Archive for March, 2009

Chris Alcorn-Racing To A Championship

March 26, 2009 1 comment

I was hoping to see some racing this weekend at Eagle Raceway, America’s Home Track.  Seems Mother Nature made other plans.  The severe Midwest weather earlier in the week knocked out power around the Eagle community, and rightfully so, the priority was to get families up and running.  With a threat of more bad weather in the next few days-not just the ‘r’ word, but the ‘s’ word as well,  Eagle owner Roger Hadan pulled the plug on the event.  No pun intended.


One of the drivers I was looking forward to watching this weekend was Chris Alcorn.  I have become quite a mod fan in the last few seasons, and seeing Chris in action is one of the reasons. How good is Chris?  Well, Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer began there racing careers on the dirt in a mod and they are NASCAR Sprint Cup superstars. In my opinion-it isn’t a humble opinion-Alcorn is a better mod driver than either of the race on Sunday asphalt boys were.  Last year I did an article on Chris for Dirt Modified Magazine, and that article appears below.


If you are a mod fan-and since almost every dirt track in America runs mods you probably are-you should subscribe to this magazine.  No, I don’t get paid for getting new subscribers.  I am not getting rich writing either.  Working for minimum wage never will get me an opportunity to retire early.  I just think it is a great magazine for racing fans, with lots of good articles and photos.  Go to to subscribe.


Thanks for stopping by.



Chris Alcorn-Driving To a Championship


            Some people would call Chris Alcorn’s driving style smooth.  Others might say he drives a smart race.  Competitors might think of him as opportunistic, even aggressive.  Whatever his style, Alcorn’s on track results spell s-u-c-c-e-s-s.


            When asked how he would describe his driving style, Alcorn stated “patient.

I like to wait until the cars are spread out, single file.  If my car is working, I can move around and go.”


            For fans in the grandstands, Alcorn is a fun driver to watch.  Because he is always at or near the top of track point standings, and IMCA inverts cars by a point average, Alcorn starts near mid-pack of every feature.  “Sometimes the sea seems to part, and you can move up right away,” said Alcorn.  “Other times you just have to be patient.”


            Alcorn may cruise for a few laps, but when he sees an opening, he pounces.  One lap he may be riding in tenth place, the next lap he may claim the sixth spot, and he steadily moves to the front.  Eagle Raceway tracks lap times, and oftentimes announcer Stan Cisar is heard to say “Chris Alcorn had the fastest time that lap.”


As Alcorn said, he can move around, and go he does.  In 2007 Alcorn won 12 features at Eagle Raceway. The only driver to beat Alcorn twice at the track was Doug Deterding, point runner-up. Alcorn was the IMCA Central Region mod champ, and finished second in the IMCA Modified National point standings.  Of the thousands of drivers in this wildly popular division, only champion Jared Siefert of Green Bay, WI could claim to have had a better season.


            The 36 year old Alcorn has been racing an IMCA mod for 14 years.  It is the only division he has ever raced in.  Although he has thought of trying late models, the cost of such a venture prohibits it.  “We race on our own dime,” commented Alcorn, “and we don’t get free product like better known drivers.”


            Why an IMCA mod? “My boss Jerry Trejo had a car, and asked me if I wanted to drive it,” stated Chris.  “I wasn’t very good.” His racing heroes were John Saathoff and Kevin Larkins, and “I tried to drive somewhere in between how they drive.”


            But he got better.  Alcorn counts his first win at the Nebraska State Fair race as his biggest, but he also has ten notches in his track championship belt.    The driver of car number 3 has three championship trophies from Beatrice Speedway, two from Thayer County Speedway in Deshler, NE, two from U.S. 30 Speedway near Columbus, one from the Butler County Motorplex near Rising City, and two from Eagle Raceway.  Not many drivers do that well at so many different tracks.


            Winning a track championship is not an easy take in any division at any track.  Winning point championships at five different tracks is a testament to Alcorn’s skill and the hard work of his team.  To accumulate those trophies racing week after week against the competition Alcorn faces is amazing.  Many top notch mod drivers call Nebraska home. Johnny ‘The Jet’ Saathoff is always tough, and passing Jordan Grabouski, Dylan Smith, or Rik Gropp isn’t easy.


            Alcorn’s goal in racing is simple.  “Go as far as I can,” he stated.  In an IMCA modified, that is the national point championship.  “I don’t pay much attention to track points at this time of the year,” said Chris, “I need to focus on big picture racing.”


            In his quest for a national championship, Alcorn races three nights a week.  On Thursday nights he visits U.S. 30 Speedway.  Friday nights he makes the trip from his Lincoln home to Butler County Motorplex.  Saturday nights he heads 10 miles east to Eagle Raceway. And this year, Alcorn may be facing his toughest competitor ever for a national championship. Who is this tough competitor?  Mother Nature.  And she has defeated a lot of racers this year.  Through June, the tracks Alcorn races at lost fifteen race nights to rain.


            “It’s hard to compete for the championship with all the rain-outs we’ve had,” stated Alcorn. If Mother Nature has spent all of her 2008 wrath, it is a good bet Alcorn will be climbing in the IMCA mod standings.


One downside to racing for a national championship is that it is all consuming from April-November.  Chris Alcorn wants to win that championship, and winning means no vacation.  On nights when they aren’t at a track, Chris and his crew can be found working on one or both of his cars.  Members of the ATH Motorsports team include Sarah Ehlers, Jeff Hill, Monty Reeves, Jim Waline, and Phil Thompson.


            Alcorn races a four year old Jet mod at U.S. 30 and Butler County, and he pilots a three year old Lucky Chassis at Eagle Raceway.  Even in the off season, Alcorn spends a lot of time with his cars.  “There are always odds and ends that need to be taken care of,” he said.  “Plus if you take a lot of time off, it is hard to get the work rhythm back.”


            Chris is a construction equipment mechanic at Independent Equipment in Lincoln.  Independent Equipment happens to be one of his sponsors, along with Heavy Company, Midwest Unlimited, Onyx Digital Group, and ATH Motorsports. 


            When a driver wins lots of races, and several hands full of track championships, he may get the reputation of being aloof or unapproachable.  And like many track side rumors, it may not be true.  When asked what people do not know about Chris Alcorn that they should, he replied immediately “for some reason people see me as unapproachable.  I am not arrogant, and I feel I am approachable.  I have never lied to someone who comes to me, just to make them go away.  If someone asks me why their car is pushing, or why it is loose, I tell them what I would do.”


            Chris Alcorn has a lofty racing goal, winning the IMCA Modified National Championship.  Many highly successful mod drivers have never won the coveted trophy.  It takes a lot of talent, focus, and hard work.  And with a little luck, Alcorn will walk on the stage some November and accept that trophy.







A Challenge, and NASCAR Sprint Cup TV Ratings

March 26, 2009 12 comments

I receive lots of comments about my blog.  Some comments are easy to reply to because they comment on the blog itself.  Some emails are easy to respond to as well.  Other emails share information with me.  Some of that information I pass on, others I can’t because the emailer shares names, places, and dates in a somewhat negative fashion, and even though blog liability logs are somewhat blurred, I can’t take a chance getting sued for all I am worth, because it isn’t much.


Anyway, I got an email today that challenged me to post it (too bad we’ll never see this on your blog is a challenge).  I thought it was funny, and since it doesn’t include names I decided to post it.  Many of you don’t know the person who provided me with these headlines, and I am pretty sure this person wants to remain anonymous, so we’ll just call he/she an AWP.


Email of 3/25:

Too bad we won’t see these headlines on your blog:
Will a Real Promoter please stand up?
Best Practices:  A promoter’s guide to back stabbing, err back gating, the Weekend Warrior
Has a trip to the Speedway’s concession stand left you with a case of fecal urgency, sponsored by a gastroenterologist
If it pays more than 1000 to win, think again
The Lights are on, but they’re not home.
Pay Cold Hard Cash for a Flip ‘Em and Wreck ‘Em spectacle – by gosh PT Barnum was right.
I would do anything for love….but I won’t do that.
What the AIG executives and your local promoter have in common
Yesterday (1992), all my troubles seemed so far away….Suddenly (present) I’m not half the fan I used to be….


Good stuff.


My son Matt emails me frequently too-like several times a day-with information he thinks I need to be aware of.  He is providing me with all the NASCAR TV ratings info. Ratings for Sunday’s Bristol race were down 18% from 2008.  The race fan in me says ratings are down because watching cars go fast in a one lane circle is sort of boring.  Racing is cars going side by side-even three wide, swapping the lead, and someone winning because of the skill of the driver and the work that was done on the car before the race started, not because a pit crew was .001 seconds faster than another pit crew, allowing their car to leave pit row first, and since track position is everything in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, win the race. But what do I know? Several promoters, a few GM’s, and maybe a sanctioning body or two would answer “nothing” to that question.


More power to those who love asphalt racing, but I believe they really need to check out a local dirt track to see “real racing.”


Thanks for stopping by.

March Madness-NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and IMCA Modified Style

March 24, 2009 3 comments

Congratulations to mod driver Johnny Saathoff for winning at least two features at his hometown Beatrice Speedway’s Spring Nationals.  There are no results shown on the track website, and the posts on about the Sunday racing are somewhat confusing.  Saathoff may have won all three A features if I read one of the posts correctly. Two or three, Saathoff dominated the IMCA event.


Speaking of IMCA, car counts seemed to turn this event into a mini-Supernationals.  There were at least 124 modifieds from eleven states on hand.  Twelve heat races and six B features aren’t quite up to Supernational standards, but most shows this year won’t have nearly as many.


Hopefully my racing season will start this week.  Eagle’s Frost Buster is scheduled for that night and cross your fingers ‘re the ‘R’ word.  And yes rstar, I have already been called a fair-weather fan, though how someone going to a race in Nebraska in March can be known as a fair-weather fan is beyond me.


I switched back and forth between basketball and Bristol yesterday.  Kyle Busch won the Sprint Cup Series version of March Madness, which like its NCAA counterpart was somewhat tamer than past years.  Busch has one at least one race per weekend that the big three NASCAR series has been on track, a very impressive record.


It was nice to see an outside groove at Bristol.  “Call me old-fashioned, say I’m over the hill,” but I honestly do prefer watching side by side racing.  I don’t care if a long train of single file cars can get around the track in record time, I would rather see two by two going around the track a few seconds slower per lap.  One is called going fast and turning left, the other is called real racing. Maybe that is why I like dirt track racing as much as I do.


Thanks for stopping by.





Colorful And Cool Links To Nascar And Dirt Track Racing

March 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Just a few links to pass on today. The first comes from Michael Francesconi of Fanscape, Inc.  This contest runs at and you can find it at:

The contest shows a photo of someone who had “88” shaved in his head, but I would hope my readers are above that.  Still, I know of a NASCAR fan in Auburn, Nebraska who used to track the movement of fleet of jets used by NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers, officials, and owners.  He once claimed a plane owned by Richard Childress Racing stopped in Nebraska on its way to Sturgis, SD.  I’m not sure if he still tracks the jets or not-some put a block on such tracking.

While I think someone who throws a foam rubber brick and cusses at the TV screen when Darrell Waltrip goes “Boogety, boogety, boogety” is a colorful fan, I am pretty sure that is not the kind of fan the contest is looking for.  Hey Michael, would a 58 year old fan who still loves M & M’s have a chance?  I know someone like that.

The other link comes from my friend Craig Kelley.  Some of you might remember Craig.  He owns the land where the best racers in the Midwest congregated every Sunday night for years.  No, the Kelley family has not yet sold the Sunset Speedway land, but no, there will not ever be a race there again either.  Some of you also remember Craig from years ago as General Manager of the track then known as Nebraska Raceway Park.  Most of us haven’t seen him much in recent years, but apparently he still enjoys dirt track racing as he sent a link to a dirt track racing game-see below.  Craig says it is a cool game with simple controls, and advises you save it.


Thanks for stopping by.







Something I Have To Say

March 19, 2009 9 comments

No, this isn’t about NASCAR or how it doesn’t begin to compare with local racing. This really doesn’t have a lot to say about auto racing, except my dad introduced me to the sport over 50 years ago when he took me to my first race at the old Arlington Fairgrounds track.  This is something I have been thinking about, something I want to say, and I want to share if with you.


My father is a physically imposing man standing 6’3” tall and weighing over 200 lbs.  Not quite larger than life, though to me, for much of my time on Earth he has been just that.  He taught me to ride a bike and instilled in me a life long love of sports.  My work ethic is his work ethic.  My desire to help others came from watching him help others.  My values could be nothing but blue collar middle class because of him.  Obviously he is the man I admire most. 


At 84 my dad is not in the best of health.  He had the audacity to grow old, and it shows.  He is a survivor though, and a list of all he has survived is mind-blowing:

-he worked at George A. Hormel in Fremont, NE for over 30 years.  Packing house work is tough and dangerous, working with razor sharp knifes in a cold, damp environment.

-he severed a tendon in his thumb and had to have a transplant, long before such surgery was perfected.

-cleaning his work equipment with a steam hose he dropped the hose and it went over the top of his foot, severely burning him.

-he was a volunteer fireman for many years, long before volunteers had equipment similar to full-time fire fighters.  He answered the call to a major fire in downtown Fremont in the 60’s and was injured when a window of a retail store blew out. If he hadn’t turned his head a split second before the window blew, the flying glass would have hit him in the eyes.

-traveling after Christmas in the late 80’s, my parent’s car hit a patch of black ice on a highway east of Fremont.  The car was thrown into the path of another car and they hit nearly head-on. My mom had a broken arm, but my dad ended up in intensive care with several injuries.

-he has suffered at least one stroke.

-he missed a step while walking into his church to participate in a prayer vigil and broke bones in both of his legs.

-in 2002 he had heart bypass surgery. I have heard of triple bypass surgery, even quadruple bypass surgery, but I have no idea what the adjective would be when the surgery involved seven bypasses. Yes, I know there are only eight heart valves.

-he has had skin cancer, and the radiation treatment greatly weakened him.  For years he walked several miles a day at a local mall, but now needs help getting out of a chair and uses a walker to help him get around. The radiation treatment is over, hopefully the cancer is gone, and his goal is to get back walking as he used to do.


If he were a cat, I am afraid my dad would have used up all of his nine lives long ago. He could star in his own Survivor series.  Every time something happens with him it is a great concern. Last Thursday he called me after taking a stress test-he is having all of his teeth pulled and the oral surgeon wanted this done because of my dad’s “history.”  He failed the stress test, though as I told him he had been causing a lot of stress in a lot of people for a lot of years.  The test indicated some type of blockage, and a procedure was scheduled for the next day.  The surgeon ended up postponing the procedure until yesterday because my dad takes blood thinning medicine and they were concerned about the potential for bleeding.


I don’t consult my dad much these days, but it is a joy and a comfort to have him around.  My children love him, though my son Matt has never called him grandpa, he has always called him Hank, much to my dad’s delight.  One of my favorite pictures from when my kids were young shows two year old Matt in boots standing in mud helping his grandfather. Matt and his grandpa are both extroverts, a nice way of saying they are both full of b.s.  That skipped my generation.


Anyway, back to the procedure yesterday.  Yes I was worried.  Was one of the bypass grafts leaking?  Was the one valve that did not have bypass surgery in 2002 blocked?  Would he have to have angioplasty?  Would the angioplasty work?  How long would it take for him to recover?  As always I tried to lighten the situation with some joking around, knowing the response it would get-quite often the finger if my mom isn’t looking, and yesterday the finger even though she was.  My concern showed more when they took him into surgery, and as Jane and I waited with my mom.


Just an hour after the procedure started we were notified the doctor was ready to talk with us.  Immediately I thought that it must be something bad and they weren’t able to fix his problem.  However, it was just the opposite.  All the bypass grafts were fine, and though there was a slight blockage, they did not have to do angioplasty; they could treat the problems with meds.


We went to the recovery room to talk with my dad, and his relief was evident.  He was smiling and the tone of his voice was that of the typical full of “piss and vinegar” Hank that I have known my entire life.  Like with my kids and Jane, his happiness brought me happiness. 


I thought a lot about this the past 24 hours.  It isn’t always easy to tell someone you love how much you love them.  All I can say is find a way.  And this is my way.  I love you dad.


Thanks for stopping by.






Categories: March 2009 Tags: ,

NASCAR’s March Madness

March 17, 2009 4 comments

Yes, NASCAR has its own version of March Madness-it’s called Bristol.  Just like with the NCAA basketball tournament a lot of strange things happen during NASCAR March Madness, and plenty of team’s get upset too. 


No, I did not miss NASCAR on TV this week.  I watched basketball, then I watched more basketball, and I finished up watching even more basketball.  Probably just what I will do this week too.  Maybe if Darrell Waltrip screamed “Boogety, boogety, boogety, let’s play basketball,” I might turn it over to Fox. No, that is an outright lie-that would keep me from turning it over to the Sprint Cup series race.  I do wonder how NASCAR TV ratings will stand up against the NCAA tournament.  So far virtually every race has seen a double digit ratings drop, though the race also beat time slot competition.  We’ll see if that holds true on Sunday.


For dirt track promoters, March Madness might be scheduling a special during the month.  It is 74 today in Nebraska, but tomorrow it may be 23.  The Midwest may seen warm sunshine one day, and blustery temps with rain or even snow the next.  It seems like the south is getting plenty of rain this month, so that offsets the warmer temperatures.  I guess if you are a promoter you just close your eyes, roll the dice, and hope for the good version of March weather.


My son Matt sent me the links below.  Most of you have heard of Manzanita Speedway in Arizona.  Apparently it has been sold, and will be closing in a few weeks.  It is a shame to see one more legendary dirt track close its gates.  The new owners bought not only the land, but also the rights to the Manzanita name.  A comment was made that they will look for a different site for the track, but I am afraid once it is closed it is gone for good.  Too bad it isn’t a track like Pocono, Dover, or New Hampshire closing.


Thanks for stopping by.



Brothers Turn NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Into Busch League

March 9, 2009 6 comments

This is starting to frighten me.  For the second week in a row I am going to say something nice about one of the Busch brothers.  It isn’t difficult talking about the talent of Kyle Busch.  You have to be more than a complete Earnhardt Jr. homer to deny the younger of the Busch brothers is incredibly talented.  All the Fox broadcasters are Jr. homers and they readily admit that Kyle Busch has mega-talent. It is much more difficult to use the word classy when talking about Kurt Busch though.


The 2 car definitely had the competition covered in Atlanta as Busch led more laps yesterday than he did all last season.  I thought his victory lap in reverse was far cleverer than all the push in the clutch, step on the gas burn-outs we have been “entertained” by the past few years.  His victory lane interview was thoughtful and articulate, almost on a level of a Jeff Gordon interview.  Busch has changed from the totally obnoxious driver who won a championship a few seasons back. Again, this frightens me, but I might find myself cheering for him if this keeps up.


I will root for him to defeat Edwards/Hamlin/Bowyer/Earnhardt Jr. /Johnson.  I still want Jeff Gordon to win-races and the championship, but a Busch victory her or there is acceptable too.  About Gordon, I think his team has more focus than in the past few seasons, and I think that comes from the driver.  He still has the desire to win, and there is no question he has the talent to win, and that has to fire up team members.


I have often thought that Earnhardt Jr. has a few loose lug nuts, but I didn’t think it was the fault of his crew.  I realize that fractions of a second in the pits might make a huge difference on that track, but those same fractions of a second could mean disastrous tire problems and a trip into the wall.  Safer barrier or not, no one wants to see a car hit the wall at 180+ mph. 


There appeared to be lots of empty seats in the grandstands, so I will once again make my pitch for race fans to make a trip to their local Saturday night speedway.  Most promoters are holding the line on admission prices, so dirt track racing is still a bargain for family entertainment.  Tracks around the country will be opening their gates soon, so give the grass roots racing experience a chance.


Racing did start in Nebraska over the weekend.  On Friday night 55 USMTS modifieds from 11 different states took to the 1/3 mile Junction Motor Speedway oval on a cool, damp night.  Minnesotan Tommy Myer won the A feature, and Iowan Zack Vanderbeek finished second.  NASCAR great Ken Schrader was on hand with his mod and took 8th in the A main.  Ross Dixon, Matt Greiner, and Mike VanGenderen finished 1-2-3 in the open stock car feature.


Thanks for stopping by.