50 Most Bizarre Car Racing Moments REDONE (42-34)

42. RUBEN GARCIA’S CRASH (1988, NASCAR CUP, RIVERSIDE)

RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 41ST

Journeymen are what make racing so enjoyable.

Ruben Garcia of South El Monte, California is one such journeyman. According to the LA Times, Garcia started out in 1970 after getting back from Vietnam making $2.50 an hour building motorhomes. In 1985, he was president of R&R Custom Coachworks, Inc., a motorhome distributor that raked in $32 million in 1984. Garcia raced every now and again throughout the 1970s, but when he finally returned to racing in 1984 after a few years off, he immediately found success, finishing third in the 1985 Winston West points with two wins. Garcia was even able to qualify for a few NASCAR Cup races at Riverside.

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Credit to Myles Regan

In 1988, during the very last NASCAR race at Riverside, Garcia drove his #32 Pick-Your-Part Chevrolet Monte Carlo car into the top 20, but on lap 29 of 95, it all came to an end. Something broke and the car veered hard left off of turn nine. The car entered an opening in the barrier and struck an angled steel guardrail protected by a tire wall, which was easily folded by the car. It went through a chainlink fence from there, then collapsed a brick wall with a set of barrels behind it. The car came to a halt against one final barrier protecting the crowd, and Ruben got out of the car unhurt, but he did not start any further Cup or West races after that.

41. MASS DQ AT THE ITALIAN F3 FINALE (2012, ITALIAN F3, MONZA)

RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 21ST

As national and regional Formula Three leagues start to fall by the wayside and Formula Four begins to take over as the go-to for national leagues, the amount of national F3 leagues thin to a point where as of 2017 there are only five: Japan, Brazil, Austria, Australia, and Switzerland, a ‘Formula Three’ league in Britain that actually just runs souped-up F4 cars, and two European leagues, one of which, European Formula Three, will be merging with GP3 in 2019.

Italian F3 concluded a run which had begun in 1964 in 2012, and its last race was rather controversial. Ten cars, two Mygales and eight Dallaras, entered the Monza finale, with Romain Agostini’s Mygale leading with 240 points over a pair of Dallaras, Brandon Maisano, who had 229 and Eddie Cheever III, who had 227. Cheever won race one and was able to gain a few points on Agostini, but then it all went downhill.

For reasons I could never find described beyond ‘technical infractions’, Cheever and Maisano were both disqualified from race two, handing Agostini the championship. It then proceeded to worsen when all eight Dallaras were disqualified from race three. Once again I never found a specific reason, but every Dallara in the field was disqualified, leaving only two cars classified: Romain Agostini and fellow Mygale Nicholas Latifi. What a way to wrap up forty eight years of racing…

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Credit to Juzaphoto

 

40. ARCA FINISHES A RAIN RACE (2010, ARCA, PALM BEACH)

RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 18TH

As mentioned earlier, ARCA can be a bit of a fail series from time to time. However, it’s actually done something that NASCAR’s top series has never done: run a rain race.

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Credit to Red LineNEW 

Rain racing is part of motorsports. Every now and again, drivers throw on some rain tires and inch their way around the circuit. Stock cars very, very rarely rain race, however, mostly because it’s almost always only a road course thing. Races like the Daytona 500 can’t be held in the rain, of course. NASCAR has rain raced on an oval once before with its European division at the Tours Speedway, a literal parking lot oval with drainage systems which permit racing in a light shower, and has run a few rain races in the Xfinity Series. The Cup Series has never used rain tires in a race, however. Not including the Elkhart Lake race in 1956, which came in a day where drivers could use almost any kind of tire they wanted as long as the tires were a certain width and height, the most the Cup Series has ever done in the rain is a practice session. Yet ARCA, usually seen as the joke series, ran a rain race at Palm Beach in 2010, and it went over just fine, with Justin Marks bringing home the trophy. Pretty ironic that the lower series accomplishes one of the toughest jobs in motorsports, something the top series has never even tried, isn’t it?

39. A DRIVER GETS TASED (2017, FIGURE EIGHT, ANDERSON)

NEW TO LIST

Racing is heated, but sometimes fights can get out of hand. There was, of course, the fight between Michael Simko and Don St. Denis at the 2006 Glass City 200 at Toledo where Simko dropkicked St. Denis’ windshield, but at a figure eight race at Anderson Speedway in Indiana in 2017, things got even worse.

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Credit to Jalopnik

During a race in mid October, Jeff Swinford and Shawn Cullen were unable to stay off one another, apparently colliding three times during a duel for the top spot. After one last bit of contact, Swinford drove his #3 car straight for Cullen’s stalled #33 vehicle. Swinford drove his car atop Cullen’s nearly crushing Cullen, and Cullen, infuriated, rushed out of his car and began punching Swinford repeatedly for a good thirty seconds, requiring an officer’s interventions.

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Credit to RTV6

Cullen was tased by the responding officer, and both drivers were arrested. According to the Associated Press, Cullen was charged with disorderly conduct, and Swinford was charged with misdemeanor criminal recklessness. Despite Cullen being tased, Swinford was the one being hung out to dry, as due to what was seen as a calculated maneuver to both attack Cullen and damage his car further, Swinford will likely never be allowed back to the Anderson Speedway, and was also fined all of the money he earned during all races he ran at the Anderson Speedway in 2017. Cullen was suspended for at least two events for leaving his car before the red flag could be flown. Both were DQ’d from the event as well.

38. REPEATEDLY HITTING THE SAFETY TRUCK (1998, RENAULT MEGANE, ZANDVOORT)

RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 17TH

Masters of Formula Three’s relevance and necessity has decreased with F3 itself. The race, which is held at Zandvoort, saw 47 entries in 1998 and only 16 in 2016, and wasn’t even held in 2017. However, Zandvoort is a good track choice for the race, with its undulating turns and many sand pits, the track is far from easy.

During a Renault Megane support race during the Masters of Formula Three weekend in 1998, a driver by the surname of Van Der Waals crashed on the end of the second lap after hitting some debris, sending his car airborne, but not injuring him. A local yellow was waved, and a safety truck arrived to assist Van Der Waals, who was standing near the barrier for whatever reason.

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Screencap

Two cars dueling for position entered the last bend, and they both spun out. Van Der Waals hopped over the barrier just in time, and was forced to watch as the pair slammed into the back of the safety truck, knocking it into Van Der Waals’ car and sending the Renault to the inside of the circuit. Another safety truck arrived on scene, only to get rear ended by another spinning car. The first safety truck was then hit hard by a car that just didn’t turn. According to Ritzsite, no injuries were reported, and the race was red flagged and run to completion later that day.

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Screencap

Zandvoort’s social media said that the cause of this crash was a mix of the drivers not respecting the yellow flags and the day’s Meganes being bulkier and much easier to lose control of if the throttle is suddenly lifted.

37. JOHN PRIOR FLIPS AFTER THE RACE (1985, ARCA, DUQUOIN)

NEW TO LIST

Crashes after the race ends are rare, but they do occur, as drivers often still have a rush of adrenaline coarsing through their veins even after the checkered flag falls. Technically, Austin Dillon’s terrible crash at Daytona in 2015 was after the flag, though drivers were still at speed, as Daytona is not somewhere where you can slow down after the race. The one mile dirt oval at DuQuoin State Fairgrounds in Illinois is not a superspeedway, yet John Prior proved that these accidents can happen anywhere and still be spectacular.

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Credit to Midwest Racing Archives

Lee Raymond was class of the field at the 1985 ARCA race at DuQuoin, passing Gary Bettenhausen early and, for the most part, hanging on to the lead for the rest of the 200 mile race. After Bettenhausen fell back, Dean Roper was the one chasing Raymond, though with the exception of a pit stop cycle he never passed him.

John Prior’s #00 and Bob Brevak’s #34, however, were the ones putting on a real show. The pair apparently traded the third spot several times in the last few laps, with Prior prevailing. Prior, a local driver, beat Brevak in a side by side duel, then proceeded to slide right into the turn one guardrail and flip his car after the checkered flag had already flown. Prior was okay.

