Saturday, May 27, 2017

Arie Luyendyk Wins The 81st Indianapolis 500 - May 27th, 1997

May 27th, 1997
(Photo;en.wikipedia.org)
Polesitter Arie Luyendyk finished ahead of teammate Scott Goodyear to win the  81st Indianapolis 500 . With two laps to go, Luyendyk led Goodyear. A caution came out on the 199th lap, but the pace car did not come out to pick up the field. Without warning, the green and white flag were displayed at the starter's stand on the final lap, signifying the field was back to racing conditions. None of the cars in the field were prepared for the restart, and yellow lights remained illuminated for many seconds afterwards. Luyendyk held on to win, but controversy erupted regarding the officials' poor handling of the situation. Less than a month later, USAC was permanently removed from sanctioning the IRL and Indy 500, in favor of in-house officiating. It was the third time in his career that Goodyear narrowly lost the Indy 500 in the closing stages.

Jeremy Mayfield Born In Owensboro, Kentucky - May 27, 1969

  May 27, 1969
Jeremy Mayfield
(Photo;popfi.com)
Born in Owensboro, Kentucky, USA.
Mayfield is a former NASCAR driver who last competed in 2009 due to legal troubles and an indefinite suspension by NASCAR. Prior to 2009, Mayfield drove cars for the Sadler Brothers, T.W. Taylor, Cale Yarborough, Michael Kranefuss, Roger Penske, Ray Evernham, Bill Davis, and Gene Haas. He last drove for his own team, Mayfield Motorsports, before his suspension.

Mayfield was the 1993 ARCA Rookie of the Year and the 1987 Kentucky Motor Speedway Rookie of the Year. His NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career consisted of 433 races run over 17 years, with 5 wins, 96 top ten finishes and 9 poles.

On May 9, 2009, Mayfield was suspended indefinitely as both owner and driver by NASCAR following what NASCAR said was a positive test for methamphetamine. A federal judge weighed the evidence and subsequently temporarily lifted the suspension on July 1, 2009. On July 15, 2009, it was revealed by NASCAR that Mayfield had for the second time tested positive for methamphetamine after failing a random drug test on July 6. On July 24, a federal appeals court overturned the previous injunction Mayfield had been awarded, leaving him suspended from the sport.

Mayfield was working as a delivery person in while waiting for word on his appeals. By 2011, tax officials in Catawba County, North Carolina were on the verge of foreclosing on Mayfield's 388-acre spread there because he owed $82,000 in back taxes. In 2012, Mayfield was evicted from his home.
(Photo;wsoctv.com)
On December 19, 2013, firefighters burnt down Mayfield's former mansion in a controlled burn. On January 6, 2014, Mayfield was convicted on two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and one count for possessing stolen items, receiving 18 months of unsupervised probation, and was ordered to pay $88,124.41, adding an extra $1,100 in court costs.

Mayfield currently races in the KOMA Unwind Modified Madness Tour, making his debut in the series' inaugural race at Hickory Motor Speedway. In May 2014, Mayfield released a video, titled "The Mayfield Story", to explain the substance abuse controversy from his point of view.

In July 2014, Mayfield returned to organized racing competition, driving in an Pro Cup Series event at Tri-County Motor Speedway and finishing seventh of the ten cars that started. On September 29, 2014, Mayfield announced he would compete full-time in dirt and Super Late Model racing for 2015. On October 8, 2014, Mayfield started a Dirt Late Model team with plans to compete full-time in the World of Outlaws, with Mayfield as driver of the J2 car and Aaron Thomas as owner; Charlotte Motor Speedway owner Humpy Wheeler is an assistant for Mayfield. He currently lives in Denver, North Carolina.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Alberto Ascari Dies Of Crash Injuries - May 26, 1955

July 13, 1918 - May 26, 1955
 Alberto Ascari
(Photo; en.espn.co.uk)
Born in Milan, Italy.
Alberto Ascari was twice Formula One World Champion. He is one of two Italian Formula One World Champions in the history of the sport, and he won both his championships in a Ferrari.

Alberto was the son of Antonio Ascari, a talented Grand Prix motor racing star in the 1920s, racing Alfa Romeos. Antonio was killed while leading the French Grand Prix in 1925 but the younger Ascari had an interest in racing in spite of it. He raced motorcycles in his earlier years; it was after he entered the prestigious Mille Miglia in a Ferrari sports car that he eventually started racing on four wheels regularly.

Following the end of World War II Alberto Ascari began racing in Grands Prix with Maserati. His team-mate was Luigi Villoresi, who would become a mentor and friend to Ascari. Formula One regulations were introduced by the FIA in 1946, with the aim of eventually replacing the pre-war Grand Prix structure. During the next four transitional years, Ascari was at the top of his game, winning numerous events around Europe. He won his first Grand Prix race in Sanremo, Italy in 1948 and took second place in the British Grand Prix the same year. Ascari won another race with the team the following year. His biggest success came when he joined Villoresi on the Ferrari team and won three more races that year.

The first Formula One World Championship season took place in 1950, and the Ferrari team made its World Championship debut at Monte Carlo with Ascari, Villoresi and the famous French driver Raymond Sommer on the team. The team had a mixed year, their supercharged Tipo 125 was too slow to challenge the dominant Alfa Romeo team so instead Ferrari began working on an unblown 4.5l car. Much of the year was lost as the team's 2-litre Formula Two engine was progressively enlarged, though when the full 4.5l Tipo 375 arrived for the Italian Grand Prix Ascari gave Alfa Romeo their sternest challenge of the year before retiring; he then took over team mate Dorino Serafini's car to finish second. The new Ferrari then won the non-championship Penya Rhin Grand Prix.

Throughout 1951, Ascari was a threat to the Alfa Romeo team though initially he was undone by reliability. However, after winning at the Nürburgring and Monza he was only two points behind Fangio in the championship standings ahead of the climactic Spanish Grand Prix. Ascari took pole position, but a disastrous tyre choice for the race saw the Ferraris unable to challenge, Ascari coming home 4th while Juan Manuel Fangio won the race and the title.

For 1952, the World Championship season switched to using the 2-litre Formula Two regulations, with Ascari driving Ferrari's Tipo 500 car. He missed the first race of the championship season as he was competing for Ferrari at the Indianapolis 500, at the time a World Championship event. He was the only European driver to race at Indy in its 11 years on the World Championship schedule, but his race ended after 40 laps without having made much of an impression. Returning to Europe he then won the remaining six rounds of the series to clinch the world title and recording the fastest lap in each race. He scored the maximum amount of points a driver could earn since only the best four of eight scores counted towards the World Championship. He won three more consecutive races to start the 1953 season, giving him nine straight championship wins before his streak ended when he finished fourth in France, although it was a close fourth as the race was highly competitive. He earned two more wins later in the year to give himself a second consecutive World Championship.

Following a dispute over his salary, Ascari left Ferrari at the end of the season and switched to Lancia for the 1954 campaign. However, as their car was not eventually ready for the final race of the season Gianni Lancia allowed him to drive twice for Maserati and once for Ferrari. Ascari did at least get to win the Mille Miglia driving a Lancia sportscar in the meantime. When the Lancia D50 was ready it took pole position on its debut and Ascari led and set the fastest lap before retiring, meaning a full season of competing against Fangio's previously dominant Mercedes was much anticipated.

His 1955 season started promisingly, the Lancia taking victories at the non-championship races in Pau and Naples, though in championship events he retired in Argentina and at Monaco, where he crashed into the harbour after missing a chicane while leading, reportedly distracted by either the crowd's reaction to Stirling Moss' retirement or the close attentions of the lapped Cesare Perdisa behind. He escaped with a broken nose.

