery Timeline
    May 2 (Friday) Crashes driver’s-side first into outside wall between Turns 1 and 2 during practice at Richmond International Raceway. Airlifted to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond where he is listed in critical condition with a moderate to severe head injury, partially collapsed left lung, fractured left scapula (shoulder blade) and left-side rib-cage injuries.
    May 5 (Monday) Condition upgraded from critical to serious but stable.
    May 8 (Thursday) Condition upgraded from serious but stable to fair. Moves out of the intensive care unit to private room. Doctors say vital signs are normal and continues to show improvement.
    May 13 (Tuesday) Team general manager Jay Frye is guest on NASCAR/Winston teleconference and says Nadeau continues to be in a semiconscious state and is in the transitional stage of regaining full consciousness.
    May 22 (Thursday) Regains full consciousness and starts to speak. Makes surprise telephone calls to Frye and crew chief Ryan Pemberton.
    May 26 (Monday) Discharged from Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center and transferred via MedCenter Air to Charlotte Institute of Rehabilitation where he continues physical, occupational and speech therapy.
    June 6 (Friday) Discharged as inpatient at Charlotte Institute of Rehabilitation. Continues therapy as an outpatient five days a week.
    July 18 (Friday) Attended first race and conducted first news conference since accident, at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon.
    July 25 (Friday) Completed physical and occupational therapy at CIR.
    Sept. 5 (Friday) Returned to Richmond during NASCAR Winston Cup weekend. Paid emotional visit at VCU Medical Center to say thank you to the medical staff.
    Nov. 9 (Saturday) Teams with his dad (Girard) and former NASCAR great Ernie Irvan in World Karting Endurance race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte. The threesome finished first in their racing category.
    Dec. 10 (Wednesday) First time back in stock car since accident. Test session conducted at Concord Motor Speedway.(U.S. Army Racing PR), see past news about Nadeau on my Jerry Nadeau update page or the #01 Team News and Links page.(12-22-2003)
  • News From Motorsports 2004 Presented By Sunoco: “The fan and racer motorsports extravaganza.”
    Triple crown winner J.J. Yeley will be at Motorsports 2004 presented by Sunoco to meet his many fans and sign autographs on Sunday, January 18th, 1:00 to 3:00pm/et. Yeley, just recently selected as the Al Holbert Memorial Driver of the Year award winner by the Eastern Motorsport Press Association, is one of the few drivers to ever win the United States Auto Club Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown titles all in one season. Yeley did it in 2003 and his mentor, 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart, was the last to do it before him.
    Also visiting the three day show that opens on Friday, January 16th at the Fort Washington, PA Expo Center is Tyler Walker. The young open cockpit racing star is a standout out performer in O’Reilly World of Outlaws competition, the United States Auto Club events and has had some experience in NASCAR Busch Series competition. Walker is very popular with the fans especially for his trademark “back flip” that he does when he appears in victory lane. He will sign autographs from 1:00 to 3:00pm/et on Friday, January 16th.
    Yeley and Walker join a growing list of outstanding motorsports participants and personalities that will be part of the Motorsports 2004 presented by Sunoco show. Current Nextel Cup champion Matt Kenseth will join former NASCAR Winston Cup champion Bobby Allison at the show along with Busch Series racer Tim Fedewa, Winston Cup ace Dave Blaney along with a long list of outstanding local and regional racing stars. There is plenty more for the auto racing fan with more than 150 motorsports vehicles on display.
    The three day show covers close to 300,000 square feet of exhibit space with more than 600 display areas covering just about everything imaginable in motorsports. There is a complete area just to house the collectible vendors who will be offering some special deals for show attendees. In addition there will be Big Wheel competition for the youngsters and for the first time the Big Wheels will be made available by the show organizers. No one will be permitted to compete using their own Big Wheel. And the very popular U.S.Smokeless Tobacco Ms Motorsports Pageant will again be part of the show with preliminaries taking place on Saturday afternoon and the finals being offered Saturday evening. Discount coupons, good for $2.00 off on adult tickets, will be available at participating Sunoco outlets starting on December 26th. Look for the show signage. For information on the show schedule check in at aarn.com and hit the Motorsports 2004 link. And you can telephone for ticket and show information at 609.888.3618.
    ALSO – Yeley to recieve Award: USAC Triple Crown winner J.J. Yeley will receive the annual Al Holbert Memorial/Eastern Motorsport Press Association National Driver of the Year Award at the organization’s annual convention taking place January 23-25 in Trevose, PA. Yeley was the hottest driver in open cockpit racing this season winning the USAC Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown titles. The last driver to do that was Yeley’s mentor Tony Stewart who is a two time winner of the Al Holbert Memorial Award. Yeley also set a new mark for wins in a season with USAC, a mark that had been held by A.J.Foyt. More than 200 members, professional media covering motorsports on a regular basis, gave Yeley more votes than Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth, Scott Dixon, Clay Millican or Frank Kimmel who were also nominated for the award.
    In other news from the Eastern Motorsport Press Association five new names will be added to the prestigious EMPA Hall of Fame during ceremonies at the convention taking place at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center in Trevose, PA. Voted into the Hall of Fame by the Board of Directors was former NASCAR Modified ace Bugsy Stevens and dirt modified star Stan Ploski. The EMPA membership has voted to add veteran broadcaster Ken Squier, former National Hot Rod Association Top Fuel champion Joe Amato and Fonda, NY Speedway standout, the late Lou Lazzaro to the Hall of Fame.
    Veteran dirt track modified racing standout Kenny Brightbill will accept the second annual “Junie” from legendary NASCAR Nextel Cup car owner Junie Donlavey. The award is named in Donlavey’s honor and is presented to someone in the motorsports industry for their outstanding accomplishments “doing it their way.” Several other special awards to EMPA members will be announced at the convention.(EMPA PR)(12-22-2003)
  • Surgery for Cup starter UPDATE: been told that NASCAR Nextel Cup Starter Jimmy Howell will undergo two surgeries on December 12 in Winston Salem, NC. The surgery will be performed by Dr. David Martin at Wake Forest Universtiy Baptist Hospital. Howell will have surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus and will also have surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.(12-10-2003)
    UPDATE: Howell is recuperating at his home in Winston Salem after undergoing surgery December 12th to repair his left knee and a torn Rotator Cuff in his right shoulder. Howell is doing well after his surgeries and has began rehab at Comp Rehab in Winston Salem, NC.(12-22-2003)
  • NHL and NASCAR: #19-Jeremy Mayfield will supposedly run an NHL All-Star Game scheme in the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona on February 7th, 2004.(12-22-2003)
  • Simpson Performance Products, Inc., Mooresville, NC announced that Terry Smith has accepted a newly developed position of General Manager-Team Sales. Smith joins them from Michael Waltrip Racing where he has been Waltrip’s Business Manager for 10 years. “Terry has been a tremendous help to me both personally and professionally. I look forward to continuing our relationship now that he is with Simpson.” –Michael Waltrip. Smith has been in the racing business since 1976 and began his career as a crew member for Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree on their first race car at Hickory Motor Speedway and later worked with Petty Enterprises, Moroso Racing, Team III Racing, Wood Brothers Racing and finally with Michael Waltrip Racing. Smith’s Sales Team will consist of Melanie Shumaker, Sales Manager-NASCAR, Trish Haggerty, Sales Representative, Pam Laury, Sales Representative, Chet Tobias, Sales Representative and Chris Daniel, Service Representative. The entire division will report to Doug Doolen, Vice President of Sales. Since 1959, Simpson Performance Products has been the leading safety manufacturer in the motorsports industry. Simpson believes in putting safety first and is dedicated to elevating the standards of racing safety. For more info see www.teamsimpson.com and as most know, Bill Simpson is no longer part of the company [more info on my Safety Page and Lawsuits page] but has a new company called Impact Racing Products [can’t seem to get past the intro page].(12-22-2003)

(12-21-2003)

 

  • Ryan Newman wins Driver of the Year Award 2003: Ryan Newman dominated the voting for Speed Channel presents the Driver of the Year 2003. Yet, some might view it as an upset win. It was only the second time in the 37-year history of the award the honor didn’t go to a series champion. The last time this happened was in 1985 when Bill Elliott beat NASCAR Winston Cup Champion, Darrell Waltrip – a three-time Driver of the Year – based on wins and poles. Newman finished sixth behind series champion, Matt Kenseth. In only his second full year in Winston Cup racing Newman, winner of the voting in the third and fourth quarter for Driver of the Year was a little stunned when he learned of the final vote, “it’s awesome. Not only the award, but, the honor of all the drivers that have gotten it, to be on that list and to be able to compete against all the drivers this year and beat them.”
    Newman, a 25-year old from Indiana who drives the Alltel Dodge, easily beat all of his rivals with nine first-place votes. Other drivers garnering votes were Paul Tracy (CART), and Steve Kinser (World of Outlaws) who had two. Drivers getting one vote each were Kenseth, Greg Anderson (NHRA), Kenny Bernstein (NHRA), Scott Dixon (IRL), Sam Hornish, Jr. (IRL), and J.J. Yeley (USAC).
    The Penske Racing South driver also carried the fan vote, on www.speedtv.com, with 44%.
    Responding to that vote, Newman said, “that’s cool too. This sport is driven by the fans not just the media panel. To win the fan vote is an honor also. It shows a couple of things (1) the impact of NASCAR racing on the world of motor sports (2) how driven and dedicated the fans are.”
    In it’s 37th year the Driver of the Year title is unique because it is the only award that emcompasses all of the racing series in the United States and fan participation. A panel of 18 leading journalists and broadcasters from across the U.S. and a cumulative fan vote on Speedtv.com determine the winner. The final vote is made up of a secret ballot of the experts each selecting one driver and the winner of the fan vote. In recognition of this honor Newman will receive a trophy and a Maurice Lacroix Swiss Watch at a special presentation in Talledega, AL next April. President of the Driver of the Year Foundation is Barry Schmoyer, businessman and sportsman of Sarasota, Florida. Further information on the award may be obtained from the Driver of the Year Foundation, PO Box 49827, Sarasota, FL 34230 or from (941) 953-6209.(See Full PR at Speed Channel)(12-21-2003)
  • Terry Labonte not in favor of ‘playoff system’: NASCAR hasn’t solicited Terry Labonte’s opinion yet on its proposed “playoff” system that is being given serious consideration for implementation in 2004. But the two-time Winston Cup champion already has formed strong feelings about the plan, which apparently would freeze the points chase with 10 races remaining and allow only the top 10 in the standings to compete for the championship. The nearly three dozen remaining teams would continue to race without a shot at the crown. “It’s a real slap in the face to the guys running 11th through 15th and their sponsors to say, ‘OK, you can’t even compete to be in the top 10,'” Labonte said. “My thought is maybe everyone can run a 26-race schedule, then take the top 10 and let only those 10 guys run the last 10 races. That would be real interesting.” Labonte points to the Craftsman Truck and Busch series, which featured several drivers in title contention through both season finales under the system used in Cup, as proof that change isn’t needed to a current structure that rewards consistency. Public opinion seems to support that view. Internet polls have been running heavily against the proposal, and several of his peers have expressed concerns about an overhaul.(Richmond Times Dispatch)(12-21-2003)
  • College’s and Motorsports: Both Clemson University and the University of North Carolina Charlotte are trying to partner with the motorsports industry, including the cluster of NASCAR teams just north of Charlotte, but their efforts shouldn’t conflict, says Jim Woodward, UNCC’s chancellor. In Greenville [SC], Clemson is developing the International Center for Automotive Research, which will focus on the automotive and motorsports industries and include a new graduate school of automotive engineering. Clemson also plans a full-scale wind tunnel at ICAR that it would make available to motorsports teams, although it has yet to secure an estimated $50 million needed to build it. Most NASCAR teams are based in Mooresville, NC, just north of Charlotte — a fact not lost on Clemson officials as they made plans for ICAR. Proximity to the NASCAR cluster is the reason that UNCC offers an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering with a focus on motorsports. Recently, Woodward told North Carolina lawmakers they should pay more attention to motorsports as a means of economic development. Separately, a committee of UNCC trustees heard a presentation on motorsports, he said. “There’s a lot of different discussions about motorsports in part because of what’s been done in South Carolina,” Woodward said. Still, he doesn’t see the two universities competing. “Neither Clemson nor UNC Charlotte is now, or will be able, to fully support this growing industry,” Woodward said. “I think what’s happening in South Carolina is good for UNC Charlotte and for the Charlotte region. “It’s not a zero-sum game.”(Greensville News), see links to other college motorsports programs on my Racing Schools/Jobs page.(12-21-2003)
  • More on Gaughan to the #77 NO announcement: Brendan Gaughan is expected to become the second Las Vegas native to drive full time in the top NASCAR stock-car racing series next year when he joins Penske Racing South. Gaughan, 28, could sign Thursday with the team owned by motorsports legend Roger Penske, according to anonymous sources. Rumors have been prevalent on racing Internet sites about Gaughan’s ascension to the country’s top series, possibly with sponsorship from Kodak. Adding to that speculation was the recent resignation of Shane Wilson from the Orleans Racing team. Wilson had been Gaughan’s crew chief and team manager in the truck series the past three years and is to begin working today at Penske’s shop near Charlotte, NC. The Orleans team is looking for a replacement for Wilson, who played an important role in the success of Gaughan’s truck team. Another source said Steve Park [see story below], a veteran of the Cup series, will replace Gaughan in the Orleans truck.(see full story at the Las Vegas Review Journal) and past news and rumors on this on my #77 Team News and Links page. Look for an announcement on Friday [Dec 19th – didn’t happen on the 18th as I had heard](12-17-2003)
    UPDATE: Las Vegas’ Brendan Gaughan, rumored to be heading to Penske’s new team as the driver, is on vacation and not responding to questions about his future with Penske. Wally McCarty, director of marketing for Penske Racing South, said the team would announce its 2004 team plans “by the end of the year” and would neither confirm nor deny published reports that have Gaughan running the 2004 Nextel Cup season in a third Penske car.(Las Vegas Sun)(12-19-2003)
    NOTE: well…..the announcement never came Thurs or Fri…..so I guess we wait.(12-20-2003)
    BUT been told a #77 Kodak Dodge has been spotted at Penske Racing in Mooresville.(12-21-2003)


    (12-20-2003)

  • Harvick special paint at The Challenge: Kevin Harvick will show up in a fire engine red Snap-On paint scheme at the NEXTEL All-Star race in Charlotte [Lowe’s Motor Speedway] on May 22nd. For the second year in a row Snap-On is sponsoring the car for this event.(12-20-2003)
  • Childress and the new points system? Richard Childress, who won six Winston Cup championships with Dale Earnhardt under the points system in place since 1975, said he was hesitant about a proposed playoff format for NASCAR’s top series, but has since gained a better understanding of it. NASCAR plans to announce by the middle of next month whether it will adapt a 26-race “regular season” and 10-race playoff format. Only the top-10 drivers in points after 26 races would be eligible to race for the championship over the final 10 races. “From a purely selfish standpoint I would prefer the system stay the same,” said Childress, who won Cup titles in 1986, ’87, ’90, ’91, ’93 and ’94 with Earnhardt, the late seven-time champion. “When I first heard about it around the time of the (Cup awards) banquet in New York, I didn’t think much of it.” Childress said he recently spoke extensively with NASCAR officials, looking for answers to several questions he had about the proposal. “I think I have a better understanding now of what NASCAR is thinking. Sometimes you have to step back and take a look at the big picture,” he said. “I can certainly see where the added media exposure and excitement surrounding a playoff atmosphere would help grow the sport and continue its success.” Nextel, which takes over sponsorship of the Cup series in 2004, has been meeting with NASCAR over the proposal. Many fans have mistakenly cited Nextel as the reason for the change, when in fact it has been heavily promoted by new NASCAR chairman Brian France.(more at ThatsRacin.com)(12-20-2003)
  • An Update on the Torquespeed #66 team: The launch of Torquespeed’s USA operation was officially announced at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in North Carolina in October 2003, and as the first ever British owned team to race at the top level of NASCAR [in partnership with Travis Carter and the #66 team]. The team has settled into their shop in Statesvile, NC. Driver John Mickel, who underwent a seat fitting in October, has had his seat delivered to the Torquespeed Carter Workshops in North Carolina recently and has a car ready for testing. See more along with images of the car drawing at www.torquespeed.com and past news on my #66 Team News and Links page.(12-20-2003)
  • NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience: see some QuickTime clips of the new NASCAR movie, NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience, which is scheduled for release on March 12, 2004.
    Plot Summary: “NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience” will transport fans directly into the driver’s seat to explore the world of today’s elite NASCAR drivers and teams. The film will briefly take fans into reverse to review the history of this legendary sport, told from the viewpoint of some of its most revered drivers, and will then thrust into high gear with a look at the thrilling phenomenon that is NASCAR today. Featuring rare behind-the-scenes glimpses, as well as gripping footage of the unpredictable action on the track, “NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience” will provide a close-up look at what motivates NASCAR drivers in and out of competition. “NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience” will also focus on the science of today’s racing technology, the cutting-edge racing machines and the underlying physics that drivers depend on to make turns at the highest speeds while skillfully maneuvering within inches of their competitors. More info at ComingSoon.net Film Database.
    AND special paint scheme: The film is called NASCAR 3D and will be an in depth behind the scenes film about the sport of NASCAR. The #30 driven by Johnny Sauter will run a special paint scheme at the Las Vegas race with both RCR and AOL. AOL Broadband is the primary sponsor partner of the film release so that will guarantee an incredible amount of media awareness and hype surrounding the launch of the film.(12-20-2002)


    (12-19-2003)

