Roger Diez: Gardnerville’s Mann shares stories | NevadaAppeal.com
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Roger Diez: Gardnerville’s Mann shares stories

Roger Diez
For the Nevada Appeal

I had an interesting assignment last Wednesday. A friend from bygone racing days, Linda Finch of Shelby’s Books in Minden, invited me to interview legendary motorcycle racer Dick Mann. The 76-year-old Mann has lived in Gardnerville since 1993, building vintage motorcycles and doing a bit of vintage racing (he won a motocross last weekend). He is a great guy with a wealth of stories and racing lore as well as a sly sense of humor. It was a lot of fun, and the turnout was excellent. Linda estimated about 100 Mann fans showed up to listen, share stories, and get Dick’s autograph. Linda is already thinking about doing it again if she can find some other venerable racing personalities who live in the area.

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I also ran into another old friend at the event, Robbie Thorson from Gardnerville. Her son Tanner has been racing Outlaw karts since he was 4, and has now moved up to the fast Intermediate (250cc) and Intermediate Open (500cc) divisions. Since Cycleland Speedway in Chico, Calif., started its spring season on April 9, Tanner has finished every race in the top five in both divisions, and did a Kyle Busch on two occasions, winning both the Intermediate and Intermediate Open the same night.

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Locally, Rattlesnake Raceway in Fallon has a full program scheduled for tonight: The Gen-X, Bomber, Rat Mod, Mod Mini, Hobby Stock, Pro Stock, Sprint Cars, and Mud Bogs are all on the card.

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The IndyCars had a rainout last weekend in Brazil, with the race rescheduled for Monday morning. Team Penske driver Will Power made up for his disappointing Long Beach finish with a strategic victory, making an early pit stop and moving up through the field as everybody else had to pit for fuel. The victory puts Power at the top of the leaderboard, 14 points ahead of Dario Franchitti heading into the Indianapolis 500.

There are 43 entries for the 33 starting spots at Indy, so we should see some real drama on Bump Day this year. Activities begin Thursday with the Rookie Orientation program, where seven Indy rookies are scheduled to participate. Saturday is Opening Day with practice for all entrants. Qualifying is the following weekend with the race on May 29. There also will be a replacement pace car driver for the race, as Donald Trump has bowed out. The reason given was that it might be inappropriate given his possible presidential run. My personal theory is that officials were concerned that hair blowing from the Camaro convertible pace car might create slippery track conditions.

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Jeff Gordon seems to have a knack for finding walls that are not SAFER barriers. A couple of years ago at Las Vegas, he took what he described as one of the hardest hits of his career, careening into an inside concrete wall. He did it again last weekend at Richmond, again hitting an inside wall. NASCAR and the tracks are continually working to make racing safer, but there still is a lot that needs to be done. Consider the hit that Elliott Sadler took at Pocono last year that knocked the engine out of his car. Racing is never going to be totally safe, but there still are some areas that need to be improved. The current car design and driver safety gear are a large part of why Gordon and Elliott are still racing, but SAFER barriers in high impact areas are needed.

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NASCAR continues with night racing again this weekend at Darlington Raceway. The Nationwide series ran last night and the Sprint Cup race will be televised on FOX beginning at 4:30 p.m. today. Sparks native T.J. Bell is on the entry list for the Cup race, and I believe it will be his first Cup start if he qualifies.

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Finally, if you want to have a say in the fan favorite driver selected to run in the NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star race on May 21, you need to go to http://www.nascar.com/promos/allstar/2011/ and vote for your favorite driver.