Monday, January 26, 2015

Travel Tips: 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Fan Appreciation Day – Jan. 30-31, 2015

credit: NASCAR Media
This weekend, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, located at 400 East Martin Luther King Blvd. in Charlotte, NC, brings NASCAR legends, heroes and up-and-coming stars together with fans as part of its 2015 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Fan Appreciation Day. Hall of Fame activities take place Friday, Jan. 30 with the Induction Ceremony, followed by NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day at the Hall on Saturday, Jan. 31.

Schedule for the weekend (all times ET):

Friday, Jan.30
  • Squire-Hall for NASCAR Media Excellence Exhibit Unveiling – 3 p.m. – the first look at the new exhibit honoring Tom Higgins as part of Race Week.
  • Members-Only Hall of Famer Autograph Session – 3:30 p.m. – NASCAR HoF members get the opportunity to meet inductees from previous HoF classes. Scheduled to appear (subject to change): Bobby Allison, Ned Jarrett, Jack Ingram, Dale Inman, Leonard Wood, Darrell Waltrip, Glen Wood, Bud Moore and Maurice Petty.
  • NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Red Carpet Arrivals – 4:30 p.m. – catch a glimpse of Hall of Famers, drivers, NASCAR industry leaders and other celebrities as they arrive on the red carpet at the bottom of Glory Road in the Great Hall.
  • NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Dinner and Jacket Ceremony – 6 p.m. – a special dinner in the Richardson Ballroom at the Charlotte Convention Center, which is attached to the Hall. The event will feature the annual inductee jacket presentation and the presentation of the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence to 2015 recipient Tom Higgins.
  • NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony – 8 p.m. – taking place in the Crown Ballroom at the Charlotte Convention Center.
Select tickets are still available for the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony – click here for more information.

Saturday, Jan. 31 –
 
Visit the Hall of Fame for free from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and celebrate Fan Appreciation Day with your favorite NASCAR drivers.

Great Hall driver appearances and question-and-answer sessions –
  • 9:00 a.m. – Kyle Larson, Brendan Gaughan, Tyler Reddick
  • 10:00 a.m. – Reed Sorenson, Ryan Reed, Ben Kennedy
  • 10:20 a.m. – NASCAR Next Drivers: Ruben Garcia, Ben Rhodes, Ryan Gifford, Gray Gaulding, Austin Hill, Ryan Preece
  • 11:00 a.m. – Michael Annett, Chris Buescher, Timothy Peters
  • 11:20 a.m. – NASCAR Next Drivers: Cole Custer, Jesse Little, Dylan Lupton, Kenzie Ruston, Brandon McReynolds
  • 12:00 p.m. – Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brian Scott, Tyler Young
  • 1:30 p.m. – Ryan Newman, Elliott Sadler, Erik Jones
  • 2:30 p.m. – AJ Allmendinger, Regan Smith, Jennifer Jo Cobb
  • 2:50 p.m. – Bill Elliott, Rex White
  • 3:15 p.m. – Junior Johnson, moderated by Winston Kelley
  • 3:30 p.m. – Aric Almirola, Chase Elliott, Matt Crafton
Hall of Honor autograph sessions –
 
NASCAR Next Drivers
  • 11:00 a.m. – Ruben Garcia, Ben Rhodes, Ryan Gifford, Gray Gaulding, Austin Hill, Ryan Preece
  • 11:50 a.m. – Cole Custer, Jesse Little, Dylan Lupton, Kenzie Ruston, Brandon McReynolds

NASCAR Hall of Fame – Class of 2015
  • 3:30 p.m. – Bill Elliott, Rex White

Vouchers for driver autograph sessions in the High Octane Theater are sold out. Click here to see the driver autograph session schedule if you were able to claim vouchers.

Find out more about the Hall of Fame and the Induction Ceremony at http://www.nascarhall.com/

NASCAR: Week in Review (1/26/2015)

April 27, 2012
Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs  
Skirts and Scuffs' new weekly feature continues, recapping all the hot topics from our sport in the past week. We'll keep you informed about what's going on in NASCAR, so if you missed anything, don’t worry – we have you covered. As always, your comments are welcome on our Facebook page. So, ladies and gentlemen, start your opinions!

