Archive for April, 2012

Drag racers ready for Victoria Day Weekend

- April 30th, 2012

It is the season, at least in Ontario, for straight line racers and yes I mean the boys and girls who like their speed fixes a quarter mile or an eighth of a mile at a time, to dust off their big blocks.
Several of those groups — the Pro Modified Racing Association, the Quick 32 Sportsman Series, and the Pro Bike & Sled Series — are less than a month away from a first big race weekend at Cayuga Dragway, which of course is part of the Toronto Motorsports Park complex.
Here is a release from Bruce F. Mehlenbacher that details the event:
The teams have been working hard during the off-season and the fans are ready for the opening round in the 2012 Pro Modified Racing Association,
Racers had spent the past few months updating, modifying, and everything else to get more power from their racecars. Along with several new teams in the three drag race series, many are returning for the starting race of the year, the Victoria Day Weekend Challenge to be held May 18-20 at the Cayuga Dragway of Toronto Motorsports Park.
Qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, May 19, with elimination rounds scheduled to begin Sunday, May 20.
This race marks the beginning of the eighth year for the PMRA, the fourth for the Quick 32 Sportsman Series, and the second for the PBSS.
We will have a great contingent of racers in all series this year, noted Bruce Mehlenbacher, Director of Operations for the three series. A lot of teams have spent the winter rebuilding and upping their game plan, and we should see some terrific racing for the Cayuga opener.
Last year’s PMRA championship was won by a mere point as Vito Montesano of Maple, Ontario, just edged out three-time champ Bruce Boland of Hamilton, Ontario, 1534 to 1533. And with his new race car, Eric Latino of Whitby, Ontario came on strong, placing third with 1526 points.
The Quick 32 Sportsman Series presented by NAPA Auto Parts is comprised of two classes, Top Dragster and Top Sportsman. In 2011, for the third straight year, a Top Sportsman entry won the championship, as Phil Sampson of Granton, Ontario amassed 1239 points with his Chevy Cavalier over the second-place Top Dragster of Napanee, Ontario’s Jamie Bridge with 1201 points.
The inaugural season in the PBSS presented by Wiseco Performance Products, which pits Pro Motorcycle riders against Pro Sled riders, was a great success, with Randy Hope of London, Ontario taking home the championship with his Pro Bike Kawasaki entry. The Pro Bike of Dan Cryderman of Thamesville, Ontario was second, and the Arctic Cat Pro Sled of Bill Anderson of Seaforth, Ontario placed third.
The Victoria Day Weekend Challenge will be the first of six rounds of racing for the Quick 32 Sportsman Series and the PBSS. These two series will also race at Cayuga June 22-24 and August 3-5, along with events at the Grand Bend Motorplex August 10-12 and August 31 – September 2.
All three series will be travelling to the US 131 Motorsports Park in Martin Michigan June 8-9, for an inaugural event at this famous drag race facility.
The PMRA Pro Modifieds will also race at the six above mentioned dates, plus will compete as part of the IHRA Mopar Nitro Jam Nationals July 20-22 at the Grand Bend Motorplex.
For information about Toronto Motorsports Park in Cayuga, Ontario call (905) 772-0303 or visit online at www.torontomotorsportspark.com
For more information contact at Bruce@PMRA.ca

This old dude can race

- April 28th, 2012

When 53-year-old Mark Martin won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup pole position 31-years ago at Richmond International Raceway, more than a third of the drivers on Saturday’s grid for the Capital City/Virginia is for Lovers 400 hadn’t even been born yet.
“That’s pretty cool,” Martin said on being informed of the fact.
What is more cool is that Martin is still as excited today as he was back in 1981 when he brought his own self described “little hot rod” to the then half-mile oval at RIR.
And he says he can remember that day as if it was yesterday.
“I can tell you the springs that were in the car, the weight distribution, and I can tell you what I did to the car after qualifying,” he said. “I can tell you everything about it. Changed the right-rear springs before qualifying to tighten it up.
“It was a pretty big deal sitting on the pole with my little late model team. As far as I’m concerned, this is just as big of a deal.”
If anything has changed it is that NASCAR Sprint Cup racing is now a big time corporate enterprise and there is no room anymore for a single team owner like Martin to show up with a stock car he built himself back at his Batesville, Arkansas, garage and win anything let alone a pole position.
Today he is a racing gun for hire, competing on a part time schedule with Michael Waltrip Racing in the No. 55 Toyota, a car that he had absolutely no part in building.
“I couldn’t tell you anything about this car today,” he said. “But that car back in 1981 was my baby.”
Many, including Martin himself, thought his Sprint Cup career was over back in 2005 when he first announced he was retiring from full time competition after a long, distinguished 19-season long association with Roush Fenway Racing driving the No. 6 Ford.
In fact he ran that 2005 season under the banner “Salute to You” in a tribute to fans who had supported him in his career.
But after two seasons of running a partial schedule with the former Ginn Racing team, Martin signed on to drive the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet full time in 2009.
All he proceeded to do was put that car in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship and stay with the team to end of his contract last season.
Once again facing the prospect of retirement Martin sent out feelers that he still had the fire in his belly to race.
Team owner Michael Waltrip answered the call and now Martin is again on a part time deal, sharing the No. 55 Toyota with Brain Vickers.
And Martin is happy with what he has.
“They believe in me and we’re just having so much fun,” he said after putting the MWR Toyota on the pole. “When you get to this stage in my career, winning any competition is a cool thing. I get to drive such great race cars.”
He admits he is lucky to be doing what he loves best.
“I’ve been so fortunate to drive fast race cars and work with great people and I can’t believe that MWR are giving me a chance to drive this stuff at this stage of the game,” Martin said. “I’m just a really lucky guy. In my heart, I really want to make MWR better. That’s more important to me than anything.”
Martin said that every day he wakes up being thankful that he has a job he loves and he says he hopes that he can be an example to older athletes everywhere.
“I think a lot of guys like to see an old dude like me pull one off every once in a while,” he said. “It’s pretty cool.”
Cool indeed.