  • Brick Cars have arrived: The #11 The Brick Car / Brett Bodine diecast have arrived. They will be shipping out this coming week. There are still some available at www.brettbodine.com. What is the ‘Brick car all about’? see my #11 Team News and Links page for the past news around August. Also: no word on Bodine’s 2004 plans or what happened to the sponsor but know the team and Bodine are still looking for one.(12-12-2003)
    See images of the diecast car on my #11 Team News and Links page.(12-19-2003)
  • Like NASCAR Stats – tons of them – the 2003 Winston Cup Updates book is out: A Statistical Review of the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Season – The Ultimate NASCAR Winston Cup Reference Book – Written by the NASCAR Winston Cup Statistician
    Most of the major print, radio and television personalities use NASCAR [and even some interbet slub – Jayski uses it]
    Winston Cup Media Update Book in their everyday NASCAR race reporting. The 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Media Updates Year-End Book entitled “Statistical Review of the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Season” is a complete compilation of the weekly versions of this information-packed series and is now available to all race fans.
    “A Statistical Review of the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Season” is the most complete reference book available with the details of this past season. This book offers a complete race-by-race review of the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup season. It also includes statistical analysis of all aspects of the 2003 season plus driver biographies. Written by NASCAR Statistical Services, this book offers every race fan the opportunity to access the same information used by television, radio and print media personalities in reporting each race throughout the year.
    Here is what some have said about the NASCAR Winston Cup Media Update books:
  • “Where Print, Radio and Television get all the answers” – MikeHarris – Associated Press
  • “The Media Updates book has got everything except the Restaurant Guide” – Benny Parsons
  • “It has the most current statistical information on NASCAR Winston Cup racing that I’ve ever read. It’s the bible of NASCAR Winston Cup racing.” – Ned Jarrett
  • “I use to check and verify stats, come up with new ideas, and the weekly updates to make sure my stats are as up-to-date and correct as possible for my readers” – Jay Adamczyk ~ Jayski
    A great gift idea anytime, “A Statistical Review of the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Season” is now available for delivery
    NOTE: Limited quantities remain on previouis seasons which are available at $25.00 each : 1996, 1997 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 (Sold Out-1992, 1993, 1994, 2002)
    To place an order:
    Send $26.95 to:
    UPDATES
    PO Box 1124
    Dumfries, VA 22026
    Or Call Toll Free 1-888-782-8725, Check Money Order or VISA/MC/AMX accepted (Include card number, expiration date and signature with all credit card orders) For email orders, see the “Winston Cup Updates” section of my Racing Bookstore page. Like stats? see my Stats and Stats Links page.(12-19-2003)
  • Kenseth to run ASA Late Model: The American Speed Association has announced the ASA Late Model Series will begin its 2004 season at the .50-mile Madison International Speedway in Oregon, Wis. on Saturday, May 8. Matt Kenseth, the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Champion and former ASA competitor, will compete in the season-opening event. Labeled as the fastest half-mile oval in Wisconsin, Madison International Speedway is one of the premier short tracks in the Badger State with a full array of suites in turn 1 and seating capacity for more than 10,000. ASA National Tour car owner and Chicago-businessman Terry Kunes purchased the track in November, 2002. Kunes appointed Roy Kenseth, father of NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Matt Kenseth, to promote and manage Madison. “I can’t think of a better start of the ASA Late Model Series season than at Madison in 2004,” said Roy Kenseth. “The series will receive significant exposure with Matt (Kenseth) returning to the speedway. It’s going to be a highlight of the season.” Matt Kenseth, of Cambridge, Wis., made 16 starts in the ASA National Tour, recording a best finish of second at the 1997 season-opening race at Southern National Speedway. He produced three top-five finishes and nine top-10s. Kenseth earned the 1994 Madison International Speedway track championship.(ASA Site/PR)(12-19-2003)
  • Five Couples Selected: Five lucky race fan couples have been selected to travel to Daytona Beach, Fla. to compete in a “Tie the Knot at the Hershey’s Kisses 300” Race-off. The winning couple of the Race-off will “Tie the Knot” prior to the start of the Hershey’s Kisses 300 NASCAR Busch Series race on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2004, at Daytona International Speedway. Judges selected the Race-off couples based on their specially designed envelopes and essays explaining why they wanted to “Tie the Knot at the Hershey’s Kisses 300” NASCAR Busch Series race in Daytona. The couples:
    Teri Lewis and Gene Konzen, Indianapolis, Ind.
    Dawn Kreager and Kelly Bloss, Stewartstown, Pa.
    Tammy Purkis and Travis Zvolena, Marshfield, Wis.
    Jefflyn LeFevre and Lesley Westbrook, Gainesville, Texas
    Marla Hill and James Darin, Morris, Ill.
    will compete in the Race-off on Wednesday, January 7, 2004. Each finalist couple receives a three-day, two-night trip to Daytona Beach, for the Race-off. The Race-off pits couple against couple in a number of fun and challenging events, including a simulated race game; a newlywed and trivia game, and individual couple interviews with the judges. The winning couple will be announced following judging of the Race-off activities on Wednesday, January 7, 2004. The Grand Prize-winning couple will “Tie the Knot” prior to the Hershey’s Kisses 300 NASCAR Busch Series race at “The World Center of Racing” on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2004. The wedding will take place live before thousands of spectators prior to the start of the race. Hershey Foods’ sponsorship of the Hershey’s Kisses 300 NASCAR Busch Series race at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2004 includes a specially painted #21 Hershey’s Kisses Chevrolet fielded by Richard Childress Racing. Kevin Harvick will look to continue his winning ways next season by driving the No. 21 Hershey’s Kisses Chevrolet in this NASCAR Busch Series season-opening event.(Yahoo Biz)(12-19-2003)
  • Cookbooks for Good Causes:
    1)  Burn Rubber, Not Dinner! Marlinites have united to create a unique collection of recipes for you to enjoy! From quick and simple dinner dishes to sinfully scrumptious desserts, there is sure to be a recipe to suit every taste. “Burn Rubber, Not Dinner!” was inspired by Braden Koozer, a young fan of Sterling Marlin who proudly represents the March of Dimes and their fight against birth defects. His determination to succeed in everything he does prompted Marlinites to participate in a fundraising project for the March of Dimes. Proceeds from “Burn Rubber, Not Dinner!” will be divided between The March of Dimes and The Neuroblastoma Childrens Cancer Society, the latter donation in memory of Eric Reding who fought valiantly against this disease but lost his battle. We hope with our contributions to these organizations we can offer hope of a cure to other children.
    2)  The Busch Series Ladies Association is pleased to announce the arrival of its first publication . . . Over the Wall Recipes, Checkered Flag Favorites of the Busch Series Ladies Association. Over the Wall Recipes contains nearly 500 recipes submitted by fans, BSLA and Winston Cup Racing Wives Auxiliary members, drivers, crew members and their families. Also included are recipes from Motor Racing Outreach (MRO), NASCAR officials and broadcasters. Recipes include the following: appetizers, soups and salads, sides and vegetables, main dishes, breads and rolls, cookies and candy, desserts, this and that.
    3)  If you love Nascar and you love to cook, then don’t miss out on this very special cookbook. Filled with over a 100 full-color photos, and 150 recipes the “Fast Food” cookbook, features recipes from many within the Nascar community, including Mike Helton, Martha Nemechek, Linda Hendrick, and Kim Labonte. Benefiting the Hendrick Marrow Program, this book is a must for any racing fan.
    See more info on all three books on my Racing Charities page.(12-19-2003)
  • Nemechek and Nadeau visit Walter Reed AMC: At 14, Reggie Showers lost both of his legs in an electrical accident. More than two decades later, he’s living his dream of being a professional stock bike rider. Showers, 39, wore his 2003 Pro Stock Bike Champion jacket for a Dec. 12 visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he delivered messages of hope and inspiration to Soldiers recovering from injuries suffered while serving in Iraq. The visit also included NASCAR drivers Jerry Nadeau and Joe Nemechek; NHRA drag racer Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher; and NHRA Pro Stock Bike riders Angelle Savoie and Antron Brown – all of who drive or ride for Army-sponsored teams. Showers rides for Prosthetic Design.
    Staff Sgt. Maurice Craft, an Avenger crew member with B Battery, 3/4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, was riding on Highway 5 in Baghdad Nov. 24 when an improvised explosive device hit the vehicle he was riding in. He remembers telling the driver to pull him out, and the searing pain cursing through his legs. Closing his eyes seemed to make the pain go away, but he worried that he wouldn’t wake up again. Craft’s left leg was amputated at the knee and a titanium rod is keeping his right leg connected to his hip, which was shattered in the attack. He is determined not to allow his injuries to hold him back; Showers’ visit only strengthened his resolve.
    Spc. Lance Gieselmann echoed Craft’s appreciation. Gieselmann, of the 367th Armored Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division, was in an M1-A2 tank when it rolled over a remote-controlled roadside bomb Oct. 28 About 55 miles north of Baghdad. The explosion killed two of his friends and blew the turret and track off the tank, Gieselmann said. His left leg was amputated above the knee and back broken.
    Showers encouraged the Soldiers to do plenty of research on the various types of prosthetics on the market. He uses two sets of prosthetic legs – one for racing, and the other for walking. Gieselmann said he was also inspired by Nadeau, who suffered a head injury from a crash during a May practice run. Nadeau was at the hospital visiting Soldiers just a few days before the accident.
    “I’m working on getting better so I can get back to racing,’’ said Nadeau, whose place on the Army team is being filled by Nemechek. He hopes to be back in a racecar by May or June, starting out in bush races. “I’m just waiting for my head to heal.”
    As appreciative as the Soldiers were for the visit, the drivers and riders were equally grateful for their service and sacrifices. The visit brought back a piece of Savoie’s past. She was a registered nurse before turning professional stock bike rider. “It’s inspiring to meet them,’’ Savoie said. “I think about how the fans put us on a pedestal, like we’re heroes. But these guys are the heroes. It makes me feel a lot more humble.” Nemechek, too, was impressed with the Soldiers, especially Sgt. Gerald Santos, a flight engineer for the 106th Aviation who survived the Nov. 2 Chinook crash that killed 17 Soldiers on their way to 15 days of rest and recuperation. “It’s pretty incredible what they do, what they go through,’’ said Nemechek. “I look at the things that have happened to me, the times I’ve been hurt, and it’s nothing compared to what they go through. They’re tough.”(ARNEWS)(12-19-2003)
  • Nextel to meet with NASCAR about points system UPDATE and final POLL results: Nextel Communications, which takes over as sponsor for NASCAR’s Cup series in 2004, is meeting with NASCAR this week to seek information about a proposed addition of a playoff format to its top series, officials with the sponsor confirmed Tuesday. Nextel, which signed a 10-year deal in June to sponsor the Cup series, was not informed of NASCAR’s desire to change the current points system before its deal with NASCAR was completed, sources confirmed. NASCAR officials maintain they are seriously considering a plan that would create a 26-race “regular season” and 10-race playoff format. Only the top-10 drivers in points after 26 races would be eligible to race for the championship over the final 10 races. A decision is expected next month. Since the plan first became widely circulated during the annual Cup awards banquet weekend in New York, Nextel has received an “overwhelming” response regarding the proposal from fans, sources said. Fans have flooded Internet message boards and radio talk shows discussing the playoff system. Some have mistakenly credited Nextel with pushing for the change. The plan, however, has been promoted heavily by new NASCAR chairman Brian France. In two recent Internet polls – one which is still underway – race fans have overwhelmingly expressed their disapproval with the playoff format.
    A poll on ThatsRacin.com last week asked fans if NASCAR should adopt the “26-10” playoff-style points system in 2004. Of the nearly 4,600 responses, over 85-percent said ‘no.’
    Another poll on jayski.com asking if the NASCAR points system should be changed has elicited nearly 20,000 votes, with 55-percent saying ‘no.’ Of the seven choices given to change the system, the playoff format currently under consideration had 924 votes, or 4.69-percent as of Tuesday.
    Cup drivers Kevin Harvick and 2002 champion Tony Stewart have recently expressed support of the current points system, with Harvick preferring a small points addition for winning a race. Ford Racing officials reached Tuesday said they would reserve comment on the playoff format until they received more specifics of the proposal from NASCAR.(ThatsRacin.com)(12-17-2003)
    UPDATE: On Wednesday, Tom Kelly, chief operating officer of Nextel Communications, met with NASCAR personnel in Reston, VA as the two organizations continue to plan the rollout of Nextel’s first-year sponsorship agenda, details of which are scheduled to be unveiled in January. Since the announcement of the sponsorship in June, Nextel has been very quiet, preferring to give Winston a wide berth for its final months in the spotlight. That will change in a big way next month as Nextel begins the process of boosting its name recognition among NASCAR fans.(in part from the Greenville News)(12-19-2003)
    and The JAYSKI Poll looks like Votations.com shut down my Points Poll [won’t use them again]
    so I guess the final results are as follows:
    29452 votes thru 11:00am/et on Dec 18th with 53.9% answering NO 46.1% answering YES in some fashion and only 4.64% voted for the “playoff” system that is being proposed.(12-19-2003)
  • Stewart and Harvick team up for Lowe’s Busch race: In a one-of-a-kind Busch Race, Action Performance has teamed up American Rocker “Kid Rock” and NASCAR Champion Tony Stewart in a Kevin Harvick owned Busch Car. The car will race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway over Memorial Day weekend.(12-19-2003)
  • So….what’s up with IROC? The International Race of Champions [IROC] opener is still up in the air. The folks at IROC are apparently waiting to get the final, final, final OK from a new series sponsor. Daytona Intl Speedway is reserving them space on the Speed Weeks schedule (Feb. 13).(Daytona Beach News Journal)(12-19-2003)
  • Testing at Nashville: Evernham Motorsports brought their Dodges to the Nashville Superspeedway for two days of testing on December 17 & 18. NASCAR drivers Bill Elliott, Jeremy Mayfield, Kasey Kahne, and Elton Sawyer were all in town to participate, as was their owner, Ray Evernham. Mother Nature decided not to cooperate, so the testing was cut short due to weather, but the teams plan to reschedule and return to the superspeedway in early January. Mayfield said,” We’ll be back in a few weeks I think. This is a great place to test, it’s my second visit and I look forward to coming back soon. I can’t believe Nashville doesn’t have a Cup race yet, hopefully in the near future.”(Nashville Superspeedway PR)(12-19-2003)
  • Chili Bowl Stuff: Dirt-track star Danny Lasoski has entered two additional cars for the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals [www.chilibowl.com] and invited drag racer Ron Capps and NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader to drive them. They’ll be competing against Tony Stewart, J.J. Yeley and Kasey Kahne in the 18th annual event Jan. 7-10 at Tulsa, Okla.(Indianapolis Star)(12-19-2003)

    (12-18-2003)

  • Update on Waltrip book: A book about the life and career of Darrell Waltrip is scheduled for release Feb. 9th [NOT 7th], 2004. Waltrip, a three-time NASCAR champion and one of the most influential figures in the history of the sport, worked on the book with author Jade Gurss. Gurss authored the biography of Dale Earnhardt Jr. [Driver #8] that spent almost a year on The New York Times bestseller list. Waltrip plans book signings in Daytona and Nashville, but details have yet to be finalized.(Tenneseean). Hearing that signed copies of DW’s book will be available at www.dwstore.com, past news on my Racing Bookstore.(12-18-2003)
  • Jeff Gordon Foundation Sponsors a Camper Cabin at the Victory Junction Gang Camp: The Jeff Gordon Foundation has committed $250,000 to sponsor a camper cabin at the Victory Junction Gang Camp. The Jeff Gordon Foundation Cabin will be one of sixteen cabins that campers will call home during their camping experience at Victory Junction. This is the second gift from The Jeff Gordon Foundation to the Victory Junction Gang Camp.
    “We are thrilled that The Jeff Gordon Foundation will have a permanent presence at Victory Junction,” said Kyle Petty. “I continue to admire Jeff for his charitable work and we are grateful for his commitment and ongoing support of the Victory Junction Gang Camp.” The funds will be used to underwrite the cost of a camper cabin. Victory Junction will have sixteen 2,300 square foot cabins capable of accommodating up to 10 campers and 10 counselors each session. During family weekends and specialized retreats, the cabins will accommodate two families per cabin. The maximum capacity for the cabins will be 160 during camper sessions or up to 32 families during the weekend sessions.
    “I am so proud of the Foundation and the work we have completed this year,”said Jeff Gordon. “This is another way we can give back to the racing community. “We are happy to build on this on-going relationship with the Petty family.”
    For more information, visit www.victoryjunction.org.
    The Jeff Gordon Foundation was established in December of 1999 by the four-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion to support children and families in need. The Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that benefits The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, The Make-A-Wish Foundation, The Marrow Foundation and Riley Hospital for Children. For more information on The Jeff Gordon Foundation, visit www.JeffGordonFoundation.org.(Victory Junction Gang PR)(12-18-2003)
  • Sad News – Triplett Loses Father To Heart Attack: Kevin Triplett, former NASCAR official, lost his father to a heart attack on Tuesday. Gerald Lee Triplett died Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2003. He was 71 years of age. His wife of 46 years, Lorraine; one daughter, Jennifer Bragg of Kingsport; one son, Kevin of Abingdon; three grandchildren, Kayla, Lucas and Sarah Grace survive him.(Insider Racing News)(12-18-2003)
  • Sad News: Bertha C. (Christensen) Dallenbach, 101, of Monroe passed away on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2003, at her home. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., she moved to East Brunswick along with her family in 1919. It was there she met her husband, Jacob Dallenbach, who became the co-owner and vice president of Dallenbach Sand & Gravel Company. Predeceased by her husband, Jacob, in 1974, and a daughter, Ruth Emelia Crawford, in 1995, she is survived by a daughter, Martha Clara Schlenk of Monroe; two sons, Dr. Robert B. Dallenbach of Westminster, Colo., and Wallace W. Dallenbach of Basalt, Colo.; seven grandchildren, Alma Beth Walker, Joel W. Dallenbach, Mark Crawford, Grant Crawford, Wally Dallenbach, Paul Dallenbach and Colleen Howerton, and six great-grandchildren, Jake, Wyatt, Katie, Jared, Fiona and Dillon. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Star 99.1 FM, P.O. Box 9058, Zarephath, NJ 08890 or N.J. Library for the Blind & Handicapped, 2300 Stuyvesant Ave., Trenton, NJ 08618.(More info at the Home News Tribune)(12-18-2003)

    (12-17-2003)

  • Teams Need Help – need a job?: It’s Daytona Prep Time and Bob Hubner at Race City Resumes, www.racecityresumes.com, is getting many Team requests for Fabricators, Body Hangers, Finish Fabricators, and Body Shop Personnel for short-term and long-term employment. If you are qualified in one of these specialties and available for work, contact Bob at Race City Resumes, 704-799-9888, for more information or see www.racecityresumes.com for info and an email address, been told fees will be dropped for these positions.(12-10-2003)
    AND: Pro Motorsports Employment http://www.racejobs.com has also been recieving calls from NASCAR teams to see if they had any clients that are qualified Fabricators and a few calls for entry level mechanics. Qualified persons may contact Don Pearsall over at Speed Media International to get the team information and job criteria. His number is (704) 604 – 2694.
    See more about jobs [even have a few listed] on my Racing Schools/Jobs page and my Busch Series and Truck Series pages. Looking to contact a team for a job? see my Team Address page for addresses, phone, fax and a few email.(12-12/17-2003)
  • New Motorsports Marketing Co: Ryan Kurek has launched LOGIC Marketing + Consulting, a motorsports focused marketing and management agency. Kurek was responsible for creating Rockwell Automation’s NASCAR sponsorship, marketing, hospitality and promotional programs. After five years at Rockwell, he was contracted by two successful NASCAR enterprises to assist in their sponsorship and marketing strategies before establishing LOGIC in 2003. For more info, see full PR on my Press Release/Marketing page or their site at www.logicmc.com.(12-17-2003)
  • Sad News: Eunice Dallaire passed away this morning after a bout with cancer. She is survived by her husband, Andy, twin daughters Diane Bodine and Donna Richeson, granddaughter Heidi Bodine and grandson Josh Richeson.(12-17-2003)
  • Hendrick Motorsports Team Penalized: NASCAR officials announced today that car owner Rick Hendrick has been assessed a penalty of 25 car owner points, resulting from a rule violation involving Hendrick Motorsports’ #60 Chevrolet [which will be the #84 in 2004 – see story below] during the NASCAR Winston Cup Series season-finale weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The #60 was slated to be driven at Homestead by Kyle Busch. The car failed to pass the event’s initial inspection process on Nov. 13 and was confiscated by NASCAR, which led to the team not participating. The car was found to be in violation of Section 12-4-Q of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Rule Book (parts and/or equipment used that do not conform to NASCAR rules). The #60’s rear-window opening exceeded the diagonal specification.(NASCAR PR)(12-17-2003)
  • Kyle Busch to run a limited schedule: Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick today announced that 18-year-old Kyle Busch will attempt to qualify for six NASCAR Nextel Cup Series races in 2004 with support from primary sponsor CARQUEST Auto Parts, the official auto parts supplier of Hendrick Motorsports since 2002.
    “The folks at CARQUEST have been wonderful partners and we are excited about their expanded role with us in 2004,” Hendrick said. “This is going to be a great chance for Kyle to gain some valuable experience by racing with and learning from the best drivers in NASCAR. I think it’s really going to benefit his development.”
    In conjunction with its support of Busch in the #84 Chevrolets (formerly the #60), CARQUEST will become a major associate sponsor of the #25 Nextel Cup team of driver Brian Vickers. CARQUEST backed Vickers and the championship-winning #5 NASCAR Busch Series team as a major associate in 2003.
    “All of us at CARQUEST Auto Parts are proud to continue our association with Hendrick Motorsports as their official auto parts supplier,” said Art Lottes III, president of CARQUEST. “Hendrick Motorsports is a world-class organization and we look forward in 2004 to continued success with Brian Vickers and our new relationship with Kyle Busch.”
    Busch will aim to qualify for his first-ever Nextel Cup event at his hometown track of Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March, followed by efforts at Texas Motor Speedway in April and Lowe’s Motor Speedway over Memorial Day weekend in May. During the second half of the season, the #84 CARQUEST team will enter races at New Hampshire International Speedway in July, Michigan International Speedway in August and California Speedway on Labor Day weekend in September. In addition, Busch will attempt to make the field for the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge, a non-points event at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in May.
    “I appreciate the opportunity CARQUEST and the Hendrick family have provided,” said Busch, who will also run a full-time Busch Series schedule in 2004. “Learning first-hand from my teammates and the other Cup drivers is going to be great experience. I’m just looking forward to being on the race track with them.” With seven career Busch Series races under his belt, Busch has posted a pair of runner-up finishes, three top-10 showings and five top-10 starts. He also earned two victories and trio of pole positions in 2003 ARCA Series competition.(Hendrick Motorsports)(12-17-2003)
  • New Magazine: Speedworld Magazine is a publication envisioned and created by Synergy Publishing International for the racing enthusiasts pleasure. It appeals to viewers using a fresh concept that revives racing reading. The magazine is committed to leaving an everlasting impression of a truly informational sensation. The goal is to provide original and accurate information that takes an extensive look into stock car, open wheel, off shore, and drag racing. More info at their site: www.speedworldmagazine.com. Other magazine info on my Racing Bookstore.(12-17-2003)
  • Park to the Truck Series? hearing Steve Park is under consideration for the #62 Truck Series ride that Brendan Gaughan is supposedly leaving to take the #77 ride. Supposedly Park was up for the 2nd Bill Davis Racing Truck Series rise that will go to Bill Lester.(12-17-2003)
  • Sad News: Jim Phillippe, a longtime public address announcer for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, has died after a long illness. He was 84. Beginning with the 1950 Indianapolis 500, Phillippe announced every race at the speedway until August’s Brickyard 400. For 35 years Phillippe also announced the home basketball and football games for Butler University, where he taught drama and radio. He is a member of the Indiana Broadcasters Hall of Fame.(Yahoo Sports/AP and see a larger story at the Indianapolis Star)(12-17-2003)
  • Zippy’s Crusade: Old Forge, New York is a quiet and tranquil little town in the Northern area of Central New York. That small town will come to life on the weekend of January 23 and 24, as the second annual Zippy’s Crusade for Kids comes to town. Greg and Nan Zipadelli are the hosts for the fundraiser, which will take place over the course of the weekend. Greg is the 2002 Winston Cup winning crew chief, as he directed Tony Stewart to the NASCAR Winston Cup championship. His wife Nan, grew up and went to school in in the area, and later pursued her college education at the scenic lakeside college of Oswego State. One of her first jobs was a school teacher in the Town of Webb.
    Last years event proved to be a rousing success, raising $70,000 for kids. The Crusade donated $30,000 to The Children’s Miracle Network in June, $10,000 to The Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth in July, and $30,000 to Victory Junction Gang in October of this year. See much more in the 2004 section of my Racing Charities page.(12-17-2003)
  • Racing Impact Study Funded: The Golden Leaf Foundation Inc. is making a $100,000 grant to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the N.C. Motorsports Association to study the economic impact of the industry in the state, the Charlotte Business Journal reports. The study is supposed to quantify and analyze the economic impact of the industry and recommend strategies to develop motorsports and recruit related businesses to the state. Jeff Michael, director of UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute will serve as project manager. Officials hope to complete the study by May 1. The Golden Leaf Foundation was formed with tobacco-settlement money and promotes long-term economic development in North Carolina.(Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter)(12-16-2003)
    and see more in columns at
    Speed Channel: Study to Chart Business Impact of Charlotte-Area Racing Industry and
    the Charlotte Observer: First of a kind study at UNCC)(12-17-2003)
  • Nice Gesture: A year of fundraising and planning came down to one special night for some very deserving kids. Fifteen children from the CVAN Shelter for Women in Concord, NC were given a night to remember on December 15th. The children were transported by limo to Dale Earnhardt Inc. to start their evening. Once there they were given the VIP, behind the scenes tour of the impressive facilities. The first stop was behind the showroom glass, there they got an up close view of the Dale Earnhardt Foundation legacy car. Carol, the tour guide of the evening, gave them the history of DEI and the Foundation. From their it was on to the Engine Shop, where some of the best horsepower in the business is built. Next stop…..Jr. Motorsports. As the fifteen children gathered in the waiting room, they noticed a young man quietly standing there. To their surprise and delight, he introduced himself. Not only did this group get a rare behind the scenes look at DEI, they now had Dale Earnhardt Jr. standing right there in front of them. Dale, and his sister Kelley, chatted with the children whose faces were beaming with delight. Dale offered to take pictures and sign autographs for each child present. If these kids weren’t ardent race fans before, they were now. Jr. Motorsports gave each child a duffle bag full of surprises. Teddy bears, race cars, and all sorts of racing items overflowed from the bags.(see full story at the Dale Jr. Pit Board Charity site)(12-17-2003)

