MEDIA MATTERS: GEICO’s Morgan Lucas Lights Night with Brainerd Top Fuel Win

18 Aug

“It was a dark and stormy night . . . .” The oft-used sentence found in the opening of novels ended a long and stormy day at Brainerd International Raceway, Minnesota, as favorite son, Morgan Lucas, driving the GEICO / Lucas Oil dragster, won the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in a fiery, dramatic finals pairing.

The thrilling and dramatic Top Fuel final made ESPN's Top Ten Plays of the Day as No. 5.

The thrilling and dramatic Top Fuel final made ESPN’s Top Ten Plays of the Day as No. 5.

In epic drama, Lucas won a pedalfest for the ages with the tough points-leader Doug Kalitta driving the Mac Tools Dragster in the other lane. Kalitta jumps off the line with a slight advantage and the confidence that comes with having bested Lucas more times than not. He goes up in tire smoke quickly; then Lucas joins in the slick-fest. Both pedal numerous times when Kalitta’s dragster loses power coasting to the line.

Lucas crosses the finish on fire less than a car length ahead of Kalitta

Lucas crosses the finish on fire less than a car length ahead of Kalitta

Lucas explained, “It got out there and the car kind of broke the tires loose. I saw Doug poke out, but I knew he was having problems, so I kind of blipped it to straighten it out. I got it cracked a little bit open, and I rolled it back down all the way and got it out there. I knew it was hurt but it’s the final, you’re not going to leave anything on the table; you’re going to go for it.

In the darkness the engine let go with a brilliant fireball like all of the celebratory fireworks exploding at once. “Then it lit up, and that was actually kind of cool too because my second thought after ‘Hell yeah we just won’ was ‘Man, this is going to make for great TV.’ ”

In the pits, preparing to race at Brainerd

In the pits, preparing to race at Brainerd

The track announcer said the lead changed at least three times in a thrilling finish that set the startline crowd jumping and hugging in the excitement.

“I love the people there,” Lucas said. “It’s definitely the most fun you can have at a racetrack, and it’s the race I’ve always looked forward to the most on the schedule. Of course it’s a special race for our family and for Lucas Oil as a company, but the people who attend this race are the ones who make that happen for all of us.”

The beautiful GEICO dragster piloted by Richie Crampton captured a Countdown slot at Brainerd

The beautiful GEICO dragster piloted by Richie Crampton

“Of course, you have a great race facility and a really awesome track surface that lends itself to top-notch drag racing. The staff there makes it perfect for us, and as racers we appreciate that a lot. But I keep coming back to the fans and the party out in ‘the Zoo’ and just the general good-time vibe that happens every year at BIR. It’s unique.” The Zoo is a friendly name for the on-site campground where the theme “Let the Good Times Roll” is a religion and sleep is postponed until returning to work on Monday.

Lucas sent No. 1 qualifier Antron Brown and his Matco Tools railer to the trailer in the semifinals after parking Steve Torrence’s Capco Contractors Dragster in the quarterfinals.

Lucas won the day by besting both the race’s top qualifier and the class points leader; one could say the GEICO / Lucas Oil dragster was truly on fire in wet, soggy, but after this win, beautiful Brainerd .

Earlier in the day . . . .

Earlier in the day . . . .

In a unique finish to a water-logged day, Top Fuel became the only pro class to finish. The Funny Car finals between John Force and Ron Capps will be held in Indy during The Big Go while Pro Stock needs to race the semifinals of Jason Line vs. Dave River and Jeg Coughlin vs. Vincent Nobile to get their final pair. If Line were to win, it would be his first victory at his “original” home track, yet technically winning the Brainerd race at Indy isn’t in the Minnesota lakes area, but it is doubtful Line would complain at all.

Lucas also won Brainerd in 2009 and 2012 after making his pro debut at this same track in 2004 by taking the seat of Joe Amato’s dragster. This is the young Lucas Oil executive’s tenth win in ten years. “It’s our second home up here.”

Rob Geiger, GeigerMedia Global, and Forrest Lucas celebrate Morgans big win.

