Racing on the straight and narrow, the drag strips, begins Saturday, March 25, at Maryland International Raceway, Budds Creek, Md. The Colonial Beach, Va., strip opens the next day; both tracks are operated by Tod Mack. Elimination heats begins at 10 a.m. and finals at 3 p.m. at both tracks.
The Aquasco, Md., strip probably will run only two events this season, Mack said. Capitol Raceway at Crofton, Md., and the 75-80 strip at Urbana, Md., are othe r area drag sites.
The first big invitational at Maryland International is April 22 when "Dyno Don" Nicholson, still a tiger in his 50s, mets Bill (Grumpy) Jenkins in a best-of-three match between the two national champions. There will be some four-abreast races, the only ones in the East, later in the MIR season.
Just to show how easy it is, a team of drag racers will build a race car from the ground up a next weekend's Custom Car show at D.C. Armory. Everything from bolts to buckets seats will come right out of the box. "We could do it in four hours, but we want to take time to answer questions, so it may take all weekend," Mack said.
Already assembled for the show are the $20,000 Elton John Super Kart, a customized Pontiac Firebird standing belt-high, a miniature cement mixer and other weird things of the auto world.
Today's 200-mile international motorcycle road race at Daytona Beach, Fla. will be run in one heat for the $103,000 purse. Last year, the event was split into two 100-milers because of concern over tire wear at speeds up to 180 miles per hour.
Gary Nixon of Cockeysville, Md., is among the 80 starters, all mounted on 750 cc (45 cubic inches) machines, the most powerful used in road-racing today.
Promoters of Saturday's Sebring (Fla) 12-hour sports car road race are trying to get some of their money back by entering the race. Tampa Porsche drivers Dave Cowart and Charles Mendez say, "We should be able to do it, if we've organized this thing right."
First used in 1950, the airport circuit has had $100,000 worth of improvements for this year's renewal. The investment put Sebring back in the International manufacturer's Championship. Cowart and Mendez have put up a $60,000 purse and made other expenditures, including $10,000 to rent portable toilets to put around the 52-mile course.
Local sportcaster Jim Simpson is being teamed with A.J. Foyt promoting the Valvoline Foyt uses in his racers. Foyt has made up with Citi-corp, whose patch he refused to wear on his racing suit last season. The dispute over the embroidery almost cost Indianapolis-car racers the half-million dollars in prize money Citi-corp offers.
Helmut Bross, several times West German Formula Vee road racing champion and last year's winner of the Interserie for sports cars, explained why he got such a late start in auto racing. Now 38, he competed in his first motor race when he was 27.
"I had bought a new racer and rented a trailer and tow car to pick it up," he said. "Going down the high-way, I noticed the trailer fishtailing. Then, a truck coming the other way hit it. Race car and trailer kaput and it took me several years to pay off the loan. Then I could go racing."
In Washington visiting friends, Bross said he would like to return to the U.S. to race if backers could be found. He wants to bring over his own Lola-BMW, two mechanics and tranporter for the Can-Am raod races.
Just don't get New Zealand speeder (midget racer) driver Gordon Roxboro mad. Ruled out of a race in Christchurch, Roxboro parked his racer to block the track, punched an official, withdrew three other cars he owned from the meet and then, worst of all, he pulled all the push tracks, which he also owned, out of the show. The speedcars do not have self-starters. Without Roxboro's push trucks they couldn't start.