Archive for July, 2008

The “Real” Jimmy Kimmel, and Nic Too!

July 30, 2008 Leave a comment

A few weeks ago I received an email from Rhonda Kimmel, claiming she was the wife of the “real” Jimmy Kimmel.  Also that she was the mother of Nic Kimmel.  Real means these guys don’t appear on late night TV, but they do appear at race tracks in northeast Nebraska.


Jimmy, actually Jim, has been racing for 21 years.  Nic started in 2001, and he likes to do things a little differently than most.  To start with, I am not misspelling his name.  It is Nic, no k on the end.  On the track he races hard against the 4J of Brent Jochum, but off the track they share an apartment in Norfolk.  They must have some interesting racing conversations, because Brent races a Chevy, and Nic races a Ford.  And just how many Ford hobby stocks do you see?  One more thing Nic does a little different than most drivers.


The Kimmels drive the 17K hobby stock.  No, there are not two 17K hobby stocks.  They share the ride.  I have heard of friends, even brothers sharing a ride, but this is the first father/son combo I have heard of.  Nic races at Boone County Raceway in Albion, while Jim takes to the track at Riviera Raceway in Norfolk.


Sharing a ride seems to work well for the Kimmels.  Both won championships in 2006.  Nic also was the hobby stock champion at BCR in 2005, and Jim won at BCR in 2000, a year before Nic started racing. 


When asked to describe their driving style, Jim said Nic was “smooth and patient.”  What about Jim’s style?  He smiled and answered “I am not as patient.”


The Kimmels run a 2004 Jet Phantom chassis.  I mentioned to Jim that you don’t see a lot of Ford hobby stocks.  He replied, “it makes it that much sweeter when we win. Of course when we don’t do well, there are a lot of GM drivers to gang up on us.”


Forty nine year old Jim has no plans of retiring from racing.  Though Riviera has suffered from rain-outs as much as most Nebraska tracks, Jim has managed 9 top ten finishes at the track.  Bryan Molt currently leads BCR hobby stock points, while Nic is in second place.  Just six points behind Nic is Jon Schalk, while Brad Bittner is nine points behind Nic.


Jim is a plumber by day, and twenty four year old, single, Nic is sales manager for Firestone in Norfolk.


I’m sorry I revealed your secret Rhonda, but I am glad you emailed me.  I enjoyed meeting Jim and Nic, and wish both a lot of success the rest of the season.


Thanks for stopping by.






Do, Don’t, Please, Thank You, Yes, No, Maybe

July 30, 2008 2 comments

In my ideal world, EVERY track owner/promoter would understand completely that they are in the business of entertaining people.  I would argue loud and long that most do not understand this, even in an age of more entertainment options than ever competing for less and less consumer disposable income. If you want fans to attend your program, they need to know about it, and they need to feel good about it when they leave, or you may never see them again.


In my ideal world, a promoter would have a detail conscious GM who in turn would have key people he can depend on for track prep, facility management, front and back gates, promotions, safety, and concessions.  Again, these people would understand that even the smallest detail effect a fan’s take on the show.  Things like an announcer mispronouncing a driver’s name, weeds, a dusty parking lot filled with broken bottles, filthy restrooms, cold hot dogs and warm pop, and shows that last longer than the Brickyard 400.


With key people handling all the details, the promoter could become the track’s PR rep for the night, spending time in the pits thanking drivers for racing at his track, and greeting fan’s as they file in, and again as they leave, being willing to listen to complaints, not hiding out far from his customers.


Every track should have one concession item that everyone raves about.  Sunset Speedway had its broasted chicken, Adams County Speedway has its pork tenderloin, and Boone has its steak sandwich.  Race fans already suffer through plenty to get their racing fix; crappy pizza should not be one more problem they have to deal with.


Start the !@#$% races when you announce they will start.


It is not a good thing to see fans leaving before the completion of the evening’s feature events. 


Officials are there to expedite the show, they are not the show. The drivers are the show, and officials should treat them with the respect they deserve.  That is until the driver shows he doesn’t merit the respect.  For example, roaring through the pits at an unsafe speed is not an act worthy of anyone’s respect.  Drivers who do this need to be fined and suspended.  Drivers who argue calls, especially after they were an innocent party to bringing out a caution flag i.e. someone ran over them, should be granted more than a little leeway in the heat of the moment.


I hate intermissions, especially when the weather is very cold or very hot.  If drivers need this time to prepare their cars for feature races, why are drivers and crews all over the pits talking with other drivers and crew?


