Derrick Walker. Photo: INDYCAR

Changes to drive-thru penalties may be on IndyCar horizon


The Verizon IndyCar Series is not like a McDonald’s restaurant.

So look for potential changes to drive-thru penalties in the open-wheel series, according to a report by’s Bruce Martin.

IndyCar president of competition Derrick Walker said he and other series officials will take a look at the inordinate number of drive-thru penalties thus far in 2014, and make changes if deemed appropriate.

Walker told Martin that in hindsight, many of the drive-thru penalties thus far this season may not necessarily have merited that kind of punishment.

“There are some instances where the drive-thru is too harsh a penalty for the infraction,” Walker told Martin. “For example, jumping the restart or the start. A drive-thru penalty can ruin a driver’s chances of contending for a victory and that is not what we are trying to do.

“A more appropriate penalty may be to have that driver give up three or four positions on the track rather than have him serve the drive-thru and either be at the end of the lead lap or a lap down.”

Walker, who oversees IndyCar Race Control, said any changes to drive-thru penalty situations likely won’t come until after this season.

“The drive-thru penalty will get a thorough review in the off-season and I would like to see it changed to a more appropriate penalty for some infractions,” Walker said.

Team Penske driver Will Power came into Saturday night’s race at Iowa having been called five times this season for drive-thru penalties, one of the most notable being last week at Pocono when he was penalized for blocking teammate Helio Castroneves.

But surprisingly, Power isn’t complaining about being penalized so much. Rather, he likes the drive-thru policy as it currently is.

“The good thing about a drive-thru penalty is it serves as quite a deterrent to not do that again,” Power told Martin. “If you only penalize a driver three or four positions for jumping the start then I might take that gamble to gain an extra position if they don’t call it.”

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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.

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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.

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