Pikes Peak International Raceway

February 9, 2009 by  
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Pikes Peak International Raceway was reopened in 2008 and is now under the ownership of a private company, Pikes Peak International Raceway, LLC.

Pikes Peak International Raceway is situated in Fountain, Colorado USA. Just to the north of Pueblo, but south of Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak Raceway was originally the site of a horse racing track named Pikes Peak Meadows. The auto racing track of Pikes Peak was constructed in 1997 and was popular for many years. The speedway was purchased in 2005 by International Speedway Corporation who decided to close the facility down.

When Pikes Peak International Raceway was founded in 1997 it was the first super-speedway to be constructed in the Rocky Mountain area. The track itself was a 1 mile oval with a D-shape and a 1.315 mile road course. The width of the paved oval was 60-71 feet and the turns were at 10 degrees. Grandstands at Pikes Peak Raceway were able to accommodate some 42 000 spectators. Added to this was 31 luxury suites for VIP guests. A pedestrian tunnel provided access to the infield which had a care center along with a helipad. Also on the infield was a corporate village. Other convenient facilities at Pikes Peak super-speedway were the Pikes Peak Club, handicapped amenities and overnight RV spots.

A number of exciting races were held at the Pikes Peak International Raceway during its hey-day. Amongst these were IRL Series races, superbike events, sprint car races, midget car racing, the NASCAR Busch Series and many more. During its history there have been many great wins at Pike Peak. NASCAR Busch Series winners at Pikes Peak are as follows: 1998 – Matt Kenseth in a Chevrolet; 1999 – Andy Santerre in a Chevrolet; 2000 – Jeff Green in a Chevrolet; 2001 – Jeff Purvis in a Chevrolet; 2002 – Hank Parker Jr. in a Dodge; 2003 – Scott Wimmer in a Chevrolet; 2004 – Greg Biffle in a Ford and 2005 – David Green in a Ford. It would definitely appear that Chevrolet dominated the Pikes Peak speedway. Perhaps if the NASCAR track had continued operating, Ford would have taken the lead. Unfortunately, that theory will never be put to the test and Pikes Peak International Raceway will become a name mentioned in the history books of NASCAR racing.

Richmond International Raceway

February 9, 2009 by  
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The now very popular Richmond International Raceway started life as a little track known as ‘Strawberry Hill’. It was first used as a racetrack venue in 1946 when Ted Horn drove his champ car to victory on the 0.5-mile dirt track that came to be known as ‘Strawberry Hill Speedway’. These races were usually held once a year on the third Saturday of April. In the period that followed between 1953 and 2000, the track had three name changes and four configuration changes. The surface was changed from dirt to asphalt and lights were added to the facility in 1991. Ever since then, all races have been held ‘under the lights’ – something which helps make Richmond International Raceway somewhat unique.

Today the Richmond International Raceway is known for hosting some of the best NASCAR and IndyCar Series racing. The raceway features a D-shaped, 0.75 mile (1.2 km) asphalt track and is part of the 800-acre, multi-purpose Richmond Raceway Complex. Although the track is fairly short, it’s layout allows for excellent side-by-side racing and drivers are able to reach speeds similar to that of a superspeedway. This means that only the most skilled drivers can make their way to first place and there is plenty of action during the course of the average race. The Richmond International Raceway currently hosts the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, the Busch Series, the Indy Racing League, the United States Auto Club Silver Crown and National Sprint Car Series. The last 30 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races have been sold out and the track is known for producing some of the best racing in the sport.

In the past, Richmond International Raceway has been known as the ‘Atlantic Rural Exposition Fairgrounds’, the ‘Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds’, the ‘Virginia State Fairgrounds’ and the ‘Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway’. From these various names it is easy to tell that the Raceway complex is not only used to host racing events. It is also used to host a number of agricultural shows, expositions, sports and crafts shows and seasonal fairs. This means that the raceway complex is almost always busy with some major event but the most popular of these are the races.

Jeff Burton

February 9, 2009 by  
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Jeff Burton was born in South Boston, VA, on the 29th of June, 1967. His more than 30-year career started off when he first got behind the wheel of a go-kart at the age of seven and it eventually led him to winning two Virginia karting state championships before he took to stock car racing instead in 1984. He raced on his home track in South Boston Speedway, winning six Late Model races in 1986 and seven the following year.

Jeff Burton’s NASCAR career began in 1988 when he competed in five Busch Series races, twice finishing 11th. He raced the Busch Series for his father, John, finally winning in September 1990 at Martinsville, where he drove for Sam Ard, the Busch series legend. From 1988 to 1993 Burton raced full time in the Busch Series with a personal best in 1992. Overall he had a total of 20 career Busch wins.

In July of 1993 Burton made his Cup debut in New Hampshire but failed to complete the race when he had a crash after 86 laps. He again raced full time in 1994, which ended with him winning Cup rookie of the year honors. Throughout these years of racing Jeff Burton was unable to feature as well as he would have liked, but 1996 changed all of that when he began driving for Jack Roush and his career took off with six Top-5’s and twelve Top-10’s and finishing overall 13th in points.

Between 1996 and 2001, Burton was able to keep his track record up and doing well, finishing top five in points. It was during those years that he made 15 of his 17 wins, which included his first win in April 1997 in Texas. Burton was tenth in points when he finished 2001, which was the last year he ever won a race. Jeff Burton left Roush Racing in 2005 and moved to Richard Childress Racing where he had three Top-5’s and six Top-10’s driving the No. 31 Chevrolet. Overall, Jeff finished the year 18th in points for the second time round.

