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A Late Model Crown Jewel For Nebraska??

November 29, 2010 9 comments

Mike Pierson emailed me a copy of an I-80 Speedway press release and wanted to know what I thought about it.  Other than I wish they would use spell and grammar check on their press releases-my corrections are in parentheses, my thoughts are listed below.

I-80 Speedway Presents “the Biggest LM Special in Nebraska Racing History”

Greenwood, NE 11-27-2010

I-80 Speedway is proud to announce the biggest Late Model purse in Nebraska auto racing history 9For an event)to be held on July 21, 22 and 23, 2011. The event will be called “the Silver dollar (Dollar) Nationals” and will be for Super Late Models and Modifieds. The 80 lap Super Late Mode(l) feature will pay $25,000 to win and $1,000 to start.

Thursday, July (21) will be a full NASCAR program with practice for the Super Late Models and Modifieds. Friday, July 22 will see a unique formt (format) for qualifying for the Saturday Features (features). All Super Late Models will run two qualifying heats. The second heat will be a complete invert from how you started the first heat (if you start your first heat on the pole, you start the second heat on the tail, etc.) with the cars having the best total points from the two heats going to the A feature. There will be no time trials.

Saturday, July 23 will see consolation races followed by the 80 lap $25,000 to win Super Late Model feature. Tire rules for Super Late Models will be WRS55 or LM 40. Sunday, July 24 will be the rain date.

More detials (details) will be forthcoming. For more information call Ed Kosiski at (402)-659-3301.

My thoughts:

-I think that it is great a Nebraska track is willing to take a risk on adding to their schedule what could become a late model crown jewel event. 

-This is a good date for a late model special, given that it is the same weekend as the 2010 late model special at Eagle that Matt, Tom McLaughlin, and I worked on.  No, we are not working on any Eagle late model special this year, and to my knowledge no other committee is either.  We chose the 2010 date because there was no conflict with any regional or national late model events.  The date became even better when we learned that neither Rising City nor Beatrice was racing that night because of county fairs, making IMCA modifieds available as a support class.  The same would hold true this year, though I don’t believe Rising City will be racing anyway.  I-80 should definitely seek IMCA sanction for the modifieds, and could offer both track, state, regional, and national points to the mods.

-$10,000 to win does not entice national drivers to race anymore.  I believe $25,000 to win would lure drivers like Brian Birkhofer, Jimmy Mars, Dan Schlieper, Darren Miller, Terry Phillips, and Billy Moyer to the event, along with regional stars like Kyle Berck, John Anderson, and Kelly Boen.  I-80 does not ask for my counsel, but I would try to lock these drivers in place ASAP and start promoting their names in Dirt Late Model, Late Model Digest, and DirtonDirt.com. This is the type of race that appeals to late model hard core fans, and after seeing fans from around the U.S. at Wheatland and Knoxville, if I-80 promotes it right, they could draw that type of crowd.

-An unnamed committee member spent a great deal of time convincing Terry Phillips and John Anderson to race at Eagle last July.  I think someone from I-80 should be in contact with every top 25 driver of both the WoO and Lucas Oil tours, as well as drivers from the regional tours like MLRA, NCRA, and the Corn Belt Clash.

-Many drivers look at pay back, rather than what a race pays to win.  What a race pays for 5th place is as important to some as what it pays to win.  With $1,000 to start, the payback should encourage many local and regional late model drivers to take part in this event.  The two tire rule may not appeal to national drivers because the open tire rule gives them an edge, but it should again appeal to local and regional drivers who won’t have to spend more on tires than they would make racing.

-I like the no time trials format.  I think the two heat, reversing starting position format is interesting.  Anything out of the norm should pique fan interest.

-Modifieds as a support class need a good payback in this event.  A good pay-out for 5th place on back is even more important than what the winner’s share of the purse is.  Unless racing nights change, no track between Des Moines, Iowa and Albion, Nebraska will be racing that night, so not only will Beatrice, I-80, and Sioux City hot shoes be on hand, the race could appeal to drivers from Iowa as well.  I wouldn’t mind seeing I-80 contact Bucky Doren of the Hawkeye Dirt Tour to sanction this race.

