Wednesday, January 31, 2007

At Last! Maryann's Magnificent Oreo Balls!

Here is the much-anticipated recipe for Maryann's signature recipe, chocolate (and white) Oreo Balls! Make `em small, so your teeth don't rot all at once...





Thanks Maryann!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Listener Roy in Nevada offers proof that it's been a rough week for A.J. Allmendinger at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This was the result of Monday's crash, and he wrote off another car Tuesday.

What We're REALLY Talking About...

The premise has recently been floated in some circles that NASCAR should find a way to limit the number of Open Wheel drivers allowed into the upper levels of our sport. The concept is a relatively new one.

In the 1960s and `70s, Mario Andretti won hundreds of Champ Car races, and a Formula One World Driving Championship. He raced and won in the NASCAR ranks, as well, and fans were happy to have him. A.J. Foyt wrote the vast majority of his extensive resume without the benefit of fenders, but like Andretti, was warmly embraced during his frequent forays into NASCAR stockers.

In the modern era, NASCAR has continued to embrace drivers from the Open Wheel ranks. Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Casey Mears and J.J. Yeley all climbed the racing ladder via the Open Wheel route. Stewart was an Indy Racing League champion before Joe Gibbs snapped him up and brought him to NASCAR. How, then, can anyone justify the idea of limiting the number of Open Wheel drivers allowed to join the NASCAR ranks?

The explanations run the gamut from “shaky” to “downright indefensible.”

Some say that Open Wheel racers are taking rides away from kids who have worked their way up through more traditional, stockcar-based feeder series. They never say “American kids,” but it’s right there, just below the surface. Nobody had a problem when Elliott Sadler and Denny Hamlin got their shots, but the minute Juan Pablo Montoya hit town, it somehow became terribly unfair.

Others see the arrival of Open Wheel drivers as an example of the ongoing corruption of “their sport.” First NASCAR closed North Wilkesboro, they say. Then Rockingham. Then they took a bunch of races from the mid-south and moved `em to the dad-gum West Coast, of all places, ignoring the very people who made NASCAR what it is today. And now, they’re ignoring the next David Pearson in favor of some kid from Columbia that doesn’t even speak good English.

Is it just me, or are we missing the real reason behind all this anti-Open Wheel backlash? In my view, the problem is not with Open Wheel racers. The problem is with foreigners.

The trend in NASCAR these days is one of radical isolationism. General Jack Roush traded in his straw hat for an Army helmet recently, promising to “go to war with Toyota,” in a fervent attempt to prevent the Japanese invaders from burying the competition under an avalanche of dollars -- or would that be yen? -- and destroying NASCAR as we know it.

I don’t recall Roush getting nearly so worked up about Chevrolet or Dodge in years past, despite the fact that Dodge is owned by the Daimler-Chrysler Corporation; a decidedly German entity. If we’re going to hold a lifelong grudge against the Japanese for their actions on the sands of Iwo Jima, shouldn’t we be equally unforgiving of the Germans we fought on the beaches of Normandy?

Or maybe, better still, we should bury those old hatchets and move on.

Like it or not, we now live in a global economy. No matter what Pat Buchanan says, we cannot simply build a fence around this country, post a 24-hour guard and allow nothing to pass in either direction. If NASCAR Nextel Cup racing is truly going to become the greatest racing series in the world, we should welcome the world’s greatest drivers to take part. No matter where they come from, and no matter what path they took to get here.

Any other way is shortsighted in the extreme.

And besides, who’s going to go to the Nextel Cup garage and confiscate Stewart’s hard card?

Not me. I want to live.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Doing Good In Cold Country

Over 400 intrepid riders braved plummeting temperatures and wind-chill factors of more than 25 degrees below zero Saturday in Greenville, Maine, to take part in the 10th Annual Ricky Craven Snowmobile Ride for Charity.

Craven led his frostbitten followers on a 50-mile ride through the wintry Maine countryside, before making presentations totaling more than $110,000 to the ride's official charities. In its history, the ride has raised more than 1.25 million dollars for a variety of outstanding charitable causes, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Children's Miracle Network, and a cause especially close to both Ricky and my hearts, the Travis Roy Foundation.

You can check out the official website of the Ricky Craven Snowmobile Ride For Charity HERE, and you can learn more about the Travis Roy Foundation HERE.

Check Out The New 2007 Race Cars!

