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DIEZ: Ideas for Christmas gifts

Roger Diez
For the Nevada Appeal

A week from now we’ll all be waking up to see what Santa (and our friends and relatives) have left us under the tree. If you haven’t yet found that perfect present, stocking stuffer, or ornament for your favorite race fan (or racer), I’m offering up my annual racer’s gift guide.

Race-related clothing is always a popular item. T-shirts with clever sayings like “My Drinking Team has a Racing Problem” or “I Know There’s Money in Racing … I Put it There!”, hats with a favorite driver’s number, or jackets and sweatshirts with race team logos are always a hit with race fans. If your significant other is a driver, a nice new pair of fireproof Simpson race shoes or a new helmet would show how much you love them and want to keep them safe.

Other items emblazoned with your favorite driver’s car, number, or likeness are duffle bags, tote bags, backpacks, billfolds, checkbook covers, and even floor mats for your car. You can get etched beer or wine glasses, mirrors, picture frames, license plate frames, wall clocks, calendars, even a scented candle and coaster set. There are folding chairs and tables for tailgating or camping at the track, and window graphics for your car’s rear window. And don’t forget the ever-popular diecast race car models, which can be found in regular and special paint schemes and even limited-edition models. For stocking stuffers there are small racing-related items like key chains, pocket knives, mouse pads and bumper stickers.

If you are looking for something a bit more adventurous and also more expensive, your race fan might enjoy a driving experience. For stock car fans you can choose from the NASCAR Racing Experience, the Richard Petty Driving Experience or the Dale Jarrett Racing Adventure, plus a host of others. Short three or four-lap ride-alongs with a professional driver start at under $150. Half-day, full-day, or longer driving schools can run into thousands of dollars.

Perhaps the oldest operation is the Buck Baker Racing School, which has been around since 1980. Road racing fans can learn the nuances of their favorite form of the sport at the Bondurant Driving School and Skip Barber Racing School. These operations use both street-based cars like Mustangs and Mazdas and formula cars to teach high performance driving and racing. The Jim Russell Racing School and the Bertil Roos Racing School cater to aspiring formula car racers. For fans of drag racing, Doug Foley’s Drag Racing Experience will put you behind the wheel of a dragster for everything from a two-run introductory “experience” to full Super Comp and Super Gas licensing programs. These schools operate at active race tracks such as Las Vegas, Charlotte, Texas, Talladega, Infineon, Daytona, Darlington, Laguna Seca, and many more. All have websites with detailed program information and pricing.

If your favorite race fan is a reader, there are enough books on racing to keep them happy until next Christmas. Books by and about famous drivers, coffee-table picture books on every form of racing. If they would rather watch racing on the tube you can get them DVDs and videos of famous races, racing movies, vintage racing footage, and documentaries. Amazon has an excellent selection of both racing books and DVDs.

So if you didn’t visit the souvenir trailers and stock up for Christmas at the last race, you can still get some last minute Christmas goodies delivered in time to put them under the tree before Christmas morning.

Here are a few websites offering great gifts for the race fans … Shoppers, start your computers!

http://shop.cafepress.com/auto-racing has stickers, signs, and clothing items, including kids’, infants’, even maternity tops.

http://store.nascar.com/home/index.jsp is the NASCAR superstore with everything for the NASCAR fan.

http://www.draglist.com/shopping.htm specializes in drag racing books, videos, posters, t-shirts, etc.

http://www.amazon.com/Racing-books-that-should-shelf/lm/R1NURR1RBE1QK3 has an extensive selection of racing books and video.