Gateway prepares for NASCAR return in 2014

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With the Camping World Truck Series heading for Gateway Motorsports Park next season, NASCAR racing will be back in the St. Louis region, which spawned the likes of the Wallace brothers (Rusty, Kenny, and Mike) and Ken Schrader.

A successful event could put Gateway on the list to “move up” and eventually re-gain its spot on the Nationwide Series calendar, which it held from 1997 to 2010 (the last year seeing two NNS races at the track) before it was shut down by former owner Dover Motorsports. But first thing’s first.

“We are re-introducing stock car racing to the area,” NASCAR vice president of racing operations Jim Cassidy told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this weekend. “The first step in doing that is bringing back the trucks and making it the biggest and best event we can.”

Now under the care of Curtis Francois, Gateway has been growing over the last year thanks to Francois’ renovations to the tune of $11.5 million. He entered a lease for the track in 2011 and then bought it outright this past spring.

Since taking control of Gateway, Francois has lured back the NHRA and now has been able to do the same with NASCAR. He told the Post-Dispatch that he expects the local community to support the CWTS event and “a new Gateway.”

“The fans in our region deserve great racing and the NASCAR truck series brings great racing,” Francois said. “We’re doing everything at the track to make it relevant in updating the facilities and to provide a great fan experience.

“…We’re certainly talking to a lot of [local business] people this year that we weren’t talking to last year. I do believe that the reason is they can see and feel the energy that’s at the track. We’re getting great feedback from the business leaders.”

Tickets for the Gateway 250 on June 14, 2014 go on sale this Friday.

Ka-boom! NHRA Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon blows up brand new car body

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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Former NHRA Funny Car champ Cruz Pedregon was a happy man coming into Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Dodge NHRA Mile-High Nationals in Morrison, Colorado (a suburb of Denver).

The reason Pedregon was feeling good was he had a brand new Toyota Camry body atop his Funny Car chassis. It was state of the art, it looked fast and it was prepared to run fast.

And everything really looked good as soon as Pedregon hit the gas in his qualifying run vs. Tim Wilkerson.

Well, for a few seconds, that is.

As the two drivers hurtled down the 1,000-foot drag strip, Pedregon’s brand new body was destroyed in a massive explosion.

Fortunately, Pedregon was uninjured.

Check out the big ka-boom: