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Cars 'n' Stars: Rambo/Rocky Balboa Heads For F-1; Chrysler Does It Big In Vintage Race Sponsoring; Plymouth Prowler Hits L.A.

28 July 1997

Sylvester Stallone has just purchased the rights to produce a movie about Formula One racing from his Majesty Bernie Ecclestone. A big screen, big budget flick will start production in 1998 and may have something to do with Bernie trying to find a venue for a U.S. grand prix.

Chrylser Corp feels that the vintage racing enthusiast is a good MOPAR prospect, so it has arranged to become title sponsor of several prominent vintage car race weekends and classic car auctions in 1997. Starting with Tustin Thunder next weekend in Tustin, California, Chrysler will be a part of the Monterey Historics, California Mille miglia, Wine Country classic, Meadowbrooke Concours, and the great Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, August 17.

They certainly are not asleep at Chrysler--while all of the above is shaping up, the company will debut the new Plymouth Prowler to the press July 29 to kick off the first six L.A. deliveries of the exotic retro-roadster.

There will be another Can Am reunion at Watkins Glen Sept. 5-7 as part of the Zippo U.S. Vintage Grand prix weekend and at least two dozen ground pounders are expected to compete.

IRL standout Tony Stewart is showing he has some of that old Parnelli Jones/Mario Andretti/A.J. Foyt versatility: he won the feature race for USAC midgets at Beaver Dam, WI last week.

FF2000 is looking like a pretty viable USAC race series as the eighth driver in eight races won last weekend at Charlotte when Ryan Hampton brought his Van Diemen Ford home first in the 48 mile featch. The Glendora, Ca chauffeur beat Matt Sielsky, Indianapolis, by less than three seconds.

In IRL action only one Infiniti motor made it to the grid at Charlotte, and Dr. Jack Miller went out early and left the race to Olds powered G-Force and Dallara racers. Now comes the highly successful Riley and Scott race car building operation and they will debut their new IRL chassis at the August 17 New Hampshire 200 mile race. Add Tony Stewart: He will try a Joe Gibbs stock car at IRP next weekend in the Kroger 200.

Lola Cars has really taken a dump this year. U.S. distributor Carl Haas bailed out, and the new chassis can't hack it in CART racing, as the few teams that purchased the once respected Lola tubs have thrown them away and gone to Reynard. Lola tried to field a F-1 team and couldn't raise the money. Now they've reorganized, and founder Eric Broadley is OUT.

Michigan 500 winner Alex (Zig Zag) Zanardi says that some race tracks have to do some reflecting on how they have been laid out as there are too few passing zones. "Give us passing areas and we'll give you a show," says Alex. He said Elkhart Lake Road America needs more runoff areas. He's right. Ask A.J. Foyt, who crashed big time at the end of turn one a few years ago, Turn 5 is OK, but Canada corner needs work.

Drag Racing teen age whiz, Christen Powell is running selected races this year. In 1998 when she is officially out of high school she will make an all out assualt on Top Fuel in NHRA. Even at that she has two wins to one over big time racer Kenny Bernstein for 1997. Something is brewing race track development-wise in the Chicago area. A bunch of Chi town polls visited Pecan last week for the NASCAR event, including George Ryan, Secy. of State and Peter Wurtz of the Chicago Blackhawk owning family.

Would you believe Hiro Matushita finished ninth at Michigan last Sunday? Surely his best racing day ever.

The poor Toyota powered cars have been down EXACTLY 10 mph in every race, and Michigan was no exception. Pruett's pole was 231 mph and Fangios was 221 mph.

The land speed record for electric cars currently stands at 183.822 mph, set by Clive Roberts in March, 1994. Now Ed Dempsey, President of World Record Performance Associates, WRPA, is putting a team together to try for 200 mph. He will hit the salt at Wendover, Utah August 16-22. Good luck.

BMW is now certifying used cars through their dealership network. They will be warranteed.

The Professional SportsCar Racing association has been active and Andy Wallace won the WSC class at Sears Point last week driving a Riley & Scott Ford. Second went to another R&S Ford with Fermin Velez Ferrari 333SP third. Doc Bundy driving a Panoz roaster won the Exxon Supreme GT class.

Bill Maloney The Auto Channel