Racing News (9351)
Racing News from around the World
As the NASCAR drivers, teams and fans head back to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the annual fall racing weekend, veteran motorsports management pro Benny Ertel recalled a special race held there 32 years ago. The official results sheet shows that Ertel drove the No. 12 Miller American Pontiac from a 12th-place start to a 12th-place finish in the Oct. 1, 1986 Bullfrog Knits 150. In reality, no documented statistics will ever fully explain what occurred during that Charlotte/Daytona Dash Series event on the 1.5-mile CMS quad-oval.
The event will always hold the distinction of featuring the greatest all-star pit crew ever assembled for a race. Take a look at the official personnel roster for Benny’s No. 12 team that day:
Bobby Allison: crew chief
Dale Earnhardt: scorer
Benny Parsons: spotter
Neil Bonnett: windshield cleaner
Tim Richmond: tire changer
Davey Allison: tire changer
Alan Kulwicki: tire changer
Rusty Wallace: tire carrier
Kyle Petty: gas man
Michael Waltrip: gas catch man
Bobby Hillin Jr.: jack man
Joe Ruttman: drink detail
Hank Jones, Ed Brasefield, Roy Thornley, Rich Rubenstein & Tom Roberts: utility personnel
To trace how racing’s absolute “dream team pit crew” came to be assembled, one has to begin at the roots of Ertel’s relationship with Bobby Allison. Ertel was a Milwaukee native who in the early 1980s was running pubs, serving as a part-time TV sports reporter and actively racing at the grassroots level.
“I became great friends with Jimmy and Jeffrey Fennig, who were among the most noted short-track crew guys in the area,” said Ertel. “They built me a Sportsman car to race at Slinger. With a little help from Al Schill, I was able to quickly learn and actually set fast time for 14 races in a row there. Bobby Allison came up for the Slinger Nationals in 1982 and wasn’t competitive at all. Through Jimmy and Jeffrey, I started helping out Gerry Gunderman’s team out of Franklin. Bobby and I connected and we put together a deal for Bobby to drive one of Gunderman’s cars at Slinger the next year. It was the beginning of a stretch of several years with Bobby driving Gunderman cars for several years. It also opened the door for me to work with BA (Allison) through the time when he got hurt in 1988.”
During the 1986 season, Ertel was busy booking appearances for Allison, traveling with him extensively and even spotting for him on race day. The idea to compete in the Dash Series race at Charlotte was the direct result of what happened during the August race weekend at Talladega.
“We were racing at Talladega that summer and Bobby actually put me in one of his cars out of his Hueytown shop in a race out at BIR (Birmingham International Raceway) when he couldn’t be there,” Ertel said. “Hut Stricklin was there helping us out. We ran strong enough that night that Hut suggested I give it a try in a Dash Series race. I liked that idea and started putting things together for the Charlotte race, which was one of the biggest races of the season. I was able to get a ride in Mike Swaim’s backup car. He was driving for David Watson’s team out of Boone and those were some proven winning race cars. I had become great friends with Tom Kleiber, Bruce Mueller and Eddie Gossage at Miller Brewing and they were happy to sponsor us in the race. I even reached out to Phil Holmer at Goodyear and he donated the tires for the race.
“Well, now I had a great race car to drive, I had sponsorship for the race and even had the tires donated,” Ertel recalled. “But, the one thing I didn’t have was a pit crew. When I made the deal with David Watson, I initially thought that maybe crew guys to help work on the car was part of it…but that wasn’t the case. In discussing the situation with BA, he was quick to volunteer his services as crew chief and that started the wheels rolling with the all-star pit crew coming together. I’d gotten to know and be friends with most of the drivers in the garage area and had put together business deals for many of them. I started reaching out to them one by one, asking if they’d help me out. I was so proud then…and so proud when I look back today…that not a single driver turned me down. Every one of them said yes and they were eager to help out.”
When Ertel began to discuss the details of the race day at Charlotte, it was as if time had traveled back 32 years earlier with his vivid description.
