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Wednesday, September 21, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Auto racing notebook: Bids rise for Gordon's thrown helmet

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — Robby Gordon is auctioning off the helmet he threw at Michael Waltrip's car Sunday, with all proceeds going to a relief fund for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Gordon started a one-week auction for the helmet yesterday on eBay. The sum of the winning bid will go to the Harrah's Employee Relief Fund. At one point last night, the top bid was $500,000. But it was difficult to know how seriously to take the top bid later in the night, as it was slightly more than $8 million.

"People started asking me almost immediately after the race if they could have my helmet and rather than just giving it away, we'll use it to raise more money," Gordon said. "Obviously, I'm still angry about getting wrecked intentionally. But at the end of the day I still have a house to go home to, which is a lot more than a lot of people can say.

"I hope people will dig deep and think of the big picture when they're bidding on the helmet."

Gordon was fined a total of $35,000 and docked 50 driver points by NASCAR for retaliating against Waltrip during Sunday's Sylvania 300 Nextel Cup Series race in Loudon, N.H.

After Waltrip ran into his car, Gordon first tried to hit Waltrip's car with his own. He later climbed from his car, walked through race traffic and threw his helmet at Waltrip. He also used a derogatory term during a television interview when asked about Waltrip.

"I'm sorry for losing my temper following the race, but after a day or two of looking back at the race it's easy to realize that it's just not that big of a deal compared with what the people of the Gulf Coast are still going through," Gordon said.

Gordon has made an initial contribution of $20,000 to the Harrah's Fund, and is raising additional money through a $7-a-lap pledge for the remainder of the season.

He is also contributing 10 percent from the sale of Harrah's racing merchandise and collectibles at the team's Web site and souvenir trailer.

After bidding on the helmet surpassed $100,000, Gordon said, "The generosity of people always amazes me."

Stewart crashes

during test

CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR points leader Tony Stewart crashed during a test session at Lowe's Motor Speedway, raising questions about the track surface.

Stewart crashed his Chevrolet after running a handful of laps and ended his session because of a headache. He met briefly with track president H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler before heading home.

Also wrecking during the test session were Vancouver, Wash., native Greg Biffle, who is second in the points race and had his accident with slightly more than an hour left of track time, and Mike Bliss and Boris Said. None of the drivers was injured.

Wheeler used a grinding process called "levigating" in the turns of the track earlier this year to smooth out the trademark bumps in an effort to foster more side-by-side racing. After a NASCAR-record 22 cautions during the May race, Wheeler had the rest of the track levigated.

Notes

Steve Johnson's plans for the Champ Car World Series do not yet include a thought about possible unification with the rival Indy Racing League.

As the new president of Champ Car, Johnson said his only focus is on promoting his series to fans and sponsors. He said he is not concerned about the IRL, whose split from the former CART series almost 10 years ago created a rift in open-wheel racing.

Johnson replaced Dick Eidswick. Eidswick will remain with the Indianapolis-based company as chief executive officer and chairman.

Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One's billionaire rights manager, has given advice to organizers of the new A1 Grand Prix series, a potential rival. The first A1 race is Sunday in Brands Hatch, England, the same day as the F1 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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