NASCAR INVADES JAPAN.Byline: Mike Zizzo Orlando Sentinel The Orlando Sentinel is the primary newspaper of the Orlando, Florida region. It was founded in 1876 and is currently in its 131st year of publication. The Sentinel is owned by Tribune Company and is overseen by the Chicago Tribune.
Dale Earnhardt This article is about the elder Dale Earnhardt. For his son, see Dale Earnhardt, Jr.. For the racing team he founded, see Dale Earnhardt, Inc..
Ralph Dale Earnhardt, Sr. may need to brush up to paint, or make clean or bright with a brush; to cleanse or improve; to renew.
See also: Brush on his Japanese over the next several months.
Earnhardt, a seven-time Winston Cup champion, began cultivating a fan base in Suzuka City, Japan, last weekend when he was part of a stock-car contingent that served as ambassadors to promote NASCAR's first race on another continent. He was joined by several members of his race team, including owner Richard Childress Richard Childress (born September 21, 1945 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina) is a former NASCAR driver and successful team owner of Richard Childress Racing (RCR) in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competition. , Morgan-McClure Motorsports Morgan-McClure Motorsports is a NASCAR Nextel Cup Series team. It currently fields the #4 State Water Heaters Chevrolet Monte Carlo driven by Ward Burton. History
Morgan-McClure Motorsports is owned by business partners Larry McClure and Tim Morgan. team members and NASCAR NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing), organization that sanctions American stock-car races, est. 1948. It held its first race in Daytona Beach, Fla. officials for Suzuka Circuitland's "Thanks to Motorsports Fans Day" weekend festival.
Circuitland will play host to a NASCAR demonstration race Nov. 24 that will feature about 30 drivers from the Winston Cup and Winston West series. It will be the first of three NASCAR races scheduled over a three-year period at the venue.
"I'm a 'Born in the USA' type guy and race Chevys and never thought of racing in Japan. Still, it is exciting to me with the international flair and to be popular or known about in another continent," Earnhardt said during his break in testing at Daytona International Speedway Daytona International Speedway is a superspeedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. It is a 2.5 mile (4 km) tri-oval race track facility with a seating capacity of 168,000 spectators. . "We have fans in our fan club that are from Germany, France, Russia and everywhere - China - but not that many. So if you had several thousand from Japan, that would be pretty impressive."
Earnhardt was the only Winston Cup driver who went to Japan and he most certainly gained a few fans from the throng of about 40,000 that turned out to watch him put on a two-day exhibition. He performed a three-lap qualifying run, showed the fans a NASCAR-style pit stop and highlighted the show with a four-lap exhibition against Japanese driver Akaihiko Nakaya.
The car of two-time defending Daytona 500 champion Sterling Marlin Sterling Marlin (born June 30, 1957 in Columbia, Tennessee) is a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver who drove the #14 Waste Management Chevrolet Monte Carlo for Ginn Racing until being replaced by Regan Smith July 17, 2007. His future plans are uncertain at this time. also was on hand for parade lap runs and appearances.
"The fans over there were very excited to see an American race car," Earnhardt said. "It looked like a dinosaur compared to what they are used to racing, the smaller and lighter cars. It came off really well. ... It was an exciting deal."
Earnhardt said his average lap speed was about 99 miles per hour on the 1.4-mile layout that he compared in style to the series' Sears Point road course. He expected the speeds to increase as testing continues - a tire test is tentatively scheduled for April - and the drivers become familiar with the track.
Photo Seven-time Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt is part of a contingent that has taken NASCAR racing to Japan. Associated Press