Almost time to say goodbye
This week Jeff Gordon announced that 2015 will be his last full-time season in NASCAR.

Gordon is a three-time Daytona 500 winner, five-time Brickyard 400 winner and a three-time champion of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. With four championships, 92 career Cup victories and 77 poles -- all without missing a race -- his career is impressive to say the least.

Though he didn't use the “R” word, Gordon did say “I plan to stay extremely busy in the years ahead, and there is always a possibility I’ll compete in selected events, although I currently have no plans to do that.”

NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian France said in a written statement: “Jeff Gordon transcends NASCAR and will be celebrated as one of the greatest drivers to ever race. We have all enjoyed watching his legend grow for more than two decades, and will continue to do so during his final full-time season. His prolonged excellence and unmatched class continue to earn him the admiration of fans across the globe. Today’s announcement is a bittersweet one. I’ll miss his competitive fire on a weekly basis, but I am also happy for Jeff and his family as they start a new chapter. On behalf of the entire NASCAR family, I thank Jeff for his years of dedication and genuine love for this sport, and wish him the very best in his final season.”

Lights, camera, action!
Starting this season, NASCAR will use 45 cameras positioned on the grandstand side of the track, across from pit road. Each camera will focus on two pit stalls, watching each pit stop. 

In the past NASCAR had 24 officials monitoring pit road to watch for missing lug nuts and prevent loose tires from escaping onto pit road. Now 10 officials will roam pit road throughout the race, but without going over the wall.

In the new system, eight NASCAR officials watch pit road from a central locale. As pit stops occur, the system detects possible penalties by highlighting then on a computer screen for review. However, NASCAR will still have the ability to overrule potential infractions. According to NASCAR, the new tracking system was tested during races at the end of the 2014 season.

Rico Abreu gets his big break
After his first phenomenal win at Chili Bowl Nationals on Saturday night, HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks announced that Abreu will drive for them in the K&N Pro Series East in 2015.

His asphalt debut came Saturday night at New Smyrna (Fla) in the Pete Orr Memorial Super Late Model event. After a 23rd-place start, Abreu made it into the top 10 before a mechanical issue took him out of the race. Disqualifications of two of his HScott teammates moved him up from 15th to 13th. 

Though it has not yet been confirmed, Abreu is scheduled to race about 110-120 races in the 2015 season, 14 of those in his new K&N ride.

Tony Stewart makes a decision
Stewart confirmed he will retain his pit crew from the end of the 2014 season. In an effort to help teammate Kevin Harvick in his championship quest, Stewart Haas Racing made the crew swap between the No. 4 and No. 14 after Harvick stated his displeasure with his existing crew last season. Stewart said he'll miss his original guys, but is comfortable with the new team as well.

“There wasn’t much of a difference in terms of their times on paper, it was within a tenth of a second. We just felt the chemistry worked really well.”

A Superstore coming to a track near you
On Wednesday, NASCAR, NASCAR Team Properties and e-retailer Fanatics, the company that runs NASCAR's online store, announced a 10-year agreement to sell at-track merchandise in 2015, making the souvenir haulers a thing of the past. Instead, fans will walk in and out of merchandise tents, set up like a mini-mall. When the announcement surfaced, fans on social media went crazy, many stating their displeasure with the decision. 

Although NASCAR says that the new partnership will provide a broader selection of driver merchandise, especially for women and children, walking among the haulers has been a time-honored tradition for race-goers. To see it disappear in 2015 will be a change that may not be universally embraced. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Jeff Gordon makes one last Drive for Five


Credit Charlotte Bray / Skirts and Scuffs
When the green flag waves at Daytona in 2016, a new chapter of NASCAR history will begin. One without Jeff Gordon behind the wheel of the No. 24 for Hendrick Motorsports. 

