Jane Miller: 'Hot Rod' in hot seat off the track

Jane Miller

Caterpillar-sponsored NHRA Top Fuel driver "Hot" Rod Fuller is used to dealing with fires while on the racetrack.

But on Monday, the Las Vegas resident was faced with a fire in his personal car, a 2001 Lamborghini Diablo.

Fuller said he had just filled the car with gas at a station near his home and was traveling slower than 45 mph when he smelled smoke and saw flames.

"I didn't get the car fully stopped and unhooked the seat belt and jumped out," he said. "The car rolled another 10-15 feet and it exploded."

Fuller was uninjured but added, "I feel lucky to be a race car driver and that I didn't panic."

Fuller's teammate, Antron Brown, won the Top Fuel division at last weekend's O'Reilly Spring Nationals near Houston, making him the first driver to win in both Pro Stock Motorcycle and Top Fuel.

Skip two

Citing difficulties involved in recently switching from Dodge to Toyota, BAM Racing will lay off the next two Sprint Cup races at Texas and Phoenix.

Team co-owner Tony Morgenthau said there hasn't been time to test the cars and that historically, the team hasn't run well at either of those tracks.

"This has been a very difficult 'big picture' decision, (but) by taking a little time to regroup now, we should be a much stronger team the rest of the year," he said.

BAM is 42nd in owner points.

Speed to trucks 

Former Formula One driver Scott Speed will make his Craftsman Truck Series debut April 26 at Kansas Speedway in a Toyota Tundra for Bill Davis Racing.

Slugger Labbe is expected to be the crew chief for Speed. The plan is to run 11 Truck races with sponsor Red Bull in preparation for an eventual move to the Sprint Cup series.

Speed said he is looking forward to the opportunity of learning from current BDR Truck drivers Mike Skinner and Johnny Benson.

Have a Coke

Open-wheel unification already is paying off.

The IndyCar Series announced a sponsorship deal on Tuesday with Coca-Cola through 2010.

The beverage company already had an association with Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500.

Nice opportunity

Eight-year-old Jayce Van De Veer of Washington will be racing with the big boys April 19 at the St. Louis AMA Supercross race as part of a promotion by KTM.

The family entered the contest at RTR Cycles in Washington. Jayce, who has been riding since he was 3 and racing since 5, was one of 15 children chosen. They'll ride a three-lap exhibition before the Pro race.

Jayce's dad, Brad, said his son had to meet height and weight requirements and had to have a teacher-signed report card certifying above-average grades. No problem for Jayce -- he gets straight As.

All riders at the local level receive full factory rides for the event.

The local winners qualify for a trip to Las Vegas in May. The winner of that race gets to keep the bike.


The World of Outlaws Late Model Series visits Farmer City this weekend.

Time trials, qualifying and a special $1,000 to win race are Friday night. The 100-lap main will be run Saturday night, along with B Mains and a non-qualifiers race.

Play day

Peoria Speedway's Play Day, or practice, is Saturday. Gates open at noon and practice starts at 2 p.m. Grandstand admission is free, pit passes are $10. The weather looks favorable for a change this year, unlike years past, so it looks like this actually might take place.

The season opener is April 12 with racing beginning at 6 p.m. A reminder -- the track dropped its NASCAR affiliation after last season and will be unsanctioned this year.

Spoon River Speedway has its practice day April 19 and opens its season April 26.

Jane Miller is the Journal Star motorsports columnist. Write her at 1 News Plaza, Peoria, IL 61643, call (309) 686-3207 or e-mail