    (12-16-2003)

  • Wood Brother’s Move Delayed: It was reported last month the Wood Brothers Racing team had already begun moving from Stuart, Virginia to Mooresville, North Carolina…..but that was postponed when Robert Yates Racing was delayed in vacating the shop they are leasing to the Wood Brothers. Co-owner Len Wood says “We’ve not stopped work, just delayed the move. We’re shooting to move the cars and parts we’re working with next week, the week of Christmas. That week is kinda disrupted anyway, so we’ll do it then”.(PRN’s Garage Pass)(12-16-2003)
  • Andretti to run some Busch? and testing: hearing that several Cup and a couple of Busch teams have contacted John Andretti about driving for them in 2004, and he is considering things now. Apparently, a couple of IRL teams have also inquired but Andretti, so far, is planning on staying in NASCAR racing.
    AND hearing Andretti will be testing Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Busch car at Talladega on Wednesday.(12-16-2003)
  • Testing at Kentucky: Kentucky Speedway’s weekly calendar shows two teams scheduled to test Wednesday and Thursday. Scheduled to take a Nextel Cup entry both days is Ricky Craven in PPI Motorsports’ #32 Chevrolet. J.J. Yeley, the United States Auto Club standout signed this fall by Joe Gibbs Racing, is also scheduled to test both days. Gibbs has said Yeley’s 2004 schedule will include seven to eight ARCA races, 10-12 Busch Series races and two to three Nextel Cup races.(Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter)(12-16-2003)
  • Burton tests 2004 Ford at VIR: Jeff Burton’s #99 Roush Racing Ford team spent today at VIRginia International Raceway with their first 2004-specification Taurus to be track-tested, looking at various options for their road-racing brake package in advance of the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup championship. Burton, a native of nearby South Boston, Va., did back-to-back comparisons of different brake calipers while circulating the 2.25-mile VIR North Course. According to crew chief Paul Andrews, this is catch-up work from the 2003 season. “There are two different types of brake calipers we wanted to try,” he said, “and another manufacturer’s come along with a new one they’re thinking about building, so we have their prototype for that. We just want to see what kind of things we can find.”
    The team usually tests a couple of times each year at VIR, which is just a two-hour drive from their shop in Concord, NC. “VIR is a great place,” Andrews said. “We love coming here. It’s obviously a real nice facility, and it kind of helps us a little bit with both road courses that we run, Watkins Glen and Sears Point, so it’s a good place for us.” The testing pace will slow little over the holidays. The NASCAR Nextel Cup Ford teams have new cylinder heads, new noses and new tail sections to test and perfect between now and the time that the trailers are loaded for the season-opening Daytona 500, which is 60 days from today. The car being tested today was the team’s first 2004-configuration Taurus to hit the track, Andrews noting that all other testing for next year had taken place in the wind tunnel only to date. VIRginia International Raceway is a multi-purpose road racing facility, located on the Dan River between Danville and South Boston, Va., and just north of historic Milton, N.C. In addition to its 3.27-mile natural-terrain road racing circuit (designed to be operated as two autonomous, full-service courses), VIR is the cornerstone of VIR Club, America’s first motorsports country club, the VIR Raceplex Industrial Park and the VIR Euro Rally School and Corporate Motorsport Experience, which features four rally stages plus a kart track, motocross track, ATV and SUV training grounds and a Tuff Terrain“ course. Future plans include the VIR Gallery, a showroom for high-end collector and racing cars, and resort lodging. For more information, visit the track’s website at www.virclub.com or contact VIR toll-free at 888-RACE099.(VIR PR)(12-16-2003)
  • Musgrave 4th Qtr Pocono Spirit Award winner: Ted Musgrave has been selected as the fourth-quarter winner of the National Motorsports Press Association/Pocono Spirit award. The award recognizes character and achievement in the face of adversity as well as sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports. Musgrave, an Evanston, Ill., native who will turn 48 on Thursday, drove an Ultra Motorsports Dodge to three wins and third place in this year’s Craftsman Truck Series while being treated for cancer. Other quarterly winners for 2003 included Richard Childress, Bob Latford and Ward Burton. The overall winner of this year’s award is scheduled to be announced Jan. 18, 2004, in Charlotte during the NMPA’s annual banquet.(Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter)(12-16-2003)
  • Outdoor Channel returns as an associate on the #74: The Outdoor Channel will continue its association with Nextel Cup driver Tony Raines, who drove the Outdoor Channel ride in 12 Busch Series events in 2003, posting a pair of top-5 and five top-10 finishes. Raines, who will compete in his sophomore season in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, will again sport The Outdoor Channel as an associate sponsor on the #74 BACE Motorsports Chevrolet. For more information, visit The Outdoor Channel’s web site at www.outdoorchannel.com.(BACE Motorsports PR)(12-16-2003)
  • Wal-Mart and NASCAR: Wal-Mart shoppers will be able to race radio-controlled stock cars in the toy departments of 3,100 stores for one day in February as the centerpiece of a Fan Days program that NASCAR will run with the world’s largest retailer as a lead-in to next year’s Daytona 500. The NASCAR-licensed cars will run on tracks built using the products of sponsors and licensees that tie in to the program, with as many as 10 brands, including Coca-Cola, expected to participate. NASCAR Fan Days will run from Feb. 1 through Feb. 22, with participating brands receiving prime placement and point-of-sale support throughout the three-week span. The “retailtainment” event, slotted for Feb. 7, will include radio-controlled car racing and NASCAR-themed programming on Wal-Mart’s in-store television and radio networks. NASCAR and Wal-Mart are discussing a “presented by” sponsorship with Gillette-owned battery brand Duracell, according to sports marketing sources. Gillette recently signed on as a NASCAR sponsor in multiple categories, including alkaline batteries. NASCAR and Wal-Mart declined comment on the program. Financial details were unavailable. This will be the fourth consecutive year in which NASCAR ties to Wal-Mart for a Fan Days promotion, but the first time that the two hook up on anything as extensive and attention-grabbing as in-store racing.(Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal)(12-16-2003)
  • NASCAR Seeking Another Tech Partner: NASCAR marketers are formulating a package that would give a personal computer manufacturer or another tech firm access to its timing and scoring results, this week’s Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal reports. Columnist Terry Lefton writes that the sponsorship package might also cover track scoring. “Laptops are in every [NASCAR] garage, so I feel like we have a real opportunity,” Brett Yormark, NASCAR vice president of corporate marketing, told the magazine.(Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter)(12-16-2003)
  • Hermie Sadler and the ‘Drive for Diversity’: Score Motorsports, a partnership formed in October by the former Cavaliers star and Emporia native Hermie Sadler, has committed to becoming a charter member of NASCAR’s “Drive for Diversity” in 2004. The new initiative will place minority drivers in Late Model cars in the Dodge Weekly Series. Sadler and Stith will field a car at South Boston Speedway. Sadler said he and Stith agreed to the program after being sought out by NASCAR Chief Operating Officer George Pyne at the season finale at Homestead. “We were talking about trying to search out minority candidates to put in the cars and train as mechanics,” Sadler said. “Shortly after that, I started getting calls from George Pyne about our willingness to participate in this program. It all fell into place.” Sadler still is planning to drive at least a dozen Busch Series races and a few Nextel Cup events for Score Motorsports but also is adding help at his South Hill-based shop to crew the new Late Model car.
    “We’ll treat it just as serious as our Winston Cup and Busch programs,” said Sadler, whose team has run limited Busch and Cup schedules since 2001 while struggling to find sponsorship. “We want to be successful with that because it could lead to bigger and better things. This program we’re doing will go a long way toward giving us credibility as a team supporting the diversity initiative. It’s another feather in our cap.” Sadler and Stith will select their Late Model driver from a “combine” at Hickory Motor Speedway on Jan. 5. About 12 to 15 prospective minority drivers will showcase their on-track skills during the event, which will be attended by other teams interested in the diversity initiative, such as Bobby Hamilton Racing.
    “Our driver is going to work in the shop during the week and race on weekends,” Sadler said. “By midseason, he’ll be a vital part of preparing his own car by our training.” The team has been assured by NASCAR and Access Communications, the company spearheading the “Drive for Diversity,” that the car will have a full primary sponsor. The price tag for a full short-track season ranges from $100,000-$300,000 annually – far less than the $3 million-$15 million needed to run in NASCAR’s top three series. “It gives you a good feeling that NASCAR is really behind the program,” Sadler said. “They’re working to secure enough money to compete in top-notch equipment and not cut any corners. Everything will be new, and we’ll treat it like we’re competing for the Late Model championship at South Boston.” Access Communications General Manager Darryl Stewart said there are enough sponsors for about four Late Model teams. The first officially to sign is the National Guard, which also is the primary advertiser of the #16 Ford driven by Greg Biffle in the Nextel Cup Series. The Hickory combine also will provide minority crew members with the chance to join a Craftsman Truck Series team. Several Truck teams, including HT Motorsports, Morgan-Dollar Motorsports and Innovative Motorsports, will be present. Access has extended its deadline for applications [see more info on my Racing Schools/Jobs page.(Richmond Times Dispatch)(12-16-2003)


    (12-15-2003)

  • New #10 Car Chief: The #10 MBV Motorsports team has added Bill Henderson [former FitzBradshaw crew chief in Busch] as the car chief and Dave McDonald to build shocks.(Yahoo Sports/Sporting News)(12-15-2003)
  • Parker leaves Yates? hearing that former #88 Crew Chief, Shawn Parker have parted ways. Mike Ford was named a few weeks ago as Jarrett’s new crew cheif. No word on Parker’s plans.(12-15-2003)
  • 15 Drivers Named to 2003 Auto Racing All-American Team: Series champions ran second to hard-charging challengers in two categories of the 2003 Auto Racing All-America Team chosen by members of the motorsports press. The addition of a new category for Touring Series drivers, plus a tie vote in the Open Wheel category, created a 15-driver team for the first time in the 34 years it has been named by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. Two drivers from each of the seven categories are named to the First Team, the next two to Second Team and all others receiving a 5% vote earn Honorable Mention.
    In the Open Wheel, Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran outpolled the champions of both CART and IRL. CART champion Paul Tracy and IRL champion Scott Dixon tied in the voting to place all three drivers on the First Team. It is deFerran’s third First-Team selection, his fifth as an All-American. Dixon was previously elected once before, his previous in 2000 when he was CART Indy Lights champion. For Tracy, it is his third First-Team choice, but his first in 10-years since his rookie season on the CART circuit.
    The Stock Car category had a similar outcome when eight-time winner Ryan Newman received the most votes in the category, ahead of NASCAR Winston Cup champion Matt Kenseth. It was the first time for each to be voted to the First Team. Newman was Second Team twice previously, and Kenseth was HM last year.
    The new Touring Series category for several stock car-based series was won for the first time by Brian Vickers, the NASCAR Busch Series champion, and Frank Kimmel, the five-time ARCA champion. Both are First Team for the first time. Vickers had never been chosen to the team before, but Kimmel, previously having to fight the likes of Steve Kinser for a place on the team, has been a four-time Honorable Mention.
    Drivers named to the Second Team included Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. from NASCAR Winston Cup in Stock Car. NASCAR’s Grand National champs took the Touring Series places – Scott Lynch from Winston West and Andy Santerre from Busch North.
    Earning Honorable Mention were Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick from NASCAR Winston Cup, Kevin Cywinski from ASA stock cars, Shane Huffman from the USAR Hooters Cup.
    The AARWBA Auto Racing All-America Team will be honored Jan. 10 at the 34th annual AARWBA banquet at the Sheraton Suites in Pomona, Calif. First-team members will receive the distinctive Horsepower Award, and the driver who received the most votes — not revealed until the banquet — receives the Jerry Titus Award emblematic of the team’s Driver of the Year.(in part from an AARWBA PR)(12-15-2003)

 


(12-14-2003)

 

  • New #77 Crew Chief? UPDATE: hear Steven Lane is close to being named new crew chief at the #77 Ford [to be Dodge], once the Kodak sponsorship goes into place. He was with Petty Enterprises until a few weeks ago, but worked for Penske prior to that as a car chief.(12-1-2003)
    BUT: also hearing that Shane Wilson, Gaughan Truck Series crew chief will follow gim over and be the crew chief of the #77 team when announced.(12-11-2003)
    UPDATE: Shane Wilson, who has served as Brendan Gaughan’s crew chief in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series the past two seasons, will assume the same role with Gaughan when he moves into the Nextel Cup Series in 2004, ThatsRacin.com has learned. Sources confirmed Friday that Wilson had accepted the crew chief role for the still-to-be-announced Penske Racing/Jasper Motorsports team that will be formed from Jasper’s current #77 team. A formal announcement outlining the details about the new team, including the car number, the sponsor, driver and the move to Dodge should come within the next week [Dec 18th?], sources said. Sources have confirmed the team’s driver will be Gaughan, who led the Truck series with six wins this season. He will become the sixth member of the 2004 Cup rookie class, joining Brian Vickers, Kasey Kahne, Scott Wimmer, Scott Riggs and Johnny Sauter. Wilson, a native of Vermont, has worked in the NASCAR All-Pro series and was a former employee at Hendrick Motorsports, where he worked with driver Jack Sprague in the Truck series. Wilson has served as general manager and crew chief for Gaughan’s Truck team, which is owned by Gaughan’s father, Michael Gaughan. Wilson and Brendan Gaughan’s departure leaves a clouded future for the #62 Dodge team.(ThatsRacin.com), see past news and rumors on this at my #77 Team News and Links page, supposedly the announcement will be Dec 18th.(12-13-2003)
    AND still hearing the car number will change to #72, to follow along with Penske’s other car #’s, #2 and #12.
    UPDATE 2: Orleans Racing, which has fielded the #62 Dodge for Truck series driver Brendan Gaughan the past two seasons, will return in 2004 and in a much-expanded fashion. Sources have confirmed Gaughan and his Truck series crew chief, Shane Wilson, are moving to the Nextel Cup Series next season with the yet-to-be-announced Penske Racing/Jasper Motorsports team. However, Gaughan said Saturday whatever his future may entail, it would not affect his current team, which is owned by his father, Michael Gaughan, and based in Las Vegas. Regarding his own future, Gaughan would only say he had not signed any contract to drive in Cup, but he said the Truck team was well-prepared for the possibility of him not driving the #62. In addition to at least one full-time Truck team next season, Orleans Racing plans to field an entry for driver Scott Lynch in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West series, formerly known as the Winston West series. Lynch won the series title this season as a rookie, handing Dodge its first championship in the division since 1976. Lynch may also run some Truck races in 2004. Gaughan said announcements regarding the Truck team, including the #62’s sponsor for next season, were expected soon.(ThatsRacin.com)(12-14-2003)


    (12-13-2003)

  • Todd Bodine Update: With two months to go before the start of the Nextel Cup season, Todd Bodine is again without a ride in NASCAR’s top division. The BelCar Racing team he drove for in 2003 closed up this week after it lost sponsorship from the Army National Guard at the conclusion of the season. The Guard, along with BelCar associate sponsor Subway restaurants, announced Wednesday that they will move from BelCar’s #54 car to the #16 Roush Racing Ford driven by Greg Biffle. Sam Belnavis, the only racial minority owner in NASCAR, will join Roush Racing as a partner and as Roush’s director of diversity programs. “We really got our act together towards the end of the year,” the youngest of the three Bodine brothers said Wednesday from his home in Davidson, N.C. “We ran a lot better than our finishes. It’s just a shame that we’re not going to be able to continue it.” Bodine’s uncertainty about where or what he’ll be driving is a familiar situation for him at this time of year. “It’s pretty much the same as last year, except that I did have a Busch (Series) ride,” Bodine said. “Everything is way up in the air right now.” BelCar Racing was formed late last year by Belnavis and Travis Carter after Carter lost his sponsorship with Discover Card. Now, Bodine and Carter hope to team up next year with the #26 car if they can get the sponsorship. “I’ve had some preliminary (sponsorship) conversations,” said Bodine, who met with representatives of two companies earlier this week. “It takes three or four meetings just to get some good interest from major corporations. I think that we are going to get invitations back.” Bodine has driven for Carter in the Cup series the past three seasons. He finished 31st in points this year, with one top-10 finish. Bodine said that returning to Carter Racing Enterprises is “pretty much my only option” for next year. “Three months ago, if I would have pursued it, I could have had another job, but I chose not to,” Bodine said. He has joined a growing list of drivers without rides. It includes Johnny Benson, Jimmy Spencer, John Andretti, Steve Park, Hut Stricklin and Dave Blaney. Finding sponsorship could be difficult, though. Even some high-profile teams are finding it rough going. Just this week, Dale Earnhardt Inc. closed the book on its #1 car [down to a part time schedule – not closed]. A dozen other Nextel Cup teams are still looking for a primary sponsor for the 2004 season. “The problem is that it’s so late that it really makes it hard to find a good sponsor,” Bodine said. “I’ve got a lot of connections in the New England area and I’ve got Travis’ marketing people doing the work.” As for a possible return to the Busch Series, where Bodine has had some success, he said he doesn’t have any leads.(Elmira Star Gazette)(12-13-2003)
  • more Villeneuve and a new hair color: Jacques Villeneuve says it’s unlikely he’ll drive again in Formula One, but he hasn’t written off a return to the world’s top racing series. The Iberville, Que., native also admitted Friday to being intrigued by NASCAR. Villeneuve, sporting newly dyed red hair, found himself without a drive when the British American Racing team he helped found in 1999 opted not to renew his contract at the end of the 2003 season. Villeneuve was at Mont-Tremblant for the 24-hour charity ski-a-thon that he and Pollock have organized for the past three years. They hope to raise at least $376,000 to help children stricken with cancer.(see more at The Globe and Mail) see past news on my Drivers Looking page.(12-13-2003)

