Max Papis made his debut in North America in the 1996 24 Hours of Daytona with a drive in a Ferrari 333 SP prototype that went gone down in endurance racing lore. It gave birth to the nickname “Mad Max.”
On Saturday, Papis gave birth to another nickname – the “Pap slap” – after he slapped fellow NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Billy Johnson (pictured) following the Johnsonville Sausage 200 at Elkhart Lake’s Road America.
Johnson had contacted Papis earlier in the race and on pit lane afterwards, the Italian expressed his displeasure. But he walked off with a grin that made it seem like it was more lighthearted than originally intended.
I had the chance to speak to Johnson after the race – with the handslap unbeknownst to me – because he’d driven a sterling race regardless.
Johnson’s race for Roush Fenway Racing included leading early, a pit speeding penalty that dropped him to the mid-30s, and a comeback to the lead before the two late-race incidents with Papis and later Regan Smith.
“We had a car that could have contended for the win,” Johnson said. I made a mistake, fell to dead, dead last. We were like 36th or something, then drove straight through the field in less than 10 laps, it showed what the Ford Ecoboost 16 team. My car got into the 7, took us out, he was along for the ride. Earlier in the race, it happens.
“It’s a road course. There’s three-wide stacking up. A lot of contact happens. I got into the back of Max Papis, he was a little over reactive, and he had some words and fists with me. It was a bit unfortunate; a crazy race. We showed a lot of speed and showed we had what it took to win.”
Mercedes AMG Petronas team boss Toto Wolff believes that junior talents Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon have both earned their roles in Formula 1 for the 2016 season “on merit”.
Wehrlein will make his grand prix debut in 2016 with Manor Racing after winning the DTM title for Mercedes last year, becoming the youngest champion in the history of the series.
Ocon has been loaned to Renault Sport F1 Racing for its comeback season, and will work as the team’s reserve driver following his GP3 title success last year.
Wolff feels that both drivers deserve their chance in F1 this year, and also said that Mercedes will look to expand its junior program across the course of the season.
“We’re delighted that Pascal and Esteban will tackle a fresh set of challenges in 2016,” Wolff said. “Our aim is to build their experience in the best possible environment and, following positive discussions with our counterparts at Manor and Renault, it became clear that their respective Formula 1 programmes presented ideal opportunities to achieve that.
“It is very pleasing to see young drivers earning their spot in Formula 1 on merit and to see that talent is being rewarded by the system. Pascal and Esteban have proven themselves to be amongst the top young drivers out there – and both come into 2016 as champions of their respective series.
“But they still have plenty to learn and they will be staying humble, with their feet on the ground. This is an important year for them and we will be following their progress with great interest, while also looking to expand our junior program.
“Mercedes-Benz has a strong tradition of developing young racing talent and our eyes are very much open to other promising prospects for the future.”
What happens when you put a McLaren P1 owned by baseball star and CJ Wilson Racing team principal, and occasional driver, CJ Wilson, with two-time F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen, and you turn them loose at The Thermal Club for a track day?
Of course there’s other cars besides the McLaren and hockey legend, Teemu Selanne, was also on site.
This really isn’t a post so much that needs words, but one that does need proper photos and noise.
The CJWR pairing of Marc Miller and Daniel Burkett, who drive the No. 33 One Capital/Motor Oil Matters Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport dubbed “Darth Cayman” in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, have been coaching and driving at an event this weekend out at The Thermal Club, a luxury race track in California.
This was published earlier this week from NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series testing at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz., but the timing of it being posted today is to serve as a teaser to the 2016 NHRA season at Pomona Raceway in California.
Ride on-board with Shawn Langdon of Don Schumacher Racing for a test run. This is simply nuts, as thousands of horsepower are put to the ground for a 3.77-sec, 316 mph pass in testing.