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Archive for August, 2008

My Daughter Wants To Know Why It Is Called Labor Day If We Get The Day Off

August 30, 2008 Leave a comment

Not long ago, the editor of a newsstand racing magazine was commenting to me about the shelf life of an article.  He wanted me to change my article on a big tour race in a small Nebraska town because the tour would have raced at a dozen different sites before my article was published in his magazine.  Yesterday, I was in a bookstore paging through one of his competitor’s publication, and I found an article about the state of short track racing.  It included comments from IMCA’s Brett Root about all the rain-out problems in 2008.  Of course those rain-outs happened nearly three months ago, which made me question shelf-life of that article.  Or maybe I just don’t get it.

 

Labor Day has been a very special holiday for me for years. Growing up, it meant the end of summer vacation.  In those days, school began the day after Labor Day.  In 1981, we spent the Labor Day weekend in Minneapolis.  We met our baby daughter for the first time as she completed the long journey from Korea to her new home.  I can still picture kindergartener Matt carrying a teddy bear through the Minneapolis airport.  It was for his sister, but it was bigger than she was.  And I can still picture the grip my wife had on baby Amanda.  We were a hundred miles on the road back to Fremont before I ever had a chance to hold my daughter.

 

A lot of my Labor Day Sundays were spent in the bleachers at Sunset Speedway.  The racing was always great, and though I can’t explain it, after Labor Day, the racing did not seem quite the same.  There aren’t too many races left on my 2008 calendar, but this Sunday I will be at Eagle Raceway.  Eagle switched to Sunday this week and next because of conflicts with Nebraska football.  Although Eagle will be going head to head against its neighbor to the not far north, I believe promoter Roger Hadan made a smart decision.  Friday night is high school football in Nebraska, and while you can compete with a Husker away game on Saturdays, you are asking to take a severe beating at the gate if you try to compete with a home Nebraska football game.

 

NASCAR has its traditional 500 miler this weekend.  Oops, though NASCAR is big on remembering its roots, the Southern 500 in Darlington, SC was the traditional race, not the Insert Name Here 500 at the Ho-Hum Speedway in Fondue, CA.  Well, at least next year the NASCAR Sprint Cup series will race in Atlanta over the Labor Day weekend. 

I know a lot of people feel they must watch this race, but I hope they will tape it and watch it on Labor Day, and go out to the local track to watch some great live dirt track racing.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

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My Apology

August 29, 2008 Leave a comment

I apologize for not getting a post up yesterday.  I had a funeral to go to, and didn’t have time before, and it was kind of tough to focus after.  I will be posting later today.

 

Thanks for your patience.

 

 

Categories: August 2008

He Got His First Ride Because Of A Pair Of Roller Skates

August 28, 2008 Leave a comment

Thirty-three year old Aaron Pella grew up a farm boy, always has been a farm boy, and always will be a farm boy.  As a youngster he was fascinated with machines, especially cars.  In the late 90’s Pella helped with Curt Larkins’ modified, and was set to help his friend Shane Bales run in the Flyer division at Eagle Raceway.

 

Unfortunately for Bales, his hopes for a good season in ’99 took a tumble, a for real tumble.  Bales fell while roller skating and he broke a wrist.  Bales asked Pella to driver in his place, and of course Pella said yes.  There are thousands of odd stories about how a driver got his first ride, but how many involve a pair of roller skates?

 

Pella drove a part season for Bales in ’99 and when Bales was able to resume racing, Pella missed being out on the track.  He bought his own Flyer before the season ended.  In 2000 Pella finished 3rd in the Flyer division at Eagle.

 

One thing Pella always wanted to do was to run a modified.  He started racing in the popular IMCA class in 2002, originally running a Larkins chassis.  He has run a VRT chassis since 2005.

 

Pella is definitely a do it yourself racer.  While he would like to race more often-“you get a lot better feel for the car when you can race more than once a week,” he is only racing at Eagle in 2008.

 

In running the Eagle high banks Pella noted “Bruce Hascall has been a great help on setting up the car.  He can see what you are doing wrong, and tell you what you need to do, whereas I can lay under the car staring for an hour, just thinking about what to do.”

 

Pella is an automotive technician at Trade Center Automotive in Lincoln.  His 2008 sponsors include: Trade Center Automotive, Vogt Excavating, D-Sign, and Eagle Steel Products.  Aaron is a solid fourth in the Eagle Modified points standings, and when the 3A takes to the track, Pella becomes Mr. Excitement.

But he doesn’t roller skate.

 

Thanks for talking with me last night Aaron, and thank you for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Special Young Men

August 27, 2008 Leave a comment

He is leading the GN division points race at Mid-Nebraska Speedway and won his second A feature of the season at the Doniphan track last Saturday.  He is a talented race car driver with seven years of racing experience, though this is only his second season behind the wheel of a GN.  He is not afraid to get his hands dirty working on his car.  He is nice appearing, intelligent, and quite articulate.  He is also just 16 years old.