Friday, January 26, 2007

North Wilkesboro For Sale

There’s good news and bad news for fans of North Wilkesboro Speedway this week.

Speedway Motorsports Incorporated CEO Bruton Smith and New Hampshire International Speedway owner Bob Bahre -- each of whom own a half-interest in North Wilkesboro -- have signed a deal with a real estate company to negotiate the sale of the track. However, Smith said today that does not necessarily mean the track may be reopened.

Smith said of the potential buyers, “I don't think they're looking at it for racing, but for other events like a major national fiddlers' convention. I hope the buyer is successful in whatever he wishes to do. We'll have to wait and see.”

Smith and Bahre bought North Wilkesboro a decade ago, moving its two NASCAR Nextel Cup Series races to their own tracks. A group called Save The Speedway failed to interest investors in a plan to purchase and reopen the track three years ago, but continues to attempt to raise money for a North Wilkesboro Speedway Monument, to be placed in a public park near the speedway in Wilkes County, North Carolina.

The track held its final race on September 29, 1996, but remains in reasonably good condition. If you’re interested, the price tag is reportedly set at $12 million.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Harvick Slams Teresa, Junior To The Defense

Kevin Harvick says he feels sorry for Dale Earnhardt Jr., calling Earnhardt’s team owner and stepmother, Teresa Earnhardt, a “deadbeat owner” who doesn’t care about her team.

During Richard Childress Racing’s portion of the annual NASCAR Media Tour yesterday in Charlotte, NC, Harvick blasted Teresa Earnhardt, saying, "It's hard when you have what I call a deadbeat owner that doesn't come to the racetrack. You always see Richard Childress. You always see Chip Ganassi. All these owners, they all come to the racetrack. It's not just a money pit that somebody says, 'Well, I can make money off of Dale Jr. I can make money off of Dale Earnhardt.'

"You have to be at the racetrack, you have to play the politics of the sport, you have to be a part of your team and you have to understand what's going on," Harvick said. "To me, from the outside looking in, it doesn't look like that's happening (at DEI). It's pretty obvious she's not around, and not at the racetrack. It doesn't seem she cares about it as much as some of the other owners do."

Harvick is hardly the first to criticize Teresa Earnhardt for her lack of visability in the Nextel Cup garage. No less than seven-time champion Richard Petty called her an "absentee owner" a few years ago. But just days after admitting that their relationship "ain't a bed of roses," Earnhardt, Jr., came to his stepmother’s defense, calling Harvick’s assessment "ridiculous.

"You're killing me," said a clearly uncomfortable Earnhardt. "I don't think there is a comment for that remark."

He said Teresa Earnhardt has had much to deal with since her husband’s death on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, adding, "with everything that's happened -- not just to the company, but to the family over the past five years -- she's had a full plate. The things that she's responsible for are very important. For a long time, the battle with [my father’s] autopsy photos, all those things, that's just the tip of the iceberg of things that she's been responsible for. That's probably been one reason why she hasn't been as visible at the racetrack. But she's taking care of things that are much [more] important."

For his part, Childress refused to be drawn into the debate over Teresa Earnhardt’s absence from the racetracks, electing instead to praise her widely acknowledged business acumen. "She's a really good businesslady," Childress said. "It's tough for women in this business. For her…to be able to do what she's done since 2001, she's done a phenomenal job.

"She's in a tough position. I think she's done well with it."

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

First Look At Rudd's New Ride

Here's a look at Ricky Rudd's Snickers-sponsored Robert Yates Racing Ford, courtesy of our friends at

Nobody Asked Me, But...

It’s second nature to second-guess.

Almost from birth, we begin cultivating our own unique view of the world, with us at its geographical center. As young children, we are blessed with a degree of wisdom beyond that of our more knowledgeable, insightful and experienced elders. By the time adolescence hits, we have evolved into the most intelligent beings in the cosmos. And by young adulthood, most of us are thoroughly convinced that we could run the show much better than the people currently in charge.

Parents? Morons.

Politicians? Windbags.

Bosses? Don’t get me started.

We’re full-grown these days, but the passage of time has not dulled our inherent desire to second-guess. From the War in Iraq to the new “Chase For The Championship” points system, we’ve all got a better way of doing things. That’s why you can tune into Sirius NASCAR Radio at 7 a.m. for “The Morning Drive,” stay tuned through “The Driver’s Seat” at noon, and roll right through the 7 p.m. conclusion of “Sirius Speedway” without a single lull in the torrent of second-guessing, fine-tuning and better ideas.

