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Archive for May, 2011

Too Young? Another Bowl Of Soup, A Few (Silver) Dollars More

May 31, 2011 8 comments

The latest Hawkeye Racing News has a PR style article about Jake Griffin, a 12 year old who won a late model face at a track inFulton,Missouri.  When I was 12 I was playing shortstop for the Fremont Volunteer Firemen baseball team in the YMCA Cookie League, and riding my bike to the swimming pool atRonin Park to flirt with Susan Hancock. I wasn’t ready physically or emotionally to drive any car, let alone a high horsepower racing machine.  I am not sure that the kid winning a race shows that he ought to be racing a late model. When does too young just become young?

Mike Pierson made a valid point about I-80 Speedway starting too many cars in its late model features.  Unfortunately the track is locked into starting 30 plus cars in the Silver Dollar Nationals, and I don’t see the starting numbers at any of their late model specials dropping down to the 24-26 starters in days of yore.  To me it is a back gate mentality.  The more cars that enter the back gate, the more $$$ the track gets in entry fees and sales of pit passes.  Giving drivers a shot at a provisional starting spot, drivers that likely don’t have much chance to qualify, means more cars in the pits.

I was told that the MLRA has raceceivers but the track owner did not want to use them because of expense involved for drivers to rent them.  Wow, that is a bad reason.  The raceceivers do expedite lining up cars, saving a lot of time during caution periods, but they are also a safety tool-drivers don’t have to wait to see a yellow light or flag, they can get caution information instantly through the one way raceceiver communication.

Does any late model crown jewel event run without transponders and raceceivers? How can an event that claims “wanna be” crown jewel status run without them?

Can someone please explain why during every caution in an MLRA sanctioned race drivers stop on the front stretch to talk with an MLRA official? I can buy into such a conversation if it involves a safety issue, but there is no way every driver talking with the MLRA official on Sunday night was pointing out safety problems on the track.  This is one more thing that adds to far too long cautions at MLRA events.

I received an email mentioning the track being “heavy” as the reason why racing started 35 minutes late Sunday night. Does that mean if day of the race track prep had started 35 minutes earlier, the races could have started on time?  Couldn’t track prep be started 35 minutes earlier so the races could start at the advertised time?  I do have a bugaboo about late starts and “5 minutes intermissions” that become 25 minute breaks.

I had no problems at all with the racing Sunday night.  The track was fast and there were multiple grooves.  WHEN cars raced it was good.  The modifieds put on a great show, and I would give the late models a B.  I hope the track will be as racy for the Silver Dollar Nationals, though a two night show in a hot, sunny July will take more out of the track than a one night show on a mostly cloudy Memorial Day weekend night.

An Area Auto Racing News ad showed a late model speed week in early June inMaryland and Pennsylvania.  Late models will race seven nights in a row, with six of the events being $5,000 to win, and one event paying $7,000 to win.  There is also a point fund.  Rick Eckert was the big winner in this mini-series in 2010.  I wish Nebraska promoters could put together even a three night swing like this. Yes, I do realize those states have a much larger population than Nebraska-that is why I said three days instead of seven. This would be another item on my “win the lottery bucket list,” and I would let Boy Genius do the promoting.

Speaking of my son, I am looking forward to our watching the Dirt Knights of the USMTS in action this weekend at Junction Motor Speedway.  We are probably only going Friday as one of us needs to help his very pregnant wife get their swimming pool ready for the summer and will be too busy to go to JMS on Saturday. You guess which one, but the back yard of my  home doesn’t even have a blow up pool.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Two Words For I-80 and MLRA: Transponders and Raceceivers

May 30, 2011 14 comments

How many MLRA officials does it take to change a light bulb?  I can’t answer that, but I guarantee you it will take at least 10 caution laps for them to change it.

Which race had more laps yesterday, the Indianapolis 500 or the Alphabet Soup race?  Well, the Indy 500 had 200 laps as caution laps count in that race.  Caution laps don’t count in the Alphabet Soup Race, and between green flag and caution laps there had to be well over 100 laps run.  I was afraid cars would have to dive into the pits to refuel. With reports of rain between Seward and Lincoln I was getting antsy about every too long caution.

Two words-transponder and raceceiver.  I don’t care if it is the tour or the track the length of time it takes to line up cars for a restart during an MLRA race at I-80 Speedway is ridiculous.  This is not cutting edge technology.  Both have been around race tracks for years.  A transponder scoring loop planted under the finish line takes away the hassle of manual scoring, and the raceceiver is an efficient method of lining up cars.  A track trying to run a major race without both of these tools should be ashamed.

The NCAA has visited the brand new $125 million TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha on several occasions, going over even the smallest of details-how far apart pitcher’s mounds in bullpens are-to ensure that the College World Series runs smoothly. No, I-80 is not Ameritrade Park, and the Silver Dollar Nationals will not be anything like the College World Series. That does not mean the race should not be run professionally, with attention to details. I felt that the Alphabet Soup Race and the Midwest Trifecta would be two practice runs for the track and the MLRA to prepare for the Silver Dollar Nationals.  Both get one chance to do it right in a major race, and last night I would grade the effort C-, simply because of the disorganization on yellow flags. The late start and the 25 minute “5 minute intermission,” well, I’ll talk about that another time.

