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This Minnesota Racer Does Things The “Write” Way

October 31, 2008 Leave a comment

Several days ago I received an email from Minnesotan Will Weaver wondering about “Super Stock” racing in this area.  I didn’t know how to answer him, because I am honestly not sure what a super stock might be.  Forgive my lack of knowledge about this type of car, but I don’t think any track that I have been to races them.  I have an idea that the super stocks might be somewhere between a modified and a late model, but I have nothing to prove that theory. 

 

I replied to Will admitting I wasn’t well versed on super stocks.  I received an email back, and found out that Will was a writer.  Actually he is writing a series of stock car racing novels for teens. His racing program has received publicity on Good Morning America and in Publisher’s Weekly magazine.

 

Will’s team runs what he calls a “mini-mod.”  Photos show the car looks like any other modified, but apparently it is powered by a 4 cylinder engine.  Next season they will run a Midwest Modified, which if I have my sanctioning bodies correct would be a WISSOTA version of a B-Mod, or IMCA Sport Mod. 

 

I wrote about John Anderson using his racing as part of a youth ministry, and Will uses racing for off track interests too.  Team Weaver takes the car around to schools and talks about books, while promoting reading and writing.  Of course they also get in a plug or two for dirt track racing.

 

Sometimes we take our local racers for granted.  We don’t watch them on TV, or read about them in magazines or newspapers.  Most don’t have websites.  They drive a pick-up to the track, they don’t helicopter in after flying their private jet to some big airport. They might be our next door neighbor, or maybe they repair our car.  They are part of our everyday life, but to young people they can be great heroes and can have a positive effect on their life. 

 

As with John Anderson yesterday, I thank Will Weaver for what he does off the track.  If you want to learn more about Will’s team, or about the books he writes, go to his website:

www.motornovels.com.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

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John Anderson Has His Act Together

October 30, 2008 Leave a comment

I talked with Omaha late model driver John Anderson yesterday.  Anderson is this year’s MLRA point champion, and Dirt Late Model is doing an article about the championship.

 

Anderson likes running the MLRA tour because the races are close.  Not having to travel far, and not having to maintain the car owned by Greg and Pat Junghans allows Anderson to pursue another passion.  He and wife Lisa are leaders of a church youth group.  Commenting about the group Anderson stated “We are committed to the group, and for us it is a 24/7 deal.  We have kids at our house all the time.”

 

Anderson wouldn’t call this a ministry, but he is able to use racing to show youngsters how to deal with adversity, but also how team work and good habits can lead to success. 

 

I was able to watch John interact with members of his youth group at the Alphabet Soup Race at I-80 Speedway.  I was very impressed with how John conducted himself, and he is a great role model for the youth.  It was easy to see that the kids both respect and like John. 

 

Of course it does help that Anderson is very successful on the track, and going to the races is a fun activity for the youngsters.  I am 58 and still love the throaty roar of a late model engine pulling into a pit stall after the races, so I am sure that a teenager would think it is way cool as well, though they certainly would not use the phrase “way cool.”

 

I have always appreciated the efforts of anyone who works with and has a positive influence on our youth.  With 23 A feature victories on Midwest dirt tracks the past two seasons, Anderson is definitely a leader on the track.  And even more important, with his youth group, John is a leader off the track.

 

Thanks for all you do John, and thank you for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

Do They Serve Chili At The Chili Bowl?

October 27, 2008 Leave a comment

Sorry about not posting the past few days.  I am in the final stages-I hope final stages-of writers block.  I have three articles due, and when I say due, I mean they are due.  If you are reading this Mike O’Connor, I am just joking.  I really have my two DM articles nearly complete, and my DLM article is coming along nicely.  Really, I am not kidding. I am not stringing together sentences right now, hoping I can break free of whatever has been gripping me lately.

 

A famous writer once said “I hate writing.  I love having written.”  That is me, at least for the past week or so. I actually did finish my other blogs today, but of the three this is by far the most important, so it is time to quit fooling around.

 

I received an email from my favorite sprint car driver Tadd Holliman.  Tadd is without a doubt one of the good guys in sprint car racing, heck, racing period, and he has helped me to understand the open wheel sport a little better than I had before meeting him.  Like other members of the Nebraska open wheel contingent, Tadd is getting a midget ready to race at the Chili Bowl.

