The Glen, Austin, Vickers & Other Randomness

You have to hand it to Kyle Busch. The man can flat wheel a car. His victory at Watkins Glen gives him three career NASCAR Sprint Cup victories on road courses. You know, it wouldn’t surprise me if someday he doesn’t surpass Jeff Gordon for all-time victories on the tracks of right and left turns. He’s just that good. He had a small army of challengers on his back, and he held him all off.

Kudos to Brad Keselowski for repressing the temptation to turn Busch. When Keselowski said he didn’t need any more drama, did anyone find Martin Truex’s reaction a bit interesting? I did. You get the feeling there’s still a few drivers who haven’t forgotten some of “Bad” Brad’s habits. If nothing else, it’s like the old days of Earnhardt chasing you down. It wasn’t that this kind of driver would always punt you to get ahead, it was the idea you knew he would do if the spirit moved him. That alone is enough to get some drivers off kilter.

So Austin Dillon get to pilot the ’14′ car this Sunday. Judging from the reactions around the World Wide Web, I had no idea Regan Smith had so many fans! I bet he didn’t either. Per my last post, Dillon wouldn’t have been my choice sbobet, but it’s a choice that’s not hard to understand. There’s the tie in with Bass Pro Shops from a sponsorship point of view, let’s face it, Dillon has demonstrated some promise in his limited NASCAR career. Let’s be honest, a lot of this resentment comes from Dillon being the grandson of Richard Childress. A lot of fans would rather see an underdog succeed than royalty. Convincing folks he’s advanced on his own merit will be one of Dillon’s chief challenges. Here’s one thing for sure: he’ll get his chance, and if he isn’t up to it, he won’t last long.

Word has it Michael Waltrip Racing is ready to announce that Brian Vickers will get a full time Cup ride come 2014. He’s earned it. Vickers has made the most of his limited chances, and it’s time for the “driver by committee” approach to cease in the ’55′ car. Is anybody else wondering if this really is the end for Mark Martin? Heck, he could enter his own ride now if he wants to keep going on a limited schedule. It’s not hard to imagine Michael Waltrip will still field his own entry for the restrictor plate tracks.

Back to Watkins Glen- others may still agree, but it’s time to at least put one more date for a road course on the schedule. It doesn’t matter whether or not they add a track like Road America, or maybe even add a second date for Watkins Glen, these days, some of the best racing is happening on road courses.

I can understand Kasey Kahne’s anger at the Glen, but still I have to admit that if I’m Matt Kenseth, I’m not exactly quaking with fear…the race for the Chase plot thickens. I stand by my prediction that Brad Keselowski makes the Chase. I also wouldn’t be shocked if Jeff Gordon doesn’t. A wild card with four wins? That may just be the case for Kenseth as a scuffles a bit. You can’t count out Kurt Busch or Ryan Newman either….good to hear Smoke is home. Racing is not the same without Tony Stewart’s colorful presence. The whispers seem to be getting louder than Stewart may sit out the rest of the year. It’s hard to imagine.

The Nascar Blame Game

NASCAR (and let’s cut to the Chase, no, not that Chase, when I say NASCAR, I mean Brian France) has been looking for scapegoats to explain the nosedive the sport has been experiencing, both in attendance, and TV ratings wise. When he finally acknowledged that the sport had a problem, it was laid to the economy. Fair enough, no denying that it’s been a big factor, but it’s hard to reconcile this with the declining TV numbers, and the loss of the younger demographics that advertisers crave.

At various times the blame has fallen on the slender shoulders of it’s most popular driver. Of course I’m referring to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Brian has publicly laid the blame for the current decline, to his lack of on track success.

His latest foray into scapegoating has been to blame it on Jimmie Johnson.Damn, this guy and the rest of the “48” team have done nothing but gone out and win an unprecedented four consecutive (and counting) championships under the Chase format that Brian has thrust upon us. Granted, this domination has not been popular with a large segment of the fans that NASCAR has left, but he is your champion. To publicly diss him like this seems pretty low rent to me.

All this attempted blame shifting makes me wonder if he shaves with an electric razor? After all, you don’t have to look in the mirror, to use one of them.

Let’s take a look at Brian’s stewardship of NASCAR so far. One of the things that he’s credited with is negotiating the unified, by far, the highest dollar TV contract in the sport’s history. So far so good.The problem I have with this, is that I never really felt this was shared fairly with the owners. If you want a good illustration of this, just compare the payout between your average PGA event, and a Cup race.Then factor in the expenses involved for the competitors, Cup vs. the PGA.

Now with the declining TV numbers, all the TV partners are upside down in their contracts. The number of commercials in a typical broadcast, that fans are complaining about are the TV partners attempt to limit their losses. NASCAR gets to “double dip” in this

financial bonanza through ISC. The well known plumbing adage is not the only thing that runs downhill, and as fans, we seem to always be at the bottom of the hill.