Ed in Idaho thinks the five-point winner’s bonus should have been 10. Andy in Michigan says 20 would have been better.

Sean in Kentucky thinks 12 Chase drivers is too many, while Shirley in Connecticut thinks 13 sounds about right.

David Poole thinks the whole idea is crazy. Dave Moody thinks its great. Kernan? He’s somewhere in the middle. But one thing’s for sure; every one of us has devised a failsafe scenario that could have fixed this sport -- once and for all -- if only someone in Daytona Beach had cared enough to call and ask for our opinion.

I’m not complaining about the complaining. After all, if it weren’t for all the “better ideas” floating around out there, it would have been a long, cold and stultifyingly dull off-season. Second-guessing NASCAR’s every move serves an important purpose; giving millions of fans (and the occasional talkshow host) something to do until the season starts and we can get back to the real business at hand; second-guessing drivers and crewchiefs.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Hamilton, Jr., Lashes Out At BHR

Bobby Hamilton Jr. delivered some scathing criticism of his late father’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team yesterday here at Daytona International Speedway. In his first major public comments since the death of his father on January 7, Hamilton said he is unhappy with the present state of Bobby Hamilton Racing, adding, “I have washed my hands (of the team) and dried them.”

Hamilton replaced his father at the wheel of BHR’s Fastenal Dodge last season, after the elder Hamilton stepped down to begin his unsuccessful battle with head and neck cancer. Hamilton, Jr., said yesterday that he quickly realized things were not what they should be at BHR, causing him to second-guess his decision to return.

"Our leader wasn't around. He was sick, he wasn't up to par," he said. "It was almost like the Titanic, and I was looking for a lifeboat. It’s the not the way he set things up to be. It’s not the way he was running it. You can see that in his absence, things have started to fall apart."

While declining to criticise andyone by name, Hamilton said “recent additions” to the team have led BHR astray. “They’re sinking it, and I just can’t be part of that. There’s people involved in it now that I just don’t like, period. I don’t like how it was run (last season), and I don’t like where it’s going. It can run with its own money. As long as they have racing money, I’ll pat them on the back all day long. (But) you ain’t getting into mine.

He said he expressed his concerns to his father, and also addressed the public perception that BHR should be his one day.

“He patted me on the back and said, `Your name is my legacy. Winning races is what I need you to do.’ When I informed him that I wasn't really happy with the way things were going, he said, `it's not that important.' He said, 'I won my championship. I did what I wanted to do. At the end of the rainbow, it's your deal. You do what you want with it.'

“That's what I'm trying to do,” said Hamilton, Jr. “With everything going on down there, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I washed my hands and dried them. I'm done."

In a written statement earlier today, spokesmen for BHR said, “We at Bobby Hamilton Racing are continuing operations with a team of people hand-selected by Bobby Hamilton, Sr. This is the same team of people who helped Bobby win his NCTS championship title in 2004. We have so many members of the NASCAR, Fastenal and Dodge family -- as well as personal friends and family members -- who have confidence in Bobby Hamilton Racing's success in 2007 and beyond. We wish that same success to Bobby Jr.”

Friday, January 12, 2007

Answering Those Listener E-Mails

I receive a surprising number of e-mails from our listeners each day. They write to compliment us on the show, to suggest future topics and guests, or to sign-up for the occasional free t-shirt. Some ask questions about NASCAR racing, and express their views on what's happening in the sport. I respond to most of those e-mails personally. Not all of them, but as many as I can within the boundaries of time and sanity.

Once in a while, I read an especially poignant e-mail on the show; one that broaches a new topic, or offers an especially interesting point of view. That was the case yesterday, when I spent a segment of the show responding to a pair of e-mails from David in Arizona and Mike in Florida.

David offered his opinion on the possibility of Richard Childress Racing losing its Cingular Wireless sponsorship, when the Cingular brand disappears as part of a merger with AT&T. He wrote, “Shouldn't it be mentioned that Winston did the exact same thing Nextel is doing now with other tobacco companies? The fact is, they banned all competition and the only loophole was "smokeless tobacco.” As much as I enjoy seeing the Cingular car, Bellsouth and AT&T merged. Why should Nextel bend their rules as a result?