He carefully avoided the “r” word in his press conference Thursday, but sitting beside car owner and partner Rick Hendrick, Gordon announced the 2015 season will be his last to compete for a Sprint Cup championship. 

“I always said I wanted to step away on my own terms if possible, and I want to be competitive out there, and I hoped that I could do that all the way through my final year,” said Gordon.  

“This is the right time. I think it really became clear about halfway through last season that it was definitely going to be. Rick kept talking me into going longer and longer and longer. And I kept saying, ‘No, I think this is the year. I think this is the year.'"

"Finally about halfway through last year I said, ‘No. This is it, Boss,’ and we agreed and the timing was good for me, good for Hendrick and other opportunities that are out in front of us.” 

The four-time champion ended the 2014 season with four wins to bring his career total to 92, third on NASCAR's all-time list. His streak of 761 consecutive Cup starts leads all active drivers, and is only trailing the all-time leader Ricky Rudd by 27 green flags. 

Gordon has never missed a Cup race, and he's never driven one for anyone other than Rick Hendrick. He's never driven any Cup car other than the No. 24. 

Many fans suspected that Gordon would step down after the 2015 season when Hendrick extended Kasey Kahne’s contract for three seasons. After all, Chase Elliott will need a Cup ride in 2016, and NASCAR rules only allow an owner to field four full-time teams. 

Hendrick refused to be baited into confirming plans for Elliott, though. 

“We're going to kind of focus on Jeff and what he's accomplished, and then at a later time we'll kind of focus on who is going to be in the car.” 

Don’t expect 2015 to be a farewell tour, though. For the upcoming season, Gordon’s goal is to finally win that elusive fifth championship. He’s not happy about having not won under the Chase format. He’d like nothing better than to hang up his helmet next to a Sprint Cup trophy, so he’s avoiding all the hoopla that would accompany such a season. 

“It really bums me out I haven't won one under this format,” Gordon said. “We've been close, but haven't won it, and I'm using that as motivation in this final season to run for the championship and to go out there and get it done."

“I want my focus to be on driving that race car to the best of my ability, and I don't think that you can do that and try to have this retirement or sign off type of festivities every weekend. So my plan is that I'll be back at the track in 2016 doing all kinds of things with the fans.” 

Gordon has no plans to slow down, though he won’t be behind the wheel of a Cup car. “That's not me. I plan on working …. I'm actually going to have to get a real job now.” 

He didn’t rule out driving again. "I want to leave myself open, as well, to be able to get in a car. It doesn't have to be a Cup car. It could be an (Xfinity) car. It could be a truck. It could be a prototype for Le Mans or the Rolex. It might not be any of those things,” Gordon said. “I think the chances are pretty good that Homestead will be the last race that you see me in. But, again, I don't know that for a fact. But I know that I'm not going to come back and do a part‑time schedule.”

When asked about his legacy and how he wants to be remembered, Gordon said, “I think of who my heroes were when I was growing up: A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears, Al Unser, Steve Kinser, Doug Wolfgang ... I grew up in an open‑wheel arena where I grew up in California is all about Sprint Car racing and the Indy 500. It wasn't until much later that I started watching NASCAR.”

“So what drew me to those legends and those guys and their legacy was how many races they won. I love the fact that those guys won four Indianapolis 500s and championships and that they were great race car drivers." 

 "Quite simply, I'll be happy if people recognize me as a great race car driver because that's all I ever wanted to be.”

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fast Facts: 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Joe Weatherly