Rob Geiger, GeigerMedia Global, and Forrest Lucas celebrate Morgans big win.

In earning the final pair, Lucas trailered Bob Vandergriff Jr., his first victim in a thrilling day for the oil titans that allowed his Lucas teammate, Richie Crampton, to capture a remaining slot in the Countdown to the Championship. Blowing up in the first and final rounds gave Lucas a bookend of fire for the day . . . a dubious award but worth it to win at his favorite track. “To do it at nighttime with no lights, it’s kinda cool. It’s one of those where you have to stick a feather in your cap.”

 

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Lakes and Lakes of Fun! Jeff Winter City of Lakes Half-Marathon, Minneapolis

28 Jul

A race with 32 years of history hardly seems new, but 2014′s City of Lakes—the 33rd edition—qualifies fresh-as-a-daisy with its new half-marathon (USATF certified) distance and new name. Notably, the race is honored as the Minnesota Half Marathon Championships. This new version also becomes a component of the USATF Minnesota Team Circuit competition that includes Grandma’s Marathon, the Medtronic TC 10 Mile, MDRA Victory 10K and the Get in Gear 10K. Along with the distance change from its 25 km heritage, reflecting demographics and popularity of the half, novel considerations come into focus. 30th Annual City of Lakes 25K First, the records of old are now sealed. For example [read here]

The INDY 100! Indiana Trail 100 Endurance Race

5 May

Finishing a 100-mile trail race is one of the more remarkable achievements trail racers can do. Finishing after a few weeks prior completing a 150-mile challenge makes it even better. Shades of Robert Marron’s “The 300-Mile Man” Tuscobia endurance adventure.  The course at the Indiana Trail 100 are 16.6-mile loops as Paul Stofko, aka “Crazy Legs,” ultrarunner, and fitness specialist, reels them off and keeps the reader on board the entire time.

Paul surrounded by strong company with Jessica Campbell (3rd female) and Jennifer (1st female)

Paul surrounded by strong company with Jessica Campbell (3rd female) and Jennifer (1st female)

“Some Northwest Indiana residents are afraid to say it but I am not when people ask where I am from. I am from the “Region” not Chicago or “Chicagoland” born in Hammond raise in Schererville and currently reside in Chesterton. Though I have lived in Florida, Arizona and Colorado NW Indiana has a way of pulling me back. Having been involved in ultras since 1999 I have traveled to many states to follow my passion. Last year I was very excited to see that a 100 miler was in my home state of Indiana. The weather was not the best but I had a great time and set my PR at 19:09. I was looking forward to returning in 2014.

Roberto Marron's 300 miles in the Tuscobia Winter Ultra now in print or eBook form

Roberto Marron’s 300 miles in the Tuscobia Winter Ultra now in print or eBook form

Before heading to Indiana Trail 100 miler I had to run the Potawatomi 150 miler in Pekin, IL on April 4th one more time for some redemption (see blog entry  http://paulstofko.blogspot.com/2014/04/race-report-2014-pot-150-miler.html). The weather was wonderful and course was great shape for this edition of IT 100 miler. Having never experience running two ultra only three weeks apart I knew my body was in uncharted territory. Here is a lap-to-lap account of the 100 miler. Course consists of six laps with each about 16.6 miles in distance . . . .”

Continue

 

 

 

 

MEDIA MATTERS: Have a Heart! How NHRA Star Greg Anderson Almost Lost His

24 Apr

“When Anderson was told a week before the 2014 NHRA season that he needed surgery, he described it as a “shock.” Then he told the doctor that wasn’t possible; he needed to wait until November, after the racing season.

One of many reasons to get the heart valve fixed. (photo courtesy gregandersonracing.net)

One of many reasons to get the heart valve fixed. (photo courtesy gregandersonracing.net)

[BREAKING NEWS: Anderson cleared to qualify/race at Houston weekend of 4.25.14-4.27.14!]  “He looked at me like I had three heads,” Anderson said. “You feel indestructible as a racer. I wasn’t worried about my safety, my health or my life, which I’m a complete idiot for that. I was worried about missing races.”

