The game, available for PlayStation(r)2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube, and PC, offers a completely new gaming engine with improved physics, AI and control, and improved graphics rendering, including new spectacular car and track highlights, enhanced smoke and damage, and more dynamic racing venues.

For those who do this a lot-and there are a lot of you out there-NASCAR ThunderTM 2003 features a 20-year Career Mode, the deepest among all racing games and features like the Lightning Challenge, which offer scenarios from real NASCAR races. More than 30 of these scenarios play out on your screen, with you in the driver's seat. Take, for instance, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Pepsi 400 victory in July 2001, where he came from deep in the pack with a couple of laps left to win. You start in the same place Junior did, with the same cars around you, and see if you can drive it to the finish line first.

For the second straight year, the game features all 23 NASCAR tracks, plus six new speedway-infield road-racing courses and a new superspeedway. Fourteen of the tracks feature both day and night racing, and EA added the old Daytona Beach course to this year's edition.

For Circle Track readers, the new game is equipped with the largest number of car setup options ever offered in a NASCAR simulation. Numerous adjustable options include fender flares, rear-spoiler angles, tire pressure, wedge, gearing, suspension, anti-rollbar, etc. Configure your car for each race and roll out for test sessions without affecting your NASCAR Winston Cup standings.

Sleepy's Tool Time-Caster/Camber GaugeThis tool consists of a piece of 11/42- to 51/48-inch inside diameter tubing and a 31/48-inch steel rod. The tube should be of a size to fit the ball joint. The tube is cut with a half-round notch on one end and flat on the other. The length should be about 31/44-inch longer than the measurement between the ends of the upper and lower ball joints. The tube should then be able to slip over the tang or unthreaded part of the lower joint. The half-notch lets the tube fit over one side of the upper ball joint. In short, slip the tube over the lower tang then let the half-notch end saddle over the tang of the top ball joint. If one end of the tube is loose over the joint, squeeze it until it is snug.

A piece of 31/48-inch steel rod about 13 inches long should be welded to the tube as shown. Weld it on square and then check it for square. When the tube is in place on the ball joints, attach a magnetic angle finder on the rod. This will read out caster directly.

Place the 13-inch rod on the wheel again using the angle finder. It will read camber directly. E-mail Sleepy at

Gaining A Competitive Edge
Competitive Edge Racing School, based in Yakima, Washington, has come up with a private, arrive-and-drive professional stock car racing series for aspiring drivers. The school, which has bases at six tracks from Washington State to Colorado, runs identically prepared 435-hp Late Model stock cars for its 6-day, 12-race series.

This year, the school added "The Test of the Best," a 211/42-day competition for the aspiring driver. Contestants first participate in the school's 2-day Competition Racing School. Four judges grade each contestant on all aspects of the course, both in the classroom and on the track.

This year's Test of the Best took place April 3-5 at Yakima Speedway. Following more than 80 green-flag laps of practice, a qualifying session, four two-abreast green-flag-start exercises and a seven-to-10-lap passing exercise, Tom Hughs of Arlington, Washington was declared the winner. For his victory, Hughs earned a seat on the Competitive Edge Race Series (a $5,970 value). The second- and third-place finishers received a Race Weekend package worth $1,195.