Roger Diez: Reno-Fernley re-opening | NevadaAppeal.com
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Roger Diez: Reno-Fernley re-opening

Roger Diez
For the Nevada Appeal

I heard rumors last week that the clay oval at Reno-Fernley Raceway was going to re-open, so I called owner Rich Cable to confirm what I had heard.

Rich is indeed re-opening the oval, not just as a racetrack but as what he terms “Fernley’s Premier Outdoor Event Center.”

The opening day celebration is slated for July 30, from 6 to 11. In addition to exhibition racing, there will be a car show, a meet-and-greet for fans with drivers and sponsors, music by Lacy J. Dalton, and Hollywood legend Gary Busey on hand as the emcee and guest announcer. Admission is only $5, and there will be food and beverage vendors on hand.

Rich plans a series of events including racing, a demolition derby, a bull-riding competition, and other attractions. The shows will all be on Friday nights to avoid competing with Fallon’s Rattlesnake Raceway or the Lovelock track, which are both halfway through their seasons.

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Carson City native and Cal Poly engineering student Bobby Hodges’ Late Model racing program had been on hold until last Saturday night.

Hodges proved that the layoff had no effect on his driving skills, as he captured the trophy dash win, and then traded the lead in the main with California driver Matt Scott before breaking loose and taking the checker with nearly a second and a half lead over second-place Jason Fensler.

Also in the race was Carson City resident Cameron Millard, who brought his Late Model home in 12th place.

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The long-awaited announcement on the IndyCar Series’ new car came last Wednesday. The program incorporates enhanced safety for the drivers, reduced costs, and the potential for more individuality in the cars’ appearance.

Dallara, the current manufacturer of IndyCar chassis, was given the nod to build what is termed the “IndyCar Safety Cell”, consisting of the tub, undercarriage and rolling chassis. The cell incorporates enhanced head, leg, and back protection for the driver and improves visibility,

A wheel interlock prevention system to keep cars from locking wheels and launching, as happened to Mark Webber in at the Valencia Formula 1 race a couple of weeks ago also is coming. The new car’s minimum weight is 1,380 pounds, almost 200 pounds lighter than the current IndyCar. It will also be cheaper at a mere $349,000, and is expected to reduce the cost of fielding a car in the series by 45 percent.

The diversity that many fans have called for will be in the bodywork that is fitted over the basic chassis. Designers and companies are being solicited to provide aero “body kits” that will provide differences in the appearance (and possibly performance).

The fly in the ointment is that so far there are no suppliers for these kits, although I’m sure that Dallara would be happy to sell you a car complete with bodywork.

Engines are another problematic issue. The 2012 specs call for a 2.4 liter turbocharged 6-cylinder engine burning ethanol and producing 550 – 700 horsepower. So far no engine manufacturers have stepped forward, but current supplier Honda has stepped up to the plate.

And from a personal perspective, I think that horsepower output is rather anemic for a top-level racing series. Power in the 900-1100 range would make the cars more difficult to drive and perhaps keep drivers like Milka Duno out of the series, making room for talented drivers who can handle that kind of power.