 

From Tadd’s description, it sounds like the mid-winter race in Tulsa is a lot like super late model racing’s World 100-thousands of people come to a party, and a race just happens to break out. Below are Tadd’s thoughts on this race:

 

“Ron, I could talk all day about the Chili Bowl, as it is my favorite race of the year. This will be my 4th year competing after taking over the midget formally driven by dad, owned by my step-mom, Barb Holliman. I like to say she fired him and hired me to race it.  My biggest claim to fame at the Chili Bowl is beating Kasey Kahne in a heat race.  Chili Bowl is more or less a big party where a race happens to break out.  Not too many people can say they have raced against Ron Capps, Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Tim McCreadie, J.J. Yeley, just to name a few.”

 

Like so many other races, the Chili Bowl is on my bucket list.  However, getting tickets to the race is about as difficult as getting tickets to the NASCAR Sprint Cup night race at Bristol, so I’ll have to wait another year or so.

 

Thanks for reminding me again that racing is supposed to be about fun.  I need to have a refresher course on that regularly.

 

And, thank you for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

It Is Great To Hear From Other Race Fans

October 24, 2008 Leave a comment

I am not being lazy today. I just thought the following email was too good to keep to myself.  Being a fan I really like hearing from other hard core fans.  I can’t tell you how many races Matt and I have attended where we started talking with someone just because of the t-shirt they were wearing.  We met some of our best racing friends that way-even though they were wearing Kyle Berck t-shirts and at that time we weren’t big Berck fans.  It is always fun to talk with people who have been to tracks and races we haven’t managed to make yet, and even more fun when we can talk about tracks we have in common. Racing is about a lot of things, but family and friends always come to the forefront.  My wife and daughter in-law think I wrecked my son who is totally addicted to dirt track racing, but I am thrilled we have this in common.

 

After you read Jeff’s email, I would appreciate it if you would go to IntelseekRateMySite.  You can rate my site (www.therestofthedirt.com), and of course I would like you to give me a five star rating, not just because I am trying to give you some entertaining and informative racing posts, but also because if you select me  I will cut taxes for all middle class taxpayers, provide affordable healthcare to everyone who needs it, provide promoters with incentives to finish a race program in under 3 ½ hours, and make every NASCAR televised race racy from lap 1.  Independent researchers have said it can be done.  Anyway, thank you for voting for me, and in this election you can vote everyday, so keep that in mind.

 

Thanks for stopping by, and thanks to Jeff for sharing his story.

 

Ron,

Just discovered your site after the mention in HRN. I’m really enjoying your writings and find myself nodding in agreement quite a bit. I’m a lifelong fan, attending races for all 45 of my 45 years, and also drove from 1981-1988. I’m hoping to get a car again next year. I’m at a total of 159 lifetime tracks and made it to 59 races in 2007. This past year I only did 31, most of them at my favorite, Knoxville, a 278 mile one way trip for me. But I like ’em all and always say, “There’s no such thing as a bad race, though some are better than others.”

As with you, it pains me at times when I’m somewhere and things are just not done right. Because I love this so much I’ll always be back but what about the first timers?

Quick story: When we can get together I go with my brother and his 9 year old son, Eric. What fun to go in the pits afterwards for autographs and relive the excitement that is that age. This past year Eric brought along his buddy, Cal twice with us to Beaver Dam. Cal seemed to have a great time and I guess he did because at the last race of the season at Plymouth, WI we were surprised to meet Cal, his dad, brother and sister on our way to our seats. Cal pleaded with his dad to be able to go into the pits afterwards, which we all did. While my brother and Eric were looking over some sprint cars, Cal’s family sought out the Late Model feature winner, Russ Scheffler. What a surprise when they walked back over with the WINNER’S TROPHY! which Russ had given them. We now have 4 new FANS FOR LIFE. This is what it’s all about.

I’m an air traffic controller by profession at Chicago Center in Aurora, IL. I read your story on Dr. Ed Raines last year in Dirt Modified and the aircraft call sign, N711AA stuck in my head. Last week, I was at the sector and it was real busy when N711AA came through going back to Lincoln. I wanted to talk a little bit to him but couldn’t spare the time. I just asked him if he was the modified driver that I’d read about. He replied that he was and realized I couldn’t talk but asked for my home phone number. A few days later he called and we had a nice 15 minute chat. Nice guy. This is also what it’s all about.

