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Archive for February, 2011

Silver Dollar National Entries Rolling In, Plus A Late Model Race I Would Like To See

February 27, 2011 2 comments

Maybe it was my proper blue collar up bringing on the south side of Fremont, versus a privileged youth on the east end of Lincoln, but I am a firm believer that race cars come with at least rear fenders, and the only time they need to be pushed to be started is when they stall on pit road.  I have loved late models since the days of yore when they actually looked like the muscle cars of the late 60’s and early 70’s. I want this class to be a part of racing for years to come-I would be thrilled to go with my grandson (or granddaughter) to a late model race a few years from now.

By my definition, my ideas on how to keep this division strong and fans loyal and the ideas of one of the moving forces in Midwest late model racing have been far apart.  By far apart, picture the south rim of the Grand Canyon to the north rim.  There is a whole lot of space between.  No doubt I will continue to speak out when I feel fans are being wronged, but for late models to be present in the area for years to come, races at a certain eastern Nebraska track need to be successful.  Especially late model specials.

So, like they do in Chicago, I am going to vote my convictions, early and often.  Every hardcore late model fan wants the July Silver Dollar Nationals at I-80 Speedway to be a success.  We want to see big names racing for big dollars.  The opportunity is there for the race to become something very special, so I hope track owners will heed the advices of those who care.

In the past I have seriously abused racing forum patrons for making statements like “Billy Moyer is going to be there,” or “Scott Bloomquist’s hauler is in the pits at Denison.”  So, until names can truly be confirmed, I am not going to mention who might be or who won’t be at the biggest late model race Nebraska has ever seen.  A source told me yesterday that at least a dozen name drivers have filed entries for the race, many doing so during the events at Volusia Raceway Park last week.  No, filing entries, even paid entries does not guarantee a driver will actually show in July, but my source is a good one, and this sounds like the real deal, with young and old drivers alike in attendance.  Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.

I noticed on dirtdrivers.com that the reason an SLMR schedule hasn’t been posted yet is that the promoter is still working with tracks on potential dates.  I don’t know if anyone is working on this, but one date I wish could be added to an SLMR schedule is at US 30 Speedway near Columbus.  To me it is a no brainer-I love late models, I love the track, I think the track owners are great people, and fans in that area deserve late model racing-and since it appears that Butler County Motorplex south of Columbus may not open, US 30 is not only a great choice, it is the only choice.  If a date should actually happen, like with the Silver Dollar Nationals, I will promote the heck out of it on this forum.

I had been hoping I would get to watch the Midland University baseball team play a double header against York College this afternoon, but with the recent snow and cold temperatures, I guess I will be watching the NASCAR Sprint Cup race from Phoenix, and then tuning into Dirt Knights at 5:00 p.m. for the latest episode featuring the USMTS mods.  Midland baseball will have to wait for a warmer day.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Wanderlust-Las Vegas, Florida, Tires, Gas

February 26, 2011 2 comments

Even though we got no snow yesterday and 50 miles south they got 6 inches, being stuck in Nebraska for winter is not much fun. I had a wanderlust moment last night and googled “Duel in the Desert 2011.” Blog World Expo is moving from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, which doesn’t have a lot of appeal for me, but I have the itch to go somewhere in 2011.  Why not Las Vegas to watch 250 modifieds race in November?

I didn’t find much on the November race yet, but at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway site I noticed that WoO Sprint Cars will be in Las Vegas on March 2nd & 3rd and that IMCA modifieds will be a support class.  The Outlaws are a prelude to the NASCAR weekend at the speedway and I suppose Ivan Tracy will traipse up from Phoenix to watch the divas of dirt.  If you do go Ivan, don’t send me photos of the new bridge over the Colorado River by Hoover Dam-I am gephyrophobic.

Tony Anville may want to use some of his vacation time to fly out to Las Vegas next week.  He remains a huge NASCAR fan (and also would rather watch Formula 1 racing than Dirt Knights a fact I find very strange), and the LVMS site listed driver appearances, one I know Tony will not want to miss.  Michael Waltrip will be signing autographs at the Pub at the Monte Carlo resort at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday 3/3.  No need to thank me Tony, I’m always there to help out my friends.

From www.dirtondirt.com Scott Bloomquist went home to Tennessee with $42,325 of hard earned Speedweeks Florida green.  Bloomquist had 8 top five finishes in the 13 Speedweeks features.  42 drivers did not make one of the 13 features.  There is nothing unusual about Bloomquist running in the lead pack of a super late model race. What would be unusual is if he didn’t have 8 top five finishes in 13 features.

