Eight years ago last Monday (June 21) I wrote my first motorsports column for the Appeal. I had ideas for about three columns at the time and figured my run would be over in mid-August at best.
Some of the things I wrote about in that first effort were the differences in my racing tastes to those of Brett Ramthun, who had recently vacated the space. Funny how things connect - last year I drove his younger brother, Blake's, Hobby Stock car in the Brian Sweeney Media/Celebrity race at Reno-Fernley Raceway.
I also discussed the Vintage Grand Prix races at the Reno Hilton, which I also announced. Other column topics included an epic battle at Silver State Raceway between young D.J. Krentz and veteran Dave Lester. I caught some flack about my reference to Lester's "age and treachery" from his family, but Dave just laughed about it. Charlie Brandenburg was still building Thunder Bowl Speedway in Mound House and the Outlaw Karts were racing at Fuji Park. That's another connection - the Karts now run at Thunder Bowl twice a month.
Speaking of Outlaw Karts, some of our local kids are making waves in the larger world of youth racing. The QRC Cup series, a west coast show pitting the best of California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington's Outlaw Kart racers against each other, has some stars from right here in Carson City.
Eight-year-old Zachary Heinz, already a veteran, has won the last two Box Stock main events in the series and leads the points with 376, 23 points ahead of second-place. Little Kellcy Bell is sixth in QRC points, with 322 and Jennifer Purcell is 10th with 308. Jay Primm is also in the running with 273 points, good for 16th in the standings. Mackena Bell sits fourth in the 125cc rankings with 322 points (matching her sister's tally) and Tom Purcell is 10th in the Open division with 285 points. These are the kids you'll see in USAC Midgets and Sprint Cars in a few years and maybe at Indy some day.
Gee, another segue - this one to Indy, where one of the most bizarre and potentially tragic Formula 1 races in recent years took place. With points going down to eighth place, all you had to do was finish to score points in this one. The attrition began almost immediately, with a couple of cars out in the second corner.
Then the bizarre stuff started. Juan Montoya couldn't start his BMW-Williams on the grid, so he leaped out and sprinted to the garage for the backup car, which he started from the pit lane. Unfortunately, he missed the car-changing window by three seconds, according to FIA rules. Even more unfortunately, it took race officials about two-thirds of the race to figure this out and black-flag him. He was "excluded" from the event.
Then there was the most shocking and outlandish occurrence of all, when Ralf Schumacher crashed heavily into a concrete wall (missing the SAFER barrier), and sat in his destroyed race car for more than three minutes until emergency personnel arrived at the scene. I agree with commentator Derek Daly, that this response (or lack thereof) was disgraceful and potentially life-threatening.
If it had taken CART personnel that long to respond to Alex Zanardi's crash in Germany, he would be six feet under today instead of racing a hand-operated racing car. At the top level of Motorsports, that sort of safety lapse is totally inexcusable, and those responsible should be held accountable.
Anyway, it's been a fun eight years. I've had to write about tragic events, the loss of greats like Dale Earnhardt and newcomers like Tony Renna. I've also been privileged to talk with racers and fans, both local and nationwide.
Personally, I think that our sport has all the elements of any great sporting endeavor - drama, dedication, desperation, and people striving to be the best at what they do.
I like to think I've been able to inform and entertain you, and I hope I'll be able to keep doing it. Let me know what topics you'd like to hear about and I'll do my best to give you my take on them.
Roger Diez is the Nevada Appeal Motorsports Columnist. Contact him at Racytalker@aol.com.