By the time Anderson left the surgeon’s office, he was convinced the operation would be done in November; however, when Anderson arrived home and outlined the situation to his family, he was told emphatically he wasn’t waiting.”

Then a stunning development at Four-Wide Racing at Charlotte . . . Find out here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/04/18/4845406/mooresvilles-greg-anderson-looks.html#.U1j6SfldXYx#storylink=cpy

MEDIA MATTERS: What Happens in Vegas: ESPN2 Broadcasts

31 Mar

No secrets allowed; ESPN2 is here. Broadcasting the SummitRacing.com Nationals from the luxurious The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the ever-seeing camera eye snatched losers’ pained looks, too-close-to-call finishes and general drag racing mayhem. When David Grubnic two-stepped his Bounty Hunter Special dragster in the fourth pass of second round qualifying attempts, the camera caught the legendary Conrad Kalitta’s pained grimace looking every bit like one of his hoard of 747s had crashed.

How Conrad Kalitta looks when he is happy; celebrating a Top Fuel win with Doug Kalitta

How Conrad Kalitta looks when he is happy; celebrating a Top Fuel win with Doug Kalitta

Instead, what the grimaced expression signaled was misery; misery and despair that could only be solved by replacing Grubnic. What that look also revealed . . . this wasn’t just a hot-collared call. The pot appears to have been boiling prior to this mistake; much like a coach telling a player not to do something, and then the player immediately goes out and does it anyway, Grubnic got the bench. The pot boiling beneath the lid finally blew the lid off. Then the team released a quick press release indicating “. . . a change of direction . . . ” for the Kalitta team. A hurried call made to young up-and-comer, J.R. Todd, gaming it at home on an off weekend, worked a deal that had him in the cockpit Saturday. Nothing revealed on the travel front, but if a flight couldn’t be found in time, Kalitta Air could certainly come to service.

Color commentator, Mike Dunn, called the start-line problem a racing deal: “These things happen.” Lead announcer, David Rieff, added that Kalitta, the patriarch of the sport is “one successful man.” Starting in the year 2000 with three 747s, he now owns more than 22 of those beasts along with other aircraft. His air freight company exceed $400 million in revenue becoming one of the world’s largest 25 airline companies. He owns it 100 percent, a self-made success story extraordinaire. When driving for a racer like Kalitta, on the drag strip since the late 1950s,  a mistake is not likely to set well at all.

GEICO Top Fuel driver, Richie Crampton, to test after new Kalitta driver, JR Todd, left on him big time (photo by Mark J. Rebilas)

GEICO Top Fuel driver, Richie Crampton, to test after new Kalitta driver, JR Todd, left on him big time (photo by Mark J. Rebilas)

Grubnic’s side of the story? “This has been going on a while,” he said to Dunn, referring to talks about him sitting out of the racecar perhaps becoming a crew chief. The odds favor the remark could also refer to Kalitta’s displeasure in the friendly Aussie’s ability on the track.

The first round matchup of Todd vs. the GEICO/Lucas Oil Dragster piloted by newcomer, Richie Crampton became the Upset Alert, a gutsy call by Dunn as Todd had little experience in that racer and the outfitting of the seats and pedals all had to be done very quickly. Crampton had a miserable light. “I was dead late on the Tree,” Crampton said. “He ran an .82, which was a decent run. I’ve got a feeling we could’ve run a little better.”

Todd’s day ended in the second round though he had a decent run; benefiting was Steve Torrence in his Capco Contractors Dragster.

ESPN Sports Center carried the new national MPH trophy snatched by Courtney Force at 325; a one mph better record than dad, John Force, and a new track ET Record to go along with it. Unfortunately, Cruz Pedregon sent her home in the second round of eliminations without getting a backup time to secure the big speed trophy. The 16-time champion retains the record.

Alexis DeJoria's crew and other Kalitta Motorsport team members hit the jackpot in Vegas.

Alexis DeJoria’s crew and other Kalitta Motorsport team members hit the jackpot in Vegas.

