In this week’s Motion Motorsport Report, Dave Mathers tells a story about an old ASA race promotion, and also takes a look at this past weekend’s NASCAR, NHRA and F1 action.
ASA – Looking Back: Several photos popped up online of Mark Martin with his #6 Jack Roush Valvoline T-Bird at Las Vegas. That reminded me of way back in 1985, when I was GM at Northtown Ford in Thornhill (Toronto) and I was sponsoring both Junior Hanley’s ASA T-Bird and Herb Rogers’ Mustang Alcohol Funny Car (I brought both sponsorships with me when I bought Motion).
I was talking to Bob Slack of Cayuga Speedway about his upcoming ASA race and suggested that I promote his race at Northtown. Bob got hold of Mark Martin and he agreed to participate.
I promoted ‘Canada’s Fastest and America’s Fastest’ with big ads in the Toronto Sun and Toronto Star for the Wednesday night before the race from 4 to 9 p.m.
My employer, Harold Hadley, had a hot air balloon and Miller American had one as well, so we put them both up in the air in the back lot, where they could be seen all over Thornhill. We had the two T-Birds on the front pad and, oh, what a success!!
A Staff Sergeant for the York Regional Police (or as the sales staff and mechanics called them ‘York Pork’!!) who I knew, as we went to the same church (his wife was the church secretary) in Newmarket, pulled in with his cruiser all lit up, got out, looked at me, laughed and threw up his arms and said “Mathers, you have really done it now!!”
Yonge St. is seven lanes wide there and three of those lanes had parked cars!! He told me later that they estimated there were over 20,000 people there.
The burger place across the street told me that they sold the most burgers EVER. And Bob Slack told me he figured the ‘stunt’ was good for about 1,000 extra tickets sold. As well, we sold about thirty cars and trucks in those five hours! Win, win, win.
But wait, there’s more!! Mark’s PR guy Benny Ertel came into my office before the event and asked if there were any strip clubs in the area, where he could take his crew that night.
I had no idea so I called over one of my salesmen and asked him where to go. The Landing Strip by the airport!! Benny came into my office LATE Thursday morning, looking terrible. He told me that if they had a club like that in Milwaukee, they would be millionaires!! Apparently the ‘rules’ here were ‘different’!! Who knew?
NASCAR CUP SERIES: I’m trying to understand why the pace car stopped on track during the pace laps in both races at Martinsville. What’s that all about?
Kyle Larson grabbed the pole, ahead of teammate Chase Elliott (both in Chevs), with Chase Briscoe (Ford) third. With seven cars fighting for three spots at Phoenix, business was guaranteed to ‘pick up’!!
On lap 193, Tyler Reddick pulled his car into the garage area, complaining about health concerns. On lap 238, there was fire behind the left-front wheel of BJ McLeod’s car on pit road.
The first yellow flag came out on lap 273, when Ross Chastain used Brad Keselowski for his brakes, sending Brad into the wall but, fortunately, he was able to continue.
The second caution came out on lap 320, when Austin Dillon appeared to lose his brakes and hit the wall HARD. He was okay but this meant that both Richard Childress Racing cars were out of the race.
On lap 392, J.J. Yeley spun, with a little help from Corey LaJoie, and got into the wall. Yeley did not have a good weekend.
With 34 laps to go, Landon Cassill got into the wall, setting up a sprint to the checkers. And what a sprint it was!
Christopher Bell grabbed the lead with four to go and he picked up the win. THAT was the normal part.
The WTF move was made by ‘Watermelon Man’ Ross Chastain, who needed to pass Denny Hamlin to get into the final four.
He pulled a move that I have NEVER seen in over 60 years of watching NASCAR, when he went right up against the outside wall and went WOT (wide open throttle), passing Hamlin just feet from the line.
His last lap was an 18.845, which compares to Larson’s pole time of 19.709!! It looked like the camera had sped up the speed when Ross came out of Turn 4 at FULL song and earned his way into the final four this coming Sunday.
Bell won the race over Larson and Ryan Blaney. It was very interesting to hear the crowd booing Hamlin in his post-race interview.
The four protagonists for the championship are Chastain (Chev), Elliott (Chev), Bell (Toyota) and Joey Logano (Ford). Once again – parity!!
And the best part of Phoenix Raceway you ask? NO Mickey Mouse F1 ‘track limits’!! If it’s paved, let ‘em race!! Their next race, the final, is scheduled for Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on TSN 3.
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES – Well, if Joe Gibbs was looking to replace Kyle Busch with another driver who would get booed by the crowd, he found him!! And he didn’t have to look far!!
His grandson Ty pulled a brain-dead move Saturday at Martinsville Speedway and spun TEAMMATE Brandon Jones from the lead on the last lap.
If Jones had won, he would’ve advanced to the ‘Final Four’ at Phoenix, ALONG WITH Gibbs.
And then, as if to emulate Busch, Gibbs, in response to the booing, waved both hands in a ‘bring it’ fashion, thus increasing the boos and the chants of ‘thank you grandpa’! What is it about Toyota drivers connected to the Coach of late – Bubba Wallace comes to mind!!
Having said that, Gibbs doesn’t get all the notoriety!! There was plenty to go around in this ‘bumper car’ race with 12, count ‘em 12, caution flags!!
Jones started from the pole, ahead of Sheldon Creed (Chev) and Sammy Smith (Toyota). The first of 12 cautions came out on lap 33, when Patrick Emerling spun Joe Graf Jr. In an incredible display of driving, Austin Hill, who was forced to start DFL because of a radiator issue that prevented him from taking a timed run, came through the pack to be up to 10th at the end of Stage 1.
