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Murto: Jefferson 500 celebrates 20th anniversary


Talk to local fans of sports car racing, and all of them will tell you that the Jefferson 500 at nearby Summit Point (W.Va.) Motorsports Park is a favorite annual event.

The 2013 running of the Jefferson 500 is the 20th annual version of this vintage sports car celebration, where you can see drivers race known and unknown vintage cars from different eras. It's like attending a living museum, where the past comes to life before your eyes and retired racing machinery again gets the chance to shine and engines get to roar.

Grand Marshal for this year's running is world famous sports car racer Brian Redman, who undoubtedly will have some stories to tell at Saturday night's banquet. Another featured part of this year's race is the 18th annual MG Vintage Racers Trophy race.

And don't think for a moment that just because these are vintage racecars, they don't actually race. Contact is frowned upon, obviously, but we all know what happens when competitive people get together. It is a thrill to watch racecars of yesterday get a chance to stretch their legs, and many of the proud owners and drivers of these cars have no qualms about showing off what their vintage machinery can do on the track.

The action starts Friday, and runs through Sunday. For information visit Summit Point Motorsports Park's website at summitpoint-raceway.com, and also visit Vintage Race Group's website at VRGonline.com.

If road racing isn't your thing, Winchester Speedway features the ARDC Midgets on Saturday night, as well as a regular Super Late Model program. The ARDC Midgets are one of the most competitive open-wheel touring divisions on the East Coast.

Hagerstown Speedway isn't using a special feature this week to attract spectators. Instead, free admission is offered to any retired or active member of the military, as well as any student in possession of an ID. On top of that, if you bring a bulletin from the church you attend, admission is half price.

Shenandoah Speedway's oval will open again on May 25 with a 150-lap feature for its Late Model division. The motocross course at Shenandoah will feature a full day of racing on June 8.

NHRA events can take a full day of action before all are eliminated but the winners. Antron Brown won the Top Fuel Dragster division of the Southern Nations held at Atlanta Dragway. Johnny Gray took the win in Funny Car, and Mike Edwards in Pro Stock.

Kyle Busch dominated the NASCAR Nationwide race at Darlington, S.C., and came up with the win. After his brother Kurt sat on the pole for Saturday's Sprint Cup Southern 500 and led the first 50 laps, Kyle went to the front and dominated again, leading for 265 laps. But it's the last lap that counts, and Kyle dropped like a rock in the last 15 laps with a tire going down, only to finish sixth as Matt Kenseth went on for his third win of the year.

Formula One was back in action in Spain, and Fernando Alonso thrilled his fellow countrymen by driving his Ferrari from the third row to the front, the first time since 1981 that car not on the front row won the race. Second was Kimi Raikkonen in a Lotus, followed by Alonso's Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa. The Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were fourth and fifth; not bad, but perhaps showing a chink in their armor as we head into the European leg of the season, highlighted by the Grand Prix of Monaco later this month.

No race garners as much attention in May then the Indy 500. And no driver needs as much attention to rebuild his career as Kurt Busch. It was fitting, then, that Kurt Busch took his Indianapolis rookie test in an Andretti Autosport car prior to heading to Darlington. With coaching from James Hinchcliffe, Busch easily passed his rookie test, reaching speeds of about 218 mph. There now is talk that he may compete in IndyCar in 2014.

Publicity stunts with Kurt Busch aside, Andretti Autosport looks to be the top team this season. A.J. Foyt's driver Takuma Sato may be leading the points, but Andretti cars have won three of the four races this year, and rookie Carlos Munoz set fast time of 223 mph at Indy testing last week in an Andretti Autosports machine.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.



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