Ringing out the old year

2010 was definitely an interesting year in auto racing.  Jimmie Johnson comes from behind to win Nascar Sprint Cup title #5 in a row. Dario Franchitti not only wins the Indianapolis 500 but he comes from behind to claim the IndyCar title. Chip Ganassi won the Indianapolis 500 as a team owner with Franchitti plus the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 with Jamie McMurray.  Oh, Chip also took the Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype crown in dominating fashion with ageless Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas.  Those were just the top of the list in outstanding racing moments of the year in the United States.

The lowest moment may have been the pothole problem during the Daytona 500.  When your biggest event of the year turns into a stretch of Michigan highway (I believe we are the pothole capital of the world) that is not a good thing.

All in all, it was an enjoyable year.

Personally, I’d like to thank Daytona International Speedway, Michigan International Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway for hiring me in 2010 to be part of the their “at-track” voice.  Doing the PA work at those facilities allows me to have the best seat in the house, right above the start finish line and to be able to see every bit of race track.  It doesn’t hurt I also get plenty to eat and drink and I have air conditioning on those hot and muggy days.

Most of all, I’d like to thank all the race fans.  Without you, those three race tracks wouldn’t need my services nor would they provide the great racing we see each and every year. Considering the economy, many of you made a sacrifice to make it to the race track and for that I tip my hat.

I hope all of you have a great 2011 and we’ll see you at Daytona in four weeks with the smell of burning rubber and the roar of racing engines!

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ARCA-The “little” series that can!

ARCA Logo I make no apologies. I am bullish on the ARCA Racing Series presented by Re/Max and Menards. Part of it is that I’ve gotten to know many of the officials and drivers in the Michigan headquartered series but a big reason is that the racing is exciting with a ton of great young drivers.

This past Friday I saw the series in action at MIS. Although Craig Goess, the winner from the previous week dominated, a late caution during green flag pit stops put him a lap down and allowed Mikey Kyle to gain his first victory.  Ironically, it was Goess that had beaten him just 8 days earlier at Pocono.

kilevlmis10 For ARCA, Kyle was the sixth different first-time winner in the 8 races run so far in 2010. Besides Kyle and Goess, Justin Marks, high-schooler Dakoda Armstrong, Chris Buescher and Steve Arpin also gained that first victory.

Arpin has already raced in the Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports and the others may not be far behind.

DaytonaDanicaPatrick-1.jpg Danica Patrick made her stock car debut with the series at Daytona in February bringing media attention to the series that is still paying off with increased television viewing.

piquet jr The son of three-time Formula One Champion Nelson Piquet, Nelson Piquet, Jr. is racing in ARCA and is beginning to show he will be competing for a victory soon.

But while the series is drawing more attention, it hasn’t lost that Saturday night local track feel.

You can talk to the drivers and crews in the garage area and I’m not just talking about the media but also the fans.  They willingly sign autographs just about anytime.  It’s a family atmosphere that embraces the best of auto racing. 

Ron Drager Ron Drager is the President of ARCA and his staff along with all the teams are showing you don’t have to be the “big boys” to have great racing and be ultra fan friendly.

Why not find out for yourself about ARCA?  If they are in your area, go to a race.  If no races are close, catch them on one of their Speed broadcasts.  I think you’ll be hooked once you do!

**Note-ARCA President Ron Drager was a guest on Pit Pass USA with Larry Henry Tuesday June 15th.  You can hear that interview by going to www.PitPassUSA.com and clicking on the archived show for that date.**

Happy Birthday to us!

image

n113908675882_1748-Big It isn’t actually my personal birthday but today does mark one year that has passed since the beginning of the PowerUp Motorsports Channel and Pit Pass USA being a part of it.

The channel was the brain child of Stefani Paulus. Stef, who has been around racing a long time (but not that long as she’s only 29!) went to Jeff Spenard the head man of Voice America and got him to commit to what has been our journey to this point establishing the PowerUp Channel as one of the top destinations for all forms of motorsports.

Larry with Dale Jr-1 I had one hell of a debut show last June 2nd. Newly crowned Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, “Dr. McDreamy” Patrick Dempsey, and the big one Dale Earnhardt, Jr. just hours after it was announced that his cousin Tony Eury, Jr. was out as his crew chief. You can listen to that interview by clicking here.

I can’t even list the different people that I’ve interviewed for Pit Pass USA during the last year but some of the ones I’ve enjoyed the most are the “little guys” of racing. That to me is a major part of what I try to do with this show.

Larry with Helio Castroneves Yes the big names are great but there’s a hell of a lot more grassroots racers out there than are in Nascar or IndyCar or NHRA or any of the major series. I hope I never forget those people because if I do, I will lose touch with the real racing in America.

 

I want to thank all of you for listening and supporting Pit Pass USA each and every week.  Because of your support, we’ve been able to grow and just a few weeks ago we were able to broadcast live before the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Speedway.

Larry with Kyle Petty You are now following us on Twitter (@PitPassUSA) and going to our Facebook Fan page. (Pit Pass USA with Larry Henry) Many listen to the show in our archives at www.PitPassUSA.com or subscribe through iTunes. (Click here for feed)

Most of all, I want to hear from you.  Either drop me a note on the Facebook Fan Page or directly via email at LarryHenry@PitPassUSA.com I want this show to reflect your interests and not just mine.