Four days later, on May 26, he went to Monza to watch his friend Eugenio Castellotti test a Ferrari 750 Monza sports car, which they were to co-race in the Supercortemaggiore 1000 km race. Ascari was not supposed to drive that day but decided to try a few laps. In shirt sleeves, ordinary trousers and Castellotti's white helmet he set off. Ascari was a very superstitious man and had previously always insisted on using his distinct pale blue crash helmet. His usual helmet was at the repair shop, having a new chin strap fitted after the incident in Monte Carlo. As he emerged from a fast curve on the third lap the car unaccountably skidded, turned on its nose and somersaulted twice. Thrown out onto the track, Ascari suffered multiple injuries and died a few minutes later. The crash occurred on the Curva del Vialone, one of the track's challenging high-speed corners. The corner where the accident happened, renamed in his honour, has been subsequently replaced with a chicane, now called Variante Ascari.

There were several similarities between the deaths of Alberto and his father. Alberto Ascari died at the age of 36. Antonio Ascari was also 36 when he died, on July 26, 1925. Both were killed four days after surviving serious accidents and on the 26th day of the month.

Motor racing fans from all over mourned as Alberto Ascari was laid to rest next to the grave of his father in the Cimitero Monumentale in Milan, to be forever remembered as one of the greatest racers of all time. His distraught wife Mietta Ascari told Enzo Ferrari that "were it not for their children she would gladly have joined her beloved Alberto in heaven". His death is often considered to be a contributing factor to the withdrawal of Lancia from motor racing in 1955, though the company was also in considerable financial trouble, needing a government subsidy to survive.

A street in Rome named in his honour, while both the Autodromo Nazionale Monza and Autodromo Oscar Alfredo Gálvez have chicanes named after him. In 1992, he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. The British supercar manufacturer Ascari Cars is named in his honour.

Italian-born American racing legend Mario Andretti counts Ascari as one of his racing heroes, having watched him at the Monza circuit in his youth.

"Race Driver And Broadcast Journalist" Sam Posey Born - May 26th, 1944

May 26th, 1944
Sam Posey
(Photo;mycarquest.com)
Born in New York City, New York, USA.
Sam Posey started as an amateur sports car racer, and graduated to Can Am, Trans Am and USAC Champ Car. As an endurance racer, Posey appeared at the 24 Hours of Le Mans 10 times and finished in the top 10 five times. His best finish was a 3rd in 1971, driving a Ferrari 512M. He also won the 1975 12 Hours of Sebring.

He participated in two Formula One world championship events, the 1971 and 1972 United States Grand Prix, retiring from the first and finishing 12th in the second. He also competed in a single NASCAR Grand National event in 1970, held on the Riverside International Raceway road course in Riverside, California.

Posey went on to become an auto racing commentator for ABC Sports. Posey debuted on ABC for the Indianapolis 500 in 1974, serving as analyst. In subsequent years, he served as a pit reporter, and ultimately returned to the booth starting in 1981.

Along with the Indy 500, Posey's ABC Sports duties included commentary for the CART/PPG IndyCar World Series with Paul Page and Bobby Unser, lasting until the end of 1995. Posey also appeared on selected NASCAR broadcasts on ABC. The three-man booth of Page/Posey/Unser was a fixture of Indycar racing of the era, and Posey and Unser were known to engage in friendly but heated exchanges on-air.

In 1989, Posey was brought in as part of the ABC Sports broadcast team covering the 1989 Tour de France. Many people were surprised by Posey's knowledge and genuine enthusiasm for the sport. ABC would bring him back as the lead anchor for the 1990 and 1991 races. Posey also worked as the play-by-play announcer for luge during ABC's coverage of the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo and the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

Posey later moved to Speedvision. He currently does essay work for the coverage of the Tour de France on the Outdoor Life Network, now known as NBC Sports, serving as the "Race Historian", and writes for Road & Track magazine.

Posey is also the author of Playing With Trains, a book on model railroading published by Random House, and The Mudge Pond Express, an autobiography which centers around his personal racing career and love of the sport. Posey is also an accomplished artist and painter. Posey now suffers from Parkinson's Disease, which has limited his activities in recent years.

Posey was the voice for the pre-race build-up montage slotted between the Mercedes-Benz Pre-Race Show and the actual race coverage for each Formula 1 race shown on the Speed Channel. Posey also comments on recent Formula 1 races and the championship in a segment called "Posey's Perspective" as part of the Formula 1 Debrief show, also featuring Bob Varsha, David Hobbs, Steve Matchett, and Will Buxton on the Speed Channel. Posey now narrates F1 montages on NBC Sports Network after NBC purchased the rights to broadcast the 2013 season.

In 2013, the front straight at Lime Rock Park was renamed the Sam Posey Straight.

Miguel Duhamel Born In Lasalle, Quebec, Canada - May 26, 1968

May 26, 1968
Miguel Duhamel
(Photo: miguelduhamel.com)
Born in Lasalle, Quebec, Canada.
Miguel is the son of Canadian Motorsport Hall of Famer Yvon Duhamel. He is the second winningest rider in the AMA Superbike series at 32 wins and most wins in the AMA SuperSport series.

He won his first AMA Superbike race in 1990 at Heartland Park Topeka, and was the AMA Superbike Rookie of the Year. He won the 1991 Daytona 200 Superbike race, when he was replacing the injured Randy Renfrow. He also won seven races en route to winning the AMA 600cc SuperSport series championship.

He won the 1992 FIM World Endurance Team Championship with Team Kawasaki France. He was the 1993 AMA 600cc SuperSport champion on his Kawasaki after winning seven races.

Duhamel became the first Canadian to win the AMA Superbike title in 1995. He was named the 1995 AMA Pro Athlete of the Year. He had six consecutive AMA Superbike wins, which broke Wayne Rainey's record five victories. Duhamel also dominated the 600 SuperSport series by winning nine of the 11 events. His eight straight victories broke Doug Polen's record. Duhamel finished third and fourth at the U.S. round of World Superbike, mirroring the results of team-mate Mike Hale.

In 1996 he became the winningest rider in SuperSport with his 28th career victory. Duhamel won his fourth 600cc SuperSport title, after scoring podium in all but three events. Duhamel won four Superbike races and had six podium finishes in ten events.

He won another 600cc Supersport title in 1997, He had five wins and two additional podium finished on the way to his fifth series championship. He had four wins in the Superbikes, and finished second in the points.

Duhamel won four Superbike events in 1998 before he had a season ending accident while qualifying at the New Hampshire International Speedway. He still had lingering injuries as the 1999 season started. He stunned the crowd by winning both the AMA Superbike and 600 SuperSport events at season-opening Daytona 200 races. He had a second place finish at the Sears Point 600 SuperSport race before his season was cut short by crashing at Road Atlanta.

Duhamel won the 2000 Brainerd event in the Superbike Championship. He also won the Road America event for Honda. He had four 2001 AMA U.S. Superbike podium finishes for Honda. He won AMA U.S. SuperSport races at Daytona, Mid-Ohio and Brainerd.

Duhamel swept both 2002 events at Road America, and became the all-time AMA U.S. Superbike winner. He also had five Superbike podium finishes en route to finishing third in the Superbike points.

In 2003 Duhamel was with American Honda. He earned his fourth Daytona International Speedway AMA Superbike victory and made seven additional podium appearances in the series. He also raced in AMA Supersport, taking a win at Brainerd Intl Raceway and two additional series podium finishes.

Duhamel won his fourth Daytona 200 Superbike event in 2004. He had seven additional podium finishes. He had a Supersport victory at Brainerd and two additional podium finishes. He won the 2004 AMA Formula Xtreme championship.

Duhamel won the 2005 AMA Formula Xtreme championship title with four wins and five second place finishes in nine events. He battled Jake Zemke in a close race for the championship. In Superbike he had podium finishes at Road Atlanta and Mid-Ohio on his Honda.

Duhamel had a crash while practicing at Road Atlanta on August 8, 2007. He suffered a lacerated liver, a perforated lung and a bruised lung.

In 2008 Duhamel again raced for the factory Honda Superbike team in AMA Superbike, riding a CBR1000RR-based Superbike, and scored five top-five finishes. Duhamel finished seventh in the final AMA Superbike point standings.

In 2012, Miguel won the FIM e-Power & TTXGP race despite a three-year break from competition. The Canadian champion had lost nothing of his will to win as he rode the US Barracuda Lightning Racing Team's electric motorcycle.

In February 2016 Miguel Duhamel announced he will come out of retirement to race in the Bol d'Or Classic endurance race in France held September 15-17, 2016.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Eli Vukovich Born in Oakland, California - May 25, 1916

May 25, 1916 - Aug. 23, 2001
Eli Vukovich
(Photo; revslib.stanford.edu)
Born in Oakland, California, USA.
Eli, who was inducted into the BCRA Hall of Fame in 1966, was the older brother of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, Bill Vukovich Sr. Eli was not as renowned as Bill, but his name still carried weight in California, where he and Bill tore up tracks together in the 1930s and 1940s.

In a 1984 "Fresno Bee" newspaper interview Vukovich asserted that "Racing was my life, and it paid well, too. Bill and I worked in the fields as kids picking grapes and everything. Then I got into racing and won some money. That was the end of field work. Dirt has always been my favorite place to race. Bill and I used to run everywhere we could. We'd drive five, six and even seven times a week."

The Vukovich brothers started in midgets and stepped up to modifieds. His brother's death during the 1955 Indianapolis 500 while he was attempting to win his third straight classic-eventually led Eli to quit racing in 1961. "After Bill got killed at Indy," he said, "I just didn't have the desire anymore."

Eli remained associated with the sport as a mechanic in a Fresno auto shop for several years before retiring. In 1996, Eli, his brother Bill, nephew Bill Jr., great nephew Billy III and brother Mike Vukovich were together inducted into the Bay Cities Racing Association Hall of Fame.

Eli died Aug. 23, 2001 in Fresno, California, USA.

Harry Cox Killed During Practice Run At Indianapolis - May 25, 1932

May 25, 1932
Harry Cox, 28, of Indianapolis, was serving as the riding mechanic for driver Bennie Benefiel. During a practice run for the 1932 Indianapolis 500, the car crashed in turn one and went over the outside wall. The car fell 18 feet to the ground and crashed into trees. Benefiel was seriously injured, and Cox was killed.

Peter Kreis & Robert Hahn Killed During Practice At Indy - May 25, 1934

May 25, 1934
During a practice run for the 1934 Indianapolis 500, Peter Kreis was the driver and Robert Hahn was the riding mechanic. Entering turn one, a car in front of him spun, followed by Kreis' car spinning, possibly due to trying to avoid a collision. The car went over the outside wall backwards, tumbled, and hit a tree. Both men were dead when the ambulance arrived. Kreis was a wealthy contractor who would take a month off each year to drive in the 500.

A.J. Foyt IV Born In Louisville, Kentucky, USA - May 25, 1984

May 25, 1984
A.J. Foyt IV
(Photo;"AJ Foyt IV 2007" by Max Revs - Max Revs)
Born in Louisville, Kentucky, USA.
He competed in the IndyCar Series and briefly in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, then called the Busch Series. He is the grandson of A. J. Foyt.

He began his career racing karts. He moved up through the open wheel racing ranks, winning the 2002 Infiniti Pro Series. When Foyt made his first Indianapolis 500 race in 2003, he became the youngest driver to start in the event. He continued in IndyCar for two more years until his back was injured at the 2005 Indianapolis 500. Later that season he made several NASCAR Busch Series starts. He was scheduled to continue in the Busch Series in 2006, but the team was bought out and his contract didn't allow him to race in a non-Dodge car. He returned to IndyCar late that season. He has not raced since 2009, although he drove for his grandfather's A. J. Foyt Enterprises team in trials for the 2010 Indianapolis 500.

 He married Indianapolis Colts vice-president Casey Irsay, daughter of team owner Jim Irsay, in July 2009. On September 19, 2010, it was announced by commentators during the Indy Japan 300 that Casey Foyt had given birth to a son, A.J. Foyt V. Foyt has been employed by the Indianapolis Colts since 2010 as a scouting assistant.

Jim Trueman Born In Cleveland, Ohio - May 25th, 1935

May 25, 1935 – June 11, 1986
Jim Trueman
(Photo; columbus.gov)
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
Trueman was a businessperson, champion racecar driver, racing team owner and owner of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. He began driving sports cars in 1962. He entered the Can-Am series and drove through the 1970s. He won 125 races in 23 years. He was the SCCA national championship in 1975 and 1978.
(Photo; teamterrificracing.net)
 Jim Trueman collecting a checkered flag at the 1975 Runoffs.

One of Jim Trueman's first business interests was Deibel's, a German-style restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. In 1972, Trueman opened his first Red Roof Inn motel. Soon he had three. The business was very successful, and by 1986, there were at least 155 motels in the chain.

On October 1, 1981, Trueman purchased Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, a race track near Lexington, Ohio. Immediately he began improving the facility. The track welcomed the CART series back in 1983. The facility became one of the most popular road racing tracks in the United States, hosting also IMSA, Grand-Am, IROC, SCCA, motorcycle racing, vintage events, and various other races.

Trueman used his riches from the motel business to expand his auto racing interests. He signed on Red Roof Inns to sponsor Vern Schuppan in the 1981 Indianapolis 500. Schuppan finished a strong third. In 1982, Trueman switched from Can-Am to CART and experienced instant success.

In 1985, Trueman was diagnosed with cancer. He kept his illness secret for many months.  At the 1986 Indianapolis 500 Trueman spent the entire month of May at the track, but was visibly frail and quiet.
(Photo;"Jimtrueman1986" by Doctorindy (talk) - self-made)
Trueman during practice at the 1986 Indy 500

The race was originally scheduled on his 51st birthday, but rain delayed the race. Bobby Rahal's car was fitted with a "Happy Birthday JRT" decal to celebrate. The following Saturday, May 31, 1986, the race was finally run. With two laps to go Rahal passed Kevin Cogan on a restart, and held on to win. The emotional Rahal nearly broke down in victory lane.
(Photo: omninate via photopin cc)
Bobby Rahal's March/Cosworth - 1986 Indianapolis 500 winning car.

In victory lane, Trueman stood up and took the traditional milk for winning Indy. Several years later, ABC television reporter Jack Arute revealed that Trueman whispered in his ear "I can go now." Later that year, Rahal won his first CART championship, and successfully defended it the following year. In 1988, Rahal won the last race the Truesports team ever won, the Quaker State 500 at Pocono

On Thursday June 5, 1986, five days after the victory, the city of Columbus held a victory parade downtown. Trueman was too sick to attend. Six days later he died at the age of 51.

The rookie of the year award in CART was named in his honor.

Bill Adam Born In North Lanarkshire, Scotland - May 25th, 1946

May 25th, 1946
Bill Adam
(Photo; www.motorsport.com)
Born in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, Scotland.
Growing up in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, this Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame member has driven everything from Sports cars, Trans-Am, Can-Am, to 1000 hp IMSA GTP prototypes. He has competed in events such as the Sebring 12 Hour, Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona and 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Starting his career in sports cars toward the end of the 1970s, Adam drove as a privateer, winning a Canadian championship before being hired professionally. Invited to join the factory backed Group 44 race team in 1980, he spent time co-driving with Bob Tullius in the Triumph TR8 in the IMSA series and had GTO class victories at the 12 Hours of Sebring, Road Atlanta, Mosport, and Road America, as well as a victory at Daytona where he drove alone. In mid-1982, the team unveiled its Prototype Jaguar GTP racer, and it finished 3rd at its first race ever at Road America. In the 1983 season, Adam and Tullius led almost every race but the car proved fragile, although it they did win Road Atlanta, Lime Rock, Mosport and Pocono races.

(BillAdamJaguar“ von Dan Wildhirt - Eigenes Werk)
In 1985, Adam joined Conte Racing, co driving with John Paul, Jr. in the factory-backed March GTP racer. Power came from a factory engine program at Buick, a V-6 turbo motor that put out in excess of 1000HP. Unfortunately, the power of this engine was more than the chassis could handle and it led almost every race, but broke down in almost every race. Following years were spent with Bayside Racing from Seattle, Washington in their Porsche 962 GTP racer, as well as the Hendricks Motorsport Chevrolet Corvette GTP racer.

In June, 1986, Bill was part of a Horst Kroll Racing to a 1-2 sweep at the Mosport Can-Am, driving the Frissbee-Lola KR4 - Chevrolet V8 to a second place finish. 1986 & 1987 were also spent in the Rothmans Porsche Cup in Canada with numerous victories as well as winning a prestigious Porsche Cup award, something given out to the worlds' top Porsche racers. At the 1987 24 Hours of Le Mans, driving a Porsche 962C for Porsche Canada/Brun Motorsport, Adam teamed with Scott Goodyear and Richard Spenard, running as high as 5th overall before stopping with engine problems. One season was spent with the Protofab race team, racing a factory backed effort in both Camaro and Corvette race cars before spending a few years out of motorsport.

1994 saw Adam return to racing, driving the Champion Racing Porsche. Along with co-drivers including John Paul, Jr., Juan Manuel Fangio II, Brian Redman, and Thierry Boutsen, he had a second-place finish at the Sebring 12 Hour with Hans-Joachim Stuck in 1995 and second place at Watkins Glen International. He would return in 1996 with Stuck to win the 12 hour Sebring GT1 class. In 1997, he placed 2nd in class, again with Stuck and Boutsen, at the 24 Hours of Daytona.

In 2002 Adam drove two races of the Porsche Supercup at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on United States Grand Prix weekend, placing 11th and 13th. The following year he was driving the number 23 Porsche 911 twice, in the Grand-Am Motorola Cup. He qualified the car 2nd on the grid at Mont Tremblant.

In recent years, Adam has been racing an Audi R8 (chassis 405) in the Historic Sports car Racing series, winning the Daytona WSC Enduro race in November 2005. In 2008, Bill Adam, driving for Jim Rogers, won the overall HSR Championship, placing first in four races and second in the other three in which he partook. In 2010, Adam continued driving for Jim Rogers in a "new" Audi R8. This car, chassis 607, was unraced and used as a showcar by Audi, before being completely gone over by ex Champion crew chief Bobby Green. Teamed with Butch Leitzinger, Adam won the opening HSR race at Sebring for the team's first victory with this car. Road Atlanta and the "Mitty" followed, where teamed with Andy Wallace, they placed 2nd. The rest of the year was complete domination by the Adam/Wallace team as they won at Road America, Wisconsin and followed with pole positions AND wins at Road Atlanta (September), Homestead Miami Speedway, and the Sebring finale, winning the HSR Championship.

In 1987, at the first Miami Grand Prix, Bill was interviewed by his future wife Dianne, an anchor of the nightly ABC news. Bill moved to Miami but keeps a summer place in Muskoka, Ontario. In 1990, Bill began his second career in motorsport when he began to announce major races. He has worked on over a 1000 broadcasts for ESPN, CBS, NBC, CTV, TSN and Global.

Racing Legend Henry "Smokey" Yunick Born - May 25, 1923

May 25, 1923 – May 9, 2001
Henry "Smokey" Yunick
Born in Neshaminy, Pennsylvania, USA.
Yunick was deeply involved in the early years of NASCAR, and he is probably most associated with that racing genre. He participated as a racer, designer, and held other jobs related to the sport, but was best known as a mechanic, builder, and crew chief.

Yunick was twice NASCAR mechanic of the year; and his teams would include 50 of the most famous drivers in the sport, winning 57 NASCAR Cup Series races, including two championships in 1951 and 1953.

He was renowned as an opinionated character who "was about as good as there ever was on engines", according to Marvin Panch, who drove stock cars for Yunick and won the 1961 Daytona 500. His trademark white uniform and battered cowboy hat, together with a cigar or corncob pipe, were a familiar sight in the pits of almost every NASCAR or Indianapolis 500 race for over twenty years. During the 1980s, he wrote a technical column, "Track Tech", for Circle Track magazine.

He was inducted in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2000. Yunick is a member of over 30 Halls of Fame across the United States and the rest of the world. Some of his personal items, including hats, pipes, boots, engines, etc. are on display at museums from race tracks to the Smithsonian.

Yunick died from Leukemia on May 9, 2001 at the age of 77, in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Spectator Killed By Flying Tire At Indianapolis - May 24, 1987

May 24, 1987
Tony Bettenhausen lost a wheel in the third turn. Moments later, Roberto Guerrero hit the tire with his nose cone, and the tire was launched into the air.
(Photo; alextallitsch.kinja.com)
The tire went over the catch fence, and into the top row of the "K" grandstand, striking Lyle Kurtenbach, 41, of Rothschild, Wisconsin. Kurtenbach was killed instantly. Kurtenbach's death was the first spectator fatality at the track since 1960.


Chip Ganassi Born In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - May 24, 1958

May 24, 1958
Chip Ganassi
(Photo; chipganassiracing.com)
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
Ganassi is a former driver, current team owner and member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. He has been involved with the North American auto racing scene for over 30 years and is considered one of the most successful as well as innovative owners ever. He is the only team owner in history to have won the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring and most recently the 24 Hours of Le Mans - six of the seven biggest races in the world.

He is currently the owner and CEO of Chip Ganassi Racing which operates teams in the IndyCar Series, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and Tudor United SportsCar Championship, World Endurance Championship and in Global Rally Cross. Overall, he runs 14 cars with 18 drivers across six different touring Series.

Joey Logano Born In Middletown, Connecticut- May 24, 1990

May 24, 1990
Joey Logano
Born in Middletown, Connecticut, USA.
He currently competes full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, driving the No. 22 Ford Fusion for Team Penske, and part-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, driving the No. 12 and No. 22 Ford Mustangs for Team Penske. His Penske contract extends through the 2018 season. He previously drove the No. 20 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing from 2008 to 2012, collecting two wins and 41 Top 10 finishes.

Logano's first major NASCAR win came during the Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway in just his third start in the 2008 Nationwide Series. Logano became the youngest driver to win a Nationwide Series race at 18 years, 21 days old. The previous youngest was Casey Atwood in 1999 at 18 years, 313 days. Logano became the youngest winner in Cup Series history when he won the 2009 Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway at 19 years, 35 days. The previous youngest was Kyle Busch in 2005 at 20 years, 125 days. Logano is now the youngest winner in two of NASCAR's three top divisions. Logano was also the first NASCAR driver born in the 1990s that has competed in NASCAR's three major divisions. In 2015, he became the second-youngest Daytona 500 winner.
(Photo: Joey Logano via photopin (license)

Ricky Craven Born in Newburgh, Maine - May 24, 1966

May 24, 1966
Ricky Craven
(Photo; espnmediazone.com)
Born in Newburgh, Maine, USA.
He is an ESPN broadcaster who works as a NASCAR analyst for the network. Prior to his ESPN duties, he was a NASCAR driver who won in four different series, the K&N Pro Series and the three national series. He occasionally served as a pit reporter when NASCAR aired on TBS in the mid-1990s. Craven is perhaps most well known for winning the 2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400, beating Kurt Busch in the closest finish in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history.

His achievements and awards include; 1991 Busch North Series Championship, 1981 Unity Raceway Rookie of the Year, 1990 Busch North Series Rookie of the Year, 1990, 1991 Busch North Series Most Popular Driver, 1992 Busch Series Rookie of the Year and the 1995 Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year.

Ivan Capelli Born In Milan, Italy - May 24, 1963

May 24, 1963
Ivan Capelli
(Photo; "Capelli 1991" by StuSeeger - Flickr.com)
Born in Milan, Italy.
He participated in 98 Formula One Grands Prix. He achieved three podiums, and scored a total of 31 championship points. Capelli began his career as a kart driver when he was 15 years old, and after four years he moved to the Italian Formula Three Championship.

In 1983 he became Italian Formula Three champion, after dominating the series with nine victories. After that he moved with the Coloni team to the European Formula Three Championship, and here he was the champion again in 1984.

In 1985 he graduated to the European Formula 3000 Championship with a Genoa Racing March-Cosworth and won one race. The same year he debuted in Formula One, driving a Tyrrell at the European Grand Prix (despite never having driven at Brands Hatch before), and finished fourth in Australia. Nevertheless, he was not picked up for a full-time Formula One drive in 1986.

Instead, he contested the 1986 Formula 3000 Championship, still with Genoa Racing, and also raced a BMW in the European Touring Car Championship. He did race several times in F1 with the AGS team. Meanwhile, Cesare Gariboldi, boss of Genoa Racing, was working with Robin Herd of March to create a new Formula One team. Capelli was a core component in their plans. By now, Capelli and Gariboldi had an almost father-son relationship. In 1987 Capelli was in Formula One full-time with the March team, led by Gariboldi.

Following his exit from Formula One in 1993, he raced a Nissan Primera with mixed results in German Supertouring for BMS Scuderia Italia and later took part in the Trofeo Maserati one-make series. He also became a Formula One commentator on Italian TV station Rai 1 and remains a popular personality in the paddock. Having come to terms with the disappointment of Ferrari, he has regained the happy disposition which had originally made him popular.

Montoya Holds Off Will Power To Win Indy 500 - May 24, 2015

May 24, 2015
Juan Pablo Montoya
(Photo;nydailynews.com)
2015 Indianapolis 500 Champion.
Juan Pablo Montoya passed Will Power with four laps to go to win the 2015 Indianapolis 500. Montoya, who won the race 15 years earlier in his first start, held off reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion and teammate Power by .1046 of a second -- the fourth-closest finish in race history -- in a thrilling battle over the final 15 laps that also included pole sitter and 2008 race winner Scott Dixon. Five of the 37 lead changes occurred in those 15 laps following a restart, with Montoya overtaking Dixon in Turn 1 for second place and Power in Turn 4 to lead Lap 197 by .0420 of a second. The victory extended Roger Penske's record of Indy 500 victories to 16.

 Montoya, who started 15th in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, fell to 30th early in the race after being hit from behind while under caution, which necessitated a pit stop to change out the rear wing assembly. He then overshot his pit box on Lap 95, which cost precious seconds. Montoya worked his way up to third by Lap 102 and remained in the top five to challenge for the win. Power was two-tenths of a second behind Montoya entering the white flag lap, but couldn't make a dramatic last-turn pass.

Montoya is one of the few drivers to have participated in NASCAR, Formula One, CART and IRL. After a seven-year stint in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Chip Ganassi Racing, he returned to the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2014, driving for Team Penske.

The highlights of his career include winning the 2000 & 2015 Indy 500, the International F3000 championship in 1998, and the CART FedEx Championship Series in 1999, as well as victories in some of the most prestigious races in the world. He is the only driver to have won the premier North American open-wheel CART title, the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Daytona, all at the first attempt. Montoya is one of two drivers to have won the CART title in his rookie year, the first being Formula One World Champion Nigel Mansell in 1993. He has also equaled Graham Hill's feat of being a Monaco Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500 race winner; Montoya is one of two active drivers (along with Jacques Villeneuve) who has won two legs of the Triple Crown of Motorsport.

Montoya has also become a crossover race winner by winning races in Formula One, CART, IndyCar, Grand-Am and NASCAR.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Jerry Sneva Born In Spokane, Washington - May 23, 1949

May 23, 1949
Jerry Sneva
(Photo; www.amazon.com)
Born in Spokane, Washington, USA.
 Jerry is a former off-road driver who also drove in the USAC and CART Championship Car series. He raced in the 1977-1982 seasons, with 26 combined career starts, including the 1977-1980 and 1982 Indianapolis 500 and was named 1977 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year. Jerry is the younger brother of 1983 Indianapolis 500 winner Tom Sneva.

Wally Dallenbach Jr Born In Basalt, Colorado, USA - May 23, 1963

May 23, 1963
Wally Dallenbach Jr
(Photo; motorsportstalk.nbcsports.com)
Born in Basalt, Colorado, USA.
He competed in 226 Winston Cup races from 1991 to 2001 and had 23 top 10 finishes. The son of open wheel racer and former CART chief steward, Wally Dallenbach Sr., Wally Jr. is also a road racer. Aside from NASCAR, Dallenbach has raced in IMSA Camel GT, CART, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and was the SCCA Trans-Am series champion in 1985 & 1986. He has four class wins at 24 Hours of Daytona and three class wins at 12 Hours of Sebring.

Largely retired from full-time driving, Dallenbach was a race commentator for NBC Sports and Turner Sports. His primary responsibilities are for TNT's NASCAR coverage, a position he had held since 2001, and NBC Sports Network's IndyCar Series coverage, which he has been a part of since NBC was bought by Comcast in 2010 until 2014. Dallenbach worked with Adam Alexander and Kyle Petty on TNT and with Leigh Diffey and Jon Beekhuis on NBC Sports Network. In 2015 Dallenbach joined Fox NASCAR on NASCAR Race Hub.

Bryan Herta Born In Warren, Michigan - May 23, 1970

May 23, 1970
Bryan Herta
(Photo;"Bryan Herta 2004 Indianapolis 500 Third Qual Day" by Manningmbd)
Born in Warren, Michigan, USA.
He is a former Sports car, CART and IRL IndyCar Series driver. He currently runs his own team, Bryan Herta Autosport in the Verizon IndyCar Series. His team won the 2011 Indianapolis 500 with the late Dan Wheldon.

Herta enjoyed considerable success in the lower formulae, winning the Barber Formula Ford and Barber Saab Pro Series, and dominating the 1993 Indy Lights championship with Tasman Motorsports.

He graduated to IndyCar racing in 1994 with team owner A. J. Foyt, where he had several promising races before suffering a season-ending injury at Toronto.

In 1995, Herta was hired to drive for Chip Ganassi Racing. Despite a pole at Phoenix, the association was unsuccessful, with Herta managing only a 20th place in the series standings while his teammate Jimmy Vasser finished 8th. Even so, Herta landed a top ride with Team Rahal for the 1996 season.


During the next few years, Herta developed a reputation for his prowess on road courses, especially at Laguna Seca Raceway. In 1996, he was the leader until the last lap, when Alex Zanardi made the spectacular pass through the "Corkscrew" chicane and took the victory. Herta, who rarely qualified below the first row at Laguna Seca, finally won two events on the twisty road course in 1998 and 1999. At the height of Herta's career, fan interest in the Shell-sponsored driver was dubbed by team owner David Letterman as "Hertamania."

In the opening laps of the 1998 event at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin's Road America circuit, Herta was involved in one of the scariest incidents in the history of North American motor racing. In the 4-mile (6.4 km) road course's fifth turn, Herta got too close to the back of the car of co-owner Rahal, and spun out into a paved runoff area, facing oncoming traffic. A few seconds later, an ESPN camera that had zoomed in on Herta's head pulled back when Herta clenched his fists and put them against the sides of his head. As course workers scattered, Alex Barron slid into the front of Herta's car and rode up on top of it. Both drivers were okay. Herta reported that Barron's car had actually hit his hands, only inches from his face.


From 2000 to 2003, Herta drove for a variety of Champ Car teams including Forsythe Championship Racing, Mo Nunn Racing, and PK Racing, but never quite regained his form from the late 1990s. In 2002 Herta drove an F1 car for the first time, piloting a Minardi at the "Thunder in the Park" event held at Donington Park. This led to speculation that he would test and even race for Minardi in F1, however this never happened.

After dabbling in sports cars, he revitalized his open-wheel racing career by substituting for an injured Dario Franchitti halfway through the 2003 IRL season.

In just his third IRL start, Herta picked up his first IndyCar Series win at Kansas Speedway for Andretti Green Racing. He was retained in an expanded four-car squad in 2004, usually running development engines. On July 31, 2005, Herta took his second IndyCar Series win, defeating AGR teammate Dan Wheldon in a close finish in the Firestone Indy 400 at the Michigan International Speedway.

In early 2006, he drove at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Fundidora Park for A1 Team USA in the A1 Grand Prix series before returning to Andretti Green for the IRL season.


As of 2006, Herta has started in the Indianapolis 500 five times (1994–1995, 2004–2006) with three top ten finishes, including a best of 3rd in 2005.

On October 31, 2006, Herta was confirmed as a driver for Andretti Green Racing's new Acura Le Mans prototype program for the 2007 American Le Mans Series season. He shared the car with Marino Franchitti, brother of his former teammate Dario Franchitti. On January 3, 2007, it was announced that Dario would also drive a limited ALMS programme with both Marino and Herta. Herta finished the season 7th in driver points with 1 class win. He also drove for A1 Team USA. At the event in Australia, Herta scored a 10th-place finish.

 Since retiring from racing, Herta served as a driver coach for Vision Racing and founded a Firestone Indy Lights Series team named Bryan Herta Autosport, which has a technical alliance with Vision Racing's Indy Lights team. In 2009, the team fielded a full-time entry for Daniel Herrington. The team campaigned Sebastian Saavedra for eleven races of the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season and the Indianapolis 500. In 2011 the team fielded a car for Dan Wheldon in the 2011 Indianapolis 500 which resulted in a stunning victory, and a full-time entry in Indy Lights for Duarte Ferreira. For the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season, Alex Tagliani ran the 500. The team switched to a Honda powered DW12 in May 2012 for the remainder of the season.

Herta's son, Colton, is also a racing driver and is currently competing in the 2017 Indy Lights Series. He joined forces with the newly formed Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing to pilot the 98-car. He started the year strong, with a second-place finish in the first race at St. Petersburg, and a win in the Sunday race on the same weekend.

Rubens Barrichello Born in São Paulo, Brazil - May 23, 1972

May 23, 1972
Rubens Barrichello
(Photo: FrenchGP05 061sharpc via photopin (license)
Born in São Paulo, Brazil.
Barrichello won five karting titles in Brazil before going to Europe to race in the Formula Vauxhall Lotus series in 1990. In his first year, he won the championship, a feat he replicated the following year in the British Formula 3 Championship, beating David Coulthard. He very nearly joined Formula One, the highest category of single seater racing, at just 19 years of age. Instead he competed in Formula 3000 in 1992. He finished third in the championship, and joined the Jordan Formula One team for the 1993 Formula One season. He competed in Formula One between 1993 and 2011. After losing his seat at the Williams F1 team, Barrichello moved to the IndyCar Series in 2012 with KV Racing Technology. After only one year and being unable to find a ride for the 2013 season, Barrichello moved back to Brazil to participate in the Brazilian Stock Car V8 Series, winning the championship in 2014 while driving for Full Time Sports.

Barrichello has won eleven Formula One Grands Prix. He has scored the tenth highest points total in Formula One history. Barrichello drove for Ferrari from 2000 to 2005, as Michael Schumacher's teammate, enjoying considerable success including finishing as championship runner-up in 2002 and 2004. He also finished third in 2001 and 2009. During his six years with Ferrari, Barrichello was involved in winning five constructors' titles, as Schumacher won five drivers' titles in a row between 2000 and 2004. At the end of 2005 Barrichello left Ferrari to sign a contract with Honda. Schumacher's retirement at the end of 2006 made Barrichello the most experienced driver on the grid, and at the 2008 Turkish Grand Prix he became the most experienced driver in F1 history. In 2009, he finished third in the drivers' championship for Brawn GP, as his team mate Jenson Button won the title. This meant Barrichello was involved in a sixth constructors' title. He became the first driver to reach 300 Grand Prix entries and 300 starts, doing so in 2010. He was also appointed chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association in 2010, but after losing his seat in Formula One, he was replaced by Pedro de la Rosa. In 2013 he started covering F1 race weekends for Brazil's TV Globo, interviewing drivers and team members on the grid and commenting during qualifying and race coverages.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Motorcycle Racer Nicky Hayden Dies From Bicycle Injuries - May 22, 2017

July 30, 1981 - May 22, 2017
Nicholas "Nicky" Hayden
Born in Owensboro, Kentucky, USA.
Nicknamed "The Kentucky Kid",  he was an American professional motorcycle racer who won the MotoGP World Championship in 2006. Hayden had two brothers, Tommy and Roger Lee, both professional motorcycle racers, and two sisters, Jenny and Kathleen. In 2010 Tommy raced in the AMA, and Roger Lee competed in the Superbike World Championship.

On May 17, 2017, Hayden was hit by a car while riding his bicycle near Rimini, Italy. The driver of the car stated that he was on his way to work when Hayden passed through a Stop sign and suddenly appeared in front of him. He was unable to avoid a collision. The speed of the driver is not yet known but the impact of Hayden slamming into the windshield was strong enough to completely shatter it and dent down the roof of the car. Hayden's bicycle was found in the nearby ditch with its frame snapped in half.

Hayden was taken to Rimini hospital with severe injuries. At 6:00 p.m., four hours after the accident, Rimini hospital staff announced that he had been moved to the major trauma unit at the Maurizio Bufalini Hospital in Cesena for possible surgery. It was widely reported by mainstream media that Hayden was put into a medically-induced coma for surgery, which is not the case according to Hayden's father Earl. "Nicky was never placed into a coma nor has he received any surgery as his condition is too severe to operate." Hayden sustained a traumatic brain injury as well as a broken femur, broken pelvis, and multiple fractured vertebrae. Five days after the accident, Hayden died in the hospital on May  22, 2017.

Hayden started road racing with the CMRA, often against racers many times older. He would often start races from the back of the grid because a family or crew member would have to hold his bike upright as his feet would not yet touch the ground. Later, at age 17, he was racing factory Honda RC45 superbikes while still in high school. In 1999, he won the AMA Supersport championship on board a privateer Honda. In 2001, his first full season as an AMA superbike racer, he came within 40 points of winning the championship, finishing behind only champion Mat Mladin and runner-up Eric Bostrom. The 2002 season, however, would see Hayden answering the bell: he won the Daytona 200 on a Honda Superbike en route to becoming the youngest ever AMA Superbike Champion, defeating reigning triple champion Mat Mladin, among others. He also entered the World Superbike round at Laguna Seca, making a solid 4th in the first race before colliding with Noriyuki Haga in race two.

Hayden was one of a long line of American road racers to come from the American dirt-track scene. In 1999, Hayden won his first Grand National Championship race and took Rookie of the Year honors. He was also declared the AMA's athlete of the Year. In 2000, Nicky Hayden won the Springfield Short Track. In 2002, despite racing in just a handful of dirt-track events, Hayden was able to win four races. At the Springfield TT race, the three Hayden brothers took the first three places (Nicky 1st, Tommy 2nd, and Roger Lee 3rd). The win at the 2002 Peoria TT came after beating thirteen-time Peoria winner, Chris Carr, despite starting from the penalty line. Hayden only lacked a win at a mile track to join Dick Mann, Kenny Roberts Sr., Bubba Shobert, and Doug Chandler in the prestigious "Grand Slam Club." The FIM named him a Legend in November 2015 prior to the Valencian Grand Prix.

His traditional racing number, 69, was the same number his father used.
(Photo;express.co.uk)
Nicky Hayden beat Valentino Rossi for the 2006 MotoGP world title.

Paul Newman Makes Onscreen Racing Debut In "Winning" - May 22, 1969

May 22, 1969

(Photo:pinterest.com)
Paul Newman the legendary actor, philanthropist and automobile enthusiast makes his onscreen racing debut in the action-drama film "Winning."

In "Winning," Newman played Frank Capua, a struggling race car driver who must turn around his fortunes by winning the biggest race of them all, the Indianapolis 500 and in the process avoid losing his wife played by Newman's real life spouse, Joanne Woodward to his biggest rival, Luther Erding (Robert Wagner). Newman and Wagner attended racing school to prepare for their action scenes, and Newman reportedly performed many of the racing scenes himself, without a stunt driver.

Three years after making the film, Newman launched a racing career of his own, driving a Lotus Elan in his first Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) race in 1972. In the mid 1970s, he joined a racing team, and they finished in fifth place in the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1977. Newman's personal best finish was second place in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1979; he drove a Porsche 935. In 1980, Newman talked to Sports Illustrated about his entry into racing after "Winning": "I found I had enjoyed the precision of it, of controlling those cars, I could see it would be a gas to do something like that really well." For more: Paul Newman - Tribute Page

Luigi Fagioli "First To Lead Monaco Flag To Flag" - May 22, 1935

May 22, 1935
Luigi Fagioli
Born in Osimo, Ancona, Italy.
For the 1935 racing season, his factory Mercedes was upgraded to a W25B model with which he captured the Monaco Grand Prix. He became the first driver to lead at Monaco from flag to flag.

Blaine Johnson Born In Santa Maria California - May 22, 1962

May 22, 1962 - August 31, 1996
Blaine Johnson
(Photo; spokeo.com)
Born in Santa Maria California USA.
Blaine, along with his lifelong crew chief and brother, Alan, were competitors in the NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster Series, a series which they entered in 1988. Johnson won four championships in that series from 1990–1993. At the time of his death, Johnson held a record 26 NHRA titles in the Alcohol Division, until he was later surpassed by Rick Santos.

He entered the Top Fuel class in 1994. However, on August 31, 1996 Johnson died from injuries sustained in a crash at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. Johnson's engine exploded right as he reached the finish line. Debris from the engine cut down the rear tires; the thick rubber from the tires in turn sheared off the rear wing, causing a loss in aerodynamic downforce at the rear of the dragster, which caused Blaine to lose control. His out-of-control race car then slammed into a guardrail apex at around 300 m.p.h. Johnson's car was heavily damaged as a result of the incident. He was sent to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, but was pronounced dead on arrival.

Johnson was the first Top Fuel driver to die on track since Pete Robinson at the 1971 Winternationals, and would remain as such until 2004, when Top Fuel driver Darrell Russell was killed during an event in Madison, Illinois.

Johnson's final pass was a track-record run of 4.61 seconds, which remained for two years before Gary Scelzi, who succeeded Blaine Johnson as the driver of Alan Johnson's dragster would beat it. Johnson was also the Top Fuel national record holder at the time of his death with a 4.59 second elapsed-time, a record that would stand until 1999 when Larry Dixon would beat it.

Though Blaine did not get to compete in the last quarter of the season, he had amassed enough points to finish fifth in the season ending points standings. At the awards ceremony after the end of the season, Top Fuel Champion Kenny Bernstein gave his championship trophy to Blaine's brother Alan. According to Alan, that particular trophy is in "a place of honor" at his home in Santa Maria.

The day after his death, on the first day of Eliminations, his opponent Tony Schumacher, performed drag racing's version of a "missing man" formation, idling down the track out of respect to Johnson. During the final round, event winner Cory McClenethan, who was in the lane opposite Johnson during his last ride down the track, stated very clearly, "And I'll tell you something else, when I get up there and get that trophy, it's going to Alan Johnson. Blaine, we love you, buddy."


(Photo; competitionplus.com)
Memoria plaque for Blaine Johnson at entrance of Midway at IRP.

Throughout the rest of the 1996 and deep into the 1997 seasons, the drivers in Top Fuel, and even some in Funny Car, sported stickers on their cars that read "In Memory of Blaine Johnson". Many drivers continued to have black tape across their car numbers in mourning, and 1996 Top Fuel points Champion Kenny Bernstein dedicated the remainder of the season to the memory of Blaine. After Alan Johnson picked Gary Scelzi to replace Blaine, he designed the new Winston No Bull dragster, which carried on the windscreen "In Memory of Blaine Johnson" for the remainder of the car's life. Blaine's brother, and crew chief, Alan Johnson, went on to be the crew chief for both of Gary Scelzi's championships in Top Fuel, and was the crew chief for seven time Top Fuel Champion Tony Schumacher for six of his seven championships, amassing 9 championships as a crew chief. He is currently part-owner of Awesome Al-Anabi Racing, and has designed the top fuel cars of both Khalid Al-Balooshi, and Shawn Langdon.

On the National Hot Rod Association Top 50 Drivers, 1951–2000, Blaine Johnson was ranked No. 36.

(photo credit: twm1340 via photopin cc)
Blaine Johnson's last appearance at Denver.

In 1996, the NHRA established the Blaine Johnson Memorial Award, which is awarded annually to the person or group that best exemplifies the qualities of Blaine. The award is a small bronze bust of Blaine atop a wooden base, with a brass plaque etched with the winner's name and the words NHRA Blaine Johnson Memorial Trophy.

Since 1997, following the NHRA Finals in Pomona, the Johnson Family has hosted the Blaine Johnson Memorial Golf Tournament in which the race community and the public participate to earn funds for the Blaine Johnson Memorial Foundation. The Foundation was created by Blaine's family to provide funds for scholarships to students in the Automotive Technology Lab at Allan Hancock College that exemplify the drive and determination that Blaine exhibited on the track and in life. The foundation also provides material support to the department such as machines and tooling.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

"USAC and Champ Car Driver" Jim McElreath Dies - May 18, 2017

February 18, 1928 - May 18, 2017
Jim McElreath
Born in Arlington, Texas, USA.
He was a driver in the USAC and CART Championship Car series. The gritty racer who worked on his own cars, overcame by personal tragedy on a number of occasions. Jim's son, James Jr., was killed in a sprint car crash at Winchester in October 1977. James Jr. had attempted to qualify for the 1977 Indy 500 earlier that year. Alongside his father, they were attempting to become the first father and son combination to qualify for the same race. However, James Jr. was too slow to make the field. Jim's daughter, Shirley, married racing driver Tony Bettenhausen, Jr. The couple died when their private plane crashed in Kentucky in February 2000. Shortly afterward, his wife Shirley would suffer a stroke that has confined her to a wheelchair ever since.

