Jerry Glanville hopes that what it took to get to Fontana for this weekend's NASCAR Tripleheader is not an omen for what to expect from his racing schedule at California Speedway.
Driving his team's rig through searing 110-plus degree heat in the Southwest, he blew four tires during a 36-hour odyssey from Roswell, Ga. The irrepressible former NFL coach and current pro football analyst doesn't believe in flying when he can hit the highways with his crew--Bob Fisher, his wife, Skita, who runs the shop, their two sons, and Glanville's son, Justin.
"We travel everywhere together in the rig," Glanville, 57, said on arriving. "We don't buy airline tickets. In fact, NASCAR told me I'm the only guy who drives the rig into the track, races for three hours, and then drives the rig home. It made me feel real good.
"A guy said to me at Rockingham that there has been only one other race car driver that drove his own truck--A.J. Foyt. That puts me in pretty good company. I'll take that. We're crazy."
When he was coaching the Atlanta Falcons and Houston Oilers, Glanville regularly left tickets at Will Call for Elvis Presley. Asked if he had any plans for Elvis this weekend, he said, "I'd put him in one of my Fords, but they can't make the seat big enough."
Glanville broke five or six ribs and his left ankle when he crashed during qualifying for a Winston West race in Phoenix on April 18.
"I might have had the pole at Phoenix, I ran my first lap that good, but on the second lap I hit a patch of oil no bigger than a foot. When I hit that patch, my car just snatched around and slammed the driver's side into the wall. Wasn't much left of that car but the roof flaps.
"I'll tell you how laid-up I was. I usually jog five miles a day to keep in shape. The way those ribs felt, I couldn't get past two driveways. It was everything I hated when I coached, not being able to answer the bell. It was the first time I'd ever been laid-up.
"The worst part was hearing from all the football players I'd coached that I'd shown no sympathy to when they got banged up. They really let me have it."
Glanville was sidelined for eight weeks, but since he resumed racing June 17, it has been almost nonstop. To make up for lost time, he plans to race in both Saturday features, 200 laps in the Craftsman Truck race and then after a short intermission, another 200 laps in his black No. 81 Ford Thunderbird in the Winston West race.
"It's no big deal," he said of doubling up. "First day back I ran 250 laps in a supermodified in the Hooters Pro Cup series, then three days later I ran another 250 laps. The race after that, we won.
"That was exciting. We won on the last turn of the last lap. It was at Peach State Speedway in Jefferson, Ga., in a Southern All-Star race. They're 2,800-pound fiberglass cars. With five laps to go, I had to rub a little on the guy in front and we hooked bumpers. I didn't get by until about the last hundred yards. The crowd went wild.
"We went kind of wild too. Winning's a great tonic. We'd been carrying a bottle of champagne around for four years waiting for a win. It about turned to vinegar before we popped the cork, but it tasted great."
Glanville's racing career will soon be put on hold when he becomes the New England Patriots' exhibition season announcer and then becomes an analyst for HBO and Fox television.
"The Patriots love me because their fans don't have any idea what I'm saying," he said. "Of course, I have to fly when I'm doing my TV stuff."
After Fontana, Glanville will fly to Rochester, N.Y., for a meeting on the Patriots, fly to Colorado Springs for a doubleheader of racing at Pikes Peak Raceway, fly to Los Angeles for a Fox seminar, then drive to San Francisco for the Patriots' exhibition season opener Aug. 2 against the 49ers.
Why doesn't he fly to San Francisco?
"I'm going to run in the 12 Hours of Sebring next year and I thought driving a Mustang convertible on Highway 1 through Big Sur would give me a good idea of what to expect."
Glanville drives in four series--Winston West, trucks, Hooter's Pro Cup and Southern All-Stars--but it's not enough.
"I can't stand it when I've got an off weekend. There are three or four weeks when there's nothing on my calendar, so I told my wife I was going to go drag racing next year with my '68 Mustang. I started out dragging door slammers, so I'm going to do it again.
"The thing I love about racing and coaching is competing, to get up every day and try to be better than you were yesterday. If you don't, you get left behind."
NASCAR officials are hoping that CBS decides to televise the postponed Pepsi 400 from Daytona International Speedway on Oct. 17, opposite the opening game of the World Series.
"We would like the opportunity to show what our ratings would compare to baseball's No. 1 event," said a NASCAR official. "We're confident we would come out very favorably and maybe open the eyes of some sports editors who tend to ignore the popularity of Winston Cup racing."
CBS, which had planned to televise the race on July 4 before Florida wildfires caused it to be delayed, has not announced its plans for Oct. 17.
Troy Herbst, youngest of the three Herbst brothers from Las Vegas, will be looking for his second straight win in the Laughlin SCORE Desert Series when he leads a field of nearly 150 racers Saturday in the Fireworks 250 in the desert south of Barstow.
Herbst, who drives a hybrid Smithbuilt desert car that is a cross between a traditional open-wheel desert buggie and a Ford truck, won the unlimited Class 1 race in the Tecate Baja 500 race last month and also won last year's Fireworks 250. Four laps of racing over a 62-mile course will begin at 6 a.m., with temperatures of more than 100 degrees anticipated.
Dover Downs, the only motor sports facility in the country to offer on-site gambling, will host the Indy Racing League's Pep Boys 400K race Sunday. Defending champion Tony Stewart will pass up his Busch Grand National ride at California Speedway in hopes of extending his IRL points lead. . . . Greg Ray, surprise front-row starter in the Indianapolis 500, will replace the injured Billy Boat in one of A.J. Foyt's cars. Boat, who suffered a broken leg and pelvis in a crash at New Hampshire Speedway two weeks ago, is not expected to resume racing until mid-August. . . . Two-time USAC midget champion Stevie Reeves has replaced Roberto Guerrero in the Pagan Racing Car and will make his IRL debut at Charlotte next week.
Bobby Rahal is making his farewell tour in CART champ cars this year and Alex Zanardi may be making his too. Zanardi, running away with the PPG Cup series championship, is expected to return to Formula One next season. In the meantime, he will be going for a fourth consecutive win Sunday when CART visits Toronto for the Molson Indy street race.