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The 2017 Racing Season Is Off To A Great Start

Winning car pushed to victory lane. [Joe Jennings Photo]

The Wayne Taylor Racing Rolex 24 at Daytona winning car heads to victory lane. [Joe Jennings Photo]

Turk’s Tracks
A Few Loose Lug Nuts from Pit Row

By Gene Turk

The running of the Rolex 24 hour race at Daytona was an exciting start to the 2017 racing season. Congrats to the Wayne Taylor Racing team’s winning finish in their Cadillac prototype cars. The win by the number ten car puts Jeff Gordon in to a very elite group of NASCAR drivers to win the Rolex 24. Jeff came out of retirement to join Wayne Taylor racing as a co-driver. This win was not without its share of excitement in the closing minutes of the race. Ricky Taylor in the WTR Cadillac was running second to the Action Express Cadillac driven by Flipe Albuquerque when they made contact in turn one. Flipe ended up spinning off course, but was able to charge back for a second place finish. After the race, Flipe had a few choice words to say about the incident. I’m guessing that Flipe has removed Ricky from his Christmas card list!

Some off the most exciting racing took place in the last 20 minutes of the race. The GTLM series is one of the most contested. The number 66 Ford GT barely held off the #911 Porsche for the win. The Porsche had all it could do to hang on to its second place finish from a late race charge by the #62 Ferrari. Overall, a very good start to this year’s racing season.

February will really get this year’s racing into high gear with a wide range of racing venue options. If you would really like to try something different, you could zip up to Maniwaki, Quebec for the American Rally Association (ARC) 52 Rallye Perce-Neige race on February 3rd-4th. Or, for those of you who would rather forgo frost bite, there is always the sunny warmth of Florida in February. You could always return to Daytona on February 18th and take in the ARCA 200 mile race. As long as you’re in the area, you could pop over to the New Smyrna Speedway for the 51st annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car racing from February 16th to the 19th. And for those of us that believe only real race car drivers race on dirt, the 2017 Dirt Car Nationals will start on February 14th at the Volusia Speedway Park in Volusia, Florida. Here’s your chance to enjoy some great night racing. And then we wrap up February with the Daytona 500.

During a recent interview, NASCAR driver Paul Menard was asked if he had thought about what he would do after retiring from racing stock cars. Paul stated that his family has always been involved in racing and Paul would like to continue being involved in racing. He then stated that he would like to start an ice racing team. That’s something that you don’t hear every day from a NASCAR driver. After a while, I had a chance to think about Paul’s comments, and I found myself thinking that wasn’t such a far-fetched idea. Paul is a native of Wisconsin and Menard’s corporate office is still located in Wisconsin. Nobody is going to fault Paul for not being able to find enough frozen lakes to race on. Surprisingly, ice racing is quite active in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Canada. The ironic thing to this is that I only need to travel all of three minutes from my house to watch motorcycle ice racing on the south east shore of Lake Winnebago. The other thing that’s in Paul’s favor is the length of the racing season can be long enough to make his dream profitable. We’re not known as the frozen tundra for nothing. As a matter of fact, a town I lived in along the western shores of Lake Michigan was considered to have two seasons – winter and one month of poor ice skating.

In a previous article I had mentioned that the Toyota teams might have a challenge with the new Camry’s aero package. My first thoughts were that Toyota tried to cross an Acura with a Lexus. Since then, I had a chance to see a video of the new Camry NASCAR race-ready car putting in some practice laps. The front end of this car (and the rear) looks nothing like the Camry that we will see on the showroom floor. This is really starting to put a burr under my saddle! What happened to seeing a “stock” car running in a stock car race? Nowadays, you can barely tell one manufacture from another while running in a tight pack of cars. For me, it’s come down to identifying a car by its paint color and car number. I remember when you could spot a Chevy from a Ford from a Dodge on a dark, rainy night on the back straight. There was a time when a car owner would buy a two door hard top off of a dealer’s lot, take it his shop, put in a roll bar, drop in a race-prepped stock engine, weld the doors shut, change springs and shocks and go racing. That’s what we called stock car racing.

Until next time, keep the tach in the black and dirty side down.

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Gene Turk was born with racing in his blood. At age 8 he started racing Quarter Midgets as member of the Great Milwaukee Quarter Midget club. For five years he raced the #7 car that his father built. He then graduated from the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) with a degree in Industrial Engineering and Internal Combustion Engineering.

While in college he obtained his Private Pilot’s License.

Along the way he has attended numerous Indy car and stock car races at the Milwaukee Mile during the 60s, 70sand 80s along with area Midget car races. He would also frequently fly to the Brickyard to watch the Indy 500 time trials in the 60s and 70s and more recently attended the 2014 Indy 500.

He has also attended numerous sports car and NASCAR races at Elkhart Lake Road America. Finally, Gene has owned many classic cars including his present 1990 Corvette and is a self-described “Gear Head.”