Archive for December, 2008

With Genes Like His, This Kid Should Be A Good One

December 31, 2008 Leave a comment



Greg Soukup shared several articles with me, and I think they are worth sharing with you.  The following article is on open wheel up and comer Robby Wolfgang.  With genes like his, you have to figure this kid is going to be a good one.

Thanks Greg, and thanks to you for stopping by.



Robby Wolfgang


By Greg Soukup


“Let’s hear it for young Wolfgang, winning his first A Feature!!” No, this isn’t a 19 year old ‘Wolf’; this is a 16 year old ‘Cub’. It’s not Doug, but his son Robby who recently earned his first trophy on July 27th, 2008 at Huset’s Speedway in the bright yellow Barstad #1 after leading wire-to-wire. One can only imagine what a thrill it was for both father and son that night; a night that saw Doug being inducted into the Huset’s Speedway Hall of Fame during intermission, and then capping it off with Robby’s first visit to victory lane. I don’t think anyone could tell whose smile was bigger or who was prouder of the other.

Some people might envy anyone born with the Wolfgang name, but being a part of a racing family isn’t always easy; and Robby’s introduction to the sport wasn’t a pleasant one. He was born on May 12, 1992 in Kansas City, Kansas while his father was still in the KU Medical Center; only about a month after Doug’s horrific crash at Lakeside Speedway. Happily though, he wasn’t dissuaded from racing despite what had happened.

Although there is a long-standing tradition for sons to follow in their racer father’s footsteps and put on a driving suit, this youngster originally followed another of his dad’s passions; motorcycles. According to Robby, “I started riding at age 6, and then started racing at 11. At first it was trail riding with my father, but the last couple of years I have taken it very seriously and attended some amateur national events. I even won a National Title at Branson Missouri”.  “I decided on motorcycles mainly because I loved it. I never got sick of putting in hundreds of laps on the same tracks each and every day. On the other hand, I wasn’t really into go-karts and there is nothing around South Dakota for mini-sprints” he added.

When asked why he changed his mind about racing sprint cars like his father he said “I just love the thrill of racing. Being on the track, slicing and dicing with a bunch of other guys is so fun!! Also, Loren Barstad is one of my father’s good friends. He has such a huge passion for racing that he could care less if I win or lose, he just wants to go racing! There’s no pressure to win, I just have to go out and do my best”.

Yes, he is new to sprint car racing, but he is learning the ropes very quickly despite his lack of seat time. It took only until his 13th sanctioned event to bring home a victory. Running both winged and non-winged sprint shows at Rapid Speedway, I-90 Speedway, Eagle Raceway and Huset’s Speedway he learned his craft very rapidly. Of course, having the team that Robby does makes it easier to improve. “My parents have always been there for me 100%. They always have the best advice for me and are very supportive. My sisters Nicole, Cori and Allie also try to make it to my races as much as possible. I wouldn’t be able to do it without the love and support from my family. I have been giving it my all, and my father is nothing shy of the best for advice and stuff, so it works out. He has so much good advice for me, it’s ridiculous. He can see what I am doing right or wrong from the pits and corrects me so I am doing it the proper way. All I need to do right now is to learn from everything that I do. It’s going to be tough, but with everyone’s help I can do it. I rely most on my dad, because his knowledge is bottomless” Robby stated.

Having watched Robby race, it’s obvious that he is putting his father’s bottomless knowledge to good use. You can see some of Doug’s artful driving style reflected as the younger Wolfgang hurtles around the track. Moving from the bottom of the track up to the cushion as needed, zigzagging through traffic with ease but tempered with caution that belies his youth, you can only imagine what he can accomplish after getting a year or two of experience.

Although he has only driven a 360 sprinter in competition so far, Robby does have bigger aspirations. “Right now, I am planning on driving sprint cars. I will always have bikes to just ride in my off-time or with all of my friends, but I’m going to concentrate on sprint cars. I don’t know yet what I want to go to next, but I think doing the USAC thing would be really cool; and I’d love to be in NASCAR or even in an Indy car someday. Really, I just want to be able to race at the highest level of competition whatever that is” he said. Even though I’m sure that we all want to see Robby succeed, here’s hoping that USAC and NASCAR hold off bringing Robby to the big leagues at least for a little while.

