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Ed Reichert Knows There Is More To Racing Than NASCAR. He Puts The Fan In ‘Fanatic.’

January 27, 2009 3 comments

If you are reading this, you are a racing fan.  Probably fanatic would be a more apt description.  You are willing to travel miles to see a good race, even when the cost of a gallon of gas is almost $4.00.  Venturing to a race once or twice means the season is just starting for you, not ending.  You know UMP is a sanctioning body, not just a fellow calling balls and strikes, and that WoO is not something a ghost says.

 

You are like me, a hard core dirt racing fan.  We know who we are, because we see each other at the oddest places-Albion, Nebraska; Fairmont, Minnesota; and, West Liberty, Iowa.  Most people have never heard of these towns.  We don’t need maps to find our way there.  We are hard core alright, but let me tell you, there is hard core, than there is Ed Reichert, aka Cheesehead.

 

2008 was about an average season for Reichert.  He took in 151 nights of racing at 61 different tracks in 16 states and one Canadian province.  Reichert keeps a tally of tracks he has visited over the years, and he has visited 271 tracks in 26 states and 2 Canadian provinces.  There is hard core, and there is crazy.  While he uses vacation time to visit some shows, Reichert also pulls all nighters, driving back from a track in Iowa or Illinois to his home in Spooner, Wisconsin, about  100 miles northeast of Minneapolis. His wife travels with him when her job permits, but often it is just him and the highway.

 

Reichert is my age, 58, and I can remember several years ago when Matt and I got back to Fremont at 3:30 a.m. after taking in a WDRL show in Fairmont.  I took the morning off.  Reichert often arrives home in time for a quick shower and heads to work.  I can remember doing such craziness in college, but that was many years ago.

 

Oh, I forgot to mention, Reichert is no Cheesehead come lately to the sport.  His parents took him to his first race when he was six months old.  And, 2008 was the 28th year in a row that Reichert has spent at least 100 nights attending races.  There are drivers who race for a living who don’t spend that many nights at tracks. 

 

Reichert just got back from his annual trek to the Chili Bowl in Tulsa.  While he does like the midgets, he is more of a late model and modified fan.  Because of his location in the north central U.S., that means taking in a lot of WISSOTA, IMCA, and USMTS shows. 

 

Many of us could have answered what Reichert likes about race tracks, because it is what we hope to be greeted with each time we visit a dirt venue.  He wants the show to start on time.  Why, oh why is that such a problem for some promoters?  That was my editorial comment, not Reichert’s.  He wants a well lit track that is racy.  He understands there are times when you are going to leave a track with dirt in eyes, ears, nose, and throat, but contends that those should not be often.  Like me Reichert is not a fan of long intermissions, or of intermissions period.  He wants tracks to run a snappy show so he can be on the road back home at a decent hour.  And, he hopes for a good announcer who can give you the who/what/where of cars and drivers, on a PA system that you can hear.  Like I said, Reichert wants what every dirt track fans wants in a show.

 

So, what will 2009 bring for this Wisconsin super fan?  He already has one track, one state, and five nights of racing under his belt.  Reichert reads racing papers and magazines and checks out websites too, and as schedules are announced, he begins to make his plans for the season.  The USMTS runs a number of shows in March, and you can count on seeing Reichert at most of them, including the series season opener at Junction Motor Speedway, south of York, Nebraska.  After that?  Well, at least another 90 nights of racing “anywhere there is a good show.”

 

Thanks for taking the time to talk with me last night Ed.  I really enjoyed talking with one of dirt track racing’s super fans.  And thank you for stopping by too.

 

 

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A NASCAR Asphalt Track Remembers The Sport’s Dirt Roots

January 24, 2009 2 comments

I mentioned previously that the asphalt track at Elko, Minnesota was having a dirty week of racing.  Listed below is the schedule for the Elko Dirt Nationals.  The first two days appear to be local shows, but the weekend shows are dynamite with both IRA 410 winged sprint cars and USMTS modifieds. 

The weekly show at Elko is NASCAR sanctioned, and 2009 is the 43rd year of racing at the track.  The track is a 3/8ths mile high banked oval and is known for 2-3 wide racing.  It is just 30 minutes south of Minneapolis and 1 ½ miles west of I-35 at the Elko-New Market exit. It is great to see a NASCAR asphalt track remember the sport’s dirt roots, something the founding family seems to want to forget. 

It has been awhile since Matt and I have taken a long road trip to a race, although trips to Knoxville are long enough.  Pictures of the facility show what looks to be a first class venue, and comments I have heard from people who have been there is that it is a very well run venue.  With all but 35 miles interstate highway, this looks like a fun trip.  I’ll talk about this more in the coming months.

In a few days I am going to write a little about super late model tours.  While weekly super late model shows seem to be dinosaurs, it seems like there is an almost unending stream of late model tours.  So many that some events have to be challenge events-two or more tours combined-to manage a full field.  Are there too many late model tours?  Be thinking about this, as I would really like some replies to the post.

Thanks for stopping by.

Elko Dirt Nationals Schedule:

Wednesday, July 22:

            – Jackpot Junction IMCA Wing Sprint Cars

            – Wissota Midwest B-MODS

            – Elko Speedway Super Hornets

            – Elko Speedway NASCAR Power Stocks

            – $20 General Admission, $25 Reserved

 

Thursday, July 23:

            – Jackpot Junction IMCA Wing Sprint Cars

            – Wissota Midwest B-MODS

            – Elko Speedway Super Hornets

            – Elko Speedway NASCAR Power Stocks

            – $20 General Admission, $25 Reserved

 

Friday, July 24:

            – IRA Winged 410 Outlaw Sprint Cars

            – USMTS Modified Tour

            – INEX Legends on dirt 

            – $25 General Admission, $30 Reserved

 

Saturday, July 25:

            – IRA Winged 410 Outlaw Sprint Cars

            – USMTS Modified Tour

            – INEX Legends on dirt

            – $25 General Admission, $30 Reserved

 

Categories: January 2009 Tags: ,

NASCAR Icon Jeff Gordon Flies Commercial-Just Like You And Me

January 23, 2009 1 comment

How would you like to get on an airplane and sit next to NASCAR Sprint Cup star Jeff Gordon?  Well, it could happen.  According to an Associated Press report yesterday, the seven time champion is flying commercial airlines in the offseason, rather than flying on his own private plane.

Although Gordon was not on US Airways 1549 that landed in the Hudson River, he has been using the airline a lot commuting to Charlotte from his home in New York City.  It is difficult for me to imagine the racing icon sitting in a terminal waiting to board a jet.  I would think it would cause quite a commotion.  Maybe he waits in one of the airline club lounges. 

I already like NASCAR’s top driver spokesman, but I suspect he made some fans as a result of his offseason travel.  It isn’t easy for most of us to relate to a multi-millionaire, but his message of frugality is a good one to heed in these uncertain economic times.

Once the Sprint Cup season starts-and it is getting closer every day-Gordon will return to flying his private jet for convenience in traveling with his family.  That is certainly understandable.  Gordon flies out of LaGaurdia Airport in New York City.  I have visited Manhattan four times in the past two years, flying in and out of the same airport as Gordon.  Not once has my arrival or departure been on time, and delays off an hour or more are common.  If I had a young family I would not want to travel out of any of New York’s airports.

I doubt I will see Gordon when I travel to Manhattan again in April.  Actually, in all the times I have flown the only celebrity to fly in the same plane was former baseball star Reggie Jackson and that was long after he retired from the game.  Still, I remember the flight, and I am sure those who sat near Gordon will too.

Thanks for emailing me the article Matt, and thank you for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greg Metz-A Dirt Modified Article

January 20, 2009 Leave a comment

The Metz Gang

 

Receive an email from Greg Metz, and you notice the sender is the “Metz Gang.”  And what a gang it is.  Greg and wife Annette.  Children Taylor and McKenzie.  Parents Dee and Harry Metz, in-laws Carolyn and Mike Castle. Car owners Ben and Melissa Novotny.  Crew Chief Darcy Ramsay.  Sponsors-Eaton Body Shop, Bar K Simmental, Sidetrack Bar, Cari-Mi Kennels, Castle Tree Farms, and Ram Seed. Oh, and don’t forget the staff at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Lincoln.  Or Drs. R.J.Sorrell and Michael Jobst.  Or Annette’s sister, who watched Taylor and McKenzie for days on end while Annette stayed with Greg in the hospital.  Or the Washington, KS maintenance crew willing to give their sick days to Greg after he had used all of his. Quite a gang, and Greg needed each gang member to help him get through a tough fight with ulcerative colitis, a fight much tougher than any Modifed A feature at Beatrice Speedway.  But that is toward the end of the story, not the beginning. 

 

The beginning, well like so many other racers, the beginning is a homemade go-kart, running the 1/8th mile track in Washington .  Then moving up to Mini-Stocks at Beatrice Speedway in 1987, running a Pinto in that division for 5 years.  Follow that with a Factory Stock Car division ride until 1997 when Ben Novotny decided he wanted a race car, didn’t want to drive it, and was looking for someone who would.  Greg and Ben talked, and this driver/owner relationship is still a strong one 11 years later. 

 

The first Novotny/Metz mod was a Larkin chassis.  “Kevin Larkins is one of my racing heroes,” stated Greg.  “I learned a lot just from watching him.”  Jet chassis’ followed, and for the past 5 years, the chassis of choice has been a Harris.  In fact, Metz is driving a 2008 Harris chassis-yes, 2008, not 2007, one of only 3 racing at this time.  And for Metz , the chassis is working well-in four outings he has 7th, 2nd, 4th, and 1st place finishes.  Crew Chief Darcy Ramsey of Lincoln builds the engines. 

 

Metz is a fan favorite.  He wins races, but not so many that fans start to resent it.  Somewhat of an underdog, still he is always looking for the checkered flag, always challenging top drivers like Johnny Saathoff, David Trauernicht, and Clint Homan.  Saturday night racing at its finest.  Greg has a few big trophies to show that he has taken the checkered first in some major events.  A win in the first USMTS show in Beatrice.  In 2001, the Jayhawk Classic at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City saw Metz in Victory Lane .  Oh, and a pair of wins at the little track in Marion County, Iowa.  Yes, Knoxville , yes, the Harris Clash-in 2003 and 2005.  Not a bad resume for any driver.  Of course throw in a Rookie of the Year at Beatrice Speedway in 1997, and track championships at Thayer County Speedway in 2000 and 2001, and Beatrice in 2002, and the resume reads even better.  Metz was voted Fan Favorite at Beatrice in 2006, and something he is especially proud of is winning Sportsman of the Year the past two seasons, “because it is voted on by the racers, and is an award for my crew, not just me.”

 

Metz likes his fans as much as they like him.  “That is my racing high,” he stated.  “Seeing the excitement of my crew when I do well, and hearing the cheering.”  But for awhile this winter, it appeared that Greg might not hear the cheers again. Might not flip the start switch and feel the horsepower shake his ride.  Might not even live.

 

 

Ulcerative Colitis

 

Do a Google search on Ulcerative Colitis, and you will find it is no fun.  It is a rare disease of the large intestine, and varies in severity.  The cause is unknown, though genetics is suspected.  Ulcers, or open sores, appear in the colon.  The body fights the body. Symptoms include diarrhea mixed with blood, but the disease also affects other parts of the body. Treatment depends on the severity.  For some, medicine or IV therapy may alleviate symptoms.  Surgery is necessary for about 25% of those afflicted with the disease.  And Greg Metz was one who needed surgery.

 

When Metz entered St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Lincoln , NE in mid November, 2006, he expected to stay for 2-3 weeks as he recovered from surgery to remove his large intestine and to make a portion of his small intestine into a “J patch, or storage unit.”  Of course he didn’t anticipate complications with the surgery.

 

Greg couldn’t eat after the surgery, and became deathly ill.  Pneumonia, a staph infection, and yeast infection in his blood were serious complications of surgery.  Greg is tall and slender-6’3” tall, and 175 lbs.  At one point he was down to 130#’s.  CT scans, X-rays, IV’s, and still no one could figure out what was wrong.  He was delirious and hallucinating.  Finally it was determined that Greg’s small intestine had kinked and shut off, so nothing could go through.  A simple procedure finally provided relief, and on January 1, 2007 , over 40 days after he entered the hospital, Greg came home to begin his recovery. 

 

A second surgery followed, and Greg was hospitalized again for two weeks.  No serious complications after this surgery, and Greg received a release from his surgeon in March.  Of course, the racing family could not sit still while one of its true nice guys went through so much.  Randy Latta organized a fund-raiser, and with strong support from the Beatrice racing community, as well as fans and racers from Iowa and Kansas , over $10,000 was raised to help offset the Metz family medical bills.

 

Greg’s release came with no limitations.  He could work full-time again, and he could race.  He has to watch what he eats, and he wears an abdominal strap while racing.  Despite the release, Metz wasn’t sure if he could go racing right away.  Fortunately, the opening night at Beatrice Speedway was rained out.  A rodeo on the fairgrounds took the place of racing the following week.  And when the track held its rescheduled opening night, Greg was ready to race.  Describing that night, Metz said “it felt good.  I probably took it a little easy, and wasn’t as aggressive as normal.  I was a little sore the next day, but it was a great feeling being back on the track.  The support of fans and racers was greatly appreciated.”  Despite taking a night off “just to get away from racing,” he is 3rd in points at the track, with consistent top finishes.

