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Silver Dollar Classic set for Mills Park

Roger Diez

Tomorrow is the first day of August, and that means it’s time for classic cars and rock ‘n roll. Head out to Mills Park today for the 16th edition of the Silver Dollar Car Classic, where approximately 400 pieces of automotive art will be on display. Get there early, and you can partake of the traditional Kiwanis pancake breakfast before you cruise the park and enjoy the cars. And of course, Hot August Nights will follow be in Reno and Sparks all next week after opening this weekend in Lake Tahoe. Hot August Nights also make an appearance in the area, visiting Minden with a poker run stop in Minden Park on Thursday. Station yourself along south Carson Street, and you can watch the cars go by without the hassle of all the Reno traffic and road closures.

IndyCar competition director Brian Barnhardt (also known as Bonehead Brian Barnhardt among many IndyCar competitors and fans) made two decisions at the Edmonton IndyCar race last weekend. One was universally applauded, while the other may go down in history as one of the stupidest decisions ever made by a racing official. The good decision was to put rolling chicane Milka Duno on probation (a better decision would have been to ban her completely), but the “blocking” call on Helio Castroneves on the final restart indicates that Barnhardt should begin shopping for a seeing-eye dog.

IndyCar fan forums are almost universally anti-Barnhardt, who is the last holdover from the Tony George IRL regime. And it’s not only the fans. Mo Nunn, who engineered four consecutive championships for Chip Ganassi in the Champ Car series after a brilliant career in Formula 1, called Barnhardt’s decision to black-flag Castroneves “the worst call I’ve seen in 50 years of racing.” I’ve only been in racing for 41 years, but I have to agree with Mo, and I’ve seen some real travesties. I think that IndyCar needs to adopt the Formula 1 model of having a former driver in the booth, somebody who has “been there, done that”, and understands what it is like in competition. Years ago, when I was an official with the Sports Car Club of America, they had a rule that you could not be a race steward unless you had held a competition license. It seems like a no-brainer to me!

Rumblings about changes to NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Chase format are getting louder. NASCAR Chairman Brian France spoke on the subject last Sunday at Indy, saying that he will be attending focus groups to get fan input, and considering a variety of proposals being floated among the industry. The most recent change to the format awarded drivers going into the Chase a 10-point bonus for each win during the regular season, and France indicated that any additional changes would put even more emphasis on race wins. The idea of some sort of elimination scheme, dropping drivers who don’t perform well in the early Chase races, is under consideration. Making no changes at all is also on the table. And for those conspiracy theorists out there, France categorically denied that they are making changes just to keep Jimmie Johnson from winning any more championships.

This is another busy weekend for racing, with the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Camping World Trucks making the season’s second visit to Pocono and the Nationwide series at Iowa Speedway. The Formula 1 series visits the Hungaroring, site of Felipe Massa’s nearly career-ending accident a year ago. Massa has made a remarkable recovery and would have won at last weekend’s German Grand Prix if “team orders” hadn’t forced him to relinquish the lead to Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso. Ferrari was fined $100,000 for the violation. The team’s decision to change the finish order makes no sense to me. The extra points won’t put Alonso into contention for the Drivers Championship, where he is a distant fifth, and the finish order of the two Ferrari cars makes no difference at all to the Constructors Championship.

Finally, best wishes to Jack Roush for a speedy recovery from injuries suffered when his plane crashed while landing at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Roush is in serious but stable condition at the Mayo Clinic.