Hot cars in the summertime

This is the best time of year for classic car buffs. Hot August Nights kicks off today, with 5,000 entries and an estimated total attendance of 800,000 people in Reno/Sparks for the next week.

If you love hot rods, classics, and even some newer performance machinery, there's a smaller but nevertheless high quality car show right here in Carson City. It's the Silver Dollar Car Classic, and this is their 10th anniversary year. The show has been running since Friday, but you still have a chance to get down to Mills Park today to feast your eyes on automotive art; or catch them as they wind their way around town on this morning's poker run. If you're up early reading this, you can get down to the park for the traditional pancake breakfast provided by the Dayton Township Kiwanis, then wander around checking out the Winners Circle display and all the car-related stuff for sale. The awards ceremony takes place around 1 p.m., so be on hand to cheer for the winners.

Remember that old commercial for somebody's picante salsa, where they revealed that the competition's brand was made in "New York City!" and somebody in the background mumbled "get a rope?" Well, I wonder how the traditional NASCAR fan base is going to react to last week's revelation that International Speedway Corporation (ISC) has contracted to purchase two adjacent parcels of land on Staten Island?

ISC, the track-owning arm of NASCAR, intends to build a speedway in the greater New York area by about 2009, in keeping with their avowed strategy of moving the sport into major markets. Current plans are to build a three-quarter mile track with 80,000 seats on the 676 acres. 50 acres of the site will be dedicated to a shopping mall, where presumably you can buy all the NASCAR memorabilia you want all year-round.

Although NASCAR has been toying with the idea of a New York City race for the past five years, the timing of the recent announcement may very well be a bargaining chip in the sanctioning body's negotiations for a new TV contract. FOX and NBC, which currently share the rights to televise NASCAR Nextel Cup racing, will have to contend with new player ABC/ESPN in negotiations for renewal. S

Since New York is key to network negotiations with the NFL, NASCAR feels that a presence in that market will help extract a bigger share of the networks' budgets for its sport. Given the culture of New York City, the move confirms that NASCAR is shifting focus from its traditional car-related marketing to media and corporate marketing.

With only seven races to go before the top 10 in Nextel Cup points are locked into the "Chase for the Championship" those drivers just out of the money positions are getting desperate. Not only do they have to do well, but they have to have some of the folks in front of them experience a run of bad luck in order to be on hand for the championship chase.

Rusty Wallace is particularly critical of the situation, voicing the opinion that the new scheme will hurt teams in terms of sponsorship dollars. His contention is that sponsors will look at the attention given to the top 10 teams and cut back sponsorship for those teams not in contention at the end of the regular season. With sponsorship dollars already hard to come by, this could seriously impact a majority of Nextel Cup teams.

Today's Pocono race should be interesting. With nobody getting time to work on race setup due to yesterday's rainout, teams will be scrambling on setup throughout the race. Dodge appears to have an edge, at least in qualifying trim, with five Dodges in the top 10 including pole sitter Casey Mears and his Ganassi racing teammates Sterling Marlin and Jamie McMurray, starting in fourth and seventh place, respectively.

Finally, NASCAR has issued an order to race winners not to knock promotional soft drink bottles off the roof of their cars in Victory Lane. Seems like Pepsi-sponsored drivers don't like Coke bottles on their cars and vice versa. NASCAR doesn't want to anger either sponsor, so the car-top bottle display will henceforth be treated with due respect.

Roger Diez is the Nevada Appeal Motorsports Columnist. Contact him at


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