The short answer, David, is that they shouldn’t. Cingular, BellSouth and AT&T are intimately familiar with the terms of Nextel’s current sponsorship contract, and how it affects them. If they choose to kill the Cingular brand, they will do so with the full knowledge that it means the end of their sponsorship with RCR. It’s their call, so to speak.

Mike, meanwhile, weighed-in with his opinion on what some people like to call "censorship" on Sirius NASCAR Radio. Before getting to his comments, however, a bit of background information may be helpful.

Despite not being subject to FCC supervision, Sirius Satellite Radio will air NASCAR race broadcasts this season with a brief audio delay, allowing "blue language" to be edited out, when necessary. There are two reasons for this. First both MRN and PRN include delays in their broadcasts, to protect their terrestrial affiliates from possible FCC sanctions. It would be extremely costly (not to mention unnecessary) for the networks to provide two different race feeds each weekend; one delayed and one not. Second, the powers-that-be here at Sirius want Sirius NASCAR Radio to be family friendly. While some parents don't mind their kids hearing the occasional "F-bomb," many others do. We want everyone to be able to listen to Sirius NASCAR Radio, without worrying about an inappropriate comment slipping through.

With that said, Mike In Florida wrote, "The problem with that people are making decisions as to what I can and cannot hear. Last I checked, the constitution guarantees me freedom of speech. That overrides what the moral majority in this country deems as offensive. Last I checked, every Sirius radio has a channel changing knob. Someone saying, 'that language offends me, so no one should get to hear it' means the wants of the few are being catered to, instead of the wants of the many."

While Mike also said that he believes Sirius has the right to do anything it wants with its broadcasts, his concerns are valid, and shared by many in the satellite radio community.

Mike is correct when he says the United States Constitution guarantees freedom of speech. Doing what I do for a living, that’s a portion of the Constitution that I care very deeply about. There are limits to free speech, however, like the classic example of not being able to yell, “fire” in a crowded movie theatre.

Unfortunately, Mike confuses the right to say anything he wants with the right to say anything he wants on the radio. Those are two very different things. Our elected officials have passed very specific laws regulating what can be said on the public airwaves, and they have done so based on what they believe to be the wishes of the majority. If you disagree, I encourage you to take it up with your respective Congressman or Senator.

And finally, while the United State Constitution guarantees us the right to say whatever we want, it does not give us the right to HEAR whatever we want. Simply put, you do not have a constitutional right to hear someone swear on Sirius NASCAR Radio. It is OUR choice whether or not to broadcast those words, and we choose not to.

My e-mails tell me that for every person upset about "censorship," there are dozens who appreciate not being subjected to rough language during our talkshows and race broadcasts.

Thanks for writing in, everyone, and for listening.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Our Link Of The Day

Here's a bandwagon that everyone should jump on, in memory of Bobby Hamilton:

Time For Teresa To Step Up

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. said yesterday that his strained relationship with stepmother Teresa Earnhardt could be a stumbling block in his effort to sign a new contract with Dale Earnhardt, Inc.

Earnhardt Jr.'s contract expires at the end of this season, and comments last month to the Wall Street Journal by Teresa Earnhardt indicated a lack of confidence in her stepson’s commitment to winning a NASCAR Nextel Cup championship. In her words, "Right now, the ball's in his court to decide on whether he wants to be a NASCAR driver or whether he wants to be a public personality."

Junior responded to that criticism for the first time yesterday, saying, “Teresa might have been having a bad day or something when she said that. I really don't know where that was coming from. I tried and tried not to comment on it. I was trying not to get involved, but I really didn't appreciate it, whether she was taken out of context or not.

“Everybody has always wondered exactly what my dedication level was, and how passionate about driving I was. This last season I feel like (my determination) was equal to anybody in the sport. I finally got to that level where it matters to me as much as anybody else."

Earnhardt defended his high-profile public image, as well, saying, “I think it’s important to be well liked and marketable. It's any owner's dream to have a driver that has succeeded.”

He also focused the “lack of commitment” crosshairs back on his stepmother, questioning her attention to the racing side of DEI. "When you go into her office, there are stacks of paper, and most of it is dealing with my father and whatever they're doing with his name and whatnot,” he said. “We don't have a lot of sit-downs about racing and the team and ownership and stuff, because that's not at the top of her list."

