Presents for the race fans |

Presents for the race fans

Roger Diez
Nevada Appeal Motorsports Columnist

Well, it’s that time of year again, the time to think about Christmas presents for the gearhead or speed freak in your life.

With Internet shopping growing by leaps and bounds (and eliminating annoying and dangerous forays to shopping malls), I’ll give you some interesting Websites that carry gifts for the most discriminating race fan or wanna-be racer.

One excellent site for die-cast cars, hats, t-shirts, posters, and books is It has some big discounts on a lot of different items, from a Dale Earnhardt Jr. die cast car to Jeff Gordon Christmas tree ornaments to a Danica Patrick life-size cardboard figure.

There are some clearance items that are stocking-stuffer price, for example a women’s Rusty Wallace No. 2 hat for $1.95 with the men’s model only $3.95. Yes, I know Rusty hasn’t driven a Cup car for a year, but you could still take your hat to an IRL race, hang out by the broadcast booth, and try to get it autographed. By the way, you can link to your favorite driver’s Website from here, where each driver from Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Jeff Gordon to Kasey Kahne to Whit Bazemore to Tomas Scheckter will be glad to sell you all kinds of neat stuff.

If you have a significant someone who is of a more “mature” nature and likes racing history, you’ll want to check out

This site has some tremendous stuff, including items autographed by such racing legends as Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Jim Hall, Lloyd Ruby, and Jim Hurtubise. There is also a lot of memorabilia from 1950s to 1990s Formula 1, including posters of Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, and Ayrton Senna.

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Be warned, things are going to be a bit more spendy on this site, but if you have a racing history buff in mind, this is the place to go. But there is something for every pocketbook, from a Gil de Ferran Pennzoil postcard at $15 to the balaclava worn by Ayrton Senna during the 1985 Formula 1 season, signed by Senna and Alain Prost, for a mere $4,500.

It also have a an interesting collection of books, not only about famous drivers and series, but also by and about people in the sport like Smokey Yunick and Dr. Steve Olvey. You can also locate hard to find die cast cars on the site.

Got somebody on your list who has a Corvette, Viper, Cobra, Lamborghini, or Ferrari? I’ll bet their biggest complaint is not being able to use their car’s capability without having to watch the rear-view mirror for those pesky red and blue lights.

Unfortunately, in order to use a race track you have to have a competition license or a track permit. Voila! The ProControl Driving Academy at Reno-Fernley Raceway can put you through a course that will get you that permit and allow you to use the paved road course on any test and tune day.

ProControl has a variety of courses from beginner to advanced, as well as individualized instruction for those who really want to go fast. In addition, it operates teen car control clinics, and will soon be authorized as a pre-licensing driver training center. Contact ProControl at (775) 337-0318 or for pricing information.

OK, not everybody owns an exotic, high-powered car. So you can put your favorite wanna-be racer into a real NASCAR stock car at the Richard Petty Driving Experience at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

For a mere $99 you can ride shotgun in a two-seat stock car, passenger on a NASCAR-style qualifying run at the hands of a professional instructor. For the more robust of spirit (and fat of wallet) driving courses start at $399 for an eight-lap track run behind the wheel to a $2,499 two-day, 80 lap program, with intermediate programs also available.

Ride-along participants must be 14 years of age, and the minimum requirement for all the driving programs is 16 years of age with a valid driver’s license. Oh, and you’ll have to staple a round-trip airplane ticket to your gift certificate so your recipient can get to Las Vegas. Call 1-800-BEPetty for reservations or check out

Remember, only two weeks until Christmas Eve!