credit: ISC Images and Archives via Getty Images
2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Joe Weatherly was also a successful motorcycle racer, winning three American Motorcycle Association championships before embarking on a NASCAR career. Weatherly and fellow 2015 inductees Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott, Rex White and Bill Elliott will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Jan. 30, 2015. Here are the Fast Facts on the two-time NASCAR Grand National Series champ.
  • Joseph Herbert Weatherly was born May 29, 1922 in Norfolk, Virginia. He was a motorcycle enthusiast in high school, and after returning from duty in the Army began racing them. Between 1946 and 1950 Weatherly won three AMA titles, also winning the prestigious Laconia Classic 100 road race in 1948. Weatherly is a member of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame (1998).
  • In 1950, Weatherly entered his first modified race and came home with a win; he went on to win 49 of 83 stock car races he entered that season. In 1952 and 1953, Weatherly amassed 101 wins in the NASCAR Modified division, taking the championship in 1953. He also won 12 times in the NASCAR Convertible Division between 1956 and 1959, finishing second in points in 1957.
  • After racing sporadically in the series since 1952, Weatherly moved up to the NASCAR Grand National Division, now known as the Sprint Cup Series, for good in 1956. Racing for Schwam Motors, Pete DePaolo Engineering, Holman-Moody, Doc White, the Wood Brothers, Bud Moore Engineering and even Petty Enterprises, Weatherly often picked up rides with other teams when his primary owners were short on resources. Weatherly won his two Grand National titles in 1962 and 1963, driving primarily for Bud Moore Engineering.
  • In 230 races in the Grand National Division between 1952 and 1964, Weatherly picked up 25 wins and 153 top 10 finishes, along with 18 poles. He was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998, and inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2009.
  • Weatherly died of head injuries sustained in an accident at Riverside International Raceway on Jan. 19, 1964 during the fifth race of the 1964 season. Weatherly’s head went outside of his car and struck the retaining wall; he was not wearing a shoulder harness and did not have a window net installed on his car.
  • Weatherly was considered one of the first “personalities” in NASCAR, stemming from his outrageous behavior on and off the track – he was known as “the Clown Prince of Racing.”
  • In 1955, Weatherly and friend Paul Sawyer purchased the Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds, which later became Richmond International Raceway. After the pair bought a few other tracks in the Virginia and North Carolina areas, Sawyer bought Weatherly out in 1956.
  • Find out more about Weatherly at www.littlejoeweatherly.com


Monday, January 19, 2015

NASCAR: Week in Review (1/19/2015)


Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Skirts and Scuffs' new weekly feature continues, recapping all the hot topics from our sport in the past week. We'll keep you informed about what's going on in NASCAR, so if you missed anything, don’t worry – we have you covered. As always, your comments are welcome on our Facebook page. So, ladies and gentlemen, start your opinions!

Cole Custer is given a terrific opportunity
Custer is stepping into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with JR Motorsports for ten races in 2015. With longtime sponsor HAAS Automation on his No. 00 satellite team truck for JRM, the 17-year-old will have 2015 to get co-owner’s Dale Earnhardt Jr., his sister Kelley and owner Rick Hendrick into victory lane.

The drama continues  
This past week in a Dover, Delaware courtroom the Kurt Busch dilemma continued. Busch testified  he believes his ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll is a trained assassin who completed covert missions around the world. 

“Everybody on the outside can tell me I’m crazy, but I lived on the inside and saw it firsthand," said Busch, when questioned by his attorney Rusty Hardin. 

The allegations have been denied by Driscoll who is seeking a no-contact order against Busch. The court has plenty of time to decipher the testimonies, however, a decision is expected later this month or in early February. In addition, a criminal charge in the domestic violence case against Busch is still in the hands of the Delaware Attorney General’s office.

The question is – if Kurt races this year, how much of a distraction will this situation be?

The other Busch brother finds himself in the news 
Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) reports the organization is being sued by former competition director Rick Ren in the amount of $390,000 for commissions and bonus money he claims they owe him.

KBM’s attorney denies these allegations and said he will defend Busch in what he believes is a frivolous lawsuit.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Introducing Rookie Stripe: What exactly is NASCAR?


Photo Credit: Logan Stewart
Race fans that live and breathe NASCAR know the intuitive exhilaration that comes with the drop of the green flag. They’re well-acquainted with the despondency of an off-season that really isn’t all that long, but feels interminable.

When I stood on Pit Road for the first time at Darlington, the first NASCAR race of my life, I might as well have been standing in the middle of a foreign country. Riveted by the din of activity and the unfamiliar fast cars and smell of tires on a track, it was overwhelming. There’s so much to take in, and yes, it gets loud. But in the end, adrenaline beat out incertitude.

