Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway almost 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.
Adam spent several years covering motorsports for Examiner.com., where he had the opportunity to see the racing world from behind the scenes as well as the grandstands. He invites everyone to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm for all things racing with the readers of SpeedwayDigest.com.
Be sure to tune in for his sports talk program, Thursday Night Thunder, where he discusses the latest in motorsports news with drivers, crew members, and fans. The show takes place (almost) every Thursday at 8:00 pm EST on the Speedway Digest Radio Network.
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One track is an ultraslick, ultramodern indoor entertainment center in a destination mall where students, grandparents, businesspeople, teachers, and just about anyone else with a need for speed race Formula 1- inspired, Italian electric pro-karts that can reach speeds up to 50 miles per hour.
The other, almost 50 miles northwest and established in 1919, is one of the nation’s oldest continuously operating dirt tracks where , Dirt Modifieds stock car, street stock, demo derby, and Motocross competitors battle it out in the dirt -- that glorious dirt -- right by the fairgrounds.
While they may appear very different on the surface, Autobahn Indoor Speedway & Events Palisades, part of one of the country’s leading indoor go-kart chains, and Orange County Fair Speedway (OCFS), one of the country’s most beloved dirt tracks, have one thing in common: the love of all things fast and fun.
And in a sport so driven by cutthroat competition for fans, technology, and sponsors, this collaboration may help both entities make racing more accessible to people throughout the region.
For the entire OCFS season, which runs April through October, both tracks will be promoting each other. Autobahn will promote upcoming dirt track races onsite, and OCFS will help turn racing spectators into racing competitors at Autobahn.
Throughout the year, the two tracks will celebrate two forms of racing that have served as gateways to NASCAR, Formula 1, IndyCar, and other top series. In January 2022, Autobahn and OCFS will have a joint event to benefit a local charity.
“Both of us are in the business of affordable, family entertainment,” says Peter Reynolds, director of sponsorship and business partnerships at Orange County Fair Speedway.” “People will drive great distances for the thrill of racing, whether they’re seated in the stands or seated in a kart. Even though we’re about 45 minutes apart, we know a lot of people who love OCFS will love Autobahn, and a lot of people who love Autobahn will love us.”
The 43,000-square-foot Autobahn attracts racing enthusiasts of all levels, from everyday people of all ages just looking for high-speed exhilaration to up-and-coming juniors to some of the world’s top drivers in Formula 1, IndyCar, NASCAR, and other circuits.
Autobahn also founded the American E-Kart Championship, the first indoor electric karting competition to bring together the top drivers from tracks around the country that was featured on “Anybody’s Race” on the ESPN network. “We’re proud to collaborate with Orange Motorsports & Entertainment in bringing more attention to the great racing in the area,” says David Larson, managing partner, Autobahn Indoor Speedway & Events. “Karting and dirt track racing have played such a big part in developing so many of the world’s most famous drivers. For more than 100 years, Orange County Fair Speedway has brought together fans and drivers of all levels to enjoy the thrill of racing, and at Autobahn, we’re trying to make it accessible to everyone”.
Autobahn Indoor Speedway offers the popular "Arrive & Drive" race format, assigning racers to one of the upcoming races and requiring no reservations. Up to 10 drivers will compete in each race to set the fastest lap times.
Autobahn Indoor Speedway is a fun and exciting place for company outings, social groups and birthday parties. Various group race packages are designed to meet the needs of most events but a custom package can be arranged (including private full facility rentals). Groups have reserved race times, exclusive use of the track during their races and they can compete individually or in teams.
What's true in life is true in sports; sometimes what looks at first to be our lowest point is really the spark for our greatest moment. Such may be the case when a young Supercross racer would not stay down Tuesday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Cameron McAdoo had every reason to, and by the laws of physics and anatomy he shouldn't have had a choice: On the opening lap of the 250SX Class Main Event, McAdoo mistimed a jump technique and sent his Kawasaki into a nose-down dive. The front wheel touched down and pitched McAdoo over the bars. His momentum slammed him into the near-vertical face of the next obstacle, a ten-foot high over-under bridge jump. That much alone often ends a season, and almost certainly ends a race.
But it got worse. The racer's motorcycle traced his trajectory and slammed onto him, crushing him flat against the wall of dirt. It got worse still. McAdoo's leg hung up on the bike, and as the machine's momentum bounced it into the air it swept the racer from the ground and flung him, arms outstretched, through a violent, arching front flip and deposited him with a final slam onto the top plateau of the jump obstacle.
McAdoo was immobile for the briefest of moments, then moved in a slow roll universally recognized as an indication of widespread pain. With an injured rider atop the obstacle and no safe way to help him down, the race was red flagged. By the rulebook, with fewer than three laps completed, the racers would re-load the starting gate and complete a full race re-start. One of those racers was Cameron McAdoo.
