"ENGINE BLOG": NASCAR authority Liz Clarke in Miami for "One Helluva Ride" Monday night

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Feb. 29, 2008

 

Monday, March 3, 8pm
Books & Books, Coral Gables
265 Aragon Ave.
Coral Gables, Fla.
 (305) 442-4408
 
 
 
From its raw beginnings on Southern dirt tracks, NASCAR smacked of a slightly depraved spectacle, as if nothing but trouble could come from the unbridled locomotion of a V8 engine. By the time NASCAR roared into the 21st century, it had grown into a billion-dollar sports and marketing colossus. Hundreds of thousands of fans attend races on any given weekend from mid-February through mid-November, and the second-largest viewing audience in sports watches on television.

“One Helluva Ride,” a full-throttle account of the rise and reign of NASCAR nation, is award-winning motorsports reporter Liz Clarke’s chronicle of how stock car racing exploded from regional obsession to national phenomenon.
 
In covering the sport for more than 15 years, Clarke has developed a strong rapport with NASCAR’s drivers, team owners and hard-core fans. Through her reporting and analysis, we get to know the public and private sides of NASCAR’s most iconic figures, including seven-time champion Richard Petty, who set the standard for treating fans with respect, and the late Dale Earnhardt.
 
The sports world stopped in its tracks the day Earnhardt was killed on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. Some feared that NASCAR’s soul would die with him. But it has raced on, steered by visionary promoters, the all-controlling France family (who founded the sport), and, above all, the next generation of drivers to stir fans’ passions.

Clarke shows NASCAR to be at a crossroads. In pursuit of a broader audience, NASCAR has severed its sponsorship ties to Big Tobacco, abandoned racetracks in small markets in favor of speedways near glitzy major cities, and welcomed Japan’s Toyota into a sport traditionally restricted to American-made sedans. As NASCAR races toward mass appeal, some suggest it is leaving its roots behind. To others, it is boldly extending its reach from the Southern workingman to every man, woman, and child in the world.
 
For more information, visit www.onehelluvaridebook.com.
 
About the author

A sportswriter for The Washington Post, Liz Clarke has also covered NASCAR for USA Today, The Charlotte Observer, and The Dallas Morning News, and was twice honored with the Russ Catlin award for excellence in motorsports journalism. She spent four seasons as a Post beat writer on the Washington Redskins and has written extensively about the Olympics, tennis, and college sports. A graduate of Barnard College, she lives in Washington, D.C., with her beloved Lab, Rusty.

 

Feb. 13, 2008

SpeedJam – March 29, 2008 – Homestead-Miami

Speedway

 

SpeedJam 2008 kicks off IndyCar on March 29: Helio, Danica, Dan, Tony...

The world's best open-wheel drivers storm Homestead-Miami Speedway for IndyCar's season-opening GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300, featuring two-time Indy 500 Winner-turned-"Dancing with the Stars" Champion Helio Castroneves, Danica Patrick, Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan And that's just the start. How about 14 hours of entertainment...in the subtropical sunshine...under the South Florida stars...for a $30 ticket.

Be there when the world’s best open-wheel drivers storm Homestead-Miami Speedway for IndyCar’s season-opening GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300. Fourteen hours of entertainment...in the subtropical sunshine...under the South Florida stars...for a $30 ticket.

 
 
  • Two-Time Indy 500 Winner-turned-“Dancing with the Stars” Champion Helio Castroneves
  • IndyCar Stars Danica Patrick, Dan Wheldon, Tony Kanaan
  • Memphis BBQ Network BBQ competition
  • GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami Rolex Sports Car Race
  • Sports Car Clubs/Shows
  • IndyPro Series Miami 100
  • Remote Control Car Contests
  • Karting Competition
  • Kid-Friendly Family Fun Zone
  • Live Music All Day Long

For tickets and more information, please call  (866) 409-RACE or visit www.HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com.

 
Jan. 29, 2008
 
This past weekend, our neighbors to the north—Daytona International Speedway—ran the Rolex 24, an endurance Grand-Am race featuring teams of up to four drivers racing around the clock for 24 hours. When the race wrapped up at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, it was Miami resident Juan Pablo Montoya and Chip Ganassi-teammates Dario Franchitti, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas taking the checkered flag. The win represented Montoya’s second consecutive win in the annual affair (and Team Ganassi’s third straight overall).

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“By Friday, we’re all going to be really tired after this and the two tests [in Las Vegas],” Montoya said after clinching the country’s premier sports car marathon. “But me, I love it.
 
“Grand-Am is the next great series in this country,” Montoya told post-race reporters. “I really believe that. Give it time; it’s going to be good.”
 
Montoya wasn’t the only Rolex racer to do South Floridians proud this weekend: Homestead-Miami Speedway blogger-extraordinaire Helio Castroneves and his Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Ryan Briscoe overcame early car troubles to notch an impressive third-place finish.
 
“It was awesome to start the season like that,” Castroneves told media after the Rolex. “Yes, you want to win, but with the problems we had it feels like a reward to finish on the podium. Everybody worked really hard to put this project together in only four to six weeks, and it was an incredible result.”
 
