Monday, June 29, 2009

The Holy Schaefer Grail exists!

For 2+ years, I've been on the hunt for a photo of a NASCAR Schaefer beer-sponsored race car. I learned Schaefer sponsored a handful of Indy car rides in the early 1970s and was a supporter of the Mattioli family at Pocono. Later, I learned Schaefer sponsored a car in one NASCAR race - the 1981 Mountain Dew 500 at Pocono.

My efforts to find a picture of the car, however, were fruitless. I stood a better chance of getting a picture of the Loch Ness monster, Bigfoot, or Barney Frank on a date with a woman.

But now...finally...I'm pleased as punch to say a photo has been found and liberated!

The car is a 1981 Buick. It was fielded by long-time owner D.K. Ulrich and driven by Indy-car journeyman Al Loquasto in his debut Cup race. Loquasto only raced in a handful of Cup race and was sponsored by Pentax Cameras in the other ones he drove. He unfortunately perished in a plane crash in 1991.

Along the way, I conned a friend of mine to assist me in my search. As the search intensified, we had an arms race of sorts trying to network our way into more possible sources. He made contact with some of Loquasto's family and the Mattioli family. I was able to connect with Ulrich. Eventually, we BOTH made contact with Rick Houston, former writer for Winston Cup Scene (now NASCAR Scene and SceneDaily.com) and currently editor of StockCarHistoryOnline.com.

Rick quickly wanted to join our search and put us over the top by locating the collection of the photographer who shot a picture of the car. We were all blown away when a great, color photo of the car was sent to us.

Once Rick better understood the history of the race weekend Schaefer tradition and our search efforts for the part, he eagerly asked us if he could write a story about them. What was it Andy Warhol said about folks having their 15 minutes of fame? I'll settle for 15 seconds and a 6 pack of Schaef.

[Click here] for Rick's account of our search. (Give him plenty of visits. I told him this story would likely set a site-count record for him!) While you are at it, bookmark the site and return often. Rick has some great material he posts to his site - especially if you are an old-school race fan like me.

My friend has an incredible gift - he builds very detailed models of race cars as a hobby. He immediately began constructing two models of the newly surfaced Buick. One is now in my possession, and the other is with him.





So a 12-ounce, Schaefer toast to all involved - D.K. Ulrich, Rick Houston, modeler-extraordinaire GaPettyFan, the late David Chobat (photographer), the late Al Loquasto, Ben Loquasto, Dr. Joseph Mattioli at Pocono, and several others who gave us leads along the way.

TMC

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Media guides, deadlines, and sloppy reporting

I watch racing. I have a passion for it. And now I've begun to blog a bit about it. I don't get paid to write about it.

Those who do have a tough time. Storylines change on the turn of a dime (think anyone in the press booth had Logano winning today?). Deadlines loom. Certain numbers of words or inches are needed. Kyle Busch sometimes doesn't win but still has to be interviewed. Smoke cancels a shock-therapy appointment. And so on.

But sloppy reporting, over-reliance on NASCAR's media guide, and memory lapses are not good excuses for including errors.

I've already read two reports indicating Joey Lagano's win today was the first by a rookie in over 2 years.

From the Associated Press as published at That's Racin:
"Joey Logano is the first rookie to win in Cup in 71 races and the first to win at New Hampshire since Newman in 2002."
And from Ed Hinton at ESPN.com:
"And so the heralded rookie, perhaps under more pressure than any since Dale Earnhardt Jr. arrived in 2000, became the first rookie to win a Cup race since Juan Pablo Montoya -- then a rookie in NASCAR terms only -- in 2007."
Hello? McFly? Anyone remember this rookie's win - just 2 months ago? Just because the hard-copy media guides were published at the end of last season and not updated for the 2009 year-to-date season still doesn't excuse these lapses.


C'mon AP and The Worldwide Leader of Sports, you're better than this, right?

