Posey finished fifth in his only Indy 500, in 1972. Photo: Bull Publishing

Sam Posey’s “Where the Writer Meets the Road” is a treasure trove

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Perhaps the only downside of Sam Posey’s “Where the Writer Meets the Road” is that upon reading it, as a writer yourself, you know your own words can’t quite measure up.

Your goal, then, is to come as close as possible to matching the prose, poetry and poignancy of the chapters and stories Posey outlines within his third book.

The simple description of “Where the Writer Meets the Road,” published last March by David Bull Publishing and named the Best Book of 2015 by The Motor Press Guild, is that it’s an archival history of some of Posey’s career both behind the wheel and behind the microphone over the last 50-plus years.

The more elaborate description is that Posey has, in words more than pictures, managed to bring so much to life – whether it’s the cars themselves, the people he interacted with, the places he’s been, such as the forgotten and now-gone Speedway Motel in Indianapolis for instance, or the time period which the story took place.

Photo: Bull Publishing
Photo: Bull Publishing

The flow of the book is effortless, even as it mixes some of Posey’s driving career with his commentary career and then occasional interruptions with the brief “teases” that have become staples of the last 20 years of Formula 1 broadcasts in the U.S., including the last several years on the NBC Sports Group channels.

Included are a number of Posey’s introductions to legends for the Road Racing Drivers’ Club, a dinner of which is held in Long Beach every April. Those feted by Posey included Mario Andretti, Jim Hall, Roger Penske, Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones and Brian Redman.

Humor is interspersed at the right moments. For instance, there’s a classic story after Posey made his final major sports car start and helped as Redman secured a championship in 1982, and ended with a trip to Siebkens and a cameo from David Hobbs. We’ll leave the rest of the story to the imagination.

Redman, himself, is among the drivers truly highlighted in the book. Posey seeks to remove the “underrated” term as it’s seemingly been perpetually attached to his name.

The romance and thrill of Le Mans is captured in a handful of essays, including two notably stark and different ways year-to-year for two different outlets. A Sports Illustrated piece outlines the challenge of driving at night; meanwhile a piece for Road & Track the following year describes the buildup to the race itself, and how as you see if you ever get to Le Mans, the week is so much more than just the 24 hours.

Photo: Bull Publishing
Photo: Bull Publishing

Posey recalls glory days in Trans-Am, the rise and later fall of Mark Donohue with Penske Racing, and his own love-hate relationship with Porsche – only Posey, seemingly, can get away with the essay he penned for R&T in 2013 as a rare dissenter in a sea of praise. Then again, with Posey having contributed to R&T since 1968, he pretty much has carte blanche at his disposal with his pen and paper… or keyboard and laptop.

A story I took particular appreciation in reading was Posey’s notes on what it meant to commentate the Indianapolis 500. Fans of a certain age will remember the classic Posey/Bobby Unser banter in the ABC booth with Paul Page the lead announcer split between the two.

To see the intense amount of preparation revealed, then explore how quickly you have to adjust on in the fly in the race itself, all while communicating back and forth with the production team and not saying the wrong thing at the wrong time was simply fascinating to read.

Lastly, of course, are the teases. I touched on them briefly in one of the earlier grafs but you get to see how Posey can take several key tidbits – Monaco, for example always will have the mix of yachts, glamour, history and the knife edge of adhesion – and find a way to make the story new, fresh and captivating at every opportunity.

Posey was one of a helluva driver, but he’s also one helluva wordsmith. And for any fan of racing, or if you could care less about racing and just love a great storyteller, “Where the Writer Meets the Road” is a must-read.

Fittingly, Posey will be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America this June, for his splendid career.

Scott McLaughlin will make IndyCar debut for Team Penske at St. Pete

Scott McLaughlin IndyCar debut
Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images
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Two-time defending Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin will make his NTT IndyCar Series debut with Team Penske in the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

McLaughlin, 27, drove for Penske in preseason IndyCar testing at Circuit of the Americas, Sebring International Raceway (in a rookie evaluation) and Texas Motor Speedway, and he was announced Feb. 5 as making his debut with the team at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course before the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic delayed the start of the season.

Travel restrictions also made it difficult for the New Zealand native to leave Australia, where he leads the points for DJR Team Penske in the Virgin Australia Supercars series with three races remaining. He set a Supercars record last season with 18 victories.

The Supercars season will conclude Oct. 18 with the prestigious 24 Hours of Bathurst. McLaughlin then will head directly to the States to drive the No. 3 Dallara-Chevrolet at St. Pete as a teammate of Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud.

