Big Kart race coming to Carson City

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Big time racing is coming to Carson City next month - no not Winston Cup or even the Craftsman Truck series.

Believe it or not, there is racing that doesn't involve NASCAR! The racing I'm talking about is the Snap-on Stars of Karting series, a national series for top-level kart racers. As you're probably well aware, many of today's racing stars in NASCAR, IRL, CART, and Formula 1 got their start in karting. So here's a chance for fans to see tomorrow's stars right here in our home town.

The race, to be held June 4-6, was originally scheduled to be run in Reno, tentatively at the Hilton, where the Reno Grand Prix took place in 1996 and 1997. However, a scheduling conflict necessitated the move to Carson City. The series expects to run at the Hilton in 2005. The event will take place on a .65 mile track, including a 720 foot straightaway. I've seen pictures of the proposed location, which looks suspiciously like the parking lot of the former Wal-Mart store at Fairview and Carson Streets. The site was the only one large enough and devoid of obstacles such as speed bumps, curbs, light poles, and so forth.

With any luck there will be some local stars like Nick Halen for fans to cheer. If you want more information on the event, go to the Snap-On Stars of Karting web site,

It appears that the Indy 500 is in serious jeopardy of starting the race with fewer than 33 cars for the first time in memory. Two teams which have been IRL stalwarts since the series began have pulled their entries from the Memorial Day classic. Hemelgarn Racing, which won the 1996 Indy 500 and the 2000 IRL championship with Buddy Lazier, has reluctantly conceded that it does not have the budget to compete at Indy, or for the rest of the IRL season. The team has decided to concentrate on the Infiniti Pro Series.

PDM Racing, the team that gave Sam Hornish his start in the big time, has not only pulled out of Indy, but has closed its doors altogether. Team owner Paul Diatlovich said that rising costs have forced him out.

"It costs $475,000 just to lease an engine for Indianapolis and another $100,000 for an update kit," he said. "We ran Jimmy Kite last year for $200,000."

This brings to mind the purported goals of the Indy Racing League that have been expounded over and over by founder Tony George. It was to be an all-oval series (more on that in a minute) to provide affordable racing (no engine leasing) and to promote American drivers coming from the sprint car and midget ranks. Report card as of today?

Costs: See Paul Diatlovich's comment above. American drivers: The Indy field probably has more Brazilians than Americans, most of them ex-CART stars. Oval tracks? The IRL is negotiating for a race at Watkins Glen for 2005. The IRL also wants to take the CART dates at Road America, Portland, Laguna Seca, and Mid-Ohio as well as street events such as Mexico City and St. Petersburg. Tony, if I were a generous grader, you'd get a D minus for accomplishment of your stated goals. You came close to burying CART (a goal not stated, but very much on your agenda). Since the rival series seems to be coming back to life, I'll give you a C for that one.

The Nextel Cup has the Mothers Day weekend off, but they're going to be busy until Thanksgiving, with only one more break in July. The off weekend should allow tempers to cool from last Sunday's California Speedway race. Judging from Tony Stewart's performance, he needs a refresher course in anger management, and I don't think he's going to get Rusty Wallace's vote in the "Most Popular Driver" poll.

Speaking of polls, yesterday's "That's Racin' page in The Appeal sports section published the results of a poll asking if Nextel Cup should adopt the Craftsman Truck series procedure that assures a green-flag finish. 86 percent of respondents said yes. I wonder whether they would still vote that way if a last-lap crash at Daytona or Talladega were to kill a driver or two.

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


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