NASCAR was founded in 1948 by Big Bill, otherwise known in the France family as the guy who planted the money tree. It’s 62 years are rich in history and tradition. None of this seems to mean much to Brian. The fledgling series got it’s first paved superspeedway ND first 500 mile race when Darlington held it’s first Southern 500 in 1950. This was NASCAR’s biggest, and most prestigious race, until Daytona opened in ‘59. Probably the reason that Daytona became bigger was that it was built and owned by Big Bill. I understand this, but the Southern 500 continued to be it’s longest running and second most prestigious race. That is before Brian tried to kill

the venerable old girl off in 2004, by taking its date, and race and moving it to California.

Darlington was given the Mothers Day date as a replacement. This, after Easter, was considered the least desirable date to have, and until then had always been an open date. The consensus thinking at the time was that date would fail, and allow them to close the place. Well we all know how that turned out. Darlington went from being the track too tough too tame, to the track too tough to kill.

No thanks to NASCAR, but thanks to the fans who rallied to save this historic old track. If I had to pick just one track to see a race,

I wouldn’t even have to think about it. Darlington would win hands down. It’s about as “anti-cookie cutter” as it gets.

His second swipe at tradition, and history, also in 2004, was the Chase. I’ve written enough about this that I really have nothing to add. Brian is stubbornly standing behind this idea, while the TV numbers continue to tank. Nero didn’t have anything on Brian.

One fact is unassailable, when Dale Earnhardt was killed at Daytona in 2001, NASCAR was changed forever. His death brought much needed, and long overdue safety improvements. Improvements that a rash of prior drivers deaths and serious, career-ending injuries had failed to bring. These safety improvements are the best changes that I’ve seen in the time I’ve been following this sport.

That having been said, I’ve hated to see Cup turned into a spec series. I think those making the decisions, and ultimately

that goes back to Brian, failed to appreciate the impact that the “one size fits all” COT would, and has had on the sport.

Both of these changes seem to demonstrate a total disconnect with the fans, due to all the afore mentioned reasons, owners in both of NASCAR’s top series are struggling financially. Race purses have been cut, and at least the Nationwide series, is in for another 20 percent cut for next year. Fair enough, race purses have always been pegged to gate receipts. As I said, I just don’t think the payouts were ever big enough in the first place.

One thing I’d have to give Brian an A+ for is sucking up every last dollar available. I found one list of “Official Products of NASCAR.”

It listed 84 products. Some of these are relatively obscure, but some are companies that used to be primary and secondary car sponsors. With teams continuing to fold, and being replaced with the blood sucking start and park teams, this aggressive scrambling for every last dollar seems short-sighted, and counter-productive.

I’m not even sure that all these products get their money’s worth.

For example, one of these official products is New Pig Wipes.

These are super absorbent shop wipes (and yes, I had to look it up). I’ll bet you didn’t know about their shelling out to NASCAR until now, right? Come on Pig guys, pick a car, and get on it! You’re sure to be mentioned on TV. Look what it’s done for Boudreaux’s Butt Paste and the Tire Monkey.

Another thing on his resume, is opening NASCAR offices in New York and L.A. Big whup, we’ve seen what both of these markets think of NASCAR. Cheer up, Brian. California didn’t think much of the Clampetts either. In fact, I expect they class NASCAR, and its fans about the same.

NASCAR reminds me of the geek in high school. Can’t get the girls he wants, and don’t want the ones he can get.

I know they say you can’t go home again, but it looks like some of the places you outgrew are becoming a better fit again. I expect that the TV cameras could show the grandstands at The Rock, without embarrassment. Of course, I’m just pipe dreaming, for NASCAR to return to The Rock, would require eating a heaping helping of crow, a meal NASCAR hasn’t developed a taste for.

Another line item on Mr. France’s resume is the NASCAR Diversity program. As a fan, what exactly does this mean to me? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for diversity, but I believe in the most qualified person having the position, be it a high profile driver, any other position on race teams, or NASCAR itself, for that matter, Wendell Scott managed to make his mark on the sport without any help from Big Bill. In fact, if reports are to be believed, he faced and overcame obstacles from NASCAR itself, as well as promoters and other competitors.

Big kudus to Ned Jarrett for his help of Wendell. My impression of Ned is of a gentleman, both on, and off the track, and this fits right in. When the Mauricia Grant debacle first surfaced, NASCAR’s response was to circle the wagons sbobet. This showed just how much work NASCAR has to do in house.

A buzz word in the ’80’s used to be “corporate culture.” The recent flap over recent “secret” driver fines shows me what the corporate culture of NASCAR is from day one, owners were deemed to be “Independent Contractors”. The muzzling of owners and drivers seems to belie that. All criticism could be construed as “constructive”…. if it’s true. Expecting something like this to stay “secret” shows a childlike naivety.

The sight of eager fans lining up to spend their money at the teams merchandise trailers must have been more than NASCAR could take. Remember, they already made revenue from these sales through licensing the NASCAR logo, as well as space rental at ISC tracks. That wasn’t enough. So together with Bruton Smith, they formed Motorsports Authentics, which they promptly managed into bankruptcy, costing ISC, SMI, and the teams many millions.

No one single reason for this, but management, or the lack of

it has to be high on anyone’s list. Just plain greed has to be another big reason. The fans aren’t as stupid as some people seem to think. $100-dollar plus die casts, with a one-off paint job seemingly every third race or so. $250 leather jackets, $35 hats. All this stuff, with no secondary market. We just got tired of being ripped off, and quit buying.

I could go on, but what’s the point? The last group to get the finger pointed at them was the media (this was from Tony Stewart, but I wonder if someone pointed him?) I don’t consider myself as media, but as I’m lucky enough to be able to climb on the soapbox

from time to time, let me address this. I want to write “puppy dog and roses pieces,” but first, I’ve got to smell the roses, and see the puppy dogs. However, roses have thorns, and puppy dogs spot the carpet.

My advice to NASCAR, is to quit playing the blame game, and look a little closer to home. Most company’s troubles can be traced to poor management decisions. To fix a problem, first you have to recognize what the problems, and the causes are. As a fan, I’m behind you all the way. I want to see the ship righted as much

as anyone. I’m just having trouble working up to much optimism that current management will ever get it right.

If NASCAR really expects to get back on the right side of this, it’s time to man up.

How to Start Racing Your Car

Different people have different hobbies. While some people may love gambling at online betting platforms, such as 12bet, some people love speed. The faster you can go, the more interesting things can be. People like these usually put their nerve on becoming the world’s faster person. However, before you can reach that title, you need to learn how to race first.

Learn How to Race

There are some important things you need to prepare before you can actually race. Preparation, as suggested by 12bet, is always important.

Find a racetrack

Racing on public roads is illegal. If you want to race your car, you need a safe place dedicated for racing: race tracks.

Learn to race

Racing is not driving. If you want to be a true racer, you need to learn how the pros get the things done. You need their skills just like gamblers need their skill before they can play at 12bet. Join in a Driver’s Education event and learn as much as you can. Once you have become a certified driver, everything will be easier to deal with.

Check your safety

In racing, you are dealing with high speed. As you may know, higher speed leads to significantly higher risks. You should recognize these risks and learn how to deal with all of them, including oil, tire pressure, steering fluid, tire tread, brakes, and brake fluid. You should learn how to use all these risks and turn them into your own benefits. After all, risk is the one that makes amazing game, just like 12bet.

Track to curb

When you first hit the road to learn how racing is, it’s better to follow an experience driver first. Learn how he/she make the racing, including every turn, exit, angle, apexes, and many more. It’s just like gambling at 12bet, the more you can learn, the better you can become a pro racer.

How to be passed

If you are racing under “No Pass” rules, it means you can still pass under specific condition. Make sure about this first. If this is your first time doing it, you better not doing too much passing. When you se another driver approaching you, it is very important to give the signal for both of your safety.

Learn the flags

Racetrack operator uses flags to give signal of various conditions. Here are some of the most common flags used in race:

  • Solid green

Warm up lap has ended. You may commence passing.

  • Blue flag with a distinct diagonal yellow stripe

You should allow another driver’s car to pass you.

  • Stationary yellow

There is a danger ahead. Race with caution

  • Waving yellow

There is a disabled car ahead. Carefully reduce your speed and drive to avoid the car.

  • Red vertical stripes and alternating yellow

There is debris ahead. Race your car carefully.

  • Black flag

There is a problem with your car.

  • Red flag

Stop your car immediately.

  • Black flag with yellow meatball

Run group is going to end. Go through the checkered flag.

Jimmie Johnson

Enough! If I hear one more person blame Jimmie Johnson for the decline in NASCAR’s popularity, I think I am going to scream! Whether or not having one driver dominate for a period of time is good or bad for a sport is debatable, and besides, NASCAR has other issues greater than a driver winning six championships over an eight year span.

Personally, I am glad the man hasn’t changed his persona just to suit the masses. Being a fake is worse than being bland (he really isn’t anyway). Besides, if you want to fix the blame on any perceived problems NASCAR has, you need to look at many factors.

First and foremost, the sport’s standing has, in this opinion, undergone a course correction. For a time, the expansion of NASCAR into new markets picked up curious onlookers. The death of Dale Earnhardt, and NASCAR nation’s reaction to it drew another group of curious onlookers. A fair number of these fans have come and gone. More have remained than you might think.