For the second time this year, Robert Hight wheeled his Auto Club Mustang into the final round of Funny Cars but lost again to Alexis DeJoria’s Patron XO Cafe Camry in her second win of the year. She now has three Funny Car trophies. Earlier comments hinted at the good results when she said, “I feel really good about today.” She has been in the 2014 finals twice in four races thus far, sealing any questions if she is the real deal. The summer heat makes these beasts behave even more weirdly than normal, so her championship run won’t be easy as the season progresses. However, it is tough for all drivers. The Patron XO Cafe Camry has a decent shot to win the championship. Rieff summed it up with the two women starring in the weekend’s positive events: “The ladies are getting it done.” And DeJoria is a Kalitta Motorsports team member.

A championship burnout for Alexis DeJoria

A championship burnout for Alexis DeJoria

After only winning two rounds all year, Tony Shumacher’s U.S. Army entry passed Doug Kalitta’s Mac Tools Dragster in the track’s second half to take the win by a margin of victory that would just about equal Grubnic’s height: a little more than six feet. Kalitta Motorsports enjoyed a great day: one win, one final round and one new driver;  maybe a new crew chief with Grubnic, too.

Doug Kalitta at his Gator Nationals win (photo courtesy AP photo, LA Times "Sports Now")

Doug Kalitta at his Gator Nationals win (photo courtesy AP photo, LA Times “Sports Now”)

Veteran reporter Gary Gerould summed up the race in a comment he made at the broadcast’s opening: it’s a “. . . wacky weekend.” And a take-a-way lesson: don’t screw up a billionaire’s dragster dreams, or your jet will be parked.

 

MEDIA MATTERS: Find This Car! BIG NOISE II

21 Mar
Big Noise II in a Chicago-area photo; know where it is? Contact me. There may be an award.

Big Noise II in a Chicago-area photo; know where it is? Contact me. There may be an award.

A Famous man, Don Miller, owned it; would like to find it and acquire it.
You can become famous, even better off financially, if you are the one to identify the location where it can be found.

In front of a house, Big Noise II all cleaned up. contact me at phillip@ultrasuperior.com if you know where it is

In front of a house, Big Noise II all cleaned up. contact me at phillip@ultrasuperior.com if you know where it is

No guarantees, but find it first . . . .

Here is information on the search:

http://harmonizingkeys.blogspot.com/2010/08/big-noise-ii-new-later-photo-search.html

"Miller's Time" the book that  reveals the life--and tragedies--of this amazing man of racing

“Miller’s Time” the book that reveals the life–and tragedies–of this amazing man of racing

Contact me: Phillip@ultrasuperior.com

MEDIA MATTERS: Motorcycles Fly! GEICO Team Soars at Daytona

17 Mar

Bike week at Daytona is as legendary as NASCAR’s Daytona 500; in some ways, maybe even more fun. Here’s a visual of why:

Digging through a rut clearing jump, Eli Tomac Prepares to Launch (Photo by Simon Cudby)

Digging through a rut clearing jump, Eli Tomac Prepares to Launch (Photo by Simon Cudby)

Wowing the Crowd, Wil Hahn Hugs Side Air as Simon Cudby Captures the Image

Wowing the Crowd, Wil Hahn Hugs Side Air as Simon Cudby Takes Captures the Image

Wil Hahn Leads Eli Tomac Over Jump in a Thrilling Duo (photo Simon Cudby)

Wil Hahn Leads Eli Tomac Over Jump in a Thrilling Duo (photo Simon Cudby)

Blake Wharton Off the Ground, Making Way Very Fast at Daytona (Photo by Blake Wharton)

Blake Wharton Off the Ground, Making Way Very Fast at Daytona

Justin Bogle Airing it Out at Daytona.

Justin Bogle Airing it Out at Daytona.

