Houston Scenics

GP of Houston hopes to become a “tradition” (VIDEO)

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This weekend marks the last part of a month-long break for the IZOD IndyCar Series before it heads to Houston next weekend for the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston doubleheader. Anticipation is growing for the final “two-step” of the campaign, which marks the return of open-wheel racing to Clutch City after a six-year absence.

The Grand Prix of Houston has had a strange history; it was part of the Champ Car schedule from 1998 to 2001 (and featured a traditional downtown street course), went away for a few years, then came back for 2006 and 2007 at Reliant Park before going dark again in the wake of the merger between Champ Car and IndyCar (then, the Indy Racing League).

So will the third time prove to be the charm in making Houston a long-term staple for IndyCar? Austin Crossley, the race’s managing director, is – as you’d expect – confident despite the race’s intermittent past.

“We’ve had a couple bumps in the road – we had a race downtown for four years that had to stop because of our explosion of construction in the early 2000s and we had the race at Reliant Park for a couple of years,” Crossley said in an interview earlier this morning with Houston NBC affiliate KPRC-TV.

“The two racing series merged, we lost our date, but we’re back. We have a five-year deal with IndyCar and Reliant Park, and we have Shell as our big sponsor which is so important. We’re planning to establish this as a tradition for many years to come.”

For more on the upcoming event, check out the interview with Crossley above. Both races of the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston will air LIVE on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra, with Race 1 on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 3 p.m. ET and Race 2 on Sunday, Oct. 6 at 1 p.m. ET.

NHRA: New book a celebration of life, love and drag racing

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The overpowering smell from nitromethane that powers Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars in the National Hot Rod Association oftentimes brings fans to tears after getting a whiff of the stuff.

Now there’s a new inspirational book that will also bring tears to the eyes of die-hard drag racing fans.

Veteran crew chief Jim Oberhofer has released “Top Fuel For Life, Life Lessons From A Crew Chief,” a touching homage to both his late wife and persevering and overcoming adversity in the highly competitive world of NHRA drag racing.

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Oberhofer wears a number of hats as vice president of one of the sport’s most veteran and successful teams, Kalitta Motorsports, including serving as crew chief for Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta’s dragster.

Oberhofer relates a number of stories about overcoming adversity in the book, but none more touching than how he watched his beloved wife “Tammy O” lose a long and painful battle to stage 4 metastatic lung cancer.

While Oberhofer has spent his life using wrenches and tools working on 10,000-horsepower engines, his new book shows that he is also a very gifted writer.

Known in the sport as “Jim O,” Oberhofer describes the fight his wife went through in gritty and descriptive prose, but with a foundation built upon what the love of his life meant to him – and continues to mean to him more than two years since she passed away.

“When you take a long hard look at your life, I guarantee you that being a winner has little to do with crossing the finish line,” Oberhofer said. “After many mistakes and a whole lot of heartache, I learned that happiness comes from a deeper, simpler place. That’s the big win.”

“Top Fuel For Life” is available on Amazon for $19.95.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Report: Ecclestone believes F1 could be sold by year’s end

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Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone on Tuesday said the racing series is up for sale and has as many as three potential buyers.

Ecclestone told The Associated Press that a deal could still be struck by year’s end.

“I think so, maybe this year,” Ecclestone said. “There are three people mentioned to buy. So it’s a case of whether CVC or Mr. Mackenzie wants to sell.”

Ecclestone was referring to F1’s largest and controlling shareholder, CVC Capital Partners co-chairman Donald Mackenzie.

But even if F1 is sold, the 84-year-old Eccelstone doesn’t plan on going anywhere.

“The people that I’ve spoken to … have asked me if I would stay,” Ecclestone told AP.

Follow @JerryBonkowski