Automotive technology and America’s fascination with the automobile has changed. The race car is nowhere near stock (and never completely was). A 500 mile race isn’t quite the stress test it once was. Younger generations just look at automobiles differently. Getting your license is still a rite of passage, but more and more, you find people getting their licenses later, more and more Americans in urban markets are encouraged to use public transportation, and there’s a greater inclination towards environmentalism, and seeing the car as a utility tool, rather than a status symbol.

Some people will just never understand the notion of racing on an oval track, or some variation of it. To that end, off road racing, Grand Prix, and Formula One scratch that itch. The drifting phenomenon is also fascinating. Frankly, I find it small wonder my favorite tracks are the short tracks and road courses.

A big part of the issue is old fans dying off, and fewer younger fans are replacing them. It’s not just NASCAR, look at the fading away of some fraternal and service organizations. Simply put, times change.

There will always be racing. This observer believes NASCAR will never go away, though NASCAR as we know may undergo several permutations before we all fade from the scene.

One more thing, one guy dominating the sport really isn’t a bad thing maxbet. The Celtics dominated the 60s, the Steelers did much of the 70s, and the Yankees never seem to go away for very long. A sport needs its legends. Jimmie Johnson is becoming a legend- a legend in the same vein as Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart.

The Bump Drafts Big 10 Driver Rankings

Like a Lazy Susan, the leader carousel spins r’round and ‘round in our standings. While the cream has a way of rising to the top, the top of the top has a way of changing from week to week.

I don’t think we’ve seen the last of it yet either. For this perspective, Jimmie Johnson’s win at Dover was not unexpected, but there will be plenty of competition to keep him honest, and maybe even overtake him this year.

THE BIG TEN

  • Tony Stewart – (Sliding from 7th to 10th)- After his Atlanta win, Stewart has finished 16th, 24th and 21st. It’s not an exactly inspiring run. With two career wins there, Kansas comes at a great time.
  • Jeff Gordon – (Holding serve at 9th)- You can’t help but wonder if he spent all his shells too early in the season. After having a race after race stretch where he came so close, Gordon hasn’t had a really great run since. The good news for guys like Gordon and Stewart is they can win darn near anywhere. For teh Rainbow Warrior, he needs to light ‘em up pretty quick to get back in the championship discussion.
  • Clint Bowyer – (Plunges from 2nd to 8th)- From diamonds to dust, it was a rough week for the 33 team. Now, he can focus on winning, as he heads to his home track. Nothing like winning as a deodorant.
  • Kurt Busch – (RE-ENTRY)- With all the stuff he has to overcome, its seems like Busch has to pass twice the number of drivers to get to the same place. His determination serves him well on days like Sunday.
  • Jeff Burton – (RE-ENTRY)- I’ll say this about J.B., he rarely excites, but he rarely disappoints. That second place finish at Dover was a nice bounce back effort. With Texas and Charlotte on the horizon, there are tracks coming where he’ll be strong.
  • Kevin Harvick – (Down a spot from 4th to 5th)- The “regular season” points leader is keeping up a pretty consistent pace. There problems from this point of view: 1. He looks good, but never quite good enough to take the checkered flag, and 2. Most of the tracks coming up aren’t ones where Harvick is particularly strong.
  • Carl Edwards (Up a tick from 5th to 4th)- As more intermediates come up on the schedule, the more confident I become that Edwards could be the dark horse threat of the field. It seems like he could use a LITTLE more speed. Otherwise, all the ingredients to compete are there.
  • Denny Hamlin – (Down from 1st to 3rd)- It’s not that Denny had a bad week, a top ten at one of your worst track is a good thing. The thing is, Johnson and Busch were better at Dover. If he can be a little more selective about the battles he chooses to fight, Hamlin will be just fine. Personally, I really like the hunger I see in Hamlin. He looks like a man possessed (of course, some of you really think he IS possessed).
  • Kyle Busch – (Up from 3rd to 2nd)- Shrub is off to a much better start in this Chase than he was in 2008. He says he learned a lot about how to compete for a championship from his run last year in the Nationwide Series. To key for Busch: 1. Keep your cool, even when things are bad, and 2. Having equipment that holds up. If I’m a Kyle fan, I am slightly concerned at the mechanical issues that dog JGR from time to time.
  • Jimmie Johnson – (Rising like the Phoenix from 6th to 1st)- History repeats itself. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Jimmie has a bad week. Jimmie bounces back by winning. We’ve seen this movie before. That could be an ominous sign. Kansas is key.

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Sam Hornish, Indycar Is Calling

NASCAR’s top three tours head to Indy this weekend. The Cup circuit is on display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400. Indiana is ready to eagerly welcome the racing teams and fans. I am eager for Indycars to welcome back Sam Hornish, Jr.

