There are many names in the auto racing industry that are worth remembering as having been instrumental in the development of the sport. In the Midwest there is also a proud history in regard to racing, which is documented and displayed in the Midwest Motorsports Museum and Hall of Fame. The main focus of this establishment is to preserve the passion and heritage of the sport and pay tribute to those who have assisted in bringing auto racing to where it is today through their innovative ideas, racing skills and dedication to their sport.
Many stories line the walls of the Midwest Motorsports Museum and Hall of Fame, such as the history of the first midget car that was constructed in 1934 by Alexander Pabst that led to the first St Louis Midget Race in 1936 and the founding of the St Louis Auto Racing Association in 1938. The latter was however disbanded in 1976, but made a huge impact on racing in this state. This year a few more names were added to the Midwest Hall of Fame in a reunion and induction ceremony that was held on 22 January 2011 at the Springfield Ozark Empire Fairgrounds. Having the induction at the fairgrounds was extremely symbolic; as it was here that many memorable moments were created on its legendary speedways.
One of the inductees receiving the Pioneers award is Johnny Morris, who is a racing fan and team sponsor. Joining him in the Pioneers inductees section is Mark Perry, Gerald Wilson and Steve Long. Under the Legend inductees category was Bill Frye (Driver), Dave Williams (Driver), Steve Schahuber and Rex McCroskey (Driver). What makes Steve Schahubers’ induction so special is the fact that he not only raced the cars but he built them as well as making repairs on his car where needed. He is also active in promoting the sport and developing the same passion he had within the younger generations. The Midwest Motorsports Museum and Hall of Fame induction ceremony was a spectacular affair, which also featured historical photographs, vendor booths, racing cars on display and collectables stands. It was a day of paying tribute, remembering the past and looking towards an exciting future.
It’s official. Four hundred fifty entries have been accepted for the 36th Rolex Monterey
Historic Automobile Races, one of vintage motorsport’s most revered racing traditions,
set for August 14-16 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Of those, 145 are Porsche cars, helping
to celebrate Porsche as this year’s featured marque and lending live-action perspective on
the company’s storied racing heritage, which includes remarkable cars made famous by
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the iconic Porsche 917, and fittingly, four 917Ks
will take to the track. Three of those are re-uniting from the Gulf Wyer Team, and their
former Executive Director John Horsman will be watching them race along with Brian Redman
and Vic Elford, both of whom claimed victories at 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of
Sebring and are former Porsche factory drivers who raced the 917 at Le Mans. (Elford also
was behind the wheel of the 917 for the high speed scenes in the Steve McQueen film “Le Mans.”)
“The Porsche 917K was the greatest race car of all time” said Elford, noting that the “K”
denoted aerodynamic modifications made for the 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans, helping to give
Porsche its first overall victory in that race, followed by another win in 1971. It incorporated
Porsche’s revolutionary flat 12-cylinder engine. The long-tailed version could go 0-62 mph
in 2.7 seconds and reach top speeds of over 240 mph.
“The first time I drove the 917 was in 1969 (at Le Mans), and that car was a monster,” he
continued. “At the end of a straight you couldn’t just go from the brake pedal to the
throttle because the back end would want to come around, so you had to kind of finesse it…it
was uncharted territory back then and the car was very unstable.” Elford explained that he
was three hours from the finish and holding a 50-mile lead when his 917 broke down, taking
him and his co-drivers out of the running. John Horsman, who was an engineer as well as the
Gulf Wyer Team Executive Director, suggested the “short tail” modification for the car and
the 917K was born.
Elford added that in contrast to the 917 of 1969, the 1970 car (the 917K) was easy to drive
in the new short form. “At the end of the Mulsanne straight (at Le Mans) in 1969 the 917’s
top speed was around 200 mph, but in 1970, the top speed there was 220,” he said.
Races to Watch; Notable Drivers
With practice on Friday and warm-ups Saturday and Sunday mornings, racing will begin after
noon on each weekend day for 15 race groups that span nearly every era of motorsports history.