While making it clear that he hopes to hammer out a new contract with DEI, Earnhardt said one of the key negotiating points will be his future ownership of the team. "I want to be very involved in the company,” he said. “Aside from [DEI], I have no interest in ownership."

In order for him to own a portion of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., Teresa Earnhardt will have to relinquish partial control, something she has been extremely reluctant to do in the past.

“There are things involving the company that I want (in) the future, and it's very difficult for everybody to see eye to eye there,“ said Earnhardt, Jr. “I want to be very involved in the company, (and) I've got to do what I've got to do. The JR Motorsports program is hopefully going to be very successful in the Busch Series, (but) I don't know whether the Cup Series is something I want to involve that company in. That's quite a responsibility, and I personally don't want to put up with it. That's not in my makeup. It’s not in my chemistry to run a three-car team in the Cup Series. The only way I see myself being a Cup (owner) is at DEI.

Me and my sister…learned over the last couple of years that we have to do a better job on our end to make a contract as favorable as possible,” he said. “That had nothing to do with money. It had a lot to do with the future. I don't want to come here if I can't compete well, and run well. I want the best. I want the best cars, and I want the best people. We see other companies… doing what it takes and making the right moves, and I want to be in the same situation. I know I'm a good enough racecar driver, and I deserve it.

“We're just trying to get it all settled, and make it right.”

An important part of that negotiation will be improving the relationship between driver and owner. Clearly, there is much work to be done.

“My relationship with the car owner is definitely going to be a factor in my decision,“ said Earnhardt yesterday. “I haven't talked to Teresa about what she said (in the Wall Street Journal). I figured if anything needed to be said, she'd call me up and say it. But you know, (our) relationship will definitely factor into my decision."

Earnhardt called the relationship between he and his stepmother merely “cordial” adding, “I don't want to get too personal, but Teresa is my stepmother, and I have a mother at home that I have a very good relationship with. Mine and Teresa's relationship has always been very black and white, very strict and in your face. It is what it is. It ain't a bed of roses.

“The relationship that we have today is the same relationship we had when I was six years old (and) moved into that house with Dad and her. It's always been the same. It hasn't gotten worse over the last couple years. The way I felt about her then is the way I feel about her now.”

Teresa Earnhardt has not commented publicly since her Wall Street Journal interview. DEI Director of Motorsports Richie Gilmore said this week that he believes her remarks were taken out of context, saying, “Our main focus, every time we talk to Teresa, (is that) she wants Junior back. That's what's best for the company, that's what's best for Junior and that's what's best for DEI."

Junior clearly is not convinced.

“I don't know if what Richie said is exactly the case,” he said yesterday. “Teresa didn't come to the last meeting several months ago, and…a couple of months ago, Teresa decided that it was best …that these other two guys (DEI legal counsel Chad Walper and third-party representative Peter Smith) do the negotiating.”

Not exactly an ideal way to warm-up an icy relationship.

Earnhardt, Jr., says his list of demands is fairly simple. “I want to drive races and win championships, and hang it up one day and not have to worry about whether I have enough money in my retirement fund,” he said. “Just don't make everything a hassle, don't make everything a pain, and you'll have my dedication and everything else you need as far as a driver goes.”

Teresa Earnhardt may have fired the first salvo, but the ball is now unquestionably in her court. If she’s indeed the astute businesswomen she is widely acknowledged to be, she’ll sit down face-to-face with her stepson and prized employee, setting the record straight and giving him the ownership share in DEI that her late husband intended. She’ll give him the attention and support he needs to win races and championships in the years to come, and she’ll accept the fact that as a star driver on NASCAR’s top circuit (not to mention the son of its greatest fallen champion), he does not have the option of becoming the semi-recluse she has apparently chosen to be.

Words like “dedication” and “commitment” carry a lot of weight in this sport. They also cut both ways.

Monday, January 08, 2007

So Long, Bobby

Bobby Hamilton is gone.

I’ve said it to myself a thousand times in the last few minutes, and I still can’t make it sound right.

The 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion lost his battle with cancer Sunday afternoon, and the news of his passing at age 49 rocked the tight-knit NASCAR community to its core.

Bobby Hamilton, the toughest sonofabitch I ever met. The guy who quit school and left home at age 13 to live on the mean streets of Nashville, fending for himself and fighting his way to the very pinnacle of NASCAR racing. Bobby Hamilton, beaten by cancer. It just doesn’t seem right.

