Archive for June, 2008

86 Silverado, Loaned Trailer, Free Engine, 2001 Chassis

June 30, 2008 3 comments

Since I haven’t convinced skeptics that if you send me a story idea, it will be published, I decided to get some good material myself last night.  Walking around the pits at Eagle Raceway, one of the first drivers I talked with was Doug Deterding. I told him who I was, and that I wanted to do a story on him.


He replied, “I wouldn’t make much of a story.” Then added, “The pick-up truck we drove in with is an ’86.  The trailer is loaned to us.  The chassis is a 2001, and the engine was free.”


“It’s a hobby for us,” commented car owner Mike Welch.  “We just want to break even, and have some fun.”


Not much of a story?  Doug is exactly the kind of driver I have been looking to write about. 


Deterding broke during his heat, and started 9th in a B main that transferred only two cars to the feature.  As Welch told me, “Doug made a banzai charge to the front.  We worked hard all week getting the car ready, and he really wanted to qualify.”  Unfortunately an aggressive last lap move by Deterding caused him to lock up with another driver, and neither qualified.


“I didn’t say a word to him when he got out of the car,’ stated Welch.  “He went right over and apologized to the other driver. That is the kind of driver he is.”


Earlier in the evening I asked Welch how old Deterding is.  “I don’t know for sure,” he said.  “Older than the dirt on the track.”


A sponsor of another IMCA mod told me “Doug gets the most out of his car of anyone I know.” Deterding has finished second in mod points at Eagle Raceway each of the past three years. I will be doing an article on Deterding this week, and am looking forward to getting to know this driver better. 


Another driver I talked to, and who I will be writing about soon is Rik Gropp.  Rik is one of the top mod drivers at Eagle Raceway, and part of his post-race routine is putting out a bucket of dum-dum suckers for kids.  “That’s so they’ll remember the driver better,” laughed Gropp.  The rear deck of Gropp’s mod is signed by people who have visited him in the pits after a night at the races. Yes, there will be an article about Gropp on the blog.


I stopped by the 23r sprint car pits right before they went out to help pack the track.  “I had to talk with the driver this week,” noted Tadd Holliman.  “He didn’t have his head on straight.  I think we’ve reached an understanding though.”  Holliman is the driver of the 23r sprinter, and one more low dollar driver I will be writing about.


With 1,000 oval dirt tracks in the U.S. , do you think there might me another Doug Deterding driving a race car?  Well, someone like him.  Maybe in New York , or California , or Texas .  Maybe there is a Rik Gropp in Kansas or Minnesota , or North Carolina .  And I bet you would find another Tadd Holliman in Illinois or Indiana or Ohio .


So, send me their stories.


Thanks for visiting.



Categories: Uncategorized

The Rocket’s Red Glare

June 28, 2008 2 comments

I suppose American fascination with fireworks began with the rockets red glare, and bombs bursting in air.  It seems like even the smallest of towns have some sort of fireworks display, and as July 4th nears, the fireworks aren’t just on the track at most speedways.


July 4th is a day off from work, a play day, a great time to go to the races.  At most tracks, things point battles start heating up around the 4th.  A lot of tracks have specials.  Either one, it is a great time for fans to go visit a nearby race.


Matt and I will be going racing three times in the next six nights.  Tonight it is the regular show at Eagle Raceway.  I am looking forward to going into the pits and getting some material for this blog, as well as working on an article for Dirt Modified, and an article for Speedway Illustrated.


On July 2nd, we will be at I-80 Speedway for the rescheduled Alphabet Soup Race.  Modesty prevents me from commenting on who named the race.  OK, I’ll let you in on a secret.  I get the credit, but it was really my son Matt.  I said the combination of WDRL, MLRA, and NCRA tours looked like a bowl of Alphabet cereal.  Matt thought this was stupid, and he was right.  He said Alphabet Soup, and promoter Craig Kelley liked this, so the name stuck. IMCA mods and hobby stocks are support classes.  Both put on a good show at I-80.


On July 3rd, we will be back at Eagle for a WDRL/NCRA show, with wingless sprints as the support class.  Eagle is a great place to watch a race, and the late models put on a good show there.  And wingless sprints put on a good show anywhere.


One of the great things about this coming week is that we will be able to re-connect with a lot of our racing friends.  For several years we were part of a group of fans known as the Sunday Night Irregulars, and I know we will get to see many of them this coming week.


Same with members of the old Sunset Speedway Mafia.  Many of the Mafia work at Eagle Raceway and a lot of the old group make it to specials, so the July 3rd show at Eagle is somewhat of a reunion.  I know drivers often talk about the friendships they make as being one of the good things about racing, and it is the same with fans.


I love the noise, the speed, and the smells of racing.  For a few hours it is easy to escape all the everyday problems I have to deal with, as racing simply takes over all your senses.  I enjoy meeting, talking with, and laughing with friends.  And I very much enjoy the father/son time Matt and I get going to the races.


I hope all of you will get out to a holiday race at your home track.


And thanks for visiting.


Dirt Track Racing, A Billion Dollar Industry No One Knows About

June 28, 2008 Leave a comment

I am not just a writer, I am a numbers person too, which probably explains why some people think I am crazy.  They may be right. Anyway, there are roughly 1,000 dirt ovals in the U.S.  Close to a million people might attend weekly races, if there were no rain outs.  At $10 a ticket (I like easy math) this would amount to $10,000,000 per week.  A 20 race season would mean $200,000,000 in ticket sales.


No, promoters are not getting rich.  At least none I know.  They have to advertise, prepare a race track, maintain and repair equipment, keep the facility attractive, pay purses/insurance/sanctioning fees, and of course employees like a pay check every week. 


Concessions help pay all the bills.  I think the number of cans of beer consumed at weekly race tracks in the U.S. would be staggering, pun intended.  So would the amount spent on pop, popcorn, hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, and nachos. Vendors have to hire employees to handle all the deliveries to race tracks.


Then there are the race cars.  With 1,000 dirt ovals, how many racers might there be in the U.S.?  50,000? 100,000? How many million dollars a year are spent to build new cars?  How many million dollars a year are spent on maintenance and repairs? How much is spent on tools and equipment to repair and maintain the race cars? How much is spent just keeping a car looking good?


And don’t forget the cost of getting a car to the track.  Racers sure don’t.  Pick-ups and haulers, open and closed trailers, and $4.00 a gallon fuel adds up quickly. 


Stick and ball newspaper writers and TV announcers look down on dirt track racing, but it is a billion dollar plus industry.  And a billion dollars is only small change to the U.S. Congress.  I believe our sport deserves a lot more respect than it gets from the media.  A lot more.


I do wonder though-promoters don’t make any money, racers call it an expensive hobby, fans pay lots of green for tickets, souvenirs, and concessions, so who makes money in racing? Maybe no one?  Maybe everyone does it because they love the sport.  It’s as good an answer as any.




Am I the only one who thinks there are 50,000 GOOD racing stories waiting to be told? I want to tell them all.  You don’t have to go to Disneyworld in Orlando; my website can be the Magical Kingdom for stock cars drivers and fans. Send me some material!  Thanks, and thank you for stopping by.

Matt, aka Humpy, has a question

June 27, 2008 Leave a comment

Yes, Matt is aka Humpy on a lot of racing forums.  I would like to say that when you read his well thought out posts, he got that from me.  If he is doing any bashing or antagonizing on the forums, he got that from his mother.


As a nice gesture to have you check out my site, Matt sent out an email to a number of race fans, and told them to check here for the answer.  Thank you Matt.


His question was:  Who finished second in the closest WDRL race ever? This race was held in 2007 at Eagle Raceway.


The answer is below.


The WDRL is visiting Eagle next Thursday, July 3rd, along with the NCRA late models.  Support class for the program is non-wing sprints. 


Answer:  Brian Harris finished second.  Justin Fegers passed Harris on the last corner of the last lap, and just beat him to the finish line. 


If you got the answer right, your prize is, well, your prize is my gratitude for visiting the site.  T-shirts?  Maybe someday.



Why I root for the underdog

June 26, 2008 Leave a comment

I was raised “south of the tracks” in Fremont, NE.  I didn’t realize I was raised in “the baddest part of town,” until I went to Jr. High.  I did not know my friends and I were poor.  But in only the way junior high school students could, I was made aware again, and again, and again.


Actually, I was not poor.  My dad worked in the ham boning department at Hormel for 30 years.  It was tough blue collar job, but in his days the labor union was strong, and the pay was pretty good.  I didn’t want for anything, though I really didn’t want much anyway.


Many of my tormentors’ parents actually made less than my dad.  Apparently those railroad tracks automatically qualified me as poor and a ready made target for youthful scorn.  We lived where we lived not because of economics, but because it was a house my grandmother had owned since the Depression, and sold to my parents.


In junior high, I became a firm believer in the underdog.  That doesn’t mean I don’t like Duke basketball or Nebraska football.  I guess Nebraska football can be called an underdog today.  I am pleased though when an underdog can defeat a highly rated opponent.


I enjoy rooting for Tre Brewbaker, the 25 year old promoter of Aztec Speedway in New Mexico.  Putting on a $10,000 to win modified show can be a daunting task, but I think Tre can his staff will succeed, hosting the Independence Nationals.


I am rooting for young Tyler Smith to pick up his first A feature win, and will announce it to everyone when he does.  I suspect this classy young man with the NMS decal on his modified would forego all feature wins, if the trade was keeping sister in-law Timaree’s MS in check.


