Revved Up! Readers React to Week's Biggest Racing News, Dec. 18 Edition

From an EV sighting at a NASCAR team's pit practice to the beginning of Autoweek's 75-day celebration of NASCAR history, December is hopping.

superstar racing experience south boston speedway
Jared Tilton/SRXGetty Images

As we prepare for the holidays, this week’s REVVED UP!! mailbag features stories, reader email responses and my own sometimes controversial takes on their thoughts.

We cover NASCAR, Superstar Racing Experience, F1 and electric vehicles in racing (EVs) this week.

Enjoy and have a great holiday!

NASCAR Goes EV? Joe Gibbs Racing Using an Electric Stock Car for Pit Practice

Joe Gibbs Racing is experimenting with using an EV in pit practice sessions for its NASCAR team.
Joe Gibbs Racing

Reader Says:

jam6709: NASCAR should go to this – run 40 laps, pit, wait 4 hours to recharge, then run 40 laps, wait 4 hours to recharge, and so on and so on and so on. And the Daytona 500 will be the new 24 Hours of Daytona.

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says:

JB Says: I LOVE that line about the 24 Hours of Daytona! I know the NHRA already has an EV Class in its Summit Racing Series, and it seems that we're not far from an EV class in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. And IndyCar, even though it shelved its hybrid engines that were due to debut in 2024, is likely to have an EV presence of some sort, if not switch the entire premier series to EV, by probably 2026 or 2027. And F1 officials are no doubt keeping an eye on their racing cousins in the all-electric Formula E series. EVs are coming to more racing series. Just a matter of when.

SRX to Bring Thursday Night Thunder to ESPN

Superstar Racing Experience series of all-star racing is changing nights and networks in 2023.

Reader Says:

• joh3809: So after 2 years of Summer Saturday Nights – aka Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) – on CBS it was decided the series wasn't worth a 3rd year. No surprise. I enjoyed watching it, but it wasn't great racing or great TV.

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says:

JB Says: On the contrary, jch3809. SRX was definitely headed toward a third season with CBS from what I’ve been told. However, ESPN saw the marketing and broadcasting potential—and bringing back Thursday Night Thunder is a stroke of genius—and knew they could get SRX for not a whole lot more money than CBS was paying. But … and I say this with a big BUT … with the move to ESPN, the series should have been expanded to a 10-race schedule, with at least one or two weeks off in-between. I heard from a highly-placed source within SRX that such a plan was on the table with CBS, but for whatever reason, never came to fruition. For this series to really grow and become more popular, it needs at least 10 races each season. At the same time, I think ESPN wants to see how the TV ratings and viewership numbers pan out before it commits to a 10-race (or maybe even a 12-race) schedule. But I can easily see the schedule expanding by 2024.

The Year President Jimmy Carter Brought NASCAR to the White House

Fulfilling a campaign promise, President Jimmy Carter brought NASCAR stars to the White House in 1978.

Readers Say:

zentrader: The best image of a US President and NASCAR has to be the landing of Air Force One on the airstrip alongside the backstretch of Daytona on July 4th, 1984, during the Firecracker 400. Reagan missed the start but was there for the photo-finish between Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough. It was Petty's 200th NASCAR win.
rgh8016: I believe that he did miss the start but gave the "Start engines" command from Air Force 1, en route. I remember the great photo coverage of the plane landing behind the back stretch while the cars were running in the foreground. Good old Ron, he was the real deal. Miss him!!

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says:

JB Says: I couldn’t agree more with you Zentrader and rgh8016. In my opinion, President Reagan’s visit to Daytona for the Fourth of July is one of probably the 10 most memorable events in NASCAR history. To see President Reagan not only get off the plane, but then also get in the broadcast booth (remember, he was a sports announcer in his early career before becoming an actor) and then sharing the victory lane spotlight with King Richard to celebrate his 200th career win was nothing shy of true magic. I miss Ron, too, rgh8016!

Haas Castoff Mick Schumacher Leaves Ferrari, Gets F1 Deal with Mercedes

Mick Schumacher won’t be in a Formula 1 car in 2023, but he still landed a nice gig at Mercedes.

Readers Say:

• fgd8384: Mick will continue to develop his skills and hopefully gain enough experience to rejoin the F1 scrum as a regular driver. Toto is a great teacher.
• wmf7954: I think Mick does deserve a shot at being with a competitive team. Good for Toto taking him on board. And, crashing "too much" is what happens when you are trying to get something out of a car that just isn't in it. Maybe in a competitive car Mick would show his potential.

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says:

JB Says: I couldn’t agree more with either of you. I think Mick has talent—and obviously great genes—but he just didn’t have the team to showcase that talent with Haas. Every time I read or heard about Mick being blamed for the team’s deficiencies, I wanted to spit nails. A) He was a very young kid who was just getting going in his career. B) The team and organization left a lot to be desired. And C) he was spinning his wheels at Haas, unable to make any real legitimate forward progress. Now that he’s moved from Ferrari to Mercedes and to have Toto Wolff as his mentor, I guarantee you we will see significant development from him over the next couple of years. He'll get another shot at the F1 grid. Bank on it.

How R.J. Reynolds' Sponsorship, Winston Cup Became NASCAR Game Changer in 1971

NASCAR Hall of Famer Ralph Seagraves of R.J. Reynolds, left, brokered some of the greatest sponsor deals in racing history.
Getty Images

Readers Say:

• herr64: Without R. J. Reynolds' sponsorship, NASCAR could not have grown to the size it is. Granted, the twilight may have fallen (according to some folks) for NASCAR, but the growth of that sport between 1971 and 2001 (the end of the Winston Cup era, give or take a few months) cannot be denied.
• Motionman: RJR came into NASCAR at about the same time that definitive proof was being presented that smoking caused cancer. Stock car racing was a perfect 'distraction' at the time.

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says:

JB Says: RJR gave NASCAR one of the greatest – if not the all-time greatest – sports entitlement packages (aka “sponsorship”) of any major professional sport. RJR was not a stupid company. That it continued its partnership with NASCAR for 32 years is no surprise. The company and sanctioning body were like peas in a pod. And if it had not been for increasing government pushback against RJR’s relationship with NASCAR, it likely still had several years of additional success ahead of it.

The Tragic Death of 'The Clown Prince of NASCAR' Joe Weatherly at Age 41

Joe Weatherly was the two-time defending NASCAR Cup champion at the time of his death.
Getty Images

Readers Say:

• BellaJabroni: Great to read about these drivers from the golden days of NASCAR, before corporate sponsors and political correctness took hold. These guys drove hard, worked hard, played hard and loved the sport and life. Good trip down memory lane.
• mbe1532: Great, now I'm imagining Kevin Harvick in a Peter Pan suit.

JB Says: Thank you for the kind words, BellaJabroni. I agree with you, NASCAR back in the day was a lot more genuine and basic. Drivers raced for the sake of racing, as opposed to the last 30 years or so where drivers sometimes are more concerned about how they look or promote their sponsors than how they finish, something drivers back in the day usually didn’t worry about. Because the sport is so dependent upon money, sponsorship, corporate investment and the brand and name recognition that comes with all of it, there’s really no change I see in the future. I would like to see today’s drivers judged more on their talent like they were 50, 60 or 70 years ago, rather than the teams/sponsors/owners they drive for or how classy they look or are heard of in TV and radio interviews. And as for your comment, mbe1532, I would LOVE to see a picture of Kevin Harvick in a Peter Pan suit. If anyone has a copy of it, please send it to me! I need a good laugh!

Follow Autoweek correspondent Jerry Bonkowski on Twitter @JerryBonkowski

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