We hadn‘t heard much from Bobby in recent weeks. The easy explanation was that ongoing radiation treatments had left his throat too sore to talk. We know now that it was much worse than that.

It was less than 10 months ago -- March 17, 2006 -- when he announced that he had been diagnosed with head and neck cancer. Typically, he ran the Craftsman Truck Series race that night, before stepping down to begin therapy the following Monday.

"It's called head-and-neck cancer,” he said. “I don't have anything wrong with my head, but Kenny Schrader said a lot of people would doubt that.”

He had a tumor removed from his neck on February 8, and underwent aggressive radiation and chemotherapy at Vanderbilt Medical Center. From the outset, Hamilton talked like the fighter he was, saying, “I have always been sort of a survivor. I was on the street when I was 13-years old, and eventually got a chance to race with the best racecar drivers in the world.

“I am not quitting,” he said. “I am not that damn weak."

His son, Bobby Jr., returned home to drive the No. 18 Bobby Hamilton Racing Dodge last season, easing his father’s mind and allowing him to focus completely on his recovery. Unfortunately, it was not enough. Perhaps we should have known, when Hamilton failed to attend a number of races in the second half of the season. He had warned us earlier, saying, “I am going to have to be in bad shape not to be there. I feel out of place if I am not around it. It is going to have to be about death for me not to be there.”

Even with that, though, nobody imagined this as the final outcome.

Not now. Not this. Not Bobby Hamilton.

In the days that follow, there will be a lot of statistics thrown around about Bobby’s career; 1991 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year, four NASCAR Cup Series wins, over 100 top-10 Truck finishes and the 2004 Championship. They’re all true, but they don’t come close to telling the real story of Bobby Hamilton. They say nothing of the “tell-it-like-it-is-and-damn-the-consequences” personality, the quick smile and hearty laugh that combined so easily with rotweiller toughness and pit bull determination.

He was tougher than a barrel full of hammers, and if anyone could have beaten head and neck cancer, I thought it would be him. Bobby Hamilton against a speeding locomotive would have seemed like a mismatch, in favor of Hamilton. Bobby against cancer? I almost felt sorry for the tumor.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. We all were.

Bobby Hamilton is gone, and the racing world is diminished without him. I can't imagine going through SpeedWeek in Daytona next month without spending a few minutes leaning on the tailgate of his #18 Fastenal Dodge, talking racing, family, and anything else that comes to mind.

All that’s left now is to pray for Bobby, Jr., Stephanie, grandbaby Haylie and new wife Lori. Pray that God will bless them in the difficult days ahead with just a small fraction of the strength Big Bobby displayed every day of his life.

He promised not to quit, saying he was "not that damn weak." He never did, right to the end.

Rest in peace, Bobby.

Remembering Bobby Hamilton

Thursday, January 04, 2007

"Cool Runnings" In NASCAR-land

1966 NASCAR Grand National Rookie of the Year James Hylton announced this week that he will attempt to qualify for the 2007 Daytona 500, driving a #58 Chevrolet built and prepared by Richard Childress Racing, complete with Childress horsepower.

Hylton's attempt to qualify for "The Great American Race" will certainly rank as one of the top human interest stories of SpeedWeek 2007. Hylton is NASCAR's version of the Jamaican National Bobsled Team; the hopelessly outclassed group of dreadlocked dreamers that captured the hearts of the world in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. We all love an underdog, and there's a special place in our hearts for dreamers, as well. But the presence of a 72-year old man in one of the "Gatorade Duel 150" fields also raises some legitimate questions.

Hylton's credentials are beyond reproach. During his five-decade career, he amassed 140 top-five and 301 top-10 finishes at the Grand National (now Nextel Cup) level. He finished second in points in 1966, 1967 and 1971, won the 1970 Richmond 400 and 1972 Talladega 500, and earned four pole positions. In his prime, James Harvey Hylton was an outstanding racer. Unfortunately, his prime was more than 30 years ago.

Hylton has certainly not been whiling away his Golden Years in a rocking chair on the front porch. He has raced on the ARCA ReMax Series in recent seasons, finishing 18th in points last year, running 16 of 23 races. He made a single start on the NASCAR Busch Series, as well, retiring after just four laps en route to a 40th place finish at the Milwaukee Mile.