    (12-12-2003)

  • Changes in the Truck Lineup? Hearing Speed Channel may make some changes to their Truck Series broadcast team for 2004, both in the booth and on pit road.(12-12-2003)
  • Brick Cars have arrived: The #11 The Brick Car / Brett Bodine diecast have arrived. They will be shipping out this coming week. There are still some available at www.brettbodine.com. What is the ‘Brick car all about’? see my #11 Team News and Links page for the past news around August. Also: no word on Bodine’s 2004 plans or what happened to the sponsor but know the team and Bodine are still looking for one and an image of the diecast.(12-12-2003)
  • Testing at Las Vegas: Some of the biggest names in NASCAR have signed up to test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Jan. 26-29, 2004 in preparation for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event and Sam’s Town 300 NASCAR Busch Series race. Seven of the eight active series champions are among the 26 drivers who are scheduled to participate in NASCAR Preseason Thunder-Las Vegas. Four-time champion Jeff Gordon, current champion Matt Kenseth as well as Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte, Dale Jarrett and Bill Elliott are among the drivers who will be preparing for the March 7 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400. Kenseth, who also is the defending champion of the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400, will test his Busch car in preparation for the March 6 Sam’s Town 300 as well. Other NASCAR drivers scheduled to test include Ward Burton, Ryan Newman, Sterling Marlin, Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, Jimmie Johnson, rookie Brian Vickers, Las Vegas Kurt Busch, Mark Martin, Greg Biffle, Ricky Rudd, Ricky Craven and Jeremy Mayfield. NASCAR Busch Series drivers Jason Leffler, J.J. Yeley, Mike Bliss, David Reutimann and Ashton Lewis Jr. also are scheduled to participate. Teams will be allowed to test for two days. Tickets for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 and Sam’s Town 300 are on sale by calling 1-800-644-4444 or online at www.lvms.com.(LVMS PR)(12-12-2003)
  • New Rusty Crew Chief? hearing Larry Carter, current crew chief of the #74 BACE Motorsports Chevy and driver Tony Raines, is under consideration for the #2 Miller Lite/Penske Racing crew chief gig with driver Rusty Wallace.(12-12-2003)
  • Pruett to run for Ganassi: The Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series says Chip Ganassi Racing will field an entry in the endurance series next year for former Winston Cup driver Scott Pruett. Pruett and Max Papis are scheduled to drive a Lexus-powered Riley MK XI Daytona prototype in the 12-race series that kicks off Jan. 31 with the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Pruett ran in the 2000 Winston Cup Series for Cal Wells’ PPI Racing and has made road-course starts for Ganassi in recent years. He finished second at Watkins Glen this season for Ganassi and also won his third Sports Car Club of America Trans-Am championship this year.(Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter)(12-12-2003)
  • Born on Date scheme: Been told that #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. will run a Budweiser Born on Date special paint scheme for the 2004 Budweiser Shoot Out. Budweiser is running this car to promote a company freshness campaign. Budweiser will offer the sale and sampling of Budweiser products to fans age 21 and over. These are Budweiser beers that will be brewed that morning / same day. Atcually will run one at the Bud Shootout and one in the Daytona 500.(12-12-2003)
  • No 2004 Indy 500 for Stewart: Asked recently if he might consider a return to Indy next year to drive in the Indianapolis 500 should the opportunity arise, Tony Steart [#20 Home Depot Chevy] had a two-word response: “No chance.” Stewart has made five Indy starts, the last in 2001 when he finished sixth. His name popped up several times last May, but he said then he wouldn’t attempt another double of the Indy 500 in the afternoon and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 that night at Charlotte, NC. The Columbus, Ind., native was courted last summer by Chip Ganassi before re-signing with Joe Gibbs Racing. Stewart drove for Ganassi in the 2001 Indy 500 but said the NASCAR and Indy Racing League team owner didn’t dangle Indy as a carrot in their discussions. Stewart said the decision to restrict his visits to Indianapolis Motor Speedway to August is his alone and not a stipulation of his contract with team owner Joe Gibbs. Staying away in May doesn’t mean the race isn’t still high on his priority list.(Indianapolis Star)(12-12-2003)
  • Nextel Plans: Nextel plans $25M in upgrades to cell phone service at tracks. Nextel marketer Michael Robichaud had a fear that a branding dream could become a nightmare. Call volume around big events can overwhelm wireless phone services. And as Nextel replaces Winston next year as NASCAR’s title sponsor in what might be the biggest U.S. sponsorship ever, Robichaud imagined trackside fans, amidst Nextel signs, trying to get their cell phones to work. “I can see the cover of sports sections showing that,” he says. “And we really don’t need that picture.” So Nextel, paying more than $700 million over 10 years to title-sponsor a series that drew about 6.7 million fans last year, will spend about $25 million on antennas and switching gear so fans can make calls from tracks next year. Fans, that is, who are Nextel subscribers. And what if racetracks let other phone services make upgrades? Says Robichaud: “We would be, uh, disappointed.”(USA Today)(12-12-2003)
  • Some ‘Nice’ Non NASCAR news: Indy Racing League Infiniti Pro Series team owner Sam Schmidt [and former IRL driver] invited a fully recovered quadriplegic to take part in a two-day test session this week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Pat Rummerfield, who was paralyzed in an automobile accident in 1974 but has since recovered, tested Schmidt’s IPS car in hopes of landing a ride next season with Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Schmidt, a former IRL race winner, was paralyzed from the shoulders down in a testing accident in January 2000. “It’s the first time that a quadriplegic has ever been in (an IPS racecar),” Rummerfield said. “Sam Schmidt and I are attempting to raise money for spinal cord research utilizing racing as a vehicle. This is a great way to heighten awareness for spinal cord research and to raise some funds. It took me a little while to get comfortable in the car and to figure it out. Once we accomplished that, the speeds came up.”
    AND Alex Zanardi, the former Formula One and CART driver who lost his legs in a CART race in Germany in 2001, told an Italian media outlet that he plans to race in the European Touring Car Championship next season. “It is 99-percent sure that in 2004 I will drive in the Touring Car Championship with BMW Italia using a vehicle of the Ravaglia team,” Zanardi told Gazzetta dello Sport. “It hasn’t been easy because there wasn’t a plan for this and it was practically born after my return at Monza. It has been done in a short space of time and a third car has been found for me.” Zanardi, the 1997 and 1998 CART champion, competed in the final ETCC race last season at Monza in Italy, finishing seventh in a specially adapted vehicle. Zanardi also told Gazzetta dello Sport that he turned down an offer to race in the Indianapolis 500. “I really think that my career at that level is over,” Zanardi said of a return to open-wheel racing.(Las Vegas Sun)(12-12-2003)


    (12-11-2003)

  • Smirnoff Ice back with Kenseth? hearing that Smirnoff Ice will return to sponsor 2003 Winston Cup champ, Matt Kenseth, somehow in 2004. There had been rumors that Smirnoff Ice/Triple Black would move to the #29 team and Kevin Harvick.[see #29 Team News and Links page for that old rumor].(12-11-2003)
  • Arnold Motorsports and Cope: being told that the #79 Arnold Motorsports team, will switch to the #50 and Derrike Cope will drive the car full time and the sponsor Cope announced last year for his #37 Quest Motorsports team, PHM – Paramount Hospitality Management, could be part of the package. More info on the team at www.arnold-motorsports.com [but no mention of this, confirmed it with the team].(12-11-2003)
  • Fox likes the news points system idea? While NBC and TNT would obviously benefit if NASCAR decides to determine its Nextel Cup champion through a 10-race “postseason” format, Fox Broadcasting chairman and chief executive officer David Hill is warming to the idea as well. “When I first heard about it I wasn’t sure,” Hill said Wednesday. “But after thinking about it long and hard, now I am very much for it.”(See full story at ThatsRacin.com), see more on the proposed system on my NASCAR News page.(12-11-2003)
  • Crawford going over seas: Truck Series Driver Rick Crawford Seeks a Helping Hand From Community For American Troops as he will Travel To Middle East To Visit With Troops Later This Month. He’ll be traveling with several other NASCAR personalities and representatives from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) and Speedway Children’s Charities. The trip, which will leave Dec. 29, is scheduled to include stops in Iraq, Pakistan, Qatar and Kuwait. In an attempt to raise solider morale during the holiday season, Crawford is requesting that people in Charlotte and the surrounding communities donate one of two items that the troops have requested international phone cards or disposable cameras. “Our service men and women are halfway across the world with limited access to family and friends,” said Crawford. “Some have been on patrol for months, receiving phone cards and disposable cameras helps our troops convey the message of what they’re actually going through abroad.” Circle Bar Racing is working with local businesses including the Concord area Sears store, Alabama Grill at Concord Mills and Lowe’s Motor Speedway to coordinate drop box locations for these desired goods. More info on myRacing Charities page.(12-11-2003)

    (12-10-2003)

  • National Guard to the #16? Grainger Out? UPDATE 4 : it appears that the Army National Guard will be going to the #16 Roush Racing Ford and driver Greg Biffle, being the primary associate for several races with the option to be a primary for a few select races. Supposedly Grainger will still be on the car but will spilt it’s primary sponsorship with National Guard. See much more about the ‘Guard rumor’ past news on my #16 Team News and Links page. Also hearing USPS and Subway [Sandwiches – Jarred] could be part of the sponsorhip package.(11-18-2003)
    UPDATE: been told that Grainger will not sponsor Greg Biffle or the #16 car in 2004.(11-26-2003)
    UPDATE 2: there will be an announcement concerning Greg Biffle and Roush Racing on Wednesday, Dec 10th about the 2004 season and the #16 team.(12-2-2003)
    UPDATE 3: A sponsorship deal for the No. 16 Roush Racing Ford and Greg Biffle is expected to be announced soon, with Subway and National Guard splitting the duties.(FoxSports/Sporting News)
    AND hearing that Jackson Hewitt Tax Service will be a primary sponsorship for one race and an associate sponsor early in the year.(12-8-2003)
    UPDATE 4 sponsorhip – lots of info here:: The Army National Guard announces today it will be the primary advertiser on the Roush Racing #16 National Guard/Subway Ford Taurus Team and for rising star Greg Biffle in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, with Subway Restaurants as co-primary sponsor. Travelodge hotels and Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, both Cendant Corporation brands, will be associate sponsors.
    The coalition of sponsors will put forth a focused and ambitious marketing effort behind the sponsorship with local and nationwide advertising, promotions and merchandise programs. The National Guard will advertise in the primary sponsorship position on the #16 Ford Taurus throughout the 2004 season, except during select races where Subway, Travelodge and Jackson Hewitt will be featured in the primary locations. In addition, the National Guard will also unveil two special paint schemes during the season.
    The Army National Guard (ARNG), a component of The Army, will focus efforts to increase awareness of the Army National Guard and the recruitment of National Guard members. The National Guard will be featured in Subway, Jackson Hewitt and Travelodge Hotel advertising and promotions.
    Subway Restaurants continues its support of NASCAR by its co-primary sponsorship of Greg Biffle and the #16 Roush Racing Ford Taurus. Subway local and nationwide marketing efforts and promotions will support the sponsorship with direct consumer programs and television ads. The Subway chain will also hold primary sponsorship positioning on the car for select races during the 2004 season.
    Travelodge Hotels and Jackson Hewitt Tax Services will further support the sponsorship with customized marketing initiatives that will feature special promotions for the NASCAR fan. National programs will be put in place and the NASCAR fan will be able to easily support the series by participating in promotions at each brand’s locations.
    For more information on the National Guard, visit their website at www.arng.army.mil.
    For more information on Subway Restaurants, please visit www.subway.com.
    Reservations and further information are available by visiting www.travelodge.com or calling the toll-free Travelodge number, (800) 578-7878, or the Thriftlodge number, (800) 535-9055.
    To contact a tax preparer in your area, call 1-800-234-1040 or visit our website at www.jackson Hewitt.com.(see full PR and an image of the car at the Roush Racing site [no need to send me these pics] and see some images of the National Guard Ford at RacingOne), hearing Jackson Hewitt Tax Service will be the primary sponsor at Daytona in Feb. SEE IMAGES on my #16 Paint Scheme page(12-10-2003)
  • Only 14 races for the #99? Jeff Burton’s unsponsored No. 99 is committed to running at least 14 races in the Nextel Cup series in 2004, but Roush Racing president Geoff Smith said Wednesday there is a chance it might only be 14.(see full story at NASCAR.com)(12-10-2003)
  • #54 Team…dormant; Belnavis to Roush: BelCar Racing, the only full-time Cup team in NASCAR with minority ownership, is now “dormant,” according to a team co-owner, Sam Belnavis. BelCar fielded the #54 Fords this season with driver Todd Bodine. Belnavis was the majority shareholder and veteran car owner Travis Carter was the other partner. The team operated from a shop Carter owned in Statesville, NC. BelCar lost sponsor National Guard at the conclusion of the 2003 season, but when the Guard was introduced at a Wednesday news conference as a new sponsor for Roush Racing’s #16 Fords driven by Greg Biffle, Belnavis was also on hand. Roush Racing President Geoff Smith welcomed Belnavis to Roush, introducing him as the organization’s new director of diversity programs.
    “Travis has established a new relationship, as you know, with Torquespeed. This is not a surprise to him,” Belnavis said. “I am now a partner in this organization, but I will be developing programs to develop the diversity aspect of Roush Racing. I knew the direction the National Guard was taking, but I needed a platform for my career but also a platform that could substantiate and support a true diversity program.” Carter could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but a spokesperson said he was continuing to work to secure sponsorships for his own team, Travis Carter Enterprises, and Torquespeed, a joint venture between Carter and investors from the United Kingdom. “Travis and I are going to remain good friends,” Belnavis said. “This is a small sport when it comes to people. We’re family and we didn’t have a squabble.” Belnavis has been involved in motorsports for more than 20 years as an executive with the Miller Brewing Co. The Charlotte, N.C., resident brought Miller into racing signing then-Winston Cup champion Bobby Allison to run the #22 Buick. Diversity has become an issue in NASCAR, with several initiatives planned to create opportunities for women, Hispanics and African Americans in the sport. Belnavis and then-partner Tinsley Hughes partnered with Hendrick Motorsports in a diversity initative in 2002 that never got off the ground. “Diversity is going to be an endless pursuit,” NASCAR chairman Brian France said last week in New York. “We want everybody in this country, every man and woman, to be a NASCAR fan. If we can put initiatives forward to help make us more attractive to more people, that’s important.” Belnavis said he hopes to work on identifying possible driver candidates and build awareness of job opportunities in NASCAR.(ThatsRacin.com)(12-10-2003)
  • Geoffrey Bodine to Iraq: Geoffrey Bodine has announced plans to visit the US Troops serving in Iraq during this holiday season. He will be leaving for Bhagdad on December 29th and will return on January 8th. Bodine toured US Army installations in Afghanistan, and other troop locations, in 2002 with Jerry Nadeau and a team of racing celebrities. “It’s a very dangerous place to visit,” commented Bodine, when he announced his plans, “but I feel fortunate to be given the honor of bringing the message to our brave men and women serving in the military over there, that we appreciate the sacrifices they are making to ensure our safety and security.”(more info in the future at the Geoffrey Bodine Site)(12-10-2003)
  • Smokey Yunick’s Family To Sell “Best Damn Garage In Town”: The property that once held Smokey’s Best Damn Garage in Town was put on the market today. The two-and-a-half year process of selling the racing parts, tools and equipment that Smokey accumulated during his 50+ years on the property, has finally come to an end. The next step in the process of carrying out Smokey’s final wishes is selling the property.
    When Smokey set up his plan, he made two things very clear.
    1) He didn’t want his shop turned into some [expletive deleted] shrine. He knew what he had done and he didn’t want his family burdened with having to run and maintain a museum. He saw how much work his friend Don Garlits had to put in to keep his museum in shape.
    2) He wanted all the parts and equipment to be sold to racers who would put them to use, rather than have them sit around in a museum and collect dust. The garage sales and parts sales that have occurred at the shop during the past 30 months have created a legion of race fans that have a piece of history that they pass on to their families.
    Smokey spent 50 years building his shop and improving the land it was on. He knew how valuable waterfront property in Daytona Beach was, which was why he bought and maintained the surface and submerged land rights for the property. The family enlisted the help of Smokey’s trusted financial advisor to sell the property. The area of riverfront in Daytona Beach is currently undergoing very active revitalization efforts and the shop property will be a large portion of this renovated area.
    This three-acre property still holds a mythical place in the hearts of race fans. The upcoming 2004 Speed Weeks will be the last time that legions of loyal Smokey fans will be able to come by and have their picture taken with the sign out front. It will be the last time they will be able to drive by and think about all that went inside the fence and behind the walls and painted over windows. A landmark in racing, automotive and American history will be going by the wayside in the name of progress – Smokey would be proud. For more on Smokey, his books available and other info, see www.smokeyyunick.com and some books on my Racing Bookstore page.
    AND who won the engine? The 1967 Daytona 500 Big Block Chevy was won by Steve “Yogi” Behr from Speedway, Indiana. He bought his 6 tickets at the PRI show in Indianapolis last week and was completely surprised when he stopped back by the ARP booth and we told him he had won. Linda Vaughn “The First Lady of Motorsports” stopped by the booth to help Trish Yunick Brown, Smokey’s daughter, draw the winning ticket in the ARP booth at PRI. The engine raffle raised over $7,000 for the Foundation to use to give grants and scholarships to individuals who have innovative ideas that are in keeping with Smokey’s outside the box innovation style. Thanks also go to Automotive Racing Products (ARP) and Performance Racing Industry (PRI) for signing on as inaugural sponsors of the Foundation last year and for their continual promotion and monetary help. They will be announcing the winners of the first grant/scholarship in the spring of 2004 and we are still accepting applications from people with interesting ideas in keeping with Smokey’s outside-the-box innovation style. For more information on the winner and for information about applying for a grant or scholarship: www.SmokeyYunick.com and then click on the “Foundation” link.(12-10-2003)
  • Drive for Diversity Program Seeks Experienced Crew Members – Application Deadline Extended: Access Marketing & Communications, a member of Omnicom’s The Radiate Group, is continuing to accept resumes through Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2003, from experienced minority crew members to participate in the “Drive for Diversity” stock car driver and crew development program. Recruitment for qualified drivers is closed for 2004. Access Marketing & Communications launched “Drive for Diversity” as a long-term solution aimed at developing a steady pipeline of well-trained and supported minority crew members and drivers. For 2004, “Drive for Diversity” selected crew members will compete nationally on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams. Driver participants will compete in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series on tracks located in the Southeastern United States.
    Experienced crewmembers can submit resumes, videotapes, race results, references and other supporting materials to: “Drive for Diversity,” Access Marketing & Communications, 201 S. Tryon St., Ste. 130, PMB 254, Charlotte, NC 28202. All applicant materials must be dated no later than Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2003, and will be reviewed by a panel of industry officials to determine qualifiers for the 2004 “Drive for Diversity” program scouting combine. The special try-out event for drivers and crew members will be held Monday, Jan. 5, 2004, at Hickory Motor Speedway in Hickory, North Carolina. The final selection of participants will be formally announced in late January 2004. Please note that applicant resumes, videotapes and supporting materials will not be returned.(Yahoo Finance)(12-10-2003)
  • New website about collectibles The website, www.thediecasttruth.com, was created to help the diecast community stay well informed of current conditions in the retail market of NASCAR collectibles. They intend to educate those who are new to collectibles retailing and the pitfalls that come with it. Also, to bring awareness to those already dedicated to a retail storefront or retail website. For more info, see the site: www.thediecasttruth.com, also have a dealer survey on the site. Also see my Collectible Links page for news and many links.(12-10-2003)
  • Earnhardt Display at the National Corvette Museum: The National Corvette Museum has recently placed on display a 400-piece Dale Earnhardt memorabilia collection, donated to the museum by Terry Neal Thomas of Glasgow. Thomas donated a total of 1,100 pieces of Earnhardt memorabilia, which will be rotated throughout the year to feature all the pieces. The collection showcases diecasts, race memorabilia, apparel items and various other pieces of Earnhardt signature collectibles that have been part of Thomas’ collection for many years. The extensive collection is on display in the museum’s Skydome. Guests visiting the museum will also see Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s racecar driver suit on display in the Race and Performance area, and a newly added Gibson Corvette guitar display featuring three unique guitars designed with the 50th Anniversary, the Stingray and Zora Arkus-Duntov in mind. Tours are self-guided and families receive a special $20 admission price. General admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $4.50 for children ages 6-16. AAA and military discounts are also offered.(Bowling Green Daily News), more info and even some live cams at the museum’s site: www.corvettemuseum.com, for other museums and hall of fame news and links, see my Hall of Fame page.(12-10-2003)
  • Hand Signals like the NFL? Less Provisionals? FoxSports Larry McReynolds reports that when a car is held on pit road, the team, the fans and the media all want to know why immediately. There was just no clear-cut way of doing it though. For four or five of the major rule infractions, NASCAR will come up with hand signals, just like a referee in football. It’s neat because the crew chief, the fans who can see that pit box and the media will know right away.
    AND NASCAR is looking at changing the provisional system, and while these changes aren’t completely set in stone, it is safe to say there won’t be seven provisional positions for next year’s races. It has reached a point where provisionals need to be scaled back so there probably will be three to five provisionals per race. You’ve got to protect the top guys in points because with one round of qualifying, you do stand the chance of someone losing an engine or wrecking. Next year, the fastest 38 or 40 cars will get in the field with three to five on provisionals. In the past, if you were in the top 25 in points, you weren’t charged a provisional. Now if you use it, you lose it — no matter where you are. People who are usually up in the points can run out of provisionals.(See full story at FoxSports and see current provisonal rules on my ProvisionalLand Page and another story with nascar quotes from the Sports Network: NASCAR studies points and provisional changes)(12-10-2003)
  • Yellow Flag for starter…..Get Well: been told that NASCAR Nextel Cup Starter Jimmy Howell will undergo two surgeries on December 12 in Winston Salem, NC. The surgery will be performed by Dr. David Martin at Wake Forest Universtiy Baptist Hospital. Howell will have surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus and will also have surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.(12-10-2003)
  • Thomas Built Bus Provides Miles of Smiles for Victory Junction AND: The future campers of the Victory Junction Gang Camp will ride in style, thanks to Thomas Built Buses! The company has generously donated a 14-passenger bus, complete with its own special “paint scheme” and a powered wheel chair lift. Thomas Built CEO John O’Leary pointed out, “The Victory Junction Gang Camp is going to be a magical place for special children to go and just enjoy being kids. The Pettys and everyone involved with the camp have done a remarkable job, and we are proud to provide a safe, reliable vehicle manufactured by the dedicated employees at Thomas Built Buses.”
    The special design for the bus was the vision of Kevin Jeannette of Gunnar Racing in Florida. Kevin’s son, Gunnar Jeannette, raced with Kyle Petty and Paul Newman in a camp-themed car at the The Bullyhill 250 at Watkins Glen in August 2003. The decals and decal application were donated by John McKenzie and his team at Motorsports Designs. Thomas Built Buses, headquartered in High Point, NC is a subsidiary of Freightliner LLC and is the leading manufacturer of school buses in North America, with a 34% share of the school bus market. Freightliner LLC is a company of DaimlerChrysler.
    AND Interstate Bakeries Corporation’s Merita Bread sold bread to make “bread” for the Victory Junction Gang Camp. A portion of proceeds from every loaf of Merita Old-Fashioned Bread sold in participating Food Lion, Harris Teeter and Lowe’s Foods stores this fall was designated to benefit Victory Junction. At a presentation at the Victory Junction Gang Camp today, Curtis Miller, Regional Vice President- Interstate Brands Southeast Division, presented a check for $58,835 to the camp’s founders Richard Petty and Kyle Petty. Interstate Bakeries Corporation, through its operating subsidiaries, the Interstate Brands Companies, is the nation’s largest wholesale baking company of fresh bread and cake, with 58 bread and cake bakeries in strategic markets from coast-to-coast. The Company, headquartered in Kansas City, Mo, bakes and distributes products sold under well know brand names like Merita bread, Wonder bread, Hostess cake, and Dolly Madison cake. For more information about the company, visit the corporate web site www.interstatebakeriescorp.com.(Victory Junction Gang PR’s)(12-10-2003)


