Archive for August, 2010

Malibu and U.S. 30 Speedway-Who Else Writes of Both?

August 31, 2010 4 comments

My daughter flew to California this weekend to attend a friend’s wedding in Malibu.  When she arrived home yesterday she informed me she would rather be there than back in Nebraska.  Well, duh, who wouldn’t?  Google ‘Wright Ranch Malibu’ to see the location of the wedding.

In 1989 Kevin Costner’s character Ray Kinsella built his ‘Field of Dreams’ in an Iowa cornfield. Four years earlier, ‘Abe’ Lincoln built his dream in a soybean field southwest of Columbus, Nebraska.  The movie set baseball field still draws tourists to Dyersville, Iowa and Lincoln’s race track, U.S. 30 Speedway, draws a crowd of race fans every summer Thursday night.

While most baseball dimensions are well known, dirt tracks come in many different sizes.  No two tracks are the same, except most tracks started with someone’s passion for auto racing.  U.S. 30 Speedway is a blast from the past in that no surveyors or engineers had anything to do with how the track was constructed.  According to Lincoln’s oldest granddaughter Angey Melcher, “grandpa didn’t have a blueprint; he measured everything by his footsteps.”

The first event at the track was a demo derby, and the first full season of racing at the Columbus dirt oval was 1986.  The track gained IMCA sanctioning in 1994.  Although Lincoln passed away in 1997, his dream lives on in the hearts of his wife, children, and grandchildren.  The speedway does many things the “old fashioned way,” and that is something people my age definitely appreciate.  Actually, the biggest change at the track is “adding more family,” stated Melcher.  I am sure there are plenty of race track chores for everyone.

This Thursday, September 2nd, is the final night of weekly racing at the speedway for the 2010 season and the track is celebrating its 25th anniversary.  It is also Kid’s Night at the track.  Ronald McDonald will be present (no, despite what Randy Palmer says, Ronald McDonald and I are not the same person), and there will be a driver autograph session from 6:45 p.m.-7:15 p.m.  There will be lots of giveaways during the night, and the track’s Nickel Toss (courtesy of First National Bank) will be held.  Attempts have been made to find all past champions and invite them to the event.  $400 in mystery spot money will be given to drivers, and for drivers in the street stock class, it will be “cheater’s night.”  Rumor has it there will also be some “old” prices on concessions.

It should be a fun night at the track, and I am definitely going to be there.  Since I can’t talk Matt into going to the state championship races at Beatrice, I also plan on going to the late model/ASCS sprint car show at I-80 Speedway on Friday. I understand figure 8 races are also on the bill.  With school (and high school football) already started, the 2010 racing season is winding down. The only race I have marked on my calendar after Labor Day is the Knoxville late model nationals, though I might add specials at U.S. 30 and Beatrice.  Make it to a show this weekend.

Thanks for stopping by.


One Hectic Day

August 30, 2010 1 comment

 Please accept my apology for a short, down and dirty report.  Today is payday at work, and I am pretty sure if I took a poll, most of the employees here would prefer I get their paychecks to them on time and worry about my blog another day. When I finish with payroll I need to head to the airport in Omaha to pick up my daughter who is coming home after a quick trip to a friend’s wedding in Malibu.  If she gets in on time-1:33 p.m., I need to hurry back to Fremont for physical therapy on my right knee, so I don’t have a lot of time today for blogging.

I will write more about the track and event tomorrow, but not only is Thursday the season finale for weekly racing at U.S. 30 Speedway in Columbus, it is Kid’s Night and the track will be celebrating its 25th anniversary.  I wonder how many families that were running a race track in 1985 are running the same track today.  Not too many I bet. When ‘Abe’ Lincoln passed away in 1997 his family didn’t sell the track, they kept right on racing and honoring his dream.  

Anyway, with the end of the 2010 Midwest racing season coming quicker than a sprint car red flag, this weekend would be a great one to head out to a local track.  My plan is to journey to Columbus on Thursday, then to I-80 Speedway on Friday.  After that, it will be a college football weekend for me.

Thanks for stopping by.

Free Admission, Cheap Beer

August 28, 2010 10 comments

Some things I do not understand:

-How the Los Angeles school board can justify spending $500,000,000 on one school when the district is suffering from the same short and long term problems that every major city public school system in the country is suffering from.

-Affluent Dallas suburb or not, how Allen, Texas can justify spending $60,000,000 on a HIGH SCHOOL football stadium.  I realize that high school football is a religion in Texas, and Texans do nothing understated, but $60,000,000.  That is almost as much as the combined assets of Tony Anville, Randy Palmer, and Ivan Tracy.

-The appeal sprint cars have to some race fans. That was mainly directed at a certain self-proclaimed elitist.

-How Jimmie Johnson won four straight Sprint Cup championships.

-Why anyone would want to attend a NASCAR race in Fontana, California.

-How a radiologist reading my MRI can state I have a torn quadriceps tendon which in turn has my family doctor saying I will need to see an orthopedist to have surgery.  When I get into see the orthopedist, he reads the MRI and examines me and says I do not have a torn quadriceps tendon in my right knee and I do not need surgery, only some physical therapy.

-Why NASCAR TV broadcasts can not have decent color commentators.

-Why more dirt track promoters do not aspire to be like the late Mike Swims.

-How late model, sprint car, and modified drivers who race for a living actually make a living.  They must sell a helluva lot of souvenirs.

-Why one political party or the other wants their rivals to fail at governing our country, when failure means we all suffer.

-How Bill Callahan is making the money he is coaching football.

-Why I have such a difficult time writing articles for Dirt Late Model and Dirt Modified magazines.  Maybe I need Matt to interview for me and I’ll just write the story.

-Why race track concession items that are supposed to be cool aren’t, and why items that are supposed to be warm are oftentimes cool. Pop and hot dogs are good examples of what I am talking of.

-Why it takes cars so long to get in proper order when a yellow flag is flown at a dirt track, even at tracks that use raceceivers.

-Why no track in Nebraska has come up with a pork chop sandwich or a prime rib sandwich.

-Why race fans are happy when the actual starting time of the night’s events comes within 30 minutes of the scheduled time.

-How my wife has put up with me for 40 years (as of tomorrow). Most of you won’t believe this, but there are times when I can be a little difficult to be around.

-Why great racing can’t get 2,000 people to a local track, but free admission, cheap beer and Husker players signing autographs can get 10,000 to a race.

Believe me, there are more things I don’t understand, even at my advanced age, than I do understand.  This is enough for now though.  Thanks for stopping by.  Oh, and if you have something you don’t understand, please feel free to comment.

Thank You Lord-No Surgery Needed On My Right Knee

August 27, 2010 8 comments

After spending over two hours at the orthopedist’s this afternoon, I walked away with the news I was hoping to hear.  I do not have to have surgery on my right knee.  Google is a wonderful thing, but just like everything else with computers, output depends on input.  I was by my family physician that the radiologist reading my MRI found a quadriceps tendon tear, and so naturally that is what I googled.

The first thing I read about this condition is that it requires immediate surgery, it is not arthroscopic surgery, it requires a lengthy rehabilitation, and I could look forward to plenty of pain.  However, the next information I read said that patients with quad tendon tears could not walk or straighten their leg, and I can do both.  I assumed I had a partial tear and every site I found stated partial tears could be repaired without surgery.

Apparently the tendon has a number of layers and some of mine are “mush” to use a highly medical term.  But the tendon isn’t torn as we think of tears, and barring some kind of traumatic event-like being tackled by Ndamakong Suh or crashing a sprint car-there is no writing in a sacred place that says it will ever completely tear.

Apparently my condition is chronic quad tendonosis, that is ‘osis’ not ‘itis’ but it is all Greek to me.  Did you get the pun rstar?  I will google that tonight.  The doctor felt I would be thinking “yeah, that is me” when I read about tendonosis.  Two symptoms are difficulty getting out of a chair and climbing/descending stairs, and that I definitely have.

So, no surgery, but I will be seeing a physical therapist three times a week for the next month.  Physical therapy isn’t cheap, but it is a lot cheaper than paying out what my insurance wouldn’t cover for a surgery, and even better, Ashley, my physical therapist when I rehabbed my shoulder, will be working with me on the knee.  She is very good-my left shoulder is better than when I tore my rotator cuff, and Randy Palmer would call her a ‘hottie.’  I am highly motivated to strengthen my lower body and get rid of this pain.

I also can start working out at the Fremont Y Wellness Center again, including using the treadmill, and doing upper body lifting routines.  I have to keep the treadmill flat, and I will start out slow and not be doing hour work outs for awhile. I’ll be back in the saddle tomorrow.

And talk about racing too.  Thanks for stopping by.

Am I Smarter Than A 5th Grader? Is NASCAR?

August 25, 2010 7 comments

Pro Blogger suggested today that bloggers who want to attract more readers should be playful.  Wow.  Every morning when I look in the mirror to shave I think “there is a playful blogger.”  Sometimes I even say it.  However, I will make it a point to be even more playful in the coming weeks.

I found out the results of my MRI last night.  I suspected I have a torn meniscus in my right knee, which I do.  However, I did not expect to hear that I have a torn quadriceps tendon as well.  If it is completely torn it is a fairly serious injury that requires surgery and not arthroscopic surgery either.  I can still straighten my leg somewhat, and according to all I read on the internet if the tendon was completely ruptured I would not be able to do that.  Sometimes partial tears can be repaired without surgery and I am crossing my fingers on that. I’ll find out how I pay the piper whenever I finally get into see an orthopedist.

As my follicle-challenged friend from Lincoln pointed out, tears like mine are normally associated with sprinters, and not the kind with wings that run on dirt tracks.  My wife of 40 years (on 8/28) is not happy with me and suggests that my knee injury has to do with overdoing my work outs.  I counter with it being a degenerative injury caused by old age, arthritis, diabetes, or in my case, probably all three.

If my wife is correct, it would show that I have the brain power to be a sprint car driver.  I don’t know why I started thinking “Are you smarter than a 5th grader?” when I just typed that.  OK, I do know why I started thinking that-it is a nice jab at EPSG, rstar, and Ivan, and is me being more playful.

Matt thinks I injured my leg on purpose so I didn’t have to go to I-80 Speedway on September 3rd.  That is an interesting concept, but surgery or not, I already had an expensive MRI done, and my insurance will certainly not pay that in full.  On the whole I would rather go to I-80 Speedway.

NASCAR announced that purses in the Nationwide Series will be cut 20% in 2011 to make it more profitable for tracks to host one of these races.  Purses were also cut this season.  Despite the purse cuts, the Nationwide Series will have 34 dates in 2011, instead of 35 as the series has run since 2005.

An interesting side effect of the purse cut would be making NWS races less attractive for Sprint Cup Series drivers.  I have never been a big fan of Sprint Cup drivers racing in this series and dominating it like they do, but fans who attend the races have to enjoy having name drivers like Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards racing.  If Sprint Cup drivers don’t race in the NWS will this series still be attractive for fans? 

I am not sure if I am going racing this week or not.  Matt wants to go to Eagle on Saturday, but Saturday happens to be my 40th wedding anniversary, and I really am not as dumb as I look.  Maybe I’ll go to U.S. 30 Speedway on Thursday if my knee feels OK.

Thanks for stopping by.

State Championships, Plus The State of Dirt Tracks??

August 24, 2010 8 comments

With the Nebraska State Fair moving from Lincoln to Fonner Park in Grand Island, Johnny Saathoff had to find a new location for his state championship races.  He found it at his hometown Beatrice Speedway.  The event will now be known as the Kenny Parde Memorial State Championship Races and will include IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Northern Sports Mods, IMCA Hobby Stocks, and IMCA Sports Compacts.

According to a press release, pit gates open at 4:00 p.m., hot laps are scheduled for 6:45 p.m., and racing will start at 7:30 p.m.  Over $8,500 in cash and prizes will be handed out to drivers, and an additional $1,200 in cash and prizes will be given to fans.  For more information go to

Friend Tom McLaughlin went to the races at Stuart Raceway last Sunday.  Stuart is a racy ¼ mile oval west of Des Moines.  It is a track he likes to visit every year, but he was somewhat alarmed by this year’s visit.  IMCA modifieds are the feature class, but only 8 of the open wheel stockers were on hand.  TMC estimated the grandstand crowd at about 200.  Both numbers paint a rather dismal picture.  Iowa has long been known as the “racingest state in the nation,” and what is the message made when a track close to the biggest metropolitan area in the state produces such numbers?

TMC wondered if dirt tracks aren’t going the way of drive-in theaters (I used to work at a drive-in theater and have a lot of good memories, but will save that story for another day).  Stuart is certainly not the only track with bleak numbers.  Matt has pointed out to me many Midwest tracks with surprisingly low car counts.  And low car counts mean fewer people in the grandstands. 

Not many tracks feature super late models in their weekly programs.  Fans need to find specials to get their fill of these racing horsepower goliaths.  Yes, there are tracks that feature IMCA style late models and Grand National late models, but not the supers. 

According to some prognosticators of doom, IMCA modifieds are going the way of the dinosaur.  They speculate that sports modifieds are going to become the feature class at many tracks and modifieds will become a tour type division, appearing at tracks maybe once a month.

Sprint car numbers are dwindling, though I suppose my elitist sprint car friends will want to argue that point.  Even Knoxville, the mecca of sprint car racers has seen weekly numbers drop.  On one hand it would be difficult to put on the Knoxville Nationals without a weekly sprint car show at the Marion County Fairgrounds, but the other hand is that for some time the nationals have had to support the weekly show.

These are the classes that fans have loved for years.  Costs in all three have far outpaced winnings, and with a down economy, sponsors find local racing an easy expense to cut.  Although that holds true in support classes too, what happens if OR when fan favorites are no longer part of weekly racing?  Will we see more specials only tracks?  Will the number of ghost tracks grow?