Thanks for your efforts.

Jeff Wilke

 

 

Race Tracks In 49 States, You Do The Math

October 23, 2008 8 comments

I listen to what my SEO advisor has to say about my blogs and try to follow his advice.  What is SEO?  Search Engine Optimization.  What does it do?  Well, it is supposed to bring more readers to my blog, and that is a good thing.  It makes for a lot of work, but hopefully it will mean good things for the blog at some point in time.

 

Anyway, one of the things I am supposed to be doing is actively participating in the social media.  We’re talking My Space, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter-there are probably others, but this is all he has said I need to be into right now.  Those of you who know me know how social I am.  Well, you have to know me to know that I am social. Really, I am not anti-social, just very shy.  I am serious.  It isn’t easy for me to do this social thing. My son Matt would be much better at this than I am. But my social media efforts have had some interesting results.

 

As a result of my being on the sites I mentioned, I have had emails from people all around the country telling me about how much they enjoy dirt track racing.  Matt thought that it was cool when I heard from a lady in Charlotte who dates someone who once was a crew member for Scott Bloomquist.  I mentioned the name to Matt and spent the rest of a ride home from Eagle hearing all about this guy. I even heard from the wife of an ex-pro stock driver from Hilo, Hawaii today.  He wasn’t an ex-driver until he rolled his car three times in two years. It sounds like his wife may have had some input on that decision. 

 

It is my understanding that the only state that currently does not have a dirt track is Rhode Island. Even Alaska has several dirt tracks.  I probably shouldn’t say this, but Alaska would be a great place for some promoters from the “lower 48” to head to.  They could run their five or six hour shows, and in the land of the Midnight Sun, they wouldn’t even have to turn on their lights.  I wonder if Alaska race track concessions serve mooseburgers. I don’t fault anyone in Alaska for hunting moose-not even Governor Palin.  One moose can provide an Alaskan family with most of the meat they need.

 

I really do have a point about dirt race tracks in 49 states.  IMCA is a sanctioning body in most of the states, and I would also guess that the IMCA modified or something close to it is run in all of those states.  According to a Dirt Modified interview with VP Brett Root, there are 4,000 modified drivers who are members of IMCA and another 2,500 members run in the other sanctioned classes.  Those numbers are the highest ever, and that should mean there are 6,500 really good stories for this blog.  But I haven’t figured out a good way to get them yet.

 

Despite being nothing but positive on this blog, IMCA isn’t very forthcoming with racer email addresses.  Maybe there is a question of privacy, and I am sure they are busy, even this time of year.  Damn I wish I could get some of those emails though. It would be worth a trip to Vinton.

 

I have tried to email promoters, and you can imagine how successful that has been. Now if you were going to get free publicity for your track, and have profiles of some of your drivers posted on the internet-and they aren’t going to be written about anywhere else, wouldn’t you reply to me?  I don’t get that.  And I don’t get how my pleas in posts like this don’t bring more responses.  I know that everyone who reads this knows more than one racer/official/fan-heck, even promoter, who deserves to have his/her story told. Getting this information is more painful than going to a dentist.

 

Matt thinks I should run a contest and give away prizes for people who send in story ideas.  Given that I am working with zero income and you don’t want to know my expenses, that isn’t going to happen soon.  So, I am asking once more.  Give me some ideas for stories.  Names, phone #’s, email addresses.  Read about your husband or son or father or mother or aunt or uncle or friend or daughter.  I would love to write about them.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

The Economy Really Sucks-Just Ask Some NASCAR Teams

October 22, 2008 2 comments

A recent newspaper article discussed the problems some NASCAR Sprint Cup teams are facing attracting sponsors.  With the economy in less than glowing condition, corporations are balking at forking over $25,000,000 to sponsor a Sprint Cup team.  Actually, many companies spend a similar amount on marketing their NASCAR sponsorship, so being involved in major league auto racing takes a big, big checkbook.

 

Each of NASCAR’s “Big Three” series has teams having sponsorship difficulties.  The article mentioned there is a real possibility that some events could face less than full fields.  That does seem to be little far-fetched to me.  If nothing else, NASCAR, the track hosting a Sprint Cup event, or maybe a combination of both would likely step up and provide the wherewithal for enough teams to provide for a full field.  Not having a full field would be an embarrassment to the track, and hardly the image a major league sport would want.

 

NASCAR will be OK in 2009-financially, I mean, the product being OK is open to debate.  I do wonder about what economic difficulties will mean for the “minor leagues” of auto racing, for the “Saturday night” tracks, and for all the drivers who race for a hobby, not to make a living.

 

Would an associate sponsor aka a partial sponsor of a NASCAR Sprint Cup team be willing to continue with a decal on the quarter panel of a Cup car, or would a better and cheaper investment be to fully fund a dirt tour like the World of Outlaws Late Models, or maybe be the title sponsor for some major events.  Even though they are tape delayed, many major dirt track events are now televised, and the right sponsor would be able to make screening more events a reality.  Just an odd thought.

 

I am really more concerned about how our economic downturn will affect local racers.  The Presidential candidates have been arguing about Wall Street vs. Main Street, and racers problems for the coming season mirror the financial problems of businesses.  That Wall Street, or big business, is hurting has the potential to hurt NASCAR.  That business on Main Street in small towns is hurting could be devastating to local racers.

 

I know local racers are not totally funded by anyone.  The best some can hope for is a sponsor to buy a few tires, or maybe a local filling station to fill up the hauler a few times a season.  For grass roots racers, the loss of sponsors that provide even several hundred dollars worth of goods is almost like a huge NASCAR outfit losing a million dollars in sponsorship.  The percentage of overall investment that a loss of $500-$1,000 to a local racer is probably greater than the loss of $1,000,000 to the NASCAR team.  Both sting, one just stings the little guy is all.

 

My fingers and toes are crossed that all of our local racers can find the sponsorship they need to race in 2009, and that 2009 will be a better year than 2008 was for tracks, drivers, and fans.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

Ramblings

October 20, 2008 2 comments

Thanks to Kyle Ealy of the Hawkeye Racing News for his plug about my website.  I enjoy Kyle’s column too, and he has the courage to make statements such as “As I was enjoying the action this weekend, I was thinking about all of those race fans who think “NASCAR” is it when it comes to asphalt racing.  They think that the crap they see on television every Sunday with all of its smoke and mirrors are it.  I feel sorry for them-well, not really.”  Kyle had just spent the weekend at the Oktoberfest in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

 

He also commented about younger drivers spending some time at the local level to prepare themselves to race in the so-called “big leagues.”  I couldn’t agree more.  I see teenagers getting the call to NASCAR’s diversity program, while someone as accomplished as Julie McDermid doesn’t, and I have to shake my head.  Julie is intelligent, attractive, and well-spoken.  She would represent any sponsor well.  And all she does is beat the boys at their own game, winning 17 Modified features this year in Wisconsin, no small feat.  That one is hard to understand, unless the diversity programs are just talking the talk, and not walking the walk.

 

The Omaha World-Herald sports section had an article today about it minor league franchises selling tickets, advertising, and sponsorships with the economy as it is.  With hockey, indoor football, and AAA baseball facilities located in the city, they do have an advantage over race tracks that must locate in less populated areas.  However, everyone interviewed stated that if the economy was down, what they needed to do was work harder.  And that ought to be something that race promoters can do too.

 

Something I have never understood is why race promoters don’t take a page from the minor league baseball ticket selling book.  Actually two pages they should take two pages from that book.  First, there are hundreds if not thousands of civic organizations located within easy driving distance of every race track in the country.  Why not shoot them a package deal-include programs and concessions along with a ticket?  I keep hearing things like “that wouldn’t be fair to fans that pay full price for a ticket,” or “that lessens the value of a ticket.”  Say what?  The value of an empty seat is less than zero.  Not only do you get nothing in revenue for the empty seat, you have lost the opportunity to get revenue for that seat for that night, and you don’t get a mulligan on that opportunity.

 

Also, most fans do not buy season tickets, because they aren’t going to attend every race.  But they might buy a package that gets them tickets to five events, or three events.  Again, that is an otherwise empty seat that is getting some revenue, plus everyone buys concessions.

 

Just one of those things I don’t get, and think could help promoters in difficult economic times.  Thanks for stopping buy.