    (12-9-2003)

  • Here ya go…… Daytona International Speedway To Host NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest.
    Bands, pit stop demonstrations and inquisitive fan forums with your favorite drivers are just some of the exciting features fans will experience at the all new 2004 NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at historic Daytona International Speedway [this takes place of the old Winston Preview that was held in Winston Salem, NC].
    Coinciding with January’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and NASCAR Busch Series testing sessions at the “World Center of Racing,” officials at the Speedway announced dates for the unique NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest.
    The 5-10 p.m. events will be held on the following days:
    Jan. 7 &14: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Fan Fest
    Jan. 10: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Fan Fest
    Jan. 17 & 20: NASCAR Busch Fan Fest
    Scattered along the frontstretch outside the gates of legendary DIS, the scheduled fan festivals will feature show cars, bands, sponsor displays, race team haulers and other exhibits. The high-energy event will also include fan forums, engine building and pit stop demonstrations, silent auctions and food and fun all set in the shadow of one of motorsports most storied venues.
    On each Fan Fest day, fan forums with drivers and NASCAR officials will be moderated by MRN, FOX or NBC celebrity announcers.
    While all displays and entertainment outside is free to the public, tickets to enter the NEXTEL Cup events are $10 and $5 for the NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck events. Only fans purchasing tickets to the Cup, Busch and Truck Fan Fest events will receive gift bags that will include: driver’s autographed pictures, DAYTONA USA admission vouchers, NASCAR Magazine, posters and other fan goodies.
    Fans can also experience the high-speed excitement of all testing sessions free.
    NASCAR Preseason Thunder annual testing sessions at Daytona International Speedway are as follows:
    Jan. 6-8: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup (odd owner’s points)
    Jan. 10-12: NASCAR Craftsman Truck
    Jan. 13-15:NASCAR NEXTEL Cup (even owner’s points)
    Jan. 17-18: NASCAR Busch Series (odd owner’s points)
    Jan. 20-21: NASCAR Busch Series (even owner’s points)
    Proceeds from the NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest will benefit Victory Junction Gang Camp, NASCAR Wives Auxiliary, Speediatrics and Brenners Children’s Hospital.(Daytona International Speedway PR)(12-9-2003)
  • Dale Jr. to star in Wrangler campaign: Brandweek reports that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be featured next summer in an ad campaign for Wrangler, one of his late father Dale’s early primary sponsors, today’s Sports Business Daily says. The driver will be featured in the ad campaign launching Wrangler Jeans Co.’s denim-driven line targeting young adults ages 18-32, Brandweek says. “Earnhardt Jr. is our target consumer,” says Craig Errington, Wrangler’s director of advertising, public relations and special events. “He wears jeans every day and will add the energy of NASCAR racing to the brand.” Wrangler’s goal is to sell $150 million of the products in the next three years.(Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter)(12-9-2003)
  • Arnold Palmer and UPS at Atlanta UPDATE: Legendary golfer Arnold Palmer, whose popularity transcends the sport of golf, will enter his 50th consecutive Masters tournament in Augusta, GA in April 2004. To commemorate this historic event, Dale Jarrett, an avid golfer and the driver of the #88 UPS Ford Taurus, will drive a special golf-themed race car in the March 14, Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The special UPS/Arnold Palmer paint scheme will be debuted to the public at 10:00am/et on Tuesday, December 9, at www.racing.ups.com. Action Performance will offer a complete line of UPS/Arnold Palmer merchandise exclusively for UPSers, including golf bags, die-cast replicas and other racing merchandise. See image of the car on my 2004 Paint Schemes page.(12-8-2003)
    UPDATE: Dale Jarrett will pay tribute to golfing legend Arnold Palmer with a special paint scheme in the March 14 Golden Corral 500 Nextel Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Jarrett’s No. 88 Ford from Robert Yates Racing will feature a special green-and-white paint scheme for the race. “He is someone I have looked up to and respected my entire life,” Jarrett, who is well known in NASCAR circles for his golfing prowess, says of Palmer. The special tribute is being planned to coincide with Palmer’s 50th appearance in the prestigious Masters tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, an event he has won four times. Pictures of the special paint scheme were unveiled today at www.Racing.UPS.com, along with pictures of the special helmet and firesuit Jarrett will wear during the Atlanta race.(Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter)(12-9-2003)
  • Ganassi Testing at Nashville:
    Ganassi Racing is conducting a two-day testing session at the Nashville Superspeedway on December 9-10. NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver, #40-Sterling Marlin, and NASCAR Busch Series driver, #1-David Stremme are in the Music City to test out a few new cars for the upcoming 2004 racing season.(Nashville Superspeedway PR)(12-9-2003)
  • Changes at Morgan-McClure: A Morgan-McClure Motorsports Holiday. All through the No. 4 shop, wrenches are clanging and sheet metal is bent. The new Chevrolet Monte Carlos sit glistening, money well spent. Tim Brewer and the guys are working hard with sights set on 2004. The engine dyno is humming with engines tweaked to find a “little more”. Road crew guys are spending extra time with their kin. For when 2004 arrives, all they will focus on is a win. Changes are in store for the Nextel Cup Series entry, No. 4 car. New paint wrappings all aglow, new bodies too and a brand new announcement is not too far. So sit back and relax, enjoy the season and do not pout. For in 2004, Morgan-McClure will give race fans something to talk about.(MMM PR)(12-9-2003)

    (12-8-2003)

  • Canines for kids: Usually when you think of NASCAR racing you think about horse power not Dog Power, but just recently America’s Most Wanted Motorsports has teamed up with “Canines For Kids, Inc.  A non-profit organization designed to train bloodhounds for the purposes of the recovery of missing children and Alzheimer’s patients to help in exposure and overall awareness.  Their organization’s platform is to not only to offer their services for recovery, but to train and donate bloodhounds to Law Enforcement agencies nationwide and they did just that recently in Hawaii.  They took Annie (which is the only scent-discriminating bloodhound in Hawaii) to the island and on her second day in service she found a missing Alzheimer’s patient and brought them home safe.  For more information visit www.bodydynamicsracing.com.(12-8-2003)
  • More #77 news: Sources have confirmed that Dave Blaney has a binding contract with the #77 Jasper Engines Team to run the #77 in all the 2004 Nextel Cup events. Blaney has a great relationship with the team and has not been told that he will not be in the car next season.(12-8-2003)
  • Villeneuve To Reignite Career In America; NASCAR?: Embattled F1 ace Jacques Villeneuve might reignite his racing career in the USA. The French-Canadian, world champion of 1997, ruled out competing in the oval-based Indy Racing League series because too many racers get hurt. ‘It’s not for me,’ he told Autosport. ‘The only way I can race is to the limit and taking risks, but it’s too dangerous to do that in the IRL.’ Villeneuve says he ‘knows’ he will get hurt in that series. But he added: ‘I might look at NASCAR, actually. That would be a different challenge and fun.’ Villeneuve won the Champ Car and Indy 500 titles in the mid-Nineties. But he won’t even try to get back into Formula One if his renewed career resembles the past few years at BAR-Honda. ‘Craig [Pollock, his manager] would like to see me back, at any cost, but I can only drive if I’m going to be happy. I would never do the BAR thing again.'(Home of Formula One) past news on this on my Drivers Looking page.(12-8-2003)
  • Sawyer and Earles to be inducted in VA HOF: On Saturday, December 20th, Paul Sawyer and the late Clay Earles will be inducted into Virginia Motorsports Hall of Fame, joining last years inductees, the late Wendell Scott and Ray Hendrick. The induction ceremony will be conducted in conjunction the 2003 awards banquet for Big Daddy’s South Boston Speedway at the World of Sports in South Boston, VA. Legendary motorsports media personality, Chris Economaki, founder of National Speed Sport News, has agreed to be a part of the festivities. Earles and Sawyer were the visionaries that lead to the development and success of Virginia’s two premier NASCAR facilities, Martinsville Speedway and Richmond International Raceway. Selected Media General Newspapers will be publishing a special section commemorating the accomplishments of the Inductees the week of December 15th. For more information on the Awards Banquet and Virginia Motorsports Hall of Fame, call the Speedway at 1-877-440-1540 or log on to www.southbostonspeedway.com.(12-8-2003)
  • Petty and Earnhardt Bank Notes: The Naples Bank Note Company was founded by a successful security paper executive who realized that existing bank note companies lacked focus, new product innovation, and creative genius, he set in motion a mission to develop a company that delivers the desired products for collectors and the potential of “giving something back” to charitable and non-profit organizations. Learn more about the man behind The Naples Bank Note Company Click here. “The Mission of the company is to help charities raise funds more successfully by using Banknote Art”. We partner with charities and institutions to utilize banknote design techniques and old world craftsmanship engravings in order to create a new and innovative art form. We call this art form – Banknotables. Banknotables can be produced as an art piece, to be displayed on your wall; or as a note, similar to a banknote. Banknotables are always “currency – like” in design and commemorate “Notable” personalities, events or organizations. Recently notes have been done for Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. More info at www.banknotables.com.(12-8-2003)

 


(12-7-2003)

 

  • Snow Ball Derby was won by Charlie Bradberry in Pensacola, FL at Five Flags Speedway, more info/results at www.snowballderby.com and at speed51.com
  • It’s a Baby Girl for Andrea and Ryan Pemberton: Andrea Pemberton, wife of #01 U.S. Army/MB2 crew chief Ryan Pemberton, gave birth to the couple’s first child — Payton Lucia — Dec. 3 at Carolina’s Medical Center University in Charlotte. Payton weighed in at 6 pounds, 9 ounces and was 19 inches long. Mother and daughter are doing fine and were released from the hospital today (Dec. 5).
  • Another Baby – Congrats: Joshua Joseph Sitler born Dec. 1 9:22am/et. He was due February 5th, but decided to come early. He is 2 lbs 12 oz and 15.5 inches long. He’s doing well, breathing for the most part on his own. He’s super active. Mother is doing well. Joshua is Chad Sitler’s son, Chad works for Knight Ridder and helps keep the Jayski server running.(12-4-2003)

    (12-6-2003)

  • More on the #77 – Dec 18th UPDATE 2: There’s going to be more clarification in the next couple of weeks about where Kodak is going. A lot of rumors have speculated the company was going to wind up with Jack Roush, but the sources [Jeff Hammond has] heard are now saying pretty emphatically that it will wind up going over to a third Penske car. Been told that an announcement will come on December 18.(FoxSports)(12-2-2003)
    UPDATE: The Penske-Jasper Motorsports deal to share ownership of the #77 team and bring it under the Penske and Dodge umbrella is all but completed, ThatsRacin.com has learned. A formal announcement of the merger should be made within two weeks. NASCAR Truck series driver Brendan Gaughan is to join the team, sources said. “We should know a lot more very soon. Until then, there isn’t much for me to say,” said Penske vice president, Don Miller, in New York for this weekend’s Winston Cup awards ceremony. Miller and team owner Roger Penske have said they were considering a third Nextel Cup team next season after being approached by Kodak, which could be the team’s sponsor. Sources said the remaining issues in the Penske-Jasper deal included contracts with the sponsor and a new driver as well as those related to the #77 team and its current driver, Dave Blaney. Blaney would not remain with the team under the new deal. However, he may well join another Cup operation, sources said. Who would serve as crew chief as the new team remains unclear, but sources said Gaughan’s Truck series crew chief, Shane Wilson, and Bill Wilburn, who recently stepped down as crew chief for Penske Cup driver Rusty Wallace, were both under consideration.(ThatsRacin.com), have also heard Steven Lane could be the new crew chief.(12-4-2003)
    UPDATE 2: hearing the # could be changed to #72, some rumors have John Andretti running some races in the car, but have heard nothing to back that up, most rumors and reports still have Brendan Gaughan in the car and Gaughan’s Truck Series team looking for a new driver to run the full CTS season in 2004, could be Gaughan’s Grand National Division, Winston West Series driver, Scott Lynch.(12-6-2003)


    (12-5-2003)

