Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins Dies Of Heart Failure - March 29, 2012

December 22, 1930 - March 29, 2012
Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins
(photo credit: Roy's World via photopin cc)
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Between 1965 and 1975, he won a total of thirteen NHRA events. Most of these wins were won with a four-speed manual transmission. In 1972 he recorded 250 straight passes without missing a shift.

He was formally trained as a mechanical engineer at Cornell University, and he used his training and skills to build engines. He has been inducted in numerous motorsports halls of fame for his engine building skills in the National Hot Rod Association Pro Stock division. His innovations include drag racing's first kickout oil pans, Pro Stock strut-style front suspension, and dry sump oiling system, and cool cans, electric water pump fan, gas port pistons, and slick-shift manual transmissions. Considered the "Father of Pro Stock", Jenkins-built engines were used to win five NHRA Pro Stock championships and three American Hot Rod Association championships.

He was nicknamed "Grumpy" for having a no-nonsense attitude at races. The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America said: "his continual search for improved performance left little time for idle chatter with his racing colleagues."

Jenkins also worked on some NASCAR engines. He built the engine Donnie Allison used to take the pole position in the 1975 Daytona 500. Mike Swaim used a Jenkins motor to take the pole for the 1987 Busch Series race at Daytona.

Jenkins was inducted in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2008. He had previously been inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1996 and Don Garlits International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 1993. In 2001, he was ranked eighth on NHRA's Top 50 Drivers of all-time. The American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association named him to their All-America Team in 1972, and he was awarded Chevrolet's of Performance in 1984. Jenkins was selected 21 times to the Car Craft all-star drag racing team including winning the "Man of the Year" and "Ollie Award".

Jenkins died on March 29, 2012 of heart failure in Paoli, Pennsylvania.

Chip Robinson Born In Philadelphia, Pennsylvanian - March 29, 1954

March 29, 1954
Chip Robinson
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvanian, USA.
He drove in the IMSA Camel GT series and won the 1987 24 Hours of Daytona, with Al Holbert, Derek Bell, and Al Unser, Jr., and the 1989 12 Hours of Sebring, with Arie Luyendyk and Geoff Brabham. He made five CART starts in 1986 and 1987 with a best finish of 6th at the 1987 Long Beach Grand Prix. He is currently a contractor residing in Augusta, Georgia with his wife and one son who aspires to drive as well.

Gary Brabham Born In Wimbledon, London, England - March 29, 1961

March 29, 1961
Gary Brabham
Born in Wimbledon, London, England.
He is the son of three time World Formula One Champion Sir Jack Brabham, and the brother of Le Mans winners Geoff and David Brabham. He is also the uncle of Geoff's son Matthew who has also taken up motor racing.

Despite hopes from his mother that he would avoid the motor racing scene altogether, he grew up on a diet of Formula Ford in both Australia and the UK. Originally, he was content to be a farmer in rural New South Wales. But, he had inherited the racing bug, made his racing debut in 1982, finishing his first race at Calder Park Raceway in 3rd, despite being in a nine-year old car. He later broke the Formula Ford lap record at the Sandown Raceway in the same car.

After winning the British Formula 3000 championship in 1989, his solitary Formula One opportunity came with one of the worst Grand Prix team efforts in the history of the sport, the troubled Life project. He failed to qualify for two Formula One Grands Prix with Life, a team that failed to qualify for all 14 of its attempts during the 1990 season. Brabham was the second-slowest qualifier at Phoenix and the engine gave up after only 400 meters in Brazil. After those two races, it was clear that no improvement was forthcoming, Brabham promptly quit the team in disgust. Brabham’s career never fully recovered.

For the remainder of 1990, Brabham raced in F3000 for Middlebridge Racing in their Lola-Mugen T89/50, collecting two third places at Monza and Enna. However, his bad luck continued as he failed to qualify for Pau and Birmingham. He returned to Australia for the Eastern Creek 500, teaming up with his brother, David in a Ford Sierra RS500 for Frank Gardner’s. The brothers finished 4th.

In 1991, he went Stateside to the IMSA championship, and drove for Nissan Performance Technology at the Sebring 12 Hours, along his other brother Geoff, and Irishman, Derek Daly. Starting from pole, they won the race, in their Nissan NPT-90. This victory did not open anymore doors, Brabham settled for a series of one-off drives.

Brabham did accept an invitation from NPTI to race in the IMSA Endurance races, alongside Daly and Steve Millen at Daytona, recording a DNF while running in third. At Sebring, the winning team from 1991, were joined by Arie Luyendyk. They came close to defending the title, finishing 2nd.

In 1993 and 1994, he raced in CART, becoming the first Australian driver to race the Gold Coast Indycar street race before retiring from racing. In 1995 he started to teach advanced driver training for celebrities competing in the Australian and British GP celebrity races. His pupils have included Rowan Atkinson and Captain Mark Phillips.

Bill Vukovich Jr Born In Riverside, California - March 29, 1944

March 29, 1944
Bill Vukovich Jr
Born in Riverside, California, USA.
Better known as Bill Vukovich II, he is the son of 2-time Indy 500 Winner, Bill Vukovich and the father of Billy Vukovich III, both of whom were killed in racing accidents.

He was named the 1968 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, a result of his 7th place finish. Vukovich raced in the 1965-1982 seasons, with 158 combined career starts, including the Indianapolis 500 in 1968-1977, 1979-1980. He finished in the top ten 85 times, with one victory in 1973 at Brooklyn. He also had 23 National midget car victories in his career, and drove for part of his career in Christopher J.C. Agajanian's midget car.

He was inducted in the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1998.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Dick Foley Born In Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada - March 28, 1932

March 28, 1932
Dick Foley
Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Dick Foley has been a racer, a promoter, and a car owner, but he is best known as the first Canadian to compete in the Daytona 500. Living in Montreal in the late 1940s, he began racing at local speedways in Bouvrette, Drummondville, and Rawdon. He was also a stunt car driver of note during the 1950s.

In the late 1950s, Foley raced on the famed NASCAR Daytona Beach road and beach course, finishing the race 19th in 1958, the last year of the circuit before the race was moved to the new speedway.

Foley's best year came in 1959, when he finished 55th in points. Again he competed exclusively at Daytona. In the inaugural Daytona 500, Foley raced a car built by Marshall Teague, who had tragically died while attempting to set a world speed record at the track two weeks before the race. Foley finishing well off the pace in 32nd. He ended the year with a 31st in the July Daytona event.

He also ran in the 1960 Daytona 500, and took tenth spot in the 1960 250 Mile Sportsman/Modified race at Daytona, driving a 1957 Chevy. During the 1960 season, Foley also won modified titles at Bouvrette and Drummondville, later to be known as Autodrome Drummondville. In 1961 Foley retired from active racing, and began promoted racing in the Montreal area.

Over 40 years later, in 2002, Foley purchased a Sportsman-class car, and went CASCAR racing with nephew Danny Foley behind the wheel. Two years later he purchased a second Sportsman car, this time with Hugo Vannini driving.

In 2006, he acquired the Quebec City area 5/8th mile oval Circuit Ste Croix, and renamed it Riverside Speedway in honor of his father Richard who constructed the original Riverside in St. Vincent de Paul, Quebec, and continues to operate this facility to this day.

Foley was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 2011.

Tony Brise Born In Erith, Kent, England - March 28, 1952

March 28, 1952 - November 29, 1975
Tony Brise
Born in Erith, Kent, England
He won two of the three British Formula Three Championships in 1973, sharing one, the Lombard North Central championship, with Richard Robarts. He participated in 10 Formula One Grands Prix, and scored one championship point.

Brise made his Grand Prix debut on April 27, 1975 for Williams, but after one race switched to Embassy Racing with former world champion driver Graham Hill, where he showed great potential. Later in 1975, Hill, Brise and four other members of the team were killed when their plane, piloted by Hill, crashed at Arkley golf course in thick fog.

See; Racing Legend Graham Hill Dies In Plane Crash

Maurice (Mo) Carter Dies Peacefully At Home - March 28, 2002

1924 - March 28, 2002
Maurice (Mo) Carter
Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
A decorated World War II veteran, a dedicated community leader and successful auto dealer in Hamilton, Ont. Mo attended St. Johns College School and proved to be a superb athlete, playing professional Hockey, Football and winning the Canadian Army Mile Run. During the 50s MO was Sports and Special Events Director for CJCR Radio in Edmonton. He did considerable freelance and commercial broadcasting in Eastern Canada, including a number of Grey Cup broadcasts.

Carter started rallying in 1961 and road racing in 1966. Over the next 15 years, he drove his familiar red-and-white Carter Camaros on every road racecourse in North America. In 1973, he became the first Canadian to win Trans-Am and IMSA races in the U.S. His Carter Camaro finished fourth behind a trio of Porsche 935 Turbos in the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1980.

On March 28, 2002, the 1971 & 1972 "Canadian Driver of the Year", and Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame member, passed away peacefully at his home, September Springs Ranch, Pincher Creek, AB at 80 years of age.

"1954 NASCAR Rookie Of The Year" Blackie Pitt Dies - March 28, 1992

March 18, 1925 - March 28, 1992
William H. "Blackie" Pitt
 Born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, USA.
He is best known as the 1954 NASCAR Rookie of the Year. Pitt raced from 1954 to 1958 and competed in 81 races in his four-year NASCAR career. One of his most memorable appearances in NASCAR was at the 1955 Southern 500, where he would race in a 1955 Ford Fairlane owned by his brother W.W. "Brownie" Pitt. This race would be captured on film and memorialized for future generations. His total career in NASCAR consisted of completing 9326 laps of professional American stock car racing. According to history, Pitt generally did better on short tracks than he did on road courses and intermediate tracks.

Pitt would end up contributing nineteen finishes in the top ten and accumulating 6,222.1 miles or 10,013.5 kilometres of stock car racing experience. His total career earnings is considered to be $5,619. Pitt was the recipient of the 1954 NASCAR Rookie of the Year award although he never received an official trophy. Due to the sudden disqualification of Joe Weatherly and Jim Reed at the end of an untitled 1955 Palm Beach Speedway race in West Palm Beach, Florida, Pitt was awarded an additional $50. The money came from a Mrs. Gail John Bruner using her Wachovia Bank and Trust Company bank account to access the funds.

Pitt's ultimate retirement came after finishing in last place at a 1958 race at Old Bridge Stadium. Blackie Pitt Died on March 28, 1992.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Nascar: The Ride Of Their Lives

Nascar: The Ride Of Their Lives
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Tribute To Jochen Rindt

April 18, 1942 - September 5, 1970
Jochen Rindt
Born in Mainz, Germany.
Jochen Rindt was born to an Austrian mother and German father, but his parents were killed in a bombing raid in Hamburg during the Second World War, when he was just one year old. He was thus raised by his grandparents in Graz, Austria, where he grew up and started motor racing. His grandfather, a lawyer, opted for Rindt to maintain German citizenship, but Rindt drove his entire career under an Austrian racing licence and is buried in Graz.

Despite being very successful in Formula Two, Rindt kept on choosing the wrong Formula One cars. Rindt made his Formula One debut for the Rob Walker Racing Team in the 1964 Austrian Grand Prix. It was to be his only Grand Prix of the year. From 1965 to 1967, Rindt raced for Cooper, scoring 32 points in 29 races. In 1968, Rindt raced for Brabham, but his season was not what he had hoped for because of technical problems. He also raced in the Indianapolis 500 in both 1967 and 1968, but finished no better than 24th.
Jochen Rindt at the Nürburgring in 1969

Rindt was noted for being an exceptionally fast driver with superb car control and reflexes, but rarely had a car equal to his talent until 1969 when he moved to Lotus and his career took off. Rindt clinched the first Grand Prix victory of his career in the 1969 Grand Prix of the USA in Watkins Glen. Rindt finished that year with 22 points, giving him fourth place in the Formula 1 World Championship. Rindt occasionally had a fraught relationship with Colin Chapman as he preferred a stable technological footing as opposed to Chapman's need to innovate and invent, but the two forged a successful partnership. Rindt's first victory in the 1970 season was at Monaco, where he advanced to second place due to the attrition of others and closed on Jack Brabham with such ferocity that he forced Brabham into an error and gained the victory on the last corner. With the Lotus 72 better sorted after anti-dive and anti-squat had been removed, Rindt won four Grands Prix in succession in the Netherlands, France, Britain and Germany.

During practice for the 1970 Italian Grand Prix in Monza, near Milan, Chapman and Rindt agreed to follow the lead of Jackie Stewart and Denny Hulme and run without wings in an attempt to reduce drag and gain a higher top speed. The more powerful flat-12 Ferraris of Jacky Ickx and Clay Regazzoni had been up to 10 mph faster than the Lotus at the previous race in Austria. Rindt's team mate John Miles was unhappy with the wingless setup in Friday practice, reporting that the car "wouldn't run straight". Rindt reported no such problems, and Chapman recalled that Rindt reported the car to be "almost 800 rpm faster on the straight" without wings.

On the following day, Rindt ran with higher gear ratios fitted to his car to take advantage of the reduced drag, increasing the car's potential top speed to 205 mph. On Rindt's fifth lap of the final practice session, Hulme, who was following, reported that under braking for the Parabolica corner, "Jochen's car weaved slightly and then swerved sharp left into the crash barrier." A joint in the crash barrier parted, the suspension dug in under the barrier, and the car hit a stanchion head on. The front end of the car was destroyed. Although the 28-year-old Rindt was rushed to hospital, he was pronounced dead. Rindt was in the habit of using only four points on the five point harness then available and did not wear the crotch straps, as he wanted to be able to get out of the car quickly in the event of fire. As a result upon impact he slid under the belts and suffered fatal throat injuries. He was the second Lotus team leader to be killed in two years, as Jim Clark had been killed in 1968 in a Formula 2 race at Hockenheim. An Italian court later found that the accident was initiated by a failure of the car's right front brake shaft, but that Rindt's death was caused by poorly installed crash barriers.

At the time he died Rindt had won five of that year's ten Grands Prix, which meant that he had a strong lead in the World Championship. At that stage he theoretically could have been overtaken by Ferrari driver Jacky Ickx. However Rindt's Lotus team mate who succeeded him, Emerson Fittipaldi, won the penultimate Grand Prix of the year at Watkins Glen, USA, depriving Ickx of the points he needed to win the title, and so Rindt became motor racing's only posthumous World Champion. The trophy was presented to his Finnish widow Nina Rindt, daughter of famous Finnish racer Curt Lincoln. Although popular legend favors the myth that Jochen had already promised Nina he would retire from F1 if he won the world championship, he had changed his mind before Monza and had told Nina that he would continue in Formula 1 for at least one more season if he became World Champion.
Rindt is buried at the central cemetery in Graz, Austria.

Cale Yarborough Born In Timmonsville, South Carolina - March 27, 1939

March 27, 1939
Cale Yarborough
Born in Timmonsville, South Carolina, USA.
He is one of only two drivers in NASCAR history to win three consecutive championships. He was the second NASCAR driver to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. His 83 wins places him at number six on the all-time NASCAR winner's list. His 14.82% winning percentage is the ninth best all-time and third among those with 500 or more starts. Yarborough won the Daytona 500 four times, his first win coming in 1968 for the Wood Brothers, the second in 1977 for Junior Johnson, and back-to-back wins in 1983 and 1984. In 1984, he became the first driver to qualify for the Daytona 500 with a top speed of more than 200 miles per hour. Yarborough is a three time National Motorsports Press Association Driver of the Year.

Yarborough made four career starts in the Indianapolis 500 beginning in 1966. His best finish was 10th in his last start in 1972.

In high school Yarborough was a halfback, then played four years of semipro football and was offered a tryout with the Washington Redskins. Two episodes on the TV show The Dukes of Hazzard featured Cale playing himself: "The Dukes Meet Cale Yarborough" in 1979, and "Cale Yarborough comes to Hazzard" in 1984. He appeared in the 1983 Burt Reynolds movie Stroker Ace.

Yarborough was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1993, the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1994, the Court of Legends at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1996 and was named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. In 2011, Yarborough was elected to the NASCAR HOF. In March 2013, Yarborough was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame.

Nascar: The Ride Of Their Lives
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Maurice Petty Born In Randleman, North Carolina - March 27, 1939

March 27, 1939
Maurice Petty
Born in Randleman, North Carolina, USA.
He is the son of Lee Petty, the brother of Richard Petty. He is a former NASCAR crew chief and engine builder for Petty Enterprises, of which he was part owner. In 2011, he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Alabama, in recognition of his career as a team owner, engine builder, crew chief, and driver. In 2013, Petty was nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Elio de Angelis Born In Rome, Italy - March 26, 1958

March 26, 1958 - May 15, 1986 
Elio de Angelis
Born in Rome, Italy.
De Angelis father Giulio was a noted inshore and offshore powerboat racer, who won many championships in the 1960s and 1970s. After a brief spell with karts, he went on to win the Italian Formula Three Championship in 1977. In 1978 he raced in Formula Two for Minardi and then for the ICI British F2 Team, he also competed in one round of the British Formula One championship and won the prestious Monaco F3 race.

His debut Formula One season was in 1979 with Shadow. In 1980 he switched to Lotus, and at the age of 21, nearly became the youngest Grand Prix winner of all time when he finished a tantalising second at the Brazilian Grand Prix, run at the very demanding and difficult 5-mile Interlagos circuit.

His first victory came in the 1982 Austrian Grand Prix at the Österreichring, only 0.05 seconds ahead of the Williams of eventual 1982 World Champion Keke Rosberg. The win was the last hailed by Colin Chapman's famous act of throwing his cloth cap into the air. Chapman died in December that year and Peter Warr became the new Lotus team manager.

De Angelis was a competitive and highly popular presence in Formula One during the 1980s, and is sometimes referred to as Formula One's "last gentleman player". He was killed in an accident while testing the Brabham BT55 at the Paul Ricard circuit, near the commune of Le Castellet, France, in 1986.

During tests, the rear wing of de Angelis' BT55 detached at high speed resulting in the car losing downforce on the rear wheels, which instigated a cartwheel over a sidetrack barrier, causing the car to catch fire. The impact itself did not kill de Angelis but he was unable to extract himself from the car unassisted. The situation was exacerbated by the lack of track marshals on the circuit who could have provided him with emergency assistance. A 30 minute delay ensued before a helicopter arrived and de Angelis died 29 hours later, at the hospital in Marseille where he had been taken, from smoke inhalation. His actual crash impact injuries were only a broken collar bone and light burns on his back.

The French-Italian driver Jean Alesi, who broke into the sport in 1989, wore a helmet that matched de Angelis' design, in tribute to his semi-compatriot.

De Angelis was also a concert-standard pianist, and famously kept his fellow Formula One drivers entertained with his skills while they locked themselves in a Johannesburg hotel before the 1982 South African Grand Prix at Kyalami when the Grand Prix Drivers Association held a strike in protest at the new superlicense conditions imposed by the governing body, FISA.

Bob McLean Dies In Crash At Sebring, Florida - March 26, 1966

September 24, 1933 - March 26, 1966
Bob McLean
Born:Australia, Home: Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Bob started his driving career in 1957 with an MGA, racing frequently at his home track, the very new Westwood Racing Circuit in Coquitlam, located close to his hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. By all measures, McLean was well liked and respected on the road racing circuits.

In 1965, McLean set out with his 1.6 litre twin-cam powered Lotus 23B to conquer the Canadian Driving Championships, a venture which would see him travel extensively. By air and by ground he travelled to every national event that year, covering nearly 100,000 kilometres. After a season of dominant performances, he was successful at winning the Championship, a remarkable accomplishment considering the eastern Canadian "establishment" drivers and their bigger and faster cars.