 

I talked with Jase Kaser yesterday, and came away amazed at his maturity.  If I hadn’t known better, I would have sworn I was talking with an adult.  This young man definitely has his priorities in order, and is focused on his goal of racing in one of NASCAR’s big three asphalt divisions.

 

Jase started racing a mini-sprint at age 9, and won both a points championship and rookie of the year in his first season.  He started racing GN’s midway through the 2006 season, and showed he has something you don’t always find in younger drivers, a realization that he can learn from more experienced racers, plus a respect for those he races against.  That kind of attitude leads to success.

 

Jase’s dad Jay is a former racer, and is his crew chief.  Jase’s mom Shari and younger brother Jared are also part of the team. Jase’s car is a 2004 Rocket purchased from Kyle Berck Motorsports, and his engine comes from WAM in Omaha.  Berck has advised young Iowan Bryant Goldsmith with his racing, and is doing the same for Kaser.  Jase did mention that he had broken one of Kyle’s many records, and that was for the youngest Nebraskan to win a late model feature.

 

Jase hopes to find a slot with one of the NASCAR car owner’s driver development programs.  If that doesn’t happen, he is looking at attending college, and working toward a degree in mechanical engineering.  Jase was a great interview, and the rest of his story will be in an upcoming issue of Dirt Late Model magazine. You can also learn more about Jase at his website, http://www.jasekaser.com.

 

I received an email today from Dusty Reynolds.  Back in 2004 I received another email from Dusty, this one about his friend, driver Terry Golder who was battling ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  I will be forever grateful to Dusty because his email led me to meet two of the most courageous people I could ever hope to meet, Terry and his wife Chandra.  Although he was quite young-he had just graduated from college-Dusty amazed me with the maturity of his love and compassion for the Golders.

 

Now Dusty is showing this same type of love thousands of miles from home.  Dusty and his wife Julia are on a mission in Mali, a terribly poor African nation.  Julia will be a nurse in Mali, and Dusty is starting a business there.  You can read about their adventure on www.sabubu-blog.com.  It is a privilege to consider this young man a friend.

 

Thanks Jase.  Thanks Dusty.  And thank you for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

The Young, The Old, and the Restless. I’m the restless one.

August 26, 2008 Leave a comment

I just received two assignments from Dirt Late Model magazine publisher Mike O’Connor.  He wants me to do stories on 16 year old GN late model driver Jase Kaser of Lincoln, and also a story on long-time Adams County Speedway promoter Gail Hampel, who is definitely not 16. 

 

Gail has been a part of Corning racing action since 1983, not quite ten years before Jase was born.  Gail’s son Greg told me that if we didn’t get the information we need from Gail, we could just make up stories. It’s your inheritance Greg.

 

While Gail is retiring, Jase is just beginning his racing career.  He is currently in first place in the GN class at Mid-Nebraska Speedway in Doniphan, and won the A feature at that track last Saturday.  He also won there on June 28th, and has 10 top five finishes and 15 top ten finishes this season.

 

I did watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup marathon at Bristol last Saturday, but actually paid the same amount of attention to the Olympic men’s marathon race on another TV network.  For a good part of the Olympic marathon, a pack of runners ran together, something you don’t see in NASCAR, other than at Talladega or Daytona, and there were more lead changes in the Olympic marathon too.  I guess I am somewhat hypocritical about wrecks, because I found myself hoping that Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch would somehow manage to take each other out, and take Denny Hamlin with them. 

 

For years I have been saying if I could only go to one NASCAR race, it would be the night race at Bristol.  Now I am not so sure.  It has become a spectacle, more than just a good race.  The comparison between the Roman Coliseum and Bristol was a good one, though I am not sure who the Christians are, and who the lions are.  And I met that metaphorically, not religiously. I guess I would rather watch a race in Bristol, than one in Loudon or Pocono or Los Angeles or Dover. Maybe the Twin 150’s at Daytona would be a good show to see, and afterwards take in the late models and big block modifieds at Volusia County Speedway.  Maybe I’ll win the lottery some day.

 

I still am not sure of my Boone Supernational plans. We’ll see how this week goes.  If I don’t make it there, maybe I can get to the Tiny Lund show in Harlan, IA.  Both are great shows. I would like to take in the Octoberfest race in Beatrice, NE as well.

 

This week Eagle Raceway moved their regular Saturday night show to Sunday, so they did not have to compete with Nebraska football.  They also moved the season finale Cornhusker Cup to Sunday, September 7th.  Even with hard core racing fans, Husker football is just too tough to compete against.  I’m looking forward to attending both of these races.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

A Cool Offer, and a NASCAR Demo Derby.

August 24, 2008 3 comments

Tim Pritchett Jr. responded to my column about never riding in a race car and offered to let me hot lap his hobby stock when it is ready next year.  That is certainly a nice gesture, though perhaps a little crazy.  Thanks Tim.

 

I made a comparison between blue collar US 30 Speedway and glamorous Lowes Motor Speedway, and my son said I should have thrown in track prep as well.  Of course he meant track prep on the Dirt Track at Lowes, which has caused more than a little anger amongst some drivers.  I have to admit that the track at US 30 held up well most of Thursday evening, and I enjoyed the old fashioned way they packed the track-with race cars of course.  I know this isn’t a favorite task of drivers, but I enjoyed the fact that one of the first cars on the track to pack was the modified point’s leader Chris Alcorn.

 

Tonight is a night that always has me questioning whether or not I am a hypocrite.  Over and over and over I have stated I do not like watching crashes at races.  First, I don’t want to see anyone get hurt.  Second, it tears up equipment, and the drivers I write about do not have a lot of money to replace wrecked machines.  And finally, it adds to the length of shows that usually are border line too long anyway.

 

So, tonight I am going to watch the Sprint Cup race at Bristol.  Millions will watch on TV, and over 165,000 fans will fill the stands.  And what is Bristol, other than a high speed train waiting for a crash to occur.  Didn’t thousands and thousands of fans scream about caution flags every 12-15 laps at the Brickyard 400?  Isn’t that close to what happens at Bristol?  Do I enjoy the crashes?  Do I have this manic desire to watch toys of wealthy owners get torn up?  Or maybe I like to see the drivers actually show some emotion.  Whatever it is, instead of going to Eagle tonight like I really should, I am going to stay home and watch TV.  My bad.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

It’s All That Charlotte Motor Speedway Isn’t.

August 22, 2008 2 comments

Sorry, I keep forgetting.  It is Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, NC.  And that is the first difference between US 30 Speedway and LMS.  US 30 Speedway was named for the highway that runs past the front gate, not for a mega-corporation spending big bucks to gain naming rights for the venue.

 

I visited LMS several years ago.  It is an amazing, awe-inspiring facility.  However, if you remove all the seats, you have a thin ribbon of asphalt running through a canyon of concrete, brick, steel, and glass.  Sort of like mid-town Manhattan with faster taxis.

 

You could never mistake US 30 Speedway for downtown anywhere.  It is in the middle of a corn field, several miles west of Columbus, NE.  The biggest building nearby is some farmer’s barn.

 

NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers often arrive at tracks like Lowe’s by helicopter.  Flying over the traffic is the rule.  At US 30 Speedway, drivers from tiny Nebraska towns like Rising City, Duncan, Monroe, and Silver Creek arrive in pick-ups pulling a trailer loaded with their race car and equipment.

 

You won’t find Budweiser sponsoring any cars at US 30 Speedway, though Liquor Mart is a sponsor.  So are Casey’s Day Care, Twin Rivers Veterinary, and Prague Insurance Agency.  Even though many of the race cars at US 30 actually spent time on the streets of Nebraska, GM is most definitely not a sponsor.

 

At Lowe’s you can’t walk 100 feet without stumbling into TV announcers, analysts, or pit reporters.  At US 30 Speedway, there is one, count him, one announcer.  US 30 Speedway does not have a problem issuing press credentials. 

 

At Lowe’s luxury seating for a Sprint Cup race costs $550.  Grandstand seating costs as much as $135, though in fairness, there are “cheap seats” available for as little as $29.  Adult admission at US 30 Speedway is $10, there are no luxury suites, you can easily see the entire track, and seats are just a few feet away from the roaring action.

 

Lowe’s Speedway offers a stadium club, which provides the finest food and spirits.  You can join for a mere $7,500.  US 30 Speedway offers a beer, or six, and a hamburger, and you and all your buddies can eat and drink forever, and it won’t cost you $7,500.

 

You don’t pay for the privilege of parking at US 30 Speedway, and if you have to walk more than a block to get to the front gate, you came late.  There is no need for a shuttle to far away parking lots.  There are no far way parking lots.

 

At US 30 Speedway there is no such thing as a corporate hospitality tent.  US 30 Speedway is a blue collar track.  Its fans are mostly blue collar, working class, middle class, with a few small business owners and farmers added to the mix.  At US 30 Speedway you go to watch, not to be seen; to be entertained, not to entertain.

 

Three of the four classes at US 30 Speedway are sanctioned by the budget racer’s buddy, IMCA.  They race IMCA sport compacts, hobby stocks, and modifieds.  The street stock class is similar to IMCA stock cars, just a little more stout.  Call it IMCA stocks on steroids.  At US 30 Speedway there is no pedaling around the track single file for four hundred miles.  With 10 lap heat races and no feature longer than 25 laps, drivers can’t wait for the last few laps to race.  It is going as hard as you can go as soon as the green flag drops.

 

So, would I rather watch a race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, or at US 30 Speedway?  Haven’t you been paying attention? There are a thousand other US 30 Speedways around the nation.  You don’t have to mortgage your house to buy tickets.  Well, right now that may not be the best example.  But you don’t have to spend a lot to attend a weekly show and watch door to door racing action. 

 

As in so many other areas, we need to get back to the basics in racing.  We don’t need a President who will show up for a Daytona 500 photo-op, we need one willing to stop by US 30 Speedway, have a beer with the boys, and let everyone know that he really does care about middle class America. 

 

Visit your local track this weekend.  And thanks for stopping by.