Racin' & Internet Stuff:
By Tom Avenengo
Again, as in the past, I’m dedicating this week’s column to my friend, the late John LeVan.
This column will be back in two weeks – December 2nd. Next Thursday, November 25th, is Thanksgiving. Hope you all have a Happy one! Make sure you leave room for the after dinner yummies!
Note: Hmm – December 2nd is a date I’m quite familiar with. Seems “Uncle Sam” needed my services and body more than the Grand Union Company and my wife did, and I was drafted on December 2, 1960. Yes, I remember that day very much. We had quite a bit of snow on the ground.
Last Sunday, the 14th, was the annual Lobitz party/auction/dinner – a function that Stan Lobitz has to raise funding for the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing (EMMR). Just prior to the last 50/50 drawing, towards the end of the sit down dinner, it was announced that $6,472.00 had been raised during the day.
year there were quite a few first timers on hand. Gene Ingram, a fellow Yahoo Race History
Group member was one of them – coming in from
We spent the weekend in
parties that one can go to. It was the 25th Annual Stan Lobitz Movie Party
and Auction. WOW!...it was all I had heard about and more. Stan is a most
gracious host and will do whatever it takes to make one feel right at
home..along with keeping one well fed. The camaraderie of all there was
fabulous. Bench racing at its best and a few times the truth even slipped
in.lol. This is a great opportunity for racers to support a very good
were there and we got to meet two that we didn't know were there, Ralph
Hughey and Dave Balloch, along with the usual suspects, Gordon White, Gene
Crucean, Tom Avenengo, Freddy Johns, Stan Lobitz and myself.. 'The Hat' was
If one has not been to Stan's party... well, words can't describe the time
one can have. Just go! Stan has an 'Iron Clad' guarantee, If you don't like
his party, you get your money back...it's free, all one has to do is show up
and be hungry...including free booze!
The auction is a fund raiser for the EMMR and some very nice
stuff is in that auction. My wallet will testify to that, along with many
others who bought objects. They raised over $6400.00 Sunday Night. It is a
fun time and I suggest you put Stan's movie party and EMMR auction on your
bucket list. One never knows who might show up, Chris Economaki stopped by
to share a story or two.
I could babble on about this for a
long time as so many things happen in the
course of the weekend at Stan's. It's time for this report to end and say
to Stan and all the guys and gals at the EMMR...GREAT JOB!!! And BIG THANK
YOU..from all of us who know what you do for racing history and keeping it
alive and well.
Note: As of now, there are 1,064 members registered with the Yahoo Race History Group.
Keeping with the EMMR – it was said that things are getting started on an addition to the building, and I believe that it was said that an additional 11 acres, adjacent to the Museum, are being purchased.
A nice plaque
was sent to the Lobitz function from the National
Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame, a plaque that lists all those that have been
inducted – including those that will be inducted early next year, down in
The Lobitz party/auction/dinner is something that gets put on my calendar every year. I’ve been fortunate to have my daughter, Judy accompany me to quite a few of these functions, including this year. We had a slight curve ball thrown at us for this year’s shindig, though. Seems a family member had some last minute plans to get married. Yep, scheduled for the 14th. No, not because said family member is going to be a parent, I should add. Knowing that we always attended the Lobitz affair, the family member had no problem with us missing his wedding day, since, as this family member said, it was so much of a last minute thing.
The family member – grandson Brett Avenengo.
Thanks, Brett, and Susan, for being so understanding! They made a handsome groom and beautiful bride!
Some of my thoughts:
Glancing over the Internet, one can find that there is more talk about adding MORE classes to an all ready overcrowded motor sports family. “Crate” Modifieds are being mentioned. Ray Evernham coming out with design for a *“Dirt Track” Legends Car* are already in the process of being built. Heck a few years ago Tobias came out with the SpeedSTR “Midgets” – a spec class, which really hasn’t grown all that much. You have to know that if you have a “Spec” racecar, you’re limited as to where you can run it, and when. There are Mini Sprints and “Lightning” Sprints. NEMA now runs two classes of Midgets – one the regular “full race” variety and the other a Ford Focus/Quad 4 class – NEMA Lights – a stepping stone to full blown Midgets. I often wonder if a similar class would work for the ARDC – a stepping stone from Micros to Midgets using some stock 4 cylinder engines. I had something about those kind of engines a while back – September 30th and Volume # 32. How about all the different classes in Micro Sprints? Heck, at Accord they run two different classes of Sportsman – “Crate” and “Race” engined.
