The Wilson “bromates” secure fourth and debut finish in Baltimore

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Brothers Justin and Stefan Wilson, like most of the IZOD IndyCar Series field, had an eventful Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT. But although both had their moments where they were involved with incidents, the Dale Coyne Racing “Bromates” each achieved their goals.

Justin started fourth following his first Firestone Fast Six appearance of the 2013 season. He ran in the top five early but fell to 12th on Lap 11, as he fought early brake issues. He fell as low as 20th, on Lap 28, and despite a recovery from there got tagged again at Turn 3 by Sebastien Bourdais on Lap 63, while running fourth. That dropped him back to 10th but with more spins and collisions in front him, he made it back to an eventual fourth-place finish, his fourth straight top-10 finish.

“It was a strange race but I’m really pleased that we managed to hang on and get fourth place with the Boy Scouts of America car because here in Baltimore we have a big following,” said Wilson, who was also carrying Dempsey Challenge signage on his No. 19 Honda this weekend. “It was a tough race. I lost the rear brakes completely from about Lap 4. The pedal was going to the floor so I was just trying to hang on.”

Series debutante Stefan started from 21st on the grid but things nearly went south before his race really got going. An early call to pit on Lap 3 to switch tire compounds nearly backfired; Wilson almost left the pits without his left rear tire. However, the team was able to get his car back on track after reattaching the tire. Wilson kept completing laps before slight contact at Turn 7, which wasn’t enough to take him out of the race.

It was almost fortuitous in a sense, because that meant he had a front row seat to most of the carnage that unfolded in front of him the rest of the race. Although he lost a few laps for repairs to the No. 18 Nirvana Tea Honda, Wilson became the third series debutante in the last three races (fellow No. 18 driver James Davison and Barracuda Racing’s Luca Filippi at Mid-Ohio) to finish his debut. On a day when series champions Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay didn’t for various pitfalls, that was an accomplishment.

“Thanks for all of your support this weekend, been quiet on Twitter, but have read every single message, and it means a lot!” Stefan Wilson said on Twitter after the race. “did math and by Warmup, including time at Barber, Ive had about 4 hours in an @indycar, so this weekend was always going to be a learning xp. Was caught out by the marbles in the race, never experienced something like that, so another lesson learned! Was so pleased to be able to get back out there in the @NirvanaTea car, after that, and had fun in the short green laps we had.”

Justin now ranks sixth in the IndyCar points standings with 393, while Stefan Wilson made a very solid first impression on the IndyCar paddock. Like most in search of another chance, here’s to hoping we see the pair of “bromates” back on track once more.

Are you a racer looking for the fountain of youth? Try NHRA drag racing

Photos courtesy NHRA
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It used to be that many of the big-name race car drivers routinely raced into their 50s, most notably in NASCAR.

Richard Petty raced until he was 55. The late David Pearson was 54 when he last raced in NASCAR.

But these days, we’re seeing the majority of professional racers calling it quits in their early-to-mid 40s – like Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Greg Biffle and most recently, Jamie McMurray.

But that’s not the case for competitors in the National Hot Rod Association. Like fine wine, it seems that the kings of the drag strip only seem to get better and more successful with age.

To them, the “r word” is not “retire,” it’s “reaction time.”

Consider many of today’s stars in the NHRA and their respective ages:

* Funny Car legend John Force will turn 70 in May. And while he hasn’t won a championship since 2013, Force remains one of the biggest forces – no pun intended – in the sport.

Fellow Funny Car drivers still seemingly in their prime include Ron Capps (53 years old), Jack Beckman (52), Tim Wilkerson (turns 58 on Dec. 29), Cruz Pedregon (55) and Gary Densham (62).

* In Top Fuel, the winningest driver and record eight-time champ Tony Schumacher will turn 49 on Dec. 25. Those already on the other side of the 50-year-old line include Clay Millican (52), Doug Kalitta (54), Terry McMillen (64), Billy Torrence (60) and Cory McClenathan (turns 56 on Jan. 30).

Chris Karamesines

And let’s not forget the oldest active drag racer on the NHRA professional circuit (albeit part-time rather than full-time), Chicago native Chris Karamesines, who is still racing a Top Fuel dragster at 300-plus mph at the spry young age of 87 years old!

Yes, you read that right, Karamesines is 87 – but could easily pass for 67 – and he has no intention of retiring anytime soon.

* Ironically, the slower Pro Stock class is not as well-represented in the 50-and-over group as is Top Fuel and Funny Car, with only two regulars who have passed the half-century mark: four-time champ Greg Anderson (57) and Kenny Delco (65).

But that 50-and-above fraternity will add at least one other member next year when former champ Jason Line turns 50 on July 24. And five-time champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. will turn 50 in 2020.

Jerry Savoie

* Even the easy riders of Pro Stock Motorcycle have several 50-and-over competitors: Scotty Pollacheck (turns 50 on Feb. 8), 2016 champ Jerry Savoie (turns 60 on Feb. 23), Karen Stofer (54), Steve Johnson (turns 58 on Jan. 19) and Hector Arana (60).

Granted, drag racers don’t have the same grueling time spent behind the wheel. Their average run lasts from just over 3.5 seconds to maybe eight or nine seconds.

And unlike driving 400 or 500 laps or miles as in NASCAR, a full four-round race during Sunday eliminations for NHRA racers adds up to one whole mile – or less.

Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers only go a distance of 1,000 feet per run, while Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle go a full quarter-mile (1,320 feet) in their respective runs.

In a sense, hitting the 5-0 mark or higher has become somewhat of a fountain of youth for several racers.

For example, Capps won his first career Funny Car crown in 2016 at the age of 51.

The same year, Savoie won his first career PSM title at the age of 57.

And Force won his most recent Funny Car title in 2013 at the age of 64.

Force has already gone on record to say that he wants to become the first major pro champion to win a title at 70 years old – which would also become the 17th championship of his illustrious career as the winningest driver in all NHRA history.

He gets a chance toward doing just that when the 2019 NHRA season kicks off at Pomona, California, on Feb. 7-10.

Follow @JerryBonkowski