Rzadzinski in 2013. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Stefan Rzadzinski wins ROC Factor North America vote

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Edmonton native Stefan Rzadzinski used a strong social media campaign, a wealth of local support from his home country and a genuine presentation of his desire to race against his racing heroes to capture the ROC Factor North America vote and compete in the Race of Champions in Miami later this month, on January 21-22.

The 24-year-old will compete in the Race of Champions as his countryman James Hinchcliffe’s teammate, in the second edition of ROC Factor. Bradley Philpot competed rather well last year in England.

Rzadzinski and Conor Daly, Verizon IndyCar Series driver and like “Razzle Dazzle” a talented young driver, emerged as the leading contenders among the 10 finalists, a list that also included up-and-coming Mazda sports car racer Glenn McGee and IMSA Radio pit reporter Shea Adam among others.

Several Canadian outlets profiled Rzadzinski, who competed in all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires from 2011 through 2013 before heading back to his home country and winning races in the Nissan Micra Cup ranks. Rzadzinski pioneered a new winning style – “reverse donuts” – in Micra Cup races.

A persistent social media push was also enough to keep Rzadzinski’s name alive and well, while Daly drew ardent support from his compatriots in the IndyCar series.

In the end, Rzadzinski, who just turned 24 on Thursday, emerged victorious. Both he and Daly were classy and gracious about the result, Daly among those to offer congratulations on social media.

Argentine native Gabriel Glusman won the ROC Factor Latin America vote for the opportunity to partner with another IndyCar driver, three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves.

NHRA Gatornationals: John Force has another spectacular motor explosion

Photo courtesy NHRA
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Legendary NHRA Funny Car driver John Force endured yet another spectacular motor explosion – his third in the NHRA’s first three national event races – during Friday’s qualifying at the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.

It’s the kind of consistency the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ could do without.

The 68-year-old Force came to Gainesville hoping to break the jinx that saw him endure explosions in both the season-opening Winternationals and the second race of the season in Phoenix.

Both motor explosions sent Force to the hospital for examination before he returned to the race track.

Friday, even though the motor in his Chevrolet Camaro blew up again (in the second round of qualifying), at least this time, Force didn’t wind up in the hospital.

He did have his right hand bandaged from a cut suffered in the explosion, but did not have to go to the hospital this time.

He even joked about not having to add yet another ambulance bill to the nearest Gainesville hospital.

But the explosion still proved costly.

“That was another body and that hurts the financial (bottomline),” Force said. “I was out $500,000 to $600,000, and now we are probably out $800,000, going on a million. In drag racing, you have to be tough.”

He ended the day qualifying 14th, not a very comfortable position with two more rounds of qualifying set for Saturday.

Force continues to be mystified why the motors keep exploding.

“I really thought we had it, I thought we were there,” Force said. “In the first round we drove it 500 feet and shut it off. It looked great. We ran it again that run and I was only going to drive it 800 feet even if we didn’t make The Show.”

Force will attempt to improve his qualifying spot during Saturday’s final two rounds to make Sunday’s eliminations.

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