This comes not from rumors or inside information. It doesn’t come from disliking Hornish. On the contrary, it comes from liking him and being a fan. And watching Hornish rise, become a champion, and display his talent where it truly belongs. In Indycars.

He went from a driver with promise to a race winner. He went from a race winner to crown holder. He won three titles in six years. And he snagged the memorable 2006 Indianapolis 500 with a pass of Marco Andretti in the race’s final feet. He has driven for top flight Indycar teams Panther Racing and Penske.

For the past two-and-a-half years Hornish has steered a NASCAR Cup ride for Penske. He currently sits 29th in points and can count Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski as teammates.

When the open wheel star migrated within the Penske camp to the fendered racers, a reported motivating force was money. Rookies and back-of-the-pack Cup drivers had larger paychecks than Hornish had with all of his Indycar trophies. So over to stockcars he came.

His 2010 race winnings alone top $1.9 million so far with no top ten finishes, no top fives, and no wins. That is a pretty healthy paycheck for barely being ranked inside the top thirty.

I consistently have conversations with friends who have been around racing for over thirty years. The topic eventually leans towards the attitudes of people involved in today’s racing, where money is more important than actual racing results.

I am all for making as much money as I can. But when money leads my decision making process well beyond any other factor, then it often becomes the wrong choice. If my driving career had moved upward years ago and the money was real good for quite a while, the competitive instinct that got me to the top must kick in sometime.

Sam Hornish, Indycar Is Calling

Racing for wins is, or at least should, be much more important than at what motorsports level my ego is stroked.

Sam Hornish is a struggling stock car driver. He left a championship winning Indycar platform for a better payday in NASCAR. As a fan of good racing and good racers I selfishly hope he has made enough money to satisfy himself. It would be wonderful if the Brickyard folks had their welcome arms back open for Hornish. In May.

Indycar is going through a period of reinvention and resurgence. The group still has a long way to go to catch a glimpse of NASCAR’s national popularity, yet it could use a driver like Hornish. The sport needs marketable American drivers to bolster its strength. The established champion from Defiance, Ohio fits the bill.

Watching races for most of my life, it is much more enjoyable to see a good driver race up front than languish in the back because he is making more money and on a bigger stage.

I love to see a championship racecar driver display his talent. It is even better when he has a realistic shot at that championship. Sam Hornish holding a trophy over his head once again would be a welcome sight.

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Humpy Wheeler

Who put him up to it? Who has Humpy Wheeler been talking to? I can’t answer the first question, it is unclear what prompted the legendary promoter and former Lowe’s Motor Speedway President to post an 18 minute manifesto on YouTube Sunday. As to the second question, it would certainly appear NASCAR Nation has poured out their hearts to a man who has forgotten more about stock car auto racing than many of us will ever know, and he has delivered the message to whomever will watch or listen.

If you click here, it will take you to Jayski’s “Cup News” page, and you will find a link that takes you to the video. If you’re like me, you will find that what Wheeler has to say makes a lot of sense.

He hit the nail on the head, because at the heart of all the changes that have disaffected fans, it comes down to this: a whole bunch of marketing and various corporate types tried to make NASCAR something it wasn’t. Now what you have is a largely unhappy fan base, and the fans the suits tried to reach still perceived “stock car auto racing” to be something that just didn’t interest them. Put another way, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”

Wheeler addresses everything from the absence of a charismatic “everyman” to rally behind to devising a point system that compels drivers to compete harder for passing and wins. We won’t go through it all, because basically, you’ve said it, I’ve said and it just makes too much sense.

Humpy Wheeler Says What Fans Are Thinking

Yes, things have to change with the times on some level. Even the cars you and I drive are a far cry from the production models of the 50s and 60s. With that said, if you take a look around the dirt tracks of America, it is still possible for NASCAR to appeal to a new generation of fans. Will it ever top the NFL? I don’t think so. The reality may be that motorsports will be among the leaders in the “niche sports” category- like it once was.

The question NASCAR has to ask itself is one of whether or not they want to keep pursuing a fan they can’t win, or if they want to plead a mea culpa and admit an extreme makeover is overdue and it needs to happen sooner, rather than later.

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How will NASCAR react? Will Humpy Wheeler be dismissed as some crazy old man, or will they realize a well known and influential figure has made his observations, and after much thoughtful consideration, has brought that message forward.

OK, Daytona, do we have your attention now?

Lee Roy Yarbrough

In today’s age of safety innovations, it’s easy to take for granted how dangerous racing can be. The 60s and 70s were a particularly bloody era for motorsports as safety couldn’t keep up with increasing speeds.

Today, Mustang Jackie brings us the story of one of NASCAR’s forgotten legends. Like the story of many of the sport’s early stars, the tale of Lee Roy Yarbrough- named as one of NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers”– is a combination of triumph and sorrow.

