RacingJunk’s Top 10 Articles of the Year

NASCAR icon Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his wife and daughter are in the hospital after their plane crashed in Tennessee today. Per Earnhardt Jr.'s sister: “I can confirm Dale, Amy & Isla along with his two pilots were involved in a crash in Bristol TN this afternoon. Everyone is safe and has been taken to the hospital for further evaluation. We have no further information at this time. Thank you for your understanding,” Kelley Earnhardt wrote in a tweet. Amy is Dale's wife, and Isla is their 1-year-old daughter. The plane was a small plane that was registered to Earnhardt Jr.'s race team. The plane ran off the end of the runway and caught fire near Elizabethon Municipal Airport, located in Carter County, Tennessee.

RacingJunk's Top 10 How-To Articles of the Year

RacingJunk had quite the 2019, from breakthrough new products and Cool Car Finds to good news and somber. All of that makes us equally excited for what 2020 has to bring. So before we dive into the new year, let's take a look back at RacingJunk's Top 10 Articles of 2019.



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Torrence Receives His Penalty from NHRA

NHRA has taken action against the activities of reigning two-time Mello Yello Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence, whose outburst against first-round opponent Cameron Ferre at top end was captured on television and by photographers at the scene.

When Ferre deep-staged him, pulling in farther to beat the staging beam and, perhaps gain an advantage, the ploy was not to Torrence’s liking. As the duo approached one another for the traditional handshake after their competition, where Ferre easily out-dueled the champ on the tree (.072 - .142), yet fell behind at the 1,000-foot mark, posting 4.040/294.82 to Torrence’s 3.734/327.82, things got a bit overheated.

Torrence pushed Ferre at the head and it took Torrence’s Capco Contractors team members to separate them before things got even more combative. As he came down the return road to prepare for the quarterfinals Torrence was roundly boo’d by fans in the stands. They did the same thing for his next two appearances. And at the Winner’s Circle.

Although not witnessed here, it’s been said Torrence apologized to Ferre at the close of his competition. He also sounded quite sincere in his Monday night apology as he claimed his second consecutive world title in the dragster category.

Still, a maelstrom of antipathy against the 36-yeaer-old Texan progressed throughout this week. NHRA had said they would examine their options and see if they believed a penalty was in order. By Friday afternoon, they’d decided a penalty needed to be handed down.

At that time a statement was produced: “The following action has been taken against Steve Torrence regarding an incident that occurred during the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Cub Raceway at Pomona on November 17, 2019, regarding an altercation with a fellow competitor. Torrence publicly apologized for his conduct at the season-end awards ceremony on November 18, 2019.

“Torrence has been fined twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) and must complete anger management sessions. The fine will be dedicated to enhancing the capabilities of the Safety Safari. The action is appealable.”

One can hope Torrence will accept this slap on his wrist and do the anger-management course as required. While it’s easy to understand the heat of the moment when his title is on the line, surely Torrence has been deep-staged before in his career? And been able to control himself when it occurred?

It’s a good thing Steve Torrence doesn’t race in Funny Car, where 16-time champion John Force regularly uses that tool at his disposal. He’d likely be angry with the 151-time winner every single race week.

INDYCAR Moves Forward to Stop Cockpit Intrusion

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hospitalized After Plane Crash

NASCAR icon Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his wife and daughter are in the hospital after their plane crashed in Tennessee today.

Per Earnhardt Jr.'s sister:

“I can confirm Dale, Amy & Isla along with his two pilots were involved in a crash in Bristol TN this afternoon. Everyone is safe and has been taken to the hospital for further evaluation. We have no further information at this time. Thank you for your understanding,” Kelley Earnhardt wrote in a tweet. Amy is Dale's wife, and Isla is their 1-year-old daughter.

The plane was a small plane that was registered to Earnhardt Jr.'s race team. The plane ran off the end of the runway and caught fire near Elizabethon Municipal Airport, located in Carter County, Tennessee.

Larry Dixon Sues the NHRA

NHRA Top Fuel drag racer Larry Dixon has survived a lot. Team disruptions, flying exercises at the 2015 Gatornationals, even Stage III throat cancer in 2015. Now he’s battling something bigger: the NHRA itself. The sanctioning body took extreme measures against the driver when he showed off his two-seater dragster at the 2017 SEMA show, one which he intended to use to bring even more fan interest to the sanctioning body.

