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Wishing And Hoping

December 30, 2010 Leave a comment

I am crossing my fingers hoping for good things in 2011.  In no particular order:

-A very successful Silver Dollar Nationals for I-80 Speedway.  The event will have the biggest purse of any stock car event ever in Nebraska, and being a late model fan I am hoping a good first year will lead to an even better second year, and the event will become one that fans and drivers put on their July schedule every year. Many big name drivers have expressed interest in the event already.  No, expressing interest does not necessarily put them in the pits when the green flag falls, but listening to Joe Kosiski last Friday, it appears track owners are working very hard to do things that will get the drivers there.

-A USAC non-wing sprint car show in Nebraska, and not just so I can say “told you so.”  The 410 non-wing sprints are exciting to watch and their shows always give fans all they could hope for in a race.

-A banner year for U.S. 30 Speedway near Columbus.  A banner year means fewer rain-outs and lots of drivers competing for IMCA regional and national honors to fill the pits every Thursday.  I like the people running the track, I like how I feel heading to Columbus, and I like how I feel after the races.  Matt and I are planning on more specials and less weekly racing this year, but the weekly shows I plan to make are at U.S. 30.

-A safe year for all drivers.  I know wrecks will always be a part of the sport, but my wish is that every track will avoid their own version of the “big one.”

-My blog to actually make some money in 2011.  500+ words a day is no problem for me, but to be able to upgrade my blog with audio and video involves some expense, and if it comes down to getting a new high efficiency furnace/AC or getting several thousand dollars worth of audio and video hardware and software, I am pretty sure my partner of 40 years will veto the hardware and software, and her vote counts more than mine.

-At least 12 get-togethers with all my racing friends in Omaha.  It is a fun way to keep up with all the area racing news, plus face to face insults seem more fulfilling than bashing my buddies over the internet.  I know Steve Basch and Randy Palmer feel the same way.

-A return trip to Lucas Oil Speedway, hopefully for the Show-Me 100.

-A mid-summer road trip to Independence, Iowa for a WoO show, with a side trip to the Field of Dreams.  The movie is one of my all-time favorites, and the first time I saw it I was the only person in the theater.  The mystic side of me believes there is some significance in that, though what I am supposed to build, and who is going to come is something I haven’t figured out yet.

-The trip that takes us to Independence will also lead us to Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minnesota the next night for the Gopher 50.  Deer Creek has been on my ‘to do’ list for years, and it seem like 2011 is a great year to make the visit.

-Hopefully a road trip to Knoxville will end our racing season.  Once college football starts Matt is mostly done with racing.  He won’t go over to Iowa to watch a race when Nebraska is playing football, and with Nebraska playing at Wisconsin that day, I am sure he will want to be home to watch the game on TV.  He has talked about going over for both the Thursday and Friday prelims though.

-Finally, and everyone keep your fingers crossed on this, but 2011 may be the year for a Sunset Speedway book.  I am looking forward to working with Craig Kelley to come up with plans for such a book, and to talking with scores of drivers, officials, and fans that made the track a legend.

Happy New Year to each of you, and thanks for stopping by. Oh-remember to tune into the Versus Network on Sunday January 2nd for the reality TV show Dirt Knights.

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Some Holiday Fun Plus A Reply To A Comment

December 29, 2010 1 comment

Matt and I drove to Waverly yesterday to watch the South Sioux City boys play Norris in the Waverly Holiday Tournament.  It was a great game with SSC winning 76-74, and SSC junior Mike Gesell scoring 41 points.  Actually Gesell was the reason we went, and at least one other person was there to watch him-Nebraska Coach Doc Sadler.

Matt had two comments about Sadler yesterday.  First was that Doc wasn’t used to seeing so many people sitting so close to the floor-apparently in reference to the sparse crowds at the Devaney Center this year.  He also said “Sadler eats popcorn like you.”  This was not just an observation that Doc was eating popcorn, for some reason Matt takes offense when I have popcorn at a ball game.