McAdoo was evaluated by the series' Alpinestars medical team and cleared to race. As a secondary check, another trackside physician gave the young, eager racer another evaluation. All the while the racer pleaded to be allowed to get back on the bike that had just thrown him and race again on the track that had just bit him. McAdoo sat only four points out of the title lead with three races left. Had the racers taken off without him on the re-start he would have lost touch with any hope of a 2021 championship.
The racer passed the concussion and body checks. He was sore but without major injury. His bike was bent up, but still running strong. The missing front numberplate as he re-loaded into the starting gate was an indicator that nothing was quite perfect… but he was back in the race.
When the gate dropped, McAdoo rocked off the steel-grate starting pad and emerged from the chaotic first corner in second place. Down the next straight he leapt into the lead for a flash of a moment but lost it back with a bobble in the next corner. He was pushed back to fourth. But McAdoo was there to race. In the first five and a half minutes of the 15-minute plus one lap event the exuberant racer let it all hang out. He passed two riders to reach second place, just 3.6 seconds behind Yamaha's Justin Cooper, the race and championship points leader.
The story didn’t end perfectly. Maybe the adrenaline wore off, maybe his energy reserves finally depleted, or maybe he didn't want to press his luck any further and he backed down his pace. But the leader steadily slipped away. As the race clock reached :00, signifying less than two laps remaining, McAdoo lost a position to Honda's Hunter Lawrence. About two minutes later McAdoo crossed the checkered flag battling, successfully, to retain his podium spot. The young racer next found himself on the winners' stage holding a trophy when 20 minutes prior a betting person would have put up the house that he was more likely on his way to the hospital for a cast.
Cameron McAdoo now sits nine points away from his first championship with two points-paying rounds left for his Region. One more at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday, and another – a mash-up between regions where anything can happen, on May 1 inside Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Nine points in two races. It can be done. And if anyone can do it, a betting person might now put money on Cameron McAdoo. "Anything can happen in racing," is often said, and sometimes when that 'anything' happens it takes your breath away.
Round 14 Western Regional 250SX Class Results
1. Justin Cooper, Menifee, Calif., Yamaha
2. Hunter Lawrence, Wesley Chapel, Fla., Honda
3. Cameron McAdoo, Sioux City, Iowa, Kawasaki
4. Nate Thrasher, Livingston, Tenn., Yamaha
5. Garrett Marchbanks, Coalville, Utah, Yamaha
6. Mitchell Harrison, Murrieta, Calif., Honda
7. Coty Schock, Dover, Del., Honda
8. Pierce Brown, Sandy, Utah, GASGAS
9. Seth Hammaker, Temecula, Calif., Kawasaki
10. Jalek Swoll, Belleview, Fla., Husqvarna
Western Regional 250SX Class Championship Standings
1. Justin Cooper, Menifee, Calif., Yamaha (157)
2. Cameron McAdoo, Sioux City, Iowa, Kawasaki (148)
3. Hunter Lawrence, Wesley Chapel, Fla., Honda (141)
4. Seth Hammaker, Temecula, Calif., Kawasaki (121)
5. Jalek Swoll, Belleview, Fla., Husqvarna (121)
6. Garrett Marchbanks, Coalville, Utah, Yamaha (120)
7. Nate Thrasher, Livingston, Tenn., Yamaha (101)
8. Kyle Peters, Greensboro, N.C., Honda (93)
9. Chris Blose, Phoenix, Ariz., GASGAS (86)
10. Coty Schock, Dover, Del., Honda (86)
Scott Dixon’s race against history begins this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst, the season-opening event of the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.
Six months removed from winning a sixth series championship, Dixon has A.J. Foyt’s all-time record of seven titles within reach. Foyt won the last of his championships in 1979, which means his mark has stood unmatched for 42 years.
Dixon’s sixth title was fueled by a three-race winning streak to begin the 2020 season. Can he use a similar start this year in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, or will Josef Newgarden, who has won two of the past four season titles, dethrone him in Team Penske’s No. 2 Hitachi Chevrolet? Or, will it be another driver – a veteran or perhaps a rising star – stealing the spotlight?
NTT P1 Award qualifying starts at 5:55 p.m. (ET) Saturday, with the race at 3 p.m. Sunday. Here are five things to watch as the drama builds this weekend:
Dixon Needs a Barber
It can be argued that Dixon is the most successful NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver in Barber Motorsports Park history and yet he doesn’t have a trophy to show for it.
Who wouldn’t take Dixon’s stat line at the 17-turn, 2.38-mile permanent road course? Eight podium finishes in 10 races, six times a race runner-up. That’s impressive by any measure.
As for reaching the top step of the Birmingham, Alabama, podium, Newgarden has been the track’s recent master, winning three of the past five races. Team Penske teammate Will Power (No. 12 Verizon 5G Chevrolet) and Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Honda) have won two races each. Takuma Sato, who drives the No. 30 Panasonic/Shield Cleansers Honda of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, won in 2019, the series’ most recent race there as last year’s event was canceled amid the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Power is a four-time NTT P1 Award winner at Barber, part of the 62 poles he has scored in his career. Five more such awards ties him with Mario Andretti for the sport’s all-time lead.
New Kings To Be Crowned?
Dixon and Newgarden have combined to win the past four INDYCAR championships, and their teams – Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske – have won the past eight titles.
So, who breaks the streak? It’s best to look to Andretti Autosport or Arrow McLaren SP, where Alexander Rossi (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda), Colton Herta (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda) and Pato O’Ward (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet) are employed.
Rossi was on pace to score five consecutive podiums to end last season until his car spun after leading 61 of the first 69 laps in the season-ending Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in October. Rossi won the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge in 2016 and has seven career wins, but he is massively hungry for his first series championship.
“I’m more motivated than you can believe, and I’m really excited,” he said. “I have a lot of points to prove.”
Herta and O’Ward have shown capable of defining INDYCAR’s future. Each enters the season 21 years old – O’Ward turns 22 on May 6 -- and they battled for the 2018 Indy Lights championship as teammates (O’Ward won).
Last year, Herta finished third in the standings with O’Ward fourth, and they’re desperate to move up. O’Ward has been outstanding in preseason testing but is still seeking his first win in the series. Herta has won three times and scored four poles to O’Ward’s single pole (at Road America last year).
An Experienced Rookie Class
INDYCAR might have to go back a couple of decades to find a newcomer class with as much high-level motorsports experience as this one.
The intrigue starts with Jimmie Johnson, who shares the record for NASCAR Cup Series championships with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt (seven each). Johnson grew up wanting to be an INDYCAR driver, and at 45 he’s finally getting his chance in Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 48 Carvana Honda. He has been tutored by four-time series champion Dario Franchitti and has learned plenty from Scott Dixon, but the challenge that awaits him will be unlike anything he has experienced in his career.
“It’s a monster – that’s the best way I can put it,” Johnson said of driving one of INDYCAR’s machines. “There’s so much power, so much downforce, so much grip. It’s wild to drive.”
Driving the No. 51 Dale Coyne Racing with RWR Honda, Romain Grosjean is a nine-year veteran of Formula One, recognized as the pinnacle of global motorsports, and he finished on the podium 10 times with second-tier teams. Like Johnson, Grosjean, 34, is only scheduled to compete on INDYCAR’s road courses and street circuits this season as he adapts to the series.
“What attracts people to INDYCAR is that it’s a top series, top cars, top drivers, and the driver can actually make a difference,” Grosjean said.
Scott McLaughlin joined Team Penske’s INDYCAR program after driving for Roger Penske and Dick Johnson the past four years in Australian V8 Supercars. McLaughlin, 27, had completed his Down Under checklist, winning 56 races, three consecutive season championships and earning 76 poles and 106 podiums. It was time to move on, and he did so at the end of last year by competing in INDYCAR’s season-ending race in St. Petersburg. He finished 22nd.
“There’s a bit of nerves, absolutely,” said McLaughlin, the driver of the No. 3 PPG Chevrolet, of the full season that awaits. “There’s an unknown there, but I said to my wife last night I feel as prepared as I can be right now. The only thing I lack is experience, and that will come.”
Faces in New Places
Among the 24 entries at Barber Motorsports Park are several INDYCAR veterans who have different opportunities for the upcoming season.
Felix Rosenqvist, Ed Jones and Alex Palou have new teams while Sebastien Bourdais, James Hinchcliffe and Dalton Kellett have increased their number of races with the teams with which they finished the 2020 season.
Rosenqvist, who won a race last year at Road America, will drive the No. 7 Vuse Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet. Jones is back in the series after a year away, and he returns to the organization in which he had success in 2017 (he finished third in the Indianapolis 500). Jones will drive the No. 18 Team SealMaster Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan Honda. Palou is now in the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda of Chip Ganassi Racing.
Bourdais (No. 14 ROCKiT Chevrolet) and Kellett (No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet) now have full-season roles with AJ Foyt Racing. Bourdais is a four-time INDYCAR champion with 37 career race wins. Kellett drove in eight races last year for the team as a rookie.
Hinchcliffe is set for his second stint with Andretti Autosport, having won three of his six career races there. After competing in six races with Michael Andretti’s organization in 2020, Hinchcliffe will be full-time in the No. 29 Genesys Honda fielded by Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport.
“I think expectations are high for the year (as Andretti) has got a pretty stacked lineup,” Hinchcliffe said. “There was good momentum with the team at the end of last year.”
How To Watch
Nine of the 17 races, including this weekend’s and the two at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Month of May, will air live on NBC. The other eight can be found on the NBC Sports Network.
Fans can enjoy live coverage of all practice and qualifying sessions, as well as coverage surrounding the “500,” Indy Lights races, race day warmups and full-event replays of the 2021 season on Peacock Premium, NBC’s direct-to-consumer platform, for $4.99 per month. Signup information can be found at www.peacocktv.com.
At the track, a capacity of 20,000 has been reached for Sunday’s race. General admission tickets remain for action on Friday and Saturday.
Something very unexpected has resulted from Supercross’ unique 2021 race schedule. A calendar heavy with triple-headers, something not done in the sports’ 47 year history prior to the pandemic. The condensed schedule was designed to ease stress on riders and teams while also creating a "race bubble" environment that would allow fan attendance. What it's done is delivered compelling evidence that riders have a unique relationship with each race venue.
The Supercross tracks are extensively altered during the triple-headers, often changing direction between events; only the dirt and stadium remain constant. But added to track layout are so many other variables such as riders' physical performance, motivations, and emotions as well as mechanical issues, how the track breaks down through the night and of course the rider's starting position at the beginning of the Main Event. It seemed back in January that the triple-headers would have a negligible effect on which rider won. But the result has been very different.
The triple-header in Houston that kicked off the 2021 season delivered three different winners, as would be somewhat predictable. But then one rider, Honda's Ken Roczen, grabbed three wins in a row at the next venue, Indianapolis. It raised some eyebrows, but most attributed it to a new motivation after some tough point losses in Houston. Certainly it wasn't the first time one rider started a win streak in a season.
The series next moved to a two-race stand in Orlando. Roczen's win streak was broken, and another started. Cooper Webb, the 2019 champion, took both wins on his KTM. Then Webb's streak was broken at the only single-race venue on the schedule, the open and fast track built across the infield at Daytona International Speedway. That win was grabbed by defending champion Eli Tomac on his Kawasaki.
Going into the third triple-header in Arlington, Texas, Tomac had momentum and was motivated to regain points, Roczen was ready to battle to retain his points lead, and Webb was hungry, only two points out of the title lead. All three were well motivated and, as far as anyone outside the teams knew, healthy. But the three rounds at Arlington fell again to one single rider. It was Cooper Webb's second streak, and it put him into the points lead.
But Webb's streak was yet again broken on Saturday night at the first of three races on the infield of Atlanta Motor Speedway. Tomac grabbed the win convincingly on the red Georgia soil at the open air venue. Will Tomac run Atlanta? The high-speed tracks and open-air conditions suit him. Or is there something more to it?
Athletes have a 'feel' for places, and maybe that positive feeling is the nth degree difference these top athletes win and lose by. It's an intangible force that's never seemed so apparent in Supercross before this year. If there is something to the rider/locale relationship, Tomac could use the points boost. He has 36 points to make up with only four rounds remaining. Or maybe Roczen can break the trend and claw back some of the 22 points he needs to earn his first 450SX Class title. Cooper Webb is not a rider to go into season management; he's very motivated to stretch his points lead.
There are two rounds left this week in Atlanta: SuperTuesday tonight, and then this Saturday, April 17th. Then the series wraps up with two races inside Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. A final double-header to cap off a season that's possibly revealed a stronger bond between Supercross athlete and venue than has ever observed before.
Time will show how it plays out in the championship points battle. But if you believe in patterns watch for Eli Tomac to pull off two more wins in Atlanta. To see for yourself, ticket information to attend one of the four final races, and viewing information to catch the racing on the Peacock app and on NBCSN are available at SupercrossLIVE.com.
Atlanta 450SX Class Results
1. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki
2. Chase Sexton, Clermont, Fla., Honda
3. Cooper Webb, Newport N.C., KTM
4. Jason Anderson, Rio Rancho, N.Mex., Husqvarna
5. Dylan Ferrandis, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Yamaha
6. Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha
7. Marvin Musquin, Corona, Calif., KTM
8. Joey Savatgy, Clermont, Fla., KTM
9. Ken Roczen, Clermont, Fla., Honda
10. Justin Barcia, Greenville, Fla., GASGAS
450SX Class Championship Standings after 13 of 17 Rounds
1. Cooper Webb, Newport N.C., KTM (296)
2. Ken Roczen, Clermont, Fla., Honda (274)
3. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (260)
4. Justin Barcia, Greenville, Fla., GASGAS (227)
5. Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha (200)
6. Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Yamaha (191)
7. Jason Anderson, Rio Rancho, N.Mex., Husqvarna (190)
8. Dylan Ferrandis, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Yamaha (171)
9. Joey Savatgy, Clermont, Fla., KTM (153)
10. Marvin Musquin, Corona, Calif., KTM (152)