Archive for July, 2010

Figure 8 and Midgets

July 30, 2010 3 comments

We work out butts off for six months to get 27 late models to a special that pays $3,000 to win and $500 to start.  100 cars show up at Figure-8 races on the Carroll County Fairgrounds in Coon Rapids, Iowa, where the most they can earn is $300. 

The late model “advisory panel” worried and worked, worked and worried day after day to get maybe 2,000 people on the grounds at Eagle Raceway on July 23rd, and the grandstands are more empty than full.  The Carroll County Fair Board spent $155,000 to add new grandstands. “Without Figure-8 races we might not be able to have a county fair,” Fair Board President Jim Mohr told the Coon Rapids Enterprise. “The races allow us to make repairs and improvements to the fairgrounds.”

The Shelby County Fair Board held Figure-8 races at their county fair, and will use the proceeds to install new bleachers at Shelby County Speedway.  Several years ago the Boone County Fair in Albion, Nebraska hosted WDRL late models one night and WoO late models the next night, but the fair event that drew the most people was school bus races and a combine demo derby.

The late Mike Swims was one of a handful of race promoters I would call outstanding, and his tracks hosted many big super late model events featuring notables like Bloomquist and Moyer.  So, what was the biggest show he ever promoted?  A monster truck rally.

I am not sure exactly what this says about culture in America. It is a step up from the Midget Wrestling Tour seen on Spike TV.

And speaking of midgets-sometimes I am pretty good at this, the Powri Midgets will be making their annual swing through Nebraska next week.  On Monday they will appear at Butler County Motorplex south of Columbus.  SLMR late models and hobby stocks will also be on the card. Tuesday and Wednesday they race at Junction Motor Speedway south of York.  $1,000 to win open modifieds will be the other half of Tuesday’s JMS show, while $1,000 to win crate late models will fill out the Wednesday show.

Finally, give me some good reasons why late models should appear at Eagle in 2011.  I’ll present a Top Ten Reasons Why Late Models Should Appear at Eagle Raceway in 2011, with several reasons each day next week.

Thanks for stopping by.


A Sunset Dream

July 30, 2010 2 comments

I didn’t wake up with any crazy racing ideas this morning.  I slept right through all the craziness.  My dream last night was that Sunset Speedway owner Craig Kelley was going to run one more race at the track.  I couldn’t believe it so I drove to the track.  There was Craig and many of the Sunset Mafia getting the track ready to race.  I drove home and told Matt we had to go because people were already lining up to get in, and then told my wife I had to go to Wal-Mart to buy some lawn chairs. Of course I woke up before any races were run.

I drove by Sunset about a month ago coming back from an Eagle Shoot-Out meeting with Matt and Roger Hadan. The track has no grandstands, no lights, virtually no parking, and there are trees growing everywhere, so how Craig was going to race I don’t know.  Several of the old parking areas are corn fields, and it looked like part of the south pits was laid out for more housing in the nearby development. The last event at the Sunset Inn may have been Matt’s bachelor party, and it seems like he has been married for years. There is also the matter of a “cease and desist” agreement, but heck, Craig is an attorney, I’m sure he could weasel out of that.

I don’t think this had anything to do with what I ate for supper last night.  I may eat too much, but I am basically a meat and potatoes kind of guy. No morsel of food generated this dream. I think it might have been that Craig is now becoming more insistent that we are going to do the Sunset book I have wanted to do for the last 10 years. 

I’m ready Craig.  There is a firm in Omaha that can help with publishing and promoting and I just got a book on self-publishing that I will be studying.  I already have lots and lots of ideas for the book.  The creative juices are ready to flow. Matt is talking about a Sunset clothing line and DVD’s.  I’m sure it is too late for Christmas 2010, but maybe Santa Claus will be good to all the old Sunset fans in 2011.

Thanks for stopping by.

Richest Dirt Track Race In The World

July 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Calm down Roger, I am NOT suggesting this for Eagle Raceway. I just finished an article on Lucas Oil Speedway that will appear in the September issue of Dirt Late Model.  Since the magazine actually pays me-a pittance, but far more than my blog pays me-I can’t give you The Rest of the Dirt.  You’ll have to subscribe, but you should be doing that already.

