Ryan Phinny joins Indy Lights lineup; sponsors include George Clooney’s tequila brand

Leave a comment

Ordinarily there would be no reason or purpose to include a George Clooney photo in any racing post here on MotorSportsTalk.

But when Clooney’s tequila brand, Casamigos, is part of a sponsorship package, you make an exception.

The brand, which stands for ‘House of Friends’, was launched in 2012 by Clooney, Rande Gerber, and Mike Meldman and will be the primary backer of Bryan Herta Autosport’s Indy Lights entry for Ryan Phinny, which will debut at Toronto next weekend.

The entry will run the three remaining road and street course race weekends of the season (Toronto, Mid-Ohio, Sonoma) for Indy Lights. Phinny, 24, has a single Indy Lights start at Long Beach in 2011 on his career resume as well as past experience in Formula BMW, Star Mazda and sports cars.

“I’m excited to get things going,” Phinny said in a team release. “I love the Toronto track, I’ve always had good runs at Mid-Ohio, and finishing out the season in California is the best yet. I know the BHA team well and I’ve known Bryan Herta for years. I couldn’t be more thankful for this opportunity and Bryan’s continued faith in my driving. This is an ideal scenario for me.”

He added of Casamigos, “I really want to thank Mike Meldman, George Clooney, and Rande Gerber for bringing me into the ‘House of Friends’ and giving me the opportunity to represent the Casamigos Tequila brand. I’ve always wanted to merge the Hollywood aspect of my life with racing, it’s really a great fit. I’d also like to thank former Indy 500 champion Danny Sullivan for all the support and advice he has given me throughout my career thus far.”

The No. 28 BHA entry ran the opening four race weekends (six races) at St. Petersburg, Long Beach, Barber and the Grand Prix of Indianapolis with Welsh rookie Lloyd Read. Read posted two ninth-place finishes as his best result; his narrow escape of a flying tire at St. Petersburg was his most noteworthy moment.

After eating just one chip, NHRA drag racer says: ‘I seriously thought I was going to die’

Alex Laughlin official Instagram page
Leave a comment

Editor’s note: Due to rain, Sunday’s final eliminations of the NHRA Carolina Nationals have been postponed to Monday morning at 10 a.m. ET. In the meantime, check out this rather unusual tale:

Remember the old Lays Potato Chips commercial from back in the 1980s that bragged “No one can eat just one”?

Well, ask NHRA Pro Stock driver Alex Laughlin and a few members of his team, and they’ll tell you they learned a very valuable lesson that there indeed IS a chip that you can only eat one of.

According to NHRA’s National Dragster, Laughlin and Elite Motorsports crew members Chase Freeman, Kelly Murphy and Brian Cunningham took part Friday night in the Paqui One Chip Challenge.

If you haven’t heard of the Challenge, Paqui Chips has produced a tortilla chip that the company boldly claims is the hottest chip ever made anywhere in the world. The secret is the “Carolina Reaper” pepper, considered the hottest chili pepper in the world, with a rating of 1.9 million Scoville units, according to PuckerButt Pepper Company.

How hot is 1.9 million Scoville units? Let’s put it this way: the Devil might even have a hard time taking this kind of heat. By comparison, a Jalapeno pepper only reaches 10,000 units on the Scoville rating. 

So while they were enjoying some downtime Friday night after the first two rounds of qualifying for the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina (suburban Charlotte), Laughlin and Co. paid $30 for one chip – you read that right, $30 for one chip, it’s THAT hot – and thought they could take the heat.

They thought wrong.

“This is the hottest chip in the world,” Laughlin said on an Instagram post that documented the entire experience, adding a warning, “What to expect: Mouth on fire, short-term loss of speech, impaired vision from tears, extreme profanity — or death.”

View this post on Instagram

Never. Ever. Again.

A post shared by Alex Laughlin (@alexlaughlin40) on

 

Laughlin’s post also includes several reader comments that Laughlin and his crew should have had milk on hand instead of water to try and cool things down because milk has a natural antidote to cool your mouth down after eating hot food.

Sunday morning, with his mouth and throat still a bit sore, Laughlin recalled the red-hot episode to National Dragster’s Kevin McKenna:

Never again. Never. Ever. Ever,” Laughlin told McKenna. “It was definitely not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.

One of our guys showed me a You Tube video and it looked like it wasn’t going to be too bad. I like spicy food and it’s usually never a problem. I’ve been to those places with hot wings where you have to sign a waiver before you eat them and that’s never been a problem.

But this? This is on a whole different level. I thought it might last ten minutes. Fourteen hours later, I was still in bad shape. I woke up at 3 a.m. and Googled “internal bleeding.” I seriously thought I was going to die. We all did.”

So if the heat from the chip was off the hotness Richter scale, where did the stunt rank on Laughlin’s own personal Richter scale?

I’ve done some dumb things, but this is right up there.

Well, I really didn’t think it would be that bad,” Laughlin told McKenna with a shrug. “I mean, it’s just one tortilla chip. Like I said, I can usually eat stuff that other people won’t eat, but I had no idea what I was in for.

“I’ve done some dumb things, but this is right up there.”

If you’re up for another challenge in the future that involves eating hot food, Alex, here’s a suggestion: Even though it’s a few years old now, maybe you should try the Ice Bucket Challenge (but fill it with milk) to cool down quick. Just a thought.

Follow @JerryBonkowski