TMC

Racin, Rains & Sliced Bread

I am returning to my post as assitant crew chief after serving my suspension and paying my fine for having a baby. Yes bloggerland Banktruck Jr entered the world 1 month ago today, healthy, active, and holding up three fingers. In the mean time the Red Wings faltered in the Stanley Cup Finals, succombing to an incredibly talented Pittsburgh Penguins team, that emerged twice from the brink of extinction in the earlier rounds. The Wings havent lost a Cup Finals since 1995, having won the 4 times since. We Wings fans are spoiled, but that doesnt lessen the pain of giving up game 7 at home, the first time since the 1971 Canadiens won game 7 in the finals on the road. Incidentally in the other major sports, the most recent team to win a title on the road in a game 7 was the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates. Way to re-write the record book Red Wings. But alas, there was racing today.....

Quite possibly the best NH race I can remember. I've never been enthralled with this track or the racing there, I've always considered it throwing a bone to the New England media market. It also has the dubious distinction of claiming the lives of Adam Petty and Kenny Irwin and a god-awful knee-jerk reaction restrictor plate race with about 4 passes in the entire field all day. But today was different.

From the start the 2 insisted on running the 24 like there were 10 to go. I couldnt decide whether I wished they would wreck together, or keep up the exciting racing. Three wide, sometimes four wide, unheard of at NH. I cringed for RCR when 3 of their cars were wadded up in the same wreck not of any of their doing. This team cant catch a break. And the 1, oh the 1, lime green today, light bulbs last week, and the nose crunched again. I hate to put the final nail in the DEI coffin but this guy has too much talent to continue to waste it there. I only hope he doesnt get desperate and go somewhere else. But I do hope he dumps the 18 some time. Actually I hope anyone dumps the 18 some time.

So what is your home track? Apparently one takes a map and a push pin, and whichever Cup track is closest BINGO is your home track. Today we learned Truex and New Jersey are in New England (!) and NH is his home track. Later we learned Logano who is from CT's home track is NH as well. Like Sterling Marlin's was always Bristol...... and Jeff Gordon gets 2 -- Sonoma and Indy. This is out of hand. Most of these guys' home tracks are little out of the way dirt bull rings where dads tow cars behind pickups that serve double duty as work truck during the week. Enough with the "home track" already.

And the grammar police were out in my living room today but alas I didnt write it down and I have slept since, er, no I havent, I have changed 2 diapers and listened to immense quantities of screaming since then. If TMC has an idea of the latest grammar faux pas (along the lines of 'hisself") let me know.

You Petty fans skip this next paragraph. I like Kyle and all, but he needs some coaching on his boothness. "You know what I mean" should be limited to oh a dozen usages per broadcast. And he could stand to shorten his comments just a tad, make your point, stop, dont rehash conclude and wrap up.

And after nearly 301 (what the) miles of racing, the winner is: the Rain. After watching the best wheel men in the sport duke it out (2 14 24 48 among others) in close quarters with just enough rubbin to get Wally to sound like a girl.... Newman runs out of gas and young Joey Logano takes the checkers. Let me be clear--I have no problem with this kid. None. He is young, he has talent, he would have scorched the Busch series if he had time to stay there and he has been thrust into a marquee ride and has a great attitude. How about Kyle Busch without the shoulder chip--I will defend the comparison. I hope he gets a new nickname, the Sliced Bread is a little derisive for my taste but it will have to do for now. Congrats to him and his team on the youngest driver ever to win a Cup race. There will be others. Many.

Gotta go I think I hear crying again....
this may well be best loudon race i have ever seen
<TMC>

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A big glass of Sonoma red

I put the Schaefer on ice for another night. Instead, I uncorked a bottle of merlot to celebrate the return of The King to victory lane. Some thoughts on the win as well as a few other items.

The win

I haven't been a big Kasey Kahne fan since he came into Cup. Don't dislike him - but he's a bit like Mark Martin for me. Just...whatever. When the shotgun marriage of Gillett-Evernham's 9 and 19 teams merged with Petty Enterprise's 43 and 44 teams, I really didn't know how to feel. If the King is involved, I want to have my heart in it. But other than Elliott Sadler being a likable guy and A.J. Allmendinger being an underfunded diamond in the rough, I really didn't care either way for Kasey in the 9 or Reed Coldsorenson in the famed 43.

But bottom line, Kasey got it done. He simply did not wither under multiple restarts and pressure from one of the best in Smoke.

And The King returned to his rightful place on the throne of victory lane.


Some other thoughts...

Ironical moment

Richard Petty has a long standing philosophy where he refuses alcohol sponsorship on "his" cars. The compromise for the merger was to continue with Bud on the 9 but no beer decals on the 43 or 44. Yet there he was today with Bud colors in victory lane taking a big slug out of the goblet of wine above the winner's trophy.

Red Bull or No?

For the 2nd time this year, Scott Speed's team owner - Red Bull Racing - leased Joe Nemechek's #87 when Speed couldn't qualify his own car into the field. I understand why Joe gave up the seat. He likely made more by leasing his car and getting a portion of Speed's winnings than he would had he driven it himself. But I don't get the Red Bull logic. Both times Scott has driven Joe's car, he's done so with the same plain blue color Joe painted it vs. dropping on Red Bull decals. Seems to me part of why RBR wants Speed in the race is to market their product. So why rent a car if you aren't going to pimp yo stuff?

Boris The Bull

Each year, much is made of the road course specialists or "ringers" hired to replace regular drivers or who enter their own cars. Boris Said is normally mentioned as one of those as a threat to win. He entered the Daytona 500 but failed to make the show. His team retreated and supposedly put all their eggs in the basket to make the Sonoma race. He made it with an excellent qualifying run. But once underway, my gosh - the cat bonzaied every corner and wrecked everyone but the pace car.

Best story I heard this weekend

P.J. Jones, son of famed road racer Parnelli Jones, qualified for this weekend's Cup race. On Speed TV, P.J. was asked about one of his greatest race stories from his dad. He laughed and said Parnelli dusted the field in qualifying at Riverside in 1967. Bill France Sr. was livid that Parnelli showed up his regular guys, deemed Parnelli's tires illegal, and ordered him to start at the rear of the field. Yet, Parnelli came through the field, won the race, found Big Bill Sr., and flipped him the bird.

Big Picture for Montoya

By his own admission, Juan Pablo Montoya and his 42 Target team admitted they would be satisfied with a top 10 vs. going hard for a win. The team wants to be in the top 12, and they accomplished their goal when the day was over. But it should disturb NASCAR deeply when one of the THE great road course racers isn't willing to go all-out on the one course at which he excels simply to build up chips in his corner for 10 races down the road.

Least meaningful stat

Late in the race, Bill Weber piped off that car numbers 5, 9, and 21 were the only ones who had run every Sonoma race without a win. What kind of stupid trivia is that? One, the Wood Brothers car wasn't even running this weekend - so out of the gate he's wrong. Two, the 5 and 9 have had multiple drivers, owners, and car makes over the years. Anyone remember Lake Speed in the Cartoon Network or SPAM #9 Melling Ford? How about hapless Casey Mears in the #5? I've actually enjoyed the TNT broadcast crew this season - especially as compared to the FOX freak show. But that particular piece of trivia was as useless as they come.

Danica

Rumors continue to flourish she's on her way to NASCAR. One story has her aligned with Chip-N-Dale (aka Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing) while another story has her signing with Roush with a pre-Cup stint in Nationwide (fat chance). I don't care if she takes over the 48 with Chad Knaus on the pit box, she's in over her head if she comes to Cup. F1 is in a state of turmoil, and her tude won't allow her to ramp up by running ARCA, Trucks, or Nationwide before taking on Cup regulars. So that leaves her right back where she is - leveraging some new deal with an IRL team.

