Posted on: February 2, 2011 12:27 pm

Keselowski/Turner shops broken into

Posted By Pete Pistone

A Charlotte-area television station is reporting of a series of break ins at NASCAR race shops including one belonging to Brad Keselowski as well as Turner Motorsports. The WBTV story detailed the information:

The Rowan County (NC) Sheriff's Department in investigating a break-in at the race shop of Brad Keselowski. Keselowski owns a race shop at 380 Performance Drive in western Rowan near the Iredell line. According to the report someone broke into a 1999 Featherlite race car hauler by prying open the doors and removing tie down straps. Deputies noted that though there were several other items in the trailer, only the $20 tie downs were taken. Damage to the trailer was estimated at $400. The break-in was reported on Thursday morning. The Rowan Count shop is home to Keselowski's Camping World Truck Series team. The sheriff's report also indicates another break-in at the location next to Keselowski's. Turner Motorsports reported a break-in to a car trailer on the property at 306 Performance Drive. There are several race shops in the industrial park on Performance Drive. (2/1 at WBTV.com)
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 2, 2011 11:33 am
Edited on: February 2, 2011 11:33 am

Fan to miss first Daytona 500

Posted By Pete Pistone

Jack Hege, believed to be the only person to have attended every Daytona 500, will see his streak end this year because of a broken left arm suffered in April that has not healed properly and required surgery in December. Hege, who lives in Lexington, N.C., first went down to Daytona in 1958, witnessing the final race on the beach course. He enjoyed the experience so much that he returned the following year when the race moved to Daytona International Speedway and the first Daytona 500 was held.

Hege, who turns 84 on Feb. 9, just kept going back to Daytona after that, telling me three years ago that "I've never known any other home except Daytona."

He even delayed knee surgery to attend last year's Daytona 500 to keep his streak alive. Hege still has his ticket to the 1959 Daytona 500 he attended. Two years ago, NASCAR honored Hege by seating him among the celebrities for the drivers meeting before the race and introducing him to the competitors in honor of his Daytona 500 streak.

Hege was injured when he fell backward and tried to catch himself in April. He continued to suffer complications from the injury and had surgery in December. His arm is in a sling and still has screws in the bone.
(Full story at the 2/1 Virginian Pilot)

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 1, 2011 5:55 pm

Wallace on standby for Kenseth

Posted By Pete Pistone

Kenny Wallace will be Matt Kenseth's replacement driver should he be called away for fatherhood duties during "Speedweeks" activities in Daytona.

Wallace told Sirius NASCAR Radio he has been tabbed to replace Kenseth during Bud Shootout, Gatorade Duel or Daytona 500 action should Katie Kenseth go into labor with the couple's second child.

Roush Fenway Racing General Manager Robbie Reiser contacted Wallace Monday evening to put the plan in place.

Wallace is planning to run the full Nationwide Series schedule for RAB Racing in 2011.
Posted on: February 1, 2011 5:47 pm

Would HANS device have saved Earnhardt?

Posted By Pete Pistone

The 2001 Daytona 500 marks the ten-year anniversary of Dale Earnhardt's tragic death on the last lap of "The Great American Race." Since Earnhardt's death, NASCAR and the sport of auto racing have made significant improvements in a variety of safety measures including the ground-breaking development of the HANS device, the revolutionary harness and belt system that has become a standard fixture in NASCAR as well as various other forms of racing.

Veteran road racer Jim Downing and Dr. Robert Hubbard joined forces to develop the revolutionary system and on the occasion of Earnhardt's ten-year passing addressed the merits of the HANS device and how it might have played a role in the 2001 crash.
From News Release

Atlanta, Ga. (Feb. 1, 2011) --  In response to media inquiries about the tenth anniversary of the fatal accident of Dale Earnhardt Sr. at the Daytona International Speedway in 2001, HANS Performance Products conducted the following Q&A with Jim Downing, co-founder of HPP.

Question: If Dale Earnhardt Sr. had been wearing a HANS Device during his crash at Daytona in 2001, would that have prevented a fatal injury?

Jim Downing: "We have learned over the years at HANS Performance Products that re-constructing accidents is an extremely difficult and complex chore. We rely on the professional experience of others and in this case there were different opinions by experts about the cause of the fatal injuries.

"With that in mind, I believe that when Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s car hit the wall and the belts from his safety harness were loaded by the impact that a HANS Device would have kept his head back. That likely would have produced a better outcome under the different scenarios that have been proposed by experts.

"This is what it seems like to me, but we don't really know for sure."

Question: HANS Performance Products had been selling the HANS Device since 1990. How did the fatal crash of Earnhardt Sr. affect the sales of the HANS Device?

Jim Downing: "We went from selling 250 in ten years to selling 250 in one week. Ultimately, we sold about 3,000 in 2001. We had known that the HANS Device was a safety breakthrough from our sled testing and from the feedback we got from members of the medical community who were active in racing such as Dr. Terry Trammell and Dr. Steve Olvey. When guys like that understand it, then you know your conclusions about the HANS Device being a safety breakthrough are correct."

Question: People may not be aware that the fatal crash of three-time world champion Ayrton Senna in 1994 also influenced the development of the HANS Device. How did that come about?

Jim Downing: "The Senna crash started a really serious re-evaluation of safety in Formula 1 much as what happened later in American racing in 2001. This crash led to cooperation with Daimler Benz to get the HANS Device to fit into an F1 car and more independent testing which also confirmed that it worked. Through that development, we were able to reduce the size of the HANS Device and get a better fit for drivers in all types of cars, including stock cars.