Something bordering on scary is the number of tires driver Eric Jacobsen used during six nights (OK, two of the nights were actually days-picky, picky) of racing at East Bay Raceway Park.  Jacobsen used 63 tires.  That is not a typo.  He used 63 tires.  Late model drivers have many different arrangements regarding tire purchases, and Jacobsen should have got at least a quantity discount, but if he had to pay full price at the track, he spent over $10,000 on tires.  Ask a support class driver would he could do with his program if he was given $10,000 for an entire season.

Does anyone else wonder what affect $4.00 per gallon, maybe even $5.00 per gallon gasoline might have on Saturday night grass roots race tracks?  Some might say people will vacation closer to home with gas prices so high, and that would be a good thing for the tracks.  I am afraid a lot of discretionary income will end up in gas tanks, and that is not a good thing for tracks.  I also wonder whether drivers will follow regional series this season, or just race closer to home.  Regional tours like MLRA and NCRA already had to co-sanction many events just to get full fields, and I wonder if even with co-sanctions some events will be left with low car counts.  If gas prices hit record highs, will even hardcore fans have to pick and choose events they attend?  I know it is too early to predict with certainty what gas prices might be this summer, but whenever big oil companies have wanted to screw over consumers in the past, they have done so.  I understand the fear factor caused by turmoil in oil rich Middle Eastern countries, but to me the big jump in prices at the pump makes as much sense as NASCAR fans loving Carl Edwards.  It is simply crazy.

At least Dirt Knights will be back on Versus TV on Sunday, after being pre-empted for a hockey game last week. Right now the show is scheduled every Sunday through April 10th, with seven original episodes yet to air.  It’s on my viewing schedule this weekend, along with plenty of basketball, and maybe a peek or two at NASCAR racing from Phoenix.

Thanks for stopping by.

Daytona 500 Champ Trevor Bayne And I Have Something In Common

February 25, 2011 9 comments

From a withered tree, a flower blooms-a little Zen for certain of you who want to poke fun at my age.

Check out www.bleacherreport.com for an article on the 25 Classiest NASCAR drivers ever.  The list reads like a Tony Anville hate list, so the article probably is at least close to being right.  I do disagree with Darrell Waltrip being ahead of Benny Parsons though.  I am basing this on Waltrip the driver, who I enjoyed watching, not Waltrip the announcer, who makes me grit my teeth.  Actually, Parsons should be in the top five, not ranked #20. Ned Jarrett and Harry Gant deserve to be higher up the list too.

Believe it or not, Trevor Bayne and I do have something in common.  The Daytona 500 champion and I both celebrated one of the best days of our life eating an ice cream sundae at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco.  Bayne was in the City by the Bay to help promote an upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup series race at Infineon Raceway, while my wonderful day came years ago on the Friday before Nebraska played Cal-Berkeley in football.  My daughter was still in high school and her best friend went on this mini-vacation with us.  Matt and my future daughter in-law Steph went with us, and Steph was still going to Creighton.  Because of the kids schools we crammed a week’s vacation into a day and a half, and that was beyond real-and topped off with ice cream in Ghiradelli Square.

Unlike me, Bayne had a sundae named after him.  The Trevor Bayne Sundae is made with rocky road, chocolate chip, and chocolate ice cream, and has multiple toppings.  I tried to come up with a Ron Meyer Sundae, but couldn’t come up with anything tasty.  I did find some Ben & Jerry Flavors that could possibly be used though-Fossil Fuel, Half Baked, Chubby Hubby, and Clusterfluff. I’m sure some of my smart bleep friends can come up with something fitting.

Thinking of San Francisco, the song ‘YMCA’ by the Village People got stuck in my mind.  I hate when songs I don’t like won’t leave me alone. After awhile I did manage to change the lyrics to “its fun to race for the IMCA.”  Picture Gutowski and Brett Root leading the crowd singing that at the Supernationals in Boone. Of course that is the only line I have, and it is starting to grind too.

Speaking of IMCA, the Winter Challenge Series at Canyon Speedway Park in Arizona ended a week early because of rain.  Tim Ward of Mesa was the series champion, besting Nebraskan Dylan Smith by 4 points.  Smith did win two of the eight features ran during the series, but an early series wreck kept him from claiming the championship.

