NASCAR Supports South Carolina’s Removal Of The Confederate Flag

We typically do not cover political stories here on RedlineNorth but wanted to share today’s announcement from NASCAR supporting South Carolina’s removal of the Confederate flag.

“As we continue to mourn the tragic loss of life last week in Charleston, we join our nation’s embrace of those impacted. NASCAR supports the position that South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley took on the Confederate Flag on Monday. As our industry works collectively to ensure that all fans are welcome at our races, NASCAR will continue our long-standing policy to disallow the use of the Confederate Flag symbol in any official NASCAR capacity. While NASCAR recognizes that freedom of expression is an inherent right of all citizens, we will continue to strive for an inclusive environment at our events.”

This is the right thing to do and surprisingly, NASCAR has long had a ban in place against the flag on anything officially related to the racing series. However, there have been a few hiccups along the way with the most recent situation happening in 2012 with the Dukes of Hazzard’s 1969 Dodge Charger the “General Lee”. At the time, NASCAR made a last-minute decision to cancel Bubba Watson from doing a parade lap at the Phoenix International Speedway in the General Lee model he had purchased at a local auction. He had intended to drive the car on a parade lap before the start of the 2012 spring Cup series race when NASCAR pulled the plug after concerns were raised about the Confederate Flag painted on the car’s rooftop.

1969 Dodge Charger "The General Lee"

1969 Dodge Charger “The General Lee”

“The image of the Confederate flag is not something that should play an official role in our sport as we continue to reach out to new fans and make NASCAR more inclusive,” NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said in a statement released to the Associated Press.


Going for a Rip in Richard Petty’s 200 MPH Plymouth Superbird

With the Goodwood Festival of Speed just around the corner we wanted to show a cool video segment from our friend’s at Goodwood Road & Racing. They recently travelled across the pond to visit “The King” Richard Petty at his North Carolina headquarters as a warm-up to Richard attending the UK’s Festival of Speed at the end of June.

The trip appears to have been totally worth it because they got up close and personal with Richard and tour the shop with him as their guide. However, the real cherry on top came in the form of a ride along with Petty’s mechanic Larry who took Goodwood Road & Racing’s Andy out for an impromptu rip on the rural North Carolina roads in Petty’s decorated 1970 Plymouth “Superbird”.  Petty describes how the front and rear wings made the “Superbird” so stable and how it was near impossible to spin out driving the famous car.  Petty goes on to say that he has not driven the car since 1970 which seems like a real shame since we’d make it our daily grocery getter especially after hearing the epic sounds of its 625 horsepower. Make sure to turn up the volume for this one (scroll to 6:50 min)

NASCAR’s Tony Stewart pulls out of Sunday race after hitting, killing driver

Source: Associated Press

Tony Stewart pulled out of the NASCAR race at Watkins Glen Sunday, 12 hours after the three-time champion struck and killed a sprint car driver who had climbed from his car and was on the darkened dirt track trying to confront Stewart during a race at upstate New York’s Canandaigua Motorsports Park.

Kevin Ward Jr. had crashed following contact with Stewart one lap earlier and got out of his car as it was stopped along the fence. Video of the incident showed Ward walking from his crashed car onto the racing surface as cars circled by, and, as he gestured at Stewart’s passing car, he was struck.

Authorities questioned Stewart but said no criminal charges were imminent. Stewart travelled to Watkins Glen International following police questioning.

Stewart released a statement Sunday afternoon that read as follows: “There aren’t words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr. It’s a very emotional time for all involved, and it is the reason I’ve decided not to participate in today’s race at Watkins Glen. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy.”

Greg Zipadelli, competition director for Stewart-Haas Racing, said at a news conference that Stewart “feels strongly” about not racing Sunday following Kevin Ward Jr.’s fatal accident. The decision was an about-face for the organization, which had previously said that Stewart would race on Sunday.

“We gave Tony some time to sleep on it. He feels strongly this is the right thing to do,” Zipadelli said. “All you can do is what you feel is right, and we feel this is right. We get through today and do it the best we can as a group.

A witness said it appeared Ward was trying to confront Stewart, the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion. The video showed Ward standing to the right of Stewart’s familiar No. 14 car, which seemed to kick out from the rear and hit him.

Moments earlier, Ward and Stewart were racing side-by-side for position as they exited a turn. Ward was on the outside when Stewart, on the bottom, seemed to slide toward Ward’s car and crowd him toward the wall. The rear tire of Stewart’s car appeared to clip the front tire of Ward’s car, and Ward spun into the fence.

Ward, who was wearing a black firesuit and black helmet, had walked into the racing area and one car swerved to avoid him before he was struck by Stewart.

“The next thing I could see, I didn’t see (the other driver) anymore,” witness Michael Messerly said. “It just seemed like he was suddenly gone.”

A spokesman for Stewart’s racing team called Ward’s death a “tragic accident.”

