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Staggering Numbers

September 8, 2010 2 comments

Being a numbers person as well as a writer, the IMCA Super Nationals stats have always fascinated me.  Last night was just opening night of the festival of speed, but the Boone Speedway still conducted more races than most dirt tracks do in a month.  Here’s a breakdown by class:

Hobby Stocks

142 cars 16 heats, 8 B Mains, 2 A Mains

Northern Sports Mods

173 cars 20 heats, 10 B Mains, 1 A Main, 2 Race of Champions qualifiers

Deery Brothers Series Late Models

45 cars 5 Heats, 2 B Mains, 1 A Main

If my calculator is to be believed, that is 360 cars (from 9 different states) and 67 races. With hot laps at 2:00 p.m. and racing starting at 3:00 p.m., I wonder how late the final race finished.  I doubt my butt would hold out much past 10:00 p.m.  Even with several necessary sessions of farming, the Boone crew is far more efficient than most, but I can see early morning finishes.

Late model driver Ray Guss Jr. from Milan, Illinois added a Supernationals win to a very successful 2010 season.  Guss unofficially finished first in the IMCA Late Model National point standings, and he is also in first place in the Deery Brothers late model tour.

The IMCA Supernationals and the World 100 are two early September events on my bucket list, but both will remain on the list this year.  Like Chicago Cubs fans always say, “Maybe next year.” Wayne Dake’s best buddy, Belleville 100 Basch, aka Raceguru, is going to the World 100.  I don’t envy his hair stylist, but I do envy him going back to Eldora. 

Jesse Sobbing won the Northern Sports Mod A feature last night, which will put him on the pole of Saturday’s A feature, if I have the complicated system figured out.

Bucky Doren is doing an audio webcast of the IMCA Super Nationals.  For more details, go to www.dirttour.com

Thanks for stopping by.

The Real Story Of Hobby Stocks Not Running At Eagle On July 23rd

June 25, 2010 1 comment

I received my Prilosec OTC sponsorship check today, so I am in a good mood and am officially looking for Podcast equipment.  I am looking forward to interviewing drivers from around the country, but I am also looking forward to interviewing members of the Nebraska racing community too.  Would any of you consider it a coup for me to interview Randy Palmer and Greg Soukup on the same program?  Yeah, me neither.  But who I can interview will be left only to imagination-mine and yours.

I hope there are no hard feelings over us not scheduling hobby stocks for the July 23rd special at Eagle.  When we first started working on this event back in January, one of our guidelines was that we would NOT run any IMCA class that ran at either Beatrice or Rising City, meaning hobby stocks were out, even after we realized Beatrice was not going to race on July 23rd because of the county fair.  We decided that support classes would be GOTRA and Pro-Ams since neither class had an IMCA conflict.  After only 9 Pro-Ams showed for their portion of the Eagle Nationals, we looked into other options. Our first thought was combining Pro-Ams and Beatrice Factory Stock, but everything we read from Beatrice Factory Stock drivers in the forums seemed to have the message “if you don’t change our rules we would consider coming.” We were afraid that was going to lead to another disappointing turn-out and started looking for some other class.

Hobby stocks were discussed, but never seriously considered, even after we discovered that like Beatrice, Rising City was also skipping their weekly show on July 23rd. We did not want to do anything to jeopardize the regular weekly show at Eagle on July 24th, and felt some drivers might race one night, but not the other.  An open modified show went to the forefront, but even better would be an IMCA sanctioned modified show-no track points, but state, regional, and national points offered.  Eagle already has a fantastic modified show, and we figured many of the regulars would be interested in a good paying IMCA show. 

We talked with promoter Roger Hadan about obtaining an IMCA sanction.  From Des Moines to Grand Island, the only IMCA track running that night is Albion and Albion is well over 100 miles from Eagle.  I have nothing against hobby stocks.  I enjoy watching them run at the various tracks we go to.  Adding the modifieds turned a great show into a fantastic show.  It really was a no-brainer.

