Mario Andretti – a name spoken with respect in auto racing circles. A master on the Formula One and NASCAR track, Mario Adretti has certainly left a major mark on the history of auto racing. Andretti, an Italian-American, has had a remarkable driving career with 4 IndyCar title wins and numerous F1 victories.
Mario Gabriele Andretti, along with his twin brother Aldo, was born on 28 February 1940 in Italy. In 1948 due to the occupation of his homeland by Yugoslavia, his family promptly departed, finally coming to reside in Nazareth of Pennsylvania, USA. Andretti’s racing career began in 1959 as he raced around a dirt track in a Hudson. His first year of racing saw Mario Andretti coming in 3rd place at the Indianapolis 500. 1964 was the year Andretti began racing in the USAC series. He also took part in a variety of forms of auto racing such as drag racing.
Mario Andretti also had a keen interest in Formula One. His first race was at Watkins Glen in 1968 and his first win for Ferrari was in 1971. Andretti’s focus really shifted to F1 driving in the mid-1970s. He began driving for the Parnelli team. He took the Lotus to its limit, developing a fantastic racing car that took an amazing full lap lead at Mount Fuji track. 1978 was a remarkable season with 6 wins in his brilliantly designed Lotus 79. Unfortunately after his previous grand successes as a Formula 1 driver, Andretti failed to gain victory from 1979 onwards. However his career in F1 reminded all why he was a champion as he competed with Ferrari in 1982. Andretti continued racing IndyCars during the ’80s.
Through his racing days Mario Andretti received much recognition, along with many awards and titles. Amongst these are the 1978 F1 World Champion, Inductee of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2000 and Inductee of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1996. He was even named “Driver of the Century” in 2000 by Associated Press and RACER magazine. Andretti was honored by the Italian government in 2006, by being awarded the Commendatore dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana.
Today Mario Andretti is a successful business man. He has set up the Andretti Winery in Napa Valley and has business interests in car dealerships, petroleum, the Mario Andretti Racing School as well as the Andretti Indoor Karting and Games center. However, Mario Andretti will always be remembered as one of the greatest race car drivers ever.
Pakistan has a widely recognized reputation for two things – cricket and hockey. The people of this country are largely poor and signs of this can be seen everywhere – from the rickshaws that clutter the streets to the rustic living conditions that many deal with. Auto racing is certainly something that most Pakistanis have only ever seen on TV. All that may be about to change as fans get ready to enjoy auto racing events in Pakistan.
Lahore played host to a brand new, exciting auto racing event on Sunday when various flashy, privately-owned sports cars were gathered for the first official auto racing event in Pakistan. Not content to sit and watch the excitement only on international TV, various young South Asian men have decided to break free from old sporting traditions and start racing. Auto racing in Pakistan is not a new idea – it has been carried out somewhat illegally for a little while now. Drag racing has always been discouraged by both local communities and the government due to the dangerous nature of the sport. But now it seems that all that is about to change. Persistent pleading from a few of the country’s racing enthusiasts has led to the government rethinking its stance on the sport. They decided to sponsor a day of drag racing and the result was Sunday’s proceedings in Lahore.
Most of the cars are owned by the country’s elite who have already been gathering in Lahore and Karachi for a couple of years in order to showcase their vehicles and race them in un-sponsored events. Now, with the government’s backing, fans of the sport can make the most of auto racing in Pakistan. Even those who are unable to afford a vehicle can finally experience the thrill of watching from the sidelines with the smell of smoke, rubber and fuel thick in the air.
As the Corollas, Datsuns, Nissan R35s and Mazda RX-8s competed for the fastest time, enthusiastic onlookers decked themselves out with name brands like Ferrari, Honda and Corvette. One of the biggest crowd pleasers was a striking, fire-red Corvette C6, owned by Syed Raza Ali Gillani. Almost sixty men tested their vehicles down the quarter-mile track. Each was allowed two runs in their attempt to clock the fastest time and claim the trophy. The event was a massive success and it seems that now that the eyes of government authorities have been opened to the potential this sport has in the country, it might well flourish under their encouragement. Only time will tell.
The Ford Mustang has always been a dream car to many. With popular models such as the FR500C, the FR500GT and the FR500S, it is hard to imagine that these models can be improved on. But on the fortieth anniversary of the Cobra Jet, Ford has produced a new FR500CJ drag racer, which will have every Mustang fan wishing they had one. The Cobra Jet Mustang Drag Car was created to be one of the most breathtaking factory built drag cars on the market. Attention to detail and creating raw power doesn’t just make the Cobra Jet Mustang Drag Car great, it makes it spectacular.
The Cobra Jet Mustang Drag Car was created to make a statement, and Ford is exceptionally proud of their latest member of the Mustang range. The Cobra Jet will have a six speed manual gearbox fitted, however a three speed automatic gearbox can be fitted on request, and will be powered by a 5.4L V-8 engine. A few features were changed from the previous models to enhance the performance of the Cobra Jet, such as an adjusted wheel and tire combination, so that the Cobra Jet will be better suited to drag racing.
