Thursday, July 2, 1998 | 8:43 a.m.
BRIAN HILDERBRAND is a Las Vegas SUN sportswriter. His motor sports column usually appears Fridays. He can be reached on the Internet at firstname.lastname@example.org. For the latest in the world of auto racing, check out the SUN Racing web site at http://www.lasvegassun.com /sports/racing/
Former Las Vegas Motor Speedway vice president Gary Bahre, who was brought in from New Hampshire to help stage the track's inaugural Winston Cup race last March, has been diagnosed with a rare lung disease that eventually may require him to undergo a lung transplant.
Despite his condition, Bahre is putting in half days at the 1.058-mile New Hampshire International Speedway in preparation for next weekend's Jiffy Lube 300 Winston Cup race, a track spokeswoman said.
"He's going to be on a strict diet and he'll have to follow a regimented exercise program so he's going to have to take it easy (at work)," Lorraine Faford, public relations director at NHIS, said.
Faford would not disclose the specific disease from which Bahre is suffering, but said "down the road, he may have to have a lung transplant."
Faford said Bahre was diagnosed with the ailment before the May 9 Busch Series race at the Loudon, N.H., track.
"They can't cure it but they can control it," Faford said.
Bahre, 34, is the president of New Hampshire International Speedway and the son of NHIS founder and owner Bob Bahre. The Bahres took over management of LVMS last summer, reportedly at NASCAR's request, to help LVMS chairman Richie Clyne and his staff put on the inaugural Las Vegas 400 Winston Cup race and the Sam's Town Las Vegas 300 Busch Grand National Series race.
The weekend was an unqualified success, as far as NASCAR officials were concerned, and the Winston Cup Series will return to Las Vegas next February, LVMS officials have said. The inaugural Las Vegas 400 attracted a sellout crowd of 107,000 to the 1.5-mile superspeedway.
The Bahres quietly left Las Vegas Motor Speedway following the inaugural Winston Cup race and returned management duties to Clyne and his staff.
* NASCAR: Carbon monoxide poisoning apparently overcame Rick Mast, driver of the No. 75 Ford, on his flight from San Francisco to Atlanta on Monday. Mast's commercial flight was diverted to Denver so that he could be removed from the plane and examined by medical personnel. Four Denver fire department emergency medical technicians tended to Mast, who took another commercial flight home later in the day. ... NASCAR officials this week levied a penalty of $2,000 against Busch Series driver Mike McLaughlin and a $1,000 penalty against McLaughlin's crew chief, Gary Cogswell. The fines are the result of an incident on pit road following the June 14 running of the Lycos.com 250 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. The penalties were deemed in violation of Section 12-4 A in the 1998 NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division, Rule Book: "Any member who performs an act or participates in actions deemed by NASCAR officials as detrimental to automobile racing or to NASCAR." ... NASCAR fans can now access official NASCAR news and information from NASCAR Online, NASCAR's official Internet site, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without using a computer. The NASCAR Online Phone Browser allows fans to use any telephone to access the same information that's on NASCAR Online (www.nascar.com). Fans can call (900) 5-NASCAR ((900) 562-7227) to access seven main news, information and entertainment features. Cost of the call is $1.49 per minute.
* CART: FedEx Championship Series drivers Bobby Rahal, Mark Blundell, Las Vegan Jimmy Vasser, Christian Fittipaldi and Michael Andretti will be featured in live Internet chat sessions on ABC Sports Online. The sessions begin July 8 and will run for five consecutive Wednesdays. Each session will last 30 minutes and will begin at 11:30 a.m. Rahal will be the guest on July 8; Blundell on July 15; Vasser, July 22; Fittipaldi, July 29; and Andretti, Aug. 5. ABC Sports Online can be accessed through America Online, keyword ABC SPORTS. ... Officials from Sportsman's Park and Target/Chip Ganassi Racing officially broke ground Tuesday on construction of the Chicago Motor Speedway. The one-mile oval track is scheduled to be completed in time for a fall, 1999 FedEx Championship Series race.
* IRL: Team Menard owner John Menard said he will boycott the IRL's next two races -- at Dover, Del., and Charlotte, N.C. -- to protest the league's failure to enforce rules on fellow owner A. J. Foyt's cars. Menard said Robbie Buhl's car will not participate in those two races, although Menard's other car, driven by championship contender Tony Stewart, will. Menard believes that Foyt's cars, particularly the one driven by Billy Boat, increase in speed too much and too quickly in qualifications. Menard said the league will not release trap speeds for qualifying and that Foyt's alleged illegal efforts "speak for themselves." Menard said the use of horsepower-producing nitrous oxide is Foyt's most logical tool. Before last week's race, Foyt heard about Menard's statements, and he confronted Menard in the garage. "It shocked me because I never thought he was that way," said Foyt, who said his suspension package creates the speed difference. "I guess if you're getting beat, you cry about it. Maybe he wants publicity." ...
IRL driver Mike Groff has filed an arbitration demand with the American Arbitration Association in connection with his departure from Byrd/Cunningham Racing following the Indy 500. In his arbitration demand, Groff cited Byrd/Cunningham for breach of contract; intentional misrepresentation; damage to his reputation; fraud; negligence; breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing; conversion; and tortuous interference with contract rights." Groff added that team owner Jonathan Byrd has refused to pay him the prize money he has earned. ... Boat, who suffered a broken leg and a fractured pelvis in an accident during last week's New England 200 at New Hampshire International Speedway, is recovering from surgery in which an L-shaped plate and screws were used to repair his broken femur. Boat is expected to miss up to eight weeks. ... Engineer Tony Cicale, who has worked on two Indianapolis 500-winning cars, has been hired as a consultant by Nienhouse Motorsports, which fields the car driven by Las Vegan Davey Hamilton. Hamilton finished fourth in his first race with Cicale.
* BACKMARKERS: The NASCAR Winston Racing Series returns to the 3/8ths-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway oval Saturday for the Wheeler's RV Firecracker Dash. Included in the night's program will be Late Models, Grand American Modifieds, American Truck Series and a demolition derby. Gates open at 4 p.m., with preliminary events set for 7 p.m. and main events at 8 p.m. Scott Gafforini captured his first Late Model Sportsman victory of the year last weekend, ending the long winning streak of points leader Mike Ray. Driving a Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Ray came back after finishing behind Gafforini to win the second feature of the night. Randy Swalwell has run to a pair of victories to lead the highly-competitive Grand American Modified Division. He holds a 318-304 lead over C.J. Scherkenbach, who has five top-five finishes. The 11-minute fireworks display will be presented following the main events and before the demolition derby. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for children 6-12, seniors and military. Children under 6 are free. ... Las Vegans Dale White and Mike Peterson teamed with Don Kitch of Seattle to finish sixth in class (GT3) in Round Three of the USRRC Can-Am and GT Championship at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. ... Alex Gurney, winner of the 1997-98 Team Green Academy at LVMS, finished 13th in last weekend's Barber Dodge Pro Series race at Watkins Glen.