Let’s see, vanilla-because I’m so boringly plain; whipped cream-I admit to being whipped, most husbands are; nuts-any old timers who remember bruton on the forums would say lots and lots of nuts; and rocky road-hey, if you ever ride to a race with Matt, you’ll understand.  It is still missing some ingredients though.  Add what you want, just no sprinkles, especially on race day. Or, just buy a carton of Wells Blue Bunny Heavenly Hash-my favorite and my blogs are heavenly too.

Thanks for stopping by.

By The Time I Get To Phoenix-NASCAR Will Still Have Problems

February 24, 2011 Leave a comment

My friend Tom Schwartz, once of Lincoln, now of wherever he parks his motor home, made the following comment on one of my recent posts:

“I got to thinking the other day, how many career wins would Scott Bloomquist have if Billy Moyer had never been born? And likewise, how many career wins would Billy Moyer have if Scott Bloomquist had never been born? Many years of the old Hav-a-Tampa series were absolutely dominated by these two to the point of each other being the only real competition.”
Yes, I do have a rational friend or two.  Who knows how many races Bloomquist might have won if Moyer had not been around?  Who knows how many races Moyer might have won if Bloomquist wasn’t a racer?  For fans though, it has been a blessing to have both of them.

Last year at the Diamond Nationals at Lucas Oil Speedway Moyer and Bloomquist ran side by side for about 10 laps of the feature.  One would pull ahead on the back stretch, the other would get an advantage on the front straight. After just a few laps of this I told Matt “this alone is worth every penny we spent coming here.” I wish their race track duels would go on for years, but fans better get out to the track when they are both racing, because those happenings could be over in a few years.

Tom finished his comments with:

“When it comes to Sprint Cup racing, I guess I’m not as down on it as you are, Ron, BUT I’m in Phoenix right now and have no desire to go to the race next Sunday. So I’m obviously not as into it as I used to be. I think the best race of the weekend will be the Lucas Oil 150 truck race on Friday night. I’m very much looking forward to going to that one.

I think NASCAR’s biggest problem is trying to make EVERYONE happy all at the same time, and failing on almost all fronts. It’s pretty tough to satisfy the manufacturers, the fans, the drivers, and the owners all at once. Safety has to be priority one for NASCAR and that really takes something away from the competition to some extent.
I don’t have any answers for NASCAR, but I really do hope they can bring their product back to the level it once was.”

At first my tired eyes read “when it comes down to sprint “car” racing I’m not as down on it as you are Ron,” and I thought he was yanking my chain.  It took Dirt Knights to make him see there are other kinds of cars besides late models, and he doesn’t like sprint cars nearly as much as I do.

NASCAR? To me, NASCAR is like an octagon, and each side of the figure has its own concerns and agenda.  The sides are:  safety, fans, tracks, owners, drivers, sponsors, TV, and shareholders.  If all sides are at least reasonably happy, the octagon is solid, and the sport is a huge success-remember when auto racing NASCAR style was known as the fastest growing sport? The trouble begins when one side is unhappy. That side pulls away from the others and what was solid becomes something that doesn’t remotely resemble past successes.

Yes, I realize there has always been some discontent within NASCAR.  However, at the end of the day everyone was happy enough to continue to pull together.  Perhaps it was simply the force of the personalities of NASCAR founder ‘Big’ Bill France and his son Bill France Jr.  I tend to think it was more that the first and second generations of the France family NASCAR leadership had the trust and respect of all that make up the eight sides of NASCAR.  People were willing to follow their lead.  I know that Brian France does not have the respect of at least some of the sides, and I doubt that any of the groups that make up NASCAR fully trust him. 

Instead of an eight sided solid forging ahead, NASCAR has become an eight headed monster with all eight heads clamoring to be fed constantly, and no side happy with its part of the pot.  Until Brian France can earn the trust and respect of all parties involved the NASCAR spin doctors can spin the facts anyway they want, but NASCAR isn’t going to be what it once was.

Unfortunately I don’t think Brian France has the leadership ability of his dad or his grandfather. I don’t think his family will fire him, so NASCAR will continue to sputter along, occasionally getting things right, often getting things wrong, and always putting band-aids on injuries that need surgery. NASCAR needs someone to mend fences and rebuild trust, then put out an on track product that millions loved. Who will it be?

Thanks for your response Tom, even though it irritates me a lot that you are in Phoenix and I am in Nebraska.  And thanks to all of you for stopping by.

A Little Lampoon Goes 510 Miles At Daytona

February 22, 2011 6 comments

If you enjoy reading the work of someone who is not afraid to take on NASCAR’s sacred cows, check out www.frontstretch.com and writer Matt McLaughlin.  I find myself agreeing with 99% of what he has to say, and enjoy the fact that his fans comments are often what I am thinking too.  For example, Ron commented:

“The only bad thing (about the Daytona 500) was the 3 Stooges in the broadcast booth.  They make me wanna barf.”  I assure you I am not the Ron who made this statement, but it is an accurate reflection on how I feel about the Fox announcing crew.

Another comment in this same vein was “Boogity, Boogity, Boogity.  If Fox would replace Waltrip, McReynolds, and Hammond, they might have something.” McLauglin’s own witty report stated “DW and Hammond are in a contest to see who can speak the most and say the least.” 100% true, yet year after year after year Fox Sports takes no corrective action.

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday was drivers talking with other drivers on the radio-not just with their teammates, but with other competitors.  My first thought was that if that technology had been around for a little over a decade, Dale Earnhardt Sr. would have turned it into a weapon of intimidation.  My next was how much fun it would have been to listen to drivers in the 50’s talking to each other.  Nothing polite like filled the airwaves yesterday.  It would have been “You bleep.  If you do that again I’ll knock your bleep bleep into the bleep wall.”

While Trevor Bayne scored one for the youngsters, there was a foursome of old-timers who showed they still belong on the track, not the golf course.  Bobby Labonte finished 4th, Mark Martin finished 10th, Bill Elliott took home 12th, and Terry Labonte was 15th.  At 46, Bobby Labonte is the youngster of the group, and they average 52 years old.  When I get on an airplane I always try to look into the cockpit to see the pilot, hoping he has gray hair.  I know if the pilot has gray hair we are in for a smooth ride.  Race teams can count on a smooth ride with these four “old-timers” too.

Pizza Hut had a vote for your favorite driver in the race contest yesterday.  Dale Jr. won, surprise, surprise.  Of course there was an economic price to pay for such foolishness.  Today stocks of Pepsi Cola and R.J Reynolds dropped 10 points each because Junior Nation fans spent all of their extra cash on texting their vote instead of on Mountain Dew and cigarettes.

Someone suggested Michael Waltrip could star in the next ‘Lethal Weapon’ sequel.  Robby Gordon should at least have a cameo in the movie.  Better yet, the two could start a new high dollar demolition derby series.

Finally, Fox interviewed the 24th place finisher after the race, but ignored David Gilliland and Bobby Labonte who finished 3rd and 4th.  I suppose since Dale Jr. was the 24th place finisher and he has more fans than the other two drivers combined this was OK. However, is it just me, or is Jr. as bad an interview today as he was when he first broke into Sprint Cup racing? My thought then was “someone needs to work with him,” but today I realize it is all about appealing to his fans, and none of them are any smarter than they were ten years ago either.

From a disgruntled reader:  “David Gilliland deserves a mention in your blog.  He did way better than Jeff Gordon.”  I did mention him-see the above paragraph.  However, I refuse to say that 2011 will be a break out season for Paul Menard. 

Today’s blog can be blamed on me being a product of my environment.  I hang around with a bunch of smart bleeps.  Thanks for stopping by.

Daytona 500 Turns Into NASCAR Version Of Film Classic ‘Hoosiers’

February 22, 2011 5 comments

If the NASCAR spin doctors had been able to script the 2011 Daytona 500 they might have penned in Jeff Gordon to jump start his quest for a fifth Sprint Cup championship with a win at the 2 ½ mile tri-oval.  Or maybe as a feel good move they would have had Mark Martin win the 500 for the first time in what has to be one of the last times he will race in the Super Bowl of stock car racing.  More likely they would have written a scenario where Dale Earnhardt Jr. would have won a point race for the first time in years, setting off an orgasmic frenzy of ticket buying and FOX Sports TV watching among his hordes of illogical fans.

Fortunately the spin doctors weren’t involved, and fans got to watch an auto racing version of “Hoosiers” yesterday.  Score one for the little guys and for all the young drivers racing Saturday nights and dreaming of one day racing on the biggest stage in auto racing.  How could anyone not like seeing the Woods Brothers back in Victory Lane for the first time since 2001?  This family epitomizes old school NASCAR. It doesn’t get much better than a one car part-time team kicking the butt of Hendricks, Roush, and Childress. How could anyone not enjoy seeing Trevor Bayne at 20 years old (plus one day) become the youngest ever Daytona 500 winner? The kid is going to have a busy week, but the first thing he might have to do is buy a suit to dress up for all the TV interviews he will be having this week. With his share of the Wood Brothers $1,496,000 winnings he can buy a nice one.