Although he’s not a ‘Wolf’ yet, he is a Wolfgang. And make no mistake about his talent. This ‘Cub’ packs a mighty bite, and he will have plenty more chances to howl.




Christmas 2008 and the racing family

December 29, 2008 1 comment

I have been in somewhat of a funky mood the past few days.  Christmas does that to me.  Still, I have been thinking about family, and that always brings to mind the racing family, dysfunctional though it may be.  I am glad that racing has allowed you to be a part of my life, and me to be a part of your life.  This friendship, this feeling of family is a wonderful gift.  With no racing going on, not even NASCAR Sprint Cup to complain about, and not even having a slot car track, my thoughts have been on what Christmas means to me, and I want to share them with you.


I am not a scrooge, but I am not gung ho, ho-ho-ho at Christmas either.  A season that begins before Thanksgiving and doesn’t end until after New Year’s wears on me. With grown children, I no longer have the excitement of youngsters to sway my mood.  Electric trains and Care Bears have given way to clothes and books. 


2008 seemed almost like the year there was no Christmas.  I am sure it did for retailers, and many who have suffered far worse with the economy than my family.  We have our own stresses though.  My wife’s job is very much in jeopardy, and her company may call it quits any day. Every ounce of energy she possesses is given to her company, trying to make things work out.  My job is safer, but it is also a work day filled with stress. My 84 year old father is not in the best of health.  He suffered through 6 weeks of 5 times a week radiation treatment for skin cancer, and though he claims doctors say he did not have a stroke this year, he now needs a brace and a walker to get around. So no, we have not felt Christmas-y this year.


Weeks ago we decided to not overspend on Christmas this year, and for the most part we did not.  With job and family stresses we did not seem to have time to decorate the house, and our Christmas tree remained in its box in our garage.  Packages remained unwrapped until Christmas Eve, and most were wrapped by my daughter who for some strange reason enjoys this task.  Instead of a big meal, we decided that my wife’s famous chili would hit the spot, and allow her more time to rest and actually enjoy her day “off.” Again, until Christmas morning we felt no strong spirit for the holiday.


On Christmas morning I was finally reminded what Christmas has always been about.  It isn’t fancy decorations or malls filled with shoppers.  It isn’t too many presents that are too little appreciated.  It isn’t overeating, though I suspect with candies and nuts, deli meats and several bowls of chili I did do that.  I do understand the religious significance of the birth of Christ, and celebrate that in my own fashion.  But what Christmas is truly about for me is family.


I love having my family around me, enjoying the presence of grandparents, parents, husband, wife, children, and even, more likely especially, our two grandpuppies.  My wife can make me angrier faster than anyone, but that is because she is the one person I most need to support me.  I know I make her plenty angry, plenty fast.  My parents are 84 now, and as I mentioned, my dad is not in the best of health.  He wears a brace, and has to use a walker to get around.  He needs a lot of help getting into and out of their car, and this year my son Matt lovingly provided it.  I have watched these two interact for years, and know their bond is strong.  Matt teasingly calls my dad “Hank,” but on Christmas, it was “grandpa.”  His support of his grandpa is something I will never forget. 


My daughter Amanda never ceases to amaze me, and she is not just a dreamer, she dreams of what I have been afraid to dream of, and pray each day will be fulfilled for her.  Because of her I love and am loved by two grandpuppies, and she thought is was appropriate to spend $100 on toys and treats for Kahlua and Sophie.  I am pretty sure that my parents never spent that much on me while I was growing up. Amanda is always good for a smile.


Kahlua and Sophie are a riot.  Literally.  When they are together you know it is either a herd of buffaloes running down the hallway, or two silky terriers.  Although dogs supposedly make no demands, I know when these delights jump on my lap it is with the expectation of at least being petted, and belly rubs would be OK too.  For most of my life I didn’t get dog lovers, now I want to respond in Old Testament eye for an eye fashion when I hear of animal abuse on the news.  And yes, pets really do lower your blood pressure.


I am sure there will be other Christmases where I am actually possessed by the spirit of the season.  I may actually go shopping before December 23rd, and not just on the internet.  I can’t picture me singing Christmas carols, but at least I won’t change to another radio station when they are played.  Some year I am actually going to put lights on our house.  Some year.  And though I don’t need it, a meal of turkey and ham doesn’t sound too bad.

Yes, I will be full of it, full of Christmas spirit that is, but I also will not forget Christmas 2008.  The memories of what Christmas really means will always be with me.


Thanks for stopping by.





The 11th Day of Christmas-and the 12th Day Too

December 25, 2008 Leave a comment

On the 11th day of Christmas I am hoping for a gift from my son Matt.  Please burn a new CD with eleven racing appropriate songs for our road trips.  Free Bird is the only song I insist on.  Some Van Halen is OK, just make sure that whatever song you decide on is one that the band actually remembers recording.  One Kenny Chesney song is the limit, and that should be offset by one Johnny Cash song, preferably one that can be used karaoke like to keep us both awake on the way home from Knoxville. Throw in some Hank Williams Jr. too. And finish off with some sledge hammer rock.


On the 12th day of Christmas I want:

-12 months of prosperity for all race fans, especially my readers.

-12 months of solid profits for every promoter and sanctioning body, even NASCAR.

-12 months of weight loss for me, along with lower blood sugar readings.

-12 great issues of Dirt Late Model magazine, and 6 each of Flat Out and Dirt Modified.

-12 months from now Chris Alcorn displaying a national championship trophy.

-12 weeks for my favorite lawyer to devote to a Sunset Speedway book.

-12 months of learning audio, video, podcasts, and vlogs to improve my blog.

-12 healthier months for my dad.

-12 happy months for my family.

-12 comments a day on my blogs.

-12 meetings of the Sunday Night Irregulars, though not always on Sunday.

-1,200 distinct visitors to my blogs everyday.  I really want 12,000 visitors each day, but that would sound greedy.


One of the best Christmas gifts for me this year is you sharing your time with me.  There are millions of other blogs you could choose to read, and I know we are all busy people.  I am thrilled that as busy as you are, you take a peek at what I have to say.  Thank you for stopping by.


Merry Christmas!!







The 10th Day of Christmas-In HD

December 24, 2008 Leave a comment

On the 10th day of Christmas, race fans everywhere would like a cable TV network other than Speed to carry ten races that are not normally televised.  Speed seems to be in tight with NASCAR, and wants to televise NASCAR Sprint Cup series practices and gawd-awful shows like Pinks. 


After consulting several experts and adding my wants to the list, here are ten races worthy of being televised:


-The final night of the Volusia County Speedweeks show.  This is on the Saturday night before the Daytona 500 and includes super late models and big block modifieds.


-The Alphabet Soup race from I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Nebraska.  My experts proved to be homers on this one, but in past years the event has included the WDRL, NCRA, and MLRA tours, and is one of the top Midwest super late model shows. 


-The Show Me 100 from West Plains, Missouri.


-HBO does a PPV for the Prelude to the Dream, why not make it a package deal and include The Dream as well?  Eldora Speedway rocks with this early June show, and $100,000 to the winner is hardly chump change.


-Macon UMP Summernationals.  Any of the month long tour events would be OK, but this tiny track would turn on TV fans.


-The Outlaw Nationals from Cedar Lake, Wisconsin.  The track is always racy, and most of the top late model drivers show up for this event.


-The Harris Clash from Knoxville, Iowa.  Hundreds of modified drivers show for this event, not because of the purse, but because of the prestige. 


-The Topless 100 from Batesville, Arkansas.  I think a race that shows the drivers up close and personal should definitely be televised.


-The World 100.  This is the one race that every driver would love to win. 


-IMCA Supernationals.  With over 600 IMCA racers present during the week, this show from Boone, Iowa is redneck nirvana.  Starting 33 modifieds three wide on a 1/3 mile track is something every race fan should be able to see.


I am one who believes that tape delay for televised dirt track races is a must.  People want action, not clean-up crews in action.  As I said before, let some network other than Speed do the televising.