The dirt track located about 30 miles southeast of Rochester cancelled the remainder of the race and later posted a message on its Facebook page encouraging fans to “pray for the entire racing community of fans, drivers, and families.”

Ward’s website says he began racing go-karts in 1998 at age 4, but didn’t start driving sprint cars until 2010. The 20-year-old from Port Leyden, New York, was Empire Super Sprint rookie of the year in 2012 and this year was his fifth season racing the Empire Super Sprints.

Stewart often competes in extracurricular events like the race on Saturday. The multimillionaire is known to participate in races with purses worth less than $3,000 and drive alongside drivers of varying ages and talent levels.

“Everybody has hobbies. Everybody has stuff they like to do when they have downtime, and that’s just what it is for me,” he said last month following his return to sprint car racing. “That’s what I like to do when I have extra time. I don’t think there is anything wrong with doing it. I feel like there are a lot of other things I could be doing that are a lot more dangerous and a lot bigger waste of time with my time off do than doing that.”

He’s struggled a bit this year since returning from his leg injury, and heads into Sunday’s race winless on the season and ranked 19th in the standings.

The site of Saturday night’s crash is the same track where Stewart was involved in a July 2013 accident that seriously injured a 19-year-old driver. He later took responsibility for his car making contact with another and triggering the 15-car accident that left Alysha Ruggles with a compression fracture in her back.

Today is the year’s best day in auto racing television

The weather is beautiful here in Toronto today so hopefully you are all out enjoying an auto related activity.  However, if you are stuck inside, don’t fret since today is the best day of the year for auto racing television as the F1 Monaco GP, Indy 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 all are happening.

Monaco Grand Prix view

Monaco Grand Prix view

Indy 500 start

Indy 500 start

Coca-Cola 600

Coca-Cola 600

So for the folks staying indoors we recommend you grab a good spot on the couch to experience the greatest day as a racing couch potato.  Of course saying this, if you do end up watching all three races make sure you get some serious exercise this week. Happy watching!


Pepsi MAX and Jeff Gordon do it again

Many of you likely saw the video Pepsi Max created last year that went on to become a huge viral hit. We are talking about this one that showed a disguised Jeff Gordon (champion NASCAR driver) taking a local dealership salesman on the wildest ride of his life. That video was supposedly captured on a hidden camera but actually ended up being debunked as a fraudulent video by Travis Okulski, a writer for Gawker Media’s Jalopnik blog.

A year has now passed since the first video and Pepsi MAX and Jeff Gordon apparently had something to prove so they have created a follow-up Jeff Gordon 2.0 video.   By all accounts this new video is for real and destined to become another massive viral hit as it’s already at over 13 million views.

Although Travis is getting some serious online coverage within the mainstream media it must be slightly humbling since the world can now watch him scream like a little girl in the video.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins 2nd Daytona 500

It took 10 years but he has done it again. Yes, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won America’s race for the second time in his career surpassing his late father’s record of only one win at Daytona’s great NASCAR race.  Sunday’s race was not the most exciting as there was a rain delay of 6 hours, 22 minutes but Dale Jr. hung on to win and that is what counts. The Daytona win also snaps his 55-race losing streak dating back to 2012.

Photo source: AOL

Photo source: AOL

In today’s world of social media it is kind of surprising Dale Jr. had not joined Twitter. However, after Sunday’s win he signed up and has tweeted up a storm ever since. His account is brilliant – over 496k followers and counting while not following anyone and having only 43 tweets as of 9PM EST on Feb 25th.  Here’s a recent selfie from Monday captured at the Daytona Experience.  His selfie tweet is awesome – Look who I ran into at the Daytona Experience. Dad’s Happy!

Photo source: Twitter

Photo source: Twitter

Should big name race drivers be allowed to race Sprint Cars?

If you are a NASCAR fan you have likely seen the controversy in the news over the past month about three-time NASCAR champion and co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing Tony Stewart getting into several wild crashes during his side job Sprint car racing.

Tony Stewart racing at Susquehanna Speedway Park Sunday, April 14, 2013.  Photo courtesy of Anthony DeSeta

Tony Stewart racing at Susquehanna Speedway Park Sunday, April 14, 2013.
Photo courtesy of Anthony DeSeta

Read the Star’s Norris McDonald’s blog post from the end of July about this very topic after Tony’s crash at Ohsweken Speedway near Brantford, Ontario.

Well, as irony would have it, just as the dust was starting to settle on this controversy, it has been reported today that Tony Stewart has broken both tibia and fibula in his right leg in a crash at Southern Iowa Speedway, a half-mile dirt oval in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Reports state that Stewart was transported to an area hospital after the accident, and immediately underwent surgery.

Unfortunately, as a result of this latest accident, Tony will not be driving the number 14 car this weekend in Watkins Glen, New York and according to Stewart-Haas Racing, a replacement driver for Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International has not yet been determined. Currently, Stewart is 11th in the standings, and with one victory this season, leads the race for the first Wild Card in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. It’s too early to know when Tony will be returning to racing but for sure he will be out a while so we of course wish him a speedy recovery.

But let’s get back to the debate of today’s post. What are your thoughts about big name racers like Tony Stewart racing in other series at which they risk serious injury and/or time away from their main sport?

Please let us know your thoughts as we are interested to see what people think about this one.

Canadian Bruno Spengler wins 2012 DTM Drivers Championship

At the wheel of his BMW M3, Bruno Spengler edged out UK’s Gary Paffett at Sunday’s season finale at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg track. With the victory, Bruno clinched the 2012 Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (German Touring Car Championship). The DTM series is a bit like Germany’s version of NASCAR since the cars are built to go hard and fast while being still rather inexpensive to construct. All DTM race cars have RWD and are powered by 4.0L V8 engines which are air-restricted to 470 hp.

The winning ride

Bruno’s Spengler’s title success capped an incredible season for BMW and Schnitzer, both of whom returned to the championship this year after a 20 year absence. Spengler is the first Canadian to earn the DTM championship, and is only the fourth BMW driver to take the German title.


Here is a slick video of a day in the life for Bruno along with some recent track highlights.

Chevrolet Camaro to debut in NASCAR in 2013

Last week, Chevrolet announced they will have a new entry in the NASCAR Nationwide Series next year as the Camaro will make its series debut in February 2013 at the Daytona International Speedway.

Leading its segment in US sales in both 2010 and 2011 and currently in 2012, the Camaro will continue the proud heritage of Chevrolet performance vehicles in one of America’s most prestigious racing series.  Chevrolet has more wins, more manufacturers’ championships and more driver’s championships than any other manufacturer competing in the Nationwide Series.

The Camaro race car model incorporates a strong front grill, halo light rings and a bulging hood taking its style cues from the mean street car it is today. We look forward to seeing it in action next year.  For more information, check out the full press release.

The history of NASCAR

Stock car racing in the United States has its origins in bootlegging during Prohibition, when drivers ran bootleg whiskey made primarily in the Appalachian region of the United States. Bootleggers needed to distribute their illicit products, and they typically used small, fast vehicles to evade the police. Many of the bootleg drivers would modify their cars for speed and handling, as well as increased cargo capacity, and some of them came to love the fast-paced driving down twisty mountain roads.

Typical car used by Moonshiners to transport illegal booze.

Although the end of Prohibition in 1933 dried up the majority of the Moonshiners business, many Southerners had developed a taste for the illegal booze, and a number of the drivers continued “runnin’ shine”, to evade the “revenuers” who were attempting to tax their profits. The cars the Moonshiners used continued to be improved, and by the late 1940s, races featuring these cars were officially being organized. These cars were mainly street vehicles that had been lightened and reinforced to provide drivers with more power and control to tackle the local dirt tracks.These races became popular entertainment in the rural Southern United States, and most of them took place in the Wilkes County region of North Carolina, situated in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

One of the most famous retired Moonshine drivers is Robert Glenn Johnson, Jr. better known as Junior Johnson, it is said that he was never caught by police during his years of running booze. He became one of the early superstars of NASCAR in the 1950s and 1960s. He won 50 NASCAR races in his career before retiring in 1966. In the 1970s and 1980s, he also became a NASCAR racing team owner and sponsored NASCAR champions such as Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip. He is also credited with discovering the technique of drafting.

The ultimate King of NASCAR is Richard Petty and he is most well known for winning the NASCAR Championship seven times (Dale Earnhardt is the only other driver to accomplish this feat), while also winning a record 200 races during his career, winning the Daytona 500 a record seven times, and winning a record 27 races (ten of them consecutively) in the 1967 season alone.

Of the recent modern era, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are considered the best of all the time with a combined total of 20 championships and 209 wins. Unfortunately, Dale Earnhardt died tragically in a crash during the 2001 Daytona 500 when Earnhardt’s car hit the wall nose-first at an estimated speed of 160 mph.

As for NASCAR cars today – they are all built with similar specs below to keep the pack competitive:

  • V8 Engine
  • Electronic fuel injection * 2012 is first year this is being used for Sprint cars
  • Displacement:
    • Approx 355 cubic Inches
    • 750-850 HP
  • Top speeds: without restrictor plates – 220+ MPH plus at Talladega Superspeedway was done by Rusty Wallace in 2004 on test lap
  • Transmission: 4-speed manual w/ reverse
  • Curb Weight: 3450 lb.
  • Chassis: Steel tube frame with safety roll cage
  • NASCAR Steel 15 in. x 10 in.
  • Racing fuel

Jimmie Johnson’s 2012 car

Jeff Gordon’s 2012 car

With over 75 million race fans and sales of over $3 billion annually, NASCAR is the biggest form of motorsport in the US.  More Fortune 500 companies sponsor NASCAR than any other motor sport in North America, although the sport’s popularity has been in decline since the early 2000s. For more information please visit the official website of NASCAR.