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Archive for October, 2009

Talladega Trick Or Treat

October 31, 2009 Leave a comment

Matt wanted me to title this post “Dega-Mean Trick or Sweet Trick.”  However, I don’t do “Dega.”  I don’t do Vegas either.  I don’t call New York City “the Big Apple.” The race this weekend is at Talladega.  As far as mean trick or sweet trick that sounds like the drive thru at the Fremont Dairy Queen-it is a mean trick having to wait in line so long for a sweet treat.  That does not mean there won’t be some tricks and treats at the big track in Alabama this weekend.

 

“The big one” is a racing analyst cliché I am growing somewhat tired of too.  Yes, there is going to be a major wreck during Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race.  There may be two of them.  The odds of avoiding a major incident at Talladega are not good.  It may be safer to be running up front, but that is no guarantee of avoiding “the big one.” My guess is that this mean trick is going to be played by Jimmy Johnson or Juan Pablo Montoya.  If Johnson creates a major wreck, he will somehow manage to avoid any serious damage.  If Montoya creates a big wreck, he’ll be heading back to the garage for repairs.

 

What Chase drivers are likely to be involved in a damaging accident at Talladega?  Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne, and Brian Vickers are my prediction.  Jimmy Johnson will leave Alabama with a bigger point lead than he had when he arrived, and Jeff Gordon will be in second place in the point standings, though the race for the championship is just about over, despite season ending races remaining in Arizona, Texas, and Florida.

 

I can’t believe I am actually saying this, but the sweet treat this weekend may go to Dale Earnhardt Jr. It is a track he can win on, even if there are lots of questions to be answered before the 88 makes it to victory lane.  Questions like-can Earnhardt find his pit space and not overshoot it?  If he handles pitting properly, can his crew get all the lug nuts tight this weekend?  If they do, can he avoid getting caught up in other driver’s problems? An Earnhardt Jr. win would be very popular and leave a smile on the faces of NASCAR execs. At least if he beats Paul Menard I won’t receive another email from snowed in Tony Anville that Menard beat Earnhardt for the umpteenth time in a row.

 

Something that should cause a frown on the faces of NASCAR execs is another driver was charged with DUI.  I blasted Michael Waltrip for his multiple offenses, and I am going to do the same with the latest drink and drive driver, A.J. Allmendinger. You don’t reach the legal limit with a few beers while eating supper.

 

When I was eight years old I saw a head on crash in which a pregnant woman was thrown through a car windshield and killed.  A drunk driver caused the wreck.  I will never forget the scene, and I have never forgotten that a drunk driver was the cause.  How many times has a drunk run a red light or veered into oncoming traffic and killed someone?  How many times have they walked away from the crash uninjured?  How many chances do some drunk drivers get-multiple offenders are commonplace?  If you are going to drink, have a designated driver.

 

Maybe I hold celebrity drivers to a higher standard than others.  I don’t think so.  Still, these drivers have been given a chance to perform on a stage like no other, and to earn incomes that most of us can only dream of.  They are heroes, and like it or not, they are role models.  Part of the NASCAR hype is that the Sprint Cup drivers are the best drivers in the world.  There is no question most are superb.  However, there are many drivers who never had the chance to run a Sprint Cup race that are also extremely talented.  They are racing on Saturday nights and work as mechanics or truck drivers or factory workers during the week-the same thing Allmendinger and Waltrip would be doing if someone hadn’t given them a chance to race in the big leagues.

 

I do believe that most drivers do accept the responsibility that goes with the opportunity.  I also believe that for those who do not there should be some consequences.

 

Sorry for the rant, but it is what I believe.  Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

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Weird Al Yankovic Scheduled For RPM Meeting, Humpy And rstar Pool Their Resources

October 30, 2009 7 comments

I received an email today from a source who wishes to be anonymous.  This source advised me that Weird Al Yankovic has been added as a presenter at upcoming RPM Promoter’s workshops.  According to my source, Yankovic’s presentation will be titled DARE TO BE STUPID.  The email included a photo of a Yankovic CD with the same title. Yankovic should be a big hit among promoters.  I understand he helped design NASCAR tracks in Fontana and Chicago, and provided the Daytona based organization with input on both the Car of Tomorrow and the Chase.

 

I’m sorry if this offended any promoters.  I thought it was funny.  I could even see some promoters taking notes during Weird Al’s presentation.  I would include the CD cover photo sent me, but to do so might be some sort of copyright infringement and that I can do without.

 

I received another email yesterday from a driver who has a friend who is an employee at a Midwest track and apparently attended an RPM conference in the past.  While the information he provided me is easy to believe, I would need more confirmation before I stirred up a hornet’s nest.  Still, if the information he provided is true, I feel no remorse for all the bad things I have said about promoters.

 

Sunday is the date of the 2nd Annual Racing With The Stars event which is a fund-raiser for the Holiday Horsepower Drive.  The event will be held at Velocity Indoor Karting in Omaha, and drivers such as Jack Dover, Billy Alley, Mike Boston, Brian Birkhofer, Kyle Berck, Jake Neal, Jay Noteboom, and David Murray are scheduled to race.  Action begins at noon.  Admission is $5.00, and for $10.00 more you can race a kart against these top area drivers.  More information on the event can be found at www.holidayhorsepower.com.

 

A certain Nebraska promoter should be watching carefully to make sure Matt Meyer (aka Humpy), and Randy Palmer (aka rstar), do not sneak up behind him.  These self-proclaimed men of genius are pooling their resources and thinking outside of the box about the 2010 racing season.  I have already heard these gentlemen are far ahead of their time.  To me, pooling their resources means coming up with almost one mind, but I have heard the word MENSA mentioned several times.  Late model and sprint car racing won’t be the same if the Dynamic Duo has their say.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

Sprint Cup Instant Karma, And Answers To My Question

October 29, 2009 4 comments

NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kyle Busch is getting a new crew chief.  Normally I wouldn’t bother writing about something like this, but it seems like Busch made some comments earlier in the season when crew chiefs were switched on the 88 car of Dale Earnhardt Jr.  I believe he said “it’s always the crew chief, never the driver.”  Looks like Instant Karma knocked Kyle on the head.

 

I have had a number of responses to a question I posed on my Facebook page The Rest of the Dirt.  However, they all seemed to have disappeared.  I don’t think it was ineptness on my part regarding technology, as I had not visited the site today until just a few minutes ago. The messages showed yesterday. I am pretty sure my fumbling fingers did not delete them. The question asked for one solution to give to a promoter to help improve grass roots racing programs. I do remember a few of the answers.

 

Greg Soukup, aka EPSG, aka Randy Palmer’s #1 fan, suggested that he should receive a raise. I will mention this to Roger Hadan next time I see him Greg.  Shack said more, but I am not sure exactly what.  I happened to delete the message-not because it came from Greg, but because I had a number of emails regarding Facebook messages and was just going to check them out when I went to the Facebook page.  He might also have suggested banning rstar from the track, or tripling rstar’s pit pass price.

 

One driver who races at the Adams County Speedway suggested the track has a lot more than one problem to solve.  I didn’t visit ACS this year, and I am not sure if track problems can be chalked up to growing pains after the departure of the Hampel family who promoted the track for many years, or if it is a case of the new regime having too many chiefs.

 

Another driver suggested telling the promoter at the track where he races to find a new profession.  Ouch.  Well, lots of fans and drivers feel that way about many, many tracks. 

 

Several drivers mentioned lowering pit pass prices, which probably is not going to happen anytime soon, if never is anytime soon.  Roger Hadan, the promoter of Eagle Raceway has tried to reward drivers in various ways for perfect attendance over a season, or for features running caution free. I think that is about the best drivers can hope for regarding pit passes. For too many tracks, the back gate is the main source of revenue.

 

Kyle Ealy, former editor of Hawkeye Racing News, suggested that promoters actually promote.  I agree it is a lost art. Unfortunately, just building it does not mean people will come.  That only happens in the movies. It seems like veteran promoters are more set in how they are going to do something, and that newer and younger promoters are open to experimenting with their programs, and changing what doesn’t work.  Seth Sands and Tre Brewbaker are young promoters that come to mind, and thank goodness there are a few others like them. I also get to hear wild, yet highly creative ideas from my son Matt every time we drive to a race.

 

I don’t think there are any new solutions in the above suggestions, but the problems mentioned are long time problems, meaning promoters have not found solutions to them either.  I would love to go to one of the RPM (Race Promoter’s Monthly) annual sessions in Reno or Daytona to hear just what is discussed by promoters as to solving such problems.  Unfortunately that information seems to be top secret, as I can’t even get a subscription to the group’s newsletter. 

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

I Sure Can Be Stupid, A New Facebook Group, and One Thought About Local Racing

October 28, 2009 8 comments

Some of you might have noticed an earlier version of this post that I deleted.  After reading that ESPN football analyst Bob Griese was suspended for one week because of a racist remark regarding Juan Pablo Montoya, I realized what I had published was far more insensitive.

 

While I in no way meant my post to be insensitive, it was.  Actually all I was trying to do was tell of my love for a certain sandwich that I thought I would never taste again, then rediscovered about 10 years ago.  The sandwich was named in the 50’s.  Times were different, and politically correct meant saying “I Like Ike.”  Well, times are different now, and that post embarrassed me.

 

Anyway, I deleted the post and while I am reposting some of it, we’ll just let the sandwich comments go at this:  Nifty 50’s in Fremont provides one of the world’s great culinary pleasures.  It is a sandwich I really shouldn’t even be looking at, and definitely I should not eat, but about once a month I do both. If a race track provided a similar loose meat sandwich, I would find a way to become a regular at the track.

 

Facebook says I can’t have over 5,000 friends on my personal page, so I created a group page for racers and fans.  I wasn’t sure what to call it, but Greg Soukup thought The Rest of the Dirt sounded good.  I have to admit it does have a nice ring to it.  So, in addition to my Ron Meyer page on Facebook, you can find notices of my meanderings on The Rest of the Dirt Facebook page.

 

Greg’s first choice for a title was “We Hate rstar,” but Facebook doesn’t allow any hate groups on its site.  I posted a question on The Rest of the Dirt page asking members to come up with one idea for a promoter to improve racing at their local track.  So far, every driver that has replied has stated about the same thing-lower pit pass prices.  Imagine that.

 

Personally I would opt for anything that gets a program done sooner.  It isn’t because I am getting cranky in my old age.  I was cranky years ago.  If I go to a football or baseball game it is going to last three hours, maybe three and a half hours.  That should be the goal of every track.  I like the “bring out the yellow and you go to the pits” rule.  Every caution lap takes 45 seconds to a minute to complete.  Those laps add up fast in making race programs too long. 

 

It looks like Facebook is going to be the source for a lot of driver articles for my blog.  Begging promoters for information didn’t help me much, but now I have hundreds of Facebook friends who are drivers.  Few ever receive any publicity so they are perfect for my blog. In the last week I have talked with-I guess IM is like talking-Robert Kazakoff, a track worker from Estevan, Sask.; Jim Moon, a low budget late model driver from Indiana; and, Jordan Sheehan, a fan turned promoter from New York.  I am definitely looking forward to Jordan’s story.  He is promoting a November 7th race at Orange County Speedway in New York.  We’ll see what fans know about promoting. Nothing according to a famous driver turned Midwest race promoter, but talking with Jordan, I think he is going to do well.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

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I Could Have Used A Tums (500) Watching The NASCAR Race Yesterday

October 26, 2009 Leave a comment

The good news from Martinsville is that Jimmy Johnson did not win the NASCAR Sprint Cup series race yesterday.  The bad news from Martinsville is he increased his points lead on each of his closest competitors.  Only Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, and Tony Stewart are less than the winner’s share of points in a race behind Johnson.  Yeah, that was a weird sentence.  Winning a Sprint Cup series race is worth 185 points, with a 5 point bonus for leading a lap, and maybe an additional 5 point bonus for leading the most laps, meaning a winner can potentially receive 195 points. Martin is 118 points behind Johnson, and Gordon trails Johnson by 150 points.  Tony Stewart is in third place, 192 behind the leader, and Juan Pablo Montoya is fourth, lagging 200 points behind Johnson.

 

What I am saying, is despite all the TV hype about how close the Chase is, the Sprint Cup championship may be decided before the final race in Miami.  Gordon is doing very well, but all Johnson has to do is finish a place or two ahead of him in the coming races, and he will have better than a 185 point lead going into the season finale.  Martin is not doing badly, but he is losing quite a few points to Johnson every week.  Actually, it would not surprise me to see Gordon finish ahead of Martin in the final standings.

 

One thing TV analysts have been right about is that Talladega is a wild card.  Even if he is caught up in the proverbial “big one,” Jimmy Johnson is going to come out of Talladega leading the points.  There are enough start and park cars to ensure that.  Plus, I have watched Johnson be the instigator of the big one and still manage to escape the carnage.  To me he is more likely to leave Alabama with a full race lead than to arrive back in Charlotte with a close race on his hands. Johnson may make history winning a fourth championship is a row, but fans are going to dislike him even more if he does. 

 

One person in my household-my wife Jane-already feels sorry for Dale Earnhardt Jr.  I have to admit I am getting close myself.  Was it two or three times Earnhardt hit a wall yesterday? After going 2 laps down he was the lucky dog on several cautions and got back on the lead lap, running in 15th. Then he goes sliding through his pit and loses 15 spots on a pit stop. Amazing. Actually, I am less of a fan of the “Junior Nation” than I am of the driver himself.  He has had a truly bizarre season, one that would be tough on any driver.  His season may not be quite as insane as Nebraska turning over the football four times inside the five yard line against Iowa State last Saturday, but it is pretty close.  Some of his problems are self-inflicted, some are a result of poor performance by his team, and some are just weird. The 88 team may be the Chicago Cubs of NASCAR.

 

For those of you who are into debacles, FSN is repeating the Nebraska vs. Iowa State game tonight.  Thanks for stopping by.

A Racing Rumor and A Football Vent

October 25, 2009 2 comments

I keep my ears to the ground when it comes to racing rumors.  Well, OK, I keep Matt’s ears to the ground.  I can count on him to let me know anything I ought to know.  Anyway, according to the younger Meyer, rumors are flying regarding a big late model announcement coming out of Eldora for the 2010 season.  Speculation is that a $$$Million purse late model race will be on next year’s schedule.  Not a million to win ala Earl Baltes, but a million dollar overall purse, with the winner taking home $200,000 and everyone who starts the feature banking $10,000.  I don’t know if this will be a 3rd big late model race at the track, or more likely take the place of The Dream next summer.  I have wanted to make it to the Ohio track, and a race like this would certainly provide me with another reason to load up a van and head east.

Normally I don’t write about anything but racing on this forum, but a lot of you are race fans and Nebraska football fans, and I will the need to vent.  So, what is wrong with the Nebraska football team?  Make that the NU offense.  The Cornhusker defense is just fine.  The defensive line may well be the best in the nation, and the other seven are at least adequate.  To say the offense sucks is giving it way to much credit though. Lowly Texas A & M who lost to K-State by 48 points, managed to score 52 points yesterday against a Texas Tech defense that allowed us only 10 points.

What is wrong is pretty simple, what it will take to correct the problem isn’t.  In only one quarter of the last three games did NU have 11 offensive players “playing” at the same time.  It seems the offensive line has forgotten the entire purpose of them being on the field is to block.  They are supposed to create holes for running backs to gain yards, or get in the way of those who want to do harm to the quarterback.  They are not supposed to be flagged for holding at the most inopportune times.  Nor are they supposed to merely stand around looking fat.  If that was all it took, I could be an offensive lineman for the Huskers.

The Nebraska receiving corps has no “go to” receiver unless go to means someone who will drop passes thrown in their direction.  In that case they have at least six go to receivers.  Big play receiver Niles Paul alternates good plays with very bad plays.  Yesterday he found a way to do both on the same play.  For the second week in a row a Paul fumble was devastating.

The Nebraska quarterback is not a threat to run.  Opposing teams have that figured out.  He is a threat to throw behind receivers, which led to one of Nebraska’s four inside the five yard line turnovers yesterday.  He is also a threat to throw the football three feet over a receivers head. Apparently Zac Lee’s back-up, freshman Cody Green, is not at all ready to lead the team when the results are still in doubt. After the Texas Tech game it appeared a quarterback controversy was brewing in Lincoln, but all fans got was the same old cup of coffee.

Then we have Offensive Coordinator Sean Watson.  The buck has to stop somewhere.  If the offense is playing poorly, playing timidly, and not executing, who is to blame? Well, yes, the players have to accept responsibility, but who is the person who is supposed to ensure that very talented players execute properly and play aggressively?  That would be the coach.  He is a left over from the Callahan era, so he already has one strike against him.  His retort to a reporter-“Did you ever play the game?”-is a second in my book.  A race promoter once asked Matt if he ever promoted a race.  I’ve never been a chef, but I know a bad steak when I bite into one.  I’ve never been a plumber, but I figure I have a problem if the toilet backs up.  I have never been a skunk, but I know when something stinks. And something stinks in the NU football program.

Only a few Thursdays ago Nebraska football fans pictured a 10-2 Husker team fighting Texas in December for the Big 12 championship, losing only to Oklahoma, and that game was a toss-up.  Iowa State, Baylor, and K-State all looked like sure things.  Colorado was close to a sure thing.  Texas Tech and Kansas were road blocks that could be overcome.  After losses to Tech and Iowa State, no game looks like a sure thing, not even Baylor.  Next week’s game is being played at Whacko, ‘er Waco, and the Cornhuskers might be just what a struggling Bear team needs to feed on for a victory.  A Kansas offense won’t score a lot of points against the NU defense, but they don’t have to.  Oklahoma has the best defense we will play against this year.  If we can’t score against out-manned Iowa State, don’t count on an offensive outburst against OU.  K-State, the team everyone was saying did not have Big 12 caliber of players is now leading the incredibly inept Big 12 North.  The Colorado game is in Boulder, and even the great Nebraska teams have struggled in the mile high air.  Suddenly 7-5 or 6-6 doesn’t seem unlikely.  A December bowl instead of a New Year’s bowl game seems to be the NU destination. 

A big red question mark should be stamped on the Husker offense.  There are lots of questions, and it seems like there are no answers.  I hope that Pelini, Watson, Cotton, et al can come up with some answers soon.  If not, we are in for four long Saturdays, and a post-Thanksgiving upset stomach.

Thanks for stopping by.

Michael Waltrip and J.C. France Make Off Track News

October 23, 2009 3 comments

Earlier this week NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner/driver Michael Waltrip was involved in an automobile/motorcycle accident.  Apparently Waltrip was making a u-turn when his car collided with a Harley Davidson.  Waltrip was uninjured, and no injury report on the other driver was released. 

 

According to WCNC-TV, Waltrip did pass a field sobriety test, registering .06 blood-alcohol level.  In North Carolina, .08 is the legal limit.  Waltrip was cited for failure to yield by Mooresville police. This is the second time in two years Waltrip has been involved in an accident.  In 2007 he was charged with reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident, though charges were later dropped.

 

On October 8th, J.C. France, nephew of NASCAR CEO Brian France was arrested for DUI and drug possession, according to the Orlando Sentinel.  Apparently France and his half-brother Russell Richmond were racing a Lamborghini and a Porsche on Daytona streets.  Richmond repeatedly boasted of his powerful family, and asked officers if they knew what being a France meant in Daytona.  He was quoted as saying “We own this city.  I am going to have your job.”  Both men were bonded out.

 

I do not believe NASCAR has problems with alcohol and drugs that other sports do not.  Cyberspace has insured that information regarding any wrongdoing by any celebrity is instantly reported around the world.  Few weeks pass by that an NFL, NBA, or MLB player isn’t cited for some type of alcohol or drug related problem.  It doesn’t stop with the pros either.  No major college athletic programs are problem free.

 

Athletes mirror society on the issues of alcohol and drug use.  They certainly aren’t better overall than the average citizen, but probably aren’t worse either.  What bothers me is that other than the most serious of crimes, celebrity athletes will receive a slap on the wrist as punishment.

 

As stated above, charges of reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident against Waltrip were dropped in 2007.  If I had done the same thing, I am sure I would have paid a hefty fine, and lost my driver’s license too.  Waltrip got a do not go to jail pass.  Do you think that France and Richmond will get more than probation, community service, and a fine?  I don’t.  The average citizen picked up possessing cocaine would be looking at jail time.  Of course the average citizen wouldn’t have been racing a Lamborghini on city streets either.

 

I was born and raised blue collar.  My dad busted his butt boning Cure 81 hams for Hormel for 30 years.  We had a decent middle class upbringing, and learned right from wrong.  We weren’t privileged, and knew if we got in trouble with the law we would not be bailed out by my dad.  I have a very difficult time accepting special treatment for celebrities, athletes, musicians, movie stars, politicians, or the rich. 

 

Call me what you will, I believe it is too bad that Daytona police did not taser Richmond for resisting arrest.  I certainly would have contributed to the defense fund of any officer who did that and was brought up on charges. As for Waltrip, he has a drinking problem.  There was another incident prior to the 2007 incident already mentioned.  I think his sponsors, starting with Toyota, should force him to put a substitute driver in the seat of the 55 car for the rest of the season, and in order to retain sponsorship in the future, force him to go to rehab immediately.  How many of us have had three alcohol related incidents in our life?  Most of us can state we have never been arrested on any such charges.  Waltrip now has three in no more than four or five years.  That is a problem that needs to be taken care of.

 

France doesn’t limit his racing to city streets.  He is well known in Grand-Am circles.  He also is now suspended indefinitely by the Grand-Am sanctioning body.  Waltrip has not been suspended by NASCAR, and I suppose since he was “only” near the legal blood alcohol level and only charged with failure to yield the right of way, NASCAR could not suspend him.  Of course NASCAR writes its own rule book, and they could certainly join Toyota and Waltrip’s sponsors in counseling rehab.

 

Thanks for stopping by.