Racing News - July 2001
- (7/31) - After a career of contributing more to racecar driver safety than perhaps any other individual alive, Bill Simpson is leaving Simpson Race Products. Why? Because of the treatment shown him by Earnhardt fans and NASCAR.
Simpson received death threats and saw his employees harassed after NASCAR announced on Feb. 23 that it had found a broken Simpson lap belt in Earnhardt's crashed car.
Although all the experts concluded that whether the belt was broken or not, it did not contribute to Earnhardt's basilar skull fracture that killed him. None the less, Nascar has continued to blame Simpson.
Simpson said the stress of the controversy ``got to be too much.'' He has maintained for months that NASCAR made him a scapegoat in the wake of Earnhardt's death.
``It's just been one thing after another,'' Simpson said. ``Like I come with new (safety equipment, such as a head-restraint device) and NASCAR takes it away, and they don't give it back. I deserve more respect than that.
``The amount of disrespect shown me in my position over the last five months has been too hard for me to swallow.''
- (7/31) - Mac Tools has signed a five-year agreement with the National Hot Rod Association to become the primary sponsor of the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park, the most prestigious drag racing event in the world. This is the first time in NHRA history that the U.S. Nationals has featured a title sponsor.
As you may have heard, the NHRA is losing their big R.J. Reynold's sponsorship. Due to some new law, they can only sponsor one race series, so they are going to drop drag racing and stick with stock cars.
The 47th Annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals will take place Aug. 29 through Sept. 3 at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
- (7/31) - Numerous Indycar drivers will be testing today in St. Louis at Gateway. Two new drivers will appear too: Rick Treadway is the son of IRL Team owner, Fred Treadway. Rick has competed in USAC Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown competition and he is scheduled to race in two IRL events this year. Also, 4th place Indy Lights driver, Chris Menninga is going to attend practice.
- (7/31) - While Scott Goodyear continues to recover from his back injury suffered in the Indy 500, the doctor says he will have to miss the final IROC race of the year at IMS this Saturday. Little Al will fill in for him as he did at Michigan last month. Scott has looked on the bright side and enjoyed the extra time he has been able to spend with his wife and three children this summer. Scott was honored to be chosen to compete in IROC and hopes he gets another chance to compete in the series.
(7/29) - Spectacular crash in the F1 race at Hockenheim: At the very start, Michael Schumacher, starting from the 2nd row, had his car stall AFTER getting going. While it looked like everyone would miss him, alas, Luciano Burti rammed him hard from behind, shot up the back of the Ferrari like a ramp and got big air. He flipped and landed upside down. Everyone was ok. The race was red flagged and restarted with some using their back up cars.
The BMW-engined Williams cars outpowered everyone in qualifying and in the race.
This fast track took its toll on engines as over half the field didn't make it to the end. Uncharacteristically, Michael Schumacher's Ferrari failed. He was also joined by race leader Juan Pablo Montoya and both McLarens.
Ralf Schumacher claimed his 3rd win of the season! Barrichello and Villeneuve joined him on the podium.
- (7/25) - IRL driver, Davey Hamilton, underwent additional successful surgery on his right foot and ankle June 25 at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. This should be his last surgery on that leg. He will return home to begin recovery next week.
- (7/25) - Woa, would you believe that Jordan F1 has fired Heinz Harald-Frentzen in the middle of the season?! Evidently he and Eddie Jordan got into it after the British GP. He will be replaced by their test driver, Ricardo Zonta at the Heinz' home race this weekend in Germany. This may be the break that BAR has been waiting for!
Also, Toyota joins F1 next year and they are supposed to be hiring Mika Salo and Allan McNish. I wonder if HHF will get one of those rides.
- (7/22) - Kenny Brack collided with his teammate in the Michigan 500 when it looked like he might win it. This track is great for swapping positions and it should be a great new addition to the Indy Racing League next year. Lots of empty stands made it look like no one in Michigan likes auto racing though. Also, the pilot of a small plane towing a banner over the Speedway was seriously injured when his plane crashed into a field about 4 pm.
- Harrah's Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway
(7/21) - A very exciting race unfolded upon the new white concrete track in Nashville. The 1.3-mile track may not have the same traction as an asphalt track, but it sure was a pretty white color. This is the only concrete track in the Indy Racing League's schedule.
Although leading a large portion of the first half of the race, Sam Hornish, Jr. lost some power and about 10 mph and was no longer a factor.
The racing was clean clear up until the halfway point of this 200 lap race, when Cheever moved down on Greg Ray and caused a big crash. The most spectacular incident in the wreck was Airton Dare's 200 mph wheelie into the wall. Very fortunately for him, he stayed low and out of the fence, but he smacked the wall at a sharp angle and hard!
He was ok, and as he walked away, I thought how the director of Driven was drooling over the celluloid ESPN had just recorded.
Not only were loose tires flying down the track, I also saw something large, like a spoiler, go flying over the fence. Must not have been infront of the sold-out grandstands because I didn't hear anything about it.
Billy Boat had a wonderful race, dicing back and forth for the lead in his Curb Records/Beck Motorsports car. I'd like to commend Boat who stuck with his new team for the Indy 500 after being tempted away by a ride from A.J. Foyt - a ride which ended up starting on the front row. They're team continues to improve.
Boat would finish in second behind the 2000 IRL Champion, Buddy Lazier. This is Buddy's 7th IRL win and the highest number of wins in series history. Buddy's brother crashed on the last lap due to a tire, while in 3rd place. This was Jaques Lazier's best race to date!