Dark Side Of NASCAR

Every driver, young and old has a story behind their careers. And some, like “King Richard” Petty, Junior Johnson and Donnie Allison are remembered by even the most casual NASCAR fan. But behind those big names in every race were drivers that memories of them exists only in record books. Their accomplishments that made the sport what it is today are forgotten except for a few.

In the late 1960’s, there was a man that was considered by many to be one of the best drivers to ever get behind the wheel of a race car. He had over 80 victories in NASCAR modified events and 10 wins in the Grand Nationals (now known as the Sprint Cup Series) and raced in the Indy 500. In 1998, as part of NASCAR’s 50th anniversary celebration, he was voted as one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers. But off the track, his life took a tragic and dark turn.

Lee Roy Yarbrough 98

Lee Roy Yarbrough was born on September 17, 1938 in Jacksonville, Florida. At the early age of 12, he built his first car, a ‘33 Ford deuce coupe with a Chrysler engine. A few years later at the age of 16, in 1957 he entered a race at the local dirt track, Jacksonville Speedway and won.

A local race promoter, Julian Klein took the young driver under his wing and in the following 3 years, Lee Roy won more than a 100 Sportsman class races. But with a easy to enflame temper and harsh attitude, Klein grew tired of Lee Roy and they parted ways. Lee Roy disappeared off the radar for a few years, but just as sudden, in 1962 he showed up at Daytona and won the Modified-Sportsman 250 ran every year as a prelim to the Daytona 500. He went on to win 37 more races that year in the Late Model Sportsman class that year and continued to win a total of 83 more races in the next 3 years.

Lee Roy hooked up with car owner Louie Weathersby in 1964 and won two races at two short tracks, Savannah and Greensville in the Grand National Series. Two years later in 1966, Lee Roy got his first “big” win at Charlotte in the National 500. Driving a Dodge Charger owned by Jon Thorne, Lee Roy lead 450 of the 500 mile race.

In 1967, Lee Roy entered the Indy 500 but got into crash with Cale Yarborough and finished 27th. In 1968, he teamed with car owner Junior Johnson’s Ford team with little success. But in 1969, Lee Roy’s career shined, winning the Daytona 500, Darlington Rebel 400, The Firecracker 400 at Daytona, Atlanta’s Dixie 500 and the Southern 500 at Darlington for a sweep. He had a total of 7 wins that year and was voted American Driver Of The Year.

Then in 1970, Lee Roy’s star begin to fade. While doing tire tests at Texas World Speedway, He hit the wall in a severe crash. In fact, it was so hard that Lee Roy couldn’t remember flying home with Cale Yarborough or even driving in the race at Martinsville the following weekend. Following that crash, Lee Roy won his last race at Charlotte.

Three trips to Indy and losses in 1969, 1970 and 1971 and Lee Roy’s star dimmed even more. On May 8th, 1971, he was driving a car at Indianapolis for Dan Gurney and crashed into the wall. For the next several months, Lee Roy was in and out of the hospital with memory lapses and severe depression.

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In 1972, Lee Roy drove a Ford for Bill Seifert and got nine top 10 finishes in 18 starts. And in 1973, he attempted a spot in the Daytona 500 but failed to qualify and was a “go homer”. After that, he never again attended a NASCAR event.

Then in February of 1980, Lee Roy was at home watching TV with his 65 year old mother. He quietly got up, walked over to her and put his hands around her neck and tried to strangle her. A nephew in another room heard the scuffle and had to grab a full jelly jar from the kitchen and hit Lee Roy on the head. And when a police officer arrived shortly after, Lee Roy scuffled with him and attempted to grab the officer’s gun.

That night, Lee Roy became the first and only Daytona 500 winner to be charged with attempted murder and assault on a police officer, both felonies. Later, he was judged incompetent to stand trial and committed to a mental hospital.

From then on, Lee Roy spent more time in mental institutions than out. Most insiders believe it all started with that crash in Texas combined with alcohol abuse through the years. Then on December 7th, 1984, Lee Roy died from yet another head injury caused by falling during a violent seizure.

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Most racing fans today have never heard of Lee Roy Yarbrough, although a few might see his name in a trivia contest ocassionally. And a some think he was a “black sheep” relative of Cale Yarborough even though their names are spelled different. And each year during the festivities at the Daytona 500, chances are you won’t hear his name mentioned as one of the winners. Richard Petty once said “Lee Roy just had one speed….wide open. He didn’t figure nothin’, he didn’t plan nothin’, he just ran flat out lap after lap. He put everything into that strategy….full speed ahead.”

Today, safety innovations such as the HANS device, safer barriers and the COT provide drivers with state of the art defenses against injuries and death during races. It is a shame that Lee Roy, among so many others paid such a high price to give today’s drivers that extra safety.

