Dave Hollander, CART/Champ Car safety icon, passes away

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Dave Hollander was a mountain of a man with a rough edge, but with a kind heart.

And when it came time to take care of his “kids” – otherwise known as CART drivers – there were few that were better than Hollander at making sure a driver left a track the way he got there: safely.

Hollander, one of the anchors of CART’s on-track safety team for a quarter-century, passed away Friday at the age of 66 after a battle with cancer, according to a story on Racer.com by Robin Miller.

Hollander, whose day job was that of a New Jersey firefighter, piloted his safety truck at racetracks all over the world just like a fire truck.

He strived to be the first on the scene and jumped out countless of times to make sure a driver was okay – and if not, to begin taking care of the injured driver.

“Dave was one of a kind,” former CART safety director Lon Bromley told Miller. “He was very dedicated to the safety team and he always thought of the drivers first. He always wanted the best for them.”

Hollander was with CART and then Champ Car from 1979 until 2007, when the latter-named sanctioning body folded.

Hollander worked virtually every CART/Champ Car race in the U.S. and abroad during that time. He and his team have been credited numerous times for helping to save the lives of several drivers in near-fatal wrecks, including Alex Zanardi and Cristiano da Matta.

Wally Dallenbach, who formed CART’s original safety team in 1979 with Dr. Steve Olvey, remembers Hollander, who was one of his first hires for the team, fondly.

“He was a true soldier, always about helping other people,” Dallenbach told Miller. “I called him every couple weeks and he had that same gravely laugh and he was fighting the good fight. Dave was a special guy, one of the best too.”

Click here to read Robin Miller’s great tribute to Hollander.

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Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).