Curving Low and Aero, Chris Ulrich caught in dynamic photo by Brian J Nelson

Curving Low and Aero, Chris Ulrich caught in dynamic photo by Brian J Nelson

Another Way to Fly: On the Famed Daytona 500 Race Track as Chris Ulrich Guides his GEICO Missle (Photo Brian J Nelson)

Another Way to Fly: On the Famed Daytona 500 Race Track as Chris Ulrich Guides his GEICO Missle (Photo Brian J Nelson)

Full Tilt Daytona Corners as Jake Zemke Seems Ultra Calm . . . Though His Heart Rate is Probably Thru-The-Roof! (Photo Brian J. Nelson)

Full Tilt Daytona Corners as Jake Zemke Seems Ultra Calm . . . Though His Heart Rate is Probably Thru-The-Roof! (Photo Brian J. Nelson)

HOT Bed of Snowshoeing! Eau Claire Awarded USSSA’s 2015 National Championships

13 Mar

USSSA Sports Director Mark Elmore announced The United States Snowshoe Association, Inc. (USSSA) selected Eau Claire, WI. as host city for the 15th Annual USSSA Championships to be raced February 27 – March 1, 2015. Ben Morgan of the Visit Eau Claire Convention & Visitors Bureau spearheaded the winning bid with assistance from Jereme Rauckman of the Chippewa Off Road Bike Association (CORBA). Rauckman will serve as the local race director. Lowes Creek County Park will be the base for the championships. With 7.4 million winter sports enthusiasts living within a 200-mile radius of Eau Claire, WI another large turnout is expected.

Minnesota's Erick Hartmark wins the 2014 National Championship . . . Again!

Minnesota’s Erick Hartmark wins the 2014 National Championship . . . Again!

Snowshoe Magazine in December, 2008, in a feature article identified North Central Wisconsin as one of the Hot Beds of Snowshoeing in the USA. A triangle best marks the regions with the base in along Highway 29 from Wausau to Eau Claire / Chippewa Falls, which featured Wausau’s Stomp the Swamp and Eau Claire’s Rumble in the Jungle. Travelling North reaches Rib Lake Snowshoe Adventure, Perky at the Perkinstown Snowshoe Races, The Timm’s Hill Trudge, and The Udder Snowshoe Race.

Women's Champion: Amber Ferreira with a powerful stride

Women’s Champion: Amber Ferreira with a powerful stride

The 2014 National Snowshoe Championships, recently hosted near Bennington VT at the Prospect Mountain Ski Center in Woodford, VT, attracted nearly 400 snowshoers.

The 2014 Men's USSSA National Team comprised of the Top 5 Finishers

The 2014 Men’s USSSA National Team comprised of the Top 5 Finishers

Elmore noted, “The local organizing committee’s experiences with hosting fine snowshoe events like the Powder Keg and their Rumble in the Jungle events, helped seal the deal. We’re confident the 2015 National Snowshoe Championship event in Eau Claire will serve to continue the progress the Sport is enjoying.” Snowshoeing for pleasure and racing is the fastest growing of the winter sports. The cardio effort is superb while the pleasure of enjoying a fresh snowfall trekking in the woods is unmatched.

The 2014 Men's USSSA National Team comprised of the Top 5 Finishers

The 2014 Men’s USSSA National Team comprised of the Top 5 Finishers

As plans get underway, visit the USSSA for the latest details and information. The USSSA’s calendar of 2014-2015 qualifying races will be published later in 2014. For information on Eau Claire, please visit . Snowshoe Magazine has free online resources for snowshoeing and previous championships at http://www.snowshoemag.com.

Nice Switchbacks leading to a fast downhill finish

Nice Switchbacks leading to a fast downhill finish

Senior Editor of Snowshoe Magazine, Phillip Gary Smith, a National Snowshoe Championship Competitor living in Minneapolis, is available for interviews. Contact him at Phillip@ultrasuperior.com.

Sr Snowshoe Editor, Phillip Gary Smith, racing the Tuscobia Winter Ultras, Park Falls, WI

Sr Snowshoe Editor, Phillip Gary Smith, racing the Tuscobia Winter Ultras, Park Falls, WI

Photos courtesy Scott Mason for the USSSA

DION United States Snowshoe Association 2014 National Championship: A Racer’s Review

11 Mar

Bennington, Vt. was the central location of this year’s Dion National Snowshoe Championships, right in the heart of Dion Snowshoes’ territory.

