It seems we know where Tony Stewart learned to drive—from his former boss, Joe Gibbs.
Gibbs participated in a 10-lap Arena Race Friday night against his friend and long-time sponsor Norm Miller. Miller is chairman of Interstate Batteries, a sponsor that has grazed the hood of Gibbs' No. 18 car for years.
The race took place at the Hampton Coliseum, in Hampton, Va.
Gibbs started second (out of two, I might add), and fell behind in the early stages. It didn't take long for him to reel his good friend back in, and he quickly went to work on his back bumper.
The bumping delighted the crowd (estimated at nearly 4,000). Gibbs stuck his nose inside of Miller's car in Turn 3 with just about two laps to go.
When he did, he clipped the left fender, and flipped his good friend.
Miller was not hurt in the accident, and Gibbs jubilantly crossed the finish line, taking home the checkered flag.
The Arena Racing cars compete on a 1/10-mile aluminum track, and reach speeds up to 50 miles per hour.
The league was founded by Richmonder Ricky Dennis, a former stock car racer and son of Bill Dennis, who was a NASCAR standout. Bill Dennis took home Rookie of the Year honors in the Cup Series in 1970.
Arena Racing is featured in three areas: Charlotte, N.C., Hampton Roads, Va.; and Grand Rapids, Mich.
According to the Arena Cars Website, the cars are real, one-half-scale stock cars. Each car must meet the exact same league specifications to ensure that the action on the track is the result of good driving skills, not a mechanical advantage (NASCAR, are you reading this?)
Some interesting specs about the cars from the Web site:
Arena Racing cars are:
- One-half the size of Sprint Cup cars
- 9 feet long
- 36 inches high (from track to roof)
- Capable of speeds up to 100 mph outdoors
- Approximately 740 lbs. (including racer)
- Fit with custom steering wheels, racing seats and pedals to fit each racer
They are equipped with:
- Sprint Cup-style stock car bodies
- 13-horsepower, rear-mounted Honda Engines
- 1.5-gallon fuel cells
- Adjustable upper and lower A-frames
- 5-point harnesses
- Steel roll cages
- Coil-over suspensions
- Disc brakes
- Rack-and-pinion steering
- Adjustable rear track bars
- Aluminum racing seats
- Drivers enter and exit through a sunroof-sized opening in the roofs of the ARENACAR™.
- Due to the multiple-heat racing format, drivers do not need to pit during races.
- Teams are allowed to customize only set-up related items such as: caster/camber, toe-in, tire stagger, track bar adjustments, coil-over springs and shocks, lead location and bite. These are adjustments to a car's handling, and are done the same way you see professional pit crews do it on the NASCAR circuits.
Story Source: The Richmond Times Dispatch
Photo/Info Source: Arena Racing USA Web site