I’m excited to take on the Rookie Stripe column because my personal journey to becoming a racing fan is a complex and still-evolving one. For someone new, there’s so much to learn. I know that I’m very lucky to have closer access to NASCAR through my professional job, and I hope to help explain it to others who don’t know much about it, but want to learn. This will be a column for rookies, by a still sort of-rookie, so we can take on NASCAR together.


It's a wild ride inside the garage area
Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs 
So what exactly is NASCAR?  Here are the basics:

The National Association for Stock Car Racing (NASCAR) is the governing body of stock car racing, overseeing three different levels of racing. The most familiar NASCAR series is the Sprint Cup Series (which will change names after the 2016 season), with 43 cars and 36 races. Each car has a number (not necessarily between 1 and 43), and those numbers carry massive importance and affiliation for both fans and drivers.

Media, officials and fans often refer to the car number rather than the driver, and the number is truly a part of the driver’s identity.

Many Sprint Cup drivers earn their spot in the top series through the other levels of NASCAR: The NASCAR Xfiniity Series (previously known as the Nationwide Series) and the Camping World Truck Series for pickup trucks. Though not as well known to the general public, these tiers are home to many mega-talented drivers and up-and-comers.


Here are a few more basic facts to know in regards to the Sprint Cup Series
Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
  • 36 NASCAR Sprint Cup races in a year include 26 in the regular season and 10 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
  • There are 43 car positions available in each race, but not always 43 cars in a race.
  • Races take place at oval-shaped tracks across the nation of varying lengths, and there are also two road courses during the regular season (Watkins Glen International and Sonoma Raceway).
  • Every track is different and presents different challenges. The longest tracks are referred to as "superspeedways."
  • NASCAR has different colored flags used to help guide races and direct drivers. Different colored flags signal different instructions.
  • Sponsors are an important part of NASCAR. You’ll see their names everywhere and drivers will refer to them often.
  • Stock cars, built in individual team race shops, can reach speeds of 200 mph and sometimes more.
  • Each driver has a crew chief and pit crew in pit stalls on Pit Road in the infield. The crew chief is always in communication with the driver. Drivers make pit stops during a race for fuel, maintenance and more, and some stops are mandatory.
  • The driver who wins the race goes to Victory Lane with his or her team to celebrate. The winning driver gets 43 points and the other 42 places descend in points by place, with one point for last place. Bonus points are awarded for winning the race (3 points), leading a lap (1 point awarded to all drivers who lead at least one lap), and leading the most laps (1 point).
  • The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is NASCAR’s championship. NASCAR introduced a new Chase format in 2014, taking the number of eligible drivers from 12 to 16.
  • Driver starting position is determined by qualifying, which takes place before the race.
    • For tracks 1.25 miles or longer
      • Round 1 involves all vehicles
      • Round 2, the 24 fastest cars from round 1
      • Round 3, the 12 fastest cars from round 2. 
    • For tracks less than 1.25 miles and road courses
      • Round 1 includes all vehicles
      • Round 2 includes the 12 fastest cars from round 1. 
    • If the qualifier is canceled due to rain, starting order is based on points standings. Confusing? We’ll tackle the finer details of qualifying in a future post. 
To me, there’s something in the spirit of NASCAR that is more than just energy. Racing unites fans of all ages in an unrivaled zeal for a sport that they truly wear on their sleeve. Its storied history, labyrinth of rules and cast of characters make for some truly wild rides.

We’re wearing this rookie stripe together and have lots to learn -- so let’s hammer down and have fun! See you next time.