NHRA wasn’t happy to see an old chassis tech sticker on the dragster, even though it was expired. They sanctioned Dixon by suspending the three-time champion from competition, fiddling with the appeals process to the point where he lost more than a year’s worth of competition opportunities on the dragstrip in any sort of race car.

Dixon finally had enough. On April 11 he filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against NHRA, alleging wrongful suspension and blacklisting, dating back to 2017. The complaint, filed in Indianapolis, alleges the two-seater dragster was banned and blacklisted from more than 140 NHRA-member tracks, even as NHRA allowed similar vehicles produced by another former driver.

Larry Dixon Sues the NHRA

Drag racing has been Dixon’s primary source of income since 1995 and, thanks to his suspension - actually a lifetime ban - he’s been devoid of income for more than two years. The complaint says the driver “has now been entirely deprived of his livelihood and sole source of income by this unjustifiable suspension, unless he relinquishes an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars, as well as the future profits he could derive from that investment.”

Talking to the Indianapolis Business Journal (IBJ), Dixon said he wasn’t happy to be filing the suit. “It’s disappointing it’s had to get to this point,” he said. He tried, on many occasions, to come to terms with NHRA so that he might be able to support his family once again. “There’s a lot of it I don’t understand. This has absolutely put me out of business as a professional racer. I don’t want anybody else to have to go through something like this.”

It was in 2016, right after he publicly discussed his recovery from throat cancer, that Dixon spoke with NHRA about his two-seater idea. Initially, NHRA professed interest, as did potential sponsors and NHRA-member tracks. With their initial enthusiasm, Dixon formed Championship Adventures LLC with investor Nick Salamone. The initial car was built and shown at SEMA; Dixon unveiled Larry Dixon Top Fuel Experience, stating it was the “fastest ride in drag racing.”

Larry Dixon Sues the NHRA

The response at SEMA was extremely positive. “We literally got over 1,000 email inquiries,” Dixon said. Then NHRA saw the expired chassis sticker and all those plans Dixon and Salamone had went south. NHRA sent him a notice saying he’d violated NHRA rules with the car: “As you were told by NHRA officials on multiple occasions,” the notice said, “NHRA has not and will not approve a two-seat top fuel dragster for a variety of reasons. The two-seat top fuel concept presents serious safety concerns that have not been satisfied and that we do not believe can be satisfied.”

In the appeals process, Dixon was advised not to hire legal counsel, wasn’t permitted to attend his own appeals hearing and couldn’t see any evidence presented against him. NHRA’s decision stated the driver “could not compete in NHRA as a driver or team owner unless he would ‘ensure’ that the two-seater dragster would not be operated anywhere in the world, with it being ‘the committee’s strong recommendation’ that he ‘dismantle’ the car,” his complaint states.

In July of last year, NHRA arbitrarily declared he was guilty of all charges, but lifted his suspension for “time served.”

The lawsuit is going forward as Dixon attempts to clear his name. He accuses NHRA of defamation and alleges it violated the driver’s due process rights, the Sherman Antitrust Act and similar state laws. While his suspension has been unofficially lifted, that reinstatement hasn’t been made known to the drag racing community, leaving the three-time champ unable to secure work.

Larry Dixon Sues the NHRA

Former NHRA Funny Car Title Holder Loses Life at Age 68

Drag racing fans had to bid adieu to a former NHRA Funny Car title holder and Top Fuel finalist this week. Despite running his own car for years, former NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car racer Gary Clapshaw won the Funny Car title at the 1995 NHRA Mid-South Nationals in Memphis and even helped legend Don Garlits become who he is before losing his life at the too-young age of 68.

Before driving into the glamorous world of NHRA drag racing, Clapshaw made his fortune in the landfill business after scrapping his way through jobs in the logging and construction businesses. After saving enough funds, this born-to-be-gearhead decided to begin building and modifying hot rods. Beginning his career in the nostalgia-racing circuits in a Jr. Fuel dragster, Clapshaw made the move to the Funny Car class after spending some time with the late Joe Pisano.

Buying a pair of Funny Cars from Kenny Bernstein, Clapshaw decided to make his grand debut in 1991. Four short years later, the newest Funny Car star won the title at the 1995 NHRA Mid-South Nationals in Memphis in his Fuelish Pleasure Mustang. After posting several other late-round finishes, Clapshaw made the move to the biggest of big leagues - Top Fuel.