Continuing to build his reputation as a talented driver, and as a reflection of his confidence in RCR, Burton won the pole for four races in 2006, adding to his previous two pole wins. His best finish of the season was a second place in the Chicagoland Speedway race, and he set the pace for more than half the race at the Sharpie 500 at Bristol. Breaking his four year winning drought, Burton won at both the Dover International Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway. He qualified for the Chase for the Nextel Cup, and set about winning the Dover 400, putting him in the points lead. However, the taste of victory was short-lived as a series of poor finishes and misfortune precluded Burton from the championship.

On 15 April 2007, Burton won the Samsung 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway, making him the first driver to score multiple wins at this particular track. He qualified for the Chase for the Nextel Cup, finishing in a tied 7th place in the standings for 2007. In 2008 Burton qualified 36th for his first Daytona 500, and worked his way up in the field, finishing 13th. He won the 2008 Food City 500 at the Bristol Motor Speedway, as well as the Bank of America 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, taking the lead from Greg Biffle. Still racing with RCR, in 2009 Burton finished 17th in series points, being his most disappointing points finish since 2005 where he came in at 18th. In October 2009 he made his 800th NASCAR Nationwide Series start at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Moving into 2010, Jeff Burton will be undertaking his 17th full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. His achievements to date (March 2010) include 547 starts, 21 wins, six poles, 122 top-five finishes, and 222 top-ten finishes.

Texas Motor Speedway

February 9, 2009 by  
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Located in Fort Worth, Texas, the Texas Motor Speedway was built between 1995 and 1996. The original track featured a dual banking system with a 24-degree bank for stock cars and an 8-degree bank for open-wheel vehicles. The track is classified as a superspeedway as it is more than one mile in length and it is similar in layout to the Atlanta Motor Speedway and Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The track’s ‘Turn 4’ was reshaped in 1998 to make transitions from the turns to the straightway easier. Further renovations that same year eliminated the dual banking and resulted in the track currently in use today.

The Texas Motor Speedway measures 1.5 miles in length and features a quad-oval design. It has been banked 24 degrees in the turns to facilitate fast racing and the front straightway juts outwards a bit. It also has a seating capacity of more than 200,000 for NASCAR and IndyCar racing events. The track features tunnel bumps on Turns 2 and 4 which add to the its uniqueness. The track is currently owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc. At one stage the Texas Motor Speedway was considered to be the ‘fastest non-restrictor plate track’ to appear on the NASCAR circuit. Qualifying speeds exceeded 192 mph and corner entry speeds were often clocked at over 200 mph. However, with the gradual wear of racing surfaces other tracks, such as Atlanta, proven to be faster. Currently the top qualifying record is held by Brian Vickers who posted a 196.235 mph speed in 2006.

The Texas Motor Speedway is home to two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races – making it a very popular racetrack with big attendance figures. The races which it hosts are the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 and the Dickes 500. It also hosts the O’Reilly 300 and the O’Reilly Challenge – both of which are Busch Series Races. The Bombardier Learjet 550 is the only Indy Racing League race that it hosts.

Bobby Labonte

February 9, 2009 by  
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Robert ‘Bobby’ Alan Labonte was born in 1964 in Corpus Christi, Texas. He started racing at the tender age of five in a quarter midget race in his hometown. Just one year later, he won his first feature race and he started racing in quarter midget events across the US – many of which he won. In 1978 he moved up to go-karts and the whole family moved to North Carolina to support his older brother Terry who had advanced to the Cup series there. Bobby Labonte continued to race and, after competing in a number of different divisions, made his Busch Series debut in 1982. After graduating, he worked at Hagan Racing and continued to race in various divisions until 1985 when he returned to the Busch Series.

In his second season of the Busch Series, Labonte claimed his first pole position and he finished second at Road Atlanta. Just two years later he won twelve of the Caraway Speedway races of 1987 and he took the track championship that year in his own car – one of two. That year proved to be most fruitful for Labonte and he took a number of wins and top-five finishes during the course of the year. In 1990, Labonte competed in the Busch Series full time, driving his own #44 Slim Jim Oldsmobile. Besides doing well on the track, he won the Most Popular Driver award that year. He went on to win his first race at Bristol and then he won again at the Indianapolis Raceway Park. He went on to win the Championship that year and made two Cup starts at the Dover and Michigan International Speedways.

In 1993, Labonte started to drive in the Cup Series. His car was the #22 Maxwell House Ford Thunderbird and he raced for Bill Davis Racing. He had a brilliant year and even took the championship title in the Busch Series that year. His NASCAR career continued to get better and better and he has clenched many more titles and wins over the years. Today Bobby has the prestige of being the only driver to win both the NASCAR Winston Cup championship and the NASCAR Busch Series Championship. Bobby and his brother Terry Labonte are also the only two brothers to have won the championship in NASCAR’s top series.

By the end of 2009, Bobby Labonte had 21 wins to his name, as well as featuring in the Top Five 114 times, and 199 times in the Top Ten. He is currently (2010) driving TRG Motorsports’ # 71, with TaxSlayer as its primary sponsor and Doug Randolph as his crew chief.

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