Saturday’s Group 7A (1964 – 1971 FIA Mfg. Championship Cars) is just one example of the
extremely rare and valuable cars competing: it features not only 917K Porsches but also two
Ferrari 512s and two Ford GT-40s, reminiscent of those competing in the late 1960s and
conjuring up images of the 1969 Le Mans race where, at the finish, a Ford GT-40 won by a mere
two seconds over a Porsche 908, making history as the closest margin of victory at Le Mans and
perhaps the most exciting race finish ever.
“For enthusiasts, the 2009 Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races will be very special,”
said Steve Earle of General Racing, Ltd., which owns and organizes the event. “You’ll be going
back in time, not just standing around admiring these cars. They are racing, and the sights
and sounds are the real thing.”
Notable drivers include England’s Sir Stirling Moss, often called “the greatest driver never
to win the World Championship,” driving a 1960 Lola MK I in Group 5A; South Africa’s Desire Wilson
(one of only five women to have entered an F1 World Championship Grand Prix), driving a 1952
Glockler Porsche in Group 3A; the USA’s John Morton (lauded for accomplishments in Can Am, Trans Am,
Indy Car, and endurance car racing), driving a 1985 Nissan GTP in Group 8A; and Kevin Buckler driving
his 2003 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona overall winning Porsche GT3RS in Group 7B. Brian Redman
(multiple winner of Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring) will drive the unique 1969
Porsche 917 PA (Porsche’s first Can-Am effort) in Group 6B and a 1971 Porsche 908/3 (a twin to the
car with which he won the 1970 Targa Florio) in Group 7A.
Schedule of Racing
Saturday August 15, 2009
Group 1A) 1904 – 1940 Sporting Cars
Group 2A) 1925 – 1949 Racing and Sporting Cars
Group 3A) 1948 – 1955 Sports Racing & GT Cars under 1500cc
Group 4A) 1955 – 1961 GT Cars under 2200cc
Group 5A) 1955 – 1961 Sports Racing Cars under 2000cc
Group 6A) 1955 – 1961 Sports Racing Cars over 2000cc
Group 7A) 1964 – 1971 FIA Mfg. Championship Cars
Group 8A) 1981 – 1991 FIA Mfg. Championship & IMSA GTP Cars
Sunday August 16, 2009
Group 1B) 1947 – 1955 Sports Racing & GT Cars over 1500cc
Group 2B) 1971 – 1976 FIA Mfg. Championship Cars
Group 3B) 1961 – 1966 GT Cars under 2500cc
Group 4B) 1959 – 1966 Sports Racing Cars
Group 5B) 1963 – 1967 GT Cars over 2500cc
Group 6B) 1966 – 1974 Can-Am Cars
Group 7B) 1973 – 1980 IMSA GT, GTX, AAGT Cars
Tickets, parking directions and information on Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca are available by
visiting www.MazdaRaceway.com or calling (800) 327-SECA. For more information on the Rolex
Monterey Historic Automobile Races, visit www.montereyhistoric.com or contact General Racing, Ltd.,
firstname.lastname@example.org , +1 (805) 686-9292.
The Corona Rally México in it’s edition Rally of Nations 2009 got off to a colorful start in the city of Guanajuato, to the sound of mariachis, and folk music that set many a foot tapping, together with many other expressions of Mexican culture. Guanajuato, a World Heritage town, threw quite a bash to welcome the 45 crews who will be fighting for first place tomorrow, when the race is on.
The main ceremonial start for this edition took place in front of both the Juárez Theatre and the Alhóndiga de Granaditas, where more than 30,000 people gathered to give rally participants a typically warm Mexican welcome, and to wish them good luck in the race.
The icing on the cake was an appearance by 2003 WRC champion, the Norwegian Petter Solberg, who rode in on a motorcycle to surprise the crowd, getting the Mexican feeling.
The first crew to get on the podium to receive the applause of the audience was that made up of one of the legends in world rally events, the Frenchman Didier Auriol, together with Denis Giraudet, who has been his co-driver during a great part of his history in the sport.
They were the first major names to drive onto the podium in front of the Juarez Theatre, followed by international figures such as the Finns, Harri Rovanperä and Toni Gardemeister; the Spaniards Dani Sola and Xavi Pons; the Swede Per-Gunar Andersson; the Austrian Manfred Stohl and his female co-driver Ilka Minor, as well as promising newcomer, Andreas Aigner. The Mexican teams were well represented by the current champion in Production Car group, Rodrigo Ordoñez, as well as Ricardo Triviño a driver who has competed in several world championships.
The economic situation all over the world has been felt in many industries and sports in the last few months. Concerns over the IndyCar Series has been on the minds of most members of the auto racing industry, but on Sunday, a capacity crowd and the spectacular victory of Helio Castroneves during the Indy 500, set the Indianapolis Motor Speedway alight with emotion, excitement and overwhelming joy. It was a magnificent racing event that gave spectators all the racing drama, disappointment and elation that is expected from the Indy 500.
Many refer to the Indy 500 as the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, and it was most certainly true of this year’s event. The grandstands were packed with approximately two hundred thousand spectators, and the almost one hundred thousand that could not find space on the stands, decorated the infield in color and vibrant energy. Spectators sat stuck in traffic for hours, to find a parking and a good seat to watch all their racing heroes in action. After seeing ticket sales dwindle and a slump in spectators, the turnout on Sunday, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, proved that the IndyCar Series was gaining momentum again.
Castroneves delivered a magnificent performance, biding his time until near the end, where he took the lead and won the Indy 500 for the third consecutive year. His win awarded Team Penske with $3 million in prize money, with second place driver Dan Wheldon taking $1.6 million, Danica Patrick in third took home $763 305 and Townsend Bell in fourth, received $445 305. Danika Patrick has been performing extremely well, and is well supported by female racing enthusiasts who are elated to see a woman driver succeed on a closed circuit course. In Victory Lane, Castroneves was overwhelmed by emotion over his victory and the fact that his entire family had come out to support him. After being acquitted from federal tax charges, the victory at the Indy 500 most certainly brought joy to Castroneves and a close to the stressful time he had endured. There is no doubt that his fans will be anxious to see Castroneves in action again, and waiting for the next big victory.
Built in 1964, the Phoenix International Raceway was originally designed to be one of the best American open wheel racing tracks available. The raceway was carved out of the Estrella Mountains giving the racetrack an incredibly picturesque backdrop. This meant that the new track, which is located at Avondale in Arizona, not only replaced the old one at the Arizona State Fairgrounds but quickly became a favorite amongst racing greats at the time. What’s more, the development of the track further spurred on the developing tourism industry, which meant that it contributed to the economy of the local community in quite a significant way. However, things only really started to take off at the track in 1988 when the Phoenix International Raceway was chosen to host some NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races. Suddenly racing legends could be found in every corner of the town and the whole of America discovered just what a great track the Phoenix International Raceway was.
The Phoenix International Raceway is one mile (1.6 km) in length and takes the form of a D-shaped tri-oval. It has a seating capacity of 76 800 and is currently owned by the International Speedway Corporation. Because the track was built right at the foot of a rocky mountain range, it had to be designed around its geographic location. Thus there is a curve in the middle of the backstretch which is situated between turns two and three. This curve is a rather unique feature and is commonly known as ‘the dogleg’. The ‘dogleg’ design allowed the designers to include an external road course and a drag strip into the overall design of the track. Turns 1 & 2 have an 11-degree bank while Turns 3 & 4 have a 9-degree bank. The front straight has a 3-degree bank while the back straight has a 9-degree bank.
Today things at the Phoenix International Raceway are somewhat different from what they originally were. The external road course gave way for an infield road circuit. The crossovers that were originally built to access this infield circuit were sealed off in 2005 after construction of a tunnel under turn four. The drag strip is also seldom used, but the raceway continues to be a popular venue for racing in general. Unfortunately, the raceway was unable to host the Indy Racing League in 2005 which brought to an end a long history of hosting this premier event. Still the raceway continues to enjoy its unmatched tradition of hosting 58 IndyCar events including the Fall NASCAR weekend, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, the Busch Series, Craftsman Trucks Series and Featherlite Southwest Series.