A root canal would have been more fun

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I attended Wednesday's Carson City Planning Commission meeting that addressed Champion Speedway's special use permit.

The experience made me look forward to my next root canal. However, I did enjoy the moment in the proceedings when Commissioner Gayle Farley pointed out that the most vocal of the track's opponents, Dave Dieter, continued to purchase land near the track as recently as 2000, while complaining about reduced property values! Perhaps there IS some truth and justice in government, after all.

The good news is that Champion was granted the permit by a 6-1 vote, and will put on a full racing program including motocross this season. There were some conditions added, the major one being to get the show over and people off the facility at a reasonable hour. I don't think anyone, including fans and racers, will object to that.

To paraphrase Shakespeare, "To red-flag or not to red-flag, that is the question." NASCAR, make up your mind! I don't know about you, but it seems to me that the circumstances of the closing laps of both the Daytona 500 and last weekend's Rockingham race were remarkably similar, yet actions by NASCAR were not. The inconsistency bothered not only me, but also a lot of drivers.

As Rockingham third-place finisher Bobby Labonte said after the race, "Either one or the other would be fine; instead of one time you know and the next time it's different. If it was just a consistent deal it would be better."

Sterling Marlin also seemed somewhat bemused, having two races snatched away from him by flagging peculiarities.

Although Matt Kenseth scored a victory for the Roush team, post-race inspection revealed that the roof of the winning Ford was too low, resulting in a $30,000 fine for crew chief Robbie Reiser. Want to bet that "roof dances" in victory circle are going to be banned in the Roush organization henceforth? At least Kenseth was allowed to keep his win and the resultant points.

I imagine a lot of Carson City NASCAR fans will be at Las Vegas for today's Winston Cup race. Alas, I will not be among them. Instead, I'll be watching the race in a sports bar on the island of Maui. Hey, it's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. It was announced last week that the field would be a Wallace short, as Andy Petree has pulled the No. 33 Mike Wallace ride from the race. Damage from a Richmond crash and meager sponsorship dollars were cited as the causes of the scratch.

In addition to NASCAR, the rest of the racing world is cranking up for the 2002 season. The Indy Racing League staged their season opener at Homestead-Miami yesterday (read the results in the Skinny page). Since I'm writing this prior to the race, I'm going to go way out on a limb and predict a Penske Racing 1-2 finish. The IRL event combines with today's Grand-Am event using the Homestead oval/infield road course combination. Anthony Lazzaro will attempt what may be a first -- to drive an IRL car in the race on the oval on Saturday and a Grand-Am Sports Racer Prototype on the road course on Sunday. Talk about an adjustment in driving styles!

The Formula 1 season kicked off yesterday as well, with the Australian round of the World Championship. Defending Champion Michael Schumacher will drive last year's Ferrari model (with updates) for the first event of the season, hoping that reliability and driving brilliance can make up for everybody else's new cars. And Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) will open its season next weekend in Monterrey, Mexico.

We still have seven weeks to wait for local racing, as Champion's first race of the season will take place on Sunday, April 21. I've also been hearing rumors that Reno-Fernley Raceway will pave its 2.5 mile road course this spring or summer. I'm going to go check that out -- just as soon as I get back from Maui. Aloha!

Roger Diez is the Nevada Appeal motorsports writer.


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