Atlanta Motor Speedway plans to kick off its fall racing season with a Global Rallycross race Aug. 10.
The event will take place on a temporary course created inside the NASCAR speedway. It will consist of dirt and asphalt surfaces, drift turns, airborne jumps and water elements. Track president Ed Clark said he hopes the popularity of Rallycross racing with fans of ages 18-35 will help him draw new fans to the NASCAR races held at the track on Labor Day weekend.
The series features cars that are based on passenger vehicles but are highly customized.
Clark, a veteran Legends driver, took a Rally car ride with driver Tanner Faust this week and said the experience was a rush.
“They go zero to 60 [mph] in 1.9 seconds,” he said, adding that fans won’t have to wait until the closing laps of the race to see the intensity ratchet up. “It’ll be like stunt drivers out there racing against each other. From the green flag to the checkered they’ll be wide open.”
Visionary dies: Warner W. Hodgdon, the California industrialist who was a major player in NASCAR in the early 1980s, died Wednesday in San Bernardino, Calif., at age 80 after several weeks of declining health.
In his NASCAR days, Hodgdon was a part-owner of tracks in Nashville, Tenn.; Bristol, Tenn.; Phoenix, North Wilkesboro, N.C.; and Richmond, Va. He owned parts of two race teams, including Junior Johnson’s, and sponsored many a race and race team in the series now known as Sprint Cup.
Even though his NASCAR career unraveled rather quickly following problems that involved his off-track interests and he disappeared from the scene, he is remembered as a visionary by those who knew him.
“He was doing things 30 years ago like they’re done today,” said team owner Eddie Wood, whose family race team had sponsorship from Hodgdon in 1981 and 1982. “He had jets and helicopters. He was the first to use tractor-trailer transporters, and he had deals in the works to televise races at his tracks. He was so forward thinking, way ahead of his time.”
Funds drain Shepherd: The shrinking this year of the Nationwide Series starting field, from 43 cars to 40, worked against Morgan Shepherd, Danny Efland and Joey Gase at Bristol Motor Speedway. The three were at the track last weekend but did not qualify for the race under the new format.
For Shepherd, now 71, it was major setback. Posted on Shepherd’s Facebook page was the following message: “Just going to let everyone know that I do not know if or when we will be attending another race event in 2013 due to non-funding. We have given all the efforts every way we could (and) just can not go any longer. Sorry to disappoint. We have and are always looking for sponsors.”
Last year, Shepherd, a 15-time winner on NASCAR’s No. 2 circuit, ran 21 races and failed to qualify for 10 others. He also has four career Sprint Cup wins, but hasn’t raced in that series since 2006.
Georgians run in Opp: Kyle Benjamin, the 15-year-old Late Model racer from Easley, S.C., won the 37th annual Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway in Opp. Benjamin wrecked last year while contending for the win in the closing stages, but had a comparatively uneventful run this time. T.J. Reaid of Acworth, who was fourth, was the highest finishing Georgian. Anderson Bowen of Suwanee was seventh, and Mason Massey of Douglasville was 10th.
Weather worries: Wintry weather forecasts across the South for this weekend have led to the postponement of three World of Outlaws Late Model races, meaning local drivers such as Shane Clanton and Clint Smith won’t run the risk of towing their cars thousands of miles only to have races cancelled.
The affected races are at I-30 Speedway in Little Rock, Ark., Whynot Motorsports Park in Meridian, Miss., and Duck River Raceway Park in Wheel, Tenn.
The races will me made up later this season. The World of Outlaws is set to return to Georgia on May 3 at Lavonia Speedway before running the next night at Swainsboro Raceway.