"The HANS Device would have been recognized as a safety breakthrough without the catalyst of the unfortunate crashes of Senna and Earnhardt Sr. It just would have taken longer. In America, the legacy of Earnhardt Sr. includes not only the HANS Device, but soft walls, better seats and cockpit safety and the Car of Tomorrow. Even now when I think of Dale Earnhardt Sr. I think of safety instead of the macho driving style he was known for."

Question: Over the last decade HANS Performance Products has made the HANS Device universally available through innovation and new technology with over 110,000 now in use worldwide. How was that accomplished?

Jim Downing: "The low initial sales volumes of HANS Devices made them expensive. When the sales volume began to grow, we found suppliers who could build it more efficiently and in a wider range of sizes. In addition to economies of scale, we developed the Sport Series using injection molding techniques. All these efforts helped drop the price dramatically. We were able to pass the savings along to customers. The dealer network was also expanded so that it is easy to find a dealer, which also helped sales volume."

Question: The high-speed crashes get a lot of attention, but isn't it accurate that low-speed crashes can also cause serious or fatal head and neck injuries?

Jim Downing: "There's a misconception that almost everyone has, that you're safe at 30 or 40 miles per hour. Earnhardt Sr.’s actual change of velocity caused by hitting the wall was 43 or 44 mph.  To many observers it looked like a fairly routine wreck and they never expected the outcome. This happens on a regular basis on the street or in racing. A car’s speed may not be very high but if it stops suddenly you can be in real trouble.

"It’s not how fast you go, but how quickly you stop. Trying to get that message across to short track racers and drag racers has been especially difficult. A short track driver can easily get turned into the wall by another car. If a drag racer has a mechanical problem and turns into the retaining wall, the vehicle can come to a very sudden stop. Both circle track and drag racing are relatively underserved when it comes to frontal head restraints."


Posted on: February 1, 2011 12:32 pm

Bliss has Nationwide deal

Posted By Pete Pistone

Veteran Mike Bliss has a full-time Nationwide Series deal for the coming season after signing a contract with TriStar Motorsports.

Bliss will team with Eric McClure in a two-car Chevrolet effort and run the entire season pending sponsorship.

"It's a deal that came together because we all know each other and have worked together in other settings over the years," said Bliss, who spent last season driving on the Nationwide Series as well as making selected Camping World Truck Series and Sprint Cup Series starts. "It's an example of never burning your bridges and keeping contacts open in this business."

Bliss will pilot the No. 19 Impala with McClure sporting Hefty sponsorship in a No. 14 Chevrolet.

The team is hard at work preparing for the season-opener at Daytona in two weeks as well as building cars for beyond "Speedweeks."

"Phoenix and Las Vegas come pretty quick after we leave Daytona so the team is working as hard as possible to get these cars built so we can get out there and compete after the opener," said Bliss. "It's hard for an organization like this one that doesn't have a ton of money but the commitment is there and hopefully we can have success on the race track and generate interest from sponsors."

Bliss has made more than 200 starts in the Nationwide Series and is a two-time winner, taking the checkered flag at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2004 and 2009.
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: January 31, 2011 6:43 am
Edited on: January 31, 2011 6:44 am

No point deal for Waltrip

Posted By Pete Pistone

Michael Waltrip will have to qualify on speed to compete in next month's 53rd running of the Daytona 500. Waltrip and his Michael Waltrip Racing NAPA No. 15 entry had hoped to have a guara <script src="http://images.cbssports.com/tinymce/jscripts/tiny_mce/themes/advanced/langs/en.js" type="text/javascript"></script> nteed spot in the race with the purchase of the ow <script src="http://images.cbssports.com/tinymce/jscripts/tiny_mce/themes/advanced/langs/en.js" type="text/javascript"></script> ners' points from TRG Motorsports and its No. 71 ride, which finished in the Top 35 in the 2010 Sprint Cup standings and has a berth in the first five races of the new season including Daytona.

But TRG president Kevin Buckler told last week's gathering on the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour he intends to run a full season in 2011 and has a sponsorship plan in work that he hopes to announce in the next few days. Buckler also will name a full-time driver with speculation on former Team Red Bull pilot Scott Speed, who was released by TRM when Kasey Kahne was signed and Brian Vickers returned from medical issues.

The development leaves Waltrip to get into the biggest race of the season on speed. He will be attempting to qualify for the tenth anniversary race of his bittersweet victory when his team owner at the time Dale Earnhardt lost his life on the final lap.

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: January 30, 2011 9:51 am

Bowles Showdown winner

Posted By Pete Pistone

Veteran Jason Bowles scored a huge victory Saturday night when he took the checkered flag in the Toyota All-Star Showdown at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, California. 

The 2009 NASCAR K&N Pro West Series champion outraced NASCAR Canadian Tire Series star D.J. Kennington the to the checkered flag on the 225-lap event that brought together the top stars of the sanctioning body's regional touring series.

The top ten included Nationwide Series regular Steven Wallace and action sports star Travis Pastrana, who made his NASCAR stock car debut in the race. Pastrana will make additional starts in the late model stock car division before graduating to the Nationwide Series and a first career start later this summer at Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Raceway.
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: January 29, 2011 5:42 pm

Baker-Curb suspends operations

Posted By Pete Pistone

Nationwide Series team Baker-Curb Racing is shutting down operations until funding can be found. Sources indicate the long-time Nationwide organization is in an immediate holding pattern until additional funding and sponsorship can be found.

Gary Baker and music industry mogul Mike Curb own the team which was enjoying a solid first half of 2010 campaign with Sprint Cup regular Greg Biffle driving the majority of the schedule. But when sponsor Red Man was forced to exit the sport and end its sponsorship due to the federal tobacco advertising restrictions the team entered into financial difficulty.

The Nashville-based team could return to active competition in short order should a new sponsor be found but at this point prospects are dim.
Category: Auto Racing
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