Early in 1966, Bob McLean earned a spot with the Comstock Racing Team, a Canadian endurance-racing team. Sharing the driving with fellow Canadian driver Jean Oulette, they piloted one of the team's two Ford GT40s in the 16th Annual Sebring 12 Hour Grand Prix of Endurance for the Alitalia Cup race at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida, United States of America. This was a showdown battle between Ford and Ferrari. Shortly after McLean took over driving duties in the fourth hour of the race, his Ford GT40 crashed into a utility power pole and exploded into flames, killing McLean.

Bob McLean left behind his wife Kathie and their two young children. McLean's death was a huge blow to the motorsport community. The funeral procession to his final resting place in Burnaby included a line of cars that reportedly stretched out some two miles, a testament to the fact that he was well admired. McLean was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in Toronto in 1993. In more recent years, McLean was featured in a Peter Lipskis documentary entitled King of Westwood.

Midget Racing Legend "Bullet" Joe Garson Dies - March 26, 1984

March 7, 1908 - March 26, 1984
"Bullet" Joe Garson
Home: Great Neck, New York, USA.
Garson was originally from the East Coast and won the 1938 Eastern Midget Racing Alliance title before heading West. Garson was one of the most successful AAA Midget drivers in the immediate post-war years when the sport was at a peak of popularity. In the 1939 150-mile race at Roosevelt Raceway he placed 2nd before a crowd of 61,256. He won the AAA Pacific Coast title in 1948 and again in 1950. He was fifty years old and USAC had replaced AAA when he had perhaps his greatest season, winning the 1958 Turkey Night classic and the Pacific Coast Midget title for the third time. One of his famous rides was the Rex Mays Offy.

Joe Garson died on March 26, 1984. He is a member of The National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame

Didier Pironi Born In Villecresnes, France - March 26, 1952

March 26, 1952 – August 23, 1987
Didier Pironi
Born in Villecresnes, Val-de-Marne, France.
During his career he competed in 72 Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, driving for Tyrrell (1978–79), Ligier (1980) and Ferrari (1981–1982). He won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1978 driving a Renault Alpine A442B. In his Formula One career Didier Pironi won 3 races, achieved 13 podiums, and scored a total of 101 championship points. He also secured 4 pole positions.

Two seasons with the underfinanced Tyrrell team demonstrated enough promise for Guy Ligier to sign Pironi to his eponymous French team in 1980, a season in which Pironi recorded his first victory, in the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder, as well as several podium finishes. Pironi's performance piqued Enzo Ferrari's interest in the Frenchman's services, which he secured for 1981. Ferrari later recalled, "As soon as Pironi arrived at Maranello, he won everyone's admiration and affection, not only for his gifts as an athlete, but also for his way of doing things - he was reserved while at the same time outgoing."

Teamed and compared with Gilles Villeneuve, who welcomed the Frenchman and treated him as an equal, Pironi was slower in qualifying but steadier in races during his first season with Ferrari. Establishing a fine rapport with the senior members of the team, Pironi arguably exploited this good relationship in the aftermath of the controversial San Marino race, where he is widely thought to have duped Villeneuve into conceding victory by giving the impression that he would follow his Canadian team-mate through the final lap, only to unexpectedly power past him into the Tosa hairpin, despite the team has signaled both drivers to slow down. Villeneuve was furious with Pironi and vowed never to say another word to him. The Canadian was killed in qualifying at the following Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder trying to better Pironi's lap time, and Villeneuve's state of mind is often considered a contributory cause to his fatal accident.

With a fast, reliable car, Pironi appeared to be on course for being 1982 World Champion, but the Frenchman's own state of mind underwent severe stress due to several factors. Widespread antipathy by many in the F1 fraternity was directed toward him in the wake of the Zolder tragedy. There was also the rapid breakdown of his marriage to longtime girlfriend Catherine Beynie within weeks of the ceremony taking place. He observed first hand the death of Riccardo Paletti in the 1982 Canadian Grand Prix, the young Italian ploughing into Pironi's stalled Ferrari on the starting grid. These tragic events may have resulted in Pironi being in a dour, gloomy mood that was misinterpreted at the time as over-confidence and arrogance.

After winning pole position for the German Grand Prix, Pironi was also busy testing a new-composition Goodyear rain tyre in untimed practice. The weather conditions at Hockenheim that weekend were highly uncertain: quickly alternating back and forth between wet and dry. In the rain, one of the many problems caused by "ground effect" F1 cars was that the spray was forced out from under the side pods as a fine mist and virtually created a fog. To those behind, this made cars in front close to invisible. When Pironi tried passing Derek Daly's Williams, the Ferrari 126C2 smashed into the back of Alain Prost's unsighted Renault, triggering a violent accident which bore some similarity to that suffered by Villeneuve.
Pironi survived, but multiple fractures to both of his legs meant he never raced again in Formula 1. In the immediate aftermath of the accident, he said he felt no pain. "It was just like my accidents before, when I had no injuries. All I could think about was the car, that the spare one didn't work as well as this one, and that I would have to use it for the race. Then I saw my legs and I thought maybe I wouldn't be doing this race, after all. In the helicopter, they began to hurt very seriously. But if I was to have this accident, it was lucky for me that it was in Germany and not in a more primitive place." The extent of Pironi's leg fractures was so severe that medics had initially considered amputation to extricate him from the car, much to his protestation with Professor Sid Watkins. At this point, he was leading with 39 points in the championship, ahead of Watson (30) and Rosberg (27), but Pironi was relegated to runner-up as Rosberg passed him to become World Champion with 44 points.

In 1986, after he was able to walk with both legs unaided, it looked as if Pironi would make a comeback when he tested for the French AGS team at Circuit Paul Ricard and subsequently, the Ligier JS27 at Dijon-Prenois. He proved that he was still fast enough to be competitive, but coming back to F1 was not truly practical. His insurance policy had paid out a lot of money based on the fact that Pironi's legs were injured so badly that he could never return to F1. Had he returned, he would have been legally obliged to pay all the money back.

Pironi decided to turn to offshore powerboat racing instead. On 23 August 1987, Pironi was killed in an accident in the Needles Trophy Race near the Isle of Wight, that also took the life of his two crew members, journalist Bernard Giroux and his old friend Jean-Claude Guenard. Their boat, "Colibri 4," rode over a rough wave caused by an oil tanker, causing the boat to flip over.

After Pironi's death, his girlfriend Catherine Goux gave birth to twins. She named them Didier and Gilles, in honour of Pironi and Gilles Villeneuve, who died at the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix five years earlier.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

"USAC Veteran" Dave Steele Killed In Sprint Car Crash - March 25, 2017

May 7, 1974 - March 25, 2017
Dave Steele
Born in Tampa, Florida, USA.
He won numerous sprint car racing championships and also competed in IndyCar and NASCAR races. Steele last drove a Winged Sprint Car on Florida's premier asphalt circuit, The Southern Shootout Sprint Car Series, where he won the first 5 races in series history.

He competed in several USAC sprint and Silver Crown races. He won the 2001 and 2003 Turkey Night Grand Prix midget car race. He won the USAC Silver Crown Series in 2004 and 2005.

Steele attempted to make his Indy Racing League IndyCar Series debut in 1996 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for ABF Motorsports but failed to qualify. He made his first start in 1998 at Phoenix International Raceway, the second race of the season, driving for RSM Marko, then drove in the final two races of the year for Panther Racing. He failed to finish all three races. He was entered in a Panther car for the 1999 Indianapolis 500 but crashed in practice.

Steele drove in the first two races of the 2000 NASCAR Busch Series for Felix Sabates. After finishes of 23rd and 34th he failed to qualify for the next three races and Steele and the team parted ways.

Steele also competed in four ARCA Racing Series races in 1999 and 2000 and two Infiniti Pro Series races (one each in 2002 and 2003).

Steele was killed in a crash at Desoto Speedway in Bradenton, Florida on March 25, 2017. He was 42. Steele was racing in the Southern Shootout Sprint Car Shootout Series when he crashed while trying to lap slower cars on the 3/8th-mile asphalt track, according to Desoto Speedway released a statement saying "Desoto Speedway owners and staff are saddened by tonight's passing of David Steele in the Sprint Car feature. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends who were all in attendance, to see him try to win his 100th Florida race."

Danica Patrick Born In Beloit, Wisconsin - March 25, 1982

March 25, 1982
Danica Patrick
(Photo;By scott mecum: Danica 2010.jpg)
Born in Beloit, Wisconsin, USA.
She is the most successful woman in the history of American open-wheel racing. Her win in the 2008 Indy Japan 300 is the only women's victory in an IndyCar Series race, and her third place in the 2009 Indianapolis 500, the highest finish there ever by a woman. In 2013, she became the first female to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole, turning in the fastest qualifying lap for the Daytona 500.

Patrick started in kart racing and later raced in Formula Ford in the United Kingdom before returning to the United States and moving up to IndyCars. She was named the Rookie of the Year for both the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and the 2005 IndyCar Series season. She holds the IRL record for most consecutive races running at the finish, as of October 2, 2011, she had completed 50 consecutive races.

On January 24, 2013, it was revealed that Patrick was dating 2-time Nationwide Series Champion, and fellow Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year candidate Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

Nascar: The Ride Of Their Lives
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Johnny Ray Born In Eastaboga, Alabama - March 25, 1937

March 25, 1937
Johnny Ray
Born in Eastaboga, Alabama.
Ray began his career at the top level of NASCAR competition, the Winston Cup Series in 1974, making his debut at Alabama International Motor Speedway, now Talladega Superspeedway, finishing 41st of 50 cars in the event. He went on to race seven more times in the series between 1974 and 1976 with his best finish at Talladega later in 1974, when he finished 22nd. In 1975, Ray, a trucker by profession, set a world speed record for eighteen-wheeler tractor-trailers, 92 miles per hour at Talladega.

Ray entered the 1976 season planning to compete for Rookie of the Year honors in the Winston Cup Series. Competing in the 1976 Daytona 500, the second race of the season, Ray crashed on the 112th lap, skidding in oil before being hit by Skip Manning. Extricated from his wrecked Chevrolet, Ray was taken to Halifax Medical Center, where he was found to have no vital signs and was initially declared dead; last-ditch resuscitation efforts managed to revive Ray. While he survived the accident, and competed in some local events in Alabama over the next few years, he never participated in NASCAR competition as a driver again.

Following his recovery, Ray went on to own cars driven by Dale Earnhardt, Johnny Rutherford, and Chuck Bown during the late 1970s. He also owned a team in the 1990s for his son, Kevin Ray, competing on a limited basis in the NASCAR Busch Series and the ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Supercar Series.

Driving with the Devil: Southern Moonshine, Detroit Wheels, and the Birth of NASCAR
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"2-TIME NASCAR National Sportsman Champ" Butch Lindley Born - March 25, 1948

March 25, 1948 - June 6, 1990
Butch Lindley
Born in Greenville, South Carolina, USA.
Clyde Lindley, Jr., nicknamed Butch, was a Short track racer. He was the champion of the NASCAR National Sportsman series in 1977 and 1978.

He began racing as a boy and pursued it as a full-time career from his late teens. Lindley established himself as one of the country's premier short track drivers, winning track championships at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, and finishing first in races at short tracks throughout the United States. During his career Lindley won more than 500 races, perhaps as many as 550. During the six-year span from 1975 through 1980 he started 385 NASCAR sanctioned events and won 154 times.

Lindley was a regular competitor in the NASCAR National Sportsman series for several years. From 1974 through 1976 he finished second, third and third in the final points standings. Lindley won the 1977 NASCAR National Sportsman championship with a total of 7,566 points. In 1978 Lindley again captured the National Sportsman championship, finishing with 8,148 points. He competed in 80 events and finished in the top five 58 times, including 23 wins. In 1979 Lindley finished second in points, and in 1980 he was fifth.

Lindley continued a limited schedule in the Sportsman series after it became known as the Budweiser and then the Busch Series. He ran half of the 1982 schedule for Emanuel Zervakis, making 14 starts and finishing in the top 10 ten times, including four wins. He also won two poles. The first win came at Richmond, followed by wins at South Boston Speedway and the season finale at Martinsville. Despite only competing in half of the events, he finished in ninth place in the final points standings.

Lindley ran 25 of the 35 races in 1983. Lindley won three poles and posted 11 top 10 finishes. He won races at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, South Boston Speedway, and Caraway Speedway despite switching between the Emanuel Zervakis and Dana Racing teams. Despite running only a partial schedule, Lindley still finished 13th in the final point standings.

Lindley made two starts in 1984, both for Ed Whitaker. In his first outing for the team, he started 7th and finished 3rd at Richmond. Later in the year, he started 7th at Martinsville and was running well before engine failure relegated him to a 29th-place finish.

The All Pro Super Series was a stock car racing organization which operated from 1981 to 1990. It was subsequently purchased by NASCAR, and operated as the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series until it was terminated in 2006.

