Commentary on races, Formula 1, IndyCar, NASCAR, NHRA, IMSA, MX-5 Cup, Historics, and any other series that’s making tracks
January 9, 2018 – Irwindale Speedway and Drag Strip Will Remain Open Under New Management Team.
Our friend Doug Stokes, Irwindale’s PR man extraordinaire, tells us that the expected demise of racing at the Irwindale tracks will not occur on January 31, after all. Racing will continue, in full operation, under a new multi-year (YES!!!) agreement signed by the facility’s owners and a new joint venture organized by the Justice Brothers and Tim Huddleston.
Thank you, thank you, and thank you, gentlemen. The last thing Southern California needed was to lose another race track. Keeping kids from drag racing on the streets for another few years is just one reason why we all benefit from having operations continue at Irwindale.
Jim Cohan, President/CEO of Team 211 Entertainment (operators of the 63-acre facility), said of the new agreement that “these are the right people to operate this facility, they have the background, the acumen, and the energy…they know racing and they know marketing. This is really a win for everyone, and especially the fans.”
We say Bravo!
You can see two IndyCar drivers, Conor Daly and Alexander Rossi, as one of the teams competing on the new season of “The Amazing Race” Wednesday nights on CBS www.cbs.com/shows/amazing_race/ … Richard Petty Motorsports will “align” with Richard Childress Racing to shake things up in NASCAR come Spring 2018 … The 2018 Monster Energy Supercross season is kicking off tomorrow night at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA; low-key 2017 champion rider Marvin Musquin has some serious challengers in Ely Tomac, sophomore rider Cooper Webb, Jason Anderson (on a new Husky bike), and veteran Chad Reed, is in his 16th year of competition and has made it is goal to be “the oldest Supercross winner” this year. The biggest news is that the injured Ken Roczen is back, with nothing more than a wrist brace to show for the crash at Anaheim last season. Best of luck to them all for a safe racing season. Supercross will be using a new points system and a “triple crown” format for certain races this season, its 44th, as well as two “East-West Shootouts” (only one last year). Also, for the first time, Mercedes-Benz stadium will be added to the schedule. All 17 rounds of Supercross will be broadcast on FS1 and live streamed on the Fox Sports Go app.
The end of September means that racing season is winding up, so champions are being crowned, everyone is dressing up for end of the year series banquets, the money is being counted, and plans are in the works for next season. Sponsors have made some wild decisions recently. We’ve seen Richard Petty Racing lose its sponsor, which ended up being a story of “the way things used to be,” unfortunately. Richard Petty lamented that in the weeks before his sponsor dumped his team, he had shaken hands on a continuation deal with the execs. They turned on him and let him go just a few weeks later. Shame on them.
We’ve also seen good racers lose their sponsors. NASCAR driver Daniel Suarez was dumped by Subway because Subway found out that his fans were provided with Dunkin’ Donuts at an event during race season. What was the problem with that, you might ask? Turns out, Subway had a promotion deal called “Desayuno with Daniel” (Breakfast with Daniel) that was designed to appeal to his Latino fans which featured non-donut breakfast items. Subway saw the “donut incident” as being a breach of the terms of the sponsorship contract. We think it stinks, and Subway is stupid as hell for doing this, but let it serve as a cautionary tale to young drivers. Be very careful what you do, because your sponsor is basically one of your bosses.
In IndyCar, where TK (Tony Kanaan) was “let go” from Chip Ganassi Racing (or did he just stop talking to Chip, as he claims), we now have word that Le Chip has found a replacement driver in the No. 10 car for the 2018 season. Ed Jones will join teammate and all around great racer Scott Dixon. Jones was Rookie of the Year in 2017 when he was with Dayle Coyne’s racing team; he won the 2016 Indy Lights championship. The kid sounds like a champ, but TK will be missed. No word yet on a 2018 ride for him.
RACING SERIES PROFILE: The Battery Tender Global MX-5 (Mazda Miata) Cup Series
The Mazda MX-5 Cup final was last weekend at Mazda Raceway in California. Yours truly was one of two embedded journalists with Mazda for the weekend. The series crowned its season champ Patrick Gallagher at the banquet. He dominated the series and was handed a nice trophy along with his well deserved check for $200,000.00 by Mazda Motorsports head honcho John Doonan. The award for Best Move of the season went to Patrick Wilmot, who made a daring pass in the rain at the Indy course to the left of two other MX-5 race cars. The Spirit of Mazda award went to Nathanial “Sparky” Sparks, who is the class clown but man is he a great driver. He’s been with the series since 2012 and is adored by everyone.
This series has a family vibe like no other and it’s undeniable that they all cheer each other on and are helpful to one another rather than antagonistic and snobby. Sure, there’s competition on the track, but if anybody needs help another racing team will jump to the rescue.
This year, the MX-5 Cup series had IndyCar officials for the first time overseeing everything at the track to insure integrity – word is that it was a smooth transition from the former agency and that the series is better for it.
For more information on the Mazda MX-5 Cup series, which is a ladder program for racers who want to move up into the IndyCar series, check out their website: https://www.mx-5cup.com.
DRIVER PROFILE: Ashton Harrison
While in Monterey for the MX-5 Cup finals weekend, I had dinner with the only female driver in the series, Ashton Harrison, in town for the final race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, from her home base in Atlanta. She’s exactly what every racing series needs in a racer, male or female: enthusiastic, friendly, a little crazy, and fun to hang with. She invented a drink called the “zoom zoom,” which is a cranberry vodka with a splash of pineapple juice. I’m sure it’s very good if your bartender doesn’t overdo it on the vodka. (yeah….that happened.) She came in mid-pack in the final race on Saturday, but it didn’t matter, as she made it through the entire season in her number 03 red spec Miata with pink roll cage rocking her pink fire suit without any big issues affecting her success. Ashton stars in a movie regarding her journey to the race track called The Road to 24, which is now out on DVD. She started out at Bondurant Racing School, and the rest is history.
Ashton not only races, she coaches, too. She will be back in her 03 race car for the MX-5 Cup series next year. It kicks off in March 2018 at Circuit of the Americas in Texas.
We wish her the best as she continues with the Mazda ladder program and hope that she becomes a superstar in the racing world. If you can’t check out her movie, find out why she loves racing and supports animal causes at her website, http://www.ashtonharrison.com/.
LEGAL / OFF THE STREET DRAG RACING
It’s just not a good idea to take your speed machine to the streets, as tempting as it may be to show what you got. In Southern California you can get all your rocks off at the Auto Club Dragway (various dates, check schedule on website below), and the Irwindale Speedway drag strip (every Thursday night). If you’re in San Diego, RaceLegal drags are run at Qualcomm stadium about once a month. All three venues offer a cheap, safe, and controlled alternative to dangerous street racing – and real trophies to take home.
San Diego – http://racelegal.com/ and Facebook page
Auto Club Fontana – http://www.autoclubdragway.com/Tickets-and-Events/Street-Legal-Drags.aspx