ECONOMAKI: Indy’s Fantasy Field Of 33

ALL FOR SHOW: Thirty-three different Indianapolis 500 winning cars were lined up in 11 rows of three for this publicity shot snapped last week. (Ron McQueeney/IRL IndyCar Photo)

HARRISBURG, N.C. — There is no more moving sight than 33 well aligned Indy cars rolling down the frontstretch on a parade lap at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In recognition of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 May 29, the speedway recently photographed 33 Indy 500 winning cars lined up in the traditional 11 rows of three while parked on the straightaway at the 2.5-mile race track. The photos are impressive as is the collection of cars utilized. The front row alone featured the car of first race winner (1911) Ray Harroun on the pole, with Dario Franchitti’s 2010 winner in the middle and A.J. Foyt’s 1961 machine on the outside. The speedway is billing the 100th anniversary 500 as The Most Important Race in History.

While the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the sanctioning body celebrated the election of its second class of inductees — the more rounded group of the first two classes — there was more bad news than good for the museum dedicated to NASCAR stock-car racing history, located in downtown Charlotte, N.C. The Hall of Fame lost $280,509 in the month of August and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, which operates the Hall of Fame, has asked its officials to consider up to $3 million worth of budget cuts. The hall’s budget expected $3.31 million in revenue in July and August, but the Hall raked in only $1.43 million.

Twenty-four-year-old Ashley Phalen was killed Friday while participating in the Mario Andretti Driving Experience at California’s Auto Club Speedway. Phalen, a Los Angeles native, was driving a replica Indy car while taking part in the Mario Andretti Driving Experience when the car hit the wall and overturned. She was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

It was clearly a joyous occasion for Sandy Welsh last week as ESPN and the NASCAR Media Group gave select members of the media and other dignitaries an advance look at the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary “Tim Richmond: To The Limit.” Welsh is Richmond’s older sister and she was delightful in her praise of filmmaker Rory Karpf and the fact her brother’s story had been told “truthfully.” The show debuted on ESPN Oct. 19 and will have multiple reairings across the ESPN networks. A DVD of the program is also available from ESPN.

According to published reports, the popular Comedy Central show “South Park” took a few shots at NASCAR fans during its 14th season debut last week. The episode was titled: “Poor and Stupid.”

Former NASCAR and Dale Earnhardt, Inc. executive Max Siegel is scheduled to receive the Pioneer Award during the 15th Urban Wheels Awards Jan. 9 in Detroit.

Many of us race nuts have sneaked our way into a race track more than once or twice. NASCAR ace Kevin Harvick isn’t any different, seeing his first NASCAR race as an underage pit visitor at the now-defunct Riverside (Calif.) Int’l Raceway. “The only time I went to Riverside, I wasn’t old enough to get in and my dad was there working on Rick Carelli’s car,” Harvick said last week at Auto Club Speedway. “I actually went into the infield in the backseat of Cathy Carelli’s car with a blanket over the top of me to get into the pits. I stayed in the back — Rick had a bread truck basically as a hauler at that particular point — but that was the last race at Riverside.”

After 436 days and 25 township meetings, Neupert Raceway Park has received the go ahead from leaders in Pennsylvania’s Jefferson Township (near Pittsburgh) to construct a quarter-mile dirt track, which will host low-budget micro sprint, mod-lite, quad and compact car racing. Track owner Brett Neupert hopes the track will be complete in time for a May opening.

Curt Michael stands alone in URC Sprint Series history. Michael clinched his seventh United Racing Co. sprint-car title, breaking the tie he held with National Sprint Car Hall of Famer Earl Halaquist with six titles each.

It was nice to see former NSSN staffer Ron Green, who went on to work in the PR departments at O’Reilly Raceway Park, Charlotte Motor Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Green now operates his own public relations company and was in town for the NASCAR weekend and to meet with prospective clients.

There were more than a few World Racing Group officials, drivers and team members running on fumes as the World of Outlaws Late Model Series stopped at The Dirt Track @ Charlotte Oct. 13. Many, including drivers Tim McCreadie, Tim Fuller and Vic Coffey, had made the trip to Concord, N.C., after spending a full week taking part in Super DIRT Week at Syracuse, N.Y.

Walter Spencer, one of three brothers who founded New York’s Spencer Speedway in 1955, died Oct. 6. His younger brother Merle preceded him in death, while the middle brother Delbert survives. The Spencers sold the track to current owner John White in 2007.

Lots of chatter in Charlotte about Shane Hmiel, recently injured at Terre Haute Action Track, and his progress with many looking forward to his full recovery. Hmiel’s on-track abilities have been impressive.

Ace Speedway, an ASA Member Track in Altamahaw, N.C., will host the tryout for the 2010 Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil ASA Member Track National Champion Bryan Wordelman Oct. 26. As the 2010 champion, Wordelman will get a tryout with Joe Gibbs Racing at the four-tenths-mile oval. Public is invited to sit in the grandstands to watch the session.

Hard-working NHRA reporter Susan Wade called to express concern and apologies over a mistake in her notes piece regarding the recent NHRA event at Pennsylvania’s Maple Grove Raceway. Susan wanted to correct her line about John Force stopping on the race track, saying in truth Force didn’t stop on the track and she didn’t intend to imply Force did something so selfish.

The IMIS-Indy trade show held a reception for its customers last week at Stewart-Haas’s modern racing facility. Many customers attended and were ably hosted by Indiana Motorsports Ass’n’s Tom Weisenbach. More than a few folks drifted into the gift shop to see Tony Stewart’s collection of signed drum skins. The collection includes the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney and others.

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