Motorsports News March 1

Motorsports News March 1

Weather has forced the cancellation of the opening weekend at Silver Dollar Speedway. No new date has been scheduled.

At Thunderhill, we run in the rain. In fact, last weekend we ran in the snow. Road racers have rain tires and most of what we do really involves street cars as opposed to race cars. The motorcycles do not run in the rain but they also do not schedule events in the rainy season at Thunderhill.

This weekend we will have the famous Trans Am series here in full force with the nationally famous SVRA vintage race car series also on the card. These events will race on the three-mile track while the Optima Battery Ultimate Streetcar Challenge will run on the big skid pad. The two-mile course will feature the Golden Gate Porsche Club touring the ten turn-course. There is an admission fee charged by Trans Am and SVRA of $20 for one day or $30 for the weekend.

Formula One starts their year-long series this weekend in Bahrain. There is lots of news in this series enhanced by the NETFLIX program, Drive to Survive covering the entire 2022 season in ten episodes.

The series goes to Saudi Arabia next and then ends March in Australia. Every year this billion-dollar, international racing program starts out with new cars ,individually constructed by the teams which leaves the question who will be hot and who will be not, decided with on track racing. Generally, Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes lead the way based on that one guaranteed winning ingredient, money. The American owed series is trying to deal with this element by placing a cost cap on each team of $135 million not counting engines and driver salaries. Must be tough.  

For me, the questions will be: will Lewis Hamilton return to the top? Will his teammate George Russell outperform him? Will Ferrari’s new head guy, Fred Vasseur, make fewer mistakes and get that team to at least where they could have been last year? Will Red Bull win three titles in a row with Max Verstappen? Will there be at least one more team contending seriously at the front? How will Fernando Alonzo do. Same question for the hot new rookie Oscar Piastri. There are lots of story lines including the new event on the streets of Las Vegas, Nevada being one of the biggies.

NASCAR is on their third race of the year in Las Vegas. Yours truly along with Dalas Gunderson and Mayor Rick Thomas will be in the audience. Everyone is now convinced that Kyle Bush and his new Richard Childress race team will win on Sunday. In fact, the only remaining Busch in the CUP series is racing in the Xfinity series as well as in the truck series. It is possible that the Las Vegas native will perform a clean sweep of all three NASCAR races at the Las Vegas 1.5 oval starting last Friday and concluding tomorrow, Sunday. Bush’s truck ride is still with his own truck team, KBM but in a Chevrolet. When Bush left Joe Gibbs Racing, he left Toyota, hence his truck team could no longer be Toyota based. This will be the first run for Kyle Busch in a Chevrolet pickup truck. It will he interesting to see if there is a difference.

At Auto Club Speedway Kyle Busch defeated Chase Elliott and Ross Chastain, Daniel Suarez, and Kevin Harvick. There was good racing along the way with Busch getting a speeding penalty with thirty laps to go which was enough for him to catch and pass Chastain who was passed later by Elliott. Thirty-six cars made the trip west which is the previous low for a CUP race in recent times. One crash involving Chris Bell, Ryan Preece, Tyler Reddick, Aric Almirola, and A.J. Almendinger occurred at a restart where the front cars played start-stop tricks, and stacked up the cars behind then into a freeway style crash accordion style. Joey Logano with his new hair was credited with the deed.

John Hunter Nemechek won the Saturday Xfinity race over Sam Mayer, Justin Allgaier, Chandler Smith and Josh Berry. That makes three Dale Earnhardt Jr. cars in the top five, one Gibbs car and one Kaulig car which was Smith.

The biggest story to come out of Fontana was the sale of all but 111 acres of the 522 acres that is currently the Auto Club Speedway. The reported selling price was $544 million. From here it gets a bit foggy. Some folks are saying that NASCAR will build a smaller paved oval on the remaining land. The inside scoop is that the track is done and will not reopen?

Given the generally poor performance of small paved ovals in the market, the existence of Irwindale Raceway a few miles north and the Orange Show Stadium fewer miles south, the idea of making money on a small paved oval knowing that the two-mile oval did not do well seems to support the idea that the track is a gone. Even the rebuild stories say that 2026 would be the return date for NASCAR.  I do not think so. This leaves the LA market with nothing. Possibilities, NASCAR relocates with a new track somewhere else in Southern California. I guess all we can do is stay tuned. $544 million. Must be tough.