36. RON FELLOWS’ STRANGE MANEUVER (2011, NASCAR N’WIDE, ELKHART LAKE)

RANK ON PREVIOUS LIST: 11TH

When NASCAR takes to Elkhart Lake, everyone wins. They always put on a wonderful show, and unexpected winners are frequently seen, with Nelson Piquet, Brendan Gaughan, the luckless Michael McDowell, and even independent veteran Jeremy Clements possessing victories at the circuit. In 2011, when the race was still a 200 miler rather than its current 180, road racing expert Ron Fellows was hoping to be that surprise winner. So when Justin Allgaier ran out of fuel under the race-ending yellow and Reed Sorenson was slowing down even further, he zoomed on by and was picked up by the pace car. However, when NASCAR reviewed the footage, they eventually gave the win to Sorenson. Why?

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Credit to Masslive

You cannot pass under yellow, of course. However, if due to driver neglect, a dry fuel can or mechanical issues, you are free to. There is no need to stay behind a driver who has stalled on the track. Sorenson did slow down, but not by very much, and he quickly got back going. After all, he’d just seen his teammate run out of fuel. Fellows appeared to read the rules too literally, seeing Sorenson slightly slow down and assuming he was out of fuel when he wasn’t. Sorenson was given the win at the end with Fellows second, and Fellows was not penalized further.

35. CRAIG JARVIS’ CRASH (2017, EXTREME SUPERCARS, KYALAMI)

NEW TO LIST

Sports cars are interesting to see race. They’re beautiful, sleek, and powerful, but on the other hand, one mistake and a million dollar racer can be lost, a massive hit to the pockets of teams and especially privateers…usually.

Extreme Supercars is a standard sports car series from South Africa in which Ferraris, Lambos, BMWs, and Porsches duel one another, with occasional appearances by Ford GTs, Alfa Romeos and McLarens. One common racer in this series is Craig Jarvis, who according to his own Facebook is a CEO at a company which assists in streamlining the medical billing process.

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Credit to The South African

During a qualifying session at Kyalami in early November 2017, Craig wrapped up his lap and shifted to the inside, where he collided with Johann Engelbrecht’s Porsche GT2 RS. Johann spun his Porsche into the wall, and Craig, who according to Engelbrecht’s team was unaware of Johann’s presence, backed his Ferrari 458 GT3 into the steel guardrail, sending the sleek sports car rolling end over end. Both drivers were okay, but Johann’s Porsche was badly damaged, and Craig’s Ferrari was a write off.

Despite this all, Craig posted to his Facebook within a few days of the crash that he’d acquired a new Ferrari, apparently having received an insurance payout. Insurance? On a Ferrari you use in racing? That’s news to me…

34. TAXBRAIN STEALS JUSTIN PHILPOTT’S CAR (2006, SUPER LATE MODEL, ALTAMONT)

NEW TO LIST

Forgiveness is a privilege to some.

In the mid 2000s, Justin Philpott was one of the up and coming super late model racers in California, running at Altamont and Stockton 99. He eventually caught the eye of tax sorting company Taxbrain. Taxbrain got its wanted publicity on the sixteen-year-old’s super late model, but apparently they wanted more, and they decided to steal Justin’s car straight out of victory circle the next time he won and film a commercial out of it. They told a few officials at Altamont Speedway, but no one else, and on August 13, 2006, they executed their plan. According to the East Bay Times, an unnamed actor hopped the fence, got in the car while the Philpotts were celebrating a win, and took off. He did about two or three laps before being stopped by a combination of Justin’s brother and a wrecker backed onto the circuit by track officials.

After a lengthy investigation, undisclosed sanctions were laid against Taxbrain, and no charges were filed. Bizarrely, however, Justin Philpott chose to keep Taxbrain for his moving up to the All American Series in 2007. In fact, Philpott, who is still racing in southern California and is still very successful, made one of the strangest moves I have ever seen a racer make. Instead of leaving a sponsor who conducted a stunt that could have easily killed him and his family behind him…

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Credit to NASCAR Home Tracks

…Justin stayed with Taxbrain for about another five years. So uh…are you sure that’s a good idea, Justin?