This weekend is going to be a down weekend for Matt and me.  My son is having a minor outpatient surgical procedure done tomorrow, and even though he insists he will be ready to go to Eagle on Saturday, my daughter in-law Stephanie vetoed that idea.  With the NASCAR Sprint Cup series racing in New Hampshire, I probably won’t watch any racing at all this weekend.  

Thanks for stopping by.

Are Late Models Becoming The NASCAR Of Dirt Track Racing?

May 27, 2010 2 comments

I can remember when Memorial Day weekend was a very exciting time for Nebraska late model racing fans.  The Alphabet Soup race was one of the top one day events in the country, with 60 drivers from 12 different states making up a tough field.  The race forums would be buzzing with activity, and scores of posts from dozens of fans filled several threads about this race.

This morning I checked dirtdrivers.com to see what people were saying about this year’s event.  I found one thread with just three posts, and two of them came from the track’s general manager.  There is not much excitement about the race, and I am not feeling a lot of excitement either.  Sure, there will be a decent crowd-this race and the topless 410 race in August seem to be the events that pay the bills at this track and keep it open one more year.  However, to me the crowds at this race are similar to the crowds that filled Memorial Stadium during the Callahan era of NU football.  You went because of what once was, and though you hoped to catch just a glimpse of past in the present, you went with no expectations so you wouldn’t come away disappointed.

My wife and daughter in-law are surprised that it is Memorial Day and Matt and I have been to just two races.  Jane shakes her head when I talk of how discouraged I am by the state of late model racing in our area and how I would much rather watch a good modified show.  An alter ego of mine used to take pot shots at modified fans, and more than once went on the internet searching for an argument.  Now I am a big fan of this class.  I wonder if I would be as big a fan of modifieds if late models produced the excitement they once did in the late 90’s with Sunset Speedway and the NASCAR Busch All Star Tour. 

There is no way for me to answer that question, but I do think I would be a fan of modifieds.  I used to hate hobby stocks, and now they are my second favorite division to watch.  The hobby stocks and modifieds can be counted on for plenty of side by side racing, and since I was a youngster, that is what has excited me most about auto racing.

I’ll enjoy the mods and hobby stocks and keep my fingers crossed that the late models will wow me once again.  Maybe it will be Sunday night at the Alphabet Soup Race at I-80 Speedway.

Thanks for stopping by.

Race Champions Part III-Sorry ABC Unlike Your Coverage I Hardly Mention Jimmy Johnson

November 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Being a member of NMPA I have the opportunity to travel to Las Vegas to cover NASCAR 2009 awards, including participating the press conferences of the 12 Chase drivers.  Unfortunately the racing magazines I write for don’t cover NASCAR and don’t pay expenses anyway, plus I don’t really think the IRS would look favorably on me claiming a trip to Las Vegas as business expenses for my blog.

 

Actually, if I had my choice of talking with Jimmy Johnson, Carl Edwards, Juan Pablo Montoya or Dusty Poessnecker, I am going to talk with Dusty or someone like him every time.  Guys like Dusty don’t need press agents telling them what to say or when to say it.  It isn’t an inconvenience for them to talk with me, they are happy someone is interested in what they have to say.  So, give me an IMCA hobby stock driver over a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver every time.

 

Actually, after trying to connect several times Dusty and I are going to talk tonight, and I am looking forward to talking racing with this very enthusiastic driver.

 

From Nebraskan Shawn Peters, a crew man for veteran late model driver Les Siebert:

 

It takes everything and more, speaking of late models since that is where all my experience is.   You don’t have to have the best equipment you just have to be within reason.  A 4-bar is a 4-bar is a 4-bar to a point, but in the Midwest, a swing arm won’t run with 4-bar.  I always have joked that if you can get us within 50 hp of everyone else, we can make up the rest with setup.  There are swing arms that are winning, but that has more to do with the 4-bar guys not knowing what they are doing. 