Hylton has competed in 16 Daytona 500s, with a best career finish of third in 1967. Asked why he wants to race in this year's edition, he said, "I have never been able to come to Daytona with a well-financed operation and a first-rate car. And even though it has taken over 40 years, I am finally in that position. At my age, the odds against me are astronomical, but it’s a challenge, and I love a good challenge.”

It will certainly be that.

NASCAR has stringent guidelines concerning who it allows to race on superspeedways like Daytona and Talladega. The sanctioning body requires drivers to prove their ability on shorter ovals before giving them clearance to run the big tracks, and drivers younger than 18 years of age need not apply, regardless. But what about a 72-year old driver who passed his rookie test when Fonty Flock was an up-and-comer? How is NASCAR supposed to handle this?

Most likely, they'll do nothing. In truth, there's probably little they can do. Dozens of drivers have competed well into their fifties, some of them with great success. In 1989, Dick Trickle was named Nextel Cup Rookie of the Year at age 48, and nobody worried about his skills. Obviously, there's a difference between 48 and 72, but NASCAR has never parked a driver for being too old and too slow before.

It's doubtful they'll start now.

NASCAR's best-case scenario is that Hylton will give a few feel-good interviews to the national media, then go out and run last in his qualifier, just like the boys in "Cool Runnings." The worst-case scenario?

Let's not even think about that.

Monday, January 01, 2007

So Long, Marty

As most of you have heard by now, Marty Hough has left his position as producer of Sirius Speedway to take a new position within the MRN Radio organization.

Your first reaction, like ours, was probably one of sadness. After all, Marty has been an integral part of our radio family since Day One, and his hard work and dedication played a major role in making Sirius Speedway the qualified success that it is today. He is excited about the move, though, since part of his new job will be to get back on the road (and back to the track) as a live-event producer for MRN.

That’s great news for Marty, and while we’re sad to lose him, we’re happy that he’s happy.

Ryan Horn will step-in to fill the considerable void left by Marty’s departure, and we couldn’t be more excited to have him. I personally feel like we have replaced Johnny Unitas with Dan Marino; swapping one All-Pro for another. Ryan will do great things for the show, and you’re going to like him a lot. I promise.

For now, though, we’ll simply say, “Thanks Marty, and best wishes.” You will be missed.

Another One Bites The Dust: Burney Lamar tied the knot last Wednesday, marrying supermodel Niki Taylor in front of 60 guests at the Grande Colonial Hotel in San Diego. Taylor, 31, and Lamar, 26, met at a charity event in January of this year, according to Taylor, who told US Weekly, “I looked at Burney and said to myself, 'This is the guy I'm going to marry.'"

This is the second marriage for Taylor -- who has twin 11-year-old boys from her previous marriage to former football player Matt Martinez -- and the first for Lamar. The betrothal continues a recent trend that bodes extremely well for all unattached NASCAR drivers. First Jeff Gordon married supermodel Ingrid Vandebosch, and now Lamar lands Taylor.

Can Jon Wood and Brendan Gaughan be far behind?

Hopefully, Lamar’s on-track fortunes will take a turn for the better, as well. He made 29 starts last season as a Busch Series rookie with Kevin Harvick Incorporated, recording one top-five and three top-10 finishes before being replaced near the end of the season.

Another Strong Argument For Less Government In Our Lives: The Federal Election Commission announced last Tuesday that it sent what it called an “admonishment letter” to Kirk Shelmerdine Racing in 2004, after team owner Kirk Shelmerdine placed a “Bush-Cheney `04" campaign decal on the rear quarterpanel of his racecar.

Democratic activist Sydnor Thompson complained to the FEC, and the agency found that Shelmerdine, “may have made an unreported independent expenditure or a prohibited corporate expenditure.”

Former FEC commissioner Bradley Smith, who voted against sending the letter, wrote about the decision in an internet blog last week, arguing that Shelmerdine’s decal did not exceed the $250 value limit imposed by the FEC. In his words, “evidence is strong that the market value of Shelmerdine’s rear quarterpanel was approximately $0, give or take $249.”

One can only hope that after receiving his “admonishment,” Shelmerdine sent a letter of his own to the FEC, inviting them to kiss his butt. There were literally thousands of campaign bumper stickers plastered to cars during the 2004 election; each of them perfectly legal. The only thing that made Shelmerdine’s sticker different was its size, and the speed of the car.