There is too much going on in auto racing generally to spend much time on this week’s two major stories — the Ferrari driver movement in Formula One and the ongoing cheating scandal in NASCAR.
So I will say this about them, quickly.
NASCAR: You reap what you sow. NASCAR itself has manipulated race results for years, all in the name of entertainment. Debris cautions are my favourite. Sometimes legitimate (there really is something on the track) or phantom (the cars are too strung out and have to be bunched up, all the better to increase chances of a Big One), you can always count on a debris caution to goose excitement.
And don't kid yourself: to sometimes give one driver a leg up on another.
So, after stage-managing races and turning a blind eye to team orders, and with no advance warning, NASCAR reacts to a social media uprising after a race last weekend by throwing one driver out of the Chase (which, I suppose, you could argue it could) and putting another driver into it (which is absolutely incomprehensible and indefensible). Why? Because radio transmissions indicated there was collusion within the Michael Waltrip Racing three-car team to maximize one car’s points.
Now they are in the soup because the Associated Press has come up with evidence it says suggests collusion between Penske Racing and another team to manipulate the race results in order to get a Penske driver into the Chase. As of Thursday morning, NASCAR says it is still investigating the allegations but let’s face it, friends: it happened and everybody knows it and what’s worse is that two teams are involved this time and only one team was messing around in the first instance.
I can tell you this: if Penske Racing was screwing around, all of them were screwing around. Nobody in NASCAR racing is innocent. And NASCAR itself is screwed because do they now throw Logano out of the Chase and allow Jeff Gordon in when the playoff is supposed to begin this weekend?
Where will it end?
Mike Helton must resign.
Cancel the Chase.
FORMULA ONE: So Ferrari has just signed to a two-year contract the same driver they bought out and fired three years ago? Yup. Kimi Raikkonen will drive for Ferrari in 2014. Who his teammate will be is anybody’s guess.
Yes, I know: Fernando Alonso has a contract. I guarantee you he will not be with Ferrari when the 2014 season starts. Whether he will be at McLaren remains to be seen but Alonso and Raikkonen will not be teammates and you can take that to the bank.
With Felipe Massa gone, will Jenson Button be at Ferrari to partner Kimi when the season opens next March? Or will it be Nico Hulkenburg? Who knows?
But the signing of Raikkonen by Ferrari this week opens the door to all sorts of exciting possibilities.
Let the bench racing begin!
Okay, this photo is pretty spectacular, isn’t it? It was taken at Ohsweken Speedway and sprint car driver Glenn Styres is in the cockpit when an oil line came loose and you can see the result.
Glenn sent it to me a few weeks ago.
He texted: "Here's a cool photo."
So I replied: "Wow, is that you?"
GS: Ya, pretty sweet photo eh?
NM: Fantastic. No burns?
I think it is safe to say that sprint car drivers are incredibly brave and pretty cool customers, to boot.
And why have I chosen to publish this photograph at this time? Because this weekend, the ninth annual Canadian Sprint Car Nationals will be held at the same Ohsweken Speedway on the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford.
A Test & Tune session is going on today while the “Night Before the Nationals” presented by Burger Barn will be held Friday night (cross fingers there’s no rain). The Nationals presented by Arrow Express are scheduled for Saturday (ditto).
The Canadian Sprint Car Nationals has been the annual season-closing event at Ohsweken Speedway since 2005 and brings together teams from several affiliated sanctioning organizations in the area, plus teams and drivers from all over North America. The event has drawn an average of 71 entries; a total of 204 drivers have taken part, towing in from 14 states, five provinces, and New Zealand (although that driver flew in . . .).
Kenny Jacobs of Holmesville, Ohio, won the first Nationals in 2005, followed by Steve Poirier of Saint-Mathieu-de-Beloeil, Que., in 2006 and 2007, Mustang, Oklahoma’s, Wayne Johnson in 2008, Shane Stewart of Bixby, Okla., in 2009 and 2010, Sam Hafertepe, Jr. of Sunnyvale, Tex., in 2011 and Steve Poirier becoming the first three-time winner in 2012.
More than 50 drivers have already filed entries for the 2013 Nationals, including former winners Wayne Johnson, Shane Stewart and Steve Poirier. First-time entrants include Australian champ Brooke Tatnell and American Sprint Car Series National Tour driver Brad Loyet from Missouri.
The Nationals will include group time trials, six heat races, three B-Main races, a Dash for the heat race winners to determine the top six starting positions in the A-Feature, the 15 lap “Little Feature,” and the 35 lap A-Feature that will pay the winner $12,000.
The best of the best always show up for the Nationals. Ohsweken’s weekly Corr/Pak Merchandising Sprint Car division will participate, as will the Southern Ontario Sprints (SOS) tour, the Michigan-based Sprints On Dirt (SOD) series, the Ohio-based National Racing Alliance (NRA), the New York-based Empire Super Sprints (ESS) series and the Patriot Sprint Tour (PST).
See you there Saturday. And thanks to Tommy Goudge of the Ohsweken Speedway PR staff for the information on the Nationals.
Now, one last thing before I go.
I had dinner Wednesday night with 2008 Nationals winner Wayne Johnson. He was with his tire man, Conor, his chief mechanic Daryl Turford and Dary's dad Pete Turford, an auto racing historian who started the Southern Ontario Sprints organization back in the 1990s.
We got talking about the NASCAR scandal and agreed that there was nothing new going on there.
In fact, Wayne Johnson reminisced one time about helping out one of his friends, a fellow sprint car racer.
"He was on the front row and I wasn't doing much, so I was starting in the back. Before the start, I said to him that I'd help him lead the first lap. If I saw he wasn't in front, I'd spin and bring out a yellow so they'd have a restart. Happens all the time."
As my friend, the late Rae Corelli, Global TV's first anchorman. used to say: "It might not be news, but it is reality."