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The Tragedies At Rafaela: Petrich, Lafeudo, Noya, and Miller

The Autodromo Ciudad De Rafaela, also known as the Autodromo Juan Bascolo, sits just outside the city of Rafaela, northeastern Argentina. It is a bizarre track, being a back-and-forth oval with lightly banked corners and several chicanes, along with a road course for junior series that cuts off half the oval. It is a massive 2.895 mile track, making it even longer than Talladega.

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Credit to Wikipedia

It was built as a massive dirt track in 1952, was paved in 1966, and hosted the USAC Champ Cars in 1971, though it’s been used almost exclusively for national events since. The Turismo Carretera usually runs three chicanes, one towards the end of the front chute, one on the back chute, and a third in turn three (the north turn), though there is a fourth in turn one (the south turn) that is infrequently used.

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Credit to Historia TC

This circuit is where Argentina’s top series, the Turismo Carretera, truly shines. Turismo Carretera, which has existed since 1937 and been under the same ownership since 1939, is technically a stock car series. The series, which mostly runs tracks with more sweeping corners, employs double-file restarts and a Chase system to try and imitate NASCAR as best as it can, yet unlike NASCAR, which has had wavering popularity over the past couple years, Turismo Carretera has continued to be extremely popular. It’s one of the most exciting racing series in existence, but also one of the more dangerous series.

The early days of Turismo Carretera were highlighted by circuits that more closely resembled rally layouts than permanent tracks, and due to this co-drivers were often required. As the series switched to permanent layouts and temporary street circuits, co-drivers became mostly unneeded, though most teams kept them anyway. One of the teams to do this was that of Raul Petrich.

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Credit to HistoriaTC

Raul Alberto Petrich, nicknamed ‘Pepino’ or ‘Cucumber’ due to his height, was born in 1958 and started competing in Turismo Carretera in 1989. He used a Dodge in an era when Dodge did not have too many high ranked drivers in the Turismo Carretera, and frequently ran in the top 15 when most of the other drivers running his manufacturer were towards the back. Raul, whose family owned both a service station and a flour, sugar and coal provider, also competed in the 24 Hours Of Daytona in 1996. The Team Argentina Oldsmobile completed 377 laps in the race before it broke down and retired. Raul’s team finished 36th out of the 76 starters and 11th out of the 29 cars in his class. Raul’s best finish in Turismo Carretera competition, on the other hand, was a third at Parana in 1997.

Rafaela was an outdated circuit by the late 90s, its barriers having not been updated since the USAC visit. This became evident when driver Guillermo Del Barrio and co-driver Luis Patti went straight on due to a mechanical failure in turn three during a qualifying race in 1997. The car collapsed the guardrail and flew out of the speedway.

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Credit to HistoriaTC

The vehicle rolled violently end over end several times and came back down onto its wheels. Thankfully, the car’s occupants were unhurt besides a few bruises. As the wagon train returned to Rafaela the next year, most competitors kept this in the back of their minds, but officials reassured everyone that the barriers had seen some updating. Evidently, it was not enough.

On July 31st, 1998, two days before the planned main event, Raul Petrich was running a practice session at the circuit. He had a rather fast car and clocked an upper-midfield time, but evidently he thought he could go even faster. Raul explained to his team that he detected an issue with the car’s undercarriage that was holding him back. Oscar Lafeudo, a chassis expert for his team, offered to throw on a driving suit and sit in the co-driver’s seat, which was legal during practice and testing only. Danilo Di Napoli, Raul’s usual co-driver, hopped out of the passenger’s seat, and Oscar hopped in to try and see what needed improving.