 
  Sponsors aren’t a must, but a huge, huge help and are always greatly appreciated.  Commitment is an absolute must-commitment to maintenance, to your setup philosophy, and your budget.  We ran an entire season and used only 13 or 14 tires, and won a track championship that year too.  Granted the GN/Crate motor doesn’t eat tires nearly as fast as an open motor, but if you are off on setup, I’ve seen guys blister a brand new tire in one A feature.
  Knowledge is huge and normally is something you can’t buy, at least at the speed shop.  We are lucky that all three of us on the crew have been behind the wheel of a race car.  It makes it easier when the driver is saying the car is doing this, that you have a frame of reference to understand what he is talking about.  If you’ve ever seen us pull into the track (and you probably have), we don’t have the flashiest rig, actually, some would say we have the trashiest rig, but that has more to do with the philosophy that you don’t race the hauler; we have a limited budget, and any money we can put into the car, that’s where it’s going to go.
  The hardest part for me, being a newlywed (just hit the 2 year mark) is trying to balance the time with working on the car and at the track with spending time with my wife.  I went from working full time at my job and full time working on the race car to spending a lot less time on the car (sometimes a lot less than I would like).  She’s not a huge fan, but trying to get her more involved.  Let’s just say I now know what “Kitchen Passes” are now.
  Luck, you have to have some, and you make it too.  You will never win a race at the shop, but you can lose them really easy if you aren’t diligent with your maintenance program.  A side note on maintenance, do you ever see the top teams in any division doing what should be routine maintenance at the track?  Nope, it takes away from focusing on the car at the track, and the changes you need to be making to get ready for the next race.  The seasons when we have won championships, we’ve managed to miss the big wrecks and been able to finish good even when we’ve gotten tangled up in small ones.
   Talent is important.  The thing about it though, is there are so many different types of driving talent.  You have the phenom that can hang a car out and just let it go, the driver that can roll off the same lap, lap after lap, and the driver that can manage the car and not do anything stupid.
   In reality, it isn’t just one thing, it is everything coming together.   It takes knowing your car, knowing what the track is going to do, knowing you have gone to the track ready, and knowing how to adjust to anything.
  Something else I forgot, and it probably is the most important part. Attitude, Attitude, and Attitude.  I think a large number of our fellow competitors loose sight of why the got into racing.  The fact that it is the most fun you can have with your clothes on.  I see so many teams that we race with that look like they aren’t having fun.  This is fun, and the day it quits being fun, we will quit. It’s that simple.  The other part of the attitude equation is not being satisfied.  Whether we win or finish 5th, after the race is over, we go over what on the car could be better, what was working, and what we would change.  We also set the standard that we expect to win when we show up at the track.  That’s the goal of all the work we put into the operation, during the day, week, season, off-season, and year.  It’s not a tragedy and we aren’t pissed if we don’t win, because, I’m not sure there is a racer alive that has won more than they have lost. 
  Okay, done rambling, it was funny though, I was thinking about this the other day, so it was at the front of my brain.

By the way, if you are looking for a story to do, talk the Les Siebert.  He’s got a great story, how many people do you know that have won points championships at the same track 25 years apart?  I’m pretty sure he’s won more races after 50 than he did before.  By the way, I’m on his crew.

Thanks again.  I read the blog, and still miss your weekly comments about NRP on dirtdrivers.com.  It’s always interesting to see how the other side of the fence see’s things.

 

Shawn-thanks for the post.  I know that took some time and effort, and I appreciate it. My alter ego Bruton is trying to behave these days, but sometimes he just has to speak out, even when he ought to keep his mouth shut. Thanks for reading the blog too Shawn.

 

From young Nathan Brewer of Paragould, Arkansas:

 

“a good pit crew would help”

 

I agree Shawn. Add experienced to good.  I know of drivers who do most of the work on their cars, but I don’t think any of them are champions.  There is simply too much maintenance and repair work to do each week for one person to do it all.  Other pit crews do help drivers like this when they are involved in some type of on track incident, but if I was a driver I would want people I am familiar with repairing my car at that time.

 

From Travis Hayes of Sarver, Pennsylvania:

 

“A loss of one’s marbles.”

