Former NASCAR owner Charles ‘Hoss’ Ellington dies

Leave a comment

You could put together one heck of an all-star team of drivers who drove during their careers for NASCAR team owner Charles “Hoss” Ellington.

Among those notables who called Ellington “boss” at some point of their careers were NASCAR Hall of Famers Fred Lorenzen, David Pearson and Cale Yarborough, four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt, two-time Indy 500 winner Gordon Johncock, Buddy Baker, Bobby Isaac, Benny Parsons, Davey Allison, Donnie Allison, Kyle Petty, Sterling Marlin and Dale Jarrett.

Ellington, who earned five wins in his career as a team owner (four by Allison and the other by Pearson) from 1968 to 1988, passed away Friday. The Wilmington, N.C. native was 79.

Allison had the longest tenure with Ellington, making 55 starts (Ellington’s teams made 264 Grand National and Winston Cup starts during his 21-year ownership tenure).

Allison was racing for Ellington when one of the most infamous moments in NASCAR annals occurred.

In the closing stages of the 1979 Daytona 500 – which, with more than one-third of the country paralyzed by a massive snowstorm, was televised nationally live for the first time – Allison was leading the race when his car and that of Yarborough’s got together on the backstretch, resulting in a race-ending wreck for both of them.

Richard Petty went on to win the race, but Allison and Yarborough became involved in a fistfight in the infield, with Donnie’s brother and NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison, also becoming involved in one of the most celebrated fights in NASCAR history.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

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

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
Leave a comment

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.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski