Motor Racing : Bob Nordskog Is 76--but Still Very Much in the Fast Lane

Bob Nordskog, 76, is showing no signs of slowing down.

The millionaire ocean racer-industrialist from Van Nuys will be at the helm of his 38-foot powerboat Saturday for 120 miles of pounding across the surf at speeds approaching 100 m.p.h. in the Race for Sight, event No. 4 in the Pacific Offshore Power Boat Racing Assn. season.

Nordskog won overall in the first race, the Sweetheart, and won in his class in the second race, the Rum Run, but had mechanical failure in the Ventura Channel Dash in May.

The Race for Sight, which will help raise money for Guide Dogs for the Blind of San Rafael, Calif., will start and finish at Marina del Rey. It will consist of two 60-mile loops--from Marina del Rey south to Palos Verdes Point off Redondo Beach, then north to Point Dume, west of Malibu, and return to Marina del Rey.


Smaller boats will race only one lap, or 60 miles.

This will be the seventh Race for Sight and Nordskog, who is also president and founder of the power boat association, has won six of them, including last year’s.

Weather conditions should help determine the outcome of Saturday’s race. If the ocean is smooth, Jim Duvall of Long Beach and his twin-hull catamaran, Crimson Tide, which can skim over the water at 100 m.p.h., will be favored. Duvall won overall in the Rum Run and Ventura races and has won the tunnel boat class in all three starts.

If it is rough, Nordskog’s 10-year-old Scarab, which has won 33 races in 36 starts, will be the favorite.


“Rough water is the equalizer,” Nordskog said. “Duvall is faster than we are in smooth water, but if it gets choppy, we take the advantage.”

Nordskog built a new and faster boat, a 40-foot Fountain, for this season and raced it in the last two races. It won the nontunnel class in the Rum Run, a race around Catalina, in a heavy fog, but in the Ventura race it developed a problem in the drive train that has not been resolved to Nordskog’s satisfaction.

“I know what the old boat can do and it’s ready,” he said. “It won its last race, the Sweetheart, in March, and even though it’s about 10 m.p.h. slower than the new boat, it’s probably more reliable.”

Another potential winner is John Peters of Phoenix, in Honcho, a 41-foot V-bottom boat that won in its class at Ventura. Other challengers include Karl Koster of San Francisco, in a new 30-foot Kal Kustom that will be racing for the first time, and Tom Hays of Pasadena in the 30-foot All Risk. A fleet of 25 boats is expected for all classes.


“The unique factor about our organization is that in 23 years, we have never had a fatality, or even a major accident,” Nordskog said. “You hear quite often about accidents in the Atlantic, but not on our side.

“The water’s the same, but the lectures and the penalties aren’t. I lecture all the racers on the important of safety at every race. . . .

“If we find a driver creates a dangerous hazard, we disqualify him for a day, or a month, or if it’s flagrant and something we cannot tolerate, we will disqualify him for life.”

The race will start at 10 a.m. The only viewing points will be from spectator boats.


SPRINT CARS--After a three-race weekend during which Ron Shuman, John Redican and Brad Noffsinger were winners, the Parnelli Jones Firestone/California Racing Assn. season returns to one-night action Saturday when Ascot Park holds a 30-lap main event for the wingless sprinters. It will be the first race of a three-night Budweiser American Sprint Car Series which offers $3,000 to top finishers in semi-main events as well as the feature races.

Despite finishing sixth at Ascot and Tucson and 16th at Phoenix, Jerry Meyer retained his series lead with 2,499 points to the closely bunched pack of Rip Williams, 2,366; Shuman, 2,360, and Noffsinger, 2,343.

MOTOCROSS--The first round of the Dodge Truck California Summer Series, sponsored by the Continental Motosport Club, will be run Sunday at Glen Helen Park in San Bernardino. The nine-race series will conclude Aug. 27 at Carlsbad Raceway, former site of the United States Grand Prix. The CMC will also race Friday night at Ascot Park. . . . Ventura Raceway will open its Coors/Kawasaki summer series Saturday night.

Bob (Hurricane) Hannah, 32, a six-time American Motorcyclist Assn. national champion and winner of 63 national events, will make his final competitive appearance Sunday in the 250cc U.S. Grand Prix at Unadilla Valley in New Berlin, N.Y. Other U.S. entries include Rick Johnson, who started his comeback from a serious wrist injury by winning the Mammoth Mountain Invitational two weeks ago, Jeff Ward, Micky Dymond, Johnny O’Mara, Broc Glover and George Holland. World points leader is Jean-Michel Bayle of France, the 125cc world champion.


VINTAGE CARS--The Great American Race will end its 12-day trek across the country Friday morning at Disneyland after stops Thursday in Holtville for an afternoon rest and San Diego for the night. The old-time vehicles are scheduled to reach Disneyland at 11 a.m.

HILL CLIMB--The Millen brothers, Rod and Steve, New Zealand natives who live in Orange County, will tackle Pikes Peak and its 156 turns in 12.5 miles Sunday in different equipment. Rod, 38, an international rally champion, will debut a Mazda MX-6 in the Rally GT class. Steve, 36, a two-time winner of the Mickey Thompson Gran Prix stadium championship, will be in a General Tire Nissan V-6 pickup in the truck class.

OFF-ROAD--Less than a minute kept Robby Gordon of Orange from winning his seventh overall trophy in three years in the High Desert Racing Assn./SCORE series last Saturday in the Fireworks 250 out of Barstow. After more than five hours of desert racing, Gordon’s ’89 Ford truck finished 59 seconds behind Bob Richey of Corona, driving a Porsche-powered two-seater Raceco buggy.

A course worker, Jim Cross of Hemet, was killed when he was hit by a vehicle driven by racer Mark McMillin of Bonita, Calif., at a race checkpoint.


STOCK CARS--Two Cajon Speedway drivers, Ed Hale and Tobin Whitt, have moved up to second and third positions in the Winston Racing Series regional championship behind Paul White of Temple, Tex. Hale and Whitt will meet again Saturday night at Cajon Speedway. . . . Street stocks will race Friday night at Ventura Raceway.

Pro stocks will be featured Sunday night in a double points race at Ascot Park in the Curb Motorsports Winston Racing Series. . . . NASCAR sportsman cars will also race Saturday night at Saugus Speedway and the Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino.

DRAG RACING--The United Sand Assn. will hold its monthly sand drag program Saturday at San Bernardino’s Glen Helen Park.