Archive for October, 2008

NHRA: Capps a force as drag racing ambassador

Posted in Column, NASCAR, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2008 by Martin Henderson

He has the looks of a movie star from the 1940s, when a charming smile and an imperfect hairline were acceptable to the masses.

Ron Capps would be at home in the Golden Age of Television or the Golden Globes of 2008.

See, Ron Capps gets it. With his easygoing, affable manner he is usually the most likable person in the room, unless the room is Whit Bazemore’s den.

The best compliment Capps can be paid is that he would be at home with the legends of racing.

A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney, they were willing to drive anything anywhere. They weren’t specialists, like so many drivers today. They were racecar drivers. Strap ’em in and get outta their way.

Capps is not of that caliber. Those guys are legends. But Capps comes from the same mold, different material. So do guys like Robby Gordon and Max Papis.

In the straight line world of the Powerade NHRA Drag Racing Series, Capps is the sport’s greatest ambassador not named John Force, which is to say that Capps is willing to turn left on purpose.
Continue reading

NASCAR: Papis wears his heart on his sleeve

Posted in Column, NASCAR with tags , , , , , , , on October 27, 2008 by Martin Henderson

You always know where Max Papis’ heart is.

In the cockpit.

He may not be well-known even in motorsports circles — especially those that emanate from Charlotte — but he is a racer’s racer.

Sports cars, Indycars and now stock cars. There’s no doubt that Mad Max — the nickname he earned for his mad finish in the 24 Hours of Daytona in his American debut — would jump in a Funny Car if John Force gave him the chance. But “Pappeeee,” as Force called Papis from an awards podium a few years ago, is as much about racing as Force is about horsepower.
Continue reading

NASCAR: Where is Carl Edwards’ head?

Posted in Column, NASCAR with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2008 by Martin Henderson

He is affable and handsome, although some might argue his teeth are too big and his smile Osmondesque.

He has a physique made for a fitness magazine, although that ESPN cover photo was kind of creepy.

He also has a lead foot that could give him a NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.

But this dark side of Carl Edwards seems to be emerging.

Enormously talented and a man who appeared to be a PR flak’s dream, Edwards has found himself in the midst of controversy recently, and it’s largely his own doing. Like Danica Patrick in the Indy Racing League, Edwards seems to feel — or is at least acting — like the world owes him something.

Some might ask who made him king. Worse, they might ask who made him a prima donna.
Continue reading

NHRA: No need to fear, Wilkerson is here

Posted in Column, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2008 by Martin Henderson

Tim Wilkerson has a gentle voice, a happy face and drag racing by the throat.

For years, he has raced with bandaids and bubble gum on a shoestring budget.

For years, he has been consigned to the second tier.

For years, he has been in the shadow of John Force, Tony Pedregon and Gary Scelzi.

Not this year.

He is the best story in motorsports, the second coming of Alan Kulwicki, who stunned NASCAR when his single car team won the Winston Cup championship in 1992.

In a sport with four Force entries, three Don Schumacher entries and two from the Pedregon brothers, Wilkerson is leading the NHRA Powerade Drag Racing championship. He has fewer resources than Kenny Bernstein and Del Worsham, yet six times this season he has held Sweet Wally Purebred over his head, the trophy that goes to every winner who is a real life Underdog.
Continue reading