Is there a topic you'd like to learn more about? Leave a comment below and you may see your question addressed in a future edition of Rookie Stripe.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Fast Facts: 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Wendell Scott

credit: NASCAR via Getty Images
2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Wendell Scott won only once in his NASCAR career, but it was groundbreaking – he became the first African-American driver to win in NASCAR’s top tier series in 1963. Scott and fellow 2015 inductees Fred Lorenzen, Joe Weatherly, Rex White and Bill Elliott will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Jan. 30, 2015. Here are the Fast Facts on this NASCAR legend.
  • Wendell Oliver Scott was born Aug. 29, 1921 in Danville, Virginia. Scott learned auto mechanics from his father as a youth, and those skills served him well upon joining the U.S. Army during World War II; Scott served for three years.
  • Following the war, Scott ran an auto repair shop and took on a side job – running moonshine, much like fellow NASCAR Hall of Fame members Junior Johnson and Bill France Sr. Scott started racing at various Virginia tracks in the late 1940s, winning more than 100 races over the next decade.
  • Scott was issued a NASCAR license in 1953 after being rejected numerous times because of his race. He competed on the NASCAR regional circuits for nine years until moving to the Grand National division (now the Sprint Cup Series) in 1961. While competing on the regional circuits, Scott won numerous races and gained a large support group of fellow drivers and fans who saw beyond the racial prejudice of the day and looked at Scott’s skill and talent.
  • In 1961, Scott made his Grand National debut at Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds in South Carolina in March, finishing the season with five top five finishes in 23 starts. In 1963, Scott finished 15th in Grand National points; on Dec. 1, 1963, the start of the 1964 season, Scott won his first and only top-tier race at Speedway Park in Florida. Scott went on to make 495 Grand National starts over 13 seasons, ending his career with 147 top 10 finishes and one pole; he finished a career-best sixth in points in 1966.
  • Scott passed away on Dec. 23, 1990 in Danville after suffering from spinal cancer.
  • In addition to his upcoming induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Scott was a member of the 2000 class for the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. The 1977 film Greased Lightning starring Richard Pryor was loosely based on Scott’s life.
  • Learn more about Scott and his legacy at www.wendellscott.org, site for the Wendell Scott Foundation.


Monday, January 12, 2015

NASCAR: Week in Review (1/12/2015)

Credit: Beth Bence Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs

Skirts and Scuffs' new weekly feature continues, recapping all the hot topics from our sport in the past week. We'll keep you informed about what's going on in NASCAR, so if you missed anything, don’t worry – we have you covered. As always, your comments are welcome on our Facebook page. So, ladies and gentlemen, start your opinions!

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
Danica Patrick gets a permanent crew chief
Stewart Haas Racing announced that Daniel Knost will be atop the No. 10 pit box for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Initially listed as "interim" after swapping places with Tony Gibson for the final three races of the 2014 season, SHR announced Knost will be Patrick's official crew chief for 2015.

Patrick will be entering her third full year as a NSCS driver in what many are saying is a “make or break” year for her. Her GoDaddy.com sponsorship is up at the end of the 2015 season, so the question has arisen again: if her performance doesn’t improve, will SHR and GoDaddy.com remain by her side?

Ray Evernham reveals a big secret
Jeff Gordon’s former crew chief divulged via Twitter that when he went to work at Hendrick Motorsports in 1993, he was told that his car number was going to be 46. Evernham provided further explanation on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, stating the information came from HMS general manager Jim Johnson.

However, that number didn't make it to the track due to the movie Days of Thunder. Evernham wasn't sure whether it was a licensing issue or some other conflict, but the No. 46 became the No. 24, and as they say, the rest is history.

Brian France answers the fans
In a rare appearance on Motor Racing Network’s "NASCAR Live," France answered fan questions. Topics included shorter races, mid-week racing and the possibility of a road course being added to the Chase.

France seemed completely open with his answers. On mid-week racing, he stated that "no track operators wanted to trade a race weekend for a mid-week race."

Will there be shorter races in the future? France is open to the idea and thinks shorter races in general make sense.

