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Motor Sports


by Larry Roberts

December 26, 1997

Unfortunately, the holiday gift-giving season for '97 has already passed. All the presents have been unwrapped, oohed and aahed over and a great many of them have been returned to the department stores from whence they came, to be returned for the correct color and/or fit or for a simple cash refund.

But for true race fans, those Yuletide presents are never really "right" since they don't reflect the true depth of devotion that they have for "their" sport or for "their" stars. If friends and relations only understood, they would have little trouble finding the right gift since they'd only need to know the name of the favored driver, the racing series that driver is engaged in and what kind of vehicle he's piloting. From then on, it would only be necessary to check the classified advertising in the back of "On Track," "AutoWeek," and "NASCAR" magazines for appropriate memorabilia..

I think that you Formula One fans have the most widespread collection of "stuff" available to satisfy your addiction - as long as you have the capital to indulge your whims. The current issue of "AutoWeek" has a small display ad in the back pages for 1/12th scale model of the Michael Schumacher's '96 Italian Grand Prix winning Ferrari F310/2 for $175, but for those who prefer more home-grown heros, Buddy Lazier's '96 Indianapolis winning Raynard is available for only $50. To check out what else is available through Famous Die Cast Collectibles, call 1-800-696-0866.

But Schumacher is old stuff now and artist Randy Owens is offering copies of his original serigraph of current World Champ Jacques Villeneuve at speed in his Williams. The 145 planned copies will be autographed by the young Canadian Flash himself and they must be expensive since there's no price listed. To find out how much they cost, you'll have to call Owens at 1-800-769-1677.

There's even more hands-on Formula One memorabilia available from the classified section of "On Track." JMJ Automobilia has a collection of the actual helmets used by the greats, authentic uniforms that have been worn by Grand Prix crew members, and all kinds of authentic Grand Prix team items. JMJ doesn't have a toll-free number but they'll send you a free catalog if you call 1-609-275-5174. Grand Prix Direct will send you a Formula One catalog apparel catalog too if you call them at 1-800-238-0026.

But no racing organization caters to the cravings of its fans like NASCAR. You NASCAR enthusiasts can not only buy apparel that centers around Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt or Mark Martin from the back pages of NASCAR magazine, but if you call 1-800-946-2722, you can sign up for a NASCAR-licensed MasterCard with the photo of your favorite driver on it. That way you'll be reminded of his exploits every time you buy something and put it on plastic.

But you race fans know that it doesn't matter how many Saturday nights or Sunday mornings you put in seated in front of the TV to watch a replay of the Grand Prix of Spain at Jerez or the special NASCAR Winston Cup road race at the Suzuka track in Japan. They simply won't get it.

Maybe in the long run, you'd be better off buying the racing items that interest you yourself and forget about education those around you. You'll only wind up with the same old gift ties, socks and shirts anyway.