*The Evernham designed Dirt Track Legends Car can be seen if you go here: http://www.aarn.com/images/bp11-16.pdf
Kinda looks familiar if you’re an old timer like me. Yes, cars of that design were around back some 50+ years. And from what I’ve heard, it really isn’t all that economical/affordable, either. Still…………………
It’s way too
early to tell about racing next year, but one really has to wonder, especially
here in the
It was said, quite a while back, that the World Racing Group was giving serious consideration to making some body changes to the Big Block Modified class. So far, nothing, as far as I know, has been decided. Just what could be changed? What could be done to a Big Block Modified to set it apart from Small Block Modifieds and the Sportsman classes? Sail panels?
Any idea as to how many of the newly made “Crate” Big Block engines might be in use in 2011? I think it’s 500 cubic inches. What about more of the “used” NASCAR engines? Will we see more of them? I understand that they go for less than $10,000.00?
This coming Sunday is the last race for NASCAR for the 2010 season. I was rather surprised to see only 45 cars are entered for this one. Heck, if I were running the show, I’d start all 45. Those that won’t make it, via qualifying, would more than likely be “Start & park” cars, I’d imagine.
“Start & park” in racing – good or bad? What if a “Start & park” car makes the race and a more competitive car that might run the whole event doesn’t? Good or bad?
Will NASCAR, possibly going to fuel injection sometime in 2011, open up a giant “Can of worms” for tech issues?
Will NASCAR ever just check over the engines after a race, and not DQ a car for very minute body measurements, especially when that particular body passed pre-race tech – like they DQ’d Clint Bowyer? Bad call as far as I’m concerned, and although I like Bowyer, he isn’t one of my top fav’s.
Age limits in the garage/pit areas – How young? There’s a thread about this on the Track Forum where it’s being mentioned that it might be 9 years old for Indycars. That too young? Heck, I have a photo in my computer of a small child – maybe 3 years old, and he’s cleaning off one of “daddy’s” wheels at a track fairly close to where I live.
Racing on TV – there are a
couple of “big” races coming up – races that are not NASCAR events, yet they
don’t get televised. There’s the “Turkey
Derby” at Wall Stadium in
Out west, there’s “Turkey Night” at the Irwindale Speedway – USAC Midgets and Sprint Cars. Years past, this event used to be on dirt tracks. Now, it seems they’ll all be on pavement. Personally, I prefer dirt.
National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame – ya know, I’ve about given up on
seeing those that were inducted into the
Going back, in time:
Note: Most of the following information was found here:
Covering the days of November 5th to November 18th:
Note: I’m hoping this section doesn’t get too large since I’ve gone to a column every two weeks.
Joe James ... Died ... AAA
driver from the 1950's. Joe started racing in the AAA National Championship in
1950 when he made five starts with a best finish of seventh at
Rex Mays... Died
... AAA driver from the 1930's and 40's. He was inducted into the
Motorsports Hall of Fame of
Jack McGrath... Died ... AAA
driver from the 1940's & 50's, ran 8 Indy 500's.
He was killed in the final race of the 1955 season in
Art Arfons returned to the Bonneville Salt Flats in a revamped Green Monster, and shattered Breedlove's record from the previous year, when he raced to 576.553 mph across the one-mile course.
, actor, enduro rider, sometimes sports car
racer, and star of the movie "
set an unofficial
Bill Elliott won the NASCAR Winston Cup Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400 over Jimmie Johnson at the North Carolina Speedway, Rockingham, NC.
Buster Warke... Born ... AAA driver from the 1930's , 40's to the mid 1950's.
... Born ... Bisch started racing midgets in 1948
before moving on to Sprint Cars in California, dominating the 1956 season,
winning 10 of the 27 races. He moved up to Champ cars
in 1958 and won his first race in the Rex Mays 100. Sadly his career was cut
short when he crashed at the
Joan Marie Rose was born. Later on, in her life, she would end up marrying me on September 11, 1960, thus changing her last name to mine. For some reason, I see more and more wives of today not doing that – changing last names.