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Credit to HistoriaTC; Oscar is at left

The pair ran a few laps, and Raul was called into the pits at 5:45 p.m., with a few minutes left in the session. On what was planned to be his last lap of the day, a tire blew on the #63 Dodge GTX in the south corner of the oval and he went straight on into the wall at about 140mph. The car struck the guardrail, damaging it severely and breaking off the top half of the guardrail. The chunk penetrated the car at the passenger door B-post. The car bounced off of the bottom half of the guardrail and came to a stop in the middle of the corner.

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Credit to Olé

Emergency workers arrived within thirty seconds, but when the first worker looked inside, he immediately signalled to his colleagues that the occupants were dead. 40-year-old Raul Petrich and 44-year-old Oscar Lafeudo had both died instantly. Petrich had had his chest pieced just below the neck and had been killed by massive internal injuries. Lafeudo, on the other hand, was even worse off. The guardrail had struck him in the neck, cleanly decapitating him.

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Lafeudo’s helmet; Credit to HistoriaTC

The practice session was immediately called off and the race was cancelled shortly thereafter. Competitors mourned the loss of the duo and moved on to the next event with heavy hearts, and Rafaela installed concrete barriers for the series’ next visit the next year. Rafaela, however, continued to be a dangerous track, and it wasn’t long before another man was killed.

On April 30th, 2000, Turismo Carretera’s annual Rafaela trip came around. On lap one of the race, Diego Ponte’s Ford Falcon blew its motor and slid in its own oil. On approach to the third chicane on the entrance of the north turn, the car spun off into the grass and struck a photographer, 44-year-old Roberto Abarza. Abarza died of his injuries, and officials blamed him for standing in a prohibited area. Ponte, whose number, ironically, was 63, was physically unhurt, and the race continued onwards. But it was about to get even worse.

Turismo Carretera has several lower series, one of which is TC Pista. Basically the Turismo Carretera’s Xfinity Series, this is the junior series where drivers can show team owners what they’re made of and hopefully be promoted to Turismo Carretera. Alberto Noya was one of these competitors. By trade a veterinarian, Noya first started competing in TC Pista in 2001, and was a well known figure in the series. Not much is known about his co-driver, Gabriel Miller, but both were from the Buenos Aires area.

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Noya (right); Unsure if that is Miller on the left; Credit to TyC Sports

On July 16th, 2006, Noya was running towards the front of the field after an early restart in the TC Pista event at Rafaela when he spun in a chicane. The #39 Dodge stalled in the chicane, and before the car could be refired, was struck directly in the passenger’s door by Hugo Fayanás’ #33 car.

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Credit to Lagaceta

Despite wearing some sort of head and/or neck restraint, Gabriel Miller, 42, was killed in the crash, the G-forces of the impact having caused extreme head injuries. Though he was extricated alive, 30-year-old Alberto Noya died three days later, his brain having suffered severe trauma due to the massive sudden horizontal movement. Fayanás was uninjured. The race was cancelled on the spot, and shortly thereafter, the Turismo Carretera race was called off. Fans were not pleased by this decision and began setting banners and tires alight, but the officials did not budge. Shortly thereafter, Turismo Carretera made an incredible maneuver.

When Turismo Carretera started in 1937, most races were through the countryside across dirt and pavement surfaces, and due to this, co-drivers were required. They’d stayed throughout the years, but with the death of Miller, along with another crash in 2004 that had also happened at Rafaela (in the same chicane no less) where a co-driver was terribly injured and was in the hospital for two months, the Turismo Carretera decided that their time was up. They were to be done away with after the 2007 season, but not even this was going to stay.

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Credit to Diario El 9 De Julio

On April 22nd, 2007, 40-year-old Guillermo Castellanos was attempting to navigate a crash at Rivadavia when his vehicle was struck near the back axle. It was far from the worst crash in Turismo Carretera history, and Castellanos’ co-driver was able to evacuate the car on his own, but Castellanos was fatally injured, having suffered several massive fractures. Though Guillermo’s co-driver was not badly hurt, it was quickly decided that co-drivers would be disallowed starting at the next event, and as such, a seventy-year tradition ended. Racing, however, continues at Rafaela, and the Turismo Carretera continues to put on incredible shows at the ultra-wide, high-speed oval.