Castroneves will be looking to post even better results at his hometown track when the IndyCar Series kicks off a new season March 29 during “SpeedJam 2008,” featuring the GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300, the GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami and the IndyPro Series Miami 100.
 
SpeedJam also includes a full-day festival of car shows, Memphis Barbeque, kids activities and live music. For tickets, call (866) 409-RACE or visit www.HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com.
 
And prior to this season opener, Castroneves, Danica Patrick, Dan Wheldon, Tony Kanaan and IndyCar’s best will be on track at Homestead-Miami for “Spring Training” Feb. 27-29—an event that is FREE and open for public viewing from the track’s 4th floor Speedway Club. For more info, call (305) 230-5000.

 

Jan. 22, 2008
 
So we just got word that beginning this season, the IndyCar Series is implementing an Indianapolis 500-style, four-lap qualifying run for all of their races. What does this mean for attendees to SpeedJam at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 29? How about six miles of white-knuckle qualifying at 225-plus miles per hour?
 
That’s going to make for one heck of a Friday qualifying round on March 28 here at South Florida’s Championship Track.
 
By increasing the lap count from one to four, qualifying for the Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami will rely more heavily on driver

skill and less on equipment. The pole winner will be the driver who records the fastest cumulative time over four laps, and the only thing we can tell you to expect is the unexpected.
 
But what are the pros expecting? Take a listen….
 
Miami’s own Helio Castroneves, Team Penske: “It's a new challenge. That’s the way they do it at Indianapolis, so it's great to have it at other race tracks. It should be fun and exciting. It will be tight, that's for sure. It should be very competitive.”
 
Three-time SpeedJam Indy 300 winner Dan Wheldon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing: “I think it's good for the series and good for the fans. They get used to the way we qualify for the Indianapolis 500, so I'm excited about. You need to make sure that every lap counts. You could see from the last race of last season, and all races for that matter, that the series is very competitive. You can't make a mistake in qualifying. It will add a new element of excitement.”
 
Darren Manning, A.J. Foyt Racing: “I don’t know if I can hold my breath for four laps. Normally it’s just two laps you’ve got to hold your breath. At some of these tracks, I think it’s going to be a big difference. You’re starting to go a bit slower, your car’s handling is already starting to go away after that second flying lap, so it’s going to mix up the qualifying order a lot. Normally, somebody might put in an absolute flyer just for one lap and then pull into the pits. They’ve got to do it for four laps now. I think that will be better for the teams like ourselves that are trying to break into the big league.”

Wow. Good thing tickets are still available for practice and qualifying for the Indy 300 on March 28. Tickets also remain for the SpeedJam Indy 300, March 29, at Homestead-Miami Speedway. C’mon down…and hang on!

 

 

Jan. 18, 2008
 
Helio's still dancing while in park: See the two-time Indy 500 winner-turned-"Dancing with the Stars" champion hit the dance floor with dance partner Julianne Hough this Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 7:30 p.m. at the Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise. Better yet, go for free....
 
Be one of the first 50 people to

href="http://secure.racetickets.com/HomesteadMiamiSpeedway/ft/TicketSales/index.cfm?event=tixList&display=tixList&EstablishmentKey=4&EstablishmentType=T&TixEventID=1989&showCart=no&HeadlineStoryID=17669&GatewayPass=y">buy tickets to “SpeedJam”—the March 29 IndyCar Series season kick-off at Homestead-Miami Speedway—and receive FREE ticket(s) to see Dance Champions Helio and Julianne perform at the “Dancing with the Stars Tour” this Wednesday. 

 

 

Jan. 15, 2008
 
What’s up, motorsports fans? Welcome to Volume 1 of the Homestead-Miami Speedway Blog—our effort to keep you posted on track news as soon as it breaks. At the heart of a blog is its brevity, so hope you enjoyed that intro. Let’s get started….
 
Just prior to the new year, we learned that Homestead-Miami Speedway cycles a few dollars through the economy down here in South Florida—to the tune of $248 million in economic impact to the region.
 
This, in large part, is due to the fact that the track stays busy more than 260 days a year And that was evident this past weekend, as Homestead-Miami Speedway played host to two major national racing events: the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Double-National Event on HMS’ 1.5-mile oval; and the Florida Winter Tour Karting Event on the adjacent three-quarter mile karting track.
 
The SCCA is an amateur racing league that features no less than nine different racing divisions, including open-wheel Formula, GTs, Touring, Spec and Production classes. These cars range from stock manufacturer cars that blow by you on the Florida Turnpike, to the heavily modified GT cars and custom-built kit cars you might only see at an auto expo (but could still blow by you on the Turnpike). This past weekend, all of them were sporting some pretty wild paint schemes while looking to gain points toward qualifying for the SCCA National Championships in October.
 
As to the karting event, it featured six different classes (DD2, Senior, Junior, Masters, Mini Max and Micro Max) and hosted drivers of all ages for the biggest kart race of the year at Homestead-Miami. We saw flags from different countries painted on helmets and flying over tents, and license plates from as far away as Canada and California. If you’ve ever wondered how NASCAR and IndyCar Series drivers cut their teeth in the sport, it was on full display at South Florida’s Championship Track.
 