My experts came up with other options that could be substituted for any of the races listed above.  The East Bay Nationals was mentioned, as was the Dirt Track World Championship.  One person suggested the Late Model Shoot-Out that is held at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend should be on TV.  His reason was “so I don’t have to miss the race or a Nebraska football game.”  One last race suggested was the WDRL event from Albion, Nebraska.  I like the idea because it is the perfect venue to show what true grassroots racing is all about.


Thanks for stopping by.



The 9th Day of Christmas-A Venue or Two or Nine

December 23, 2008 14 comments

On the 9th day of Christmas I would love to receive nine racing venues in 2009.  I know there are race fans that are far racier than Matt and I, attending dozens of races at almost as many tracks.  For us, nine different tracks are a lot.


So, where will we go?  Well, you can rule out the Chili Bowl in Tulsa in January.  That has been sold out forever, so hopefully it will be on PPV again this year.  Scratch Volusia County for the big block mods and super late models, and Daytona for the NASCAR Sprint Cup series Twin 150’s in February.  After this past weekend with no furnace I would like a Florida winter vacation, but it isn’t going to happen in 2009.  And, even though tickets may actually be available, I won’t be going to the Sprint Cup series night race at Bristol in August.  Still, that leaves over 1,000 possible race tracks to go to.


Obviously we will be going to our home track-America’s home track-Eagle Raceway.  We would go to Eagle just to see our buddy Rick Bradley race his hobby stock.  It will be interesting to see just what effect the new “Bradley Tractor Tire Rule” has on the 28B.  I would also go to Eagle just to watch Chris Alcorn as he mounts his annual quest to become IMCA National Modified Champion.  Alcorn had some great battles with Dylan Smith in 2008, and his road to a track and national title may be even more difficult this year as Beatrice Speedway is racing on Friday’s and some Beatrice regulars might start racing at Eagle.


We will also go to I-80 Speedway for the Alphabet Soup Race.  Matt has been talking about attending some of the SLMR races there, as there just aren’t many late model shows in Nebraska.  Apparently Butler County Motorplex near Rising City, Nebraska is planning on hosting an SLMR race in June, so we will like go there for the first time.  Matt has also talked about going to the season opener in Beatrice.  I don’t know if he means the Spring Invitational there, or the opening weekly race.  Anyway, that is four of the nine tracks I hope to visit in 2009.


US 30 Speedway near Columbus is the fifth venue we are likely to visit.  It is a Thursday night show, but the track is only about 50 miles from Fremont, and I like the fans and the racers there.  Depending on if and which late model tour event runs during the Boone County Fair in Albion, BCR is liable to destination number six.  I like the people, I love the fair grounds atmosphere, and I really like the WDRL shows too.  I did not really like the WoO show.  To me, the WoO feature was just a dirt-y version of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race-go fast and turn left.  I am not sure Albion will be on our schedule if only the WoO race is held during the fair.


We have five or six tracks taken care of, but what about 3-4 more?  Matt has talked about going to Knoxville for the late model nationals there.  If not Knoxville, maybe a Friday trip in September to Kansas City.  Go to the big track for NASCAR practice and time trials during the day, and to Lakeside Speedway at night. He has also talked about going to the Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri for a show.  Adams County Speedway in Corning, Iowa has been a regular stop of ours for year.  However, with a new promoter and race director, the jury is still out on a long Saturday night trip to southwest Iowa. 


There is some talk of a late model special at Park Jefferson, South Dakota.  I hope it isn’t true.  Matt likes the place, I do not.  I do not like the high, rickety, poorly lit grandstands at PJ.  The IMCA Supernationals is on my bucket list, but it would be a go it alone event for me.  U.S. 36 Speedway near St. Joseph, Missouri is another possibility.  A late model special at Junction Motor Speedway near York, Nebraska is a better possibility though.


There are plenty of possibilities for nine tracks in 2009.  I hope Mother Nature will co-operate.  Thanks for stopping by.