Having run in selected races of the All Pro Super Series from 1981 to 1983, in 1984 Lindley participated in all 24 events. He finished in the top five 13 times, including seven wins, and was fourth in the final points standings.

In 1985 he took part in four of 26 races in the All Pro Super series, and won twice.

Lindley made his debut in the Grand National series in 1979. He started 14th in a Kenny Childers Chevrolet at Martinsville and finished 28th after falling out early due to overheating.

In 1981, Lindley made three starts in his own car, the #26 Chevrolet. He qualified fourth at Martinsville, but struggled in all three races. He did not finish any, and his best run was 24th at North Wilkesboro.

In 1982, Lindley made four starts and finished only one. Driving the #01 Emanuel Zervakis Racing Buick, Lindley started 14th at Martinsville. He dominated the middle portion of the race, leading the most laps of his Grand National career (163), and finished second to Harry Gant. In his return to Martinsville later in the year, Lindley led two laps before dropping out due to engine failure.

Lindley made two starts in 1983. Driving for Zervakis in the spring race at Richmond, Lindley led seven laps and came away with an 11th-place finish. He also ran at Martinsville for Bill Terry, recording a 25th-place finish.

Lindley's last career Grand National start came at Richmond in 1985 for Bobby Hawkins in a car with Larry McReynolds as crew chief. He drove the #16 Carolina Tool Chevrolet, started 17th and was running near the front before a lug bolt fell off and he settled for a 19th-place finish.

On April 13, 1985, Lindley was competing in an All Pro Super Series race held at the Desoto Speedway in Bradenton, Florida, driving Frankie Grille's #15 Chevrolet Camaro. He was leading after the 125-lap distance was complete, but the scheduled distance included a late caution flag, and All Pro rules stated that the final five laps of its races had to finish consecutively under the green flag, so the race continued. During the extra laps, a trailing arm on Lindley's car pulled apart as he entered turn three, sending the car into a spin that caused the driver's side to hit the wall. Lindley's helmet made hard contact with the wall, and he sustained a closed head injury. His crash was one of the factors that led to improvements in window nets, helmets, and head and neck restraints, which have dramatically reduced the number of injuries and deaths resulting from race car crashes.

Lindley remained in a coma until his death. He died at an assisted living facility in Greer, South Carolina on June 6, 1990. He is buried at Springwood Cemetery in Greenville.

In 1965 Lindley married Flora Joan Barbare, known as Joan. She frequently traveled with him and assisted his race teams, and Joan was scoring laps during the race when he sustained his fatal injuries. Butch and Joan Lindley had two children, daughter Tonda and son Mardy.

Mardy pursued a career in racing, driving at Southeastern short tracks including the United Speed Alliance Pro Cup. He later became a mechanic for Roush Fenway Racing, coincidentally on the #16 team, the car number most often associated with his father. He later served at HScott Motorsports as a crew chief in the K&N Pro Series, winning the 2013 championship, having worked later with Rico Abreu. Mardy is now working with Lorin Ranier, the son of a former NASCAR car owner himself, at MDM-Ranier Racing, again as a crew chief.

In 2005, Butch Lindley was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame.

Driving with the Devil: Southern Moonshine, Detroit Wheels, and the Birth of NASCAR
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Don Freeland Born In Los Angeles, California - March 25, 1925

March 25, 1925 - November 2, 2007
Don Freeland
Born in Los Angeles, California, USA.
Freeland served in the Navy as a mechanic during World War II. After the war, he began racing. He raced in the AAA and USAC Championship Car series from 1952 to 1962, with 76 career starts. He finished in the top ten 41 times, with a best finish of second place occurring 3 times.

Freeland competed in the Indy 500 each year from 1953 to 1960. He appeared headed for a second-place finish in 1955 before a transmission failure ended his day 22 laps prior to the end of the race. He came back with a best Indy finish of third the next year. He also finished in the top ten in 1954 and 1958.

Freeland died in San Diego, California at age 82.

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Bob Said Dies In Seattle, Washington - March 24, 2002

May 5, 1932 - March 24, 2002
Bob Said
Born in New York City, New York, USA.
Said was the first American to win a road race in Europe after World War II, the 1953 Rouen Grand Prix. He participated in the first Formula One United States Grand Prix at Sebring on December 12, 1959. Said was also a bobsled racer, competing in the Olympics twice, 1968 in Grenoble and in 1972 at Sapporo, Japan achieving a best result of tenth.

He is the father of Boris Said III, a sportscar racer and NASCAR road course ringer. Said died in Seattle, Washington, USA on March 24, 2002.

"Actor & Race Car Driver" Steve McQueen Born - March 24, 1930

 March 24, 1930 - November 7, 1980
Terence Steven "Steve" McQueen
Born in Beech Grove, Indiana, USA.
He was an American actor and race car driver. Called "The King of Cool", his "anti-hero" persona, developed at the height of the counterculture of the 1960s, made him a top box-office draw of the 1960s and 1970s. McQueen received an Academy Award nomination for his role in The Sand Pebbles. His other popular films include The Cincinnati Kid, The Thomas Crown Affair, Bullitt, The Getaway, and Papillon, as well as the all-star ensemble films The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, and The Towering Inferno. In 1974, he became the highest-paid movie star in the world, although he did not act in films again for four years. McQueen was combative with directors and producers, but his popularity placed him in high demand and enabled him to command large salaries.

In 1952, with financial assistance provided by the G.I. Bill, McQueen began studying acting in New York at Sanford Meisner's Neighborhood Playhouse. Purportedly, the future "King of Cool" delivered his first dialogue on a theatre stage in a 1952 play produced by Yiddish theatre star Molly Picon. McQueen's character spoke one brief line: "Alts iz farloyrn." ("All is lost."). During this time, he also studied acting with Stella Adler in whose class he met Gia Scala.

He began to earn money by competing in weekend motorcycle races at Long Island City Raceway and purchased the first of many motorcycles, a Harley-Davidson. He soon became an excellent racer, and went home each weekend with about $100 in winnings (equivalent to $900 in 2016).

In 1971, McQueen starred in the poorly received auto-racing drama Le Mans. Then came Junior Bonner in 1972, a story of an aging rodeo rider. He worked for director Sam Peckinpah again with the leading role in The Getaway, where he met future wife Ali MacGraw. He followed this with a physically demanding role as a Devil's Island prisoner in 1973's Papillon, featuring Dustin Hoffman as his character's tragic sidekick.

