"A 10-lap race lasting about three minutes around the Old Dominion Speedway leaves me more exhausted than a half-hour road race," said John Kelly, a three-time Sports Car Club of America national champion.

Kelly, of Gaithersburg, competes in the street-stock class at the Manassas oval when not steering his Elva Courier on road circuits.

As Kelly explained it, "There's no time to relax on a speedway. Everyone is fairly closely matched and everyone sticks close to you on a short track."

Road-racing is "mostly fast driving," he said. "It's rare I have anyone to race against. The field spreads out on a long track so you don't have too much head-to-head competition."

Defending champion Steve Eklund is off to a terible start in defending his Winston Pro Series motorcycle title. In four races, he has yet to score a point and he failed to qualify for the final in the big race at his hometown San Jose, Calif., track two weeks ago. Hank Scott of Findlay, Ohio, and Alex Jorgensen of Stockton, Calif., are tied for the point lead. Both ride Harley-Davidsons.

A pair of remarkable streaks are alive at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where the $377,000 World 600 Grand National stock car race is scheduled Sunday. David Pearson won the pole position in his last 11 starts at the mile-and-a-half track, driving the Woods Brothers entry. When Pearson sat out last year's races, the Woods team added two pole wins with Neil Bonnett at the wheel of its Purolator Mercury.

Qualifying begins Wednesday, with $15,000 awaiting the pole winner. On Saturday are the Mello Yello "Open Sportsman" class race and the Great American Taxicab Race, with $5,000 going to the winner, who must be a legitimate hacker. In the field is Jack Waters, 61, of Chicago, who has never had an accident in 40 years of driving a cab.

There won't be an Indianapolis-car race at Trenton Speedway this year. The new Championship Racing Leaque's 12-race schedule shows the Pocono, Pa., 500-miler, June 22, and a 150-mile road race at Watkins Glen, N.Y., Aug. 3 as the only Eastern events. Three road races are on the list, including one in Mexico City where the Grand Prix teams refuse to race for safety reasons.

Will Dilks of Baltimore started this season with two straight wins as he chases his third-straight Dorsey (Md.) Speedway late-model, sedan-class title. Dilks should know his way around the quarter-mile, dirt track. He's been racing there 24 years.

There are a dozen races starting at 7 p.m. at Dorsey every Saturday through Sept. 20. More than 110 cars compete weekly in the late model, street stock and Figure Eight divisions.

Pit stops for contenders in the Indianapolis 500 have to be under 20 seconds considering most halt eight or nine times for fuel and tires. Last year, fourth-place finisher Bobby Unser had the least time off the track. He made seven stops but spent only 95 seconds in the pits in the three-hour race.

Rules have been changed to make the classic 24-hour race at Le Mans, France, June 14-15 a little more economical for competitors. Practice time has been cut to nine hours from 11; any type of fuel may be used, and the same engine used in practice must be used to start and finish the race.

Pit stops will be more relaxed. Fuel pumps have been slowed so it will take 2 1/2 minutes to load 25 gallons of fuel compared to 40-50 seconds last year. The extra time is to allow crews to check the cars for problems.

Paul Newman will drive again, this year teamed with Briton Brian Redman in a Porsche 935.

This week's local feature races are on Saturday night. The Mello Yello 150-lapper (56.25 miles) for sportsman sedans is at Old Dominon, and the Pro Superstakes at the Maryland International Raceway's drag strip in Budds Creek, Md.