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Ten Good Reasons Why I Need Your Story. Actually, Only Two Reasons, But They Are Really Good Ones.

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Why do I continue to ask my blog readers, Facebook friends, and Twitter followers for article ideas?  I keep asking because everyone has a story to tell.  You may not think you have a story, but I believe in this with all my heart. I also believe that the stories I can write about a mod driver, a hobby stock chauffeur, or a late model pilot are every bit as good as the stories you read of NASCAR Sprint Cup stars in the newsstand magazines.

 

I do have a really tough selection process though.  You have to send me your name and tell me a little bit about yourself.  Simply asking me will get a blog story done.  I ask for a little information so I can figure out what your story might be.  After I have that information I can follow up with more questions via email or phone.  I like photos, but don’t require the high def photos that magazines do.  If you can email me a photo, I’ll include that with the article.

 

Why am I hitting this hard again?  Yesterday I received a Facebook message from James Blaylock, a Texas IMCA Southern Sports Mod driver.  He wondered about how to get a blog article done on him?  I asked for a little information and boy did he have some.  He has raced for 11 years and his brother has raced for 10 years.  Between them they have over 50 feature wins and several track championships, all good stuff.  James won the 2009 Turkey Trot at I-37 Speedway in 2009.  He is a licensed chiropractor, and both he and his brother are neuro-physiologists.  That certainly sounds impressive, but I wasn’t sure what he meant until I read that both are spine surgeons.  Whoa-kick this story up a notch.  I am still doing a blog article, but forwarded the information on to Dirt Modified Magazine to see if I could write about James and his brother for the magazine.

 

Several months ago I did a blog article on IMCA modified driver Chase Hansen of Utah.  I may be doing a magazine article on him next year.  After the blog article was published I heard from a Chase fan who thought I might be interested in doing a story on another Utah modified driver named Harvey Howard.  Seems Harvey was in a dirt bike accident when he was a teenager and is paralyzed from the waist down.  Despite this fact, he manages to drive an IMCA mod, and quite well too.  I have just started working with Harvey on an article for Dirt Modified Magazine.

 

Both James and Harvey have great stories.  However, until someone told me about them, I did not know they existed.  Maybe someone else would have found a way to tell their stories, but maybe no one but local fans would have heard of either driver, which would have been a shame.  Now fans around the country will have a chance to learn about the two.

 

You don’t have to be a doctor or have a story like Harvey’s to have a story that deserves to be told.  I am from Nebraska, but you don’t have to be from the Midwest to have me tell your story.  I would love to do stories on drivers from California, Texas, Utah, New York, Florida, and all points in between.  You don’t have to be a late model driver or a sprint car driver either.  I am just finishing a story on a Nebraska hobby stock driver.  I enjoy writing about modified drivers.  I’ll be doing some stories on sports compact drivers this winter.  I am just looking for people who aren’t likely to be written about in a newsstand magazine like Speedway Illustrated or Stock Car Racing.

 

Actually, you don’t even have to be a driver. I am going to do an article on a track in Canada this winter, and would enjoy talking with other promoters about doing articles on their tracks.  I would even like to do articles on hard core fans. 

 

My plea is for you to keep from thinking “my story isn’t good enough to be told.”  It is. Contact me @ brutonnb@yahoo.com, and I guarantee you a story.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

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More Odds And Ends, A Day After Giving Thanks

November 27, 2009 1 comment

My wife had to choose between a turkey that was “too small” and a turkey that was “too big.”  Since she loves turkey leftovers she chose the too big turkey.  I don’t mind turkey sandwiches while watching Nebraska defeat Colorado in football the day after Thanksgiving.  Warmed up turkey and reheated mashed potatoes are OK for supper tonight.  Turkey sandwiches on Saturday are OK too, but that is the point that I lose my desire for turkey for 360 odd days.

A big difference between men and women-housekeeping.  I thought our house looked perfect early yesterday.  Seeking additional kitchen passes to be banked for a later day, I said exactly that to Jane.  She looked at me like I was incredibly stupid and said “there is no way I am going to be able to everything done that needs to be done.”  While I may be incredibly stupid, I was not so stupid as to ask hours later if she got everything done.

I am so old that I can remember when football on Thanksgiving meant one game only, the Detroit Lions vs. the Chicago Bears.  Yesterday you got watch any or all of five games-well, if you get ESPNU and the NFL Channel on cable you could have watched five games.  We get ESPNU, but I wonder if anyone gets the NFL Channel.  I did watch parts of the four games we got, but watched only the Texas vs. Texas A & M game “seriously,” and that only until I fell asleep in the third quarter.