“This is something I haven’t stopped thinking about, but I wanted to ensure my focus was on winning our third-straight Supercars championship for DJR Team Penske and all our partners in Australia,” McLaughlin, who also has won at Barber and Indianapolis while unofficially finishing first in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge, said in a release. “We are still laser-focused on that and have three more rounds to get it done, but I’m equally as excited to finally get the chance and make my IndyCar debut.”

McLaughlin, whose wife, Karly, is from New York, said he has discussed racing in America with car owner Roger Penske since he was hired by the team for the 2017 season.

“I’ve always said I’d love to have a crack at something else,” McLaughlin told reporters in February during the preseason test at Austin, Texas. “My goal was always to win the championship in Bathurst and Australia. I ticked those boxes, and then opportunities arise over time. The conversation between me and Roger was pretty short. ‘Would you be interested in IndyCar?’ I’d literally drive a wheelbarrow with a Team Penske sticker on it. I’d race anything that comes with the opportunity.

“I’ve always intended I’d love to get America one day potentially if I’ve done my goals in Australia. I’ve always said whether it’s now or 30 years down the track, I’d love to finish up (in America). I’ve promised Karly that we would come back here eventually. She’s not pushing me by any means, but I’ve always had a passion for American motorsport and certainly would love the opportunity.”

McLaughlin also has indicated a desire to try racing in NASCAR for Team Penske. He discussed his comfort with stock cars during a 2017 episode of the NASCAR on NBC Podcast (click on the link below to hear it).

Here’s the release from Team Penske:

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (September 17, 2020) – Team Penske announced today that Scott McLaughlin, the current Virgin Australia Supercars Championship points leader, is scheduled to make his long-awaited NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut in the series’ 2020 season finale on the Streets of St. Petersburg on Sunday, October 25.

The two-time and defending Supercars Champion for DJR Team Penske (DJRTP) was set to compete in his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES race earlier this year on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course before the COVID-19 global pandemic forced several delays and postponements on racing schedules, along with international travel restrictions. Before the pandemic shutdown, McLaughlin participated in the INDYCAR SERIES preseason open test at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, where he ran consistently well and posted the third-fastest time of the test session. The 27-year-old native of New Zealand also competed in separate tests at the Sebring International Raceway road course and the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval.

“This is something I haven’t stopped thinking about, but I wanted to ensure my focus was on winning our third-straight Supercars championship for DJR Team Penske and all our partners in Australia,” said McLaughlin. “We are still laser-focused on that and have three more rounds to get it done, but I’m equally as excited to finally get the chance and make my INDYCAR debut. I’ve been doing everything I can to keep up with the series this year, from watching as many races as I can on TV to even talking to the drivers and some of the engineers back at the Team Penske shop. I never knew if I would be able to get behind the wheel of one of these cars this year due to all the COVID-19 restrictions, but I wanted to be ready if it became an opportunity.”

McLaughlin currently leads the Supercars point standings with just three rounds of competition remaining on the 2020 schedule. McLaughlin has produced a series-best 10 wins and 10 poles and holds a 143-point lead over Jamie Whincup entering this weekend’s race at The Bend. Over the course of his Supercars career, McLaughlin has won an impressive 53 races and 71 poles, while helping DJRTP claim team championships in 2017 and 2019 and winning the driver’s title in each of the last two seasons. He also earned his first win in the legendary Bathurst 1000 race in 2019 with co-driver Alex Premat. Though he is in just his fourth season competing for Team Penske, McLaughlin already ranks third on the organization’s all-time wins list, trailing only Brad Keselowski and Mark Donohue.

Earlier this year, McLaughlin made his “virtual” INDYCAR debut, competing in the series’ iRacing Challenge and winning two races among the full field of current NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers that were competing against each other while traditional racing was put on hold.

“Our plan has always been for Scott to run a race in the INDYCAR SERIES this season, but we never wanted to take the focus away from the main goal, which is winning another Supercars Championship,” said Team Penske President Tim Cindric. “COVID-19 certainly altered those plans early on, but with the way the schedules have lined up at the end of this season, St. Pete became an available option and we remain committed to getting him some INDYCAR seat time. We know Scott is ready for this challenge and this should add even more excitement to the 2020 season finale in St. Petersburg.”

McLaughlin will pilot the No. 3 Shell V-Power Nitro+ Dallara/Chevrolet at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which was postponed from its original date in March and will now take place on Sunday, October 25. The race on the 1.8-mile street circuit will be seen live at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, with radio coverage on the Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network and SIRIUS XM.