Chevrolet, Honda react to IndyCar turbo ruling

- April 27th, 2012

On Thursday an IZOD IndyCar Series appeal panel denied Chevrolet’s protest that Honda’s modification to its turbocharger was illegal.
Here are the opposing reactions to the ruling:

First from Jim Campbell, Chevrolet’s U.S. Vice President, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports:

“Chevrolet filed a protest as permitted by the IndyCar rules to an April 18th decision by IndyCar to allow a modification to the turbocharger used by another engine manufacturer. Chevrolet believed the modification was contrary to the applicable series rules, and asked IndyCar to thoroughly review the issue so that the rules were applied fairly. We respect the diligence of the panel appointed to hear the protest and examine the situation. While we are disappointed with today’s decision, we are prepared to continue to compete at the highest level in the IZOD IndyCar Series.”

And now from Honda Steve Eriksen, Hond Performance Develpolment:
“We are gratified that an independent panel has upheld INDYCAR’s ruling of April 18, 2012, which approved use of the 0.74 A/R compressor cover for single-turbocharged engines competing in this year’s IZOD IndyCar Series. INDYCAR committed well in advance of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season to structure engine regulations that would ensure parity in turbocharger performance for both single and twin turbo configurations, and this commitment played a significant role in our decision to adopt a single turbocharger configuration for the new HI12RT Honda Indy V-6.The new compressor cover helps to offset the performance disadvantage of the current IndyCar single turbo hardware as measured by INDYCAR’s turbo supplier. This correction was designed and provided by the turbo supplier under the direction of IndyCar and was approved prior to the 2012 season. We look forward to deploying the new compressor cover to optimize performance of the Honda Indy V-6, as we continue to do battle with our worthy adversaries from Lotus and General Motors.”

Dumbest question of the year — so far

- April 23rd, 2012

 

 

In the aftermath of Denny Hamlin’s victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup STP 400 he faced the media and was asked, maybe, the dumbest question of the year, so far.

Hamlin was asked: Did you feel for Martin Truex Jr. after being so strong and not winning the race?

In case you did not know, Truex had a strong race in the No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, leading the majority of laps before being passed with 30 laps to go by Hamlin in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

So my question is what was Hamlin supposed to do: Let Truex win?

Of course not. In any case Hamlin answered the question with the skill of a politician in the making.

“You know, at the end it’s a no-lose situation for myself because I’m a fan of Martin’s; I’m a fan of Michael Waltrip, and they’ve really done some great things with that program,” he said.  “But, my job  is to win for my guys and really drive as hard as I can to get them those wins because they’re so hard to come by now that you have to just do everything you can.

“And I knew that he was driving his heart out as well as I was driving mine.  Once I got to the lead, I felt like I got a little bit complacent mainly on corner entry, just being careful.

“But, what got me the lead was driving hard, and so I needed to get back to that, and that’s kind of where we were able to stretch it out.

“It was a good day for Toyota because Michael Waltrip Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing have a bond that’s working better and better together obviously with the common engine package and everything, so we’re starting to see these Toyotas start to make a run.”

Smart answer to a stupid question.

Vettel wins first pole of season at Bahrain

- April 21st, 2012

Sebastian Vettel was in 2011 form on Saturday when he put his Red Bull Renault on the pole for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand prix on the Sakhir circuit.
It was the double world champion’s first pole of the 2012 season. This is the same Vettel who had a record breaking 15 poles on his march to his second consecutive Formula One world championship.
Up until the final laps of the third session it looked as though it might be an all Red Bull front row with Mark Webber laying down a lap that was just .21 seconds off Vettel’s time of one minute, 32.422 seconds.
But McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton slipped between the pair with a lap of 1:32.520.
A big surprise was the lack of qualifying speed from the Mercedes squad that had led the final practice sessions on Friday.
The best Chinese Grand Prix winner Nico Rosberg could do was a 1:32.821, good for only fifth best on the day. That, however, was considerably better than teammate Michael Schumacher who never even made it past round one, and who will start 17th on Sunday.
Another shocker was that another former champion — Kimi Raikkonen — didn’t make it to the third round and will start 11th for Team Lotus.
Other notables were: Jenson Button, who will start 4th; Fernando Alosnso, who did not come out for Q3, who will start 9th and Felipe Massa, who will start 14th.