Sam McQuagg... Born ... NASCAR driver from the 1960's and 70's.
Robert "Red" Byron... Died ... He was a NASCAR driver who was successful in the sanctioning body's first years. He was NASCAR's first Modified champion (and its first champion in any division) in 1948 and its first Strictly Stock (predecessor to NEXTEL Cup) champion in 1949.
Gil de Ferran... Born ... CART and IRL driver and now a race team owner in Indycar.
... Born ... A NASCAR driver from Fort Collins, CO. Despite racing in just six
Nextel Cup Series events in his career, Rostek earned
one victory, one pole and three top-tens. Five of his six races came in 1960,
when Rostek debuted at Daytona, racing in the Daytona
500 qualifier. But a crash on the fifth lap would end his chances of a good
finish and making the 500, finishing 39th. But his rebound was amazing. In his
Allen Crowe ... Born ... He
drove in the USAC Championship Car series, racing in the 1961-1963 seasons with
15 starts, including the 1962 and 1963
Don Branson ... Died ... He
drove in the USAC Championship Car series and also in sprint cars, racing champ
cars in the 1956-1966 seasons with 129 starts, including the 1959-1966
Indianapolis 500 races. He finished in the top ten 85 times, with 7 victories.
Branson died at Ascot Park in
Dick Atkins... Died ... One of
the best sprint car drivers of his era and was just begining
to shine in the USAC Championships when he was killed at
Larry Shinoda ... Died ... He died of a heart attack at his home
Tommy Milton ... Born ...
Joe Saldana... Born ... a former driver in the USAC and CART Championship Car
series. He raced in the 1977-1980 seasons, with 31 combined career
starts, including the 1978-1979 Indianapolis 500. He finished in the top ten 10
times, with a best finish of 6th position in 1979 at
Louie Unser... Born ... He was the twin brother of Jerry Unser, who in 1958 became the first of the famed racing family to qualify for the Indy 500. Louie served as chief mechanic for Jerry in that race and handled the same duties for younger brother Al Unser's 500 debut in 1965.
Jerry Unser... Born ... He was
the 1957 USAC Stock Car champion. Jerry was the first of the Unser family to
... Died ... Drove in the USAC Championship Car series, racing in the 1961-1966
seasons, with 30 career starts, including the 1964
Skip Barber... Born ... A retired road racing driver who is most famous for his Skip Barber Racing Schools.
John Mahler... Born ... A former open wheel race car driver in the USAC and CART
Championship Car series. He raced in the 1970-1973 and 1976-1981
seasons, with 39 combined career starts, including the 1972 and 1977-1979
Indianapolis 500. He finished in the top ten 6 times, with his best finish in 6th
position in 1970 at the
Chuck Amati... Born ... Chuck Amati is one of the original outlaws, a star who built his legend during an era when the term defied any organized definition. His career stretched across six different decades, 1959 through 2002, and he became one of the most popular and interesting characters in the sport.
Roberto Guerrero... Born ... CART, IRL and Grand Prix driver.
Robbie Stanley ... Born ... Robbie was the All-Stars Circuit of Champions sprint car titleist in 1990, then moved on to USAC where he collected three straight USAC National sprint car championships from 1991, 1992, and 1993, and was on his way to a fourth when his career was cut short in a fatal accident in a USAC sprint car event in Winchester, Indiana, on May 26, 1994.
Jimmy Reece... Born ... Reece
was Midget, Sprint driver and a 6 time veteran of the
... Born ... His father was Indianapolis 500 and sprint car legend Tony Bettenhausen,
and his brother was former Champ Car team owner Tony Bettenhausen
Jr. Another brother, Merle Bettenhausen, lost his arm
in a fiery crash.