  • Kenseth collects more the $5 million in NYC: NASCAR Winston Cup champion Matt Kenseth collected $5,138,640 in point fund money at Friday night’s NASCAR Winston Cup Series Awards Ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria, which boosted his season winnings to $9,422,764. Kenseth’s point fund payout – from NASCAR and series sponsor R.J. Reynolds – is part of a record overall payout of approximately $21 million. RJR is ending its 33-year entitlement sponsorship of NASCAR’s premier series at the end of the year. Kenseth, driver of the #17 DEWALT Ford, also received $246,000 via various contingency awards on Friday morning, during the annual Myers Brothers Breakfast in the Waldorf’s Starlight Roof. Kenseth’s season race winnings amounted to $4,038,124. His career winnings stand at $19,096,585. NASCAR Top 10 runner-up #48-Jimmie Johnson received a point fund payout of $2,149,180 from NASCAR and RJR. Third-place finisher #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. got $1,679,910 from the NASCAR/RJR fund (NASCAR PR)(12-5-2003). See the chart for more:
    Points
    Standings
    Driver Race
    Winnings
    Post
    Season
    Bonus
    NASCAR/RJR Season Total Career Total
    1 Kenseth, Matt $4,038,124 $246,000 $5,138,640 $9,422,764 $19,096,585
    2 Johnson, Jimmie 5,517,850 78,500 2,149,180 7,745,530 11,656,118
    3 Earnhardt Jr., Dale 4,923,497 277,400 1,679,910 6,880,807 20,742,359
    4 Gordon, Jeff 5,107,762 78,600 1,435,640 6,622,002 58,525,057
    5 Harvick, Kevin 4,994,249 1,500 1,241,370 6,237,119 14,388,537
    6 Newman, Ryan 4,827,377 221,400 1,052,100 6,100,877 11,950,629
    7 Stewart, Tony 5,227,503 1,300 902,830 6,131,633 27,069,354
    8 Labonte, Bobby 4,745,258 1,200 758,560 5,505,018 35,641,757
    9 Elliott, Bill 4,321,185 1,100 686,245 5,008,530 36,427,403
    10 Labonte, Terry 3,643,695 1,000 638,930 4,283,625 34,064,557
    11 Busch, Kurt 5,020,485   566,899 5,587,384 13,183,351
    12 Burton, Jeff 3,846,884   537,868 4,384,752 31,588,107
    13 McMurray, Jamie 2,699,969 50,000 508,837 3,258,806 3,976,748
    14 Wallace, Rusty 3,766,741   479,806 4,246,547 38,689,400
    15 Waltrip, Michael 4,463,845   465,775 4,929,620 22,945,465
    16 Gordon, Robby 3,705,320   451,744 4,157,064 10,226,462
    17 Martin, Mark 4,048,847   437,713 4,486,560 40,656,775
    18 Marlin, Sterling 3,960,809   423,682 4,384,491 28,512,919
    19 Mayfield, Jeremy 2,962,228   409,651 3,371,879 17,595,675
    20 Biffle, Greg 2,410,053   395,620 2,805,673 3,200,446
    21 Burton, Ward 3,500,156   128,444 3,628,600 21,551,794
    22 Sadler, Elliott 3,660,174   135,000 3,795,174 13,184,295
    23 Rudd, Ricky 3,106,614   134,000 3,240,614 32,215,451
    24 Benson, Johnny 3,411,793   133,000 3,544,793 16,204,439
    25 Nemechek, Joe 2,560,484   66,000 2,626,484 14,982,115
    26 Dale Jarrett 4,055,487   66,000 4,121,487 41,818,270
    27 Ricky Craven 3,116,211 100,000   3,216,211 12,871,864
    48 Scott Wimmer 479,504   7,556 487,060 667,950
    Totals       21,031,000    
  • Other Honors:
    – R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., whose Winston brand of cigarettes has been the sponsor of NASCAR’s top series for 33 years, won the Myers Brothers Award as stock car racing’s outstanding contributor.
    – Driver Ricky Craven, who has raised money for a variety of children’s charities with an annual snowmobile ride, was given the $100,000 USG Person of the Year Award.
    – Ryan Newman, who won 11 poles and eight races – both series highs in 2003 – was given the $100,000 Bud Pole Award and the $100,000 Mobil 1 Command Performance Award.
    – The $75,000 Mechanix Wear Pit Crew of the Year Award went to the No. 17 Roush Racing team of series champion Matt Kenseth, while Kenseth picked up $75,000 for the Waste Management Picking Up Places Award that goes to the driver who improved on his starting positions the most during the year.
    – Mike Maiwald, engine builder for the Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet, got $80,000 as Clevite Engine Builder of the Year.
    – Jimmie Johnson, second to Kenseth in the season points, was given the $75,000 Outback Steakhouse Bloomin’ Favorite Driver of the Year Award.(ThatsRacin.com)(12-5-2003)
  • Sad News – Racing champion ‘Iggy’ Katona dies at 87: Egnatius “Iggy” Katona, the winningest driver in Automobile Racing Club of America Series [ARCA] history, died Thursday in Daytona Beach, Florida. He was 87. Katona, who earned 79 career series wins, also held the all-time series championship mark with six titles in 1955, ’56, ’57, ’62, ’66 and ’67. In addition, Katona became the oldest superspeedway winner in history with his third victory at Daytona in 1974. Katona’s amazing string of series wins stretched from 1953 to 1974. Throughout his incredible career, Katona finished in the top-10 in points an astonishing 21 consecutive times from ’53 through ’73, a record still untouched today. In addition to his six titles, Katona finished runner-up in championship points in ’54, ’60, ’63, ’65 and ’70. Katona also finished third in points in ’53, ’59, ’64 and ’71. He is survived his wife, Betty; sons Jim and Ron; eight grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. There will be no services. “One of my father’s requests was that we not put him on display,” said Ron Katona. “But that was my father. He did things his way, and there’s no sense in changing up now. If that’s what he wanted, that’s what he’ll get.” Messages of condolences may be sent to Ron Katona, 264 Bern St., Port Orange FL 32127.(ThatsRacin.com)(12-5-2003)
  • Points Change? UPDATE 2: not sure if this was a joke or what, seemed off the wall, but on Speed Channel’s Inside Winston Cup, Jimmy Spencer [and he sounded serious) said while at Homestead he was talking to NASCAR’s Brian France, and was told that NASCAR ‘may’ change the Cup drivers points system where after the race at Richmond in Sept 2004 with 10 races left, the slate would be ‘cleaned’ and the top 10 would be locked in and they would run for the title. NOTE: have heard NOTHING on a change like this, no idea how it would work or what happens to the points with the drivers 11th and back, if this is serious or just a tongue in cheek to saying how crazy it is to change the points system when two out of three national series had such close points battles. Not looking for comments, debates or new system ideas, just reporting what was on the show.
    UPDATE: Been told this is seriously being discussed.(11-18-2003)
    UPDATE 2: NASCAR is considering a dramatic change in how it determines the champion of its top series, studying a plan to make only the drivers in the top 10 after 26 races eligible to run for the title over the season’s final 10 events. Sources told The [Charlotte] Observer that, while no decision has been made and that NASCAR could still keep intact the system it has used since 1975, it is weighing a major overhaul. When applied to the past eight seasons, the most sweeping plan under study would have produced a different champion than the old system five times, including this season. That plan would advance the top 10 drivers following the Sept. 11 race at Richmond into a 10-race “postseason.” Points earned in the first 26 races would be erased or evened up in some manner so points earned in the final 10 races would determine the champion. If this year’s top 10 went back to zero after the September race at Richmond, Matt Kenseth would have seen a 418-point lead erased. Michael Waltrip, 785 points back in 10th at that juncture, would have gone to the first “playoff” race at New Hampshire on equal footing with Kenseth and the eight other drivers in the top 10. And Jimmie Johnson, who wound up second behind Kenseth in the final standings, would have won the title with 1,569 points over the final 10 races. Johnson would have been the guest of honor at Friday night’s awards ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan. Kenseth would have finished seventh.
    Earlier this year NASCAR chief executive officer Bill France Jr. indicated changes to the championship were likely after the 2003 season. France later stepped aside and turned the CEO job over to his son, Brian France, who said Thursday NASCAR is comfortable with its system despite criticism for its emphasis on season-long consistency. Kenseth won only one race in the 2003 but finished 90 points ahead of Johnson, who won three races. Ryan Newman, who led the circuit with eight victories, finished sixth in the final standings because he also had seven races where his No. 12 Dodge was not running at the finish. Top NASCAR officials are scheduled to meet in New York City Saturday to look at possible changes in the system. France said Thursday a final decision on changes to the points system could be announced as late as mid-January.
    The first reports that such a system might be considered came from driver Jimmy Spencer on a television show that aired the day after the season’s final race at Homestead Miami Speedway. Because the change seemed so radical, however, Spencer’s comments drew marginal attention [except on Jayski]. Now it is clear the plan has advocates at the sport’s top levels.

    After 26 races a year ago, Kurt Busch was 12th in the standings. Over the final 10 races, however, Busch had 1,563 points — more than anyone who would have qualified to race for the title over the final 10 races. Eventual 2002 champion Tony Stewart, who was fifth after 26 races, had 1,479 over the final 10 races. Brian France said Thursday any system NASCAR adopts would have to choose a “credible” champion. But if Busch scored more points in the final 10 races than Stewart, would that have damaged the credibility of Stewart’s title? Because of that situation, officials are looking at possible ways to allow for a “wild card” contender to earn his way into the title chase.
    Of the Winston Cup champions crowned since 1996, only Gordon in 1998, Bobby Labonte in 2000 and Stewart last year would have would have also won titles under the 10-race postseason system. Sterling Marlin would have won the 2001 title instead of Gordon. Labonte would have won in 1999 instead of Dale Jarrett. Jarrett would have won in 1997 instead of Gordon and Gordon would have won in 1996 instead of Terry Labonte.(full article on ThatsRacin.com and see another column at FoxSports/Sporitng News: Turning a marathon into a sprint)
    AND Bill France Jr., retired chairman of NASCAR but still a power in the stock car sport, isn’t convinced the points system needs to be changed.(See full story at NASCAR.com)(12-5-2003)

  • Most Popular Driver UPDATE and the winner is…………………….: 2003 Grands! Biscuits NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award to be announced Friday, Dec. 5, 2003, at 8:30am/et and will be presented to the winning driver in New York City. Votes are in, and one driver will receive the 2003 Grands! Biscuits National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award. Most Popular Driver Award dates back to 1956. It began as a simple poll of the drivers and grew to incorporate all NASCAR Winston Cup competitors. Later, it included all NASCAR members. Today, it’s a prestigious award voted on by racing fans nationwide. This year, more than three million votes were cast by thousands of fans nationwide.(Williams Company PR)(12-3-2003)

    DALE EARNHARDT JR. The votes are in, and race car fans across the country have named Dale Earnhardt Jr. the 2003 Grands!(R) Biscuits NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver. The announcement was made today during the National Motorsports Press Association’s (NMPA) Myers Brothers Awards Breakfast at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. While Earnhardt Jr. finished third in the top on-track honor in major league stock car racing, he led throughout the Most Popular Driver fan balloting for the highest off-track honor in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. The driver of the #8 Budweiser Chevrolet maintained a solid first place as voting closed mid-November for the only fan-based award in professional motorsports.
    “It means a ton to see the support I’ve received from the fans,” said Earnhardt Jr. “I know that no matter how bad things have been in my life that week or if I’ve struggled with the race that weekend, it’s always helpful to hear the cheers when I walk across the stage during driver introductions.”
    Earnhardt Jr.’s win also marks the first time both a son and a father have received the Most Popular Driver honor. Racing legend Dale Earnhardt won the award posthumously in 2001.
    “The NASCAR fans are a smart bunch. They choose their favorite drivers based on who that driver is as a person and what they represent,” Earnhardt Jr. continued. “I try to remember that every day. This means a lot to me that the fans have supported me in such a big way. It was emotional for me to have to accept this award on behalf of my dad in 2001, but it will feel a lot better being able to accept the award this year.”
    From the fan votes to at-track enthusiasm, it’s clear Earnhardt Jr. creates excitement on the racing circuit. “I don’t think anyone is surprised Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the Grands!(R) Biscuits NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver,” said journalist Kenny Bruce, president of the National Motorsports Press Association. “He came close to winning a year ago, and anyone who has listened while he was introduced at races would know that the fans really seem to love him. We are grateful to all of the NASCAR fans who were part of the voting process, and we feel they made a good choice.”
    For the second year in a row, more than 3 million votes were cast by thousands of race fans nationwide via the Web site, www.mostpopulardriver.com. Pillsbury(R) Grands! Biscuits, the second-year sponsor of the award administered by the National Motorsports Press Association, has worked since voting launched with the season-opening Daytona 500 to increase fan exposure and created new ways for consumers to get involved. “It’s been a great honor for us to bring this award to the fans and recognize Dale as their favorite driver,” said Annie Zipfel, marketing manager for Pillsbury Grands! Biscuits at General Mills. “We’ll continue to share the excitement of this announcement with fans by posting award ceremony highlights on www.mostpopulardriver.com. After all, the fans are really what this award is all about.”
    Following Earnhardt Jr. in the 2003 Most Popular Driver Award final standings were drivers Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick in second and third place respectively. Rounding out the top ten in descending order of votes were Steve Park [and with no ride for 2004?], Tony Stewart, Michael Waltrip, Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett, Kyle Petty and Bobby Labonte. More than 50 drivers received votes. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver Award dates back to 1956. It began as a simple poll of the drivers and grew to incorporate all NASCAR Winston Cup competitors. Later, it included all NASCAR members. Today, it is a prestigious award voted on by racing fans nationwide. Through the years, the voters’ choices have ranged from the obvious to the surprising. Bill Elliott edged out Earnhardt Jr. to win the award in 2002. Elliott won the award 16 times before retiring his name from the Most Popular Driver Award voting at the beginning of the 2003 Winston Cup series. Richard Petty won the award nine times. Other past winners have included such notables as Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip.(Business Wire)(12-5-2003)
    THE TALLY? Following Earnhardt Jr., who received more than 1.3 millions votes, in the 2003 Most Popular Driver Award final standings were drivers Jeff Gordon (348,629 votes), Kevin Harvick (213,511 votes), Steve Park (152,541 votes), and Tony Stewart (142,899 votes). Rounding out the top ten in descending order of votes were Michael Waltrip, Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett, Kyle Petty and Bobby Labonte. More than 50 drivers received votes.(Williams Company PR)(12-5-2003)

  • Evernham Announces 2004 plans; Kahne to the #9; Elliott to a limited schedule:
    Elliott to run limited schedule in Evernham Motorsports Dodge
    Kahne succeeds Elliott as driver of the #9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
    Baldwin joins Evernham as team director for Kahne’s #9 Dodge team
    Evernham Engines to supply engines for Kahne’s Busch Series Dodge
    Evernham Motorsports announced its lineup this morning for the 2004 NASCAR season. The lineup will include NASCAR legend Bill Elliott, who will run a reduced race schedule in an Evernham Motorsports Dodge; NASCAR Busch Series standout Kasey Kahne, who will succeed Elliott as the driver of the #9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge; Jeremy Mayfield, who will continue as driver of the #19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge; and Tommy Baldwin, who will join Evernham Motorsports as team director for the #9 Dodge team. Elliott announced his intentions to run a limited schedule for several years and remain with Evernham Motorsports as mentor and coach to the team’s drivers. Elliott’s role will expand in a business capacity with Evernham Motorsports, lending his talent in a variety of endeavors on and off the track. Details of Elliott’s participation as an Evernham Motorsports Dodge driver in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series still are being finalized. Initial plans call for a limited schedule with Ray Evernham and director of competition Sammy Johns overseeing the on-track program for Elliott.
    Elliott, the 1988 Winston Cup champion, also announced plans to include fan events in his 2004 schedule. In a show of appreciation for their unending support, Elliott is planning several celebrations to thank his loyal following for their devotion during his four decades of NASCAR competition. More details will follow once sponsorship is secured and Elliott’s final schedule is determined.
    Kasey Kahne assumes Elliott’s role as driver of the #9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge. In addition to running a full Nextel Cup schedule in the #9 Dodge, Kahne will compete full time in the NASCAR Busch Series next season. Evernham Engines will supply the #38 Great Clips Dodge with engines for 2004.
    Tommy Baldwin joins Evernham Motorsports as team director for Kahne’s Cup operation. “Ray and I have known each other for a while,” said Baldwin. “The opportunity for us to work together never seemed to present itself like I wished it would have. I’m just glad it did this time. Our visions are the same, and I think you’ll see that translate well on track.”
    As previously announced, Jeremy Mayfield remains in the #19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge for Evernham Motorsports in 2004, with Kenny Francis returning as team director.
    Evernham is pleased that Elliott will remain with his organization. “I’m fortunate that things have fallen into place like they have,” said Evernham. “Bill and I worked closely to make sure we were taking this company in the right direction, but I also wanted to make sure that he had the space to really make the right decision for himself. In making that decision, I think we as an organization have made some strong personnel moves. Kasey Kahne is a bright, young star in this sport, and he will accomplish a lot with guidance from one of the best in the business. Tommy Baldwin is an asset, and I feel very lucky to have him on board. And, we have a solid base with Jeremy Mayfield and Kenny Francis returning as well. With these moves, we are on track with the vision I have for this company, and these additions only make us stronger as we move into 2004.”(Evernham Motorsports site)(12-4-2003)
    UPDATE 2: Some confusion remains on what number cars Elliott and Kahne will drive in Cup competition. Elliott said he’ll continue to drive the #9 Dodge in events he enters, but Evernham announced Thursday that Kahne will drive the #9 Dodge. Since Kahne will race the full 36-event schedule, it’s likely he’ll either drive cars with two different numbers (he’ll drive in an alternate number car in events that Elliott races in). Potentially, Elliott might have to take a different number. A third option is keeping Elliott in the #9 and giving Kahne a similar number like #09 or #90 or #91 [already used by the team]. The only non-confusing element is that Jeremy Mayfield will remain in the #19 Dodge. Adding to the confusion was Elliott’s take on the whole matter. Early in Thursday’s teleconference, he remarked that “Kasey Kahne will be the driver of the 9 car.” Moments later, Elliott said, “Right now when I run I’ll run the 9; Kasey will run the 9 when I’m not racing. We’ve got a plan, but we’re still trying to put it all together.” For his part in all this, Evernham said: “Since it’s not a retirement tour (for Bill Elliott), we haven’t worked out all the car number stuff yet. We’re still looking for partners to come on board with us, so they would certainly have some input on the number. Bill is going to run 10-15 races. On the day Bill Elliott decides it’s going to be his last race, he will drive the No. 9.” He will likely skip the season-opening Daytona 500 and the second race of the season at Rockingham, and make his first start of the year in the third race at Las Vegas. He also foresees running at places like Michigan, California, Pocono and Indianapolis.(ESPN)(12-5-2003)
  • SAFER at more tracks by end of 2004: NASCAR president Mike Helton, in his annual state of the sport address, said the sanctioning body’s goal is to have steel and foam energy reducing (SAFER) barriers installed at every track where recommended by the end of 2004. “There may be one or two doubting Thomases,” Helton said, “but it’s hard to argue with the facts. The effectiveness of the new barriers is real.”(ThatsRacin.com)(12-5-2003)
  • New Stewart Driver for USAC: Josh Wise’s open-wheel racing career got a big boost this week when he was chosen to be the driver of a team former NASCAR Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart is forming to compete in the USAC National Midget series. Wise, 20, of Riverside, said by phone that Stewart called him Tuesday night, but no contracts have been signed because “they’re just beginning the process of putting the team together.” Stewart, who won the USAC Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown series titles in 1995, also owns a two-car USAC Sprint car team, a World of Outlaws sprint car team and is part-owner of a USAC Silver Crown car. Danny Lasoski is the driver of the Outlaws entry and Cory Kruseman was a teammate in the Sprint car series to J.J. Yeley, who also drove Stewart’s Silver Crown car. Yeley, who emulated Stewart by winning all three USAC titles this year, is moving into NASCAR next season. Wise said Dave Steele, who won the recent Turkey Night Grand Prix at Irwindale Speedway, will replace Yeley for the pavement Sprint car events, but no one has been named to drive in the races on dirt. Wise said he would welcome that opportunity, but that isn’t in the plan at this point. “I’m going to do the whole National Midget deal,” Wise said. “I’m pretty excited. It’s what I’ve wanted to do for a long time and I’m finally getting to do it.”(Press-Enterprise)(12-5-2003)

    (12-4-2003)

  • TV Guide: there are four NASCAR Championship Covers for TV Guide this week: Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers, Travis Kvapil and Cup rookie of the year Jamie McMurray. See newstands for the issue which are on sale now.
    AND Four Collector’s Covers with This Season’s Nascar Champions Distributed In Portions of Country; Other Areas to Receive The Simple Life Cover. The story: GROWING UP FAST (pg.42) In the high stakes world of NASCAR, prevailing wisdom has traditionally held that experience made drivers better suited to a title run. But this year, a crop of young champs, including Winston Cup winner Matt Kenseth and Winston Cup Rookie of the Year Jamie McMurray, is turning that maxim on its head. Still, championships require a driver who has at least learned the mature lesson of consistency. Kenseth, who posted only one victory in 2003, finished close to the front in enough races to walk off with the title. “Before [2003] started, I thought, given the kind of year we had in [2002]-winning the most races but being inconsistent-that we would learn enough as a team to still be competitive but to be more consistent,” he tells TV Guide. “On bad days, instead of me messing up and going in the sandtrap at Watkins Glen and finishing 40th when we had a Top 3 car, finish eight if that’s the highest you can go with it. Don’t go past your limits.”(TV Guide PR)(12-4-2003)

             

