Colodny shines in Fernley road race |

Colodny shines in Fernley road race

Roger Diez

I went out to Reno-Fernley Raceway last Saturday for the second National Auto Sports Association (NASA) race of the 2003 season on the newly paved road course.

It was also the final race of the season at Reno-Fernley for NASA, with a much-expanded schedule for next year.

Carson City race fans can be particularly proud of the race results, because local driver Brian Colodny set fastest qualifying time both Saturday and Sunday and won Sunday’s race going away. The winning margin was 37 seconds and he lapped a good portion of the field. Colodny turned a 49.782 second lap on the twisty 1.3 mile course on Saturday, then cranked off an astonishing 48.997 second lap on Sunday in his American Stock Car (ASC) class Monte Carlo. He was leading Saturday’s race handily when he slowed for a tow truck with a racecar hooked up and was promptly passed for the lead. NASA officials said the move was legal (no yellow flags were displayed) but not too bright.

For an old road-racer like me, it’s a delight to hear a converted roundy-round guy like Brian talking about “sweepers” and “apexes” and “shutdown markers.” He’s totally committed to NASA’s ASC series, and has already run several races in California in addition to the Fernley round. New sponsors Irwin Union Bank and Turbokool have joined Ramac Industries, Majors Fuels, and Michael Hohl Motors to support Brian’s racing efforts. And crew chief Paul Mcilwee and crew members Kurt Sanders and Dallas Colodny were on hand at Reno-Fernley to keep the car in tip-top shape.

The NASA ASC cars run the GM ZZ4 “crate” motor with a rev-limiter chip, and put out about 360 horsepower. “The second place car (in Sunday’s race) had in excess of 410 horsepower but handling made the difference,” said Brian. And maybe just a little bit of driving talent, too!

There was a scary pit incident in last weekend’s Indy Racing League round at Gateway International Raceway in St. Louis. Kelley Racing’s left rear tire changer, Anton Julian, was injured during the pit stops when another car hit Andretti-Green Racing’s Bryan Herta, causing him to lose control and carom into Al Unser Jr.’s car. Julian suffered a concussion and a right-knee injury in the accident, but has since been released from the hospital. The injury could have been much worse — even fatal –except for the protective headgear IRL crew members are now required to wear when they go over the wall to service a car.

One of my favorite racing shows is SPEED Channel’s “Wind Tunnel” with the incisive, witty, and irreverent Dave Despain. I’ve been watching Despain for years, and I think he’s been the most underrated talking head in motorsports for all that time. Finally, he’s found his niche and apparently the popularity of the show has already led to increased airtime.

Now, I’m not normally a big fan of talk shows, particularly sports talk shows. Ordinarily the hosts are either lame or mean and insulting and the callers make Sylvester Stallone seem eloquent. Despain sets just the right tone and his callers’ questions and comments are amazingly germane!

Recently Despain took on the road racing trial balloon floated by the IRL. Dave and I disagreed about the IRL/CART split in open-wheel racing when it first happened seven years ago but I think he’s coming around to my point of view. We’re both against the series going road racing.

The IRL, after a rocky start and the infusion of untold millions of dollars by spoiled brat Tony George, has finally become a series with close, exciting racing. Well, equally matched “spec” cars will do that — witness NASCAR Winston Cup. But the IRL is an oval series and that’s what their fans want! Why mess with success? Leave the road racing and street racing to the moribund Champ Car series. Build on what you do best, even though the vision of inexpensive racing and American grassroots oval drivers hasn’t exactly materialized. Personally, I think the road-racing gambit is George’s final attempt to administer the coup de gras to CART. But that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Roger Diez is the Nevada Appeal Motorsports Columnist.