-Hopefully a sponsor can be found for the race.  That will be no easy task.  A great deal of time was spent by a certain unnamed party in trying to attract two different sponsors to the Eagle late model special last year.  A good package was put together, but with the economy as it was, potential sponsors were not willing to commit funds.  It may be just as difficult for I-80, though the track does have a history of running late model specials and that might work to its benefit.

-Please, please, please do not go overboard on front gate admission.  Speaking as a hard core fan, I would say $25 a night, or $40 for a two night pass purchased in advance would be reasonable.  And follow what other major tracks do as far as advance ticket cut-off dates.

-Promotion is really a key here.  I-80 does seem to do OK on specials, and it will need an even better than usual special crowd to make this a success. 

-I-80 does have the facility to host a crown jewel event.  With all the land the track owns there is plenty of parking, and plenty of spots available for RV’s.  Again, please, please, please:

1. Fix all the pot holes on the road leading from the highway to parking.

2.  Water down the road leading to parking-don’t let it be dusty.

3.  Grade the parking lot, mow down all the weeds, and pick up all the bottles and other trash in parking areas.

4.  Mow down the weeds along the catch fence, all the way around the track.

5.  Add an extra please to this one-fix any broken seats in the grandstand, AND wash down the main seating.  Believe me, with all that Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland has going for it, if the seats had been dirty when I went there I would have said something.

Friend TMC emailed me and stated that he hoped this race will be a “colossal success.”  I do too.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Big 12 vs. WoO

November 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Where else but Nebraska would an unassuming, Opie imitating, young man become a cult figure, a hero to tens of thousands?  I said young Randy.  Who would have thought that the loudest applause on senior day at Memorial Stadium would go to a kicker?  Until Alex Henery came along, how many people really watched the kickers warm-up before a game?  They do now.  And he made a 52 yarder into the wind in practice.

I know I have said it before, but Rex Burkhead is a throwback football player, someone who plays the game like it used to be played.  Even Bo Pelini thinks so, saying they ought to put Burkhead’s photo by football in the dictionary.  If Burkhead was a racer, he would drive a super late model and would be Brian Birkhofer, and not just because they have about the same amount of hair.

Big 12 Commissioner Dean Beebe is a cross between Brian France and Bill Callahan, taking something that was good and making it something far less.  He is a Texas toady, and if he received serious email threats from Nebraskans, why is he discussing them in the Lincoln Journal Star?  Shouldn’t they have been turned over to the police?  I believe there are ways to identify where such messages came from. This seems to be just one more way to try to embarrass Nebraska. As far as receiving several thousand vile, despicable emails, well, I know Tony Anville has more than one email address, but I didn’t know he had several thousand.  Beebe’s actions this year have totally frustrated Nebraskans, who merely pointed out the fact that he is an a$$hole.  No, I did not send him an email.

As far as the NU vs. Texas A & M officiating crew, they not only did not get suspended like they should have, they did the Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State game last night, the biggest Big 12 game of the weekend. This crew reminds me of dirt track promoters.  Despite all the evidence to the contrary, they will follow the wrong path time after time. They did manage to miss several blocks in the back on the Oklahoma State kick-off return for a touchdown, but that was minor compared with last week.  I am surprised they aren’t doing the championship game next Saturday.

Since I am ripping the Big 12 today, let me take a shot at Texas.  Texas is like sprint cars.  And to quote Pelini once more, “enough said about that.”

During a time out at Friday’s NU vs. Colorado game, a video was played describing taking one’s son to a Nebraska game as a rite of passage.  I can remember the first game I took my son to.  It was when Turner Gill, Mike Rozier, and Irving Fryar played for NU, and NU played Kansas State in Manhattan.  That would make it either 1981 or 1982. My very young son wanted to know if we were going to see Dorothy and Toto.  His grandpa said “maybe.”  The first game I took him to in Lincoln was against Florida State.  Now he is taking me to games.  I haven’t asked yet if we were going to see Dorothy and Toto.

