Monster Trucks interesting - but it ain't racing

The Monster Truck show at Champion Speedway Thursday night was interesting, and very well attended for a week night. There were probably lots of kids nodding off at their school desks Friday morning because the show went considerably past the scheduled 9 p.m. finish time.

There were three Monster Trucks in attendance, doing their usual car-crushing act. Probably the most interesting event (to me, anyway) was the Tough Truck competition. There was everything from a showroom-fresh new pickup (supposedly the guy's wife's truck) to a couple of competition off-road buggies driven by the father-and-son team of Dennis and David Kordonowy. They delighted the crowd with their speed and spinning antics, and David even managed to roll his buggy over in the infield whoop-de-doos.

Comedy relief was a car stunt featuring an old junker propped up on its rear bumper with another car scheduled to drive into it and flip it through the air. However, after the guys setting up the stunt dropped the target car on its roof twice (it was rumored their names were Larry, Moe,and Curly), the stunt was abandoned.

The most awesome display of the evening was the jet-engined truck, "Blast From The Past," lighting up a couple of junk cars with its afterburner in a stunt called a "Jet meltdown." For a while, it looked as though they would have to call in a couple of air tankers to extinguish the junkers. As I said, an interesting show, but racing it ain't.

Golf has its Senior Tour, which is increasingly popular with the Baby Boomer generation (they like to see that people their age can still function). Now it appears that motorsports will get its equivalent with the Shelby Cobra Challenge. The series will be sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and will run with selected CART events in 2002. Some of the drivers mentioned in conjunction with last week's announcement are Mario Andretti, Parnelli Jones, the Unser brothers (Bobby and Al), Emerson Fittipaldi, Johnny Rutherford and Danny Sullivan. Is Sully really that old?

They will run Challenge Cobras, race-prepared versions of the new Shelby American CSX 4000 series Cobra. Power will be provided by a 351 cubic inch Ford V8 rated at 500 horsepower. Sounds like kind of a Senior Citizens' IROC, doesn't it?

I just finished watching Greg Biffle take a poke at Jay Sauter in the Busch race televised from Richmond. As I write this, NASCAR had not yet announced the penalties to be assessed, but they should be fairly stiff. For those of you who didn't watch it, Biffle crashed with Sauter early on, then Sauter came back on the track after 87 laps in the garage area, waited for Biffle to come by, and turned right instead of left, taking both cars into the wall.

Biffle then exited his car, ran over to Sauter's driver's window, and threw a beautiful right cross into the cockpit. I didn't notice whether Sauter had removed his helmet (I wouldn't have, in his place). I expect both drivers will be a little lighter in the wallet as a result of the altercation, but I'm sure it added to the excitement of the race for the crowd. Hey, why should Monster Truck fans have all the fun?

Things seem to be shaping up for a return of American talent to the CART series next season. Jimmy Vasser will be moving to Team Rahal, replacing Kenny Brack. Since Rahal will be back with the team following his dismissal by the Formula One Jaguar operation, I think we'll see great things out of the team next year, provided the 2002 Lola chassis and the new Ford powerplant are up to par. Vasser's move will leave the door at Patrick Racing open to Townsend Bell, who has tested twice with the team. Rahal is also considering Buddy Rice for the second seat on his team, and Memo Gidley will undoubtedly have a full-time ride next season, either with Ganassi or another good team. Alex Barron and Richie Hearn are also waiting in the wings, although they've been taking a few IRL rides. A few more years of this and Americans may just make up the majority of the CART field!

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