Although Clapshaw only accomplished a runner-up finish behind Tony Schumacher at the 2000 U.S. Nationals, this legendary driver is perhaps best remembered for generously loaning his Spirit of Las Vegas Top Fuel dragster to legend Don Garlits for the 2001 U.S. Nationals, providing “Big Daddy” with the car to make his long-desired first 300-mph pass.

The following year, Garlits was attempting to make a brief comeback in Top Fuel in order to to complete his resumé but was informed by NHRA officials that his Swamp Rat XXXIV did not meet new rules requirements.

Though this was the end to his racing career, Clapshaw spent the rest of his life enjoying activities like extreme snow skiing, sailing and fishing.

We at RacingJunk.com send our condolences to this legend’s friends and family as well as his entire racing family.

Today's Cool Car Find is this 1975 Ford C-900 Hauler

Today's CCF pick is one cool classic hauler that's perfect to haul some all-steel race cars.   CLICK HERE FOR FULL AD!

Details from seller:

1975 ford c 900
Was a fire truck on Howe island Ontario
Hodges haulers custom deck
Power train from a 2001 international school bus
7.3 power stroke
Allison automatic
It’s a blast to drive

 CLICK HERE FOR FULL AD!

 

Jessi Combs Dead in Land-Speed Racing Accident

We all know racing isn't safe.  For those who love it, the risk is part of the reward.  They know what they're getting into.  But, that never lessens the tragedy when the sport claims someone.  Jessi Combs is no exception.

Combs was known as the "Fastest Woman on Four Wheels" for her record-setting runs in jet cars, and on August 27th,  she set out to the Alvord Desert, a dry lake bed in southeast Oregon to break another record in her North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger jet car.  She'd first set a record of 398 mph in in 2013, and had been attempting to break it since.  Instead, she suffered a fatal crash. Combs was 36.

Combs was not only beloved amongst those in the race community, but was a face of the sport for more casual viewers and fans.  A welder, builder and fabricator as well as a driver, Combs was an integral part of all aspects of racing and performance.

She appeared on Xtreme 4x4 for four years before an accident to her spinal cord and the subsequent recovery lead her to move on to new pursuits.  She continued to appear on shows like 2 Guys Garage, TruckU and others before taking over for Kari Byron as a host and builder on the 7th season of Mythbusters.


The experience helped her develop her own voice and hosting abilities, which she brought to All Girls Garage and Overhaulin on Velocity Network.


Combs was driven -- as a builder, a television personality, and an educator. But she was, more than anything, a racer. Competing not only as a land-speed racer, but as an off-road driver, she raced in the Ultra4's King of the Hammers, taking home a Spec Class win in 2014, completing the Baja 1000 and racing in the Aicha des Gazelles rally race.  In 2013, she joined  the North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger jet car team as a driver, completing a record pass.  Last year, she'd attempted another record in the vehicle, hitting 483.227 mph before mechanical issues halted the run.  She was doing another pass at the record yesterday when the accident occurred.

Outpourings of support and sorrow have already started to flow from the race and enthusiast community.  Combs was well-known and well-loved for her ambition, strength, talent and presence.  She broke literal barriers, both for women in the sport, and for the perception of what was possible as a racer in general.

Her own Twitter post, right before the accident, confirmed that while Combs new the risks of her chosen passion, she also understood the rewards: "It may seem a little crazy to walk directly into the line of fire... those who are willing, are those who achieve great things. . . People say I’m crazy. I say thank you ;) ."

Mitzi's Pinup Corner: Miss Billetproof 2019, Siren Sin

Hot rod and pinup photographer Mitzi Valenzuela is known for having her finger on the pulse of both classic and rockabilly car culture. As part of that, Mitzi produces pinup contests for shows all over the world. Here she shares photos of the competitors and some super sweet rides.

Here are a few words from pinup model Miss Siren Sin, winner of the Miss Billetproof 2019 title:

"Hi there, this is Miss Siren Sin! I grew up in a small rural town in San Diego and recently moved to Northern California. I was raised on country music and riding horses. I love classic cars and especially classic trucks. I fell into the car show scene at the age of 18 while modeling for a friend, and I was hooked! Soon after, I slowly started to discover the pinup culture and fell madly in love with everything about it. I studied the looks, the makeup, and learned how to do my own retro hair. I am still always learning and mastering my skills for hair styles and modeling. These days you can either find me at a car show, baking, hanging out with my husband and our two pups, or in the gym lifting weights!"