By the time of The Getaway, McQueen was the world's highest-paid actor, but after 1974's The Towering Inferno, co-starring with his long-time professional rival Paul Newman and reuniting him with Dunaway, became a tremendous box-office success, McQueen all but disappeared from the public eye, to focus on motorcycle racing and traveling around the country in a motor home and on his vintage Indian motorcycles.
McQueen was an avid motorcycle and racecar enthusiast. When he had the opportunity to drive in a movie, he performed many of his own stunts, including some of the car chase in Bullitt and the motorcycle chase in The Great Escape. Although the jump over the fence in The Great Escape was done by Bud Ekins for insurance purposes, McQueen did have considerable screen time riding his 650cc Triumph TR6 Trophy motorcycle. It was difficult to find riders as skilled as McQueen. At one point, using editing, McQueen is seen in a German uniform chasing himself on another bike.

McQueen and John Sturges planned to make Day of the Champion, a movie about Formula One racing, but McQueen was busy with the delayed The Sand Pebbles. They had a contract with the German Nürburgring, and after John Frankenheimer shot scenes there for Grand Prix, the reels were turned over to Sturges. Frankenheimer was ahead in schedule, and the McQueen/Sturges project was called off.

McQueen considered being a professional race car driver. He had a one-off outing in the British Touring Car Championship in 1961, driving a BMC Mini at Brands Hatch, finishing third. In the 1970 12 Hours of Sebring race, Peter Revson and McQueen (driving with a cast on his left foot from a motorcycle accident two weeks earlier) won with a Porsche 908/02 in the three-litre class and missed winning overall by 23 seconds to Mario Andretti/Ignazio Giunti/Nino Vaccarella in a five-litre Ferrari 512S. This same Porsche 908 was entered by his production company Solar Productions as a camera car for Le Mans in the 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans later that year. McQueen wanted to drive a Porsche 917 with Jackie Stewart in that race, but the film backers threatened to pull their support if he did. Faced with the choice of driving for 24 hours in the race or driving for the entire summer making the film, McQueen opted for the latter.

McQueen competed in off-road motorcycle racing, frequently running a BSA Hornet. He was also set to co-drive in a Triumph 2500 PI for the British Leyland team in the 1970 London-Mexico rally, but had to turn it down due to movie commitments. His first off-road motorcycle was a Triumph 500 cc, purchased from Ekins. McQueen raced in many top off-road races on the West Coast, including the Baja 1000, the Mint 400, and the Elsinore Grand Prix.

In 1964, McQueen and Ekins were part of a four-rider (plus one reserve) first-ever official US team-entry into the Silver Vase category of the International Six Days Trial, an Enduro-type off road motorcycling event held that year in Erfurt, East Germany. The 'A' team arrived in England in late August to collect their mix of 649 cc and 490 cc twins from the Triumph factory before modifying them for off-road use. Initially let down with transport arrangements by a long-established English motorcycle dealer, Triumph dealer H&L Motors stepped-in to provide a suitable vehicle. On arrival in Germany, the team, with their English temporary manager, were surprised to find a Vase 'B' team, comprising ex-pat Americans living in Europe, had entered themselves privately to ride European-sourced machinery.

McQueen's ISDT competition number was 278, which was based on the trials starting order. Both teams crashed repeatedly. McQueen retired due to irreparable crash damage, and Ekins withdrew with a broken leg, both on day three. Only one member of the 'B' team finished the six day event. UK monthly magazine Motorcycle Sport commented: "Riding Triumph twins...[the team] rode everywhere with great dash, if not in admirable style, falling off frequently and obviously out for six days' sport without too many worries about who was going to win (they knew it would not be them)".

He was inducted in the Off-road Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1978. In 1971, McQueen's Solar Productions funded the classic motorcycle documentary On Any Sunday, in which McQueen is featured, along with racing legends Mert Lawwill and Malcolm Smith. The same year, he also appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine riding a Husqvarna dirt bike.

McQueen designed a motorsports bucket seat, for which a patent was issued in 1971.

In a segment filmed for The Ed Sullivan Show, McQueen drove Sullivan around a desert area in a dune buggy at high speed. Afterward, Sullivan said, "That was a 'helluva' ride!"

McQueen owned a number of classic motorcycles, as well as several exotic sports cars, including: Porsche 917, Porsche 908, and Ferrari 512 race cars from the Le Mans film, 1963 Ferrari 250 Lusso Berlinetta, Jaguar D-Type XKSS (right-hand drive), Porsche 356 Speedster, 1962 Cobra, and a Ford GT40.

In spite of multiple attempts, McQueen was never able to purchase the Ford Mustang GT 390 he drove in Bullitt, which featured a modified drivetrain that suited McQueen's driving style. One of the two Mustangs used in the film was badly damaged, judged beyond repair, and scrapped.

McQueen also flew and owned, among other aircraft, a 1945 Stearman, a 1946 Piper J-3 Cub, and an award-winning 1931 Pitcairn PA-8 biplane, flown in the US Mail Service by famed World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker. They were hangared at Santa Paula Airport an hour northwest of Hollywood, where he lived his final days.

After discovering a mutual interest in racing, McQueen and Great Escape co-star James Garner became good friends.
Steve McQueen in the driver's position on a motorcycle with James Garner behind him.

Garner lived downhill from McQueen, and McQueen recalled, "I could see that Jim was neat around his place. Flowers trimmed, no papers in the yard ... grass always cut. So to piss him off, I'd start lobbing empty beer cans down the hill into his driveway. He'd have his drive all spic 'n' span when he left the house, then get home to find all these empty cans. Took him a long time to figure out it was me."

McQueen developed a persistent cough in 1978. He gave up cigarettes and underwent antibiotic treatments without improvement. Shortness of breath grew more pronounced and on December 22, 1979, after filming The Hunter, a biopsy revealed pleural mesothelioma, a cancer associated with asbestos exposure for which there is no known cure. A few months later, McQueen gave a medical interview in which he blamed his condition on asbestos exposure. McQueen believed that asbestos used in movie sound stage insulation and race-drivers' protective suits and helmets could have been involved, but he thought it more likely that his illness was a direct result of massive exposure while removing asbestos lagging from pipes aboard a troop ship while in the Marines.

By February 1980, evidence of widespread metastasis was found. While he tried to keep the condition a secret, the National Enquirer disclosed that he had "terminal cancer" on March 11, 1980. In July, McQueen traveled to Rosarito Beach, Mexico, for unconventional treatment after US doctors told him they could do nothing to prolong his life. Controversy arose over the trip, because McQueen sought treatment from William Donald Kelley, who was promoting a variation of the Gerson therapy that used coffee enemas, frequent washing with shampoos, daily injections of fluid containing live cells from cattle and sheep, massage, and laetrile, an anticancer drug available in Mexico, but described as canonical quackery by mainstream scientists. McQueen paid for Kelley's treatments by himself in cash payments which were said to have been upwards of $40,000 per month during his three-month stay in Mexico. Kelley's only medical license (until revoked in 1976) had been for orthodontics. Kelley's methods created a sensation in the traditional and tabloid press when it became known that McQueen was a patient.