Minnesota's Erick Hartmark wins the 2014 National Championship . . . Again!

Minnesota’s Erick Hartmark wins the 2014 National Championship . . . Again!

The bright orange and white of the Dions was hard to miss, as a lot of racers were wearing them, but then again that would be a given as this was the biggest National Snowshoe Championship in history, as more than 400 people from 18 different states (and several more countries) competed in the 14th running of the big event (run Feb. 28 through March 2). The race was held in Woodford, roughly 15 minutes from Bennington, a little further up Prospect Mountain – an altitude that was more than 2,200 feet compared to the 600 or so feet above sea level that Bennington is (photos in article courtesy Scott Mason).

Nice Switchbacks leading to a fast downhill finish

Nice Switchbacks leading to a fast downhill finish

It was perhaps the “easiest” championship race course that the national competitors have seen in the last five years, but that didn’t mean it was a walk in the park by any means. The course was still very challenging, thanks to more than 1,200 feet of climbing (according to the author’s Garmin watch) during the 10-kilometer race, mostly all during the first half of the race – shortly after the 5-kilometer mark, the downhills dominated the rest of the race action.

Women's Champion: Amber Ferreira with a powerful stride

Women’s Champion: Amber Ferreira with a powerful stride

There was plenty of single-track, a good portion of it between the beginning of the second mile and the next two kilometers that followed, but later in the race the longest section of single-track (four-tenths of a mile) existed inside the fourth and fifth miles. For the most part, the course was hard-packed and only soft in some of the single-track sections, allowing for some of the fastest times that the National Snowshoe Championships has ever seen.

The 2014 Men's USSSA National Team comprised of the Top 5 Finishers

The 2014 Men’s USSSA National Team comprised of the Top 5 Finishers

There was plenty of snow on the course, thanks to a very long and cold winter that saw a lot of heavy snowfalls – the temperature on this day ranged between 15 and 25 degrees Fahrenheit, not too cold and almost perfect except for some wind that lowered the windchill temperature by about ten degrees. It was still comfortable enough for spectators thanks to the sun being out most of the day, and racers may have been warm unless they dressed in their lightest layers. (Continue at Snowshoe Magazine)

Amber Ferreira takes Charge at Start of Women's Championship

Amber Ferreira takes Charge at Start of Women’s Championship

MEDIA MATTERS: Jeg Coughlin New Spokesperson for Chrysler?

6 Mar
At an invitational tour of Chrysler Headquarters & Technology Center, five-time NHRA Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. (left) met with Chrysler President and CEO Pietro Gorlier. Notice the relaxed look and dress

At an invitational tour of Chrysler Headquarters & Technology Center, five-time NHRA Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. (left) met with Chrysler President and CEO Pietro Gorlier. Notice the relaxed look and dress

Jeg Coughlin: Is he a new spokesperson for Chrysler? No; however, he should be. His casual demeanor belies the intensity and smarts within, otherwise how could he have won five–count ’em, one, two, three, four, five–NHRA Pro Stock Championships in arguably the most difficult Pro Class. Wins AND losses are counted in the small hundredths of a second . . . to be that precise proves his mettle. His looks are strong but not like a model’s . . . but a man’s.

Plus he has a name: Jeg, the only person in the NHRA’s 60-year history to win in SIX different categories. Let me ask: How many Jegs do you know?

Just think of this theme: “I drive a Dodge” and there’s Jeg Coughlin. On the highway and on the drag strip. Hurry, Chrysler! There’s still time to get this ready to go before their race: Denver, July 18-20, Bandimere Speedway at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals.

We Run and Ride

Original thoughts on running and riding. Swimming too.

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telling the story from every vantage point

Don Charisma

because anything is possible with Charisma

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Delivering Lessons Learned from racing and life

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The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

We Run and Ride

Original thoughts on running and riding. Swimming too.

The Neighborhood

telling the story from every vantage point

Don Charisma

because anything is possible with Charisma

iHarmonizing Competition

Delivering Lessons Learned from racing and life

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

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