On lap 107, Landon Cassill appeared to cut a right-front tire and got into the wall. On lap 163, J.J. Yeley spun into the wall (this has been a recording for this guy!!). On lap 196, Howie Disavino III (from New Jersey perhaps?) spun Kris Wright for another yellow.
On lap 205, Rajah Caruth ‘moved’ Jeb Burton, which then sent Ryan Sieg into the wall. Do you see a pattern here?
On lap 214, points contender Hill got mixed up with Stefan Parsons and Jeremy Clements. Six laps later, Hill was once again involved, this time with a total of ten cars in corner four.
Several cars were damaged too badly to continue. On lap 236, A.J. Allmendinger was fighting with Justin Allgaier for the final spot in the final four but cut a tire and slowed on track for yet another yellow flag.
Eight laps later, a ‘three-way’ with Brandon Brown, Kyle Weatherman and Daniel Hemric caused another caution.
Going into overtime, Gibbs got into Jones, who then spun Smith. Another overtime attempt saw Josh Berry getting sent into the ‘spin cycle.’
The best line of the race came from TV analyst Jeff Burton, who said that Jones, starting behind Gibbs, had a ‘permission slip’!!
Jones got under Gibbs and took the white flag, but he should’ve waved his own ‘white flag’ as Gibbs hit him so hard going into Turn 1 that the hood was actually bent up on the Gibbs car. Unfortunately, Jones hit the wall HARD and limped back to the stripe.
The irony here is that instead of TWO Toyotas and TWO Chevs in the final four, there will now be THREE Chevs, all JR Motorsports cars, and ONE Toyota. I’m sure the Toyota brass will be a ‘little’ upset.
Sheldon Creed finished second, with Riley Herbst third, to make it Toyota, Chevrolet, Ford!! Parity. Jones won Stage 1, while Gibbs won Stage 2.
Noah Gragson, Gibbs, Berry and Allgaier are the Final Four for this weekend at Phoenix Raceway, with the top finishing car winning the championship. The race is Saturday at 6 p.m. on TSN 1 & 5. Should be exciting!
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCKS: Their next race, the final, is at Phoenix, Friday at 10 p.m. on Fox Sports Racing.
FORMULA ONE: Bad luck continues to happen to Ferrari, it seems. In Friday’s second practice session, in Mexico, Charles Leclerc spun and hit the tire barrier, causing some damage to both the car and the wall. Fortunately, he was uninjured.
And once again, the F1 ‘stewards’ were nit-picking in qualifying, as Lewis Hamilton’s fast lap was ‘disallowed’ for a ‘track limit’ violation. His in-car camera showed that he was over the line by about a centimetre!! Make it stop!!!!
Not surprisingly, Max Verstappen grabbed the pole in his Red Bull, over the two Mercedes of George Russell and Hamilton, even though the Mercedes cars were rumoured to be the quickest in pre-race conjecture. Lance Stroll qualified 18th but had to start last, due to penalties, while Nicholas Latifi started 20th.
At the green flag, Verstappen, of course, proceeded to gap the silver cars, who were fighting amongst themselves. Hamilton got past Russell, who in turn was passed by Sergio Perez.
On lap 65, a virtual safety car came out, when Fernando Alonso blew up, stopping on-track. Verstappen picked up the win, his 14th of the season, by more than 15 seconds over Hamilton and by 18 seconds over Perez.
Verstappen leads the points by 136 over Perez and by 141 over Leclerc. Red Bull leads the Manufacturers Championship by an incredible 209 points over Ferrari and by 249 over Mercedes. Their next race is Brazil on Sunday, November 13.
NHRA: Brittany Force got the top spot in Top Fuel at Las Vegas and marched through the field, taking out Mike Salinas for the Wally. Force’s teammate, Robert Hight, was ‘number one’ in Funny Car and he, too, went to the final, where he lost to Matt Hagan in Tony Stewart’s flopper.
Erica Enders took another top spot in Pro Stock and also went to the final, where she took out Troy Coughlin Jr. Matt Smith was ‘number one’ in Pro Stock Motorcycle but lost to number 15 qualifier Hector Arana Jr. in the final.
Tony Stewart made his NHRA debut in Top Alcohol Dragster, where he qualified second and went to the final, where he lost to Madison Payne in a dead heat, meaning they had to go out to the fourth digit to determine the win. Awesome result for his first time!
In Top Fuel, Brittany Force has returned to the top, leading Justin Ashley by seven points and Mike Salinas by 66. Hight leads Funny Car by 61 points on Ron Capps and 63 over Hagan.
In Pro Stock, Enders has a 224-point lead on Aaron Stanfield and 244 over Coughlin. Smith has a 104-point cushion over Joey Gladstone and 136 over Jerry Savoie in P/S Bike. Their next race, the final, is Pomona on Sunday, November 13.
GRAND BEND DRAGWAY: Their Annual Banquet will be held Saturday.
ST. THOMAS DRAGWAY: Their Annual Banquet will be held Saturday.
CANADIAN DRAG RACING HALL OF FAME: Their gala, inducting 17 new members, will be held Saturday, November 19th in Montreal.
MY ‘VIEW’: The final numbers have come out for attendance at the Formula 1 race at COTA and they are SPECTACULAR!!! 440,000 spectators!!! Wow, who would’ve guessed that a bunch of years ago? And the cheapest ticket seemed to be just over $400 (for all three days)! Do the math on THAT!!
Until next week!!
– Dave Mathers