McQueen returned to the US in early October. Despite metastasis of the cancer through McQueen's body, Kelley publicly announced that McQueen would be completely cured and return to normal life. McQueen's condition soon worsened and "huge" tumors developed in his abdomen.

In late October 1980, McQueen flew to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, to have an abdominal tumor on his liver removed, despite warnings from his US doctors that the tumor was inoperable and his heart could not withstand the surgery. McQueen checked into a small Juarez clinic under the assumed name of "Sam Shepard", where the doctors and staff were unaware of his actual identity.

On November 7, 1980, McQueen died of cardiac arrest at 3:45 a.m. at the Juárez clinic, 12 hours after surgery to remove or reduce numerous metastatic tumors in his neck and abdomen. He was 50 years old. According to the El Paso Times McQueen died in his sleep. McQueen was cremated and his ashes spread in the Pacific Ocean.

McQueen remains a popular star, and his estate limits the licensing of his image to avoid the commercial saturation experienced by other deceased celebrities. As of 2007, McQueen's estate entered the top 10 of highest-earning deceased celebrities.

McQueen was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers in April 2007, in a ceremony at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. In November 1999, McQueen was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. He was credited with contributions including financing the film On Any Sunday, supporting a team of off-road riders, and enhancing the public image of motorcycling overall.

Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans, a 2015 documentary, examines the actor's quest to create and star in the 1971 auto-racing film Le Mans. His son Chad McQueen and former wife Neile Adams are among those interviewed.
(Photo credit;
Chad McQueen Blog

Scott Pruett Born In Roseville, California, USA - March 24, 1960

March 24, 1960
Scott Pruett
Born in Roseville, California, USA.
He has competed in NASCAR, Champ Car, IMSA, Trans-Am and Grand-Am.

Pruett started racing go karts at the age of eight, and went on to win ten professional karting championships. In the 1980s, he established himself as a top American sports car racer, eventually winning two IMSA GTO Championships and three Trans-Am Series Championships.

In the 1990s, Pruett was a regular in the CART series. From 1988 to 1999, he made 145 starts with two wins, five poles and fifteen podiums.

Following his Champ Car career, Pruett raced the 2000 season in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series with PPI Motorsports, although with little success, achieving just 1 top-10 and finishing 37th in the points standings. He then moved back to sports car racing and won his third Trans-Am Series Championship in 2003. Since 2004, he has raced in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series for Chip Ganassi Racing. Pruett is still a regular starter at NASCAR road course races and he is often referred to as a Road Course Ringer. Pruett has won eleven American sports car championships, five in Grand-Am, to go along with previous championships in IMSA GTO, Trans-Am Series and IMSA GT Endurance.

In 2013 Pruett opened on a strong note, winning the 51st Rolex 24 at Daytona with co-drivers Memo Rojas, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Charlie Kimball. 2013 marks his fifth win at the annual endurance race, tying the legendary Hurley Haywood for most victories in the grueling twice around the clock race. Despite some serious set-backs during the 2013 season, including accruing 0 points at Detroit, the Championship came down to the last race, with the 01 Ganassi Team taking the Team Title, but Jordan Taylor and Max Angelelli taking the Driver's Title under Wayne Taylor Racing/Velocity Worldwide, with Pruett and Rojas taking 2nd place in the Driver's Standings.

In 2014, Pruett competed in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship for a full season with longtime co-driver Memo Rojas in the Prototype Class.

In 2015 Joey Hand joined Pruett in the 01 for the full season. The team saw some very disappointing results early in the year due to the aging Riley chassis being outclassed by the Corvette Daytona Prototype. However, despite not having won a race until late in the season, the 01 had remained consistent enough to be in the championship battle by the last race of the season Petit Le Mans. By the end of the rain-shortened race only 8 points separated the top 4 teams......Ganassi taking the 4th spot.

2016 Will see Pruett depart CGR. Pruett has joined with Paul Gentilozzi who will be fielding a Lexus RC F GT3 in the WeatherTech United SportsCar Championship. The team will not be ready for competition until sometime after the 12 Hours of Sebring. He was later announced that he'll be driving for Action Express Racing part-time for the season until the team is well prepared.

Pruett also worked for several years as a commentator for Champ Car races on Speed Channel.

Scott and his wife Judy have three children, and are children's book authors. They have also opened Pruett Vineyards in Northern California. In November 2012 their Lucky Lauren Red was given a score of 93 points from Wine Spectator.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Nascar Pioneer Sammy Packard Passes Away - March 23, 2003

October 4, 1919 - March 23, 2003
Sammy Packard
Home: Barrington, Rhode Island, USA.
Packard began racing midgets in 1937, in the Bay State Racing Association. He quickly found himself supporting his family by racing seven nights a week.  He tried his hand at stock cars, too, competing in the first stock car race at the Thompson Speedway, in 1939.

Sammy was also instrumental in staging the first stock car race at Lonsdale, held October 27, 1947. In an effort to draw more fans to that first event, he and Buddy Shuman, who came up from North Carolina, went to the Lonsdale Sports Arena and staged an exhibition race for fans during the halftime break at a football game.

Although he called Rhode Island home, Sammy raced all over the country, in midgets, stock cars, motorcycles, and even boats. When D. Anthony Venditti flooded the infield at the Seekonk Speedway, Packard became a two time Class D New England champion. Sammy also competed in the New York Outboard Marathon, where he, along with 350 others, would start out in Albany and race down the Hudson River to New York City.

The first time Packard raced at Daytona, he threw his ’37 Buick Phaeton into the north turn, and promptly slid across the seat over to the passenger side of the car. His crew quickly went to work, finding some rope that had been discarded on the beach, and tied him into the Phaeton.

Bill France Sr. later invited Sammy to a meeting with a group of men at the Streamline Hotel in December 1947, that resulted in the formation of NASCAR.

In 1974, Sammy Packard took on a new challenge in his auto racing career by starting an antique race car restoration business. He restored well over 100 racecars, which have been shipped coast to coast, and as far away as West Germany.

Sammy Packard, who was the last surviving participant of the meeting which formed NASCAR, died at his home in Daytona Beach on March 23, 2003. He was 83 years old.

Sammy was inducted in the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame in 2004.

Craig Breedlove Born In Los Angeles, California - March 23, 1937

March 23, 1937
Born in Los Angeles, California, USA.
He was the first person in history to reach 500 mph, and 600 mph, using several turbojet-powered vehicles, all named Spirit of America.

He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1993 and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2000.