  • #30 Driver? UPDATE 3 it’s….Johnny Sauter: hearing the #30 AOL RCR Chevy may be driven in 2004 by Johnny Sauter? Not sure how this would effect his Busch ride in the #27 Brewco ride…if it happens.(11-19-2003)[more rumors on the #30 Team News and Links page]
    UPDATE: Jason Keller said he has discussed a probable vacancy at Brewco Motorsports with officials of that Busch team. The Brewco opportunity appeared with the apparent decision by driver Johnny Sauter, who had agreed to drive for the two-car team next year, to move to the #30 Nextel Cup cars owned by Richard Childress.(Greenville News)(12-3-2003)
    UPDATE 2: Johnny Sauter, who left Richard Childress Racing just last month, will return officially today. And with a promotion, no less. Sauter, the youngest driver from the Necedah, Wis., racing family, will be introduced as the driver for Childress’ #30 Chevrolet entry in NASCAR’s top division, the Nextel Cup Series, next season. The announcement will come during a news conference Thursday morning in New York.(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)(12-4-2003)
    UPDATE 3: NASCAR team owner Richard Childress announced today Johnny Sauter will drive the #30 AOL Chevrolet for the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series season and will compete for the 2004 Rookie of the Year Award. “Johnny Sauter has been a big part of RCR’s success the last few seasons,” said Childress. “The move to the Nextel Cup is the next step in his promising career, so I wanted to make sure that step was taken with us. Johnny is the type of driver that fits the RCR mold so I know he’ll do a great job in the AOL Chevrolet.”
    “Driving for RCR and AOL in the Nextel Cup Series is just an unbelievable opportunity for me, really a dream come true,” said Sauter. “RCR has been my home since Richard took the chance a few years back and put me in that Busch car. There isn’t another team I would want to race for in my rookie year.” Childress also announced Kevin Hamlin will become Sauter’s crew chief, moving to the #30 AOL team from the #31 Cingular Wireless team. Hamlin led Robby Gordon to a 16th-place finish in the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup point standings, claiming both road course wins. Since joining RCR in 1997, Hamlin has nine Winston Cup victories, claiming wins with every driver with which he has worked. Hamlin will bring his entire 2003 #31 crew in making the move to join Sauter on the 2004 #30 AOL team. “We’re delighted that a promising young driver like Johnny Sauter will be in the seat of the #30 AOL Chevrolet. Pairing Johnny with an experienced crew chief like Kevin Hamlin will allow the AOL team to win races and aggressively compete for the Rookie of the Year Award in 2004,” said Richard Taylor, Senior Vice President of Brand Marketing for America Online. “Our partnership with NASCAR is a great fit with our AOL for Broadband high-speed offerings, and we look forward to continuing that partnership with this new team next season.”(RCR PR)(12-4-2003)
  • Promotion at RYR: Robert Yates Racing announced today that Bill Seaborn has been promoted to Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for the organization. Seaborn’s responsibilities include the management of RYR’s sponsorship sales and service, product licensing and corporate marketing. With more than 22 years of experience in the sport, Seaborn served in various capacities at NASCAR, Inc. including marketing, licensing and public relations. Additionally, Seaborn was Vice President of Action Performance Companies, Inc.(RYR PR)(12-4-2003)
  • Wilburn to be re-assigned? UPDATE 3: hearing current #2 crew chief, Bill Wilburn, will not be the #2 Miller Lite Dodge crew chief in 2004, but will be be re-assigned within the organization, no word on any candidates yet.(10-24-2003)
    UPDATE: during rain delay coverage, NBC interviewed Rusty Wallace, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, and Wallace said Wilburn would be back in 2004 as his crew chief and that they have 2-years invested in working together.(NBC Rain Delay Coverage)(10-26-2003)
    UPDATE 2: Rusty Wallace refuted recent reports that crew chief Bill Wilburn would be leaving after the season. Wallace hasn’t claimed a victory since Wilburn became his crew chief at the beginning of 2002. “We’ve got a lot of time and effort invested in Billy Wilburn, but we’re getting better and better together,” said Wallace, who is winless in 94 races. “There’s been a lot of controversy on the Internet about Billy, but he’s a friend of mine. He’s a good kid, and we’ve got a good race team.”(Richmond Times Dispatch)(10-27-2003)
    UPDATE 3: Bill Wilburn, crew chief for Winston Cup driver Rusty Wallace, said Saturday he plans to sit down with his driver after the season is over to determine whether he will return next season. Wallace and Penske Racing co-owner Don Miller have expressed confidence in Wilburn over the past week. Wilburn, however, said he wants to make sure Wallace is pleased with the team’s direction.(ThatsRacin.com)(11-8-2003)
    Wilburn out? UPDATE 4 yes: hearing that #2 Miller Lite Dodge crew chief Bill Wilburn has decided NOT to return as Rusty Wallace’s crew chief in 2004.(12-3-2003)
    UPDATE 5: Miller Lite Team Penske Dodge driver Rusty Wallace confirmed today that his team is engaged in an “active effort” to land a new crew chief for his Penske Racing South Team for the 2004 season. “We had a lengthy discussion and the situation with Billy is as amicable as it can possibly be,” Wallace said of Bill Wilburn, his crew chief for the last two seasons. “Billy will continue to be an active team player with us and he will be a big asset as he has always been. He will remain as a key member within our organization. The bottom line was, after studying our team situation at great length and laying out our plans for the future, we concluded that this change was necessary,” Wallace added. “Bill felt that it was in everyone’s best interest that he go ahead and tell all the guys on the team what was occurring — or going to occur — and I applaud him for that. With Billy deciding to make it known that he would not be returning in the crew chief position and with our desire to launch an active effort to find the best person available to fill the spot, we just felt it was appropriate to get all of this out in the public. This is the best way to handle it — to present the facts as they are — and not see the rumor mill churn out hearsay, half-truths and innuendo.”(Tom Roberts PR)(12-4-2003)
  • Waiting on Kodak; Burton to the #30? #99 to close? UPDATE 3 Burton staying: Kodak holds the key domino in the Cup garage. If its sponsorship goes to Penske, it’s possible Penske would field a third team, in conjunction with Jasper Engines and with driver Brendan Gaughan [see #77 Team News and Links page for the rumors on this]. Though Dave Blaney signed a contract with Jasper last September, his future is uncertain. If Kodak’s sponsorship goes to Roush, it would lock in Jeff Burton. Burton, though, appears to be the driver Richard Childress has been waiting for to drive the #30 AOL Chevy [although rumors have Johnny Sauter in the car also], if Burton’s #99 team can’t land Kodak or another sponsor [rumored sponsor for #99: Astra Zeneca.(Yahoo Sports/Sporting News)
    UPDATE: being told the #99 does not not get a sponsor within the next few days Burton will go to the #30 AOL Chevy and AOL will extend their contract from thru 2004, to thru 2006, otherwise Sauter would probably end up in the #30 and hearing the #77/Kodak/Gaughan deal is pretty much done and Kodak has made their decision. No word on what Blaney will do or his plans.(12-1-2003)
    UPDATE 2: being told the #99 could be the next team to shut down if no sponsor is found.(12-2-2003)
    UPDATE 3: The #99 team at Roush Racing has no sponsor for 2004, but it still has a driver. Jeff Burton said Tuesday he’ll stay with the team he’s been with since 1996, taking his name out of the speculation about the #30 AOL Chevrolets owned by Richard Childress. Childress has a news conference scheduled for Thursday in New York City to announce a driver for that car for next season. Sources have told The Charlotte Observer that Johnny Sauter is now the leading candidate for that position [see my #30 Team News and Links page for past rumors]. “I am committed to Roush Racing and Roush Racing is committed to me,” Burton said. “We are in a position that we need to put a sponsor on our car. …But we will field a well-funded, championship-contending race team next year. We are full-speed ahead.” Burton did not specifically address the open seat in the #30 Chevrolets, but did say that other car owners have expressed interest in having him drive for their teams. “That has been flattering,” Burton said. “But my allegiance is with Roush Racing. When things have been good, we’ve done them together, and when things have been bad we’ve gone through them together.” Burton said that he is confident his team will sign a sponsor, but said Roush has assured him the #99 will run a full schedule in 2004 even if no sponsor can be signed.(ThatsRacin.com)(12-3-2003)
    UPDATE 4: Roush Racing and NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Jeff Burton announced today that Burton will remain with Roush and the #99 team heading into the 2004 season. Burton signed a multi-year contract with Roush back in September and he continues to be committed to Roush Racing and the #99 team. “My commitment to Roush Racing is strong,” said Burton. “I have said all along that Roush is where I want to be and that’s where I’m staying. Jack (Roush, Owner) is committed to this team and so am I. We’ve built something that really means a lot. We spent last year re-building and we are looking to capitalize on it in 2004 and return the #99 Ford to victory lane where it belongs.”
    Roush Racing will continue the search for a primary sponsor for the #99 Ford while Burton and the team move ahead with off-season testing and preparation. Roush Racing President Geoff Smith remains strong in his conviction that there will be a sponsor for the #99 team in the near future. “We are very disappointed by the poor business climate for primary sponsorship in the Nextel Cup Series.” Smith continued, “The #99 program is the best program out there right now and Jeff Burton is in the upper 20th percentile in his worst season finishing 12th in the overall point standings. We can’t imagine that a primary sponsor won’t join us in 2004. Roush Racing is making an investment to continue the operation of the #99 team with Jeff Burton as the driver in 2004 to try and pursue the first Nextel Cup.” Burton is also confident the team will have a sponsor soon, thus putting to rest the rumors. “We are not approaching this year as if we don’t have a sponsor,” Burton said. “I’m confident we will finalize something soon and until then we are full speed ahead in our quest to win the Nextel Cup Championship. Our testing, preparation, car building and people hiring is just like it has been. We are committed to signing a sponsor and until then we are business as usual. No one should question our resolve, determination or ability.” (Roush Racing PR)(12-4-2003)
  • #31 Crew Chief? UPDATE: Changes were already in the works at Richard Childress Racing. Although a driver has not been selected for the #30, sources say Kevin Hamlin will be the new crew chief. Chris Andrews, who was Robby Gordon’s engineer on the #31 Cingular Chevy, is expected to become the crew chief for that squad with a more experienced crew chief to become team manager later.(Yahoo Sports/Sporting News)(12-1-2003)
    UPDATE: Richard Childress Racing announced today Chris Andrews, former RCR team engineer, will begin his rookie crew chief season in 2004 with Robby Gordon and the #31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet team. In addition, to round out the rest of Team Cingular Wireless, the majority of the 2003 #30 crew members will join Andrews and Gordon to run for the 2004 NASCAR Cup championship. “Robby got used to working with an engineer instead of a crew chief from his days of driving Indy Cars so this will be nothing new to him,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. “Chris and Kevin Hamlin were successful last year working side-by-side with Robby on the Cingular Wireless team and I see Chris making a smooth transition to calling the shots on his own. I think Robby and Chris working with the crew from last season’s America Online team can be a very successful combination.” An Evansville, Ind., native and 1992 graduate of Purdue University’s School of Interdisciplinary Engineering, Andrews has been an employee at Richard Childress Racing since 1999. One of the first engineers hired to join RCR, Andrews has worked with every Cup and Busch team but started focusing most of his attention toward the #31 Cingular Wireless team the latter part of the 2002 season after the #29/#31 crew swap took place. “I have known Robby for almost 10 years now and we have worked great together the last year-and-a-half so I am ready to just keep moving forward and work for a win every weekend in 2004,” Andrews said. “This is a great opportunity Richard is giving me. I am very excited and optimistic about what lies ahead because we are building great race cars and a great team.”(RCR PR)(12-4-2003)
  • Mears Wins: Casey Mears [driver of the #41 Target Dodge], who was in the Canary Islands for the Michelin ROC Nations Cup, won the ROC America Challenge powered by Centrix Financial. The challenge took place Friday night before the Nations Cup and pitted Mears against his Team USA teammates Boris Said and Travis Pastrana, along with the 2003 Baja 1000 winner Ryan Arciero. After winning the ROC America Challenge on Friday, Mears along with Said and Pastrana competed in the Michelin ROC Nations Cup. This race was created to find the “World’s Fastest Nation” and each country is represented by a circuit racer, a rally (or off-road) driver and a motorcycle rider. Team USA powered by Centrix Financial were defeated in the semi-finals three heats to two by the eventual winners the All Stars team.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(12-4-2003)
  • Elliott Announcement on Dec 4th? UPDATE 4: hearing Bill Elliott’s 2004 plans will be announced in New York City during the Winston Cup Banquet week [Banquet is on Dec 5th]. Whether Elliott drives or not, he will supposedly remain with Evernham Motorsports in some capacity. Much depends on what happens with Kasey Kahne and Ford.(11-25-2003)
    UPDATE: Evernham Motorsports, including Ray Evernham, Bill Elliott and Jeremy Mayfield, will announce its driver lineup for the #9 and #19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepids for the 2004 season at the Winston Media Center at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC on Thursday, December 4 at 9:30am/et.(Golin Harris PR)
    UPDATE 2: Jayski was told that Eliiott is supposed to run 8-10 races in the #91 Evernham Dodge, so that rookie Casey Kahne can run the #9 with owner’s points.(12-2-2003)
    AND the Athens Banner-Herald [as is NASCAR.com and the AP] is reporting that: Bill Elliott will announce his retirement Thursday from full-time driving on the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, Morris News Service has learned. Elliott will hold a news conference in New York as part of the NASCAR Winston Cup awards show, ending months of speculation by saying the 2003 campaign was his last. The 48-year-old driver will be replaced by Kasey Kahne, 23. Kahne recently won his release from Ford Motorsports and will drive on the NASCAR Busch Series for Brad Akins and on the Nextel Cup Series for Ray Evernham, sources close to Dodge confirmed.(Athens Banner-Herald)
    BUT USA Today reports: Former NASCAR champion Bill Elliott is expected to announce today that he will run a partial 2004 schedule with up-and-coming driver Kasey Kahne taking his place with the Evernham Motorsports team. Kahne, 23, is trying to get out of his contract with Ford because Evernham’s team runs Dodges. Elliott could run up to 15 races next year, if the team finds a sponsor for a third car. Kahne and Jeremy Mayfield would be the regular drivers. Elliott wasn’t available for comment.(USA Today)
    Elliott Chat: NASCAR.com will host a LIVE chat with former NASCAR champion Bill Elliott, Thurs., Dec. 4 at 10:45 AM ET. Elliott is reportedly announcing his retirement as a full-time NASCAR driver, at a press conference tomorrow morning in New York. The chat will follow the press conference.(12-3-2003)
    UPDATE 4: Former Winston Cup champion Bill Elliott will run a limited schedule next season and take an active role in the development of his successor at Evernham Motorsports, NASCAR sources confirmed Wednesday. Elliott, 48, is expected to reveal his plans at a news conference Thursday morning at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, site of Friday night’s Winston Cup awards ceremony. Elliott’s move to a limited schedule – which may involve more than one season, depending on sponsor issues and Elliott’s desire to continue racing – makes way for the arrival of NASCAR Busch Series driver Kasey Kahne at Evernham. Kahne, 23, will drive the #9 Dodge the entire 2004 Nextel Cup schedule, sources said. The races Elliott runs, perhaps as many as 10 a season, will be in a third Evernham entry, the number of which has yet to be determined, sources said. In Thursday’s announcement, Elliott is expected to make clear his limited schedule is not a “retirement tour,” per se, sources said. Instead, Elliott’s role at Evernham will be more as a mentor for Kahne and Elliott will take on a more active role as a business partner with team owner Ray Evernham, sources said. Evernham, Elliott and Kahne were traveling to New York on Wednesday and unavailable for comment. All three, as well as Evernham driver Jeremy Mayfield, are expected to attend Thursday’s announcement. After a sometimes-testy public dispute with Ford, it appears the contract issues have been resolved, at least to the point that Kahne is able to drive for Evernham’s Dodge organization. Kahne will also continue to drive for Akins next season in the #38, which will move to Dodge and utilize Evernham engines.(Thatsracin.com)(12-4-2003)


    (12-3-2003)

  • New Elite Sponsorship: AutoZone Inc. has signed a deal to become the title sponsor of the NASCAR Elite Division, a racing circuit that is two tiers below the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Because of the deal the division will be known as the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division.(Commercial Appeal)(12-3-2003)
  • Another artist in the works? Sam and Denise Bass’ baby arrived on Saturday, November 29 at 9:16am/et, his name is Samuel Mark Bass, Jr. and they are going to call him Mark. He weighed in at 6 lbs. 13 oz. Mom and baby are fine. More about Sam at Sambass.com.(12-3-2003)
  • more Congrats: Megan and Brian Englehart of RCR welcome a set of twins. Megan is the #31 PR person and Brian is the gasman for the #29 car.(12-3-2003)
  • Allison book in 2nd print: “Bobby Allison: A Racer’s Racer” by Bobby Allison with Tim Packman is in its second print! Due to overwhelming demand the publisher has ordered a re-print only 2 months after release. Bobby’s stories and photographs have brought back fond memories to those who were around during the “good ole days”. And the book has given others a first-hand look at a legend who has helped make NASCAR the fastest growing sport in America. However, those who’ve bought the book have raved most about the CD. Listening to Bobby tell a story only the way he can has been called “laugh out loud” and “hysterical” (amazon.com). Officially licensed by NASCAR. With the demand for the book increasing, Bobby Allison and Tim Packman are headed to Buffalo, NY this weekend for four book signings in two days. After doing a radio and TV blitz on Friday morning, the two will stop by Clarence Central High School, where Packman graduated from in 1982, in the afternoon to donate a book to the school’s library. Also, three December signings in the Charlotte area have been added. For more details about the Buffalo and Charlotte signings, log on to www.BobbyAllison.com for times and locations.(12-3-2003)
  • #1 and Andretti in 2004? UPDATE 3 DEI announcement: Dale Earnhardt Inc. also has been pursuing Kodak, but sources say it plans to run John Andretti in the #1 car regardless of Kodak’s decision.(Yahoo Sports/Sporting News)
    UPDATE: am hearing that DEI is now considering a partial schedule with Andretti as driver in the #1 Chevy.(12-1-2003)
    UPDATE 2: hearing that DEI has decided to shut down the #1 team and has released many [6] of the team members. Supposedly plans are to now run a full Busch schedule with Martin Truex Jr. and to possibly run some cup races with him. Also heard the team will run a seven race schedule and Andretti would drive those races.(12-2-2003)
    AND supposedly Chance 2 Motorsports will run a full schedule in a quest of the NASCAR Busch Series championship in 2004. Martin Truex, Jr. will be the primary driver and Earnhardt, Jr. will drive a second car for superspeedway races at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. Also, the #1 Chevy will be run under a different marketing program next year only participating in special races. John Andretti will drive in the Daytona 500. Truex, Jr. will also participate in seven Cup Series races in 2004 to prepare for a full-time move to the series in 2005.
    UPDATE 3: For the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series seasons, Dale Earnhardt, Inc. has announced changes to two of its four teams. Chance 2 Motorsports, co-owned by Teresa Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., will run a full schedule in a quest of the NASCAR Busch Series championship in 2004. Martin Truex, Jr. will be the primary driver and Earnhardt, Jr. will drive a second car for superspeedway races at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. Also, the #1 Chevrolet will be run under a different marketing program next year only participating in special races. John Andretti will drive in the season-opening Daytona 500. The new plan also calls for Truex, Jr. to run five – seven Nextel Cup Series races in 2004 to prepare for a possible full-time move to the series in 2005. “This is the approach we decided to take looking toward the 2005 season,” said Teresa Earnhardt, President and CEO of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. “We are going to strengthen our program for the No. 1 car and get that back to the status of Earnhardt standards. From a marketing standpoint, this is a great opportunity for a company to get involved with a Nextel Cup team. And, a young driver such as Truex Jr. in our No. 1 car will be the perfect place to utilize that strategy. Truex, Jr. competed in six Busch races with Chance 2 Motorsports this season garnering two top-five finishes and three top-10s. He closed the season with two, consecutive second-place finishes. By competing in just seven races this year, Truex Jr. will be eligible to compete for Rookie of the Year honors in Nextel Cup in 2005. Dale Earnhardt, Inc. has won two NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and two NASCAR Busch Series championships. “I’m really looking forward to run for the Busch championship,” Truex, Jr., 23, said. “After six races with Chance 2 in 2003, I was really pleased with the way things went and how we performed. Some of our finishes didn’t reflect what we are truly capable of achieving on the track. But, we’ll have 34 races next year to capitalize on what we learned this year together. I have the best equipment, crew chief and team anyone could ask for in the Busch garage. We ended the season on a positive note with two, second-place finishes.” Teresa Earnhardt was on top of the team’s pit box during the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway when Truex, Jr. finished second. “The Chance 2 team and Martin have shown they are capable of competing up to the standards we strive to achieve here at Dale Earnhardt, Inc.,” Earnhardt said. “Committing to a full season in the Busch Series will better prepare us to meet the high standards of the No. 1 team in 2005.”(DEI PR)(12-3-2003)
  • Craven to test at Kentucky CORRECTION: Kentucky Speedway says Ricky Craven is scheduled to test PPI Motorsports’ Nextel Cup entry Wednesday and Thursday. While testing is closed, the track says fans can watch from the front of its fan center. The team, which fielded the #32 Tide Pontiac for Craven this season, is scheduled to switch to Chevrolet next year in the wake of General Motors’ decision to end its Pontiac NASCAR program.(Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter)(12-2-2003)
    CORRECTION: being told the dates for this test are wrong and the #32 will test at Kentucky on Dec 17th and 18th after wind tunnel testing on Dec 10th. Fans can watch from the front of the Turn 3 Fan Center.(12-3-2003)


    (12-2-2003)

