Locals continue to shine in racing

Remember back about four years ago when NASCAR announced its new TV package with FOX and NBC for $2.8 billion, and I warned you that you were going to be seeing more commercials to pay for it? Well, it's gonna get worse.

The new NASCAR TV package announced last Wednesday is worth an estimated $4.48 billion, and involves FOX, TNT, and new partners ABC and ESPN. The new agreements take effect in 2007, with FOX getting the Daytona 500 every year, followed by the next 12 Cup races. TNT will broadcast the next 12 races, with ABC and ESPN taking the remainder of the season. ABC will handle all 10 "Chase for the Championship" races.

In addition, FOX subsidiary SPEED Channel will broadcast the Daytona 500 qualifying races and the All-Star Challenge race. SPEED will also be the primary broadcaster for the Craftsman Truck Series, with the exception of two races, including the Daytona season opener. ESPN and its affiliates will pick up the entire Busch Series television schedule.

So who gets all this TV money? The old distribution formula allocated 65 percent to the tracks, 25 percent to the teams via a purse share-out, and 10 percent directly to NASCAR. By my calculations, that's almost half a billion to the folks in Daytona, which should make sure that Brian France won't be dependent on Social Security when he retires.

I have been keeping fans up to date on the local Outlaw Kart racers who are running the Red Bluff winter series, but they aren't the only local hot shoes who are out there running regional and national events. I'm going to give you a rundown on a couple of other Carson City racers who are being noticed out there.

Nick Halen has been racing karts since he was knee-high. Now a Mechanical Engineering student at Western Nevada Community College, Nick has been competing in the quick shifter karts in a number of national and regional series for a couple of years.

In 2005 he dominated the Formula Premier 1 division of the ProKart Challenge series, winning three races, finishing second twice, and taking third once in the seven races he entered on his way to first place in the final point standings. He also took the win in the Stock Honda class at the SuperKartsUSA Supernationals in Las Vegas in November, along with a 15th place finish in the SuperPro class the same weekend.

At the Tri-C Karters California State Championships, Halen won the Sunday final in the 125 ICC category and finished seventh in the Senior Sportsman final after taking 11th in the Saturday Senior Sportsman race. Closer to home, Halen entered three races with the Northern Nevada Kart Club and won all three. With karting experience a "must" in the top levels of racing, all Halen needs is a break to move into the pro ranks. Another veteran of local kart racing, T.J. Bell, is currently racing in the NASCAR Busch Series, and that's certainly a possibility down the road for Halen.

There's also a much younger racer in a different venue who is also putting up some impressive performances. Carson Iverson, son of longtime racer Rob Iverson, has been tearing up tracks all over the West in the Quarter Midget ranks. Carson took the American Quarter Midget Championship in the Lt. 160 class for 2005 and finished in second place in the California 500 series.

He recently broke the track record for the class in Phoenix, Ariz., over the Thanksgiving weekend, won his heat race, and finished fourth in the main after tangling wheels in the early going. After his Phoenix experience, Carson had a great drive at the Silver State Winternationals in Primm, Nevada.

After transferring to the A main from the fast heat, Carson came from the back after an early race incident to finish third. A lot of local sponsors have contributed to this young racer's success, including Michael Hohl Motor Company, Kustom Kreations, Competition Carburetion, Sierra Racing Products, Ceramic Tile Center and Field Motors. As I recall, former CART Indy Car Champion Jimmy Vasser and four-time NASCAR Winston Cup titlist Jeff Gordon got their starts in quarter midgets.


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