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IndyCar Indy 500 Auto Racing

Alexander Rossi, center, kisses the bricks on the start/finish line with car owners Brian Herta, left, and Michael Andretti after wining the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

NEWTON, Iowa | The turn-left, pedal-to-the-metal crowd in these parts, you know, the gearhead element wearing the shirts imprinted with race cars, are flush with anticipation.

There’s no reason the giddiness can’t stretch to Siouxland.

Siouxland open-wheel racing fans won’t have to travel far now to watch -- up close and personally -- a rookie winner of the Indianapolis 500.

A stop right here in Jasper County can satisfy cravings.

California-born Alexander Rossi, finishing on an empty gas tank, drank the milk after a stunning triumph in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing on Memorial Day weekend.

It was his first drive at The Brickyard.

Rossi, the first American in years to compete with foreign drivers in the big cars of Formula One, will start his engine on July 10 in the Iowa Corn 300 at the Iowa Speedway here.

A jingoistic cheer should rise to engulf the grid when the green flag drops in the Verizon IndyCar Series event since Ryan Hunter-Reay and Josef Newgarden are two other Americans challenging the reputed foreigners.

Open-wheel hotshoes (not including sprint cars) are pretty much a rarity from the Hawkeye State.

The short list includes Janet Guthrie, the first woman to drive in the Indy 500; John Mahler and Lee Kunzman. Guthrie was born in Iowa City, Mahler is from Alpha and Kunzman from Guttenberg.

All were Indy qualifiers cars in the 1970s.

But, there was a time …

Like in the halcyon days of the big Offenhauser-powered cars of the International Motor Contest Association when Sibley native Emory “Spunk’’ Collins ruled the roost.

You might say Collins became Siouxland’s initial big-time hockey player as he began his athletic career as a member of Canadian national men’s hockey team and then turned to auto racing’s center stage.

The Collins family moved from Sibley to Saskatchewan when Emory was a youngster, but after returning to the U.S. he settled in Le Mars where his racing shop was located.

In the 1920s, 30s and 40s, two Iowa drivers – Collins and Gus Schrader – garnered the most racing ink and boldest headlines in Iowa.

Schrader made one Indy start.

After the racing on dirt and hard surface ended, Collins turned to farming in Plymouth County, passing away in 1982 at the age of 78.

Other venues (subhead)

| Fairfield, Bethune-Cookman, Binghamton, Western Carolina, Bryant, William and Mary (that’s one school) either earned their way or were selected to play in NCAA Division I baseball regionals eventually leading up to the College World Series in Omaha in a couple of weeks.

The University of Iowa baseball team was perhaps the only one in America to not get a second chance to make one of those regionals.

After defeating top-seeded Minnesota and then crushing Maryland in the Big Ten tournament, Iowa lost to one-time (tourney) loser Ohio State in the tourney title game.

But, since Big Ten coaches have apparently agreed to the format that prevents an unbeaten tourney finalist to bounce back from a championship contest loss to potentially win a second title game and claim an automatic regional berth, Iowa stayed home.

There was no second chance for the Hawkeyes.

| Fortuitously, the NAIA doesn’t follow the abhorrent Big Ten tournament baseball format in baseball or softball, which concluded its second year Thursday with Our Town hosting the 10-team 2016 NAIA Softball World Series.

In case you weren’t there, St. Xavier (Ill.) won three games to emerge unbeaten from the winners bracket, only to lose 2-0 to once-beaten Oklahoma City University (which is OCU not OKC).

But, St. Xavier got a second chance only to drop another winner-take-all contest to OCU in the ultimate title game.

| Oklahoma City University quite likely can compete favorably at any level of competition.

The Sooner State might also produce the Division I national title with OU playing right now in the College Women’s World Series in Oklahoma City.

OCU will be the winningest four-year college program in the country in 2016 after finishing a brilliant 67-3.

Incidentally, Texas-Tyler won the NCAA Division III national crown with a 49-5 record, beating Messiah College in a best-of-three showdown in Salem (Va.) to reign supreme. Central Oklahoma also qualified for the D-II tourney.

North Alabama (60-7) claimed the Division II championship, winning two of three showdowns with Humboldt State of California in Denver.

| Maybe you read recently about something called the “27 Club’’ which chronicled the deaths of celebrated musicians Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Curt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix, who all died shortly before their 28th birthdays.

Turns out 27 with a significantly more positive spin is a special age in the National Basketball Association, too.

It’s at that age that Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Isiah Thomas first won NBA titles and Stephen Curry was 27 when Golden State won the crown last year.

Two other 27 year olds, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, could have joined the fraternity, but alas, their Oklahoma City Thunder club didn’t make it to the finals.

| No, Tim Dwight wasn’t a member of that Iowa City High boys 4x200 relay quartet that established an all-time Iowa best in the late 1980s. It wasn’t until a few years later that Dwight blistered any and all prep competition in the state.


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