Firestone Rubber Ready For Martinsville NASCAR Workout

Charlotte, NC – After all the complaining about the quality of the Goodyear rubber being used in NASCAR these days, someone is finally doing something about it.

This weekend, Martinsville Speedway will have Firestone rubber on hand for the Goody?s 500. The rubber is designed to be durable and provide excellent traction. In fact, the compound is so good that it has a life expectancy of more than 20 years.

Unfortunately, the Firestone rubber used at Martinsville this weekend won?t be on the cars, but rather on the roof of the press box. The flat, square pieces of rubber were installed several years back as a protective weather barrier on the roof where the spotters will take their stand for this weekend?s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and Sprint Cup race.

As a veteran of the Martinsville spotter?s stand, this writer can tell you the Firestone product provides excellent traction. Also, in the several years since the installation of the Firestone rubber, I have never seen a single spotter suddenly lose traction for no apparent reason. Additionally, no spotter has crashed off the top of the building and out of the race thanks to a cut or puncture to the Firestone rubber on the roof at Martinsville. Finally, the knobby design pattern of the Firestone rubber is also very easy on the spotter?s suspension parts (ankles, knees, hips).

If there is any drawback to the Firestone product, it is very uncomfortable for the spotters to lay down on for a nap during those long breaks while working a day-long tests at the speedway like the Truck Series test a week ago.

In any case, NASCAR officials are expected to keep a keen eye on the Firestone rubber at Martinsville this weekend. If the product continues to perform without incident or defect, the next step could be to mount it on a NASCAR race car.

More Martinsville –

After one weekend off in the Cup and two in the Truck Series, the divisions will invade Martinsville this weekend for a great racing doubleheader.

Martinsville is one of the coolest places for a fan to attend a race. The track, which hosted its first NASCAR event on September 25, 1949, is a throwback to the old days of NASCAR.

The .526-mile asphalt/concrete surfaced layout is NASCAR?s smallest and provides for plenty of old-time bumping and banging, grind ?em up kind of racing.

You can still feel what racing was like when Red Byron and his 1949 Olds fielded by legendary car owner Raymond Parks dusted 14 other entries in the first Martinsville race nearly 60 years ago. It?s a very unique place and one every stock car racing fan should visit soon before NASCAR officials finally realize the track is outdated with too small a garage area to safely accommodate a weekend doubleheader of nearly 100 race vehicles and transporters, thousands of officials, crewmembers, media members, sponsor types and race fans.

No Show At Martinsville ?

This reporter will miss only his second NASCAR racing weekend at the venerable Martinsville track since 1994 when they take the green flag Saturday and Sunday. Instead of trying to wedge into the 40 x 40 media cave in the Martinsville infield with 100 or so other reporter types, we?re heading to another half-mile raceway located in Jefferson, GA to spot a super late model race.

Driver Richard Johns will steer his Ford Fusion into action in a 100-lap Georgia Asphalt Series (GAS) race at Peach State Speedway and we?ll be up on the spotter?s stand trying to keep the 26-year-old driver on the path to victory.

It will be our first outing with Johns this season after spotting him in 12 NASCAR Busch (now Nationwide) Series events last season. In coming weeks, Johns (right)will drive for Sadler-Hamilton Racing in the NASCAR Camping World East Series beginning with an event at Greenville-Pickens Speedway on Saturday, April 19.

Other Camping World dates with Johns on the Close Finishes spotting calendar this season include a race at Iowa Speedway (along with Sadler-Hamilton teammate Bobby Hamilton, Jr.) on May 18 and South Boston (VA) Speedway on May 31.

While it will be tough not to be at Martinsville this weekend, it will be great to return to Peach State, see old friend and current track promoter Vince Whitmire, and race an ultra-quick late model.

Racing is always better than reporting.

Can?t wait.

Serious As A Heart Attack ?

When Scott Wimmer won the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Nashville this weekend, he gave a Victory Lane shout out to Dick Trickle. Wimmer, like almost every Wisconsin native working in NASCAR today (this writer included), owes a debt of gratitude to Trickle ? the greatest of all Badger State racing legends.

Long before Trickle (right) ever had his cup of coffee in NASCAR late in his career, he was the terror of Wisconsin short tracks wheeling his No. 99 ?White Knight? super late model stock cars to countless feature victories. In doing so, the now 66-year-old Trickle inspired untold Wisconsin and Midwestern youngsters to embrace racing as a passion and eventually, as a career.

Last week, Trickle had a heart surgery to insert stents to relieve a pair of blockages. While years smoking thousands of packs of cigarettes and drinking mountains of coffee beans couldn?t keep the Wisconsin Rapids native out of a racecar, the heart procedure last week apparently will keep Trickle from driving this season.

Don?t look for this to be the last you?ll ever see of Richard LeRoy Trickle in a race car, however. Knowing the legendary racer well, the bet here is that Trickle will be back at the track and behind the wheel of a racecar soon.

Get well, Dick. The racing ? and the parties ? just aren?t the same without you.

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