Apparently a combination of my trip to Wheatland, my recent experience “promoting” a late model special, and doing articles on both took a toll on my sanity.  I woke up in the middle of the night thinking that Lucas Oil Speedway should host an event promoted as “The Richest Dirt Track Race Ever.”  NO, it has nothing to do with sprint cars-this is my dream, sprint car fans can dream up their own fantasies.

Anyway, Lucas Oil could sponsor the event and if they wanted to be nasty, they could make it the series finale of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, and only the top 50 in point standings of the tour could participate.  Sell all seats for $100 each and standing room for $50.  Outrageous fees for camping, RV’s, and suites seem in order. Twist some arms for big dollar associate sponsors and assuming the speedway sold out, Lucas Oil would actually only need to come up with a few hundred thousand dollars to make what I envision happen.  Take it from petty cash.

As I said, only 50 cars will be invited to the two day show.  Friday events would include time trials, 5-12 lap heat races, and 2-30 lap qualifying races.  The top 10 finishers from each qualifier go to Saturday’s A feature.

Saturday’s program would start with 2-20 lap last chance races that qualify two cars each for the feature.  Add two provisional starting spots, and the field of 26 would be set.

Donnie Moran will be able to keep his title of $1,000,000 Man, as this race won’t pay that much to win.  It will pay $250,000 to win and $25,000 to start. The total A feature purse would be $1,580,000 and giving the 24 non-qualifiers $5,000 each would make the total pay-out $1,700,000.  I do believe that would top any of the big money races put on by former Eldora Speedway promoter Earl Baltes.

Is this a crazy idea?  Of course it is.  However, is it any crazier than building a multi-million dollar dirt track in Wheatland, Missouri?  Well, maybe a little crazier than that.  OK, is it crazier than building a lake adjacent to the dirt track to host drag boat races?  Gotcha there don’t I?  Lucas is building a lake next to the track.

The more I think about it, the better the idea sounds.  Hey rstar, you call a certain member of my family Boy Genius, where do think he got all those smarts?

Thanks for stopping by.

Eagle, RPM, and Iowa Speedway

July 28, 2010 Leave a comment

After thousands of emails (I have 1157 emails in my Eagle Race folder,  I’m sure Matt has even more), hundreds of phone calls, a dozen meetings, a week of turmoil, and a hot summer night, the promotional efforts of Tom McLaughlin, my “brother” Matt and I are almost complete.  Matt made recommendations for any future late model events to Eagle track owner Roger Hadan last night, so the only thing left is writing an article on the experience for Dirt Late Model.  I have had the DLM assignment for some time, but neither Matt nor Tom wants to help with the article. I’ll probably do it anyway.

I would like to have some fan quotes for the article about how we did, so if you would like to comment, email me @

I think RPM-Race Promoter’s Monthly-should fly Matt, Tom, and I to Reno to present a seminar at the annual RPM Workshop titled “How Fans Can Help with a Successful Special.” A Nevada bookie would put pretty long odds on that happening.  I also think they ought to fly the Lucas Oil Speedway pit shack crew to Reno to do a seminar on “How a Pit Shack Should Be Operated,” and another one on “How Race Tracks Should Treat Members of The Media.” Let Forrest Lucas fly all of his speedway’s employees to Reno to conduct a series of seminars titled “How Race Tracks Should Treat Drivers and Fans.”  He spends millions of dollars sponsoring series and all kinds of events, but this would be the best thing he ever did for motorsports. Long odds on that too.  Sometimes I think RPM stands for Really Promoting Mediocrity. Three M Race Promoters (that would be Meyer, Meyer, and McLaughlin) applied for membership in this august group now that we are bonafide promoters, but my crustal ball says “ain’t gonna happen.”

NASCAR has fined several “star” drivers for making disparaging remarks about the organization this season.  Supposedly one driver was hit with a $50,000 penalty.  That certainly isn’t free speech at its finest.  If I was a NASCAR driver I am sure my talking out of turn fines would have amounted to much more than $50,000 by now.  If I was a reporter trying to make a living off the NASCAR beat I have no doubt I would have been banned from every NASCAR track by now. The first amendment does not apply in the France family kingdom.

Saturday is the NASCAR Nationwide Series US Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.  I don’t know why, but in one of my rants about taking Sprint Cup dates away from tracks like Fontana, I forgot to include Iowa Speedway as a track that deserves a date.  It does.  I am actually going to watch this race-the only laps of the Brickyard 400 I watched came when I was on a treadmill at the Fremont Y Wellness Center, so yes, this facility does put on a good show.

Matt wants to go the USMTS show at Park Jefferson tonight.  I really would like to catch a USMTS show this season, but not at Park Jefferson.  Sioux City on a week night is too far, and the PJ grandstands psyche me like no others.  I am trying to get Matt to go to US 30 on Thursday night.  It is just a weekly IMCA show, but at least I don’t have to fear the grandstands falling at the Columbus, NE track.

Thanks for stopping by.

A Few More Thoughts On Promoting A Race

July 26, 2010 2 comments

Thanks to Mike Pierson for the kind words about Friday’s show at Eagle.  It was fans trying to put on a show that fans would like, not promoters and a tour trying to put on as cheap a show as possible.  One thing we made a point of doing is make the feature of the special actually special.  No 30 lapper, or as someone I know calls them “a 30 crapper.” This happened to be one of the reasons why we did not try to work with the MLRA as a co-sanction for the event, as it seems 30 lap features are their thing.  A race that is only a few laps longer than a weekly show feature is not special.  To me it is just a way for promoters to pay less to drivers than a 40 or 50 lap race would cost them, while still charging the fans extra because it is a “tour” race. 

Speaking of the MLRA, last week 7 of the top eleven drivers in the MLRA points standings were at the MLRA/Lucas Dirt Tour event in Wheatland, Missouri.  6 of the top eleven were at Friday’s show, even though they do not run for points on the NCRA tour.  Again, kudos to Matt for the effort he put on getting late model drivers to the Eagle show.

I mentioned that Friday’s show at Eagle had the highest car count of any stand alone NCRA late model race this season.  Last night at Mayetta the NCRA car count was only 21.   Again, hats off to Matt.  Maybe there is something to Randy Palmer calling him “boy genius.”  Oh yes, Randy Palmer.  I didn’t think anyone could possibly irritate certain people more than I did this past week, but he found a way to do so.  I suppose a “hats off” to Randy would be a little out of line, but he knows what I think anyway.

I liked having Joe Proctor as pit reporter Friday night.  Joe did a good job.  While my opinion doesn’t carry much weight at the track down the road from Eagle (heck, it doesn’t carry much weight with any promoter), I think Joe deserves to be treated a little bit better by management of that facility. Again, good job Joe.  And as always, your boss did a bang up job.  I did resent a little when the people around me tried to say I was the oldest person at the track-Stan happens to be almost two months older than me, plus Bob French and Bill Wrich were there with their GOTRA machines and both of them are in their seventies. They have well over a decade on me.

This from Tony Anville: “There were two really good race promoters at Eagle Friday night and it was nice to talk with both of them.  Craig Kelley and Richard Whitehead”. I had never met Mr. Whitehead before, but he is quite a character.  Tony would like to re-open Whitehead Speedway, but he is no more likely to do that than I would be to re-open Sunset Speedway.  Sunset is only surrounded by housing developments.  Where the old Whitehead Speedway was located is under Missouri River water fairly often. You’ll have to ask Tony how his comment about promoters should be interpreted.

I think Matt is having a little post race depression.  He worked so hard for so long to make this show a good one, and now things are back to almost normal.  He still has to write his take on the show for the Dirt Late Model article I am doing though.  And no, I am not paying him for any writing.  Nor am I paying Tom McLaughlin for writing what he thinks about things.  I would offer them a third of what I get paid, but that would be such a small amount it would probably offend them. Anyway, they got used to the word ‘gratis’ working on the race.

If I read correctly, Chris Abelson of Sioux City won the weekly show modified feature at Eagle last night.  Two wins in a row against the modified competition at Eagle is a good week’s work.

One HOT Nebraska Night

July 24, 2010 4 comments

Forgive me; this blog post will be more rambling than I normally do. I suppose it is part of the recovery process of six months of efforts culminating in one hot night of racing.  This old body isn’t what it used to be, and it never used to be that great anyway.

It was hot last night.  Very hot.  Too damn hot.  But it was better than the rain that was forecast.  And the heat didn’t play havoc with the track.  It remained in decent shape last night and we received plenty of favorable comments from drivers about both the track and the facility in general.  Terry Phillips told my “little brother” that if the track had slicked off a little more it would have been like racing at Cedar Lake or West Plains, and for late model drivers and fans it doesn’t come much better.

One of the disappointments we had in working on this event is that we did not get any eastern Iowa drivers to come over.  Matt put some effort into recruiting Eckrich, Simpson, and Kile, and none showed, despite there being no other Midwest tour race this weekend.  If the Eagle show had been the only NCRA show this weekend, not wanting to travel several miles would have been understandable.  It wasn’t though-the NCRA is racing at Mayetta, Kansas tonight, just a few hours down the road from Lincoln.  Plus the Eagle race had a bumped up purse, and a lot of drivers look past what first pays to see what fifth pays, and it paid $1,000 last night. 

Another disappointment was not acquiring a sponsor for the event.  We put together an outstanding proposal, with the assistance of Tom McLaughlin’s PR firm.  I thought we had a good chance at getting Mobil One as a sponsor since they had sponsored a WDRL race in Ft. Dodge, Iowa last year, and I felt we had more to offer than that track. I do think the economy badly hurt our sponsorship efforts, and I am not sure what the solution to this problem might be for future such events-if there are future such events.

A common theory on race specials is that a promoter loses money the first year, breaks even the second year, and makes money the third year, hopefully recovering the loss of the first year.  I suspect that the race did lose money, though the figures Matt and I batted around on the way home differed quite a bit from figures we were told.

Speaking of Matt, despite what the Omaha World-Herald said, he is not my brother, he is my son.  I have no idea where the OWH came up with this, as it did not come from columnist Lee Ackerman. 

Still speaking of Matt, maybe the race should be renamed to Humpy’s Hoe Down.  Matt put his heart and soul into making this race a success.  Without his efforts John Anderson, Terry Phillips, and Jeremy Payne would not have been there, and I suspect the same can be said of Missouri drivers Eric Turner, Evan Hubert, and J.D. Hubert.  Those drivers are not NCRA regulars.  Many of the good things that happened sprang from a Matt idea.  Tom McLaughlin and I received some of the praise last night, but we just filled in around the edges, Matt was the driving force.

I talked to GOTRA driver Bob French as he was entering the pits last night.  I told him I watched him race at the Fairgrounds Speedway in Arlington when I was just five years old, and that I was going to turn 60 in a few months.  He told me that both he and Bill Wrich started racing when they were 16.  Both of the 70-something drivers raced with GOTRA last night.  French won his heat which I greatly enjoyed, and Bill Wrich started last in the feature and made his way to fourth as the checkered flag flew.  Yes, I had predicted Wrich to win.  Wrich still likes to bump and bang, though not as much as in the “good old days.”

I was very impressed with the drive of young Lacey Tuttle in the modified A feature.  Lacey raced her way to fifth and held off repeated challenges by the king of Nebraska racing, Kyle Berck.  When Berck caught up to Tuttle I thought he would move past her quickly, but she did not make a mistake in the final laps of the race.  Lacey Tuttle is a person the people in charge of diversifying efforts in big time racing should look at.  She has racing talent, she is young, and believe me she would present quite well for a sponsor.

Sioux City driver Chris Abelson took the $1,000 winner’s share of the modified purse back to Sioux City.  Ablelson was able to stay ahead of Jay Noteboom despite smoking heavily for much of the race. Heir apparent to the Kyle Berck throne, Dylan Smith finished third.  Stacey Wilhelm finished fourth, Tutttle finished fifth, and Berck came home sixth. Berck, Dan Nelson, and Dr. Ed Raines all came from the B feature to record top 10 finishes.

Bo Egge of Kearney drove the race of his life, and until Kyle Berck came on strong at the end of the NCRA late model feature, it looked like there would be a Cinderella story coming out of the Rumble at the Bull Ring.  Egge seemed an unlikely leader with the likes of Al Purkey, Terry Phillips, and Eric Turner on his rear bumper.  If the race had been 38 laps long Egge would have won.  It was 40 laps though, and Berck made a late lap charge to pass everyone and capture the $3,000 first prize check.  A happy Egge finished second, followed by Purkey, Phillips, Turner, Mike Wiarda, and John Anderson.  Dylan Smith finished 10th.

For me, one of the most enjoyable things about last night was being surrounded by members of the Sunset Mafia, and the Sunday Night Irregulars.  All our rowdy friends came over last night.  Part of the reason why I thought the race could be renamed to Humpy’s Hoe Down was the 16 friends who were on hand.

Will there be a second late model special next year?  I suspect that Eagle track owners are split on that decision, and it will be interesting to see which view point will win out.  Will Matt, Tom, and I be involved if there is another late model special?  I suspect that once again the Eagle track owners are split on that decision.  So are Matt, Tom, and I.  Both sides would probably want some clarifications on issues that cropped up as the race neared.  I know that Matt, Tom, and I are not errand boys, so asking us to clear anything we do first will not be any more acceptable in the future than it was this time.  As I said before, building a special is a three year project.  If the track isn’t committed to taking it on for three years, than sorry to say, any tour late model racing in this area will be left to I-80 Speedway to provide.

Enough for now.  I suspect I’ll have more thoughts on this race over the next few days.  Thanks for stopping by.

Eagle Late Model Shoot-Out: Discount Deadline And My BOLD Predictions

July 23, 2010 4 comments

We have received so many requests for discount coupons for Friday’s Eagle Late Model Shoot-Out that we are having a difficult time keeping up.  Yes, that is a good problem.  To make sure we can get emails to everyone who wants a coupon, we must receive your request no later than 8:00 a.m. tomorrow.  Thanks to everyone who has emailed us for coupons. The race committee is thrilled with the interest being shown, and we really appreciate your kind words.

I personally want to thank my son Matt for the incredible effort he has put into recruiting late model drivers for this race.  This has been no easy task.  Most late model tours races in this area are co-sanctioned, and this is a stand alone NCRA race.  I am not predicting what our car count will be on late models, just that we will do better than other stand alone tour races have done this summer.

One of the top drivers that will be there tomorrow is John Anderson of Omaha.  John does not usually race with the NCRA tour, but Matt made like Bo Pelini trying to recruit a 5-Star linebacker in getting Anderson to this race. A number of late model drivers, including Anderson and Kyle Berck were asked by Matt what we could do to better our car count.  We learned quickly that the top end of the purse wasn’t as important to drivers as the payback.  Although the $3,000 winner’s share of the purse is better than many regional tour events, the payback is good-fifth place gets $1,000, and all drivers who start the late model A feature will receive at least $500.

The mystery driver I have been hinting at is Terry Phillips of Springfield, Missouri.  Numerous emails, several phone calls, and a personal visit by Matt at the Diamond Nationals in Wheatland last weekend helped line up Phillips for this event.  Barring anything unforeseen, both Phillips and his teammate Jeremy Payne will be racing.

I am tempted to start talking about ex-WDRL drivers from the eastern part of a neighboring state, but we aren’t 100% sure of their attendance, and I don’t want to be accused of releasing names of drivers that aren’t going to be there, like was done at a recent July 4th event.  Still, with NCRA points leader Kelly Boen, Kyle Berck, Anderson, Phillips, and Payne on hand you have drivers that any promoter would be thrilled to have race at his track.

I am hoping for 20 GOTRA cars to be on hand tomorrow night.  There were 19 at the Eagle Nationals, and we would like to do one better at this race.  I have enjoyed working with GOTRA hot shoe John Ferguson on this race, and have enjoyed getting to know him better.  He is one of racing’s good guys.

I am not sure what to think about the IMCA modified field.  If just the Eagle regulars show up it is obviously a heckuva field.  Besides Eagle, Albion is the only IMCA sanctioned track between Des Moines and Grand Island that is running tomorrow.  The $1,000 winner’s share and a nice payback make the race attractive, as does the state, regional, and national points that come with the IMCA sanction.  People I have talked to have guessed anywhere between 30 and 60 for the number of mods on hand.  Between 30 and 40 would be fine with me, because this field is going to include more top drivers than all but a handful of IMCA events like the Harris Clash or the Supernationals in Boone.

I’ll go out on a limb and predict that three Nebraska farmers are going to take home A feature wins.  I like Bill Wrich in the GOTRA main, Dylan Smith in the IMCA modified A feature and Kyle Berck in the NCRA late model feature.  I am looking forward to seeing a great show and am crossing my fingers for a good crowd too.

Thanks for stopping by.