It's the time of year to start thinking about what to put under the tree for your favorite driver or race fan.
Here's a terrific idea: I recently received word that Champion Motor Speedway has decided to extend the special "Fast Five" thrill-ride offer for purchasers of 2003 VIP season passes. You now have until December 31 to buy your season pass (or buy one for someone else) and get five lightning-fast laps in the infamous (two-seater) ex-Harry Gant No. 33 NASCAR Winston Cup stock car. The passes are only $199 for adults or $149
for seniors 55 and over and military with ID, and they are good for all regular and special events.
For those who are more robust of spirit, or who have really always wanted to find out what racing is all about on a personal level, there is the Champion Driving Experience. You'll get a full day of instruction, both in the classroom and behind the wheel. You'll do at least 40 laps (more than a race), with expert instructors critiquing you between sessions. Nomex driving
suit, helmet, and neck brace are provided, and they even serve you lunch! You can choose either the Bandolero car (for $350) or a Legends racer ($500). I have been through the school in both types of vehicles, and I can tell you it's a lot of fun. If you've always wondered what it's like to drive a real race car on a high-banked oval, I highly recommend the Champion Driving
Experience. Your race fan will love you for this gift!
If you know someone who is into die cast models, there's a new store in Reno -- Diecast Heaven. It's located at the south end of Park Lane Mall in Reno and it has the most comprehensive collection of diecast models I've ever seen. There are not only models of contemporary stock cars but vintage sprint and Indy cars, even Can-Am and Formula 1 cars. I was immediately transported to Laguna Seca in 1969 when I ran across a pair of McLaren M8C Can-Am cars emblazoned with the No. 4 of Bruce McLaren and the No. 5 of Denny Hulme. They also have a great collection of race team hats and other wearable items. Mark, the owner, will be happy to discuss racing and show you his
great collection of diecast cars.
Tony Stewart took a little time off from his Winston Cup Champion duties and took a detour through Nevada on his way to New York for the NASCAR awards banquet. Stewart won both ends of last Saturday night's USAC Sprint/Midget Car "doubleheader" at the Las Motor Speedway "Bullring." It was his first USAC Sprint/Midget sweep on pavement. It must be a little demoralizing for the USAC hot shoes to get blown away by a Stock Car driver but they need to remember he was one heck of an open-wheel pilot before he started driving door-slammers. In fact, Stewart recently boasted that he has now accomplished
something that A.J. Foyt didn't -- winning national championships in both open-wheel and stock cars. He drove for Foyt his first year in the IRL, and said that Foyt's favorite saying when Stewart questioned something was, "Check the record books, boy." Well, those record books now show that Stewart
has one up on ol' A.J.
Las Vegas wasn't Stewart's only detour on the way to New York's Waldorf-Astoria. On Monday he visited the White House and met with President George W. Bush for about 15 minutes, presenting the president with an autographed Home Depot racing helmet. Putting the visit into perspective, Stewart quipped, "I was a lot more nervous going to the big red (NASCAR) trailer than making the trip to the Oval Office."
Finally, Champion Motor Speedway has announced that a rules and regulations meeting will be held for all Super Late Model and (IMCA type) Western Modified racers, crew chiefs, and team owners. The Plaza Hotel located at 801 South Carson Street in Carson City will host the meeting, which is scheduled for
December 10 at 7 p.m.
For more information on Champion Motor Speedway rules and regulations, please call CMS Race Director Robert Kline at (775) 882-0557, or log onto www.ChampionSpeedway.com.
Roger Diez is the Nevada Appeal Motorsports Columnist.