“It was a situation just like every other time I had been behind the wheel of a race car,” Ertel said. “We started off a little off, but picked up speed each time we went out. We were running really respectable by the time qualifying came around. We qualified 12th out of 40 cars there that day and were proud of that. I wore one of Bobby’s Miller uniforms that day, but it wasn’t the first time that had happened. Folks never knew that there were several photo shoots done back at that time where BA couldn’t be there. If it was a case where his face wasn’t shown, it would actually be me behind the wheel. Since our race started almost immediately after Cup qualifying, my pit crew guys were scattered all over the garage area up until race time. We were able to get most of them together for a group photo shoot just prior to the start of the race. I was already having a blast!”
When the green flag was waved to officially start the race, no one really knew what to expect – both out on the track and on pit road. To do the situation justice, here is Ertel’s account of what happened during the 62-lap, 150-kilometer battle. His explanation actually required more than 20 minutes as it was interrupted numerous times by uncontrolled laughter by both interviewer and interviewee.
“I’ll never forget the pre-race chatter on the radio and taking the green flag that day,” Ertel began. “BA was trying to stay on top of things and was keeping it as organized as possible. We were only a couple of laps into the race when I blew a tire and had to pit. The first stop, they looked like the Keystone Cops out there. Everyone wanted to help and pitch in, but with no practice, we had guys going in every direction. There were a couple of distractions to deal with, too. We had more fans standing around our pits than were sitting up in the stands. Tim Richmond had won the pole for the Cup race. He was still in his uniform when they came to get him for his post-qualifying interviews.
“After the first pit stop, the NASCAR officials warned BA that we had too many men over the wall,” Ertel said as he started to chuckle. “But somehow, BA was able to convince the officials that it wasn’t the total bodies over the wall that counted…it was the number of feet. I laughed out loud when I heard that BA told the official working our pits that he’d taught all of his guys to do their jobs just using one leg.
“After my second spin during the race, Neil refused to come over the wall,” Ertel said with a laugh. “Ruttman was supposed to be using the drink stick to give me Gatorade, but instead welcomed me with a roll of toilet paper, suggesting I might have had an accident in my pants after spinning like that. With Benny Parsons sitting up in the condo in Turn 1 and spotting, he was able to coach me to run the fastest line around the track and we actually got to running some decent lap times out there.
“During the next pit stop, Richmond had returned from his interview session and went over the wall to change tires,” Ertel said. “Somehow, he and Rusty got to bickering and they actually put the tire back on that they had just taken off, so I had to hit pit road a second time for tires. At one point, we were running two laps down and able to make up one of those laps.
“We were running really well with about 10 laps to go, when BA came on the radio and told me to pit the next time by. I told him that the car was handling and running the best it had all day long and there was no need to pit. I’ll never forget what happened next. He said, “Pit…pit…pit…the guys want to do another pit stop…get that thing on in here!” Of course, I followed my crew chief’s orders and pitted the next time around. The guys reeled off a perfect pit stop that was lightning fast.
“We went back out and finished the race in 12th, which was pretty remarkable in that we had the tire blow, I spun out twice on my own and made that unnecessary pit stop there at the end,” said Ertel. “It turned out that our teammate, Mike Swaim, won the race and our day wasn’t finished at the checkered flag. Dale was scoring our car and said NASCAR’s scoring was wrong. BA protested to NASCAR’s chief scorer, Morris Metcalfe that he had us running too many laps down at the finish. He was able to prove that he was correct and Morris admitted their scoring error. It didn’t change the outcome of the race, though, and we still were credited with the 12th-place finish. It was one of the most memorable days I ever experienced at the race track…that’s for sure!”
All-new research and development technology that helps make Ford Performance racecars faster also is helping Ford speed up development of its consumer vehicle lineup and improving the company’s operational fitness.
Breakthroughs including a daily driving vehicle simulator, 3D race environment and other advancements are helping Ford improve product development fitness by reducing the number of physical prototypes. In its latest move, Ford is working to speed up vehicle development and reduce costs through a new production vehicle dynamic simulator in a 33,000-square-foot facility in the heart of NASCAR country in North Carolina.
The initial purpose of the facility – up and running since 2014 – was to develop and test racecars virtually through an immersive simulator. But the tools have become so good so fast that Ford is now using the technology for its production vehicles.