How about a road course in the Chase? Sorry to disappoint everyone, but Watkins Glen International and Sonoma Raceway are not willing to trade their dates. Having a road course in the run for the Championship would be a terrific thing, just don’t expect it anytime soon.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Fast Facts: 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Fred Lorenzen

credit: ISC Archives via Getty Images
2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Fred Lorenzen went by numerous nicknames during his career – The Golden Boy and Fast Freddie to name but two. Lorenzen and fellow 2015 inductees Wendell Scott, Joe Weatherly, Rex White and Bill Elliott will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Jan. 30, 2015. Here are the Fast Facts on the 1965 winner of the Daytona 500.
  • Frederick Lorenzen Jr. was born Dec. 30, 1934 in Elmhurst, Ill. After graduation from high school, Lorenzen raced Modifieds and Late Models before making his NASCAR debut at Langhorne Speedway in 1956. Lorenzen raced USAC stock cars after that, winning championships in 1958 and 1959.
  • In 1961, Lorenzen joined the Holman-Moody racing team, winning three races in his first season at Martinsville, Darlington and Atlanta. After two wins in 1962, Lorenzen became the first driver to earn more than $100,000 in a season, winning six races and a total of $122,000.
  • Lorenzen made just 16 starts in 1964, and made them count, winning eight of them, including races at Bristol, Martinsville, Darlington, and Charlotte. From 1965 to 1967, he won seven times, including the Daytona 500 in 1965, before retiring following the 1967 season. Lorenzen did make a brief NASCAR comeback from 1970 to 1972.
  • Lorenzen ended his NASCAR career with 26 wins, 84 top 10s and 32 poles in 158 starts. He was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998 and was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2001.
  • One of Lorenzen’s best-remembered rides with the Junior Johnson-owned No. 26 Ford he drove in 1966 at Atlanta.  Ford was boycotting NASCAR for much of the season, and Johnson and Lorenzen came to the track with a “modified” car, with front end sloped downward, a lowered roofline, narrow side windows, a lowered windshield and a high tail. The car became known as “The Yellow Banana,” and was only allowed to race by NASCAR in hopes of boosting attendance. Lorenzen crashed the car on Lap 139 while leading.
  • Lorenzen, now 80, lives in suburb of Chicago.
  • Read more stories about Lorenzen at www.fredlorenzen.com


Monday, January 5, 2015

NASCAR: Week in Review (1/5/2015)

Credit: Rainer Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR  
Skirts and Scuffs' new weekly feature continues, recapping hot topics from the past week. We'll keep you informed about what's going on in NASCAR, so if you missed anything, don’t worry – we have you covered. As always, your comments are welcome on our Facebook page. So, ladies and gentlemen, start your opinions!

We wish you health and happiness in 2015. Here’s to another great year of NASCAR, and may your favorite driver be sitting at the Champion’s table when the year is over.

Is it time to say good-bye to The Rock?
The owners of Rockingham Speedway, fondly known as The Rock, had until January 1 to sell the former NASCAR oval, either to an individual or at auction, to avoid foreclosure. At the time of publication, it was not clear whether that deadline was met.

In September of 2014, a Superior Court judge issued a restraining order to track co-owners Andy Hillenberg and Bill Silas allowing them more time to reach an agreement with Farmers and Merchants Bank. 

The Rock hosted the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from 1965-2004 and the Nationwide Series between 1988 - 2004. It was one of the tracks used by the Buck Baker School of Racing. In 2012, Hillenberg attempted to bring the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series back to the venue, but managed only two seasons before closing the gates.

Many fans grew up watching races at The Rock and remember it with fondness. It would be a shame to lose this important piece of NASCAR history over a $4.2 million dollar debt.

Who was the last NSCS winner at The Rock? That driver would be Matt Kenseth, on February 22, 2004.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Fast Facts: 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Bill Elliott