Whether it was the MLRA announcer, or the track announcer-not you Stroker, the other guy, whoever said that Scott Bloomquist was going to be at the Silver Dollar Nationals should be taken behind a wood shed.  I have mentioned Silver Dollar entrants several times on this blog, but they have been prepaid entries, and I have also stated that a prepaid entry does not guarantee the driver will actually be there to race. While I would love to see Bloomquist at the SDN, the weekend of the SDN is the last weekend off for over two months for drivers like Bloomquist.  He told Joe Kosiski in February he was going fishing that weekend.  The race is not listed on the schedule on his website.  Until Scott says he will be there, I think I will take him at what he has already said, and that is he is going fishing on July 23rd.

I still enjoy the power, speed, and noise of super late models, but for competitive racing, the IMCA modifieds are putting on a better show and have been for some time.  29 modifieds were on hand last night, with names like Saathoff, Smith, Noteboom, Neal, Abelson, Grabouski, and Berck signing in.  The track was fast, there was plenty of side by side racing in the heats and features, and ultimately Kyle Berck prevailed over the field.

Does anyone know where I can get a Lacey Tuttle calendar? That young woman is a good driver.

Chris Simpson looked like he had the late model field covered last night.  His 9th place to first heat race charge put him on the pole for the feature race.  He grabbed the feature lead at drop of the green, and was never seriously challenged. Midway through the race Kyle Berck changed his racing line and seemed to be closing on Simpson, but when Berck jumped the cushion in turn one he had to slow to keep from hitting the wall and Travis Dickes and Chad Simpson passed him.  Berck later got around Dickes and Chris Simpson blew a motor allowing his brother to take the lead and the $5,000 win.

Travis Dickes has impressed me the last few seasons.  Fans expect Kyle Berck to be near the front of every race, but Dickes is showing up on the leader board quite often.  Along with Dylan Smith, Dickes will be a challenge to Berck in the coming years.

Hey Tony, it sounds like the Coca Cola 600 was a good race.  Nice to see Kevin Harvick win and get an assist from teammate Paul Menard too.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

A Not So Pleasant Valley Sunday

May 29, 2011 2 comments

I ran my version of the Iowa 500 Friday and yesterday, much of it in the rain.  We had traveled less than 50 miles when my wife told me I “was not a racer.” I explained that racers figure 9 miles over the speed limit is legal-except for Kyle Busch who pegs 83 miles over the speed limit is OK-and that I was only going 8 miles an hour above the limit. I was able to keep at that pace most of the time I was on I-80, though some seriously unique Iowans tried my patience.  I think there is a question on the Iowa driver’s exam that asks “are you crazy?” and if you answer yes you don’t have to take the rest of the exam.

On our way to Williamsburg we drove through Kalona, the part of Iowa where most Amish in the state live.  Their lifestyle fascinates me.  Faith, family, and work seem almost harsh, but I believe many of the Amish are astute and prosperous.  I have to admit seeing an Amish carriage pass by a computer repair shop in downtown Kalona made me laugh, but this is America.

After eating at the OxYoke Inn we stopped at the outlet mall.  My wife decided that other than stopping at the Coach store to buy my daughter a purse she was too tired to shop.  Me too.

I am ready to go racing tonight, but am afraid Mother Nature has other plans.  It was cool, breezy, and sprinkling when I went to the cemetery earlier today, and though I have my fingers crossed, I am not betting on watching the Alphabet Soup race tonight.  If I don’t go to I-80, I’ll just watch NASCAR on TV.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Speedway Illustrated-oops; Silver Dollar Nationals, A Long And Lonesome Highway East Of Omaha

May 27, 2011 22 comments

Although my website has been up for almost 3 years, yesterday Speedway Illustrated took issue-yes, pun intended-with a statement I made on my home page that no newsstand magazines give grassroots racing the coverage it deserves.  According to Karl Frederickson of Speedway, the magazine devotes no more than 30% of its pages to NASCAR coverage.  I stand corrected, and sometime when my blog generates a little more cash I will have my software person delete Speedway Illustrated from the list of magazines that don’t offer enough coverage to dirt track racing. Call this my Kyle Busch apology-the one from day two, not day one.

In less than a week the Fans Fund has already received $355 in donations.  With almost two months before the Silver Dollar Nationals take place we are making good progress toward reaching our goal of $1,000 or getting $500 to both Brian Birkhofer and Jason Feger.

From an anonymous source:

In honor of Randy “Macho Man” Savage, I hope that I-80 Speedway does driver introductions Sunday for the Soup race for one reason:
 
So Kyle Berck can take the microphone and say “Kelly Boen is out of line, yeah, and the Marquette Missile is coming for the Bone Head, and when the Marquette Missile comes after you you’re gonna go down, oooooohhhhhh yeeeeahhhh.”