By now, most of you have heard that the adventurous Richard Petty – who’s done everything from win NASCAR championships to run for political office- will now try his hand at getting a car into the Indianapolis 500 with John Andretti behind the wheel. What you may not now, this isn’t Petty’s first rodeo outside the world of “stock” car racing.

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Jeremy Sellers, he of Jerm’s Joint Racing Pub, shares the story of days gone by when Richard Petty veered off his path to NASCAR glory into the world of drag racing. Even more fascinating are the reasons why.

To add a little ambience, I interspersed some photos of old school Petty cars. (However Dawg has astutely pointed out that with the “Busch” sticker, the coupe in the middle is likely not a real Petty car. I’ll leave it there for ambience)

Without further adieu, here’s Jeremy Sellers with:

RICHARD PETTY AND THE QUARTER MILE

In this modern, boring, sterile era of NASCAR, I thought it would be nice for a change of pace to go off-beat, and perhaps bring you a story that I would bet most of you are unaware. In fact, my father, a good ol’ school quarter mile, muscle car guy was the one that laid the ground work for this piece. Indeed it was something I didn’t know about the one we have referred to as “The King” and is a tribute to the stance that at least one driving organization took when the France dictatorship was out of hand.

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It was no secret that Big Bill favored the Chevys early in NASCAR’s heyday. However, the 427 Mark IV was just too powerful and was the first to suffer the dictatorial ban set forth by the France regime. However, that same year of 1964, Ford was crying tears in their beer as Chrysler tore up the tracks, dominating the Grand National Division. Regardless of the fact that Ned Jarrett gave the Petty’s a run for their money in a Ford, it wasn’t enough. Ford threatened to boycott the 1965 season if the Hemis were not banned from NASCAR competition.

This was a possible move that concerned Big Bill greatly, enough to cave to pressure and indeed, ban the Hemi from all NASCAR competition for the 1965 campaign. However, the founder of NASCAR had no idea just how much this decision would backfire, nearly sinking NASCAR before its modern era began. Chevy held true to its ban, and Chrysler imposed a boycott of its drivers participating in the ‘65 run, thus leaving Fords and Mercurys the sole cars on the tracks. The public stayed home in droves, and financially, was a disaster for NASCAR. Since the Petty’s were on Chrysler’s payroll, they felt compelled to stay racing, some way…some how.

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Maurice Petty proved that he was not only professed at building NASCAR vehicles, but wasn’t too bad of a drag car fabricator, either. Racing in a Plymouth Barracuda fastback, hauling a Hemi 426 under the hood, Richard lost only six events in the spring and summer of 1965. Carrying the same number 43 as his speedway car, his quarter mile monster was appropriately named “Outlawed”. Finally, on July 25th of 1965, Bill France relented. Under financial pressure and howling mad track promoters, revisions were made to the rules to allow Hemis back in competition. However, making it known his dislike of Chrysler, Big Bill now favored Fords.

Just a little somethin’ somethin’ to let you know that at one time, Richard Petty was not only the King of round track, but could take care of business on the straightaways as well.

Thanks Jeremy. You know it does make you wonder what might happen if one of today’s drivers felt strongly enough about an issue that they took a similar stand. What would the reaction by NASCAR leadership be?

The story certainly does harken back to a different when racers raced anything. A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti and Johnny Rutherford all better known for their open wheel exploits- raced in NASCAR at one time or another. A handful of NASCAR greats also also ventured into other forms of racing.

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Former NASCAR team mechanic Patrick Reynolds (most recently with the Mike Wallace Nationwide series team) shares the inside story on just how much attention a racing team pays to tires. It’s a fascinating read for those of you who really like to dig down deep and learn the technical aspect of NASCAR. For the rest- it helps one appreciate a little bit more those finer details that figure into NASCAR success.

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There are an infinite number of chassis set up combinations that any type of racecar can hit the track with. But with all the development in suspension science, a car only makes contact with a speedway on the four rubber patches the tire on each corner provides. They are extremely important in regards to racing performance.

In NASCAR’s upper leagues, the professional teams do not haul the wheels and tires with them to each venue like a local short tracker will. There is a trucking service provided for the Charlotte, N.C. area-based teams. The team wheels are transported to that week’s race site and the Goodyear workers mount the tires onto the wheels.

Upon arrival to that weekend’s garage area, each team’s tire specialist takes over. Every team had a designated member whose primary responsibility is to manage the tire and wheel inventory for the weekend. This job often monopolizes his time for the duration of an event. As long as tire work is caught up he helps in other areas, but first and foremost he is the “tire guy”.

The specialist will help unload his tire carts and tools and head over to the Goodyear trailer. This is the large eighteen-wheel tractor-trailer truck that fans will see parked in an infield’s garage area.

