Firestone Racing gives back to community; prepares for future in Sonoma

Harrigle (on right). Photo: IndyCar
1 Comment

We didn’t get to this during the weekend but will do so today, because it’s a good thing.

Over the weekend, Firestone Racing announced it was giving $20,000 back to the motorsports community split between four charities, at $5,000 each.

Here’s the release from Firestone:

In celebration of the 2016 Championship, Firestone Racing will donate $20,000, divided evenly ($5K each) between the following four charities:

  • The Wilson Children’s Fund
  • The Indy Family Foundation
  • The Dan Wheldon Foundation and Alzheimer’s Association
  • The USAC Benevolent Fund in memory of Bryan Clauson

“Championship weekend is a perfect time to reflect upon and celebrate everything that has happened over the past season,” said Lisa Boggs, director of Bridgestone Americas Motorsports. “The motorsports community is one big family and it’s a privilege to be a part of it. We wanted to take the opportunity afforded by this weekend to honor those individuals who embodied the spirit of racing and their legacies that live on through all of the great work these organizations do to help others.”

This weekend was also a sentimental one, as it marked the last weekend for Dale Harrigle in his role as Chief Engineer and Manager of Race Tire Development, and the last before Cara Adams, Senior Project Engineer, Race Tire Development, moved into her new role as Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Americas Motorsports and Manager, Race Tire Development.

You may not know Harrigle’s name off the top of your head but since he has more than 20 years experience with Firestone and has been integrally involved in its racing program since its return to top flight North American open-wheel racing in 1995 (testing occurred in 1994), he’s been a key part in ensuring the advancement, safety and development of Firestones over the years.

“It’s bittersweet, but I’ve loved every minute of it,” Harrigle told NBC Sports during the weekend. He has accepted a management position within Bridgestone’s Consumer Tire Trade Group.

Adams, meanwhile, started on Monday in her new role – it will make for a busy week, because her IRONMAN 70.3 August takes place this weekend along with her friend Katherine Legge in what they’ve dubbed #IRONMANCaraKat.

They eclipsed the $5,000 barrier of fundraising to support the Scott Rigsby Foundation (SRF), a service organization that supports veterans who have been injured while on duty.

Adams joked over the weekend she hopes to keep pace with Legge, the professional athlete of the two.

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.