“The mission of Ford Performance is to transfer innovations from racetracks to the driveways of new Ford vehicle owners,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance. “The tech center and this new driving simulator are two of the most important steps we have taken to help our mainstream engineering partners make sure the next Edge or F-150 is great to drive – even if you don’t check the performance model box.”
A New Day in Product Development
How good are Ford’s advanced aerodynamic development tools? The 2019 NHRA Funny Car program will have no prototype bodies physically created before the racing body is built – a milestone in the history of Ford racing development.
Ford is so confident in its dynamic simulator, development and testing tools that much of its race testing is now done in advance of ever arriving at a racetrack. Virtual prototyping and simulator tools help optimize both performance and manufacturing capability, which becomes critical when designing production vehicles – often made in volumes in the hundreds of thousands annually.
Along with the new simulator, Ford is using several other advanced tools to help speed production development times and cut costs. These include a new dynamic simulator, computational fluid dynamics for aerodynamic testing and virtual manufacturing. Together, these tools are migrating from the super-high-tech, low-volume racing development world to Ford’s global product development system.
Racing Simulator Gets Immersive New 3D Experience
The racing simulator at the Concord facility also received a recent upgrade and now features an immersive 3D environment for drivers.
“I’ve used the simulator a lot and have gotten used to the normal vision, so I was quite apprehensive when they told me we are going 3D,” said Richard Westbrook, driver of the No. 67
IMSA Ford GT, who will be vying to capture a championship next month. “It really is a step up in terms of reality. With all the hard work at the Ford Performance tech center, we now have something we can really rely on to give us a good car when we roll it off the truck in real life.”
Before the then-new Ford GT ever put its tires on a racetrack, it racked up hundreds of hours of testing on virtual racetracks around the world.
Each simulator runs on numerous software programs that must all be calibrated to work in perfect harmony – operation, movement, visuals, audio, physics modeling, environment replication, results analysis – so that the experience remains as natural as possible for the operator. Even the slightest amount of difference could pull someone out of focus and induce motion sickness.
Along with upgrades to the race simulator, other breakthroughs include supercomputer modeling of race and regular tires to improve rubber wear and performance.
Ford Performance PR
Brothers Nolan and Brody Pope will continue to be a part of the McCallister Precision Marketing family in 2019 after recently agreeing to contract extensions.
The 2019 calendar year will mark the fifth anniversary for the CARS Tour, and its second season with tour title sponsor Response Energy Drink on board. Over the four previous seasons the CARS Tour has hosted 85 different races between both the Super Late Model and Late Model Stock divisions. Throughout those events, 353 different drivers have made a start in CARS Tour competition, with over $2.1 million dollars in purse money being paid out during that period.
With the 2018 season championships still to be decided for both the Late Model Stock and the Super Late Model divisions at South Boston Speedway on November 3rd, the tour is proud to announce the 2019 season schedule.
The schedule consists of 11 points races and 1 non-points race for Late Model Stock Cars and 8 championship points races for Super Late Models. The CARS Response Energy Tour will once again host events in North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee. For the first time in series history the tour will not visit the Palmetto State, however, the series will make much anticipated returns to familiar tracks in Southern National, Motor Mile, and Dominion Raceway. Another stellar edition to the tour, will be the series debut at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Virginia, to go along with the previously announced non-points Late Model Stock Car race on the Dominion Raceway two mile road course.
“We are proud of this schedule and we are happy to get it out early so our competitors, fans, and our partner tracks can plan appropriately for the 2019 season. While we are sad to see awesome events at tracks like Wake County and Myrtle Beach go away, there’s no doubt that they’ll be back with the CARS Tour in the future. We’ve always made it a priority to mix things up on our schedule to prevent it from becoming stale,” explained CARS Tour Series Director, Chris Ragle. “With that said I think we have great 2019 schedule at some phenomenal facilities. With the return of the Touring 12 program, the $500 bonus for running three races in a row, The Old North State Nationals for Late Model Stocks, 40% of the Super Late Model races paying $10,000 to win, two co-sanctioned Super Late Model events, and the 3rd Annual Mid Atlantic Classic we should have a great fifth anniversary season ahead of us.”
For additional information on the CARS Response Energy Late Model Stock Tour and the CARS Response Energy Super Late Model Tour visit www.carsracingtour.com. Be sure to stay active and social with the tour by liking “CARS Tour” on Facebook, following @CARSTour on Twitter, and scrolling through photos on Instagram cars_tour. Additional series information can be obtained by calling the CARS Tour series office, located in Mooresville, NC, at 704.662.9212.
2019 Late Model Stock Car Schedule Highlights
-2019 season opener at Southern National Motorsports Park increased overall purse and paying $10,000 to the winner
-Inaugural “Old North State Nationals” at Orange County Speedway April 6-7, 2019 will be the largest paying LMSC race in history with a minimum of $30,000 going to the winner and a minimum of $1,250 awarded to start the six tire feature event. An announcement of a “Stimulus Program” for competitors to pay for their race expense via supporters and grow the race purse leading up to the event will be announced in the coming weeks.
-CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour debut at the beautiful Langley Speedway in Hampton, Virginia on June 8.
-The third annual Throwback 276 at Hickory Motor Speedway continues on its traditional date of August 3rd.
-For the third consecutive season the 2019 LMSC champion will be crowned at South Boston Speedway.
2019 Super Late Model Schedule Highlights
-2019 season opener at Southern National Motorsports Park paying $10,000 to the winner.
-The co-sanctioned race between the CARS Tour, Southern Super Series, and CRA at the Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tennessee moves to May 4th.
-The 3rd Annual Mid Atlantic Classic at Orange County Speedway, that will once again pay $10,000 to win and an overall increased purse, moves to August 24th.
-The third annual Throwback 276 at Hickory Motor Speedway continues on its traditional date of August 3rd.
-The return of Super Late Models to the ultra-fast and beautiful Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Virginia happens on May 18th. This will be the first time SLM have graced the track since the 2015 inaugural season.
-Nearly 40% of the Super Late Model scheduled races in 2019 will pay $10,000 to win.
2019 CARS Response Energy Tour Schedule
March 9 Southern National Motorsport Park – Kenly, NC SLM-$10,000/LMSC-$10,000
March 23 Hickory Motor Speedway – Hickory, NC SLM/LMSC
April 6-7 Orange County Speedway (Old North State Nationals) – Rougemont, NC LMSC-$30,000
May 3 Ace Speedway – Elon, NC LMSC
May 4 Fairgrounds Speedway – Nashville, TN SLM*
May 18 Motor Mile Speedway – Radford, VA SLM/LMSC
June 1 TBA SLM*
June 8 Langley Speedway – Hampton, VA LMSC
June 22 Dominion Raceway – Thornburg, VA LMSC
July 13 Carteret County Speedway – Swansboro, NC LMSC
August 2-3 Hickory Motor Speedway (Throwback 276) – Hickory, NC SLM/LMSC
August 24 Orange County Speedway (Mid Atlantic Classic) – Rougemont, NC SLM-$10,000/LMSC
Nov. 2 South Boston Speedway – South Boston, VA SLM/LMSC
Nov. 16 Dominion Raceway Road Course – Thornburg, VA LMSC**
*Co-sanctioned race with CRA, SSS, and CARS Tour
***Additional $10,000 to win SLM race at already schedule event TBD
CARS Tour PR
To the victors go the spoils. In this case, Scott Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing, to the tune of more than $1 million.
Dixon, who laid claim to his fifth Verizon IndyCar Series championship nine days earlier, was honored with his championship-winning team this evening at the INDYCAR Victory Lap celebration. By becoming just the second driver in Indy car history to win five or more titles - and the first in more than five decades - the 38-year-old from New Zealand earned the $1 million bonus and a replica of the Astor Challenge Cup that bears the name of all season champions dating to 1909.
Dixon's previous Verizon IndyCar Series titles came in 2003, '08, '13 and '15. He trails only the great A.J. Foyt, whose seven championships are most in the sport's history.
Driving the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Dixon won three races this year to move his career total to 44, which ranks third all-time behind only Foyt (67) and Mario Andretti (52). Dixon snatched the points lead when he won the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway in June and held first place in the standings through the final nine races of the 17-race season.
He was challenged by a myriad of contenders, holding off Andretti Autosport's Alexander Rossi by 57 points for the championship.
Team owner Chip Ganassi was also presented an Astor Cup replica during the celebration at the posh Union 50 Restaurant & Bar in downtown Indianapolis. Dixon also received a Jostens champion's ring and the Sunoco Diamond Performance Award ($50,000) given to the driver with the most race wins in the season. Dixon was one of four drivers to record three victories in 2018 and earned the award on the tiebreaker for placing highest in the final point standings.
Dixon and the team also received the Penske Racing Shocks Award. Chip Ganassi Racing team members Blair Julian, Mike Hull, Scott Harner and Barry Wanser shared the Championship Chief Mechanic/Team Manager Award.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver Robert Wickens was named the Sunoco Rookie of the Year for the season, to go with the same honor he won at the 102nd Indianapolis 500 in May. Karli Woods, Wickens' fiancee, accepted the award and $50,000 check on his behalf as he continues recuperating at an Indianapolis rehabilitation facility following a crash at Pocono Raceway in August.
Other awards and recipients in the program were:
• Second Place in Championship: Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport
• Third Place in Championship: Will Power, Team Penske
• Verizon P1 Season Award: Josef Newgarden, Team Penske
• Manufacturer Champion Award: Honda
• Firestone Drive to the Finish Award: Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport
• TAG Heuer "Don't Crack Under Pressure" Award ($25,000): Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
• Indy Family Foundation Award: Racing for Cancer (Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport)
• Xtrac Championship Award: Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport
• 2018 Fan Favorite Driver Award: James Hinchcliffe, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
Bill McAnally Racing’s trio of drivers look to finish the season strong as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West heads into its final three events of the year.
The series heads to Idaho this week for the NAPA AUTO PARTS Idaho 208 at Meridian Speedway on Saturday.
BMR drivers Cole Rouse and Derek Kraus are third and fourth in the championship standings, respectively, and aim to gain points on their competition as the season winds down. Their BMR teammate, Hailie Deegan, is sixth in the standings and wants to build on her momentum to finish in the top five for the season and capture this year’s Rookie of the Year Award.
Rouse, who drives the No. 99 NAPA Filters Toyota Camry, has turned in a very consistent performance this year – with five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in 11 starts. The 21-year-old from Fort Smith, Arkansas is coming off a sixth-place finish on the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Rouse finished fourth at Meridian in 2016, in his only previous series start at the quarter-mile oval.
Kraus – a 17-year-old NASCAR Next driver who wheels the No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry – leads the series in terms of most wins so far this year, with three victories, and also has the most pole awards, with four. The Stratford, Wisconsin teenager is seven points behind Rouse in the standings. Overall this season, Kraus has six top fives and eight top 10s. He finished fifth as a rookie last year at Meridian.
Deegan, also a 17-year-old NASCAR Next driver, heads to Idaho with momentum on her side as she prepares to make her 12th career start in the No. 19 Mobil 1 / NAPA Power Premium Plus Toyota Camry. At Las Vegas, she became the first female driver to win a pole award in the history of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, and then went on to win her heat race and finish second in the feature event. The Temecula, California resident – who transitioned from off-road racing to full-bodied stock cars – has registered four top-five and nine top-10 series finishes.
In advance of this week’s race, the BMR team will make a special appearance for the Dyson Group at a store front sales event at the NAPA AUTO PARTS Store in Meridian on Friday.
A large turnout of NAPA guests is expected for a VIP Hospitality at the track on Saturday. NAPA’s role as event sponsor, meanwhile, will provide the opportunity to be part of the pre-race and post-race ceremonies.
The Meridian event, the 12th of a 14-race schedule, is scheduled to be televised on NBCSN on Oct. 5 at 10 a.m. PT.
DGR-Crosley announced today that they have parted ways with Tyler Dippel ahead of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East finale at Dover International Speedway.
A replacement driver for the No. 54 Toyota Camry has yet to be named.
DGR Crosley PR