Tires are stacked in collections of four and lined up by car number. The specialist will haul his sets of tires to his own work area in the garage. Sometimes it will be near the rear of the team’s hauler. This location will vary from track to track depending on space available. There is a difference in elbowroom comparing Bristol to Talladega.

Data is then gathered from the tire’s sidewall and Goodyear sticker. Among the information attained are each tire’s manufactured date, serial number, circumference measurement, tread depth, and spring rate. Although the stacks of tires greet the tire specialist in groups of four, they are not necessarily the four that will stay together to put on a car.

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Goodyear makes a left side compound and a right side compound, so a man will wind up with a selection of left side tires and a selection of rights. It is up to the team to put their inventory in sets for each corner. Spring rate is an important tool in this process.

The radial tires that slowly made their way into major league NASCAR racing in the early 90s, were accompanied with a spring rate. Each tire has its own rating and the tire specialist, crew chief, and engineer will move tires into sets largely based upon this number. They same way the actual springs in each corner of the suspension are chosen, tires chosen for each corner is similar to deciding on four additional springs.

Tires are also purged of the air that Goodyear has inflated them with. The atmospheric air that a compressor uses to fill a tire has high rates of hydrogen and oxygen molecules. These together make water, so when a tire gets hot on the racetrack, steam would form and expand in the tire.

Race teams fill all their tires with nitrogen. This will still build up pressure during green flag laps but not nearly as much as the air we all breathe. Nitrogen bottles also cost money, but it is a performance investment.

Each weekend Goodyear has a recommended pressure for the left and right side tires. Teams do sometimes vary from this for performance reasons. A basketball is a fair comparison. If the ball had two pounds of air pressure and it was bounced, the ball would not come back far off the ground. Now put fifty pounds in that same ball and bounce it. It will take off. Tires react similarly, taruhan olahraga.

The inner liner pressure is increased to roughly fifteen to twenty pounds above the tire’s PSI. This holds the inner liner bead in place. If there would be a leak and both the tire and the inner liner wind up with the same pressure, they are said to be equalized. Remember the basketball comparison? A tire can feel like a dribbling ball on the racetrack when this occurs.

During practice runs pressure and tread temperature readings are taken. As we stated earlier the four tire patches are the only points the racecar contacts the track. They are full of information.

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A hard working tire will be hotter than others. For example if a car is loose and the rear end wants to slide around, the right rear will be warmer than the front. If a car is pushing and doesn’t want to turn, the right front will be hotter than the rear. That is a basic explanation, but temperature is monitored across the tire surface in the inner edge, middle, and outer edge on all four wheels. Crewmembers look at the information and go about making changes to the set up. A pressure build will usually follow the temperature increase as well.

When a set of tires is removed from the car and a new set put on, tread depth is measured. Tire wear is also a very important piece of data for the team to digest. The depths on all the tires were measured when new, so a wear reading can now be made.

From practice runs, pressure build can now be anticipated to a degree. Teams know that over a long run the pressures will rise, which effects a car’s handling. So a starting point can be reasonably guessed when tires are tightened up and sent out to the track.

During qualifying, pressures are highly increased so they can have maximum performance in only a two lap run.

In the actual race, crew chiefs will use tire pressure adjustments as a tool for improving a car’s handling. This is where our spring rate comes back into play. Prior to radial tires being used, air pressure would be used to adjust the stagger. That is the difference in circumference between tires. Roll a drink cup on the ground and the larger end will always turn towards the smaller end sbobet. The rear tires formerly were used in the same manner. Radials brought an end to that.

Now the tire size doesn’t change with air pressure, but acts more like a spring. Air pressures can be raised and lowered but NASCAR and Goodyear do not want any team dipping below the minimum pressures they have established.

When pressure is adjusted, think of a softer or stiffer spring being put into action. In a case of a car being tight through the turns, one possible change would be to take a pound of air out of the front tires. This would soften the spring rate, give the front more bite, and allow the nose to turn better.

On a loose condition, the rear tires could be dropped by a pound, giving the car’s tail a better bite, and tightening a car up.

There are multiple combinations that can be used when adjusting tires. A single corner could be changed, right side pressures, left side pressures, or instead of dropping rear pressures maybe raising the front pressures.

These come from testing, gathered data, and experience with driver to crew chief communication on a team. Different drivers react differently to any changes in the racecar.

Being successful in professional motorsports is extremely difficult. There is quite a bit of information involved strictly with tires. Every tire specialist has a very busy job managing his team’s inventory. So much can affect a car’s speed here and we have not discussed anything mechanical on the car itself.

There is simply so much detail that goes into every aspect of racing. What fans may see as routine from the grandstands, might actually be a team member pushing himself to the limits so he doesn’t fall behind. A good “tire guy” lives this every weekend.