The following came from Nick Andersen regarding my post on Nevada tracks running a 10 days straight series:

“What is the likelihood that families would be willing to attend a race on a Tuesday night?  I like your idea of a solid week of racing, but doubt that a track could make a profit during a weekday race.”

Nick-some tracks run their weekly shows on a work night and are successful.  US 30 Speedway runs on Thursdays and gets a decent car count and plenty of fans in the stands.  I don’t know if it is easier for a track to run a weekly show on a work night or to run a special on a work night.  On one hand, fans know exactly what to expect from a track’s weekly show-when it will start, how long it will run.  On the other hand, a special is going to bring in drivers fans don’t normally get to see, maybe even a type of racing that doesn’t run at the track, so there is a different type of excitement.

I think a track really needs to promote a mid-week special.  Press releases are one thing, but track public relations people need to personally follow-up with newspaper reporters and radio/TV sportscasters too.  I realize that at some tracks the promoter adds this responsibility to an already busy schedule, but the old saw “reap what you sow” is true.  If a promoter doesn’t put any effort AND money into promoting the race, people won’t be beating down the front gates to get in.

The back gate is important to many tracks-some because they do not put enough effort into getting people through the front gate.  Still, a promoter is going to want an even better car count than normal for a special, and that ought to involve some personal contact-emails and phone calls telling drivers about the race and asking them to attend. Every car pulling through the pit gate means two or three pit passes sold.

I know many tracks can’t seem to run a race program in an organized, timely manner.  There weekly programs likely suffer because of this, but a drawn out work night special, one that isn’t over at a reasonable hour, would be a disaster.  If fans have to leave before the main feature of the event, they will simply not come back to another one.  Why should they?  They paid more money to attend the special and didn’t get to see all they came to see.

All kinds of tours run mid-week specials.  I can’t say all the shows make money.  A promoter might schedule a tour on a work night to be able to get the tour another time on a very desirable date.  A promoter might do a poor job of promoting a race, but the results are his own fault in such a case, not because the race was on a work night.  It might be more difficult to turn a profit on a mid-week special, but good promoters do it every season.

Because they are closer to bigger cities, some tracks might be able to do mid-week specials regularly, maybe four or five times a season.  A lot of tracks have only a 20 week time frame to race in because of weather, so additional dates can be really important for the track’s bottom line.  Again, the promoter will have to work very hard to make a mid-week special go, but if every promoter was losing money on mid-week races, we wouldn’t have them.

Thanks for stopping by.

USMTS Whispers

December 28, 2010 1 comment

I received the following from one of my favorite sources of dirt track racing information. It was copied from the racinboys.com forum and was a reply from USMTS promoter Todd Staley about a race at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City.

USMTS

“Rodney, we would love to have a USMTS race at Lakeside – and we’ve asked several times – but we just have not been able to convince Marc to have a show. He’s a successful promoter (anybody in the business as long as he has been has to be doing something right) and it’s a great racetrack – that’s why we want to be there.

All we can say is make your voices heard. Politely email or call the track and let them know you’d like to see a USMTS event at Lakeside. As any successful promoter would do, if he believes it will be profitable and attractive to local drivers, fans and sponsors, he will do it.

Perhaps we haven’t done a good enough job selling it to Marc. If so, then we need help from the fans to let him know they’ll buy a ticket if he’ll give us the opportunity.

A USMTS show generally pays $2,000 to win and $250 minimum to start, with a total purse somewhere between $12-15k. We recommend a $15 adult grandstand ticket and $30-35 pit pass, but that is entirely up to the promoter. The USMTS has no sanction fee, but instead retain entry fees in lieu of a flat fee – if we bring a ton of cars, we pay our bills and maybe make a profit. If there are not many cars, we probably don’t cover our expenses.

Generally, we bring 5 to 8 officials – flagman, tech, on-track, director, scorer, etc., and we pay staff from the entry fees plus other related expenses. Other than the USMTS portion of the show, the track can run whatever support classes and whatever schedule they want to.

