Darrell, Michael Waltrip mourn death of middle brother Bobby

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Robert Lynn “Bobby” Waltrip, middle brother of NASCAR Hall of Fame driver and Fox Sports announcer Darrell Waltrip and NASCAR team owner and fellow Fox Sports announcer Michael Waltrip, died Sunday.

It’s unknown when Darrell and Michael Waltrip were informed of their brother’s death. Both worked the Fox Sports’ Sunday afternoon telecast of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Auto Club 400 race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

Michael, the youngest of the three Waltrip brothers, confirmed his brother’s passing on Twitter Sunday evening.

Moments later, Darrell, the oldest Waltrip brother, also paid homage to brother Bobby.

Bobby Waltrip grew up in Owensboro, Ky., but had lived in the Concord, N.C. area the last 25 years.

While he never followed his brothers into NASCAR as a race car driver — although he did work for Darrell in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the latter formed his own Winston Cup team — Bobby became a major force in the world of go-kart racing, first as a successful kart racer himself and later as an announcer and promoter in the sport in both the World Karting Association (WKA) and the American Karting Association (AKRA).

He was believed to be in his early 60s at the time of his death.

Few details of Bobby Waltrip’s death were available late Sunday night. Someone identifying himself as Bobby Waltrip’s son had this post on the well-known go-karting news site www.karting.4cycle.com.

Condolences from friends of Darrell and Michael began pouring in Sunday night, including NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr.:

Bobby Waltrip’s death marked the second passing of a close relative of the Fox Sports NASCAR broadcasting crew in as many days. Howard R. Roberts, father of announcer John Roberts, died Saturday.

It was clear from Michael Waltrip’s last tweet Sunday night how much his brother’s death was weighing upon him:

Below is a video interview of Bobby Waltrip at Volusia (Fla.) Speedway Park in late 2009 by Daytona Beach News-Journal motorsports writer Godwin Kelly.

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.