Cars 'n' Stars: CART Driver Carpentier Crashes at Road America test, BMW Debuts New Head Air Bag, U.S. Team Places Fifth in Camel Trophy Mongolia Grind

2 July 1997

Canadian driving sensation, Patrick Carpentier, the guy who almost won his first CART race at St. Louis a few weeks ago, backed his Alumax/Reynard/Mercedes into the inside wall at turn one Road America Elkhart Lake's finicky right hander. He bruised the car but not his bod. Goodyear tire tests were being conducted prior to heading for the Cleveland Grand Prix at Burke Lake Front airport on July 13. The Tony Bettenhausen Alumax team logged nearly 300 test miles on the 4 mile 14 turn road course nestled in the Kettle Moraine valley of Wisconsin.

Slated to be standard equipment on the 1998 BMW series sedans BMW is going all out with development of its new HPS (Head Protection System), which is aimed at reducing side impact head injuries by 80%. Upon impact, the elongated cigar shaped bag deploys in a micro-second to offer head protection to driver and passenger. The 7 series BMW line is shaping up to be the safest car on the market, as it offers eight restraint systems: 2 front bags, 2 head bags, and 4 torso side bags. Find out more about this on BMW home page http://www.bmwusa.com.

The big Mongolian Range Rover Camel Trophy shootout has been completed, and the winner is . . . Team Austria, represented by Stefan Auer and Albrecht Thausing. Twenty well-trained teams from around the world, after going through months of rigorous training, drove identical Land Rovers 1,500 miles through Central Mongolia, encountering only 600 miles of paved road. The U.S. team, Doug Mays and Chris vanNest finished in fifth place. The trek went from snow and ice country to blazing sand and sun.

As stated on The Auto Channel yesterday, the Tustin, CA Thunder Vintage Car races are shaping up to be a very big weekend of racing. We forgot to say which weekend, however. It's August 1-3, and it's getting close.

MCI Racing has announced that Chris Smith, former winner of the Toyota Atlantic championship, will be driving their entry in the Atlantic races at Cleveland and Toronto. The Atlantics is a companion race to the CART event at Cleveland, as is the Indy Lights race which Hideki Noda won at Portland. Some say it saved his career, which was about to take a dump. He'll be around for awhile.

The Arie Luyendyck IRL win at Pikes Peak last week was the fifth straight for the Aurora engine. Big deal, 8 of 10 motors are Oldsmobiles. Great odds. 38,000 spectators witnessed the race.

Paul Tracy ran laps at 230mph at the new California Speedway in testing last week. Greg Moore had a trap speed of 234mph. Gil De Ferran ran a 227 mph lap. All drivers agreed it will be a two-groove track. Maybe there'll be room for a threesome at some points.

The 1997 Dodge Stratus with its "cab forward" design is really doing well in the mix in Chrysler car sales. With a base price of $16,785, it's a lotta car for the dollar: 24 valve V6, automatic gear box, air, power, and a bunch of goodies including cruise control.

The points spread in NHRA racing shows:

Top Fuel Gary Scelzi 1057
Joe Amato 862

Funny Car
John Force 856
Cruz Pedregon 668

Pro Stock
Warren Johnson 923
Jim Yates 943

The Fireworks 250 SCORE Barstow (hotter than hell) race takes place July 12, and Ivan "Iron Man" Stewart will pilot the new Toyota V8 T100 truck in the event. He won the Baja 500 overall in the newly developed truck and says it's a blast.

Honda will put an exhibit in the new Motorcycle Heritage Museum in Westerville, OH. It will show the evolution of Honda bikes in the U.S.

A $million to win drag race has been announced at Jegs High Performance, and Huntsville Dragway, Alabama will host the worlds richest drag race. It will take place October 11 and the entry is $2,000. The winner will receive about $200,000 and 500 entries are expected.

Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel

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