Cindy, Bill and Chase Elliott at the NASCAR Hall of Fame
following the 2015 HoF announcement
credit: Getty Images/Rainier Ehrhardt
2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Bill Elliott was the 1988 Cup Series champion, earning 44 wins and 55 poles during his career. Elliott and fellow 2015 inductees Wendell Scott, Joe Weatherly, Rex White and Fred Lorenzen will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Jan. 30, 2015. Here are the updated Fast Facts on one of NASCAR’s most popular drivers, originally published in Feb. 2011.
  • William Clyde Elliott was born Oct. 8, 1955 in Dawsonville, Georgia. His brothers Ernie and Dan were active in his early career, as was his father George. Elliott made his Cup Series debut in 1976 in a family-owned car; he received his first major sponsor in 1980 from Harry Melling, who later bought the team from George Elliott.
  • Elliott won his first race in 1983 at Riverside International Raceway. In 1985, he won 11 races and 11 poles, as well as the first Winston Million for winning the Daytona 500, the Winston 500 (Talladega), and the Southern 500 (Darlington). This is when he earned his nicknames “Million Dollar Bill” and “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville.” In 1986, Elliott set the all-time NASCAR qualifying speed record at Talladega, running a lap of 212.809 mph.
  • After winning the Cup Series championship in 1988, Elliott was again a major player in the 1992 championship, finishing runner-up to the late Alan Kulwicki by 10 points; it was Elliott’s first year driving for Junior Johnson. In 1995, Elliott started his own team, sponsored by McDonald’s, which he owned until 2000.
  • In 2000, he sold his team to Ray Evernham, who was working on a Dodge return to NASCAR. Elliott drove the #9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid until 2003. In 2004, he began his part-time driving career, driving for a number of teams including Evernham’s and the Wood Brothers. Most recently, Elliott raced in the July 2012 Cup Series race at Daytona for Turner Motorsports, and tested a Nationwide Series car at Daytona for JR Motorsports in Feb. 2014.
  • Elliott was voted the Cup Series’ Most Popular Driver a record 16 times: 1984-1988, 1991-2000, and 2002. He took himself out of the running in 2001 and urged all fans to vote for the late Dale Earnhardt, who won the award posthumously.
  • Elliott and his wife Cindy are the parents of 2014 Nationwide Series champion Chase Elliott (born Nov. 28, 1995); the younger Elliott drives for JR Motorsports. Elliott also has two daughters, Starr and Brittany.
  • Find out more about Elliott at his website, www.billelliott.com


Monday, December 29, 2014

NASCAR: Week in Review (12/29/2014)


Photo Courtesy of: Carlos Herrera NASCARMedia.com  

Skirts and Scuffs' new weekly feature continues, recapping all the hot topics from NASCAR in the past week. We'll keep you informed about what's happening, so if you missed anything, don’t worry – we have you covered. As always, your comments are welcome on our Facebook page.

So, ladies and gentlemen, start your opinions!

Carl Edwards makes a bold prediction

The new Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) driver, in an interview with Fox Sports on Sunday, announced that he plans on winning 10 races and the championship in 2015. 

Do you think he’s crazy? Remember back in 2012, Matt Kenseth, a former Roush Fenway Racing teammate to Edwards, won seven races and finished second in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. 

Still think he’s lost his mind? 

Perhaps ... but perhaps not. Maybe he is just raising the bar at JGR. With Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin in the same stable, this could be exactly what the team needs – a little friendly (or not) competition.

Jeremy Bullins comes full circle

After three years at Team Penske, Bullins will return to Wood Brother’s Racing (WBR) in 2015 as crew chief for Ryan Blaney. Starting his career in 1999 at WBR, he worked on Pro Cup and Late Model cars driven by Jon Wood. He quickly moved up to race engineer for the famous No. 21 at a time when this particular position was an up-and-coming important part of a race team.

While working at Team Penske, his most notable success was as crew chief for the No. 22 Nationwide Series car, leading four different drivers to a total of 12 wins and the organization's first owners’ championship.

Will returning home and teaming with Blaney bring success for Bullins? We'll just have to wait and see.

Kyle Larson welcomes new addition

On Monday, the NASCAR Sunoco Rookie of the Year, Kyle Larson, and his longtime girlfriend, Katelyn Sweet, announced the arrival of their son, Owen Miyata Larson. The baby’s middle name is a tribute to Larson's mother. It's her maiden name, which will continue in the Larson family.

What a great way to end the year for this young driver. It's likely 2015 will be just as exciting for him and his new family.