The winner's trophy at each NHRA event has a name. It's called a "Wally" in honor of NHRA founder Wally Parks. The beloved patriarch of the sport died Friday at the age of 94 from complications of pneumonia.
The winner's trophy at each NHRA event has a name. It's called a "Wally" in honor of NHRA founder Wally Parks.
The beloved patriarch of the sport died Friday at the age of 94 from complications of pneumonia.
Parks was a man respected by drivers and owners alike.
"Wally was a visionary and a personal friend," said six-time NHRA champion Kenny Bernstein. "He and (his late wife) Barbara put so much time and effort into birthing and growing this sport into the multimillion dollar spectacle it is today.
"Not only was he an astute businessman, he was revered by many of us on a personal level. He was as comfortable visiting with us in the pits as he was in the boardroom. "
Pro Stock Motorcycle competitor Steve Johnson is one of the sport's great ambassadors and was inspired by Parks.
"I'm no different from thousands of others who can say with complete honesty that every single conversation I had with Mr. Parks over the years was enlightening and inspirational," Johnson said. "Every time we talked about Pro Stock Motorcycle racing I came away amazed at his depth of knowledge about our class.
"I don't know how we're going to replace him because he truly was one of those irreplaceable individuals. His overall understanding of what drag racing could and should become that was simply astounding."
John Force continues to recover from the violent crash last Sunday at Texas Motorplex which caused injuries to his hands and legs.
Team spokesman Dave Densmore noted in an update on Force's condition Friday the similarity of the cause of the accident to the one which killed Eric Medlen in March.
In both cases, tire failure led to a chassis failure.
Additional X-rays have been ordered on Force's right foot, which has been swollen, and may reveal another fracture. His left ankle is broken, as are fingers on his right hand; his right knee has a deep laceration and his left wrist is severely dislocated.
Force said when he is released, he will travel to Indianapolis to help with the investigation of the crash and to see noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Terry Trammell, who is an expert in racing injuries.
He also intends to go to the next race at Richmond next weekend to support his drivers but has finally realized he won't be able to race.
On the ballot for NHRA Rookie of the Year are Ashley Force (Funny Car), Craig Hankinson (Pro Stock), Barry Henson (Pro Stock Motorcycle), Justin Humphreys (Pro Stock) and Matt Scranton (Pro Stock).
Testing at Iowa
The inaugural IndyCar race at Iowa Speedway was not a thing of beauty, both because of the unusually cool temperatures and a miscalculation of the aero package.
To prevent a recurrence, an open test will be conducted Wednesday and Thursday at the track 30 miles east of Des Moines.
"Iowa Speedway is like nothing else currently on our circuit," said league president Brian Barnhart. "It combines the characteristics of a short oval with those of a banked superspeedway. We want to make sure we're providing the best possible on-track product for our drivers and our fans when we return to Iowa Speedway next season."
The 2008 race is June 22.
IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti was named the third quarter Driver of the Year. He also was the second-quarter winner.
John Draper of Bryant won the 20-lap mini sprint feature last Saturday at Valley Speedway in Grain Valley, Mo. Austin Archdale of Brimfield was second.
Jane Miller is the Journal Star motorsports columnist. Write her at 1 News Plaza, Peoria, IL 61643, call (309) 686-3207 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.