The 8th Day Of Christmas-Baby It’s Cold Outside

December 22, 2008 2 comments

On the 8th day of Christmas I am thankful for the gift of heat.  Late in the afternoon yesterday our furnace decided to quit working-something about an inducer motor, though you know me when it comes to anything technical.  We contacted the Carrier dealer, figuring they would have a part to fix it.  No such luck.  So, last night we tried to warm the house with three space heaters and our fire place.  The temperature dropped to -5 and the wind chill was -25, and our attempt at heating the place was a failure.  It got down to 46 in the house, and yes, that is cold.  Not quite as cold as NASCAR Sprint Cup teams laying off employees at Christmas, but plenty cold.


This morning we knew we either had to have the furnace fixed today, or we would be spending the night at my son’s house.  Fortunately we contacted another heating contractor about our problem.  And they had the part we needed and were able to get our furnace up and running this afternoon.  It is going to take some time to get the homestead warm again-we are at 53 and climbing, but we are thankful we have heat.  I know a little about how those without power must feel, and it is a scary feeling.


The best part of this story is that the people who fixed our furnace are part of the racing family.  Ray and Tom Clapper own Buckridge Plumbing and Heating in Fremont.  Tom used to race a hobby stock at Sunset Speedway, I-80 Speedway, and Blackbird Bend Speedway.  His dad Ray rarely missed a race Tom ran.  I thank Ray and Tom, and when we replace the furnace next summer, they will be getting the call.


So, on the 8th day of Christmas, the gift I am hoping for is not anything eight, but it is better than tickets to any race anywhere.  I just want to enjoy a great season of racing with the racing family-with my sons, my racing buddies, and all the wonderful people I have met through our shared passion.  Part of my enjoyment is race day and the banter amongst the Sunday Night Irregulars and others, and for me, part of the enjoyment of racing is writing about it, sharing my words with you. 


I can’t say it enough, but I really appreciate all of you.  And to show you how much I want to go racing, I would love to be at a sprint car race right now. Or a midget race.  A modified show would be wonderful.  Hobby stocks and stock cars would warm my cold bones.  And of course, a late model show would be perfect.


Thanks for stopping by.



The 7th Day of Christmas-I’m Not Asking For Much

December 21, 2008 Leave a comment

On the 7th day of Christmas I want seven months of good weather for promoters, drivers, and race fans.  Let the cold weather end in March and not return until November.  Our farmers and lawns need rain, but let the rain fall on nights when no racing is scheduled.  Last spring was a wash out for Midwest promoters and drivers.  Rain and flooding made it difficult for many tracks to run.  At the end of May some tracks had a season’s worth of rain-outs.  With only 20 nights of racing, every night a track loses to weather makes a big impact on the year-end bottom line. To show my heart is right, I’m even asking for good weather for NASCAR events.


Rain-outs raise havoc for driver’s competing for national honors too.  Modified driver Chris Alcorn made a run at the IMCA National Points title, but races lost to rain in April and May kept Alcorn from winning a few more races, races that might have brought the championship trophy to the Lincoln driver. Iowan Nick Deal was the IMCA Modified Rookie of the Year, but lost so many early season races to rain he had to race five nights a week in September to make up for it. 


Promoters hate rain-outs, drivers lose opportunities to take to the track, and fans suffer sitting at home watching TV instead of being thrilled by their heroes roaring down straight-aways and sliding through turns.  So Santa, bring us a gift that keeps on giving, seven months of great racing weather.


Personally, I would like seven nights as a gift on the 7th day of Christmas.  I would like seven great nights of racing.  I know, any night we get to go racing is a good night, but I am asking for seven nights of racing with the “wow” factor.  I am asking for just one race a month where the first thing Matt and I say leaving the track is “wow.”  Maybe it will be a late lap pass, or lap after lap of side by side racing.  Someone coming from the back of the starting grid to win a feature race is always exciting.  So is a night of good heats and features that ends by 10:00 p.m.  Maybe that seems like I am asking for a lot-well, I have asked for a lot the first six days of Christmas, and I will ask for a lot more before the last day.  I just want one night a month of great racing.  What fan wouldn’t be happy with that?


Thanks for stopping by.