Chuck Amati ... Died ... Chuck Amati was an 'Outlaw' long before the inaugural 1978 World of Outlaws season. For over 40 years he raced from coast-to-coast chasing wins, and when he took his helmet off for the final time in 2002, he had accumulated hundreds of them in his career in a number of different types of race cars. Amati will always be remember as "The One Armed Bandit," a nickname he earned on a night, when he sustained an injury to his right arm and devised a harness to hold the arm in place in his lap, driving using his left arm. The arm would eventually heal, though the nickname stuck with him for the rest of his career and contributed to him being one of the most colorful drivers to ever climb into a sprint car. He won a in a variety of machines during his legendary career including: winged sprint cars, non-winged sprint cars, supermodifieds and even midgets. From 1969-1986, he won at least one sprint car race every year during that span.
2008 – Continued:
It was on November 18, 2008, when I lost a close personal friend – maybe some of you knew of him, or knew him – John LeVan.
John, along with the late Lenny Calinoff, was very instrumental in getting me interested in writing about motor sports. After Lenny passed away, and he and John ran www.openwheelracing.com, John took the website over. Later on, things got messed up so John came out with www.openwheelracers.com. Via personal discussions between John and I, I could see how big OWR had become, and how much it was valued by other motor sports people on the Internet. After John passed on, his son, Craig, continued with the website, but some problems arose and from what I can tell, help that could have saved the website really didn’t come to Craig, even after he requested it. To me, that is really a great big shame. True, Craig did confide in me that “He had to be the dumbest 22 year old that’s on a computer”, still he made an attempt.
Looking ahead, in time:
In 35 days from the day this column comes out, it will be Christmas Day. Looking for some kind of gifts? You can check out these places:
No, I don’t get any commissions form any of those above!
The History of the Sport:
If you remember, a few weeks ago, one of the members of the Yahoo! Race History Group sent out some links (35 of them, to be precise) to some auto racing articles that appeared in Time magazine, many years ago, via e-mail. So, if you don’t mind, here are the next five links. Hope you get some enjoyment out of reading them.
Some sad times:
When you have an idea as to when to quit:
Auto Racing: Safe at Any Speed?
Andy Granatelli and the 500
Losing 1/3 of the 500-starting field at the start:
Former Dirt Oval Go-Kart (
Billy VanInwegen traveled south to
There were some that had raced at the Dirt Oval in years past that made a return to the Dirt Oval for OVRP’s annual Novemberfest a couple of weeks back. They were: Dan Hennessy, Chuck Alessi, Jimmy Johnson, Brian Krummel and Bennie Rizzo
Kart racing in
Friday, in the past, has been a practice session at night. I really didn’t find anything about Friday, the 10th, mentioned in the first link, below, but it is mentioned on the 4-Cycle forum.
More racin’ stuff:
NASCAR’s point standings – two ways – as they used to be (still should in my way of thinking), and how they are with the “Chase”.
How they still should be – per Jayski’s website:
And, the “Chase”:
Additional racin’ stuff:
Nothing definite yet, but in last weeks AARN, it more or less backed up what’s been floating around on various message boards and forums – news about allowing Cup drivers to run in Nationwide races. It might come down to letting the Cup drivers still run an unlimited number of Nationwide races, BUT – the driver would have to state, prior to the season, what championship he’d be running for – either Cup or Nationwide.
Note: My feelings on this: NASCAR is kind of in a “Catch 22” situation here. The tracks like to have the Cup drivers in the Nationwide races because it helps sell tickets (even though the stands have way to many empty seats – like the Truck Series). “Name” drivers opting not to run a good portion of the Nationwide events, surely will not help attendance.
Note: Some interesting things being said on the Track Forum, and you can read them if you go here:
Surely you’ve heard of him, right? Guess what his next “thing” will be? How about the Nationwide Series in NASCAR? How about he is already signed up with Michael Waltrip to run some Nationwide events? Seems to be true, folks. You can read what’s being said – again, on the Track Forum, by going here:
Note: I saw Travis
run a Silver Crown car a few years ago down at the USA International Speedway
Seven 2009 race
winners have yet to win in 2010:
#83-Kasey Kahne last won at Atlanta in September 2009 [while in the #9 car] and has a two year streak of winning at least one race on the line; #17-Matt Kenseth last won at Auto Club in February 2009; #24-Jeff Gordon at Texas in April 2009; #12-Brad Keselowski at Talladega in April 2009; #5-Mark Martin at New Hampshire in September 2009; #20-Joey Logano at New Hampshire in June 2009; #83-Brian Vickers last won at Michigan in August 2009 but is not racing the rest of the season due to blood clots.(11-12-2010)
Note: The above was found on Jayski’s website.
