This Week In Motorsports



Motor Sports News by David Vodden

This is a big weekend for auto racing at Thunderhill Park, just west of town on highway 162. The Sports Car Club of America will conduct what is called a “Majors Road Racing Championship” on the three-mile, fifteen-turn road course there, rain or shine! That’s right, the SCCA drivers in Indy cars, stock cars, sports car and other strange vehicles will race even if there is a monsoon in progress. The racing starts at noon on Saturday and continues until 6pm resuming on Sunday at 8am. The final race of the weekend will take place at 5pm. Admission is free for all who attend! The weather report for Saturday afternoon and all-day Sunday is sunny, dry and beautiful!! Think – FREE. There will be good food at the grill, hundreds of racers, eight races each day and it’s FREE for the entire family, neighborhood, club, jail inmates, officers on duty and visitors from anywhere. Drive seven miles west on Highway 162. Go past Wal Mart and turn in to the Park and sign-in, FREE. You can come for the food and stay for the crashes and mayhem. You will be glad you did, and you can offer to treat your less informed family and friends acting as their host for the day, either day. It’s FREE.

 It will also be a big weekend in Texas with NASCAR on the very fast 1.5 mile odd-shaped, newly paved oval called Texas Motor Speedway. Xfinity cars run their today and the Monster Energy Cup folks compete on Sunday. NASCAR was off for Easter last weekend. It was a painful week off as NASCAR radio and other media strove for audiences using all sorts of really-stupid gimmicks. The best [or worst] of these efforts occurred on the television show,” NASCAR HUB” where the on-air talent set up a panel of “experts” to identify the Top 50 NASCAR drivers of all-time. What a debacle. It was clear that voting panelists, from the world NASCAR including: media, drivers, and others with titles, simply picked their favorites and not the “best”! The proof is in the results. The top three were: #1- Richard Petty [correct]; #2-Jimmy Johnson [correct] and David Pearson third. I think this is OK, but the rest of the watching world wanted Dale Earnhardt Sr no further back than third. Some went nuts. Some thought Earnhardt Sr. should have been first. No one thought it was OK that this panel of motorsports “experts” placed Dale Earnhardt Sr., fifth on the all-time top 50 list of drivers. For the record the panelists placed Jeff Gordon fourth, Earnhardt fifth, Darrell Waltrip sixth, Cale Yarborough seventh; Bobby Allison eighth, Tony Stewart ninth, and Lee Petty tenth. Some other key drivers finished as follows: Kyle Busch 12th; Kevin Harvick 18th; Kyle Busch 28th; Brad Keselowski 29th; Martin Truex 36th; Dale Earnhardt Jr., 37th and Joey Logano 50th.  Logano should not have been on this list! The list was largely silly and did what it was designed to do, create audience, cause angry exchanges between Earnhardt Sr. and Jr. fans and the world plus cause television ratings. This suggests, once again, that the NASCAR audience is just dumb. Who would you place on your Top 50 list of NASCAR drivers? Remember NASCAR started in the late 40’s and was largely a sport of the deep south before the early eighties. The hey-day of NASCAR was ramped up after Dale Earnhardt Sr’s death in 2001 that saw global main-stream media pick up the story and all the after shocks that went with it. The older the panelist in this effort, the more long-ago drivers on their list. The reverse was true for the younger panelists as you would suspect. Silly process. Too many variables and too many people who see, not the sport or the history and evolution of the sport, but only their favorite driver[s].

The best race of the weekend will likely occur in Phoenix Arizona where the Indy car season resumes on the one-mile oval there. With heavy construction in progress the generally poor attendance for Indy car races will be a blessing for the crews working on the property. The plan for the NASCAR-owned track is to have it all different by the year-end NASCAR race when the starters stand will be relocated to the other side of the long-time desert raceway. Sebastian Bourdais leads the series points over Graham Rahal and Auburn-connected Alexander Rossi. There are fourteen Chevy powered open-wheel racers in the field and nineteen Hondas. Bourdais won in St Petersburg Florida was in a Honda powered winged racecar.  With fourteen Chevys going against nineteen Hondas it will be interesting to see if Chevrolet, the most dominant auto manufacturer name in American motorsports, can do better than they are doing in NASCAR where Chevy cars, a new design using a Camaro look-a-like body, are not faring well, finishing outside the top five almost always and only showing up in the top ten with Chase Elliott and Kyle Larsen if at all. Not good for Chevy fans.

Formula One executes their second race of the season in Bahrain. This is their second year as an American-owned company. The season opener in Australia clearly suggests that 2018 will be a lot like 2017 with Australia winner, Sebastian Vettel, driving the famous red Ferrari, in a season-long face-off with Lewis Hamilton in his silver Mercedes. There are other story-lines, but it is too early to rank them with the battle at the top.

The NHRA drag racing traveling show will go four-wide this weekend in Las Vegas. Four-wide means that four, nitro burning, piston-popping dragsters will shoot down the strip in sin-city at the same time, through qualifying and eliminations.  It will be the same for the body-shedding funny cars and the other top classes. This is worth seeing so check out FOX Sports for all the details.  The Monster Energy Super Cross series will be in Seattle, Saturday night with only five more rounds on the winter-time series calendar.  Again, this can be good television. You can root for a Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha or event KTM rider depending on your brand preference.  This is another FOX Sports television offering.

Rain will likely force cancelation of the local dirt track races this weekend. Too bad. Next weekend there is a Monster Truck show at the Silver Dollar Speedway and Cycle Land is supposed to race every Saturday night for the summer season, weather permitting. Marysville is a Saturday night affair as is Placerville, Stockton and Petaluma. Google the track name for complete schedule information and for a number to call regarding rain-outs.


Thunderhill Raceway