Formula One-turned-ARCA driver Scott Speed, 23, was on hand for the karting event. The two-time national karting champion was here to race competitively for the first time against younger brother Alex, himself a three-time national champion. Our pre-race attempts to elicit some trash talk from the brothers Speed went for naught….
 
“I don’t have any pointers for Alex in karting, he’s much better than I am,” Scott said. “Alex is a professional kart driver.”
 
“Scott likes to tell everybody that,” Alex responded. “I think we’re both able to get 100 percent out of the go-kart. There’s only so much you can get out of going fast—I think I have more experience in a kart than he does so my feeling for the car is a little bit better, but he knows what he’s doing out there.”
 
 
If only all siblings were this civil. Maybe there was some throw-down behind closed doors…?
 
Also on-site at HMS this weekend was Max Papis, who’s driving everything from Formula One and Grand-Am, to NASCAR NEXTEL-turned-Sprint Cup and the Busch-turned-Nationwide Series.
 
Part-instructor, part-mechanic, Papis was working up a South Florida sweat in leading his karting team, Max Papis Racing, throughout the weekend. And the effort paid dividends, as two of his kart drivers took to the medal stand by weekend’s end, both leaving Homestead-Miami ranked in the Top 3 in their division.
 
“We had an awesome weekend,” Papis said at event’s end. “We left the track leading the Rotax Max series for Fabio, and we’re running second or third in the Mini-max series with Pietro. It was a very positive weekend, and I had a lot of fun organizing and giving back to the sport, trying to help some of these guys live their dream.”
 
 
Looking to enjoy SpeedJam 2008 in the utmost of luxury? Join us live to see Helio Castroneves and IndyCar’s best race in the circuit’s 2008 season opener on March 29 from the exclusive Champions Club at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
 
Watch all the action live and in style from skybox-level seating both indoors and out. Enjoy reserved chair-back seating, an all-day buffet, full-liquor open bar, a weekend Paddock Pass, reserved parking, and private elevators and restrooms for an all-inclusive charge of $275.
 
In addition to the IndyCar Series kick-off, SpeedJam 2008 features the Rolex Sports Car Series Grand Prix of Miami, IndyPro Series Miami 100, and a full-day festival of car shows, Memphis BBQ, kids activities and live music. For the best view in the house, call 866-409-RACE.
 

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Ford Championship Weekend 2008 renewals are mailing this week. Keep an eye out for your renewal package in the mail. But if you want to lock in on that one particular seat, reserve early for NASCAR’s series-crowning championship weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 14-16, 2008). You can renew your tickets by calling (866) 409-RACE or renew online by clicking here.
 
 
So that’s our run through Volume 1 of the HMS Blog. Check back soon, as we’ll continue to post news, photos, and event and ticket info as it breaks. Could be just minutes away….

 

 

Monday, March 3, 8pm
Books & Books, Coral Gables
265 Aragon Ave.
Coral Gables, Fla.
 (305) 442-4408
 
 
 
From its raw beginnings on Southern dirt tracks, NASCAR smacked of a slightly depraved spectacle, as if nothing but trouble could come from the unbridled locomotion of a V8 engine. By the time NASCAR roared into the 21st century, it had grown into a billion-dollar sports and marketing colossus. Hundreds of thousands of fans attend races on any given weekend from mid-February through mid-November, and the second-largest viewing audience in sports watches on television.

“One Helluva Ride,” a full-throttle account of the rise and reign of NASCAR nation, is award-winning motorsports reporter Liz Clarke’s chronicle of how stock car racing exploded from regional obsession to national phenomenon.
 
In covering the sport for more than 15 years, Clarke has developed a strong rapport with NASCAR’s drivers, team owners and hard-core fans. Through her reporting and analysis, we get to know the public and private sides of NASCAR’s most iconic figures, including seven-time champion Richard Petty, who set the standard for treating fans with respect, and the late Dale Earnhardt.
 
The sports world stopped in its tracks the day Earnhardt was killed on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. Some feared that NASCAR’s soul would die with him. But it has raced on, steered by visionary promoters, the all-controlling France family (who founded the sport), and, above all, the next generation of drivers to stir fans’ passions.

Clarke shows NASCAR to be at a crossroads. In pursuit of a broader audience, NASCAR has severed its sponsorship ties to Big Tobacco, abandoned racetracks in small markets in favor of speedways near glitzy major cities, and welcomed Japan’s Toyota into a sport traditionally restricted to American-made sedans. As NASCAR races toward mass appeal, some suggest it is leaving its roots behind. To others, it is boldly extending its reach from the Southern workingman to every man, woman, and child in the world.
 
For more information, visit www.onehelluvaridebook.com.
 
About the author

A sportswriter for The Washington Post, Liz Clarke has also

covered NASCAR for USA Today, The Charlotte Observer, and The Dallas Morning News, and was twice honored with the Russ Catlin award for excellence in motorsports journalism. She spent four seasons as a Post beat writer on the Washington Redskins and has written extensively about the Olympics, tennis, and college sports. A graduate of Barnard College, she lives in Washington, D.C., with her beloved Lab, Rusty.

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