Bangkok street race scrapped; Phuket possible replacement?

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Phuket could be in line to host the first grand prix in Thailand after it was confirmed that Bangkok will not be able to welcome Formula One in 2015.

Bernie Ecclestone has been a big advocate for taking Formula One to Thailand, but a proposed route around the streets of Bangkok met widespread criticism due to its lack of challenging corners or characteristics. Instead, Thailand’s sports’ minister Somask Pureesrisrak has revealed to the Bangkok Post that efforts are being made to take F1 to Phuket.

“I can confirm that we cannot hold a grand prix on Ratchadamnoen Avenue [in Bangkok],” the sports’ minister explained. “The law, which took effect last month, prohibits a car racing event in inner Bangkok.

“Phuket should be an ideal venue which meets our target to promote tourism. We still have time to prepare for the race.”

Therefore, Formula One could be set to welcome a 22nd race onto the calendar in 2015, although it is likely that the teams will push to reduce this number to 20 in order to give their personnel time to rest between races and in the off-season.

2014 is already poised to become the busiest season yet, with almost 30 F1 events planned (21 races, 4 pre-season tests, 4 in-season tests), and the addition of the Thailand GP will only add to this congestion.

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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