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Racing News: Industry Mourns Loss of Legends, Pit+Paddock Supports New IMSA Effort

By SEMA News Editors

Industry Mourns Loss of Legends

The motorsports industry is mourning the loss of several notable figures, including NASCAR Cup Series champion Cale Yarborough, who passed away at the age of 84.

Cale Yarborough

Cale Yarborough. Image Courtesy of NASCAR.

Yarborough, a four-time Daytona 500 winner and a five-time victor in the Southern 500, won his three Cup Series titles consecutively from 1976-78 and is tied for sixth on the Cup Series' all-time wins list with 83 victories.

A 2012 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee, Yarborough led more than 31,500 laps in his career and became the first to qualify for a race at an average speed of over 200 mph at Daytona in 1984.

In addition, Gil de Ferran, winner of the 2003 Indianapolis 500 and two IndyCar Series championships, passed away on December 29 near his home in Florida. He was 56.

Gil de Ferran

Gil de Ferran. Image courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In addition to his 2003 victory, the Brazilian won consecutive IndyCar Series championships in 2000 and 2001 and earned CART Rookie of the Year honors in 1995.

Ending his IndyCar career with 12 victories and 21 poles, de Ferran also set the closed-course land speed record with a lap of 241.428 mph at California Speedway in 2000. The record still stands today.

And legendary NHRA team owner Roland Leong, known for his Top Fuel and Funny Cars emblazoned with the name "The Hawaiian" in tribute to his birthplace, passed away on December 29. He was 79.

Roland Leong

Roland Leong. Image courtesy of NHRA.

As a team owner and tuner, Leong won the 1965 Winternationals and U.S. Nationals with Don Prudhomme behind the wheel and repeated in both events in 1966 with new driver Mike Snively.

In 1969, Leong switched to Funny Cars, winning the Winternationals in 1970 and 1971 with drivers Larry Reyes and Butch Maas.

Scag Power Equipment Forms NHRA Factory Team

Scag Power Equipment will increase its presence in NHRA Drag Racing through the formation of its new, multi-car factory team and the acquisition of Maynard Ashley Racing and Maynard Wilkerson Racing.

The Scag NHRA Funny Car

The team will debut as a three-car organization at the 2024 NHRA Gatornationals.

The team will make its debut at the 2024 NHRA Gatornationals, March 7-10, in Gainesville, Florida, fielding the Scag Wilkerson Racing Funny Car (driver to be announced), the Scag Top Fuel car run by Justin Ashley and the Mike Green/Tommy DeLago-led team and the Versatran Funny Car driven by Dave Richards.

The company is also expanding its involvement with Elite Motorsports in the Pro Stock category by sponsoring Jeg Coughlin Jr. for the 2024 season. 

Additionally, Scag Power Equipment is continuing as the Official Outdoor Power Equipment Provider of the NHRA.  

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Pit+Paddock to Sponsor Yoshihara, Wittmer in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge

Pit+Paddock, the Pennsylvania-based marketing agency, will sponsor a new IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge effort that will be campaigned by Montreal Motorsports Group and driven by Daijiro "Dai" Yoshihara and Karl Wittmer.

Dai Yoshihara and Karl Wittmer standing in races suits in pit lane

Dai Yoshihara (left) and Karl Wittmer will pilot the Pit+Paddock-backed Montreal Motorsports Group FL5 Civic Type R TCR.

Yoshihara recently completed his first full season of professional road racing, and pairs with Wittmer, a Canadian National Champion and IMSA veteran, behind the wheel of a new FL5 Civic Type R TCR.

"MMG is thrilled about this new partnership with Pit+Paddock," said Benjamin Distaulo, team manager and co-owner. "We are looking forward to turning our preparation and hard work into reality and are confident that our Civic Type Rs will be competitive throughout the 2024 IMPC season with our determined drivers."

"IMSA is the premier North American racing series and, in partnership with the capable team at MMG, we look forward to competing with Dai and Karl in the Pit+Paddock FL5 Civic Type R TCR," said Daryl Sampson, vice president of business development and marketing.

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Xtreme Outlaw-POWRi Challenge Series Sets 10-Race 2024 Schedule

The Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series and POWRi National Midget League have renewed their partnership for the 2024 season with 10 co-sanctioned races in the second iteration of the Xtreme Outlaw-POWRi Challenge Series.

The series will award a $2,500 check to the champion, as well as cash prizes for the top five finishers in the season-long standings.

The Challenge Series begins in April at Farmer City Raceway in Farmer City, Illinois, and will conclude in September at Highland Speedway in Highland, Illinois.

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For additional racing news, visit the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) website