Other features include a nine inch rear axle, larger throttle body, single hoop driveshaft loop with a one piece driveshaft, crankshaft dampener, long tube stainless steel headers, an anti-roll bar, cold air intake, drag race spring kit and specially designed rear control arms. The new Cobra Jet will produce four hundred horsepower and will comfortably fall within the ten second ranges.
Unfortunately, there is no hope of running off to purchase one, as only fifty Cobra Jet Mustang Drag Cars will be manufactured, of which all fifty have already been bought and will be dropped off at the respective dealerships for their new owners to collect. Even though Ford has said that there might be a chance of them manufacturing more Cobra Jets in the future, no definite plans have been made yet. There is still some light at the end of the tunnel, as the Cobra Jet will be manufactured from Ford performance parts that the public will be able to purchase. So with a little saving and patience, Mustang enthusiasts will be able to build their own Cobra Jet. Ford Racing Technology Director, Brian Wolfe, was quoted saying: “The 2008 CJ will get us more involved with the sportsmen racers in drag racing. Those Ford racers are among the most loyal Ford supporters and customers we have. The CJ makes a statement for our company that even in times as tough as these, we can introduce something as special as the Cobra Jet. As a guy who has tracked Ford history from the beginning and understands the significance of the CJ, this is by far the best factory drag car that we have produced.”
Many people have probably never heard of the term ‘Black Sunday‘ before and have no idea what it means. Despite the fact that Black Sunday is already a very large event, it is not one that is generally splashed across racing calendars. If you’re an auto racing fan, then you owe it to yourself to show up and support this great event as part of your growing ‘auto’ education.
At least once a year the men and woman who belong to the United Black Drag Racers Association gather together at a single location to take part in Black Sunday. Auto/drag racing may not be the next black national pastime, but it certainly is a lot more popular than many people think. In fact, the event has grown so much in popularity over the years that the African-American fan base is now large enough to facilitate a truly excellent day of sport, car culture, racing and socializing. Apparently Black Sunday has its roots in a bragging-rights day that was organised amongst black drag racers in the St. Louis area. Well, what might have started out as a really simple, small gathering is now a full-scale auto and motorcycle festival with national appeal. It’s a place where fans of the sport can get together and reignite old friendships, test their skills behind the wheel and compare the performances of their machines against each other. The introducing of a purse has further added to the appeal and drama of the event.
The event is also a great way to learn more about the sport and the United Black Drag Racers Association offers a hands-on show and tell-type of educational display on the day. The idea is to spark the imagination of youngsters and get more of them racing from a younger age so that there are more black drivers out on the racing circuits. Far from being a small, minority event, more than 20 000 people turn out to support the event each year. This year’s Black Sunday will be taking place at Gateway International Racetrack on Oct 17-19. So try something new and support this great annual event. You may be surprised at what you find!
The past weekend in Columbus, Ohio, was a very exciting one for auto racing enthusiasts. Eight champions were crowned in the various Lucas Oil sportsman categories following the outcome of the highly successful fourth annual JEGS NHRA Northern SPORTSnationals on the weekend of September 20-21, 2008.
The SPORTSnationals were held at the National Trail Raceway where more than 500 different competitors took part in a variety of action-packed events. In the end there were a lot of thrills and spills and the best of the best emerged to claim their trophies. Robert Baily of Wabash, Indiana, won the Comp Eliminator title and Jeff Taylor managed to lay claim to the Northern SPORTSnationals Super Stock title for a second time. Female driver Katie Sepanek from Moosic, Pennsylvania, became one of the few women to have won an NHRA national event when she was given the Stock Eliminator title ahead of fellow competitor and former champion Kevin Helms. Helms only just missed his chance to recapture the JEGS Crown by loosing to Sepanek. He won the JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals in Bella Rose last April and has to win at least two of the three JEGS SPORTSnationals to capture the limited edition JEGS trophy. He still has one more chance at the crown, however, since the third JEGS NHRA Pacific SPORTSnationals is set to take place in Fontana, California, from October 3-5, 2008.
Other racers who managed to go home with a trophy were Super Comp winner Don Trasin (Pickerington, Ohio), Super Gas winner Gary Linkhorn (Cumberland, Ohio), Don Moyer (Pickerington, Ohio) who won the Super Street trophy, Ronnie Davis (Suwanee, Georgia) who took the Top Sportsman award and Bill Webb (Centerburg, Ohio) who managed to go home with the trophy for Top Dragster. The Coughlin family also enjoyed a good weekend, with John Coughlin getting the best finish in a quarterfinal finish in Super Stock. Mike and Troy Jr Coughlin each won their opening races but were unable to make it past round two of eliminations. After an action-packed weekend of fantastic racing, fans and drivers alike will no doubt be looking forward to the final instalment in the JEGS NHRA Northern SPORTSnationals this year. So make sure you don’t miss out by making your plans for the October SPORTSnationals now.