One of the fringe benefits of going with Matt was he was so skinny it gave me extra room-hey, the first time he was on an airplane, flight attendants had to put pillows on each side of him because the seat belt was too loose otherwise.  Now, well, he is a lot skinnier than I am. Thanks for taking me Matt, I appreciate it.

NU vs. OU in the final Big 12 Championship game.  That is like Billy Moyer and Scott Bloomquist battling for the World 100 trophy.  And NU is Moyer.

Thanks for stopping by.

The Road To Daytona and Is It Really Time To Do A Sunset Speedway Book?

November 25, 2010 1 comment

Earlier today I made a Facebook comment about Bristol Palin and Dancing with the Stars.  Judging from the reaction I should have saved it for my blog.  It drew more comments than the one time I blogged about Randy Palmer being a good guy.  My wife and another family member who I don’t mention by name on my blog hate it when I say something smart a$$ on the internet.  Unfortunately I have had decades of practice at being a smart a$$, and the internet allows me to be one at cyber speed.

If TV wanted to do a cool reality show, they should do one on “Re-paving Daytona Speedway.”  It is no easy task, and a lot of big time equipment is being used.  Go to www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com to see updates on the progress of the paving.

Speed TV should do a documentary.  It would be better than a lot of the stuff it puts out.

A certain important person who must be involved before any book on Sunset Speedway can be published told me he wants to see this project become a reality in 2011.  He mentioned that I am the bus driver, but since I don’t own the bus, I’m not sure just when or if the bus will leave the barn.  I have some ideas on what I the book should be like, but would love to have more ideas to present when serious plans are being made.  Feel free to comment on my blog or email me @ brutonnb@yahoo.com

There was a Thanksgiving meal segment on CNN last Saturday morning, and the guest was a super thin eat well expert.  She was trying to convince the host that only 500-600 calories should be allotted for dinner on Thanksgiving.  That is certainly realistic-I mean I know I managed to do just that several times.  The last time was when I was three years old, but I did it.

I hope all of you enjoy a Thanksgiving feast tomorrow.  I am going to take Thursday and Friday off from the blog and think about turkey, mashed potatoes, and football, instead of sprint cars and dirt track promoters.  We decided to do something different this Thanksgiving-no, we’re not going to Barbados or Las Vegas.  Different in my family means not having a huge meal at home.  We are going to Delmare’s in Omaha for dinner tomorrow.  On Friday, No Name and I are going to Lincoln to watch the Huskers cook up some Buffalo burgers and clinch the Big 12 North Championship.  It isn’t even Thanksgiving yet, and I still feel like a nap.

Thanks for stopping by, and have a great holiday.

Big 12 Officiating Crew Are Known Sprint Car Lovers, Show Me, Plus A GOTRA Tidbit

November 24, 2010 Leave a comment

It has come to my attention the crew that officiated-and I use that term loosely here-the Nebraska vs. Texas A & M football game included a sprint car owner, two sprint car drivers, and several sprint car fans.  Of course, flags stopping the action of sporting events seems natural to them.

Nebraska had the same officiating crew for three Big 12 games-Texas, Iowa State, and Texas A & M.  NU lost two of those games and nearly lost the third one, narrowly escaping an overtime loss to Iowa State.  In those games Nebraska’s opponents were flagged only 9 times, while Nebraska received 32 penalties.  A & M had been averaging 9.4 penalties per game before Saturday when miraculously they were called for only two infractions.  I’ll save the conspiracy talk for another day, but it’s too bad Chad Knaus was unavailable to the Big Red last Saturday.  With just a snap of his fingers he could have switched the inferior team of refs Nebraska suffered through to one more capable-I’m sure that the YMCA 3rd and 4th grade Youth Football leagues are over, even in Texas.

Per DirtonDirt.com, CBS Sports is going to televise the Show Me 100 from Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri.  The event will be shown two weeks after the Show Me is run, airing on June 11th. I suspect that the name Lucas Oil-the name that is also on the football stadium the Indianapolis Colts call home-carries some weight with network sports executives.

I received a nice email this morning from John Orlowski Jr.  It read:

Good Morning!