Schaefer News

I've been on the hunt for at least the last 2 years for a photo of a Schaefer-sponsored Buick. I know the car owner - D.K. Ulrich. I know the driver - Al Loquasto. I know the race - 1981 Mountain Dew 500. I know the track - Pocono. What I DON'T know (or didn't) if is if picture existed of the car. With the help of some co-super sleuths, we've determined a picture does exist. That's the tease for now. Stay tuned for more info - the pic and an accompanying article.

TMC

Smoke or Junebug- Where is Junior Nation going?

Remember what I said almost 2 weeks ago?
"Sproingggg - I'm pretty sure that's the sound we'll hear as former Dale Jr. 'fans' start bouncing off his bandwagon and onto the Smokestack."
This week Ed Hinton from ESPN. com had this to say about the surge in Smoke's popularity.

"There is muffled glee inside the Tony Stewart camp. It's about more than his being the first owner/driver to lead the points in 17 years and the first to win a race in 11...It's pride about a significant undercurrent in NASCAR: merchandising -- "souvenir sales," in NASCAR business-speak...In it, Stewart has pulled alongside and is challenging Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has dominated this race since his father died...By some measures, Stewart is actually ahead by a bumper."

Told ya so...

TMC

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Recession hits Bristol...or is it disinterest?

We all know about the economic tough times overall, sponsorship woes and team mergers in NASCAR, and declining TV ratings. The one certainty I thought we had - the one thing that was as guaranteed as the sun rising in the east tomorrow morning - was a sellout for the Bristol August night race.

But then I saw this ad on Jayski this morning.

I'm not sure what to make of it. Are folks truly giving up their tickets because of ticket and travel costs? Or has the combination of the COT, dominance by the mega-teams, dislike of Kyle Busch, free-falling descent of Dale Jr., etc. finally reached the point where folks have said "enough" - even to the point of giving up on the slam-bang affair of the night race?

TMC

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Random Race Thoughts for the Week

For a couple of boring races over the weekend, seems like an awful lot of chatter came out of them. Let's see...where do we start? How about...

Kyle Busch - Trashing the Nashville Gee-tahr

Nashville Superspeedway has struggled to get on the national radar for its Busch/Nationwide races since opening. Without a companion Cup race, its races are stand-alone events rarely creating much interest. But that all changed Saturday when Shrub sent 'em home a'talking and a'cussing over his latest attention-grabber.

I personally don't think it was a cool move - and it particularly looked weak when he couldn't even break the guitar. However, it seems to me more folks are pissed off at his immaturity, at his disrespect of the city/track/race/sponsor/artist/yada yada yada, at a Cup driver flying down to steal the Regulars' money, etc. than were interested in the race itself!

Inquiring minds ask: What if Dale Jr. had dropped in, schooled the field, done the same thing, and popped off "Finally! We done won somethin'. And this 'un goes out to my buds in 3 Doors Down." Would have folks reacted the same way?

Track promoter/general manager, Cliff Hawks, was on a Nashville sports talk show quasi-apologizing for Shrub's behavior and trying to explain it away by saying Kyle doesn't "get it" - whatever that means. But mark my word - wait until next spring when the series returns to town. See if ol' Cliffy doesn't incorporate video footage of Kyle into his ticket sales promotions.

Lost amidst the puny Pete Townsend effort was his phenomenal burnout. Burned 'em up until the the whole back end went ablaze. How cool was that?

Martin Truex's Future

Read on Jayski Monday that Martin Truex Jr. plans to have GE Reveal light bulbs as sponsor for two races.
Hey Martin, here's a bright idea - DON'T SIGN WITH MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING FOR 2010!


Double File Restarts

This change was the worst-kept secret coming out of the NASCAR 'town hall' meeting the day after the Coke 340.5. Bill Weber from TNT hyped it up a bit but fortunately not as bad as if the Three Stooges from FOX had been broadcasting another week. In the end, it made zero difference as friggin' fuel mileage ensured Smoke was able to roll to his first official Cup victory at about the same speed as an old lady riding to church on Sunday morning.

Pocono's Trophy

I really respect 84 year-old Dr. Joe Mattioli and his family for trying to keep it old school at Pocono. A determined, independent track owner, he has no plans to sell his track or dates to SMI or ISC, and he has stopped pimping his race names to corporate sponsors. But the Mattioli family really needs to take up a collection at the gate or something to upgrade their trophy. Look at this thing. It looks like they bought it at Hobby Lobby to give to the Wilkes-Barre 8 year old Little League champs.


With such great and prized trophies as the ones given to the winners at the Daytona 500, Brickyard, Bristol races, Texas, Nashville, etc., its time to re-think the prize - especially for a Cup race winner. But at least Tony didn't smash it.

* Sproingggg *

I'm pretty sure that's the sound we'll hear as former Dale Jr. 'fans' start bouncing off his bandwagon and onto the Smokestack.

TMC

Thursday, June 4, 2009

June 4 - This day in Petty history

Kyle Petty's 8th and final Cup win
June 4, 1995
Dover Downs International Speedway
Miller Genuine Draft 500
Coors Light Pontiac for SABCO Racing

Read that next to last line again - FIVE HUNDRED - that's Five Zero Zero laps around the 1 mile Monster Mile. No wonder KP was wiped out in victory lane. Good thing they gave him oxygen instead of 12 ounces of the race sponsor's product.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

June 3 - This day in Petty history

June 3, 1978 - Cale Yarborough led every lap en route to victory in the Music City 420 at Nashville Speedway. Richard Petty finished 3rd in the beleaguered Dodge Magnum. I attended a couple of Cup qualifying nights in 1976 and 1977 at Nashville, but this race was my first Cup RACE to attend.



Race program - Its dated May 13 vs. June 3. I don't remember the circumstances about why it was run in June vs. May...but I'm researching!



Updated: June 4, 2009

OK, did my research and got my answer. The Winston 500 was scheduled for May 7, 1978. It was rained out, and NASCAR rescheduled it for a week later - May 14. Only 1 problem - Nashville's date was supposed to be the night before on May 13. Easy enough sez NASCAR - punt Nashville. So they did - all the way to June 4. As it turns out, it was to my advantage. I now wonder if I would have been able to go on the originally scheduled date.



TMC

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Carl Long's appeal rejected

Who saw this coming? An independent, unsponsored, part-time driver/team owner win an appeal against NASCAR? Righhhtttt. Color me surprised at this verdict...not.
"NASCAR driver Carl Long says he has lost his appeal of a 12-race suspension and penalty.

The National Stock Car Racing Commission denied Long's appeal at a hearing Tuesday, the driver told The Associated Press. The commission isolated Long's suspension to the Sprint Cup Series, meaning he can find work in one of the sport's lower levels. However, Long's full-time job is working with the Front Row Motorsports No. 34 Chevrolet in the Cup series.

The commission also told Long the $200,000 fine levied against crew chief Charles Swing would not fall to Long if Swing can't pay it."
Mighty nice of the committee to say Carl doesn't have to pay his crew chief's fine if Swing can't afford it. Of course, the article doesn't detail the ramifications if Long can't pay his OWN 200G fine - spare change I'm he's just got laying around.

I wonder if the subject of "quit picking on the little guys" came up during last week's town hall "open" forum in Mooresville.

TMC

Monday, June 1, 2009

Racing in Style

My old knees are about to wear out. At some point, my days at the track could be numbered. But if I gimme one of these here jewels, yeah buddy I'm back in bidness.

I plan to custom-order mine though with wheelie bars in the back for cruising in full recline mode.



TMC