Tony Schumacher is Still MIA

This year’s quest for the NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel title looks like a runaway - at least in this “regular” season that closes (as do Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle) after the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals on Labor Day weekend - for 2018 champion Steve Torrence and his family’s CAPCO Contractors dragster.

After a slow start to his campaign, the Texan is on a mid-season tear and has notched five yellow winner’s hats and Wally trophies in a row, stopped from getting six straight by Mike Salinas, who is also an independent operator in a series that has been dominated by larger teams. That Torrence, Salinas, Clay Millican and Terry McMillen are firmly in the hunt for top-10 results leading up to the six-race Countdown to the Championship speaks to the health of NHRA’s product.



But still, something’s missing. Last year Torrence had to battle until the season finale in order to claim his championship, hounded by eight-time Top Fuel titleholder Tony Schumacher until the final day, despite sweeping all six Countdown battles.This year, he doesn’t have Schumacher’s intensity to keep him honest, although he does have Doug Kalitta, Brittany Force, Antron Brown, Salinas, Leah Pritchett, Millican, Richie Campton, McMillen and rookie Austin Prock all looking to take him down.

Schumacher’s plight, sitting out competition through the first half of the year is due to a lack of sponsorship. After the U.S. Army announced at mid-season in 2018 that they wouldn’t be returning, Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) worked to find a comparable entity to take over the reins of “The Sarge’s” car. That’s not easy, as DSR’s marketing department quickly discovered.

DSR wanted to find a partner who would engage, as Army had, with the entire team, with Tony Schumacher and with the multitude of fans who sweep into each of 24 events. Army’s recruitment efforts at NHRA events were legendary and brought the service group positive results. The decision to leave was a bean-counter offensive and, while Army has been present at other sporting events, they haven’t pushed hard as they did with NHRA and Don Schumacher Racing.

Tony Schumacher made it clear that he wanted to race as a partner to an entity, not just fulfilling obligations. Look around the NHRA pits and see how the bigger teams like DSR, John Force Racing and Kalitta Motorsports interact with their partners and how they’re part of the teams. That’s what Schumacher was looking for. And still is looking for. There was talk, earlier in the season, that a partner had been found; it didn’t happen. DSR had to go back to square one.



Lately there hasn’t been much talk about Tony Schumacher or his near-ninth title in 2018. He’s become an after-thought, not making his appearances at the track or on the track. And that’s almost criminal. Fans need the best of the best to cheer and, occasionally jeer. There has been talk about Schumacher appearing at Indy, arguably the biggest race of the year for a one-off. Would he have Schumacher Electric sponsorship on his dragster? Would it be someone else interested in a full-season run in 2020?

However a return to competition occurs, it can’t happen too soon. Tony Schumacher is a missing cog that keeps Top Fuel exciting. And keeps guys like Steve Torrence honest. The sport really needs him.

Today’s Cool Classified Find is This Motorsports Park for $2.5M

Okay, everybody, it's time to call up a bunch of buddies and empty out those piggy banks for a very Cool Classified find! CLICK HERE FOR FULL AD!

Details from seller:

Sandia Motorsports Park is an 87 acre facility located just minutes from 1 million customers in the Albuquerque metropolitan area. Sandia has a 1.7 mile paved road course, a large 3/8 mile paved banked oval and a 1/4 mile paved oval plus a 3/8 mile banked dirt tract and a 1/4 mile dirt tract, and a 1/4 midget track. All racing venues have bleachers with the main asphalt track having bathrooms, cooking and meeting facilities.

 

CLICK HERE FOR FULL AD!

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1 Comment on RacingJunk’s Top 10 Articles of the Year

  1. Torrence is a punk. And NHRA is a chicken crap organization, not to have stepped in immediately, and thrown him out of the race for his actions. Screw his World championship!!!He’s lucky he didn’t push Tony Schumacher, Matt Hagan, Leah Pritchett, Brittany Force (oh he’s too much of a gentleman to do that to a female driver)or someone who would absolutely not put up with that shizzle!

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