It's the Clark and Clark show... on the road

The depth of the talent pool in the PASS North Series can easily be viewed as being a tad on the shallow side, but there's no denying that the top teams in the series are as good at their game as anyone anywhere in the country.

More proof, you say?

On Friday night at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla., 2-time PASS North champion Johnny Clark qualified 3rd for Sunday's prestigious Snowball Derby. Two spots behind him, in 5th, was Cassius Clark, a multi-time PASS North race winner over the last 2 seasons.

The top 30 starters for the 300-lap Snowball Derby were locked in by Friday's qualifying, as were 3 provisional starters. Unofficially, 25 cars remain to vie for the six remaining starting spots to come out of today's last-chance races.

Among the notables not yet qualified for the Derby: Maine's Trevor Sanborn, driving a Jay Cushman-owned Ford, the car Jason Hogan attempted to qualify for NASCAR Nextel Cup Series driver Kyle Busch, and Steven Wallace, Busch Series regular and son of former Cup champion Rusty Wallace.


Drag racing death mars holiday weekend

How's this for ironic?

Bowdoin's Christopher Gould gave up a career racing motorcycles because he thought it was too dangerous. On Sunday afternoon at the Moroso Motorsports Park in Jupiter, Fla., Gould was killed when his jet-powered Funny Car crashed after making an exhibition run at the Citrus Nationals.

Gould, 52, was in his 4th year driving Funny Cars on the exhibition tour.

"There wasn't a hidden agenda for him," said Brian Lohnes, who works for both the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) and New England Dragway in Epping, N.H. "He was doing what he was doing not because he saw it as some kind of stepping stone.

"He was a regular guy who was dreaming about doing something he loved, and he was out doing it."

According to Lohnes and other eyewitness accounts, Gould's car crashed violently after crossing the finish line. It was there that some type of parachute malfunction set in motion a grisly chain of events that led to Gould's death.

"He made a run earlier in the day, and the car had acteed strangely at the top of the track," Lohnes said, adding that funny car tragedies typically stem from throttles that hang open.

Whether the chutes deployed at all or deployed unevenly, which could cause the car to veer uncontrollably, was not known. The car made a "hard turn," according to Lohnes, into the grass alongside the strip and then tumbled.

Gould was pronounced dead at the scene. The remainder of the program was canceled.

A veteran of motorcyle racing, Gould gave that up more than a decade ago and first received clearance from the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) to compete in the Funny Car jet ranks in 2004. The cars, with the same bodies and chassis as those Funny Cars on the NHRA and IHRA circuits, sport small jet engines.

Gould only competed on a "booking" basis, meaning he was invited by promoters to shows nationwide -- thanks to his graciousness to both fans and race directors alike.

"This one hurts, it was close to home," said Joe Lombardo, track manager of New England Dragway. "Chris was living out his dream. He bought a jet car and start touring the country.

"He was really one of the good guys in this sport. There are a lot of people who treat this as more of a business, but there are some like Chris who do it because they love it. If you went down to his pit area and talked to him, even if he was working on the car, he would stop and talk to kids and their parents about it. He’s been on other side. In that respect, he was racing because it was fun."


Let's take a look back at 2007

Most days begin the same way for me now. Cold sweats. Disorientation. Incoherent mumbling. To myself.

It takes me weeks -- well, months really -- to come down from the adrenaline feed that is the 8-month grind of the local racing season. Races, stories, analysis, finishing orders, 2:30 a.m. blog entries... Truth be told, I'm not sure I ever really get over the post-racing season hangover. Like any functional junkie, I think after a while I just hide the symptoms from the rest of the world, until March rolls around and the season starts anew.

But these few weeks do give us the opportunity to look back at what we saw, kind of take stock of the year in motorsports, if you will. And if there are 2 things we fans like, it's highlight reels and top-10 lists.

Beginning next Monday, Dec. 3, and running every Monday for the next 10 weeks, I'm planning on running a top-10 countdown from the 2007 season. We'll start with No. 10 and each week work our way toward No. 1, examining one final time the biggest stories of the local season and some of the far-reaching national headlines, too. It'll take us right up to the week leading into the Shootout at Daytona...

If there's anything you'd like to see on the list, something you don't want me to forget, let me know. I'm sure it will all spark plenty of debates...

What the ELF is this?

So, who's your favorite Christmas elf?

Johnny, Cassius or Mike? You decide...
You can thank me later.