 

Greg Metz is a top notch modified driver, but he is also a good human being, someone others can count on, just like he counted on others in his time of need.  He commands respect-with the complications of his first surgery, then a second surgery, Greg was running out of sick days on his job with the City of Washington .  His crew offered to give their sick days to Greg.  And watched him closely to make sure he did not overdo his return to the job as he was recovering. “I can’t say enough about my crew and the Washington City Council,” Metz said. His doctor checked in frequently, even on Sundays. And racing? Fans have voted Greg their favorite driver.  Racers have voted Greg sportsman of the year.  Unlike most racers driving for a car owner, Greg does not take any percentage of winnings. “It’s an expensive hobby,” he noted.  “Ben puts the winnings back into the car, and he gives me good equipment.  I feel privileged to drive for him.” Yes, Greg Metz is one of racing’s good guys.

 

And, what of the future of the Metz gang? Greg is a long time from retiring, but another Metz racer is starting his career. Just like Greg years ago, son Taylor, age 9,  now drives a homemade go-kart around the 1/8th mile Washington , KS oval.  And is asking for a 600 cc limited to replace his home made cart.  And what of dad?  Well, Greg blades the track as part of his job with the city.  And has flagged a ¾ midget show.  And, is looking forward to helping his son and years more of this “big family deal.”  Just like we can all look forward to years more of the Metz gang. 

 

 

 

Once Again NASCAR driver Ken Schrader interrupts my phone call

January 16, 2009 4 comments

This morning I was talking with another member of the racing family when he said “I’ll have to call you back, Ken Schrader is on the line.”  I hate it when Schrader interrupts my phone calls like that.  He does that all the time.  Well, maybe not all the time.  OK, that was the first time it ever happened, but it was cool hearing someone say they had to call me back because a NASCAR driver was on another line. I believe Schrader brought tidings of great joy, even though Christmas is over.

 

And no Matt, I had not offended my caller in anyway.  He called me and we had barely begun to talk when Schrader called him.    

 

I see Tadd Holliman was listed among the Wednesday night Chili Bowl qualifiers, but I did not see his name in any of the results.  Apparently he could not get his engine problems resolved, or could not find a different ride.  Don Droud Jr. is listed among tonight’s qualifiers, and Josh Most of Red Oak, IA is listed as a Friday qualifier.

 

I have to admit that I am beyond totally confused by the Chili Bowl qualifying procedure.  It really doesn’t matter.  I know some of the drivers, and I suspect if I know them, they are very well known and will be among the feature qualifiers. Well, except for WoO late model driver Josh Richards.  He has great talent, and is driving a Tony Stewart backed car, but I suspect he will have a difficult time competing against the midget aces.

 

This has been an interesting week for me, as I spent time interviewing Julie McDermid, Mike Wedelstadt, and Ryan Ruter for a Dirt Modified article on McDermid.  McDermid and Wedelstadt are long time teammates, and were married last October.  Ruter manufactures SideBiter chassis, which the McDermid-Wedelstadt team race.  The MW team is preparing for a Florida trip, where they will be racing at both Ocala and Volusia County.  After the Nebraska weather of the past few days, I would love a Florida trip. Too bad the magazines I work for can’t afford to send me, because I can’t afford it either this year.  On my bucket list though.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

From Africa-and Georgia Too

January 15, 2009 Leave a comment

georgia-22georgia-11With a few clicks you can be almost anywhere you want to be on the internet.  Maybe you want to see what is cooking on a local race forum, although several race forums have certainly cooled down following the retirement of Bruton.  Maybe you want to check out your favorite NASCAR Sprint Cup driver or team.  Open wheel fans probably have the World of Outlaws website bookmarked.  There is no shortage of racing sites to go to, and I am happy you chose to visit mine.

 

It is a small world.  Because of this blog and being on Facebook, My Space, and Twitter, I have heard from race fans all over the country.  If I had $10 for every time someone told me they love racing, or their dad used to race, I would have more than enough to fix every dent in Rick Bradley’s hobby stock.  Sorry Ricky, I don’t know why I do that.  Anyway, I am sharing racing tidbits Africa and from Augusta, Georgia.

 

Some of you may know Dusty Reynolds.  Dusty was a member of the late Terry Golder’s pit crew, and was the person who introduced me to the Golder family and made me write a story I might not have otherwise.  Dusty is a very impressive young man.  His support of the Golder family during Terry’s battle with ALS was simply amazing.  Now Dusty and his wife Julia have another mission. In this case, I really do mean mission, a mission through their church.  The Reynolds are now in Bamako, Mali.  Mali is southwest of Algeria in western Africa.  To learn more about what Dusty and Julia are doing, check out their blog, www.sabubu-blog.com.

