I received an e-mail from Champion Motor Speedway General Manager Jeb Onweiler after last week's column was published. Alluding to my reference to the appearance of a jet-powered outhouse at Lowe's Motor Speedway this weekend, Jeb told me that he had already seen the outhouse races in Virginia City and was plotting some sort of use for them next season. Would you believe "Pace Potties?" One thing for sure, activities at Champion will be entertaining next season!
Moving to Winston Cup Land, it seems as though no one wants to be in the points lead for very long. Two weeks ago Mark Martin wrested the lead from Jimmy Johnson, who had taken it from Sterling Marlin the week prior. Then Martin ran into Johnson at Talladega in a bizarre pace-lap mishap, taking both cars out of contention and allowing Tony Stewart to take the points lead for the first time in his career. Is leading the NASCAR Winston Cup standings the kiss of death this season? Stewart has had his share of problems this year (as have many other front-runners). Just when you think somebody has a good run, something happens (note the rash of Hendrick team engine failures at Talladega). One thing for sure, it's the most exciting championship chase in many years.
John Zimmerman wrote an article last week decrying recent statements by Formula 1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone about penalizing the Ferrari team next season if their dominance of the sport continues. Unfortunately, F1 seems to be heading down the same slippery slope that has NASCAR making weekly rule changes, tweaking this or that aerodynamic or mechanical specification to ensure "parity." To be sure, racing has become as much an entertainment spectacle as a sport, particularly in NASCAR. Personally, I feel that it needs to retain at least some aspects of sport, of achieving excellence within a fixed framework of rules, or it risks sinking to the level of professional wrestling.
Speaking of NASCAR rules, a number of Winston Cup teams were penalized last weekend for having "unapproved" parts on their race cars. The big loser was the Penske South team of Rusty Wallace, who had 25 points (both driver and owner points) summarily removed for the use of a deck spoiler "of inconsistent thickness." NASCAR also levied a $25,000 fine for the offense. Although the NASCAR rule book doesn't specify spoiler thickness, it does specify that the device must not flex or bend under pressure. Ironically, the team did not use the spoiler in Sunday's race, as NASCAR confiscated it on Friday. To me, the penalty seems a bit harsh for a part that wasn't even used
to garner any points. In addition to Wallace's penalty, Mark Martin's team was fined $1,000 for unapproved rear window straps, Mike Wallace's team received a $1,000 penalty for an unapproved lower spring mount, and Brett Bodine's team was penalized $1,000 for the same offense.
As you read this I'll be announcing an American City Racing League race in Bakersfield, Calif., at the Buttonwillow road course. I'm also announcing an ACRL race at Daytona (yes, THAT Daytona) in early November, and another at Sears Point (OK, Infineon Raceway) the weekend before Thanksgiving. A couple of local racers -- Jim Bawden and Brian Colodny -- are planning to run the National Auto Sports Association (NASA) Infineon event in their late model stock cars.
Having put in lots of race laps at the track, I'll be happy to give them lots of pointers in exchange for trying out one of their cars at Champion next spring. Think I've got a chance?
Roger Diez is the Nevada Appeal Motorsports Columnist.
Roger Diez is the Appeal motorsports columnist