Sprint Car Driver Kevin Ward Jr Killed in On-Track Incident with Tony Stewart

By | August 10, 2014

Tony Stewart


An tragic incident occurred last night at a Sprint Car race.  Driver Kevin Ward Jr. was struck and killed in an on-track incident with Tony Stewart.  The incident began with the two making contact during the race sending Ward Jr. spinning into the wall.  Ward Jr. then exited his car and entered the live track to confront Stewart on his next time by.  As a few other cars narrowly miss hitting him, Tony Stewart did after it appears Ward Jr. lunged toward his moving vehicle which clipped him and threw him several feet.  Ward Jr was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. The incident is currently under investigation as an on-track incident.

We don’t want to speculate but there are conflicting reports as to what happened.  Some witnesses say Stewart, who has a history of on-track violence, hit the throttle right before hitting Ward Jr. and hit him on purpose.  Others say due to poor lighting conditions and Ward Jr. wearing a black racing suit may not have even been seen by Stewart.  The course was under yellow, Ward Jr was out of control and unpredictable, and the cars were going at an estimated speed of 40mph and Stewart was following another car so it is entirely possible that he never saw Ward Jr. until it was too late.  As of this writing no charges are being filed and Stewart is cooperating fully and is reportedly very shaken up by the incident.  Out of respect, he has withdrawn from today’s NASCAR race at Watkins Glen.

Due to the violent and graphic nature of the incident video we will not be embedding it in this post but if you wish to see it and judge for yourself, be advised it is not for the squeamish. The video can be found here.

Source: Jalopnik and ESPN

Photo: AP/John Raoux

In Photos: 2014 NASA Utah Region Round 4

By | August 7, 2014

NASA Utah Round 4

NASA Utah Round 4

Round 4 of NASA Utah Region’s monthly racing event happened over the last weekend in June. Tack on some great weather and you have yourself a nearly perfect weekend to race on one of the finest tracks in North America – Miller Motorsports Park!

This round brought out another series. The Panam GP Series from our South American neighbors. Basically, it’s Formula Abarth racing for the northern hemisphere. It’s another stepping stone to the wonderful world of F1 racing.

Of the regulars of the NASA Utah Region, Makes and Model’s eye catching Audi R8 LMS got a face lift. Gone are the GMG wrappings, replaced with Makes and Models more traditional black and blue color scheme.

The results of round 4 can be found here.

More information on NASA’s Utah Region can be found here.

And the next event, happening Aug. 15-17 at MMP, will be a 6 hour endurance race – part of the Western Endurance Racing Championship. You can out more here.

As always, many thanks to the fine folks at Miller Motorsports Park for their help over the weekend.

[photos | Scott Pettett | Mike Gillilan]

In Photos: 24 Hours of LeMons – Return of the LeMonites

By | July 27, 2014

2014 24 Hours of LeMons - Return of the LeMonites

2014 24 Hours of LeMons – Return of the LeMonites

The 24 Hours of LeMons, think of this as the complete opposite to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The first clue. The rules. You can not spend more then $500 on your race car. Compare that to the rumored ~$500,000USD for a GT Corvette C6.R that runs in Le Mans. That’s not to say these cars are death traps. The $500 is for the car itself. You then need to make it “race worthy” and SAFE. Brakes, roll cages, racing seats, etc, etc. Oh..and you have to PROVE to the judges that you didn’t spend more then $500. Or, rumor has it, if you disagree with the judge, you can bribe them. Again, rumor has it, they like craft beer. Lots of it!

Now, onto the cars. If you can think it, make it work, it’s “safe”, you can probably run it. At this event, we had BMWs, Mustangs, a Volvo wagon, Porsches, Rovers, a Jensen Healey, Subarus, Rovers, a 1950’s Dodge truck, a car powered by a snowmobile engine, and a slew of others.

This running of LeMons had 67 entries from all over the USofA. The over all winning car, a 1989 Volvo 740 Turbo from California, completed 391 laps in the “24″ Hours. Now, this being LeMons, there are a slew of other awards to win, such as: Index of Effluency, Heroic Fix, I Got Screwed, Miracle of the Gulls Memorial Trophy and more.

Enjoy the pictures and if you ever have a chance to catch a 24 Hours of LeMons, you should be all means. You’ll be hard pressed to find such an enjoyable and approachable group of racers with the passion of the “big boys” and such unique “race” cars.

Again, thanks to man and women of Miller Motorsports Park for their help over the long weekend.

[photos | Jason Porter | Mike Gillilan]


Racing Blip: 2014 Brickyard Grand Prix

By | July 24, 2014

Extreme Speed Motorsports No. 1

Extreme Speed Motorsports No. 1

Welcome to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, otherwise known as The Brickyard! IMS is also home to one of more famous races in the world, the Indy 500. NASCAR fans typically know IMS as home to the Brickyard 400.

Well, this weekend IS the Brickyard 400! With NASCAR, Inc owning IMSA/TUDOR, I could speculate that NASCAR, Inc is trying to expand the eyeballs of NASCAR fans to the wonderful world of sports car and endurance racing. Now we could debate, at length, how diametrically opposed the typical NASCAR fan base is compared to the typical IMSA/TUDOR fan base is, but that might be for another article. I will concede that if this means IMSA gains fans and grows in popularity with this experiment, then I’m all for it.

Now onto qualifying from today. From my perspective, it appears IMSA is getting their Balance of Performance further refined. Most notably for the P2 cars. Extreme Speed Motorsports took spots one and two, with Dalzeil driving the No.1 car that took pole. OAK Racing took 3rd. All with 0.3 seconds separating them. ESM has been struggling all season. Did IMSA BoP swing the pendulum too much in favor of the P2 cars? It’ll be curious to see how the race pans out.

In PC, it’ll probably be another CORE autosports win. Another solid performance from the team during qualifying.

Risi Competizione’s Ferrari F458 tops out for the pole in GTLM. Nice to see them in fighting form again! The No. 56 BMW Z4 took the second spot, followed by Dodge SRT Viper No. 93. I still think GTLM is some of the best racing in the world. The time difference between 1st place and 10th place? 0.859 seconds. Expect a lot of excitement in this class.

Lastly, the GTD class is quickly becoming a favorite. BMW, Dodge SRT, Ferrari are the top 3 in this class. There’s a difference of 0.162 seconds between the 3! I would expect Tuner Motorsports to hold strong in their BMW Z4, but you really can’t count out Bleekemolen in his Dodge SRT Viper GT3.r to be satisfied hanging out behind Dane Cameron in that BMW. This should be a very exciting class to watch as well.

How to watch this “sprint” race on Friday at 5:30pm ET?

At this point in the season, I’m afraid it’s just easier to send you over to IMSA’s website. Every race has a different combo of various cable channels and streaming platforms for a single race. Or just fire up the IMSA/TUDOR YouTube channel in a few days to watch it without a commercial every 5 minutes (sorry..rant from the last race).

And the ever handy, dandy spotters guide.

[photo | mike gillilan]

Project: Pony Up -Part One

By | July 20, 2014

Project Pony UpAt the end of May we introduced the project series, Project: Pony Up.  This series will follow a 1967 Mustang getting a 5.0 V8 and T5 transmission swap among other things.  The car will eventually become a daily-driven track stallion but on a college student budget so we will be taking things slowly and one step at a time.  The first step will be prepping the car to receive the 5.0 and T5 by removing the old engine and transmission as well as cleaning up the engine bay.

photo (4)Removal of the engine isn’t as difficult a task as it seems.  In vintage Mustangs it is actually quite simple.  First, unhook the battery and remove all the accessories such as the alternator, radiator after draining the coolant, and if applicable the power steering pump and air conditioning compressor.  We also drained the oil to reduce the risk of a mess.  Next, remove the carburetor and intake manifold.  Removing these parts and accessories will give you more room to work with to get the motor out.  Remove the headers/exhaust manifolds.  Then jack up the front of the car and put jack stands under it so you can remove the starter and unbolt the bell housing.  It is possible to remove both the engine and transmission together but it much easier to do it separately.  Lower the car back down and put the jack or some blocks under the front of the transmission to support it once the engine is out.  All that remains is hooking up an engine hoist and leveler to the engine using the corner bolt holes on the cylinder heads.  Attaching the leveler to the corners helps with stability.  Unbolt the two bolts in the motor mounts and carefully lift the engine out of the car.  You’ll want to have an engine stand ready to hold the motor for you while you rebuild, sell, or keep the motor.