Jeff Ward missed the last race because of money trouble. Heritage Motorsports didn't think they could afford to run again until St. Louis, but news of a new sponsor coming onboard in a week got them out there today. He started 8th, but lost an engine about lap 83.
Robby McGehee was back since breaking his leg at Texas last month. He finished 4th in front of Sharp. Scott Goodyear, recovering from a broken back in the Indy 500, showed up to watch.
- (7/20) - Greg Ray won the pole for the Tennessee IRL race.
- (7/18) - Robby Gordon is filling in for an injured Mike Skinner for Richard Childress Racing. Robby raced in this year's Indy 500.
- (7/17) - Michael Schumacher hit the Monza rubbered-wall at 185 mph. He is apparently unhurt.
- (7/17) - Half of the Nascar drivers were able to practice at the speedway this week. Jimmy Spencer posted the fastest lap speed of the practice, at 177.425 mph. The other half of drivers will get to practice next week, July 24-25.
- (7/15) - Michael Andretti missed all the accidents and won the Toronto CART race once again. This race was nothing but yellow flags as a wreck would happen just as soon as they got the last one cleaned up. All the usual front runners fell out either to accident or car trouble. By lap 88, 13 drivers were out. Tora Takagi was responsible for taking out several cars with his driving that was simply stupid, before finally taking himself out. He was penalized 3 of his 4 championship points and put on probation for 5 races. Paul Tracy was also hit with some penalties for rough driving.
- (7/15) - Mika Hakkinen finally wins in 2001! He blew the competition away. His teammate, DC, slid off early as did Panis and Trulli. DC was Mclaren's points hope for this year. It appeared that points leading Schumacher was content to play it safe in this British Grand Prix, as he was passed by both Hakkinen and Montoya. None the less, he finished 2nd thanks to some pit strategy. The Sauber team continued its impressive year by finishing in 5th & 6th, both positions that provide points toward the championship. Barrichello once again wore his big number 2 hat in the post race interview, which, while being his number, I think he wears as a statement about being treated like the second at Ferrari. He seems to be under the mistaken impression that he is as good as Michael. Also, for the first time in three years, a driver did not qualify for a race - Tarso Marques did not secure a dispensation to race.
- (7/13) - Speedway musuem shipped some old race cars over to England for display at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, including the Marmon Wasp. This is the first time that the 1911 Indy 500 winner has left the country. Bobby Unser, Danny Sulivan and Bobby Rahal showed up to drive some of the old racers around at the festival.
- (7/8) - A great crowd showed up for the first IndyCar race in Kansas since the 30's, when they had one of the wooden board tracks. (I've got a picture of one on my pictures page.) Infact they said the place was sold out (75,000)!
This track is a mile and a half. On a day when track temperatures reached 137 degrees and trackside readings soared to 98 degrees, Hornish and Cheever fought back and forth for first place most of the day. A few laps from the end, Eddie Cheever passed for the lead and won this race in an exciting finish. This was Cheever's 5th IRL victory, his first of 2001 and Eddie Cheever Jr. scorched the new 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway oval to claim his first victory for the new Infiniti Indy 35A engine. Hornish finished 2nd for the third consecutive race and retains the lead in the Northern Lights Indy Racing League Points lead.
Has anyone noticed what an AWESOME car Cheever Indy Racing has had lately??? I'll bet the sponsor who bailed out on them after Indy was over, is bumming! Cheever Indy Racing retained Infinity, Firestone, Menards, Bosch, True Grit, and Eviciti as sponsors.
- (7/8) - Davey Hamilton has been moved from Methodist Hospital to a Rehab center in Indianapolis.
- (7/6) - Larry Curry, Tri Star Motorsports owner, went to prison Monday for committing mail fraud against his former employer, Team Menard. He has been sentenced to 32 months. The IRL team, with driver Jon Herb, plan to keep racing.
- Davey Hamilton had the record for having competed in EVERY IRL event since its inception in 1996. He was seriously hurt in a crash this summer and a fund has been set up to offer assistance to the Hamilton Family. If you can, please send a donation to:
Wells Fargo Bank
Davey Hamilton Recovery Trust Fund
108 E. Plaza St.
Eagle, ID 83616
Acct No. 8885491772
You can email your best wishes to Davey at email@example.com
- (7/2) - The Indy Racing League announces 2002 Schedule.
The IRL will hold 14 races next year, one more than 2001, with all of them televised live, 10 on ABC and four on ESPN. Three of the races--the first of two Texas races, Richmond, and Nashville--will be held at night and all will be shown on ESPN. Two races will be new events for the IRL--a July race at Michigan International Speedway and an April race at Nazareth Speedway. Both tracks are owned by the International Speedway Corporation and both have long histories hosting CART/FedEx Championship Series races. Tony George stated that the Michigan race will not be a 500-miler for the IRL. There will be only one 500 mile race and that, of course, will be in Indianapolis. The Atlanta night race got the ax. I'm not sure why. Sure its Nascar country, but the crowds there seemed good enough to me. I wonder if it has to do with the tire that went sailing over the wall into an empty area after this year's big crash that injured Dr. Jack Miller.
- (7/1) - Michael Schumacher won his 50th grand prix at this weekends race in France. His Brazilian teammate, Rubens Barrichello, finished third. During the post race interview, he wore a big "2" on his hat. I wonder if he is still trying to infer that Michael only wins because he gets preferential treatment from Ferrari...