I would love to hear your take on what the state of dirt track racing might be in two years?  In five years?  In ten years? 

Thanks for stopping by.

Twisted Sister Production, or Just Plain Screwed

August 23, 2010 5 comments

I should have been a radiologist.  With the possible exceptions of doing whatever it is Randy Palmer does, or being a state tax auditor, radiologists must have the cushiest job around.  I went to the Fremont Area Medical Center at 7:30 a.m. to have an MRI on my right knee.  My doctor scheduled the MRI on Thursday, so I did not have a long wait. This tells me the hospital imaging center is not swamped with patients. 

I doubt that anyone had an MRI before me this morning.  I believe hospital shifts change at 7:00 a.m. so no one would have been in earlier since an MRI takes at least 30 minutes.  Like I said, I was the first one.  So, why would it take 24-48 hours for a radiologist to read the MRI?  I asked when my doctor would receive the MRI results, and that is what I was told.  Wow. I should have been a radiologist instead of an accountant.  I should also have been a photographer instead of a writer, but that is a different story.

Of course, after the radiologist spends reads the MRI at his/her convenience, I will have to schedule an appointment with my doctor to learn the results.  If it is what I am thinking I will then have to see an orthopedist.  Getting in to see an orthopedist is almost like getting in to see President Obama.  Despite having a knee injury, if I tried getting in on my own, it would be a month before I was scheduled.  Going through my family doctor it still might take several weeks.

When I finally get in to see the orthopedist, I will be able to read a magazine from cover to cover in the waiting room.  I will then meditate in an examining room for another 30 minutes.  The doctor will come in and tell me I have a torn meniscus in my right knee.  Since I did not injure the knee, he will tell me it is degenerative, just a result of getting older.  Of course being overweight didn’t help matters, but he will be too polite to mention that. At the end of the three minutes he is with me, he will tell his assistant to schedule me for surgery.

I can count on another long wait before I have my surgery.  I know the doctor I will be seeing does surgery three days a week.  My guess is he could do 3-5 surgeries on the days he operates, but I don’t have any proof to back that up.  For easy math, say he does 10-15 surgeries a week.  I would put money down that I will have to wait a month to have my surgery.  That translates to 40-60 patients ahead of me.  My doctor is one of four orthopedists on staff at the Fremont Area Medical Center.  If they all do the same number of surgeries, there is approximately 200 orthopedic surgeries a month done at this hospital, or one of the surgery centers located near the hospital.  Multiply that times 12 months in a year, and there are 2,400 orthopedic surgeries done in Dodge County, Nebraska every 12 months.  Fremont has a population of 25,000, so all of Dodge County can’t be much more than 30,000 people.  So my figures mean that 8% of the people in Dodge County have orthopedic surgery every year.  Or, if you live in Dodge County for 12 ½ years you will have orthopedic surgery. I find that unlikely.

OR-maybe my doctor doesn’t do 3-5 surgeries three times a week, even though I would think physically he ought to be able to.  I wonder if the watch dogs that schedule surgery had knee or shoulder or elbow or wrist pain if they would want to wait a month to have the problem fixed.  I suspect not.

So goes my rant for the day.  I am afraid the results of the MRI will show something wrong, and I’ll have to have it fixed.  I am just as afraid that the MRI will show only arthritis, and I am stuck with this pain.  Yeah, I know, lose weight and that will really help.  Well, since February I have been working very hard at that, many weeks spending 5-6 hours at the Fremont Y Wellness Center.  There aren’t many cardio routines that put no stress on knees, and while I can lift weights with my arms, there is no way I would even try with my legs until my doctor said I could.

I am depressed this is screwing up the end of the racing season for me, and may mess up going to Nebraska football games with Matt-he likes to park near Wahoo, so we have a 12 mile hike from where he parks to the stadium, then we have 63 steps to climb to our seats since the Pederson Palace was built in the North Stadium. 

Right now I am not sure if I just hate radiologists, if I dislike doctor’s assistants, if I am angry about missing some races and football games, or if I am just pissed that in 24 days I am going to turn 60 years old.  Or, maybe I just like to whine and this is a pity party. Probably all of the above. Maybe I can organize other orthopedic patients to demonstrate.  We’ll wave our crutches instead of signs, and hire Twisted Sister to play “We’re Not Going to Take It Anymore” over and over.  That would probably be too expensive.  Maybe we can rent a DVD of the old movie “Network” and play the “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore” monologue a few hundred times.

Thanks for stopping by-and I promise tomorrow my blog will be about auto racing and I won’t rant on any local promoter or NASCAR.