  • NASCAR’s Annual Awards Banquet Airs on TNT: NASCAR fans are in for a treat during the first week of December as “NASCAR Fanshop”, and QVC’s “For Race Fans Only,” two popular direct response shows featuring NASCAR diecast and other collectibles, come to the Big Apple for live broadcasts on December 4th and 5th, respectively.
    “NASCAR Fanshop” will air live from New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria, featuring “NASCAR on Fox” commentator Jeff Hammond. The program and will air from 9:00 – 11:00pm/et on SPEED Channel. The episode will offer merchandise related to NASCAR 2003 Winston Cup Champion Matt Kenseth.
    QVC’s “For Race Fans Only,” which will be broadcast live from the Waldorf-Astoria on December 5th at 8:00 to 9 p.m., will showcase “Victory Lap” merchandise that commemorates NASCAR’s long-time series sponsor, Winston, along with other licensed merchandise featuring the NASCAR Top 10. The live taping of these shows is just one part of a slate of NASCAR activities in New York during Champions’ week. The week will culminate with the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Award Ceremony being taped from the Waldorf-Astoria on December 5th. The awards ceremony, attended by NASCAR’s Top 10, and featuring musical guests LeAnn Rimes and Harry Connick Jr., with a special appearance by Kiefer Sutherland, will air on TNT at 9 p.m. EDT. TNT broadcasts several NASCAR races throughout the season.
    “We are pleased that ‘NASCAR Fanshop’ and ‘For Race Fans Only’ will be a part of the festivities in New York honoring champion Matt Kenseth and the NASCAR Top 10,” said Mark Dyer, VP of Licensing and Consumer Products for NASCAR. “Bringing these shows to the Waldorf-Astoria is a natural extension of the success the programs have had all year long.”(NASCAR PR)(12-2-2003)
  • National Guard to the #16? Grainger Out? UPDATE 2: it appears that the Army National Guard will be going to the #16 Roush Racing Ford and driver Greg Biffle, being the primary associate for several races with the option to be a primary for a few select races. Supposedly Grainger will still be on the car but will spilt it’s primary sponsorship with National Guard. See much more about the ‘Guard rumor’ past news on my #16 Team News and Links page. Also hearing USPS and Subway [Sandwiches – Jarred] could be part of the sponsorhip package.(11-18-2003)
    UPDATE: been told that Grainger will not sponsor Greg Biffle or the #16 car in 2004.(11-26-2003)
    UPDATE 2: there will be an announcement concerning Greg Biffle and Roush Racing on Wednesday, Dec 10th [NOT 3rd] about the 2004 season and the #16 team.(12-2-2003)
  • Congrats: Leland (Lee) Anthony Raines was born today at 1:30pm/et to Sue and Tony Raines, Mom and baby are doing fine, seven + pounds and 22 inches long.(12-2-2003)
  • Burton and Roush to run some Busch races: Roush Racing announced today that Cottman Transmission will sponsor Jeff Burton and the #9 Ford for four Busch Series races in 2004. The limited schedule includes Darlington (Mar. 21), Fontana (May 2), Dover (Sept. 23) and Atlanta (Oct. 31). “I’m really excited to expand my relationship with Cottman Transmission moving into 2004,” said Burton. “It’s great to get back in the #9 Ford and race a limited Busch Series schedule next year with Cottman. I’m looking forward to putting the #9 Cottman Transmission Ford back in victory lane.” In 2003 Cottman Transmission had a personal services agreement with Burton which will carry over into 2004 along with their four race sponsorship of the #9 Ford. Todd Leff, President and CEO of Cottman Transmission embraces the opportunity to build on an already successful partnership. “Jeff Burton has been a great representative for Cottman Transmission over the past two years.” Leff continued, “And our dealers are really excited to be taking the relationship to the next level.” Cottman Transmission was founded in 1962 and is the nation’s fastest growing chain of transmission repair centers. With more than 400 locations coast to coast, Cottman specializes in every phase of transmission work, including manual and automatic transmissions, American and import vehicles, front-wheel and four-wheel drives. For more information on Cottman Transmission, go to www.cottman.com. In addition to the four races with Cottman Transmission, Burton will also run three races with the Pennzoil colors for a total of seven Busch Series races in 2004. This revives the #9 team that ran away with five wins, two poles, eight top five and nine top 10 finishes in just 14 starts in 2002. “I’m really looking forward to 2004,” said Burton. “We have a lot of exciting things happening in 2004 with a lot of great sponsors and to get back in the #9 Ford is just awesome.”(Roush Racing PR), doesn’t sound like Burton is leaving Roush Racing for RCR if he is doing a Busch deal.(12-2-2003)
  • Green signed? UPDATE: hearing Jeff Green has signed with Petty Enterprises to drive the #43 Cheerios Dodge in 2004.(12-1-2003)
    UPDATE: Picking up where he left off at the end of 2003, Jeff Green will drive the #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge in 2004 for Petty Enterprises. Kyle Petty, CEO of Petty Enterprises, made the announcement today. The 41-year-old Green, a native of Owensboro, Ky., first climbed behind the wheel of the Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge at the tough one-mile Dover (Del.) International Speedway, and knocked down a 16th-place finish. The fact he and the ‘Helping Hands’ crew were able to come together so quickly was not lost on Petty Enterprises, or the rest of the Winston Cup garage. Green finished the season with Petty Enterprises, developing a rapport with crew chief Gary Putnam and the rest of the team, and helping develop strong morale. “We just kind of clicked,” Green said. “Gary and those guys have a lot of knowledge and experience, and we communicated well from the very beginning. Having those races together this past season should help us a lot as we start 2004. I am excited to be part of Petty Enterprises, to drive the famous number 43, but most of all, to be working with some very talented people.” Petty said he was excited as well.
    “As Jeff spent more time in the car, and as he and Gary and the Cheerios guys worked together, it started to become pretty obvious he was the best choice we could make for a driver,” Petty said. “He knows how to win races and he knows how to win championships. We feel we can give him the people and equipment he needs to be successful, and we’re looking forward to a great relationship.”
    “We are thrilled with Petty Enterprises’ decision to put Jeff Green behind the wheel of the #43 in 2004,” said Laurie Greeno, Vice President of Motorsports for General Mills. “We are excited to work with Jeff and are confident that he’ll be a good ambassador for Cheerios, Betty Crocker and other great General Mills brands featured on the #43 throughout the year.” Green goes into the 2004 season-opening Daytona 500 as the defending pole award winner, and is eligible to compete in the Bud Shootout of pole winners from the 2003 season [no word what car he will drive as Petty cars do not carry the Budweiser sticker]. He has completed two full seasons of NASCAR Cup racing, notching four top-five and 10 top-10 finishes over the past two years, as well as winning $5.2 million.(Williams Company)(12-2-2003)
  • Kodak to scale back on the #4 BUT have a new sponsor lined up: Morgan-McClure Motorsports general manager Larry McClure confirmed Monday that the #4 team will have a new primary sponsor for the upcoming season. The current 18-year marriage between Kodak and the Abingdon-based M-M organization has been one of the longest in the sport’s history. “We should have our major sponsor signed by Dec. 8,” McClure said. “A few details are still being worked out. And Kodak will still be an associate sponsor on our car for the next three years.” McClure did not divulge details on the length of the new sponsor package. As for the other big question mark at M-M – who will be the driver next year – stay tuned. Veteran Kevin Lepage, who finished the season as the driver of the #4 Kodak Pontiac, actually visited the sprawling race shop Monday morning. “Kevin is still on top of our list right now,” McClure said. “He has done the best job for us. Over the last six races, we had an average finish of 24th in the points and that’s about the best we did all season. We had some opportunities to finish better in several of those races, but we were competitive and feel pretty good about what we accomplished.” Veteran crew chief Tim Brewer will return in the twin role of team manager and crew chief as Morgan-McClure switches back to the Chevrolet banner this season. “Right now, Tim is wearing those two hats,” McClure said. “If Tim chooses to put somebody else in the crew chief position, that will be his call. The rest of the pit crew is pretty much intact.” Bristol native Chris Carrier and longtime crew member Mark Prater are no longer with the team. Carrier began the 2003 season as the crew chief. After dealing with numerous interview requests and questions in recent weeks, McClure is eager to quell the speculation regarding the financial backing. “I am real excited. This is going to be a high-profile sponsor who hasn’t been in the sport before. They have a lot of promotions planned, including a marketing push on TV,” he said. “We’ve been working on this for about two months and we look forward to the announcement. It’s been a good relationship for us and Kodak,” McClure said. “I wish the best for Kodak. They are going to be a major sponsor with another team. We’ve all seen the Internet reports, but I have no idea what team that will be. We will just see how it goes for Kodak and for us.” It also appears that Eric McClure, son of team co-owner Jerry McClure, will compete in several NASCAR Busch Series races.(Bristol Herald Courier)(12-2-2003)
  • Sporting News Pubs: Sporting News has partnered with NASCAR to develop and distribute three racing publications: The NASCAR Review and The NASCAR Nextel Cup Preview magazines, and The NASCAR Record and Fact Book. Preview is the first NASCAR-related title under the Nextel banner, which takes over for Winston as the series’ sponsor starting in 2004. The $7.99 mag will debut in January, with an expected circulation of 400,000. Review, slated for release this month, will have a circulation of 250,000.(Media Post)(12-2-2003)
  • Sad News: Buddy Helms, a stock car racing pioneer who entered a 1946 Hudson Super Six into the first NASCAR sanctioned race in 1949, died at the Ryder Trauma Center on December 1 at the age of 87, just two weeks after he had been honored as the oldest living NASCAR driver in a special parade lap at the Homestead-Miami Speedway prior to the “Ford 400” Winston Cup season finale. “It was the most exciting day of my life!” he was to comment after circling the newly banked track in a 1965 Ford Mustang convertible. The appreciative race fans screamed his name as he cruised across the finish line. Helms was critically burned in a gasoline accident at his Fort Lauderdale home on November 18, while replacing a fuel pump on a vintage Chevrolet marine engine. He fought a valiant battle to live until succumbing to congestive heart failure on Monday. In addition to that opening Charlotte race, the North Carolina native also drove in Atlanta, Martinsville, North Wilkesboro, and Hillsboro. Car owner Sam Rice selected Buddy as relief driver for renowned racing legend, Fireball Roberts, in NASCAR’s first “Southern 500” at the newly opened Darlington Speedway in 1950.
    He was chief mechanic for daredevil Buddy Shuman, who finished in the top ten points standings in 1952. He was the “set-up” man for Buck Baker’s winning Oldsmobile at Darlington in 1953, and was called upon again by perennial contender Speedy Thompson to build the winning Chevrolet that won the “Southern 500” in 1957. After moving to South Florida in 1958, he worked closely with legendary boat builder Richard Bertram to perfect the revolutionary “Deep V” hull that became the industry standard for all fiberglass hull designs that followed. He remained in the marine industry until his retirement in 1975. A memorial service will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of Fort Lauderdale on Thursday, December 4, followed by a special remembrance service in Charlotte, North Carolina on Saturday, December 20, at Myers Park Presbyterian Church.(Yahoo)(12-2-2003)
  • Kenny Wallace and Stacker 2 to Present $5,000 to FDNY Station 23: NASCAR fans continue to recognize the heroic deeds of the Fire Department of New York City two years after the Sept. 11 tragedy. Stacker 2, “The World’s Strongest Fat Burner” and sponsor of the No. 23 cars that competed in NASCAR’s top two divisions this year, asked fans to donate $1 to FDNY Stationhouse 23 at five NASCAR races this season. The fans responded with donations totaling $5,000.
    Stacker 2 Dodge driver Kenny Wallace and Bob Emilian, vice president of retail marketing for Stacker 2, will present a check for $5,000 to the Thomas R. Elsasser Fund on behalf of FDNY Stationhouse 23 in a Dec. 3 ceremony at the firehouse. Capt. John Bendick of Engine Company No. 23 will accept the check for the foundation. The Elsasser Fund supports families of active FDNY members that died while not in the line of duty. Race fans in the midway area during a race weekend in which this fundraiser was being held came to the Stacker 2 Splash of Energy Tour display and donated $1 to “The Lion’s Den,” Fire Department of New York City stationhouse number 23. Fans were also entered into a drawing to win a helmet signed by all Winston Cup and Busch Series drivers. All proceeds from this drawing went directly to the firehouse.
    The program was developed by NVE Pharmaceuticals, the parent company of Stacker 2, in order to pay tribute to all the men and women that were lost in the Sept. 11 attacks. The cars of Stacker 2 drivers Wallace and Scott Wimmer carried a special “The Lion’s Den” decal throughout September as a tribute to the heroic Station 23. “It is such a great thing that Stacker 2 is doing for the fallen heroes of 9/11,” Wallace said. “Stacker 2 really is passionate about giving back to society, and that is why they are such a great sponsor. I am proud to drive for them.” The program began at Dover (Del.) International Speedway in conjunction with The Stacker 200 presented by YJ Stinger, a 2003 Busch Series race. The other four tracks that hosted the program were Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.; Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park; Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. “This program is near and dear to everyone’s heart here at NVE because of our close proximity to New York City,” said Bob Occhifinto, President/CEO for NVE. “We all knew people that lost their lives in the terrible attack on our country. We feel it is our duty to try to repay all the heroic men and women who put their lives on the line everyday for the citizens of the United States.”(Keystone Marketing PR)(12-2-2003)
  • Kenseth in USA Today Ad: To honor 2003 Winston Cup Champ Matt Kenseth and his #17 Roush Racing teammates for their outstanding year, Smirnoff Ice Triple Black has taken out a full-page color advertisement in USA Today, which will run in its December 4 edition. The ad contains a black background with a large, white #17 in the upper half of the page. The seven is crossed out in red, and a red number sign is next to the No. 1, which reflects Kenseth’s Winston Cup points finish. The bottom half of the advertisement contains the Smirnoff Ice Triple Black logo with the message: “Congratulations to Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 Roush Racing Team, 2003 Winston Cup champions, from your fans at Smirnoff Ice.” The driver’s Ford Taurus racecar is positioned below the message, and the brand’s responsible driving campaign tagline “Be Smart, Drink Responsibly” is positioned in the bottom left-hand side of the ad.
    “The Smirnoff Ice Triple Black family is very proud of Matt and the entire No. 17 Roush Racing Team,” said James Stammer, Smirnoff Senior Brand Manager. “It was a fun and exciting championship season, and we were happy to be along for the ride.” Kenseth drove his No. 17 Smirnoff Ice Triple Black car in seven of the Series’ 36 races this season, promoting the brand’s responsible drinking program.(Alan Taylor Communications PR)(12-2-2003)
  • AMW offers money back Guarantee: America’s Most Wanted Motorsports once again is offering a unique motorsports sponsorship opportunity, a money back guarantee. “This is not a new concept by any means”, stated Scott Davis of AMW Motorsports, “I saw that Rockwell Automation had put together a similar plan for their racing program and I congratulate them for their creativity for their sponsors, but I felt that we could do more.  We have a guaranteed media value that could exceed $3 million dollars, a cause marketing plan, plus a race team, so I felt that we could be successful offering a money back guarantee as well.” As theirs in similarity, our “Money Back Guarantee”will be derived from the total media value, and if AMW Motorsports does not deliver 100% of a corporation’s sponsorship dollars invested in the form of media value, AMW Motorsports will refund the Total Dollars Invested.  The media being offered is just part of the program. The opportunity to associate a corporation with John Walsh and his team, and the ability to build marketing and media advertising opportunities around the sponsorship provide the chance to significantly multiply corporations ROI.(more info at Body Dynamics Racing site)(12-2-2003)

    (12-1-2003)

  • Announcements This Week:
    Next Thursday is shaping up to be a day of answers in NASCAR. News conferences scheduled for next Thursday morning by Richard Childress Racing and Evernham Motorsports at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City should shed some light on several lingering questions left over from the 2003 season.
    RCR will start the morning addressing its #30 AOL Chevrolet team in Winston Cup, announcing its new driver for the 2004 season and crew chief, sources said. Although the driver situation remains clouded, sources confirmed Kevin Hamlin, currently the crew chief with RCR’s #31 Cup team, will move to the #30 in the same role.
    RCR’s announcement will be followed shortly by another from Evernham Motorsports.
    The scope of the Evernham announcement remains unclear, but sources confirmed the future of veteran Bill Elliott, who drives the #9 Dodge for Evernham, will be addressed at the event. For the past several months, Elliott, 48, has been contemplating retirement, or at least a reduced schedule for the 2004 season.(ThatsRacin.com)(11-26/12-1-2003)
  • New #77 Crew Chief? hear Steven Lane is close to being named new crew chief at the #77 Ford [to be Dodge], once the Kodak sponsorship goes into place. He was with Petty Enterprises until a few weeks ago, but worked for Penske prior to that as a car chief.(12-1-2003)
  • Florida newspaper loses appeal over Earnhardt autopsy photographs: The Supreme Court rejected an appeal Monday from a student-run newspaper that wanted autopsy photos of race car driver Dale Earnhardt. The newspaper had challenged the constitutionality of a Florida law passed after Earnhardt’s death, barring public access to autopsy pictures. Before the law, Florida had allowed the public to see the photographs for 90 years without any problems, attorney Thomas Julin told justices in a filing. He said the access was used to uncover medical examiners’ negligence or criminal activities. The paper sought the photos as questions arose over how the racer died and whether better safety equipment might have saved him. The seven-time Winston Cup champion died on Feb. 18, 2001, when his car hit the wall on the final turn at the Daytona 500. Doctors said he died instantly from head injuries. Lawyers for Earnhardt’s widow, Teresa, said that the court’s ruling against the newspaper did not involve federal constitutional issues and the Supreme Court should stay out of it. Under the newspaper’s interpretation of free speech rights, the lawyers said, “the First Amendment ceases to be a bulwark of freedom, and instead turns it into a nuclear warhead used to eradicate the very freedom it was meant to protect.” Supporters of the law, which has been copied in other states, say the measure protects families from seeing a relative’s autopsy photos in newspapers or on the Internet. Under the law, unauthorized viewing or copying of photos can bring a $5,000 fine. The court is hearing arguments this week in a similar case, involving access to photos taken after the death of Clinton administration White House attorney Vincent Foster.(ThatsRacin.com/AP)(12-1-2003)
  • Ganassi’s Move: Mooresville business officials say they hope the Chip Ganassi Racing building, which sits in a prominent location among Race City USA’s NASCAR shops, won’t be vacant long. “It will be loss, but we’re hopeful that another company will buy their existing building,” said Melanie O’Connell Underwood, economic developer for the Mooresville-South Iredell Chamber of Commerce. “Although it’s not a given, the building is made for racing.” Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates confirmed last week that it has accepted roughly $370,000 in incentives from Cabarrus County and Concord to move to a new and larger facility closer to Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Ganassi Racing, which supports NASCAR Winston Cup drivers #40-Sterling Marlin, #42-Jamie McMurray and #41-Casey Mears, employs about 150 people in Mooresville at a high-profile location just inside the main entrance to Lakeside Park. The business park is home to several dozen racing teams. The larger Concord facility, which is already der construction, will have up to 350 employees. The team had also been looking for places to relocate to in Mooresville, having outgrown its Lakeside Park site. In April, Ganassi struck a tentative deal to move into the vacant Matsushita Compressor Corp. plant in Mooresville, but those plans fell through despite incentive offers from Iredell County and Mooresville. Underwood showed the team the high-tech Matsushita building, which manufactured electronics. But Concord’s incentive –a 65% property tax return over four years- with an airport and speedway were factors in the decision to move. “They’re going to be looking for a hangar at the Concord Airport,” Underwood said. Right now the airport, a popular location for NASCAR team jets, is in the process of lengthening a runway to accommodate longer flights. “The airport, I think that’s a huge driver in this project,” said John Cox, CEO of the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce. Ganassi racing has occupied its Lakeside Park location since 1994. In 2000, Chip Ganassi bought majority ownership of the team. Previously known as Team SABCO, the organization was initially a NASCAR research and development team that Felix Sabates bought from Rick Hendrick in 1987.(Mooresville Tribune)(12-1-2003)
  • #31 Crew Chief? Changes were already in the works at Richard Childress Racing. Although a driver has not been selected for the #30, sources say Kevin Hamlin will be the new crew chief. Chris Andrews, who was Robby Gordon’s engineer on the #31 Cingular Chevy, is expected to become the crew chief for that squad with a more experienced crew chief to become team manager later.(Yahoo Sports/Sporting News)(12-1-2003)
  • Schrader staying; Sponsor close for BAM: BAM Racing G.M. Eddie Sharp says Ken Schrader will remain in the No. 49 Dodge and the team is close to announcing a sponsor.(Yahoo Sports/Sporting News)(12-1-2003)