The next step is simple but at the same time challenging.  Now for the transmission.  Unhooking it is the easy part.  There are four bolts at the back of the driveshaft to unhook it from the differential and then it will slide out of the transmission.  It is heavy so an extra set of hands is advisable but not a must.  Remove the two bolts in the transmission crossmember and slowly lower the jack keeping it as level as you can.  This will minimize making a mess with the transmission fluid leaking.  Once you have it on the ground you will need to jack the front of the car up again to get it out from under neath the car.  We recommend placing a sheet of plywood under the transmission before removing it to make it easier to pull the transmission out from under the car.  All of this can be done in just a few hours if you are experienced but if this is your first time plan for a full day just to be safe.

Project Pony UpNow that the drivetrain is removed, it is a good time to clean up the engine bay by sanding it and repainting it.  This step isn’t necessary but highly recommended and will save you the time and hassle of not having to remove the engine again to do it.  In this car there was 47 years of gunk, crud, and road grime that had built up and needed some serious elbow grease to remove.  If you have the means to do it you can have someone professionally sand blast it for a reasonable price but we decided to do it ourselves mainly due to the lack of a way to transport the car.  If you do it yourself, a degreaser, wire brush, and a scraper will be your best friend.  Once you scrape it all off use 200 or 220 grit sandpaper and sand it down smooth.  You can spend as little or as much time on this as you’d like but just know you get what you put into it.  During this process we worked around the brake lines but removed and clips and wiring that would be in the way.  We also removed the battery tray which will have to be relocated depending on how you route the intake tubing on the 5.0.  We will be moving the battery to the back to aid weight distribution.

Project Pony UpNext comes paint.  This is another area you can spend as little or as much time as you want on.  You even have the choice of spraying yourself or paying someone to do it for you depending on the quality of finish you want.  Since painting the whole car wasn’t in the budget and this car will be used instead of being a trailer queen we did the work ourselves.  Perfection wasn’t the name of the game but we still wanted a nice looking finish.  After masking off the body, covering the brake master cylinder and the steering box we shot a single coat of good ole Rustoleum black semi gloss spray paint.  Two cans was sufficient to spray the entire engine bay.  We also sprayed the radiator support, motor mount brackets, engine crossmember, steering column, and wiper motor.  The old radiator hoses will be replaced and eventually the ugly, rusted master cylinder will be replaced with an aluminum one but more on that at a later date.  For now, the car is about ready to receive the new drivetrain.

A Tesla for the Rest of Us

By | July 16, 2014

autoexpress.com's rendition of Tesla Model 3

autoexpress.com’s rendition of Tesla Model 3

One of the big obstacles to widespread adoption of electric and plug-in hybrid cars is that, to date, most of them just haven’t been very cool. Your mileage may vary, of course, but that’s the opinion of this lover of old-school Detroit muscle. The Prius, the Volt, the Leaf… none of them make the heart race. Except for the Tesla, of course, but who can afford one of those outside of Hollywood elite?

Well, coming in 2017, a lot more of us will be able to bring home a Tesla. The company has confirmed in a tweet that a third-generation Tesla dubbed the Model III will hit the market following the upcoming Model X, a seven-passenger crossover vehicle. The Model III will be substantially smaller than the X or even the Model S, and is intended to compete with the BMW 3-series. Mock-up images in an exclusive article by the British magazine Auto Express show a stylish four-door sedan that looks to be about the size of a Toyota Camry. Auto Express speculates the car will be built on an all-new platform rather than a cut-down of the Model S and X. And the best part? Tesla’s founder Elon Musk says the III will retail for about $35,000 — roughly half the cost of a Model S, and within reach of the average middle-class consumer.

Check out that Auto Express article for all the details!

Jason Bennion has long thought a Mustang with an electric drivetrain would be a huge smash. He also blogs at www.jasonbennion.com.

Jason Bennion would love to drive a Morgan Speedster through the English countryside, at least once. He also blogs at www.jasonbennion.com. – See more at: http://dailyderbi.com/back-future-morgan-motor-company/#sthash.BE1WAc5F.dpuf
Jason Bennion would love to drive a Morgan Speedster through the English countryside, at least once. He also blogs at www.jasonbennion.com. – See more at: http://dailyderbi.com/back-future-morgan-motor-company/#sthash.BE1WAc5F.dpuf