In typical cable TV overkill, not only could you watch any or all of five football games on Thanksgiving, you could also watch eleven basketball games.  I watched parts of Creighton vs. Michigan when my wife didn’t have me striving to attain something beyond a perfectly clean household.

From Matt, 34 Raceway in Burlington, Iowa has USAC Midget and non-wing 410 sprint car show scheduled for June 21, 2010.  The track also has the Lucas Oil super late models scheduled for May 21st.  This track is on my bucket list, though it means a drive clear across Iowa to reach it.  Matt and I had already been talking about the Lucas Oil show as a road trip.  Maybe a promoter like Roger Hadan of Eagle Raceway could schedule a USAC show the day before or day after the Burlington show.  I know there are several open wheel fans who read this blog, and this would be a fantastic show for Eagle, far better than a WoO sprint car show.  How about it Roger?  Matt says it is even cheaper than WoO.

For modified fans-and I am one of them-from Team JLS racing:

Subject: NEW! Wild West Modified Tour website.

The NEW! Wild West Modified Tour website is now up. Just to let you know it is now www.wildwestmodifiedtour.com instead of wildwestmods.com

 

Latest from bleacherreport.com:

-Jeremy Mayfield is just stupid.  Won’t get any argument from me on that.

-Is Jimmy Johnson even that great of a driver?  A question I have asked myself many times.

-Rick Hendrick’s top priority-getting Junior back on track.  Yeah think.  Three teammates finished 1-2-3 and Dale Jr. finished 25th. Something doesn’t add up.

-Does Danica Patrick really add anything to NASCAR?  More of a circus atmosphere that is for sure.

-Fixing the championship formula.  Amen.  Too bad it won’t happen.

-No contract extension for Knaus.  As arrogant as this self-admitted “not nice guy” is, he probably wants half of Rick Hendrick’s business interests, and I am not talking just half of Hendrick’s racing.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I wish every weekend was a four day weekend.  Thanks for stopping by.
 

 

 

Odds And Ends-Definitely Odd, But Still Quite Interesting

November 26, 2009 2 comments

Odds and ends?  Well, with a lot of information coming from my friend Tony “The Paul Menard Fan” Anville and my son Matt I would say much more odds than ends.

 

The following is an email I received from Tony:

 

“You need to get Paul Menard on your side.  Can you imagine what his dad could do for your writing career? 

 

How about it??  A couple positive spins on Menard in print and they’ll take care of you.  You’ll be in a private jet on your way to Vegas.” 

 

Blog title suggestions:

 

1.  “Am I the only Paul Menard fan”?

 

2.  “Paul Menard deserves better”

 

3.  “Menard, Daytona 500 sleeper”?

 

I certainly could use some help with the writing career, so here goes:

 

You are the only Paul Menard fan I know, so yes, Tony Anville may be the only Paul Menard fan. 

 

As far as Menard deserves better, I have always said that sons of rich fathers deserve better. That is a recurring theme in my blog posts.  Look at all I have said about NASCAR CEO Brian France.  Oh wait, I have not said many good things about little Brian. OK, make that any good things about him. As the son of a blue collar factory worker, I have a difficult time feeling sorry for rich kids with expensive toys, so I probably won’t be blogging about Paul Menard deserving better.

 

Daytona 500 sleeper?  Maybe. Stranger things have happened.  Derrick Cope won the race one year.  I see Daytona in 2010 as being a five car race with Kenny Wallace, Joe Nemechek, Marcus Ambrose, A.J. Allmendinger, and Menard all having a great shot at winning.

 

Boy I hope everyone knows that my sense of humor was at play in discussing who may be a Daytona contender. Anyway, there goes by chance for a flight to Las Vegas on the Menard family jet.

 

 

Matt always sends me a link to frontstretch.com.  Website writer McLaughlin knows what he is talking about, and is the exact opposite of homer TV commentators like McReynolds and Waltrip.  His articles are funny, but I find myself nodding in agreement time after time. His take on the NASCAR season finale can be found at:

 

http://www.frontstretch.com/mmclaughlin/28313/

 

Matt also emailed me to inform me that TV ratings for the Chase races were down at tracks that had races earlier in the season.  Actually, all the Chase race ratings were down.  NASCAR spin doctors might try to pass this off as butting heads with the NFL, but the ratings were not just down from earlier in the year, all were down when compared with the same race last season. 

 

 

 

 

Check out bleacherreport.com for articles like:

-Does Tony Stewart have a beef with Dale Earnhardt Jr.?

 

-Can Denny Hamlin unseat Jimmy Johnson in 2010?

 

-Why NASCAR desperately needs a resurgence of Dale Earnhardt Jr. I didn’t read this, but I suspect it might have something to do with TV ratings.

 

-Is Volkswagen interest in NASCAR? And will anyone not call a Volkswagen NASCAR machine The Love Bug?

 

-Should NASCAR eat crow or turkey on Thanksgiving?  OK, I made that one up.

 

-Jimmy Johnson or David Pearson the greatest stock car driver of all time?

 

In my opinion Jimmy Johnson isn’t better than David, Cale, Richard, Bobby, Dale Sr., or Darrell.  And he may not be better than Jeff or Tony either. Heck, he may not even be the best NASCAR driver ever having the last name of Johnson.  Junior Johnson was pretty good in his day.

 

Since almost anything can be computerized, how about a series of  computer races with the following drivers:

 

Jimmy Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, and Mark Martin from the 2000’s.

 

Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt Sr., Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace, Tim Richmond, Cale Yarborough, Bill Elliott, Davey Allison, Terry Labonte, Harry Gant, and Benny Parsons-the mid 70’s thru the 90’s.

 

Richard Petty, Junior Johnson, Fred Lorenzen, David Pearson, Fireball Roberts, Curtis Turner, Ned Jarrett, Buddy Baker, Bobby Isaac, Tiny Lund, Joe Weatherly, Lee Roy Yarbrough and A.J. Foyt-the early days of NASCAR thru the early 70’s.

 

Run ‘em on old tracks that have long since made way for shopping malls, including the dirt tracks NASCAR was not to proud to race on before TV.  Run ‘em in old cars on old tires.  Run ‘em on today’s tracks with today’s cars (except for California, even a computer would tire of that track). See how Jimmy fares before automatically anointing him as Pope of NASCAR. That would be a great show for Speed TV, at least it would beat the heck out of watching Pinks.

 

Anyway, bleacherreport.com is a great source to help feed your racing addiction in the off-season too, and it is free.

 

 

According to Dirtondirt.com (you should subscribe, and I don’t say that just to keep out of trouble for using this, you should subscribe):

 

“Scott Bloomquist has been suspended for 6 months from WoO/UMP competition and fined $22,700 (withheld $11,350 in purse money and additional fine equal to purse) for chemically altering a left rear tire during a WoO race on November 5th at the Lowes Motor Speedway Dirt Track.  The tire that was found to be altered was used in time trials.  Lab results indicate the tire was softened to gain traction.
 
Bloomquist has sought legal counsel as he denies all accusations and plans to appeal the fine and suspension.”

 

Well, I have always said that rules are open to interpretation, but Bloomquist seems to go down this route more often than other big name dirt track drivers.  Maybe a crew member doctored the tire and Bloomquist did not know it.  Yeah, that did sound stupid as I typed it.

 

Finally.  I finally was able to connect with IMCA hobby stock driver Dusty Poessnecker for an upcoming blog article.  Talking with him reinforced why I like writing about dirt track drivers.  Dusty has a passion for the sport that is impossible to hide.  I am not saying NASCAR drivers don’t have a passion for racing, but it is tempered by a passion for all the trappings that come with celebrity and huge salaries. Dirt track drivers aren’t encumbered with press agents, jet planes, and the need to make payments on the mansion near Lake Norman.

 

Enjoy your family, turkey, and football tomorrow.  Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wells Blue Bunny To Take Over As NASCAR Title Sponsor???

November 24, 2009 Leave a comment

The NASCAR Sprint Cup season finally ended on Sunday.  Inevitable, anti-climatic, ended with a whimper not a bang are all fair descriptions of the season finale.  There have been years I hated to see the season end, though the last time that was true Bill France was still the head of NASCAR, and the series was called Winston Cup. 

 

I received an email from a rabid fan asking me which was the worst President, George Bush or Brian France.  Well, I am keeping out of politics, but if Brian France was able to do to the country what he has done to NASCAR’s spotlight division, people would be looking at what the country has suffered the past few years as “the good old days.”