I know 3 young men that I feel you need to meet, Johnny Orlowski III, Jesse Orlowski, and Jeremy Orlowski.  These 3 kids are members of GOTRA.  These kids will always greet you with a warm hand shake and jump right in if a fellow racer needs a hand.  I have seen one of the boys miss his heat race helping another racer that was broke down. 

The boys all learned about suspension, shocks, tires, engines, and body work by being hands on.  They knew that their hard work helping to build their cars would pay off.  Many late nights and after school hours made their race car dreams come true.

I have personally learned more about team work and sportsmanship from these kids than I had ever imagined.  You will not find a more humble and hard working bunch of kids.

Here is a link to the Orlowski racing website, built by Jesse Orlowski.  www.OrlowskiRacing.com .

Thanks for your time,

John Orlowski Jr

(Proud Dad)

If you enjoy photos of old race cars, check out the link John sent me.  If you don’t like photos of old race cars, well, what is wrong with you?  The Orlowski site also has a link to the old GOTRA website, with more photos and information on old race cars. 

Thank you John-I’ll be contacting you to do a blog about your three favorite GOTRA drivers.  And, thank you for stopping by.

Of Course Jimmie Johnson Is the NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion. The Sun Rose In The East Yesterday, Didn’t It?

November 23, 2010 4 comments

Jimmie Johnson won his fifth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championship yesterday.  And I would much rather talk about Nebraska football.  Like the “dueling conspiracy theories.”  Is the Big 12 trying to screw Nebraska, or are referees figuring it is payback time for all the grief Bo Pelini has given them?  My favorite is a combination-the refs figure it is payback time and know the Big 12 won’t do jack about horrendous officiating involving the Huskers. Is Taylor Martinez still on the team?  What did he do to cause Pelini’s sideline tirade? Will Pelini tell us what the inside of Tom Osborne’s wood shed looks like?  Does the Wildcat formation include a pass by Rex Burkhead?  If not, why not?  If it does, why save it when it could have been a game winner on Saturday night? What would Nebraska’s record be if Taylor Martinez had not been T-Magic in a few games?  Hint: check out the NU offense starting with the second quarter of the Missouri game, and go from there.  Finally, if you had done to you what Ben Cotton had done to him, would you have been kicking too?  I believe there is a YouTube video that explains the reason behind his two major penalties.

That was fun.  Talking about Jimmie Johnson winning again is no fun.  Ho hum, it’s Homestead in November that must mean the 48 is champion again.  The sun rose in the east, and just as inevitable is Johnson taking the big NASCAR trophy.  This one did come in a nicely wrapped gift box from Denny Hamlin, but Johnson is still the champion.  The 48 graciously accepted Hamlin’s fuel mileage problems last week-something no other contender suffered, and made the final race of the season meaningful.  Or maybe not-looking at Hamlin’s body language after last week’s race in Phoenix made me believe he thought he had already lost the championship. The 11 team talked a lot of trash the past few weeks, and in the end, they finished with a “don’t pit, wait pit, oops it is too late to pit” laugh riot that took away Hamlin’s last gasp hope for a championship. They weren’t even close to walking the walk.

Hamlin’s run through the Homestead infield reminded me of Rick Bradley’s “farming” efforts at a track he used to run.  OK, Hamlin’s car is a little more aerodynamic than Bradley’s car, and Hamlin only spun around the infield, he did not jump a tractor tire.  I still thought of Rick.

Johnson is champion, and no one else has ever won five championships in a row.  To pass him off as the “perhaps the greatest NASCAR champion” as one TV jeebie did yesterday is a joke.  Apparently this analyst wasn’t around when drivers named Petty and Earnhardt were earning their seven championships apiece.  Perhaps ESPN’s fact checkers need to take control before its on camera spokespeople start spouting nonsense.  A simple check of NASCAR legends that Petty and Earnhardt had to defeat to win their championships versus the legends in their own minds that Johnson defeated would show how utterly nonsensical calling Johnson the greatest ever is.  I keep saying he is not even the best NASCAR driver ever with the last name Johnson.  That would go to Junior Johnson.

