LaJoie steadfast about safety

Randy LaJoie says Dale Earnhardt’s legacy of winning seven NASCAR championships someday will be overshadowed by the safety revolution that followed his 2001 death in the Daytona 500.

LaJoie, likewise, might become more well known for his safety campaign than for winning the 1998 and 1999 NASCAR Busch Series titles.

His “Safer Racer Tour” visits Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s Bullring tonight, when a special midweek edition of the NASCAR All-American Series will be run.

LaJoie, 45, will race for the first time this year, in the regional ASA Speed Truck Series. There also will be races in Super Late Models, Legends Cars and Thunder Roadsters.

The chance to race isn’t LaJoie’s motivation for traveling from his home near Charlotte, N.C., where he operates The Joie of Seating, a business that manufactures custom racing seats. The Connecticut native, who won 15 Busch races during his 20-year career in the series, will put on a free safety seminar for racers.

“I’ve seen a lot of short-track race cars, and I consider only about 5 percent of them to be as safe as they should be,” he said. “Safety was always on the back burner until we lost Dale.”

LaJoie credits energy-absorbing guardwalls at major NASCAR tracks, head-and-neck restraining devices and better seats for a significant reduction in catastrophic injuries and deaths in racing the past six years.

LaJoie’s father began building better race seats nearly 30 years ago, and LaJoie’s current aluminum seats, which are custom-made, include about 20 feet of tubing for strength and serve as a cocoon to restrict driver movement in a crash.

“It’s not fair that these guys don’t know all the information on safety that’s out there,” LaJoie said. “It hasn’t trickled down quickly enough. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Qualifying races will begin at 6 p.m., with featured races scheduled to start at 7:30. …

Bear Rzesnowiecky, 15, will be the top Southern Nevadan competing in Speed Trucks. He is third in points with one victory. …

An autograph session, from 6 p.m. to 7, will feature 14-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force and Las Vegas resident Rod Fuller, who leads the Top Fuel standings on the NHRA pro tour.

For ticket information, call 644-4444 or visit

• OLD-TIMERS — The Bullring tonight will honor some of Southern Nevada’s all-time best short-track racers, including Doc Faustina, former Silver Slipper Speedway competitors Jack Mulligan and Bill Boren, and Craig Road Speedway stalwarts Wayne Morris Sr., Curley Price, Clarence “Chummy” Hollowinski, John Montgomery, Fred Kiser Sr. and Dick Cobb.

• NASCAR — Nextel Cup driver and team owner Robby Gordon was fined $35,000 by NASCAR on Tuesday and placed on probation through the end of the year for his conduct during and after Saturday’s Busch series race in Montreal.

Gordon protested a NASCAR ruling late in Saturday’s race, when he was ordered to surrender his second-place position and move to 13th. He refused and was immediately disqualified. He completed the final two laps ahead of the leaders, then celebrated on the track as though he had won.

Gordon was not allowed to compete in the Cup race at Long Pond, Pa., the next day because of his behavior.

He is cleared to compete this weekend in the Busch and Cup races at Watkins Glen, N.Y.

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