Jim began his racing career in 1945 at the age of 17. He raced stock cars in Dallas, Texas. Jim would race in the local Texas bullrings for the next fifteen years while working as a bricklayer. It was in 1960 when he and fellow Texan racer Johnny Rutherford decided to race in the Midwest. Both would eventually find super-modified rides in the International Motor Contest Association. Jim did well enough that by late-summer 1961 that he was offered a ride by fame car owner Lindsey Hopkins in the Hoosier Hundred, a race at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on the United States Auto Club National Championship Trail. He finished third in this race, an impressive start to his Indy Car career.

He raced in the 1961–1983 seasons, with 178 combined career starts, including 15 in the Indianapolis 500 in 1962–1970, 1973–1974, and 1977–1980. In 1962 he was named Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, a result of his 6th-place finish. He finished 48 times in the top 5, with five victories. This helped him finish in the top three in the title race four times between 1963 and 1970, the highlight being ’66 when he was runner-up in the USAC championship to Mario Andretti.
(Photo;turnology.com)
Jim won the inaugural California 500 at Ontario, California on September 6, 1970, driving A.J. Foyt's team car. He battled with Art Pollard for the last 10 laps after Al Unser and Cale Yarborough retired with mechanical issues.

McElreath was a 2002 inductee to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame.

Everett "Cotton" Owens Born In Union, South Carolina - May 21, 1924

May 21, 1924 - June 7, 2012
Everett "Cotton" Owens
(Photo; www.motorsportshalloffame.com)
Born in Union, South Carolina, USA.
 Owens was known as the "King of the Modifieds" for his successes in modified stock car racing in the 1950s. His career began in the 1950s in what is now known as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. He earned over 100 feature wins. He was the 1953 and 1954 champion. For five straight years (1957–61), Owens captured at least one Grand National (now Sprint Cup) series win.

Seven years after being diagnosed with lung cancer, Owens died on June 7, 2012 at the age of 88, just a few weeks after it was announced he would be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame's 2013 class.

Among his many awards and achievements; Announced as a member of the 2013 Inductee Class at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on May 23, 2012. Inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009. 2008 inductee in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. Historic Speedway Group - Occoneechee-Orange Speedway Hall of Fame Inductee in 2008. In 1970 inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association's Hall of Fame at Darlington Speedway. Named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers during NASCAR's 50th Anniversary celebration in 1998. Recipient of the Order of the Palmetto, the highest civilian honor awarded by the Governor of South Carolina, created in 1971 to recognize lifetime achievement and service to the State of South Carolina on September 16, 2006. Member Darlington Records Club. Member NASCAR Mechanics Hall of Fame. Member NASCAR Legends. Pioneer of Racing Award, Living Legends of Auto Racing, February 15, 2006. Presented with the Smokey Yunick Award for “Lifetime Achievement in Auto Racing” on May 28, 2000. Honored by the Vance County Tourism Dept., Henderson, NC with the “East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame Motorsports Pioneer Award” on October 16, 2005. Recipient of the “Car Owner’s of the 1960s” award by the Old Timer’s Racing Club, 1996.

Other notable achievements; Won NASCAR's first live televised race. Gave Dodge its last NASCAR victory in a wing car. Earned Pontiac its first NASCAR win, on the old beach course at Daytona in 1957 driving a '57 Pontiac prepared by Ray Nichels.

For more see; "Cotton" Owens - Tribute Page

The "Flyin'-Hawaiian" Danny Ongais Born - May 21, 1942

May 21, 1942 
Danny Ongais
Born in Kahului, Maui Island, Hawai.
When he was aged 14, he tested out motorbike racing with some success. In the late 1950s, Ongais enlisted in the United States Army as a paratrooper stationed in Europe. He was later discharged and returned to Hawaii for motor racing. Ongais became the Hawaiian motorcycle champion in 1960 and was in the top three positions in the expert class from 1960 to 1962.

In 1963 and 1964 Ongais won the American Hot Rod Association AA Gas Dragster Championship, and in 1965 he added the National Hot Rod Association AA Dragster championship title. A flamboyant figure on the racing circuit, Danny's nickname was "On-Gas" for his 'balls to the wall' driving style. He was also known as the "Flyin'-Hawaiian".

He was a Formula One driver who participated in six Grands Prix, debuting on October 2, 1977, and recorded a best result of seventh.

Ongais made his CART debut during the 1979 season. At the Indianapolis 500 Ongais qualified 27th and finished 4th. In a two-year-old car, Ongais scored another 4th place finish at the Kent Oil 150, at Watkins Glen International, and finished in 6th place in points.

For the 1980 season, at his first race the Indianapolis 500, Ongais started 16th and finished 7th. Ongais endured a tough season highlighted by a 3rd place finish at Watkins Glen and ended the season 15th in points.

In 1981 at the Indianapolis 500, Danny Ongais was involved in a very serious accident on lap 63. Ongais came into the pits, as the leader of the race, but problems during the stop caused it to drag on for a disastrous 46 seconds. After finally leaving the pits, Ongais approached a slower car at the end of the backstretch. He made a late pass going into turn 3. Carrying too much speed out of the turn, the car drifted out into the grey and the back end began to slide. Ongais tried to correct the slide by turning right, and the car hooked to the right and crashed nearly head-on into the wall. He was knocked unconscious by the heavy impact. Officials had to cut open the car to help Ongais out. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital in a critical condition. By the time the broadcasting of the race ended at 11:30 PM, Ongais' condition improved heavily and his condition was updated to stable. He suffered a concussion and 2 leg compound fractures. He missed the rest of the CART year to recover in rehabilitation.
(www.youtube.com)

Ongais next drove in CART during the 1983 CART/PPG World Series season, first driving at the 1983 Indianapolis 500, where he started in 21st place and retired with mechanical problems. Later in the season Ongais scored a best finish of 5th place at the Escort Warning Radars 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. He finished in 20th place in points.

For the 1984 season Ongais took over as owner of Interscope Racing, fielding the #25 Interscope Racing March 84C-Cosworth DFX. Ongais finished 3rd in the Detroit News Grand Prix, at Michigan International Speedway. He finished 10th in points. In 1985, Ongais scored a season best of 6th in the Beatrice Indy Challenge, at Tamiami Park and finished 24th in points. For 1986, Ongais only ran the Indianapolis 500, dropping out with a mechanical failure.

For the 1987 season, Interscope Racing teamed up with Team Penske, with Ongais in the #25 Panavision Penske PC-16-Ilmor-Chevrolet Indy V8, for the Indianapolis 500 however, Ongais crashed in practice and suffered a concussion. The car was driven by Al Unser Sr, who went on to win a record-tying 4th Indianapolis 500. Ongais later attempted to race at the Marlboro 500, at Michigan International Speedway, the Nissan Indy Challenge at Tamiami Park and the Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix at Nazareth Speedway. He would retire at Michigan and Miami and fail to qualify at Nazareth.

In 1996 at the age of 54, Ongais agreed to be the substitute driver for Scott Brayton in the Indy 500 who had died in a practice crash shortly before the race. Starting last, Danny finished 7th in what was his final 500.

He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2000, in the drag racing category. On the National Hot Rod Association Top 50 Drivers, 1951-2000, he was ranked 39th.