Enough NASCAR-no I won’t be attending the NASCAR gala celebration in Las Vegas, despite being able to as an NMPA member.  If I go to Las Vegas anytime in the next 12 months it will be either to the Blog World Expo or the IMCA Duel in the Desert.  And no, I am NOT going to watch the championship banquet on TV either.  I am thinking about the 2011 racing season though. Although it is just the end of the 2010 race season, someone who I don’t mention my name on my blog has been checking out air fares and schedules to Dayton, Ohio, apparently the nearest track to a famed southwest Ohio dirt oval.  This family member is actually stating we should go to the Show Me 100 in Wheatland, Missouri over the Memorial Day Weekend, and two weeks later go to the Dream at Eldora.  I’m not sure what to think about that. We’ll see.

Thanks for stopping by.

Hey NASCAR-Let’s Get Funky, Down, & “Dirt-y”

November 19, 2010 3 comments

ESPN Magazine has a regular column written by “Driver X,” an anonymous NASCAR Sprint Cup series driver.  In his latest column, X proposed several changes he thought would make the sport more interesting to fans.  X thought NASCAR should add midweek events and make a dirt track event such as the Prelude to the Dream a Sprint Cup point race. 

At lunch on Wednesday veteran race announcer Stan Cisar told me his ideas “to make NASCAR more interesting.”  Cisar suggested adding two more road course races and four dirt track races.  He suggested Road America and Road Atlanta as road course venues, and mentioned Eldora, Knoxville, and the 1 mile fairgrounds tracks at Springfield and Du Quoin, Illinois and Sedalia, Missouri as possible dirt tracks.

I am not quite sold on additional road course events.  Cisar’s son Buddy races on Midwest road courses, so he may be a little biased when it comes to adding events on tracks with both left and right turns.  I think the courses he mentioned are entertaining venues, but adding road course events means taking away or moving dates from current venues, or running night races with headlights.  Since many NASCAR tracks have lights, moving a race to a midweek night would not be a problem logistically.  Tracks may scream at first, but look at the years of success of Monday night football, and more recently Thursday college football.  Midweek events in the fall could be TV ratings bonanza for NASCAR-the races would not be competing with NFL football.  I think Richmond, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Charlotte would be great venues to host such an event.

Several of the tracks Cisar suggested would work well for midweek races and could be tied in with a weekend event not far away.  Springfield or Du Quoin could fit with a Chicago Sprint Cup race, and Sedalia would work with one of the Kansas races.  Though not mentioned by Cisar, the Syracuse Mile would work with upstate New York Watkins Glen. Adding seats to dirt tracks in Las Vegas, Texas, Charlotte, and Talladega would enable those venues to host a midweek race that ties in with Sprint Cup races at their asphalt neighbors. If NASCAR gave Iowa Speedway the Sprint Cup date it deserves and held a Sprint Cup dirt track event in nearby Knoxville the same week, the tracks could not put in enough seats for everyone who would want one.

I don’t see any of the dirt tracks starting 43 of the 3,000 + pound NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars in a feature.  The format for dirt track competition would have to be similar to that of Saturday night grass roots racing-time trials, heats, consolation races, and a feature.  While only 24 cars might qualify for the feature event, points could still be given to 43 cars as under the current system, with the first finisher in the consolation race who does not transfer to the feature receiving 25th place points, and so on.

As for dirt track purses, no, they would not be the same as at current Sprint Car events.  Still, selling 30,000 tickets at $50 apiece for a race at Knoxville would make a decent dirt pay out.  A Sprint Cup event at any dirt track would be a guaranteed sell out-the Prelude to the Dream exhibition race shows that.  Drivers love racing on dirt, and I think an argument can be made that more fans would watch a NASCAR dirt track race on ESPN on a Wednesday night than watch a Sunday race from Fontana.

Adding dirt track races would be a salute to history by a NASCAR organization that seems to be ashamed of its roots.  Of course if NASCAR ever decides to take more interest in its history, a North Wilkesboro race should be put back on the Sprint Cup schedule.