And I am cheering for Rhonda Bryan as Kid’s Night at Eagle Raceway is just a month away.  Once again Rhonda is heading up the track’s effort to give away bikes.  Last year they gave away two, well, two semis loaded with bikes.  262 kids received bikes at the 2007 Kid’s Night, and Rhonda’s goal this year is “one more bike.”  I am honored to cover this story for Speedway Illustrated, and I would encourage you to send Rhonda a donation.  Each bike costs $42.50, but the look on hundreds of young faces is priceless. You can make the check out to Rhonda Bryan or Eagle Raceway, and mail to:

Rhonda Bryan

1605 North 26th Street

Lincoln, Ne 68503


I still contend that there are thousands of great stories about support class and low $$ drivers, their tracks, crew, and fans.  But my email is not showing that.  If you give me a good story, I will see that it gets published on this site.  Promise.


Thanks for stopping by.


A Promoter’s Workshop?? Not exactly

June 26, 2008 Leave a comment

My son Matt is always thinking of new promotions for race tracks.  If I can just convince him to start thinking of how to turn my blog and website into a purple cow-something everyone notices, we’d both be happier. I sure would be.


Maybe The Rest Of The Dirt t-shirts, would help.  On the front, there would a hobby stock racing a stock car racing a mod racing a sport compact racing a sprinter. On the back we could have “There’s more to life than late models,” and list all my sponsors.  Oops, no sponsors yet. Well, no t-shirts yet either.


Anyway, Matt came up with a promotion for all sprint car tracks.  He called it a Guaranteed No Flip Night.  He was going wild with it-he said on Guaranteed No Flip Night, if there was a flip, the promoter would hand out free passes good for anything but specials.  ‘Er, don’t hold your breath on that one Matt. Or, if there was a flip on Guaranteed No Flip Night, beer would be a dollar off until the end of that race.  I don’t believe he had a contingency plan if there was a second flip on Guaranteed No Flip night, especially if two cars flipped at the same time.  A not bad idea though.


I am not nearly the PR guru Matt is, but I came up with a few promotions.  How about Guaranteed No One Will Jump The Green Flag Night?  Nah, that wouldn’t work.  Someone would jump the green just because they were mad at the track owner. 


Well, how about Guaranteed Everyone Who Gets A Black Flag Will Pull Off The Track Immediately Night?  Guaranteed No Spin Outs In A B Feature By Cars About To Be Lapped Night? A Free Ride In The Track Water Truck for the oldest farmer present?

Nah, Matt’s idea is better. 


Here is a great idea that came from the Letters To The Editor section of the current issue of Dirt Modified magazine.  Rob Keller, who runs an IMCA modified at Brewerton Speedway, donates all his winnings to the Major Duecker Scholarship Fund.  I am all for anything that helps a youngster get an education.


Oh, and subscribing to Dirt Modified is a great idea too.  Just go to the website.  And this was just an unsolicited and unpaid for plug.  The magazine really is good.


Thanks for visiting.

There’s More To Life Than Late Models

June 25, 2008 3 comments

Bumper Sticker seen on a street Camaro in Mississippi-There’s More To Life Than Late Models.  A few years ago I probably would have argued that point.  I loved late models and saw the support class races as something to eat up time in between late model races. 


That all changed a few years ago when I met a hobby stock driver named Rick Bradley.  Rick and I had been firing at each other pretty heavy on several internet racing forums.  We met at a late season golf outing for I-80 Speedway, and I found out he wasn’t really such a bad guy. 


Because of Rick I started watching the hobby stock races much closer.  And found out that many evenings their races were the best of the night.  Hobby stocks aren’t sleek, and they don’t have the brutish power of late models.  Who cares if they are going 75 mph instead of 95 mph?  Racing is racing, and hobby stock racing is often 2 and 3 wide racing around the track, not single file follow the leader.


And, unlike feature classes-aka late models-if a hobby stock spins out, he as likely to re-fire and take off, as to sit and wait for a yellow flag.  You can count on a feature class car to wait for the yellow, even if he was running 20th, nearly a lap down when he spun.  If that happens 4-5 times a night, it adds 15 minutes to the show, and my butt definitely has a race show time limit.


I still enjoy late models, and will travel a long way for a late model special, despite the price of gas, which I read is supposedly going to come down.  There are not a lot of support class specials, but I wish all tracks would have a special night for each of their support classes.  A night where drivers could come into the grandstands for a meet and greet with fans.  A night where the support class runs the feature event of the evening.  And a night where the pay-out is a little better too, and not throwing the increased purse into the winner’s share.


I now have a much greater respect for all drivers who put their heart and soul into racing around a dirt oval.  And I would like to thank my friend Rick Bradley for opening my eyes to some real racing. However, Racer Ricky, this does NOT mean I won’t be making fun of you ever again, especially nights when you are a slow moving road block.  But congratulations on your 4th in the A main last Saturday at Eagle.