Gord was crew chief for Ailsa Craig, Ontario’s, most famous resident, Earl Ross, when they raced in NASCAR in the 1970s. My source on this story, retired racer Dave Mathers, reports that after Earl won the Old Dominion 500-lap race at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia in 1974, Gord drove the race car from Victory Lane to post-race tech inspection. He said to Earl, “That thing doesn’t have any brakes!” And Earl replied that it hadn’t had any since Lap 300.”
I’ll let my friend Mr. Mathers tell the next story.
“Gordy was a VERY smart crew chief going way back. I sold him a brand new 1970 390 HP 454 Bel Air two-door hardtop in the fall of 1969. In ‘72 or ’73, we were racing at Flamboro Speedway and Earl blew the 427 in his ‘68 Chevelle Super Late Model in a qualifying heat race. As the 100 lapper wasn’t until the next day, they pulled the 454 out of the Bel Air, put it in the ‘68, won the race, put it back in the Bel Air and all were happy ever after.”
Ah, racing in the good, old days, eh?
A funeral was held on Thursday. The family requests that memorials be made to Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, 3982 Clingman Rd., Ronda, NC, 28670 or to donor’s choice.
Okay, before we get to the pros, here are a few other local racing social notes.
This from Tommy Goudge at Ohsweken Speedway:
Mini Stock driver Chad Smelser will be married on the track at intermission during Friday night’s O’Neil’s Farm Equipment and Styres Gas Bar presents Corr/Pak Merchandising Sprint Cars, Affordable Towing & Recovery Thunder Stocks, HRW Automotive Mini Stocks, and Gale’s Auto Aftermarket Bombers racing program.
This from Jim Irvine at Merrittville Speedway outside Thorold:
The Lucas Oil Slick Mist Family of Car Care products are set to assist Merrittville Speedway’s Reunion Committee in welcoming back many old friends Sat., July 13th, when the Thorold track celebrates it’s 62nd Anniversary Season. Once again hosted by Merrittville Speedway’s Reunion Committee headed by Chairmen Rick Kavanagh, the night will salute 62 years of dirt racing excitement at one of Canada’s oldest race tracks in addition to the annual Inductions into the L. St. Amand Enterprises Wall of Fame.
For more on the Wall of Fame night and reunion, go to merrittvillespeedway.com
As mentioned above, the IZOD IndyCar Series is returning to Pocono Raceway and the guy who won the last CART race there way back in 1989 says it’s about time. Danny Sullivan says that Pocono Raceway was made for Indy cars and vice-versa.
“I think Pocono is an ideal track for Indy cars,” said Sullivan, who also won the 1984 race. “With all of the upgrades, improvements in safety, you should see a great return from the IndyCar Series.”
Sullivan holds the 500-mile race record of 170.720 mph average in the CART-sanctioned 1989 race on the 2.5-mile tri-oval.
“A great layout, and three distinctly different corners makes a good setup difficult,” Sullivan added. “Pocono used to be rough, but that added to the challenge. My races there were always close and competitive. Winning it twice was special.”
NASCAR is back at Daytona and that means Danica Patrick will be a threat for the pole. You will recall when she won the pole for the Daytona 500, she never was out of the top five until the last gasp dash for cash saw her shuffled back to eighth. She said afterward that she wouldn’t let that happen again so if she’s near the front on Saturday night, look for her to be a threat to win her first Sprint Cup race.
Other drivers to watch include Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Burton.
It is highly unlikely that there will be a repeat, but if so much as one tire blows out at the Nurburgring this weekend — whether it’s during practice, qualifying or the race doesn’t matter — the drivers will refuse to race. The reason, of course, is insurance.
When this sort of thing happened at the 2005 U.S. GP at Indianapolis and the Michelin drivers pulled off after the formation lap, I have been told by a most reliable source that it had nothing to do with whether or not the drivers were frightened and everything to do with their insurance carriers notifying them that they were on their own if they raced on what were thought to be unsafe tires.
F1 drivers are covered for the loss of millions of dollars in income if they are incapacitated, so the insurance companies take a big risk every time they go out on the track. At Indy, after Ralf Schumacher was hurt, the word went around very quickly that the Michelins weren’t safe and the drivers were told they would not be covered if they raced. So that’s why they pulled off.
The same thing will happen this weekend in Germany. One blowout and there will be no race, or a shortened race.
And it’s all F1’s fault (see column from earlier this week, below).
By the way, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were fast in Germany in first practice today but, as you can imagine, all the talk is about the tires.
More about local racing:
Defending race champion is Andrew Ranger – who’s without a full-time ride in the series this season. He has 13 series career road-course wins with eight of those coming in Quebec. Former champion Scott Steckly has a pair of podium finishes in two ICAR starts. Quebec native Louis-Philippe Dumoulin of Trois-Rivieres has finished fourth in each of the two Canadian Tire Series events at Circuit ICAR.
J.R. Fitzpatrick of Cambridge has a pair of top-10 finishes in two ICAR starts including a runner-up finish a season ago. And Jeff Lapcevich of Grimsby has scored a top 10 in each of his two Circuit ICAR appearances.
The televising of the Jiffy Lube 100 presented by Snap-on race is scheduled for Sun., July 14 at 11 a.m. ET on TSN; Fri., July 26 at 11 p.m. ET on RDS2 and Sat., July 27 at 10 a.m. ET on RDS.
This from John Hopkins:
Jordan Szoke will try to accomplish a feat this weekend that only two men have done before him. The defending Mopar Canadian Superbike Champion and current series points leader will try to score his second straight victory at Autodrome St-Eustache.
The tight and technical 1.93km (1.2-mile) 10-turn road course located just north of Montreal has been reluctant to serve up repeat winners in the 14 years it has hosted the national road race series. Six-time Canada Cup champion Steve Crevier won the first two races to be held at the venue, in 1991 and ’92, while two-time national champion Francis Martin scored victories in 1999 and 2000.
Szoke’s win in last year’s event was a key moment in his push toward a record-extending eighth Canadian Superbike title. His first victory of the campaign edged the Brantford, Ont. racer into a championship lead he would not relinquish the rest of the summer.
This time he comes into the weekend in a far more powerful position, having already claimed victory in the 2013 Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship season opener at Shannonville Motorsport Park last month. The Waznie Racing / BMW Motorrad Canada / Parts Canada BMW S1000RR rider has a perfect score of 56 points thanks to qualifying fastest at Shannonville, winning the race and leading the most laps.
- NORRIS McDONALD