So, what is NASCAR going to do to increase interest in its Sprint Cup series?  Tweak the Chase by eliminating one car per race in the first nine Chase races, leaving only three cars competing for the championship in the final race?  Yawn.  Can you tell me with a straight face that adding a few mid-week dirt track events isn’t a lot more interesting?

Thanks for stopping by.

P.S. Robert Yates Racing is already building engines for dirt track late models.  Obviously it is another source of revenue for Yates Racing, but could Ford be anticipating NASCAR adding dirt races to the Sprint Cup series and actually be ahead of the game with the knowledge and experience Yates is gaining?

Homestead Winner AND Sprint Cup Champion-You Read It First Here

November 19, 2010 2 comments

I had an interesting conversation with John Ferguson of GOTRA this morning.  John was talking about different dates he was setting up for GOTRA to run in 2011, and thought I would be particularly interested in one of the dates.  I was, and I hope it all works out like John said it would.  John was cool with what he discussed with this promoter, and if things work out as stated, I will be too-not that what I am cool with matters much.

I am still technically challenged when it comes to uploading video to my blog.  I have tried to upload several short videos I took at the Knoxville Late Model Nationals, but all I get is waiting for wordpress to respond-wordpress being my blog platform.  I’ll ask around. 

Denny Hamlin is 15 points ahead of Jimmie Johnson in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings.  So, if Jimmie Johnson would win the race-obviously meaning he led a lap to get bonus points, and if Denny Hamlin finished second and led an earlier lap, but neither led the most laps, the two would tie for the Sprint Cup Championship.  I like this scenario because no matter who won the tiebreaker there would be controversy. 

I take that back-I like controversy, but I do not want Jimmie Johnson to be the last driver on stage for the NASCAR Awards Banquet in Las Vegas.  My thought on the hype of the NASCAR awards week-if given the choice between attending all the NASCAR activities in Las Vegas-which I could as a member of the National Motorsports Press Association, or of attending the IMCA awards banquet, I would attend the IMCA banquet.

What do I think will happen at Homestead on Sunday?  Jimmie Johnson will have a bad pit stop early in the race, and decide to replace the Jeff Gordon crew that is servicing the 48 with the Dale Earnhardt Jr. crew.  Jr. Nation will be outraged and throw bottles, cans, coolers, and seats on the track, forcing security to remove much of the crowd.  TV cameras won’t be able to hide how empty the stands will look then.  Oops, back up on that one.  They can’t hide how empty the stands look at the beginning of the race. The yellow flag for debris-and TV cameras will be able to show debris this caution-will turn into a lengthy red flag as track personnel struggle to keep up with all that is being tossed on the track. 

Because of his poor pit stop, Johnson will be stuck in the middle of the pack racing Paul Menard with just a handful of laps remaining.  As a show of unity with future teammate Kevin Harvick-Menard will become part of the Richard Childress Racing organization next year-Menard will put Johnson into the wall as Johnson is trying to pass him, ending any hope Johnson had of winning his fifth championship in a row.   NASCAR will not fine or suspend Menard because they will be very happy someone other than Johnson will be champion.

Kyle Busch will be penalized again for speeding on pit row during this yellow flag stop, but will not do his imitation of Randy Palmer a second time, figuring a similar gesture cost him thousands of dollars.  However, the penalty will put him a lap down, and while trying to get his lap back Busch will bump teammate Denny Hamlin, causing Hamlin to blow out his left side front tire, tearing up his left fender before he could get to his pit to change the tire.  Fixing the damage with 200 mile per hour tape puts Hamlin three laps down to the race leader and he ends up finishing the race in 28th place, giving the championship to Kevin Harvick who kept out of trouble and finished the race in fourth.

And the winner of the race?  Hamlin’s caution will send everyone scrambling to the pits.  The crew of the 88-actually Jeff Gordon’s crew for most of the year-will do a best of the season pit stop and get Earnhardt Jr. out of the pits first.  Talk about instant karma-Earnhardt Jr. wins the race because of Chad Knaus’ almost profane ego, and no Jr. fans are on hand to see him finally win a race because they have all been thrown out per the afore mentioned incident.

Go ahead and laugh.  Just remember when this all plays out, you read it here first.

Thanks for stopping by.