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Christmas shopping for your favorite gearheads

By Roger Diez

Nevada Appeal Motorsports Writer

I hope you all are ready for Christmas, with appropriate gifts selected and wrapped for the gearheads in your life. If you haven’t finished your shopping, you might want to consider a gift certificate for a track day at Reno-Fernley Raceway.

The road course is open for test and tune Fridays through Mondays until the middle of March, weather permitting. The winter rate for cars is $150 per day with the second driver only $60. For motorcycles and karts, the rate is $110 per day, $50 for the second rider/driver. A competition license from a recognized sanctioning body or a Reno-Fernley track permit is required.

ProControl Driving Academy conducts certification classes for the RFR track permit, at $395 for a full track day. ProControl also conducts teen, senior, and defensive driving classes. If you have a teen driver, ProControl is a DMV-approved driving school and has full-day car control courses at the track for $249. Graduates receive a 15-20 percent auto insurance discount from State Farm. For more information on ProControl Driving Academy, call (775) 622-9595 or go to http://www.procontroldriving.com.

For information on Reno-Fernley Raceway’s test and tune, call (775) 575-7217 or go to http://www.reno-fernleyraceway.com.

– Moving on to off-season news and gossip, it was announced last week that Robby Gordon’s NASCAR Sprint Cup team will run Toyotas for 2009. You may recall that Robby ran Chevrolets in 2006, Fords in 2007, and then switched to Dodge at the beginning of the 2008 season. So now Robby is completing his apparent goal of running every make currently competing in NASCAR. Gordon has a 20-year relationship with Toyota, dating from his 1989 off-road championship in a TRD Toyota Grand National Sport Truck.

Gordon’s switch is just the latest defection from Dodge. Since Ganassi Racing’s merger with DEI and switch to Chevrolets, only Gillett-Evernham, Penske, and the ailing Petty organization are still in the Dodge camp. This may be the last season we see the Mopar brigade competing in NASCAR’s top series.

It’s sad to see Petty and Dodge both in such dire straits. That combination has been legendary since Lee Petty’s first victory in a Dodge 55 years ago, bolstered by his son Richard’s four NASCAR championships at the wheel of Dodges in the 70s.

– Given the current situation in Detroit, this may be the beginning of the end for not only Dodge’s, but all American manufacturers’ involvement in NASCAR. Although the Bush administration overrode Congress yesterday to authorize a bridge loan to the troubled automakers to get them through the first quarter of 2009, their survival is by no means certain.

If they don’t have a viable operating plan by March, it may be curtains for at least two, possibly all, of the Big Three. You can bet that their operating plans will drastically curtail, if not eliminate, participation in racing. The days when they could justify such an outlay as research and development ended when NASCAR froze engine technology and went to purpose-built racing chassis. Probably some sort of investment could be made in the name of advertising, if they can demonstrate that the old adage “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” still applies.

– Several of our local racers made the trek over the hill last Saturday to compete in Red Bluff’s final winter series race of 2008. Tanner Thorson scored the best result in the 250 cc division, finishing eighth in the A main after qualifying eighth and winning his heat. Mason Millard qualified second and ran sixth in the trophy dash, third in his heat, and 11th in the A main.

Samantha Schultz was 18th fastest qualifier, finished seventh in her heat, and took eighth in the B main. Daniel Thorson matched brother Tanner with a heat race win after qualifying 11th in the Open division. He came home fourth in the A main.

Cameron Millard ran 13th in the A main, racing his way in with a fourth in the B main. He qualified 17th and ran fourth in his heat. Mackena Bell was 22nd fastest qualifier, ran fourth in her heat, fourth in the C main, and ended with eighth in the B main. Chris Rytting took fifth in the D main after qualifying 38th and finishing seventh in his heat.