Some Racin’ stuff from the AARN:
If you check out
various message boards and/or forums, you might have seen some things said
about some problems with some of the DIRT tracks here in the Northeast –
Mr. Carter also went on to say this, about the proposed 33 gallon Sprint Car fuel tank: “Our long term goal is to get rid of the fuel stops. We will not mandate the 33-gallon fuel cell, but we will have strict lap count rule based on track size”.
He also made
As for the Cayuga
County Speedway, it’s said in the AARN:
“Eric Kingsley made the trip south from
Doug Watson, one of those that has a column in the AARN, hit on quite a few subjects about how to get fans to the race track, and how to keep them coming back. Things like : Getting underway as advertised, racing classes, how many should make up a weekly program, keeping the kids coming, a friendly staff and cleans facility will go a long way and don’t forget the fans. One thing he really didn’t hit on, in a way, was actual ADVERTISING by the tracks.
Towards the back of
the AARN, in “News Briefs”, I came across an interesting item – The Dirt Track
Channel (www.thedirttrackchannel.com). It says that they will once again have
same-day coverage of the International Midget World Series (IMWS) audio
webcast from Western Springs Speedway in
Other forums/message boards and websites:
You might find some interesting reading if you go to the links below.
Track Forum: - http://www.trackforum.com/forums/
Jayski: - http://www.jayski.com/
Open Wheel Racers3: http://www.openwheelracers3.com/
Race Pro Weekly: http://raceproweekly.com/
Racing on TV - http://www.racefantv.com/USTV.htm
(must register to post)
Yahoo Race History Group: http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/RacingHistory/ (when one posts something on an e-mail to the group, they do have what is called the “Len Sutton rule” – you put in your name and where you live. And, yes, things are “policed” too.
The mile track in
While at the Lobitz affair, I ran into Dave Read, from
Note: For those of you that are reading this on Dirt Track Digest, there are a couple of photos of Bettenhausen in that car, inserted here. To see them, might I suggest you go to the New England Tractor website, which has a link to it, above.
November 17, 1938 was the day that Gordon Lightfoot was born, up in
Non racing news:
“AARP warned its employees that more cost-shifting could be in store. "AARP intends to make similar changes, as necessary, in the future to avoid the (health plan) tax," said Hodges' e-mail”
“LOS ANGELES – Grocery store owners William and Esperanza Casco were making enough money to stay current on their mortgage, but when . offered a plan that reduced their payments, they figured they could use the extra cash and signed up.
The Cascos say they never missed a subsequent
payment, so they were horrified when the bank decided the smaller payments
weren't enough and foreclosed on their modest
From Nov 15th:
“The House ethics trial for New York Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel is now missing one important figure in the case: Charlie Rangel.
The congressman showed up without his lawyers for the first day of the proceeding, saying that the committee had dragged the inquiry out so long that he could not afford representation.
He asked for a delay, but the request was denied.”
“"I've been a lawyer long enough to know it's very very unwise for any person … to be his own lawyer at a proceeding like this," Rangel told the committee.
He further denounced the committee by saying that it had claimed it lacked time to begin the trial, yet that the panel is now suggesting its members would find it convenient to quickly resolve the matter. Rangel said he had been offered free representation but had been informed that such advocacy would constitute a gift -- and a violation of House rules.
Rangel suggested he would recuse himself, so members moved into a closed session to decide how to proceed after this surprise development.
They returned less than an hour later to announce that the trial would proceed. But they also laid into Rangel's lawyers, saying that Rangel's legal team had ditched the lawmaker on the eve of the hearing.
Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) expressed his "astonishment" with the litigation specialists Rangel had retained at Zuckerman Spaeder "for taking the money, draining the money and then kicking their client to the side of the road."
“The conduct often cited by critics was his failure to report income to the
IRS from a unit he owned in a
Rangel, a founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, remains a political
Convicted on 11 of 13 charges of rules violations, his ordeal isn't finished.”
