Cars n' Stars: QB Elway to Race at Long Beach, Chrysler Sales Soar, IROC Field Complete, Gregg Moore Fastest In CART.
12 February 1998
One of the highlights of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 3-5, is the Toyota Celebrity race on the Saturday prior to the final practice for the Sunday FedEx championship 200 miler. In the past 20 years EVERYONE has competed in the celeb event, Hackman, Eastwood, Gurney, Parnelli, and top sports stars. In recent years, just about every bopper hearthrob appearing on the nightime soaps. The 15 lap sprint for this April's charity bash will have as its headline/Marquee attraction none other than Super Bowl hero and long time football superstar, John Elway of the Denver Broncos. Joining the man with the golden arm will be last year's winner Sean Patrick Flanery, teen Top Fuel drag racer, Cristen Powell, and actor Teve Guttenberg-- all will be tutored by long time celeb house father, Danny McKeever. Stay tuned for the full field, including what pro racers are selected. Chrysler Corp may have had a mediocre fourth quarter for 1997, but they started 1998 with a bang: the new Dodge Durango hit a receptive market as 9,167 were sold. MOPAR is looking at a 2% sales increase. Honda reports its truck sales have doubled since last year. Some of the NASCAR drivers who have been selected to compete in the four-race International Race Of Champions (IROC) for 1998 were testing at Daytona International Speedway this week, and are reporting the new 1998 Pontiac Firebird is--due to a new nose job--fantastic on the high banks and really sticks. Trans Am winner Tommy Kendall, who can't seem to land a ride anywhere (he even dyed his hair back from blond to au natural brown), will be in the field, as will Dale Earnhardt, Terry LaBonte and Randy LaJoie. CART Spring Training at Homestead, FL saw gusts of wind attaining 36 mph, but the FedEx championship drivers drove right into it. When the day came to an end, Canadian Gregg Moore had posted fast time of 206.186 mph. Finland's J.J. Lehto, driving his first oval for Carl Hogan, ran an impressive 201.748 mph. Jimmy Vasser had a 201.234, and rookie Tony Kanaan from Indy Lights posted a run of slightly over 200. Michael Andretti, who appeared in prime time network TV turkey The Pretender last Saturday, had a run of 202.406. Defending CART champ Alex Zanardi ran 199.735. In more big CART news emanating from Homestead, two of auto racing's best known names made an announcement that they will be teaming up. Emerson Fittipaldi and Tony Bettenhausen, son of an American open wheel racing legend, have signed a working arrangement to band together and expand the Alumax team. Fittipaldi who retired last year after a few bad accidents--one on the race track and one in an ultralight airplane--will coach countryman Helio Castro Neves and act as goodwill ambassador for the team. The Specialty Equipment Marketing Association will stage its first ever Import Auto Salon at the Fairplex in Pomona, CA, Feb 20-22. For info contact 909 396 0289 X103 The Vintage Auto Racing Association kicks off their 1998 season at Phoenix International, Raceway Feb 20-22, and will give the tam and tassel set a chance to drive the "banks" of a real race track. Gone from the VARA schedule are two fun events, Pomona/Fairplex and Tustin Thunder in July at the Marine base in Tustin, CA. There are rumors, however, that the latter may still take place. Speed King Kenny Bernstein may have been eliminated in the semi-finals of the NHRA Winternationals last weekend, but he did turn the fastest terminal speed of the weekend with a pass of 320.74 mph Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel