Dependent on fuel, parts, auto racing knows extended war would be the pits

January 16, 1991|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Evening Sun Staff

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- When crew chief Jeff Hammond goes to purchase racing parts for the new team owned by three-time Winston Cup champion Darrell Waltrip, he never fails to think about the Persian Gulf and the war that may break out there.

"It is already making it more difficult to get some parts," said Hammond. "In our business, we use metal parts and aircraft quality parts and manufacturers are already stockpiling for potential problems in the Middle East."

DTC If there is war, motorsports will feel it psychologically and physiologically.

President Bush already has acted to make sure that companies producing war-related materials will answer the country's needs, before continuing business as usual.

In motorsports, which uses metal, oil, gasoline and some of the same parts needed for aircraft repair, the repercussions could be substantial.

"If there is a long war, three months or better, I think the impact, the demands and the sacrifices will be greater than any of us ever realized," said Waltrip. "The car manufacturing business could come to a stop, and that would certainly stop us."

During a tour of team garage after team garage at Charlotte Motor Speedway yesterday, it became obvious many drivers were thinking of and praying for the military forces in the Gulf, and considering the consequences.

"Everyone is concerned about the possibility of war," said driver Kyle Petty. "But I don't know what effect it will have on us . . . I don't think going to war means you just stop everything you're doing.

"Racing, other sports, all of it is business and whether you go to work or sit home and watch TV you remain concerned. But this country didn't shut down during Vietnam. I think you do the best you can and pray for those guys."

NASCAR spokesman Chip Williams said NASCAR officials are monitoring the situation.

"A decision will be made concerning the Daytona 500 based on the situation at the time," Williams said of the Feb. 17 race. "It is very difficult for us, because we have no control on what is going on and we're not privy to inside information about just what exactly is going on. You can't make an early judgment, you just have to wait and see."

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