Sources:

“[Carrera Nº 917-A] – 10º fecha (suspendida) – Autódromo de Rafaela (02/08/1998)”, November 24th, 2012 post to the HistoriaTC forum

“[Carrera Nº 900] – 9º fecha – Rafaela (20/07/1997)”, May 27th, 2011 post to the HistoriaTC forum

“El dolor golpeó a La Plata”, August 2nd, 1998 post to Olé

“Tragedia”, August 1st, 1998 post to Olé

“La conmovedora historia del piloto, el perro y la veterinaria”, August 23rd, 2006 post to infobae

“Otra tragedia del TC se llevó la vida de Guillermo Castellanos”, April 23rd, 2007 post to La Nacion

“El como y por que del fatal accidente de Rafaela”, undated post to Nuevo ABC Rural

Motorsport Memorial

Justin Philpott And The Fools At Taxbrain

I’m aware that, as an analyst and a journalist, I should withhold my opinion as best as I can, but this…this is just ridiculous. A sponsor risks the life of a driver and his entire family for a publicity stunt, and the driver allows bygones to be bygones. I’m not sure who the more foolish one is.

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Justin in 2006; Credit to Stockton 99

Despite this all, Justin Philpott’s talent is evident. Philpott, the driver involved, mostly raced super late models at the half mile Altamont Speedway and quarter mile Stockton 99 Speedway, both in California. He eventually caught the eye of the company Taxbrain, which helps its consumers sort out their taxes so those taxes can be paid much more easily a la Turbotax. Taxbrain got its wanted publicity on the sixteen-year-old’s super late model, but apparently they wanted more. Some executives, who were undoubtedly chastised if not fired after this all, decided that they would steal Justin’s car straight out of victory circle the next time he won and film a commercial out of it. They told a few officials at Altamont, but did not tell the announcer, Justin’s family, or even Justin himself, all to make things look genuine. On August 13, 2006, Taxbrain got to show its lack of common sense after Justin won a super late model race at the track. During victory lane ceremonies, a man, unnamed by the media for legal reasons (I will refer to him as John for the sake of this, it likely is not his name, but for the sake of this article it will be), hopped the fence, got in the car, and, with a camera or two rolling, flipped the ignition switch and took off. The announcer noticed this quickly and called for security, while Justin and his family stood there for awhile, absolutely dumbfounded. In the meantime, John continued doing laps in Justin’s $200,000 car. Eventually, some officials hopped in a wrecker and backed it down the track, and John slowed to a stop. Ryan Philpott, Justin’s cousin, ripped John from the car, and John was arrested.

Taxbrain’s representatives quickly ran over to the track security and explained what was going on. After some cross-referencing, police discovered that this had indeed been a stupid stunt. John was not charged, but undisclosed sanctions were laid against Taxbrain.

How no one was hurt despite John’s insane driving (this was part of the stunt) and lack of any safety gear, the world may never know. John could have easily killed himself or the Philpotts. However, that isn’t the end of the idiocy.

Justin also proved himself to be one of the duller knives in the drawer. Despite the fact that his sponsor had stolen his $200,000 race car, he still re-signed Taxbrain to another year when he moved up to the NASCAR Whelen All American Series in 2007. Incredibly, he stuck with Taxbrain for a long time. The two only parted ways sometime between in 2011 and 2014.

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Justin in late 2010, note the Taxbrain sponsor on his uniform; Credit to NASCAR Home Tracks
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Justin in early 2014, note his sponsor is now his family’s auto body shop, Philpott’s Garage, with no visible Taxbrain logos; Credit to Stockton 99

Altamont Speedway closed after 2008, but Justin still races in the Southwest, and is quite successful at that. I’m not sure if Justin was naive, forgiving, or if Taxbrain paid him a lot of money to keep them aboard (probably a mix), but if I were him, I would have told them to mess off. John could have killed himself and/or the Philpotts, and Justin’s forgive and forget attitude towards it all is almost as strange and as laughable as the incident itself.