Did I mention that shows should be no longer than 4 hours, and preferably shorter than that?  Multiple classes are one thing.  That is needed.  Up to and no more than four classes is acceptable.  More than four classes are absurd.  And so are heats with less than eight cars. Fans and drivers having time to mingle after the races is a good thing.


I like family sections.  At a track I frequent, this section is non-alcohol and non-smoking.  The smoke bothers me more than the beer.  Other than up and down, up and down, up and down, having beer drinkers around doesn’t bother me.  I don’t think it is real smart for a track to do beer specials though.


Members of the media who actually want to cover a race night should be welcomed, not made to feel like they are somehow stealing from the track by being there.


I appreciate drivers who take the time to keep their car appearing nice.  To me, the car deserves a bath once a week.


Every race night should be fan appreciation night.  I don’t mean cheaper admission prices or specials, just that track staff should make fans know they are appreciated.


Enough of my rant-I would love to hear from fans and drivers who have complaints about issues I have not mentioned.  I am sure there are many.


Thanks for stopping by.








Hey Mark-The Check Is In The Mail. Not.

July 29, 2008 Leave a comment

One thing about what I am trying to accomplish with this blog is that I get to meet some really good people.  On July 20th at Albion, I got to meet a group of very interesting street stock drivers.  Ron Grape, Justin Addison, and Troy Bergman all had great stories to tell, and I was happy I had the opportunity to tell them.  Then I met Mark Hooker and a few minutes later, Mark’s brother Randy introduced himself.


Ah heck, I can’t do it.  I was going to take a few shots at the brothers, and only then tell them that I enjoyed talking with them. I even had some really funny comments in mind.  I enjoy being funny-I call it ironic, others call it sarcastic, my wife says I am a smart a$$-but I’ll save those comments for next time I visit BCR. 


Of course I did get a message a few weeks ago from Mark, demanding that I pay him royalties for using the term “Mystery Vehicle” in a Dirt Late Model article I did last year on BCR.   My take on that is that I made him famous, so I ought to get an agent’s share of his earnings.  Seems fair to me.


Just from watching the street stock races on July 20th, it is easy to tell this division is fast, and very competitive, from top to bottom. Randy is in first place in the street stock point standings at BCR, and Mark is in second.  Randy is solidly in first, though a bad night good take away all of his lead.  Mark is in a tight battle with Justin Addison, Shawn Primrose, Randy Pelster, and Jason Wilkinson. A bad night for Mark could see him drop to 4th or even 5th in points.


The brothers do seem close when it comes to racing.  They pit beside each other for starters.  Thirty-one year old Randy started racing thirteen years ago.  Thirty year old Mark started racing 12 years ago.  They have a 29 year old sister, and she started racing, well, actually she didn’t.  Both run Dominator chassis, and ’84-’85 Monte Carlos.  And both are highly competitive. And both race only at Albion, though they might go to US 30 Speedway in Columbus after the BCR season is completed.


Randy and Mark are both highly competitive.  Sure, they are racing for fun, but they want to win.  And enjoy winning in a tough division like the BCR street stocks.  And yes, they do want to drive under the checkers ahead of their brother.  Of course both brothers hope the other will finish second.  And no, they would not spin out their brother to win, despite what some other drivers might think.


Randy is married to Krista, and Mark is married to Amy, and they have a three year old daughter Tristin.  Mark works for the GM dealer in Albion, and Randy is a semi-driver for Foltz Brothers, out of Humphrey.


Although there were plenty of laughs talking with Randy and Mark, Mark was serious for a moment talking about an article I wrote on Terry Golder, a driver who suffered from ALS-Lou Gehrig’s disease.  Terry Golder built the engine that is in Mark’s car.  It has been freshened several times since, but it is nice to know something Terry built is still getting the job done.


If you are a race fan, Mark and Randy are people you would like to have a beer with and talk about racing.  I am glad we had a chance to meet, and no that does not mean you are getting a royalty check Mark.


Thanks for stopping by.





America’s Home Track Does It Again

July 27, 2008 Leave a comment

Once again Eagle Raceway set a record for bikes given away on Kid’s Bike Giveaway Night.  350 youngsters received a new two wheeler last night. While it isn’t done for purposes of setting a record, I think the Guinness Book of Records should be notified on this.  Rhonda Bryan will tell you that her pleasure comes from looking into the eyes of a child with a new bicycle, and that is true, but her selfless efforts ought to be feted.


The list of donors to and supporters of this event seemed to go on and on and on when shown on the track’s big screen.  There are times when on track actions seem to stress racing “family” to a breaking point, but times like this make everyone proud to be a part of that family. It is just my opinion, but Eagle’s Kid’s Bike Giveaway is one of two of the neatest giveaway programs in the area.  The other is KETV-Channel 7’s backpack and school supply giveaway. 


Below is a copy of an email Rhonda sent me a few weeks ago explaining how kid’s night began.   While it is a reflection on the past, last night Rhonda stated her goal for 2009-“one more bike.”  Thank you Rhonda, and thanks for stopping by.



A Reflection on Kids Night


First of all, I would like to commend the management and staff of Eagle Raceway for their hard work and diligence in making Kid’s/Fan Appreciation Night a huge success.  Another huge thanks to Rhonda Bryan, and the entire Bryan Racing Team for spearheading the drive that allowed us to give away over 260 bicycles! That was nothing short of AWESOME! Most of all I would like to thank the racers, crews, and sponsors that donated towards the bicycle giveaway, took buckets through the stands, signed autographs, and many other tasks that were integral parts of this event. There is truly “No Family Like a Racing Family”.


A lot of you may not know how Kid’s Night was started. This story was not shared with anyone outside the Bryan Family until recently at the urging of their close circle of friends that feel this story should be told.


Around 1998, sprint car driver Bernie Bryan went through heart surgery to repair a defective valve with a donor one. One of Bernie’s pit crew members had a 5 year old son, Dillon.


Soon after Bernie’s surgery, Dillon became ill, and was being treated for strep throat-like symptoms. After his condition worsened, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Dillon died on his 6th birthday. The entire Bryan team was devastated, especially Bernie whose life had been spared by the surgery on his heart. He searched in vain within himself for an answer as to why his life was given another chance, and this young child with so much life ahead of him was taken from this world. He also soul-searched on why the donor of his heart valve had to die so he could survive. Bernie confided this to his wife Rhonda, who offered a way to comfort Bernie with his “Survivors Guilt”. “Let’s have a kids night at Eagle raceway in honor of Dillon, and your heart-valve donor”.


On July 28, 2001, the first “Kid’s Night” was held at Eagle Raceway. 2 bicycles, 2 scooters, and 2 skateboards were given away that night donated by the Bryan Race Team, and their sponsors. The next year there were 4 of each given away. Soon after the second year Rhonda was approached by Sprint driver Cori Eckley, and her dad, the late Jim Eckley to offer financial help, and hand out items to kids for the next “Kid’s Night”. After first declining Cori’s offer, Rhonda reconsidered, and thought it would be great for the kids. The next year, 15 bicycles were given away, along with many other assorted prizes. 20 Bicycles followed the next few years, and then in 2006 with the help of many drivers, sponsors, and owners, a record 82 bicycles were given away that had to be brought in with a semi- tractor/trailer.


August 18th, 2007 set “Kid’s Night” history with 262 bicycles brought in by 2 semi-tractor/trailers were given out to lucky kids in front of a record crowd of 7,000+ at Eagle Raceway.. What better way to honor the memory of a small child, and a young man that gave in death so someone else could live? We should all be thankful that Bernie, Rhonda, and the Bryan Race Team chose to channel their grief into a positive way by the advent of “Kid’s Night”.

As Rhonda was quoted;


We have been blessed and this was the best way to use Bernie’s life. Racing has been our life and we love the kid’s….so what better way to give back! It has kept the memory of those who lost their lives…alive”.             


In a nutshell, we have another “Reason for the Season”.




A Second Post-Can Anyone Help?

July 27, 2008 Leave a comment

I don’t usually make two posts in a day-but I received an email today from Tre Brewbaker who is the promoter at Aztec Speedway.  His email is below.  If anyone can help Tre, please email him for details.  Thank you.


I just received a letter from a race fan’s father. His son is a HUGE race fan and is suffering from several illnesses including autism, aspergers, and chiari malformation.

 He asked if I had an autographed racing item for him as it would really make his day. I have taken it upon myself to gather anything and everything that people would like to donate to this kid and send it off this week. Any driver that has anything that they would like to donate to this kid, I am sure they would appreciate it. I will take care of the shipping of the stuff if you can get it to me. I will also post on our rack website and others a list of all those that donated etc and have the track announcer announce what we are doing.

 Aztec Speedway has shown time and time that we have the greatest fans in the country…. Now it’s the drivers turn to show how great of a group we have around here… I know not everyone can afford this but those who can will and it is greatly appreciated, even if it is just an autographed picture of your racecar, a hat, a shirt, or anything else…

Tre Brewbaker


Categories: July 2008 Tags: ,

Today Was Supposed To Be Mark and Randy Hooker

July 26, 2008 Leave a comment

Next up on my Albion list of drivers are the Bruise Brothers, Mark and Randy Hooker.  I would write about them today, but I have noticed that weekends are a little slower for traffic on my blog, and I certainly want everyone to read the shots I take at Mark.


Just kidding.  I enjoyed meeting Mark and Randy, and am intrigued how they seem to run 1-2, 1-2, in a lot of what they have done in racing.  I will write about them on Monday.


This weekend I will be spending two nights at Eagle Raceway.  Tonight is the Family Appreciation Night/Kids Bike Giveaway.  Last year the track had to get the Nebraska State Patrol involved in directing traffic on Family Appreciation Night, as cars were backed up for over a mile in several directions.  The count of bikes that will be given away is simply astounding.  I can’t say because Rhonda Bryan would kick me in both shins if I do, but once again she has done a marvelous job.  And so have all of her helpers.

Thanks to all the bike donors too.  This is just one more time the racing family shines.


Tonight is the regular weekly show at Eagle, but tomorrow is a special featuring midgets and flat track motorcycles.  The first time I ever visited Sunset Speedway was for a motorcycle show.  I am guessing that was about 1972, and I haven’t been to a motorcycle show since.  Of course there are not a lot of flat track shows in this area.


I have never been to a midget show either, though I did watch the Chili Bowl on PPV this year.  I have been told that Eagle is a perfect size track for these cars, and that they put on a great show there.  The midgets will also be racing at Butler County Motorplex, then for two days at Junction Motor Speedway before heading to Belleville for the midget nationals.


Thanks for stopping by.



Troy Bergman-A Racing World Rarity

July 26, 2008 2 comments

I would like to thank Rick Bergman for emailing me about his son Troy, a street stock racer at Boone County Raceway in Albion.  For most of the fans who attended the fair races, the highlight was the super late model shows put on by the WDRL and WoO.  I enjoyed these shows, but I enjoyed even more having the opportunity to meet seven drivers, including Troy Bergman.


I should probably thank Troy for spending a few minutes with me Sunday, as he may be the busiest driver around.  Troy is a rarity these days, as he builds his own chassis.  Call it a Bergman chassis, and there have only been two made, one four years ago, and one on his current street stock.  “We can’t afford high dollar cars,” said Bergman.  “We have a nice shop, and know how to weld.  We studied other chassis, looked at other cars, and ideas we liked we plugged into our car.  We don’t build our engines or gears, but we do everything else.”


Saving money is the upside of building your own chassis, but there is a down side too.  “If we have a problem, we can’t call a chassis maker and ask what we need to do,” noted Bergman. “We have to work at it and figure it out for ourselves.”  Building a chassis is a major time commitment, but Bergman races at both US 30 Speedway on Thursdays, and BCR on Fridays.


Bergman started racing go-karts in 1993, and moved to street stocks in 1996.  He was named Rookie of the Year at US 30 in 1996, and won the 150 lap Street Stock Nationals that same year. Troy has won a hobby stock championship at Butler County Motorplex near Rising City. 


Troy works for the City of Columbus Street Department.  He and wife Laura have a puppy named Molly.  Pit crew members include his mom Cheryl Smith, step-dad Tom Smith, dad Rick Bergman, and Big Tom.  “Everyone just knows him as Big Tom,” stated Bergman.


When asked if there was something unique about him that most fans would not know, Bergman said, “Well, I was a wrestler at Columbus High.”  He then confessed to something far more unorthodox.  “In 84-85-86, I was a trophy winning break dancer.”  (Author’s note: If there is any other writer who has interviewed an All-American football player and a break dancer who both are racers, I would like to know).


Bergman believes “the Lord has blessed us.”  Maybe no more so than in his relationship with his father.  “My dad is my hero,” noted Bergman. 


Troy had a difficult night at Albion on Sunday, but bounced back at US 30 Speedway on Thursday July 24th, claiming the street stock ‘A’ feature win.  Who knows, a few more like that, and maybe someone will want to order Bergman Chassis #3. 


Thanks Troy and Rick, and thank you for stopping by.