NASCAR

Michael Tomsic

NASCAR is trying to increase its diversity, and its efforts go beyond who's behind the steering wheel. Pit crews have become essentially a sport within the sport, as race teams train former college athletes to sprint around cars, changing tires and lugging equipment. In Concord recently, NASCAR held its first national pit crew combine, and its purpose was to attract minority athletes.

Michael Tomsic

As NASCAR begins its new season with the Daytona 500 this weekend, it’s making another big change to be more like other sports. Two years ago, NASCAR shifted from a convoluted points system to a winner-take-all playoff. This year, its racing teams will become more like NBA or NFL franchises rather than independent businesses.

Michael Tomsic

Racing executives say NASCAR is in its best shape since the recession as the sport enters its new season. NASCAR leaders made their case in uptown Charlotte on Tuesday as part of an annual media event.

NASCARmedia.com

The driver who helped NASCAR connect with a new generation of racing fans is retiring soon. Four-time champion Jeff Gordon came from a different part of the country and had a very different style than the racing legends that preceded him. More than 20 years later, many in the sport say he's been key to broadening its appeal and polishing its image.

North Carolina is giving $5 million in grants to a television pilot, an HGTV show and an independent film under the state incentives program.  On Friday, Commerce Secretary John Skvarla announced the grants, which were chosen from 17 applications. 

Jennifer Roberts and Edwin Peacock.
The Charlotte Observer

Early voting begins Thursday in Charlotte’s mayoral primary and a new poll shows there are clear front-runners for the two major parties.  With voting set to begin ahead of primary day, Sept. 15, The Charlotte Observer reports that Democrat Jennifer Roberts has support from 39 percent of likely primary voters, just short of the 40 percent needed to avoid a runoff. Current Mayor Dan Clodfelter is a distant second at 21 percent.

Protester arrested 8/22 outside Bank of America stadium
Jeff Siner / The Charlotte Observer

A 23-year-old Charlotte man who owned a music-sharing website has pleaded guilty to copyright infringement. Rocky Ouprasith admitted to illegally trading more than $2.5 million worth of material on his RockDizMusic-dot-com.

Famed NASCAR driver Buddy Baker has died after a battle with lung cancer. He was 74. Baker competed in 700 races in a career that lasted more than three decades. Among his wins was the 1980 Daytona 500. He still holds the record for fastest average speed in a Daytona 500 win. Baker was known for achieving high speeds and was the first driver to break 200 miles per hour on a closed course. At 6-foot-6, Baker was known as the “Gentle Giant” and was the son of Hall of Fame Driver Buck Baker.

Two men died and three others were hurt Saturday night in a shootout at a home in Gastonia.  The Gaston Gazette reports police were called to Greenwood Drive, south of the city, at 9:18pm after a 911 caller reported that his father had been shot by another man. Police found a man standing outside with a shotgun and a pistol. They exchanged gunfire, and killed the man. Two officers also were shot, along with a woman, though none of those injuries were life-threatening.

Still photography and video coverage will be allowed in the courtroom when the trial of former CMPD officer Randall Kerrick begins Monday. But Judge Robert Ervin also ruled Friday that live streaming of the trial proceedings will not be permitted, and reporters will not be allowed to make live social media postings from the courtroom.
 
Kerrick is charged with voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell two years ago.  Kerrick and two other officers encountered Ferrell when they responded to a 9-1-1 call in east Charlotte in September 2013.  

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