 

No need to laugh Travis, you are right. I have been watching races for over 50 years, and though rules have made cars safer than ever, it is still a dangerous sport.  You have to be a little nutty to crawl behind the wheel of a race car-a lot nutty in some divisions.  To even run for a track championship you have to leave your comfort zone and intensely focus on reaching your goal.  Some people would say that is a few bricks shy of a full load. 

 

And this is quite a few words over my limit for the day, so I’ll save the rest of my responses for tomorrow.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

TMC and Humpy, Jay and Dusty-not Jimmy or Juan, and a benefit fund we should all contribute too.

September 24, 2009 Leave a comment

I had a nice lunch meeting yesterday with Tom McLaughlin and Matt at Big Fred’s in Omaha.  Tom is one of many friends we have made because of racing, and it is always fun to talk with someone who is as passionate about the sport as we are.  When we say Fairmont or Albion, Harlan or Corning, I-80 or Eagle, there is no need to explain anything.  We all know the tracks we are talking about and we all have opinions to share.

 

I talked with Jay Poessnecker, another passionate member of the racing family today.  I hope to meet Jay sometime soon, just not between the evening hours of 6:00 p.m-2:00 a.m. when he is a deputy sheriff for Dodge County.  I am going to be doing a blog article on Jay’s brother Dusty.  While Jay and I had exchanged a few emails, we had never talked until today.  Once we started talking racing though, it was like we had known each other forever.  Jay owns a tire and body shop in my old home town of North Bend, and raced up to 2004.  However, the bug has continued to bite on him every season, and he is talking about running a B-modified next year. Good luck on that project, Jay.

 

Dusty won 13 features this year, racing weekly only at Butler County Motorplex near Rising City, Nebraska.  He also won the hobby stock feature at the Eagle Shoot-Out over Labor Day weekend.  He is what I would call an aggressively smooth driver, kind of like Chris Alcorn is in modifieds.  He has great control of his car and is patient, but when he sees an opening he pounces.  Dusty has a great looking car too.  I would love to see him run for IMCA national points some day, though this spring he moved back to his home town of Atkinson and opened a body shop, so that might be a tough trail for him to follow.  Anyway, I will be writing more on Dusty Poessnecker in the near future.

 

I am also looking forward to writing more about Saturday night heroes in the coming months.  What I never seemed to be able to accomplish through pleas on my own site or talking with promoters, I have been able to accomplish because of Facebook.  I have become Facebook friends with over 3,000 drivers, fans, and tracks, and am developing a nice list of drivers to write about.  I would much rather write about Dusty Poessnecker than I would Jimmy Johnson or Juan Pablo Montoya.

 

I am sure many of you have heard of the passing of Pro-Am driver Greg Cooper from injuries he sustained in a fall in the grandstands during the State Fair races.  You can purchase Greg Cooper stickers or buttons at the Cornhusker Classic at I-80 Speedway this weekend, or the track is also donating $5.00 to the Greg Cooper Benefit Fund for every Cornhusker Classic t-shirt they sell.  They will also be taking donations.  If you are unable to get to the track this weekend, you can send a donation to:
Greg Cooper Benefit Fund
TierOne Bank
P O Box 83009
Lincoln NE 68508-2083

 

Thanks for stopping by.

Surprise-Boone Starts Out Super. Carl Edwards Frisbee Days Are Over. This Madonna RN Deserves Your Vote.

September 9, 2009 Leave a comment

There is no way to take a quick look at results from the IMCA Supernationals.  Late models, hobby stocks, and stock cars roared around Boone Speedway in 60 different Labor Day races, so just finding out where friends finished is a task.

 

Fourteen Nebraskans and friend Rick Bradley attempted to qualify for Saturday night’s hobby stock feature.  Four made the field and the rest will try to qualify for the remaining spots in tonight’s races.  John Cain of Homer, Robby Marsh of Belvidere, Chad Fegley of Eagle, and Jess VanLaningham of Beatrice all will race Saturday.

 

Five Nebraskans tried to make the field in the IMCA stock car division, but none qualified.  Like the hobby stock drivers, they still have a chance to make the field tonight.

 

Veteran Ray Guss Jr. won the Deery Brothers late model feature last night.  Forty three late model drivers signed in.  143 hobby stocks took to the track last night, and 163 stock cars also raced. 

 

I was able to take a quick peek at the national standings, and this weeks results have not been entered into totals yet.  Dylan Smith was leading by one point as of August 30th, but that total has probably changed.

 

Only four of twelve NASCAR drivers have locked up positions in the Chase.  Even 5th place driver Carl “Frisbee” Edwards could fall out of the Chase with another finish like Sunday at Atlanta.  There are far too many scenarios to decipher without use of a computer.  I’m just crossing my fingers that veteran Mark Martin can have a nice finish at Richmond on Saturday night and secure his spot in the Chase.

 

I am not sure exactly what the Meyer family of Fremont will be doing for racing this weekend.  Matt is talking about watching the Richmond race on TV, though the Eagle finale Nebraska Cup is the same night. I am betting it will depend on the weather.

 

 I have been talking up the Fremont candidate for Miss Nebraska Cup, though I don’t know her name.  I may have to change allegiance though, as the lovely Cody Zaborktsky of Lincoln is a Facebook friend.  Now Cody might cause you to stare as she walks by-she did me as I was sitting in the announcer’s stand at Eagle on Saturday-but one of the neat things about her is that she is an RN at Madonna Rehab Hospital in Lincoln and works with spinal cord and heart patients in the acute rehab wing.  Apparently Miss Nebraska Cup will be selected by whatever contestant’s fans cheer the loudest, so give Cody a big cheer on Saturday.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

Funky Nassau? No, Just Funky Me.

August 14, 2009 Leave a comment

I have been suffering from writer’s block this week.  On one hand that is good-I have made some real progress in catching up from the backlog I had after my shoulder surgery and when my Dad was sick.  On the other hand, I have not posted anything to my blogs for several days, and I have three assignments from Dirt Modified and Dirt Late Model that need my attention too. Maybe going to the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert in Council Bluffs tonight will knock the block out of me.

 

I thought this was going to be a long, fun weekend, starting with the concert tonight.  I am not so sure right now.  The plan according to Matt was concert tonight, Eagle on Saturday, and the topless 410 sprint show at I-80 on Monday. I am either “funked up” or I must have “racer’s block” too, because I can’t get enthused about Eagle at all, and am wishy-washy about the 410 show at I-80, even though I know it will be one of the best shows in the area this summer. Maybe what I need is a dose of good old US 30 Speedway, but the Columbus track runs tonight, and I will be about 100 miles east of there listening to Free Bird for the first time without Billy Powell at the keyboard.

 

Matt and our friend Tom McLaughlin (aka TMC) have been doing some “what if” promoting this week.  You know, what if we won the lottery.  Both actually have some really good ideas about racing, and I would like to use their thoughts as a substitute on days like today, but neither will agree. They have some great ideas for late models , modifieds, and stock cars, and I have always like TMC’s theories on sprint cars.  Ah well, maybe I’ll win Powerball on Saturday and we’ll be in business.

 

If you haven’t signed up on Facebook, I encourage you to do so.  I am trying to build a network of racers, fans, and tracks around the country.  I am hoping to use this network to finally accomplish what I wanted this blog to do in the first place, give some publicity to drivers that don’t normally get it.  I haven’t had a lot of luck going through promoters or sanctions to get names and phone numbers, so I hope going right to the people will work.  I do understand if promoters would have a reluctance to give out such information, though if Dick Berggren emailed them I suspect he would be able to come up with names, phone numbers, and email addresses.  Well, guess what?  Dick Berggren isn’t going to be calling.  Speedway Illustrated isn’t going to write about 99.99999% of racers in the country, but I am.  Too bad there isn’t a magazine for support classes.

 

Anyway, sign up for Facebook and add me as a friend.  And tell your friends to do so too.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

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