Note: Yes, this dude was re-elected by a LARGE margin! I wonder what kind of a “slap on the wrist” this crook will get. Remember – he was one of the five that Governor elect Cuomo made mention in one of his TV ads – that if you’re a crook, you go to jail. Yeah, right!
“Judges who hear Social Security disability cases are facing a growing number of violent threats from claimants angry over being denied benefits or frustrated at lengthy delays in processing claims.
There were at least 80 threats to kill or harm administrative law judges or staff over the past year — an 18 percent increase over the previous reporting period, according to data collected by the Social Security Administration.”
“A Senate subcommittee heard testimony on Monday at a field hearing in
Nearly 2 million people are waiting to find out if they qualify for benefits, with many having to wait more than two years to see their first payment.”
Is this true?:
Might these be true? Got this in an e-mail back on November 10th:
Keep these facts in mind when "donating". As you
open your pockets
for yet another natural disaster, keep the following facts in mind; we
have listed them from the highest (worse paid offender) to the lowest
(least paid offender).
The worst offender was yet again for the 11th year in a row
is, UNICEF - CEO, receives
$1,200,000 per year, (plus use of a Royal Royce for his
exclusive use where ever he goes, and an expense
account that is rumored to be well over $150,000.) Only pennies from the actual donations goes to the
cause (less than $0.14 per dollar of income).
The second worst offender this year is Marsha J. Evans, President and CEO of the American Red Cross...for her salary for the year ending in 2009 was $651,957 plus expenses. Enjoys 6 weeks - fully paid holidays including all related expenses during the holiday trip for her and her husband and kids, including 100% fully paid health & dental plan for her and her family, for life. This means out of every dollar they bring in, about $0.39 goes to related charity causes.
The third worst offender was again for the 7th time was, Brian Gallagher, President of the United Way receives a $375,000 base salary (U.S. funds), plus so many numerous expense benefits it's hard to keep track as to what it is all worth, including a fully paid lifetime membership for 2 golf courses (1 in Canada, and 1 in the U.S.A.), 2 luxury vehicles, a yacht club membership,
3 major company gold credit cards for his personal expenses...and so on. This equates to about $0.51 per dollar of income goes to charity causes.
Fourth worst offender who was also again in the fourth spot, for every year since this information has been made available from the start 1998 is amazingly yet again, World Vision President (Canada) receives $300,000 base salary, (plus supplied - a home valued in the $700,000 - $800,000 dollar value range, completely furnished,
completely paid all housing expenses, including taxes, water/sewer, telephone/fax, HD/high speed cable, weekly maid service and pool/yard maintenance, fully paid private schooling for his children, upscale automobile and an $55,000 personal
expense account for clothing/food, with a $125,000 business expense account). Get this, because it is a "religious based" charity, it pays, little to no taxes, can receive government assistance and does not have to declare were the money goes. Only about $0.52 of earned income per dollar is available for charity causes.
Of the sixty some odd "charities" we looked at,
the lowest paid (President/C.E.O/Commissioner) was heading up a charity group
right here in
Ready for this...
I think you might be surprised...
It is, none other than...
The Salvation Army's Commissioner Todd Bassett receives a salary
of only $13,000 per year (plus housing) for managing this $2
Billion dollar organization. Which means about $0.93 per dollar earned, is readily available and goes back out to local charity causes...truly amazing...and well done.
No further comment is necessary..."Think Twice" before you give to your charity of choice as to which one really does the best for the most - or the least for the most, for that matter.
“A MAN apparently enraged by Bristol Palin's Dancing With The Stars routine blasted his television with a shotgun, leading to an all-night standoff with police commandos, investigators said.
Steven Cowan, 67, was arrested on Tuesday
morning after officers coaxed him out of his house in
A little over a week ago, it was
announced on NBC News that the most popular name for a boy in the
Closing with these – hope they work!:
If Facebook existed in the past...hilarious!
May “Guardian Angels” sit on the shoulders of all of our race drivers and race fans, and guide them safely around the tracks!
Remember – column will be back on December 2nd!
As usual, you can reach me at: email@example.com