I don't know if you hate to shop as much as I do, but there's something at Carson Mall that should motivate all us gearheads to spend some time there this holiday season.
Champion Motor Speedway has the infamous Harry Gant No. 33 NASCAR Winston Cup two-seater stock car on display there and is holding a raffle for a VIP family pass to the track for the 2003 season. Included are five hot laps around Champion's high banks. It isn't clear which of the four family members included in the VIP pass will get the hot laps -- you'll have to work that out on your own.
If you don't know where Carson Mall is, you can find it at 1313 S. Carson Street (Hwy 395), just south of the Carson Station and Red's Old 395 Grill.
If you aren't lucky enough to win the family VIP pass, you can purchase one for $199 ($159 for seniors and military) and the purchase includes those five hot laps in the No. 33 Harry Gant car. But hurry, the hot lap bonus is only good until Dec. 31.
Although racing is dormant here, local racers have been active over in California. I received a report from Vicki Purcell who told me of the recent exploits of some of our local Outlaw Kart racers at the Red Bluff track.
Six-year-old Jennifer Purcell ran in two classes, Beginner Box Stock and Box Stock, capturing an A Main victory in Beginner (driving Jay Primm's kart) and a seventh-place in Box (doing it the hard way, running the C and B Mains to make the show). She also turned the fastest laps of the weekend in Box, the only driver to lap at under 10 seconds. Her brother Tommy qualified second out of 24 karts in the 125cc class and finished fifth in the A Main after coming from the rear of the 16-kart field. The Bell sisters also raced at Red Bluff with Mackena finishing third in her Box Stock heat race and Kellcy transferring from the B Main to take 12th in the A Main in Beginner Box. Shelby Price was eighth in the Box Stock D Main and brother Caleb finished sixth in his heat race.
Another validation of the old adage "the rich get richer" is the burgeoning Chip Ganassi empire. Ganassi, who abandoned the CART series after scoring four championships, is now heavily involved in both NASCAR and the Indy Racing League. He has just completed putting the finishing touches on his three-car Winston Cup team, hiring four-time Winston Cup winning crew chief Donnie Wingo to work with Jamie McMurray in the No. 42 Havoline Dodge. Sterling Marlin, a championship contender in 2002 until sidelined by a neck injury, will be back in the No. 40 Coors Dodge. And in a move that surprised everyone, Ganassi announced that Casey Mears would replace Jimmy Spencer in the Target No. 41 car.
Over on the IRL side, Ganassi has prevailed in the courts in a contract dispute over the services of Tomas Scheckter. The South African phenom who abruptly departed Eddie Cheever's IRL team mid-season has been testing the new 2003 Toyota IRL-spec engine at Phoenix International Raceway for the Ganassi team. Although his background is in road-racing Scheckter quickly became adept at oval racing in 2002, winning the Michigan 400 in July.
Also testing at Phoenix were Sam Hornish, Jr., Jacques Lazier, and Vitor Meira, putting in laps with the new 2003 Chevy Indy V8 engine. They were scheduled to continue testing at California Speedway late in the week.
Another racing dynasty is apparently in the making. Braun Racing will field an entry for Steadman Marlin, driving the Keystone Light Dodge in 15 NASCAR Busch Grand National races in 2003. Steadman is the son of Sterling Marlin and the grandson of Coo Coo Marlin, one of the more colorful characters in
NASCAR history. The youngest Marlin, 22, has had 15 starts in Busch Grand National with mixed results but looks to have a quality program to work with for next season. Ernie Elliot will build engines for the team, which will also receive technical support from Ganassi Racing.
Roger Diez is the Nevada Appeal Motorsports Columnist.