If you have someone that you feel would be a great interview and the audience would enjoy hearing them, email me!  I want you to be my eyes and ears out there not only across America in racing but the world!

Larry with Chip Ganassi Indy team Tonite to kickoff the second year of Pit Pass USA with Larry Henry and the PowerUp Motorsports Channel I talk with now two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti, 2009 NHRA Funny Car Champion and winner of three events in a row Robert Hight, and Fox/Speed Nascar analyst Larry McReynolds.

It’s been a blast doing this past year and I look forward to many more here as part of the PowerUp Motorsports Channel.  Thanks again for making us one of the fastest growing spots on the internet and remember, The Best is Yet to Come!

Preparing for Danica Mania at Daytona

patrickdanicamediacenter09 Tomorrow it begins.  “Danica Mania” will be unleashed at Daytona International Speedway as Danica Patrick takes to the 2..5 mile high banks in ARCA practice. 

Normally the Thursday ARCA practice might bring a few journalists out to the track early to watch and do a few interviews.  Not this time.  A media horde is about to be unleashed the likes of which is usually reserved for Rock stars.

I’m torn by all this attention.  On one hand it’s good for ARCA to get the publicity as a series but on the other hand if all the stories are about Danica it doesn’t help the ARCA regulars who scratch for every penny to keep racing to get the pub they need to stay alive and on the track.

I consider ARCA President Ron Drager to be a friend and I know he understands the pluses and minuses of the situation.  Daytona is only one race on the ARCA 2010 schedule. His concern is for the entire season and series.  However, Danica Patrick’s presence means for at least a few days ARCA is front and center in the racing media world and even beyond.

I have no doubt that Saturday’s ARCA race on Speed (4:30PM ET Live) will be the highest rated ever for the series even eclipsing when Juan Pablo Montoya ran some races in it as did Dario Franchitti.  I just hope that the TV guys don’t make it a Danica all the time broadcast.  I’ve seen that in IndyCar broadcasts where there is a Danica update about every two laps.

Let’s all remember when the green flag drops there are 43 drivers on the track, not just one.  They all are taking the same chances and all have the same dream of winning at Daytona.  Danica is a big story but don’t forget to those that are family, friends and supporters of the others in the field their story is just as big and important.  All I ask for on Saturday is some balance.

ARCA RE/MAX Series bucking the trend!

arca-logoLet me start by saying, I’m a big backer of the ARCA RE/MAX Series and I do not hide that fact.  I’ve gotten to know the people running the series including President Ron Drager over the last several years.  It does help the ARCA offices are just down the road in Tecumseh, Michigan, and that Ron also is an owner of Flat Rock and Toledo Speedways.  That however has nothing to do with this.

At the just concluded 3 day ARCA RE/MAX Series Daytona International Speedway pre-season testing, 62 different drivers took to the track!  That’s right 62 drivers!  I don’t think you’ll see that many try and qualify for the Daytona 500 in the Nascar Sprint Cup Series.

joey-loganoThe ARCA RE/MAX Series has been evolving in the last few years as more and more Nascar teams are using the series to get young up-and-coming drivers seat time.  That’s why Joey Logano, who takes over the #20 Home Depot Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing was on-track in a Venturini Motorsports machine.  He wasn’t alone however as 5-time Daytona Supercross by Honda champion Ricky Carmichael was getting accustomed to running on four wheels instead of two.  How about 20 year old Port Orange, Flordia native Alii Owens?  She’s giving Daytona a go.

will-kimmel1Then there’s Will Kimmel.  He’s the nephew of 9-time ARCA RE/MAX Series champion Frank Kimmel.  He made his uncle proud as he posted the quickest time during single car runs at 180.977 miles an hour.

Those are the youngsters, but what is great about ARCA, they have a cadre of veteran drivers who are the heart and soul of the series.  Bobby Gerhart is looking for a sixth Daytona ARCA RE/MAX Series win.  There’s Patrick Sheltra, Terry Jones, A.J. Henriksen, Bryan Silas, Larry Hollenbeck, and Darryl Basham just to name a few of the guys that are there every weekend.

That’s what makes ARCA a fun series to watch.  The mixture of the young “soon-to-be” Nascar stars and the veterans, whose only aspirations are to win and be competitive against their peers in a series that allows them to enjoy their passion.

Also, ARCA runs at a lot of small tracks across America in addition to their races run in conjunction with Nascar.  They race each year at their home track of Toledo Speedway. There’s Salem Speedway, Berlin Speedway, Cayuga Motor Speedway, and DuQuoin Sate Fairgrounds, which is dirt! (Wouldn’t you love to see a Nascar Sprint Cup race on dirt!)

What’s great about those venues, the fans get to go down on the grid before the race and get autographs from the drivers who are by their cars !  Nascar says it is fan friendly. The ARCA RE/MAX Series backs up their words with action!

If you haven’t discovered the ARCA RE/MAX Series yet, let me invite you to watch the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona February 7th beginning at 4PM ET on Speed.  I think you’ll be hooked on one of the best little secrets in American racing if you do.  I know I am!

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