ECONOMAKI: Live Or On Video?


New High-Def Screen Will Give CMS Fans A Choice

We’re not sure what to make of Speedway Motorsports Inc. Chairman O. Bruton Smith’s recent announcement that Charlotte Motor Speedway, with the help of Panasonic, will be erecting a 200-foot by 80-foot high-definition video screen along the backstretch of the 1.5-mile superspeedway. While we can see how it may add to the fan experience, we wonder if the sheer size of the screen will lead to ticket buyers watching the television instead of the actual race. One can stay home and watch television with food and drink already paid for and steps away. Still it’s an interesting idea that we will look forward to seeing when finished. However, we do not agree with Smith’s calling the video screen “the biggest announcement” in the history of the facility. Certainly that would be the now-long-ago news that CMS had signed Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores as the first significant entitlement sponsor in auto racing. Maybe Smith forgets since his company no longer receives payments from Lowe’s.

Speedways are doing more and more for fans. Indianapolis Motor Speedway is certainly among them. Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti recently presented IMS ticket holder Bruce Barhydt of Apex, N.C., with the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS pace car that led the field to the green flag. Barhydt won the car in a random drawing among fans who reordered or applied for Indianapolis 500 tickets between May 31 and June 14. As well, IMS President and CEO Jeff Belskus will be reaching out to fans via a video blog on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway website. Fans can make comments and ask questions for Belskus to address via the official IMS blog at

If you are into instant gratification, you’ll want to check out the new version of coming to the Internet in early October. It will provide a full plate of auto-racing news, including daily and hourly breaking news stories — instantly. For more about the site, see Publisher Corinne Economaki’s column on this page. Premium membership to the site is free to NSSN print subscribers and a great value at $14.99 to new customers, which, in addition to the free breaking news available to all Internet users, will get NSSN Online members access to insider information, including columns, notes and historical stories. Check it out!

While she couldn’t get “Tony the Tiger” to roar, Jenna Bush Hager got her speed fix during The Tony Stewart “Smoke Show” fantasy camp held in August at Texas Motor Speedway, highlights of which aired during the Sept. 22 edition of NBC’s “Today Show.” Through the one-day fantasy camp that raised more than $200,000 for the Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter, Bush Hager, one of former President George W. Bush’s twin daughters, got a taste what it feels like to be a NASCAR driver for a day. The 28-year-old NBC special correspondent took a ride with Stewart around the track before the two switched roles. Though she didn’t come close to the speeds Stewart clocked on the 1.5-mile Dallas-area track, Bush Hager hit 134 miles per hour, besting “Today Show” co-host Matt Lauer’s 123-mph drive around Indianapolis Motor Speedway under Stewart’s tutelage a few years ago.

When Bobby East won the Sept. 11 MustSee Racing Xtreme Sprint Series event at Dells Raceway Park in Wisconsin, it was a race of firsts. East won in his very first winged sprint-car race and he was piloting Terry Klatt’s No. 5, which carried the new Roush Yates 410 sprint-car engine. It was the first victory for the Roush Yates 410 in only its fourth start.

Former NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck series champion Johnny Benson, Jr. nearly lost his life in a supermodified crash last year at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Mich. Benson returned to the track Saturday to race a supermodified and finished 10th. Now that’s a race car driver!

Fans of the Milk Bowl can relax. Daisy Dalton, an 8-year-old registered Ayreshire, has been selected as Miss Milk Bowl 2010. This good-looking gal will be kissed by at least the winner of the event Saturday, Oct. 3, at Thunder Road Speedbowl in Waterbury, Vt. Daisy is adding this honor to her already crowded shelf of trophies. Only fitting that a winner kiss a winner.

Monticello Motor Club, a state-of-the-art country-club type road course, is now booking the initial runnings of its Formula One Discovery and Formula One Experience with dates available for Oct. 22 this year and May, June and July of next year. Utilizing an Arrows Formula One car, those who buy the program will receive instruction from racing experts, a Formula One certificate and a podium picture. The Formula One Discovery program sells for $3,495 and the Formula One Experience for $6,995.

With so many of our speedways now part of history, racing reunions are becoming bigger and bigger. The eighth annual Pines Speedway Reunion will be held Oct. 20 at the site of the former track, next to the Town Hall, in Groveland, Mass. The event will honor the legendary Tiberio Brothers, who won countless races at the track during the 1960s. And the Bridgehampton Racing Heritage Group will hold its annual exhibit and celebration dedicated to the Bridgehampton Race Circuit this Saturday in the Long Island town, bringing racing back to life in the community that hosted the world-class road-racing circuit from 1957 through 1997. For information, log on to

The American Drag Racing League will headline the 2011 schedule at Rockingham Dragway, according to owner Steve Earwood. The IHRA Nitro Jam Series will not return to the North Carolina strip. Earwood says he’s “just giving his fans what they want.” A number of motorcycle events also dot the calendar. For more information, visit

Tim Kohuth, a former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series crew chief, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the 2008 death of a man whose vehicle he struck while driving a flatbed truck in Mooresville, N.C. Kohuth tested more than five times the legal alcohol limit after the accident, which followed three convictions of him operating vehicles while impaired. Kohuth will spend at least eight-and-a-half years in prison.

Two-time Scottish rally champion Jimmy Girvan lost his life Saturday during the Colin McRea Rally. Girvan’s car hit some rocks, left the road and drove into some trees. The 56-year-old driver died at the scene. Organizers canceled the event after the accident.