Decals adorn the sidepod on a replica of the Patrick Racing Eagle Swede Savage drove in the 1973 Indy 500. The car has been recreated for competition in the Vintage IndyCar Series. (Ralph Sheheen photo)

SHEHEEN: Watches, Vintage Cars & More From Long Beach

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — We recently attended the 49th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, where beautiful weather, a packed schedule of racing and a prevalent 200 mph beach party vibe made for a very successful weekend for all involved.

■ Shami Kalra is the man behind Omologato, which is well known for its motorsports-themed watches. The company is also a sponsor of Chip Ganassi Racing as well as the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Omologato unveiled a limited-edition Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach watch early in the race weekend.

Chip Ganassi loves watches as much as he loves winners. When his Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-Series R driven by Sebastian Bourdais and Renger van der Zande won the IMSA portion of the Long Beach weekend, Kalra made Ganassi an offer: Win the IndyCar race as well and you can have my Long Beach Grand Prix special edition serial No. 1 watch.

When Scott Dixon crossed the finish line on Shoreline Dr. first on Sunday, Ganassi took the watch from Kalra’s wrist and wore it to victory lane. Interviewing him in victory lane, Ganassi shared the story of the watch with the crowd.

■ While checking out the cars in the vintage Indy car paddock at Long Beach, I noticed a NASA Skylab sticker on the No. 40 Patrick Racing STP Eagle, a replica of the car in which Swede Savage suffered fatal injuries during the 1973 Indianapolis 500.

America’s first space station, Skylab was launched on May 14, 1973.

Mike Lashmett, of the Vintage IndyCar Series, helped create the lookalike Eagle for current owner Ted Woerner. Lashmett has no idea why Savage ran the sticker at Indy in 1973. Adding to the mystery is that Savage’s teammate, Gordon Johncock, didn’t carry the decal on the sister car that won that year’s Indy 500.

■ Scott Borchetta, who owns Big Machine Label Group, got his first laps back behind the wheel of a race car during Vintage IndyCar Series action at Long Beach. Borchetta, who was injured last year in a Trans-Am race at Road Atlanta, climbed aboard his recently purchased Mario Andretti 1985 Newman-Haas Racing Lola T900.

Andretti drove the car to three wins that year, including Long Beach. Borchetta said he woke up eager to get his driving suit on and make some laps. Great to have you back Scott!

■ The 50th annual Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach promises to be the biggest and most prestigious running of the event yet. No details have been released on what race fans can expect, however, the event is scheduled for April 11-13.

■ I’ve read a lot of books about racing and Ray Evernham’s new offering “Trophies and Scars” is arguably the best. It’s also one of the most honest books I have read.

Evernham covers it all. His attempt to become a top-flight race car driver, which led to his career change from driver to crew chief, and then to team owner and eventually the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

He doesn’t shy away from any topic. Even with all of their success, there were numerous challenges partnering with Jeff Gordon. Evernham opens up about all of it, giving readers a look inside one of the greatest driver/crew chief pairings in the history of the sport.

Evernham, who is one of the best leaders to ever sit on a pit box, explains in detail how he set up the famed Rainbow Warriors pit crew. These sections should be mandatory reading for every wannabe crew chief.

The NASCAR Hall of Famer doesn’t give away any speed secrets. However, he does dive into some of the developments that he and the Hendrick Motorsports crew came up with over the years like the legendary T-Rex car. It’s fascinating reading.

I was very active in NASCAR television during the days when the No. 24 car was having its success and winning four championships. I know Evernham and Gordon well and consider them friends. Even though I was right in the middle of all of it while it was unfolding, this book provided insight into that significant era of NASCAR’s history that I had no idea about.

“Trophies and Scars” is highly entertaining and is a must-read for all race fans. Great book Ray!

■ The recent announcement of the inaugural High Performance Expo to be held June 3-5, 2025, at the Charlotte Convention Center has the racing community buzzing. It’s going to make the summer of 2025 busier than normal for the racing industry in and around the Queen City.

Hosted by the North Carolina Motorsports Ass’n, the event should be an exciting addition to the heart of the racing community.


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