We do still lease tracks occasionally too. Back when the series first started in 1999-2001, we leased about 70-80% of the tracks where we raced. This year, I think we are leasing the track at 3 or 4 of the 80+ shows. Since promoters can anticipate a profit from hosting a USMTS show, they are more likely to take the associated risk. It’s better for the USMTS too because we don’t have the local connections and resources like the day-in and day-out racetrack operators do.”

Since these figures come right from the “horse’s mouth,” I would assume no promoter or one of their minions will claim my figures are too low when I once again suggest I would like to see a show they aren’t willing to promote. 

I have been hearing whispers of one or maybe two USMTS shows in the Cornhusker State, in addition to what is already scheduled at Junction Motor Speedway in early March.  I say whispers because they are not loud enough yet to be called rumors.  I hope the whispers become loud enough to be called rumors and the rumors prove to be true.  These guys are really professional and fun to watch.  A stand alone midweek show isn’t going to work unless a lot of promotion goes along with it, but several shows over a weekend ought to put a full field of top flight modifieds in the pits.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Even if Nebraska does not get a USMTS event in 2011, you can still catch some tour action on TV.  Starting this Sunday, January 2nd at 5:00 p.m. Central Time, the Versus Network will carry the reality show Dirt Knights, featuring USMTS drivers.  I assume if you have DirecTV you can get Versus, and I know Time Warner and Cox Communications offer it as a premium channel.  I have watched a few of the preview videos, and Dirt Knights looks to be a lot better show than the redneck racing Madhouse was. I hope you will tune in, as with every other TV show, the future of Dirt Knights depends on its ratings.

Thanks for stopping by.

5 Nevada Tracks To Host USAC Non-Wing Sprint Cars

December 27, 2010 3 comments

No, not really, not even as a loss leader,  though their promoters didn’t exaggerate numbers when another track might be interested in a USAC date.  Actually none of them were even considering any kind of sprint car action.  I’ll get an email from a family member asking me why I have the urge to say things like this.  All I can say is “sometimes ya just gotta do what feels right.” 

What the Nevada tracks are doing is hosting 10 straight days of modified racing under Wild West Modified Tour rules, which is basically IMCA rules.  The Iron Man Challenge Series will run from June 9-June 18th, with five tracks each hosting two nights of racing. With the distances most mountain states drivers have to travel just to race weekly, putting together a series like this should be a real boon for drivers in the region.

The series will open up with two nights of racing at Rattlesnake Raceway in Fallon, and will follow with two nights at Lovelock Speedway in Lovelock, Winnemucca Regional Raceway in Winnemucca, Battle Mountain Raceway in Battle Mountain, and finish at Great Basin Raceway in Ely.

Congratulations to the series developer and the Nevada track promoters. To get two Midwest promoters to co-operate is like pulling teeth.  It would be easier to have a colonoscopy and root canal at the same time than to get three of them to work together.  Five of them uniting for a series?  You are more likely to see me climb Mt. Everest.

One of my crazier dreams over the years-and like always, when it is just a whacky dream I present it as such-is a Nebraska Speedweek. My scheme in the past was five nights of late model racing at five different tracks.  Given the state of late model racing in the area, five nights of IMCA modifieds at five different tracks makes more sense.

Each race in the Speedweek tour would pay $2,000 to win and $200 to start. Drivers would race for IMCA state, regional, and national points as well as for tour points.  Each track would contribute to a tour point fund with the winner receiving an additional $2,000 and the top ten in points receiving some cash.  In theory a driver could win $12,000 and a bundle of IMCA points that week, though it would take plenty of luck along with skill and good equipment.

It will never happen, but as a fan I would love to see it.

The weather did co-operate enough for Matt and I to attend the annual Action Sign Christmas Eve party.  We ate with Mike Pierson, Joe Kosiski, and Craig Kelley, and had a great discussion of——-high school basketball.  I wasn’t surprised that Mike Pierson followed basketball, but was surprised that Joe Kosiski really keeps up on area hoops.

We did talk a little racing with Kosiski, including the $25,000 to win late model special at I-80 Speedway in July, 2011.  I am not going to do a “I just drove by Crawford County Speedway and Scott Bloomquist’s hauler is in the pits,” but I will say that Kosiski has already talked with quite a few big name drivers about the Silver Dollar Nationals, and many of them sound interested in the event.  Included in the group are a Midwest fan favorite, and names that every late model fan will recognize.  I have been excited about the race from the beginning, but am even more excited now.

Thanks Stan (and you too JP) for hosting the Christmas Eve party.  My only regret is that not wanting to seem like a pig and planning to go through the line a second time, I only took three meat balls.  Yes, I did have a brisket sandwich and a rib too, but only three of the “low calorie” delights and I ended up not going through the line a second time.  I won’t make that mistake again.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas.  Books are always a favorite Christmas gift for me, and I now have enough new reading material to last for a few months.  And, I received a one of a kind Midland UNIVERSITY sweatshirt from my son and daughter in-law.  I will definitely wear it to all the Midland games I go to, though I don’t want Tony Anville to get too jealous, so I won’t wear it around him.

Thanks for stopping by.

Merry Christmas-Next Year A Book???

December 24, 2010 3 comments

I am reading a book about “Bugs” Stevens, who was a NASCAR modified national champion 3 years in a row in the 60’s, and won a ton of races in the 70’s too.  I have a book on Ed Flemke to read as well.  Like Stephens, Flemke was a champion modified driver.  I love the old New England modifieds, but I am also studying how race writers like Bones Bourcier produce a book. 

Yes, I am crossing my fingers that in 2011 race fans will have a book about Sunset Speedway to give for a Christmas present.  Those of us who were around at the Final Sunset miss it terribly, and those around in the early years of the track are getting old, so 2011 seems like a good year for a book. I would love to relive all the wonderful Sunday nights through words and photos, and I hope enough of you think the same to make the effort worthwhile.

I would like to thank all of my readers for the gift they give me everyday-their time.  I love words.  I love racing.  I love to write about racing. I am thrilled every time I click the ‘publish’ button on my blog.  I know I can be a little opinionated-just a little, so I appreciate all of you checking out my site as often as you do. Despite or maybe because of my opinions, I see myself as a fan advocate, and when I don’t like what others in the racing industry say or do, I am going to speak out.  If others don’t like what I have to say, well, I am a big boy, and don’t mind sharing comments I do not agree with at all. It does enliven things.

 I still have dreams and schemes I want to incorporate in this blog, including a monthly chat that Matt seems to think I can afford.  Video and audio is also a dream, but an expensive one for someone who is technologically inept, so I am still hoping to win a lottery or meet a geek who loves racing enough to help me find and set up all the technology I need-at bargain basement prices.

Merry Christmas to all of you, and thank you for stopping by.

I Am Not In The Habit Of Saying Something Is Possible If It Is Just A Wild Hair

December 23, 2010 16 comments

A comment in reply to my blog on USAC non-winged sprints caused me to do a little checking.  The comment basically suggested that a USAC sprint show would be too expensive for local tracks and that there would be little interest among fans.  Since Dodge City Raceway Park in Dodge City, Kansas is hosting a two day USAC event, I wondered how they could possibly afford such an event in an area that could not possibly have as many race fans as eastern Nebraska.

I did have an email from a sprint car fan that said a USAC show was no more expensive than a Sprint Bandit show.  I checked in Dirt Track Digest and found this to be true. The standard USAC sprint car purse is $20,000 with $5,000 going to the winner, and $400 to start. Sanctioning fees and USAC required insurance would add another $5,000 to the cost of the show, though USAC officials would run it. Hardly WoO type expense.

As far as interest in such a show, well, it seems like I-80 Speedway has its biggest crowd of the year for the non-wing 410 show.  I don’t think fans care who sanctions the event, they want to see the action.  And if the fan follows sprints seriously, I am sure he would want to see the likes of Levi Jones, Damion Gardner, Bryan Clauson, Jerry Coons Jr., Dave Darland, and Robert Ballou race. USAC brings those drivers to the track.