 

NASCAR spin doctors can say what they want about empty seats and plummeting TV ratings, but the truth is core fans are pissed over changes made to supposedly make the sport more exciting for new fans, and the core fans are ignoring the sport in droves.  New fans are not signing on fast enough to make up for old ones dropping out. The product is boring.  Anyone suffering from sleep deprivation should tape the races at Chicago or Fontana and watch them before going to bed.  Maybe NASCAR can market such tapes under the NAPCAR banner.

 

Changes that I would like to see that will not happen:

1.  Get rid of Brian France.  He is the Tony George (IRL) of the South, and I do not mean that as a compliment.  Replace him with Leesa France Kennedy-you know leadership is not going to anyone without the same last name.

 

2.  Get rid of The Chase, aka Jimmy Johnson Coronation Tour.  Tony Stewart would have trailed Johnson by only 13 points heading into the Homestead race.  Do you think Stewart would have been involved in a “dancing with the cars” tango with Juan Pablo Montoya last weekend if he was a mere baker’s dozen points from a championship?  I don’t think so.  Jeff Gordon would have been 56 points out when the race started a far cry from being eliminated as soon as Johnson flipped the starter switch on the 48 on Sunday.  The race would have meant something. And yes, I have hated the Chase from its inception.

 

3.  Make changes on the COT –Car of tomorrow/today/turmoil, based on input from drivers, crew chiefs, and owners.

 

4.  Shorten races.  The raciest NASCAR series is the trucks, all with fairly short races.  Only traditional races at forever NASCAR venues should go 500 miles.  Make the rest 300 miles or 300 laps, whichever is the shorter distance. 

 

5.  Either re-do the tracks at Chicago and Fontana, or kick them out of the series.  Yeah, fat chance, given the same family owns NASCAR and those tracks.

 

6.  Start mending fences with core fans.  Yes, the common starting time for events in 2010 is a baby step in the right direction.  Bristol in August as the only Saturday night race in the season would be nice.  And for the traditionalists, put the Southern 500 back in Darlington on Labor Day weekend.

 

7. TV coverage.  I don’t even know where to begin.  Get rid of all furry creatures on Fox coverage-well, keep Digger, but get rid of Larry McReynolds, Darrell Waltrip, and Mike Joy.  Wally Dallenbach, don’t get me started.  I do like Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree, but fire the producer of the ABC/ESPN coverage.

 

Will that be enough change?  I hope no network ever pulls another AJC stunt like ESPN on Sunday.  AJC being All Johnson Coverage, from the prerace show to the post race it was wall to wall Johnson, with nary a minute of the 48 not being plastered on the TV screen or his name being mentioned in reverent tones. Gimme a break.  I really wish the networks would stop treating fans like little children and produce an intelligent afternoon of sports programming.  OK, NASCAR is more likely to shut down Chicago than for that to happen.

 

If the sport is going to regain its intrigue or mystic, other teams need to step up.  When motor head analysts suggest that the 48 can win five, six, seven, or even eight championships in a row I think “you gotta be kidding me.” Johnson is not the second coming of Richard Petty as a driver.  Knaus-the arrogant and self-admitted “not nice guy,” is the best crew chief, and the Hendrick teams seem to have the best of everything.  Does this mean there are no resources at other mega-teams?  There are no talented crew chiefs in any other shop?  That Johnson can make a car do things Stewart and Gordon can’t?  I just don’t see it.

 

So, who might challenge the tag team duo of Johnson and Knaus in 2010?  Well, Mark Martin’s team knows what it tastes like to be close and not to win a championship.  Denny Hamlin’s team won four races, though they need to learn how to finish every race.  Tony Stewart is the most talented driver and has a good team, but Stewart never seems to be able to run good for an entire season.  If Joe Gibbs could harness Kyle Busch, cool his jets a little, change the personality from being a total jerk to something less (hey, his brother Kurt was a total jerk, and he isn’t totally a jerk anymore), the 18 car could be a contender. Richard Childress Racing had a good end of the season, and has momentum going into the 2010 season.  Even with two drivers in the Chase, Jack Roush would hardly call 2009 a stellar year for Roush/Fenway.

 

What does it all mean?  God help us all, probably another boring season. I read that Sprint lost a lot of money this year-not just because of NASCAR.  Maybe Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream can become the new title sponsor and they can call the series The Vanilla Cup.

 

 

Race Champions Part III-Sorry ABC Unlike Your Coverage I Hardly Mention Jimmy Johnson

November 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Being a member of NMPA I have the opportunity to travel to Las Vegas to cover NASCAR 2009 awards, including participating the press conferences of the 12 Chase drivers.  Unfortunately the racing magazines I write for don’t cover NASCAR and don’t pay expenses anyway, plus I don’t really think the IRS would look favorably on me claiming a trip to Las Vegas as business expenses for my blog.

 

Actually, if I had my choice of talking with Jimmy Johnson, Carl Edwards, Juan Pablo Montoya or Dusty Poessnecker, I am going to talk with Dusty or someone like him every time.  Guys like Dusty don’t need press agents telling them what to say or when to say it.  It isn’t an inconvenience for them to talk with me, they are happy someone is interested in what they have to say.  So, give me an IMCA hobby stock driver over a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver every time.

 

Actually, after trying to connect several times Dusty and I are going to talk tonight, and I am looking forward to talking racing with this very enthusiastic driver.

 

From Nebraskan Shawn Peters, a crew man for veteran late model driver Les Siebert:

 

It takes everything and more, speaking of late models since that is where all my experience is.   You don’t have to have the best equipment you just have to be within reason.  A 4-bar is a 4-bar is a 4-bar to a point, but in the Midwest, a swing arm won’t run with 4-bar.  I always have joked that if you can get us within 50 hp of everyone else, we can make up the rest with setup.  There are swing arms that are winning, but that has more to do with the 4-bar guys not knowing what they are doing. 

 
  Sponsors aren’t a must, but a huge, huge help and are always greatly appreciated.  Commitment is an absolute must-commitment to maintenance, to your setup philosophy, and your budget.  We ran an entire season and used only 13 or 14 tires, and won a track championship that year too.  Granted the GN/Crate motor doesn’t eat tires nearly as fast as an open motor, but if you are off on setup, I’ve seen guys blister a brand new tire in one A feature.
  Knowledge is huge and normally is something you can’t buy, at least at the speed shop.  We are lucky that all three of us on the crew have been behind the wheel of a race car.  It makes it easier when the driver is saying the car is doing this, that you have a frame of reference to understand what he is talking about.  If you’ve ever seen us pull into the track (and you probably have), we don’t have the flashiest rig, actually, some would say we have the trashiest rig, but that has more to do with the philosophy that you don’t race the hauler; we have a limited budget, and any money we can put into the car, that’s where it’s going to go.
  The hardest part for me, being a newlywed (just hit the 2 year mark) is trying to balance the time with working on the car and at the track with spending time with my wife.  I went from working full time at my job and full time working on the race car to spending a lot less time on the car (sometimes a lot less than I would like).  She’s not a huge fan, but trying to get her more involved.  Let’s just say I now know what “Kitchen Passes” are now.
  Luck, you have to have some, and you make it too.  You will never win a race at the shop, but you can lose them really easy if you aren’t diligent with your maintenance program.  A side note on maintenance, do you ever see the top teams in any division doing what should be routine maintenance at the track?  Nope, it takes away from focusing on the car at the track, and the changes you need to be making to get ready for the next race.  The seasons when we have won championships, we’ve managed to miss the big wrecks and been able to finish good even when we’ve gotten tangled up in small ones.
   Talent is important.  The thing about it though, is there are so many different types of driving talent.  You have the phenom that can hang a car out and just let it go, the driver that can roll off the same lap, lap after lap, and the driver that can manage the car and not do anything stupid.
   In reality, it isn’t just one thing, it is everything coming together.   It takes knowing your car, knowing what the track is going to do, knowing you have gone to the track ready, and knowing how to adjust to anything.
  Something else I forgot, and it probably is the most important part. Attitude, Attitude, and Attitude.  I think a large number of our fellow competitors loose sight of why the got into racing.  The fact that it is the most fun you can have with your clothes on.  I see so many teams that we race with that look like they aren’t having fun.  This is fun, and the day it quits being fun, we will quit. It’s that simple.  The other part of the attitude equation is not being satisfied.  Whether we win or finish 5th, after the race is over, we go over what on the car could be better, what was working, and what we would change.  We also set the standard that we expect to win when we show up at the track.  That’s the goal of all the work we put into the operation, during the day, week, season, off-season, and year.  It’s not a tragedy and we aren’t pissed if we don’t win, because, I’m not sure there is a racer alive that has won more than they have lost. 
  Okay, done rambling, it was funny though, I was thinking about this the other day, so it was at the front of my brain.

By the way, if you are looking for a story to do, talk the Les Siebert.  He’s got a great story, how many people do you know that have won points championships at the same track 25 years apart?  I’m pretty sure he’s won more races after 50 than he did before.  By the way, I’m on his crew.

Thanks again.  I read the blog, and still miss your weekly comments about NRP on dirtdrivers.com.  It’s always interesting to see how the other side of the fence see’s things.

 

Shawn-thanks for the post.  I know that took some time and effort, and I appreciate it. My alter ego Bruton is trying to behave these days, but sometimes he just has to speak out, even when he ought to keep his mouth shut. Thanks for reading the blog too Shawn.

 

From young Nathan Brewer of Paragould, Arkansas:

 

“a good pit crew would help”

 

I agree Shawn. Add experienced to good.  I know of drivers who do most of the work on their cars, but I don’t think any of them are champions.  There is simply too much maintenance and repair work to do each week for one person to do it all.  Other pit crews do help drivers like this when they are involved in some type of on track incident, but if I was a driver I would want people I am familiar with repairing my car at that time.

 

From Travis Hayes of Sarver, Pennsylvania:

 

“A loss of one’s marbles.”

 

No need to laugh Travis, you are right. I have been watching races for over 50 years, and though rules have made cars safer than ever, it is still a dangerous sport.  You have to be a little nutty to crawl behind the wheel of a race car-a lot nutty in some divisions.  To even run for a track championship you have to leave your comfort zone and intensely focus on reaching your goal.  Some people would say that is a few bricks shy of a full load. 

 

And this is quite a few words over my limit for the day, so I’ll save the rest of my responses for tomorrow.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

The Business of Racing; Michael Waltrip; and Mark Martin-MVP

November 21, 2009 2 comments

2010 is shaping up as an interesting year for NASCAR.  NO, I don’t necessarily mean on the track.  Word coming down from on high is that the Car of Turmoil is not going to be drastically changed.  What will be interesting is what teams find sponsorship as businesses are cutting back or even dropping their involvement in auto racing.  Even the Rick Hendrick organization isn’t immune to these changes as both the Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin teams do not have full sponsorships for all of 2010.

 

Tony Anville sent me the link below for anyone wanting to read an interesting article on the business side of racing.

 

http://www.sportingnews.com/nascar/article/2009-11-17/nascar-teams-struggle-sustain-sponsorship-dollars

 

 

Anville, a BIG Michael Waltrip fan pointed out that with all the hype about Jimmy Johnson winning his fourth straight championship, the fact that this is Waltrip’s final full season as a driver has been overlooked.  Anvillle sent me this about Waltrip:

 

Michael Waltrip’s last race as a full-time driver. Waltrip’s final full season in Cup racing deserves more fanfare than it has received to this point. Waltrip began his Cup career 758 races ago (on May 26, 1985), 24 days after Kyle Busch was born. In 2010, Waltrip will run a few selected races, concentrating on the restrictor-plate tracks (Daytona and Talladega) he particularly likes.

“I figured out that only Mark Martin can drive forever—and I can’t,” Waltrip said.

Johnson has to finish only 25th or better to win the championship, no matter what Mark Martin does Sunday at Homestead, FL.  The old race cliché of “anything can happen, that is why we race,” is true, though the odds of Johnson not winning the championship are remote, bordering on astronomical.

Despite winning the championship in convincing fashion, Johnson is not my choice for driver of the year.  And yes, as a matter of fact, I do have a vote.  I was just accepted as a member of the NMPA-National Motorsports Press Association, and the organization presents The Richard Petty Driver of the Year Award, racing’s version of an MVP award. My vote for the award is going to Mark Martin.  Racing against much younger driver, what he accomplished this season was phenomenal.  Without Martin’s story, most of the season would have been boring and the rest would have been negative.

It will be Champions-Part III early next week.  Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Bed of Roses, No Pleasure Cruise-Dirt Championships Part II

November 20, 2009 1 comment

It looks like I will be doing four “champions” blogs.  People keep responding to my Facebook question, and I want to make sure everyone has their say-so.  I already have another champion’s blog finished, but I will save it until next week as Tony “The Mega Michael Waltrip Fan” Anville has provided some interesting information I would like to share tomorrow.

 

 

Dirt Tack Champions Part II

 

From Greg Soukup-Lincoln, NE:

It takes LOTS of things to make a champion.

#1: The driver. If a driver isn’t good enough to be able to drive an ill-handling race car or convey what needs to be changed to his/her crew (or change it himself) he can’t win. No one has a dream machine every time. Similarly, even with a great car, if the driver doesn’t have that winning mind set they’re out of it before the race ever starts. Yogi Berra would have said “Racing is 10% mechanical and 95% mental”. And this covers the crew also. If they can’t or don’t make the necessary changes or get the set-up right it’s up to the driver to help out by making the best that they can of what they’ve got until it can be changed or fixed. And if your crew doesn’t have their minds right you’re back to square one. Put yourself in position to win, or you CAN’T win.

#2: MOOLAH!! If you can’t afford to replace what’s broken/tired/worn out then you are just waiting for the part to fail. And that preys on the driver’s and crew’s minds. It’s that “waiting for the other shoe to drop” thinking that will get you every time. If you think you’re beat, then you probably are. Even if you know that everything will last there are times when it won’t despite your best effort at positive thinking. The best driver in the world is at a disadvantage without the proper equipment.

#3: Luck. You have to have Lady Luck in the co-pilot’s seat, plain and simple. If she’s there you’ll miss that huge pile-up in front of you because you just moved low on the track to pass someone and can duck into the infield. If she’s out for refreshments, you’re done for. You probably just moved high to pass that lapper and there, 50 feet past turn 4 right in front of you, is a tangle of 5 cars and you’re running 90 MPH. You can only think “This will be exciting for the fans” and hold on. If the track uses a pill draw, luck again has a huge impact on your results.

 

Great points Greg.  Maybe a question for drivers some day would be: “50 feet past turn 4 right in front of you is a tangle of 5 cars and you’re running 90 MPH.” As a driver, what are you thinking?

From Craig Kelley, Omaha, NE; former owner of the legendary Sunset Speedway, and former GM of Nebraska Raceway Park:

 

To win a championship:
1.  DRIVER-Great driver who is smooth and good-aggressive and not overly aggressive
2.  CREW-Great crew to set up and maintain the car.
3.  EQUIPMENT: The budget to be able to purchase the needed chassis and power and shocks/suspension and tires to run up front
4.  SPONSORS or NET WORTH to take care of #3
5.  LUCK
6.  Family and Career that allow you to pursue your passion

 

It is hard to argue with what Craig has to say.  He was around the sport for over 25 years, and handed out championship trophies to scores of drivers.  Anyway, he is a lawyer, so you know he would get in the last word.

 

Some of Craig’s points were mentioned yesterday as well, but #3 interests me.  Engines are a major expense, especially for drivers who run a feature class, but oftentimes engines of top drivers are within a few horse power of being the same, giving no one an advantage.  Craig’s mention of shocks/suspension is just one more area of major expense for drivers who want to run up front. 

 

 

From Tina Oestreich-Blaine, MN:

 

“I believe one of the most important is passion! You have to live it and breathe it to be a true champion.”

 

I think that goes back to commitment, and as others have said, the pit crew needs to live and breathe it too.

 

 

From Allen Line-Kankakee, IL:

 

“Talent, Experience, Commitment, an understanding wife..lol.. you don’t need good equipment or a good sponsor to be a good race car driver…but it does help”

 

I do think that talent and experience and overcome great equipment.  Actually there are times when youth and exuberance can do the same-young drivers don’t know what they don’t know and go out and do something that someone will tell them later they can’t do.

 

From Nebraska IMCA Sports Compact Driver Amanda Rhiley:

 

“I am by no means a track champion, but I think it is honestly a mixture of all of the above. My experiences are that just because you have a fast car doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to win. Knowing how to handle your car, patience and experience are factors as well. Sponsors mean you can buy better things for your race car that others might not. So that is my 2 cents. Thank you.”

 

From Candace Thompson-West Duluth, MN:

 

“I would LOVE if my man were a racer

(I am going through dirt track withdrawal)….a passion for the dirt…for me it is an addiction”

 

Passion for the sport is a common thread among the people who responded to my question.  Candace is also involved with four legged horsepower.  I wonder which is more frightening, being on the back of a flighty four legged creature, or being strapped into a high horsepower machine, dicing with 23 other flighty two legged creatures.

 

Thanks for stopping by.