2016 was a great year for motorsports. NASCAR saw a record holder join two of the sport’s icons in the number of series championships won. It also saw the sport’s most popular driver take himself out of competition due to medical issues in the first part of the season. Racing Junk has put together what we view as the most exciting and/or memorable moments in motorsports during the 2016 calendar year. Read on to see what they are. They may not all be happy moments for everyone involved, but they’re all stories we’ll be talking about for a long time to come.
Jimmie Johnson Wins Cup Title Number Seven
Jimmie Johnson was already in NASCAR’s record books, as well as a shoe-in for the sport’s Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility for winning five Cup Championships in a row. The six-time Champion made it even more of a lock for the Hall of Fame by winning his seventh cup title when he won at Homestead-Miami.
Johnson ensured his title victory by taking the lead after a late race caution when Joey Logano and Carl Edwards got into each other as Logano blocked Edwards. Another NASCAR first this year was Daniel Suárez winning the XFINITY Championship and becoming the first non-American driver to win the title in NASCAR’s second-tier series.
Nico Rosberg Wins F1 Title and Retires
The “podium jump” is no more. Nico Rosberg was “a bridesmaid” in the F1 Series a number of times, usually at the hands of his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton. This year, the roles were reversed, with Rosberg barely edging Hamilton out by five points for the title. Rosberg did his well-known “podium jump” and was handed the Championship trophy after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Five days later, he announced that he was retiring on top of the world.
Rookie Wins 100th Running of Indy 500
It’s a rarity for a rookie to win a race in any series. It’s even more so when that rookie wins what is arguably the most famous race in the world - the Indianapolis 500. Rookie Alexander Rossi did just that this year when he won the 100th running of the legendary Indianapolis 500.
“Rat Rod” Pickup Joins 200 MPH Club
“Rat rods” aren’t what one would typically think of when imagining speed demons on four wheels. They’re older cars that usually have the look of being haphazardly thrown together. They typically have open pipes that make them sound fast, but usually they aren’t fast in reality. Aaron Brown’s "The Uncatchable" is the exception to this rule. It joined the 200 MPH Club at the Ohio Mile this year. This ’39 Ford Street Legal Land Speed rat rod was built to go fast, and go fast it did.
Top Short Track Dirt Car Driver Clauson Dies in Title Defense
Bryan Clauson was one of midget racing’s top competitors. Clauson competed in several racing series - USAC, NASCAR, and IndyCar - and was a star in all of them. Clauson was competing in Belleville, Kansas’ Midget National USAC midget race when his car climbed the rail and flipped over before being struck by another car. Clauson was pronounced dead after being airlifted to a hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Team Bilstein Sweeps Weekend of Races
The third and fourth rounds of the Lucas Oil Off-Road racing series saw Team Bilstein drivers sweep the podium. In Round three, Jefrett Brooks won the Pro-Lite class, Taylor Atchison took second in Pro Buggy, and Trey Gibbs took second in Mod Kart. Brooks, Atchison, and Gibbs stood on the podium after round four.
Steve “Fast” Jackson Has Spectacular Wreck
Jackson’s car got a little air during the No Mercy 7. The car actually flew for 300 feet before coming back to Earth and catching fire. Jackson swears he’s going to rebuild it and come back to competition.
Capps Wins Historic NHRA Funny Car Title
Ron Capps had to fight tooth and nail for his rides in Funny Cars and Top Fuel cars. He didn’t have huge money to start his own team; he had to earn his way to the top ranks of NHRAA racing. Capps’ love of the sport kept him at it since his start back in 1994. Now he is the reigning Funny Car Champ.
Rico Abreu Wins Second Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Title in a Row
Rico Abreu made it back to back Lucas Oil Chili Bowl titles in January. Abrue drove his Keith Kuna Motorsports Number 97 to victory at the River Spirits Expo Center, after which he did a series of wicked donuts. After moving to the NASCAR truck series, Abreu, a Little Person, leaves some pretty big racing boots to fill.
T-Town’s Mud Down Sponsored by Racing Junk
The mud was flying all over the place in Tulsa over the weekend of July 8 and 9. However, the fans were loving it as Racing Junk sponsored its first Mud Down at T-Town event, held at the Osage Casino Tulsa Raceway Park in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The event was a huge success.
Mike's love of cars began in the early 1970's when his father started taking him to his Chevron service station. He's done pretty much everything in the automotive aftermarket from gas station island attendant, parts counter, mechanic, and new and used sales. Mike also has experience in the amateur ranks of many of racing's sanctioning bodies.