I just can’t talk enough about open wheeled race cars this week.  No, I have not been hitting the Christmas spirits too hard, and no, I have not changed my mind about going to the WoO sprint show at a certain track in Kansas.  Anyway, midgets have been racing three nights in Nebraska on their way to the Belleville Nationals, one night at the track near Rising City, and two nights at Junction Motor Speedway.  After closing midway through the season in 2010 I wonder if Butler County Motorplex will open in 2011.  And even if it does, I don’t think a big dollar purse would be right for a track struggling financially.

If BCM is out, will any other Nebraska track step up to the plate and add an early August midget special to their schedule?  Tie it in with IMCA modifieds on a night the mods don’t usually race, and you have the makings of a decent special. 

If you waited too long to get a late model fan loved one a Christmas gift, you can still get him/her a subscription to DirtonDirt.com.  An annual subscription is just $59, while a monthly subscription goes for $5.99 per month.  Of all the Christmas gifts we give our children and grandpuppies, I suspect the DirtonDirt subscription we give Matt gets the most use.  If you miss the throaty roar of a late model engine you can spend a cold winter’s night watching videos.  Plus, as soon as anything happens in the late model world, you will hear about it on DirtonDirt.com.  Really, $59 is cheap-and I don’t get a penny for saying this, I just like the site.

Apparently Carl Edwards has a part in a TV miniseries about the Civil War.  If I were casting the series I would give him a role as a spy-someone who projects a certain image to the world, but is totally different from the projected image. Me, I’ll watch real racers on the reality show Dirt Knights on the Versus channel.

I am crossing my fingers that Matt and I will get to see some of our friends at the Action Signs Christmas party tomorrow.  We didn’t make it to last year’s soiree because of 7” of snow, and weathermen are already calling for bad weather-rain, sleet, snow, or maybe all three. If the weather isn’t too bad, we’ll be there shortly after 11:00 a.m. I love the meat balls and I am not talking about Joe Proctor or Rick Bradley.

Thanks for stopping by.

410 Non-Wing Sprinters Not An Impossible Dream

December 22, 2010 12 comments

I know some of you think I act like I don’t like sprint cars, but I am no actor.  Actually I very much like the 410 non-wing sprint cars.  The Sprint Bandit shows at I-80 Speedway have been the first to go on my schedule the last few years. However, word on the street-I’ve always wanted to use that phrase-is that the Sprint Bandit tour will not run this year.  It is kaput, finished, done, ain’t going to happen.

You could see this happening already in August, with the car count much lower than it had been in previous years, and some of the cars were just local 360 sprinters taking their wing off.  USAC scheduled some races against the tour, and also used some political clout to keep most of its drivers from running with the Sprint Bandits in 2010.  I’m not sure how this benefited fans or drivers.  Racing politics seem to be like the politics in Washington or at the state house-any time politics come into play nothing good happens for nobody. 

With no Sprint Bandits, does this mean we will have to travel to central Iowa to see any wingless sprint car action?  It might.  However, I received an email with the 2011 USAC 410 sprint car schedule from a sprint car fan who wishes to remain anonymous.  The schedule shows the non-wing sprinters running at Knoxville on 8/7, Oskaloosa on 8/9, and Dodge City, Kansas on 8/12-8/13.  I may be getting old, but I see three potential dates for a race in Nebraska-before Knoxville, between Oskaloosa and Dodge City, or right after Dodge City.

I don’t know anything about the USAC sanctioning fee or purse, but this same sprint car fan stated that it is similar to what the Sprint Bandits cost a track.  That being the case, I hope some Nebraska track will contact USAC about an August date. It seems like a win for everyone.  It would give the USAC drivers-many who race for a living-another date.  It would give area fans the opportunity to not only see the 410 non-wing sprints in action, but to see the big name drivers in action too. And it would give the track a big night at the box office and beer stand. In an aha moment I finally figured out why many sprint car fans seem to stand in front of the grandstands at I-80 Speedway when this is a crappy place to watch a race.  They are standing close to the beer stand.

I am crossing my fingers that some local promoter will have his own “aha moment” and contact USAC.  I would love to see the 410 non-wing sprinters in action in 2011.

Thanks for stopping by.