 

 

Through Twitter I met Micki Silver of Augusta, GA.  Her company, Sign Advantage does race car graphics among other ventures in Augusta.  Below is an email she sent me recently, and if I can figure how to do it, I will include some photos she sent as well.

 

 

From Micki:

 

My name is Micki Silver.  I own a small sign making shop in Augusta, GA, Sign Advantage.  I sponsor a team at local tracks-Modoc Speedway in Modoc, SC, and Gordon Park Speedway, in Augusta.  The team is Checkers or Wreckers, and that’s exactly how they race.  #29, Ben Newsome took the track championship at Modoc, as well as being the Extreme 4 class champ.  #W37, Wesley Underwood took the Road Warrior Championship at both Modoc and Gordon Park.  Donald Hancock, #22, took second place in Stock V8, and Marck Bunch, #28, managed a win in his third race, though he started the season late.

 

I make all the decals for the race cars and for advertising for the team.  I also have a late model dirt track car in San Antonio, TX that I sponsor, the 1X of Andrew Hesler.

 

I got so involved with being at the track that I actually let these guys talk me into driving in a Young Guns race ONCE!  I came in fifth out of ten cars!  I’m better off making decals and will definitely leave the racing to them.

 

We’ve started hard and heavy on the ’09 season, designing graphics for 4 new cars.  I’ll send pix when I get them finished.

 

Thanks for a chance to brag a little.  I’ll keep you posted through the season!

 

Thanks Dusty and Mick, and thank you for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There Is Room For Nice In Racing

January 14, 2009 Leave a comment

 

My son Matt aka Nebraska Humpy, aka Humpy found a story about how the real Humpy, Humpy Wheeler the ex-President of Lowes Motor Speedway, is trying to help out crew members who have been laid off by NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series teams.  It is a good article and shows why Wheeler is well-liked and highly respected by so many people in NASCAR.  Below is a link to the story.

 

http://search.espn.go.com/ryan-mcgee/

 

I received emails today from two of my favorite drivers, Steve Hansen and Tadd Holliman.  Steve had a sponsor back-out and is looking for a replacement to help fund his Isaac Hall Memorial Tour.  If anyone knows of a potential sponsor that could help out Steve, please email him.

 

Tadd is in Tulsa preparing to race in the Chili Bowl.  His email was quite interesting, and I learned a few things about the event that I did not know.  Tadd’s week sounds like “the best of times, the worst of times,” as you’ll see when you read it. 

 

Thanks to Steve and Tadd, two of racing’s truly nice guys, and thanks to you for stopping by.

 

From Steve Hansen:

 

The S&H Motorsports web site has been updated with our new banner that will also be displayed on the team trailer for 2009.

I would like to announce that we had a sponsor back out so we are feverishly working to find the funding to get the Isaac hall Memorial program put together. We have developed a proposal which we can sent hard copy or by email to any interested sponsors.

My goal is to find four to five sponsors and the cost would be $1500.00 each. The funds would help defray traveling expenses but primarily would be used to purchase commemorative decals and t-shirts to generate revenue for a donation in Isaac’s name at the end of the season.

While we are a little short on the performance funding side we should be fine. The important goal is to get the funds to get the Isaac Memorial program off the ground.

If anyone would like to be a part of this program or can refer us to someone who might be interested would be greatly appreciated. Details of the Isaac Hall Memorial proposal can be seen our web. Just click on the link at the bottom of the Isaac tribute. We can tailor the proposal to fit a specific company’s needs.

Thank you.

Steve Hansen

 

From Tadd Holliman:

 

Ron, good Morning from Tulsa. Sorry I didn’t back to you earlier but I was busy getting ready for Chili Bowl. We arrived last Thursday to get trailer in line to put into building on Sunday. You have to get here earlier as there are 290 entries to get inside this building. Monday was practice with 29 sets of hot laps that they ran thru twice starting at 10:00 am and ending around six. On our first set, the car ran good, and with some minor adjustments we were ready for our second set. During our second set of hot laps the car was fast and was handling great. That’s when the bottom fell out. We lost our motor. What a disappointment to say the least. We are trying real hard to find me another ride down here. There are some open seats, but very low quality. I am heading out to the track now to see what I can come up with. I’ll write more letting you know what I find out.

Thanks,

Tadd Holliman