News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 16, 2012

TRACKSIDE: Mulling over the biggest weekend in motorsports

Joe Buckles
The Tribune-Star

---- — We’re approaching what has traditionally become one of the busiest and most prestigious weekends in all of motorsports.

Whether it be at Indianapolis, Monaco, Charlotte or the Terre Haute Action Track, the usual array of questions abound surrounding the biggest events of the year at these nationally and internationally recognized venues:

• Will the familiar names of Penske, Ganassi and Andretti once again make it to victory lane at the Speedway on Memorial Day?

• Will the month seems the same without the likes of Danica Patrick, Jim Nabors and a legitimate Bump Day?

• Despite its lack of appeal in recent years, is there a more exciting moment in all of sports than the start of the Indianapolis 500?

• Will the month seem the same with the day-to-day reminder of what the loss of defending champ Dan Weldon means to the sport and the 500?

• With only two American short-track racers on the tentative Speedway roster, is there any better answer to why the 500 has become so out of touch with American grass-roots racing?

• In the same vein, will a strong month of May for open-wheel racer Bryan Clauson help open the door for his fellow Silver Crown drivers?

• Wouldn’t it be nice to see the likes of a Dave Darland, Jon Stanbrough or Levi Jones in the 500 starting lineup on race day?

• Do the new Indy Car creations bear a sharp resemblance to the looks of the cars in the American LeMans Sports Car series?

• Is there is no end to commercialism in racing? The new signage on the outside turn three walls at the Speedway tends to answer that question.

• Heading into the two big weekends of Sprint Cup racing at Charlotte, will it be nice not having to hear the constant talk of when Rick Hendrick will get his 200th win as a car owner in NASCAR?

• Will Dale Earnhardt Jr’s. growing winless streak now take center stage?

• Would NASCAR be better served by Tony Stewart with his immense on-track performance rather than his off-the-cuff remarks regarding the racing on the super speedways?

• With the Formula One circus now heading to Monaco, is it really true that the Grand Prix circuit will actually be looking for its sixth different winner in as many races this season?

• Wouldn’t it be nice if half of the current 500 roster would be sent to Monaco on Memorial Day weekend and their spots be filled with the best of USAC, World Of Outlaws and Club All-Star Sprints drivers?

• With the Hulman Classic only days away, isn’t it hard to believe that next Thursday’s running of the event will mark the 41st anniversary of the show being beamed live to a national television audience?

• Isn’t it nice to know that track prep at the local half-mile clay oval hasn’t been in good hands for such an extended amount of time as it is now with Bob Sargent and Reece O’Connor?

• Could the Classic produce another upset winner from the Terre Haute area like it did with Chet Johnson back in 1982?

• Would there be a better or more deserving storyline for the Classic than to have area driver Chase Stockon make it to victory lane and have him greeted by his ailing mother?

Joe Buckles can be reached by e-mail at