Random thoughts:

-It only seemed like Michael Waltrip was involved in every on track incident yesterday.  He probably could use some brotherly advice about staying retired though.  I cannot use an email I received from a non-fan of Waltrip, as it would probably leave the blog open to a law suit.

-Jeff Gordon gave a classy in the garage interview after being involved in the “big one” triggered by Waltrip.  This despite having to be bitterly disappointed at the time, and this despite the fact that his teammate Jimmie Johnson-involved in the same incident-refused to get out of his car or take off his helmet to be interviewed. Uncool, Mr. Five Time Champion.

-I enjoyed the various Dale Earnhardt tributes this weekend.  I know a lot of people did not like the man, but the sport just has not been the same since his death.

-I wonder if driving 500 miles at 200 miles per hour as part of a two car tandem, either attached to the bumper of another car, or someone’s car attached to the bumper of yours is scarier than driving 75 miles per hour on a Los Angeles freeway surrounded by four lanes of traffic.  You can assume that most of the people on the track are capable of driving that way, while if you make that assumption on the freeway you are liable to be in a multi-car accident.

-The Woods Brothers team has won at least one race in every decade of NASCAR, make that all seven decades of stock car racing.  It would be nice if a sponsor came along to enable the team to race in every Sprint Cup series event this year, but I don’t see that happening.

-The 2011 race had the most cautions of any Daytona 500, the most lead changes, and the most drivers leading a lap.  What does that mean for the rest of the season?  Nothing.  Most teams consider the first race after the 500 to be the start of the “real” season.  I doubt that it means much for fans either.  I enjoyed watching the Daytona event, but they still have places like Fontana, Pocono, and Chicago to go to. If those races are enjoyable to watch, NASCAR will be making a statement. According to Fox, ratings for the 500 were up 17% over last year, and I have no clue what that means.

-One member of my family was as interested in the long term weather forecast yesterday as in the Daytona 500.  I won’t mention which one, but I wouldn’t have been able to write this blog today if I was the one.  Anyway, the temperatures on Friday March 3rd are supposed to be a high of 25 and a low of 13, while on Saturday March 4th the high is supposed to be 35, and there is a possibility of rain mixed with snow.  That doesn’t sound good for Husker baseball in Lincoln, or USMTS modified racing at Junction Motor Speedway.

Thanks for stopping by.

Easy To Define Prime In Two Words; Not So Easy To Describe NASCAR

February 20, 2011 2 comments

I’m sure a lot of very good late model drivers wish Scott Bloomquist and Billy Moyer would retire.  Bloomquist is in his late forties, and Moyer in his early 50’s-supposedly well past their prime as racers, but they keep on winning races.  Moyer captured his second Volusia Raceway Park win on Friday, and Bloomquist matched the Arkansas driver by winning the final late model feature of Speedweeks.  Both also had feature victories at East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa.

Other Team Zero members showed that the Bloomquist chassis may be the go fast machine of 2011.  Brady Smith finished second to Bloomquist on Saturday, as he had earlier in the week, and Dan Schlieper finished fourth last night.  Of course having access to the brain that controls the right foot of the 0 car might be as valuable as the chassis.

In between watching minutes of Nebraska defeating the #2 ranked Texas Longhorns basketball team today, I watched a lot of the Nationwide Series race from Daytona.  The race was dominated by Sprint Cup series drivers, despite the fact that these drivers no longer run for points in the Nationwide Series.  The race left no question that the “two car shuffle” is the only way a car is going anywhere but to the back in the Daytona 500.  This race held my attention, firming my conviction that other than a handful of traditional races, no Sprint Cup race should be over 300 miles.  Tony Stewart bested Clint Bowyer by about a foot in a great finish.

This from racing writer and TV personality Dave Argabright on his Facebook page: “seeing tonight’s comments about Daytona on my news feed makes me realize that I have apparently lost all interest in NASCAR. Over the past few years I’ve found short track racing to be vastly more enjoyable and interesting. I still care about my many friends running in Cup, but that’s about it. Personal preference, I suppose…”  I haven’t lost “all” interest in NASCAR, but I definitely know where he is coming from.  I too find short track racing more enjoyable and interesting.  Now if only the networks, sponsors, and couch potato fans can be convinced.

Be sure to watch Dirt Knights on the Versus channel at 5:00 p.m. Central time today.  Thanks for stopping by.