Rest in peace Randy Savage, and go Missile.

I don’t leave for Iowa for another 12 hours, but I am getting tired just thinking about it.  The trip is not really much further than going to Oskaloosa, which I may do this summer.  It is not any further than West Liberty, been there, done that.  It is not as far as Wheatland or Fairmont.  Maybe it is because I am driving, not Matt.  Maybe it is because there is an outlet mall at the end of tomorrow’s journey.  Whatever it is, I need some rest, so off for bed to me.

Thanks for stopping by.

P.S. Don’t tell Tony Anville I am doing this blog at 8:45 p.m. He thinks I went to U.S. 30 Speedway tonight.

Kyle Busch Caught Speeding-NOT On Pit Road; Brady Smith in ABC Race; Zach Hensley

May 25, 2011 1 comment

Kyle Busch was stopped by a sheriff’s deputy about 30 miles north of Charlotte near his home in Mooresville, North Carolina.  Busch, a cum laude graduate of the Tony Anville/Randy Palmer Scofflaw School of Highway Driving was clocked doing 128 mile per hour in a 45 miles per hour zone.  Busch was cited for careless and reckless driving. 

A Joe Gibbs Racing spokesperson quoted Busch as saying “the deputy just came off a four-tire pit stop and I was on older tires.  His crew made a track bar adjustment, and he could roll through the corners, while my M & M’s Lexus was tight off.”  After losing to Carl Edwards and a deputy sheriff, Busch will try to change his racing luck in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte on Sunday.

Per his website and confirmed by Joe Kosiski, Wisconsin driver Brady Smith will be racing in the Alphabet Soup Race at I-80 Speedway on Sunday. Smith is running the Show-Me 100 at Lucas Oil Speedway on Friday and Saturday and is coming to I-80 in hopes of claiming the second guaranteed Silver Dollar Nationals starting spot.  .Missouri late model pilot Brad Looney claimed the first guaranteed SDN spot earlier this season. Smith will battle the likes of Kyle Berck, John Anderson, Al Purkey, and Chad Simpson for the ABC crown.

Drivers from the Corn Belt Clash (CBC), MLRA, and NCRA tours will compete in the Alphabet Soup Race.  Support class IMCA mods will run a 30 lap feature paying $2,000 to win.  Hornets will also be on the bill. I-80 grandstands open at 4:30 p.m., and racing is “scheduled” to begin a 5:55 p.m.

Unless I can talk my son into a trip to U.S. 30 Speedway tomorrow night, Sunday will be Matt’s first trek to a race this season, so rain stay away.  I am looking forward to some good late model racing and I-80 Speedway barbecue sandwiches, plus the bull s–t of my friends, the Sunday Night Irregulars.

I interviewed 21 year old IMCA modified driver Zach Hensley yesterday for an upcoming article in Dirt Modified magazine.  The Green River, Wyoming native was born with femoral hypoplasia, a rare bone disease that has kept him in a wheel chair all of his life.  Though he is unable to use his legs, Hensley is able to maneuver his modified with hand controls and is a regular on the Wild West Tour, a mountain states IMCA modified circuit.

I would rather do one Dirt Modified magazine article on a Zach Hensley than 10 articles on Carl Edwards or Kyle Busch.  For auto racing fans, Dirt Modified and its sister publications Dirt Late Model and Flat Out are much better reads than NASCAR saturated newsstand magazines. You can subscribe to any of these magazines at www.threewidemedia.com.

While Gregg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, and Juan Pablo Montoya can’t keep their NASCAR Sprint Cup rides from hitting other cars, Zach Hensley manages to steer his modified with one hand, using the other to control the accelerator and brakes on his car and somehow manages to remove his helmet visor tear offs as necessary, all without banging into anyone.  Like I said one article on Zach is worth 10 on the NASCAR prima donnas.

Thanks for stopping by.

Categories: Uncategorized

Standing On My Head Juggling Bowling Balls

May 25, 2011 5 comments

It has come to my attention that the Fans Choice link to PayPal on www.therestofthedirt.com  doesn’t allow you to make a one time $25 donation to the Fans Fund-your choices are $5, $10, $20, or $50.  The link was put up before I-80 promoters came up with the idea to provide discount tickets for the Alphabet Soup Race to anyone donating $25 or more.  I have discussed this matter with the website owner who is no techno nerd, and he does not want to incur any additional expense to have a programmer change choices on the link.  If you want to receive a discount on Alphabet Soup Race tickets you can make a $5 donation and a $20 donation.  I get emails on who donated what, and I will know you made a $25 donation.

Yes, that is a dumb way of doing things.  It is a matter of conflicting agendas-the track wants to draw attention to Sunday night’s Alphabet Soup Race, and the Fan’s Fund Group set a goal of finding 100 people who are willing to give $10 each to the SDN Fans Fund, along with some donations in the other amounts.  So, using some duck tape, spit, and a knock off of a Randy Palmer beret, we jury rigged the link the best way possible to come up with a way of making a $25 donation.

Hopefully people will do the above because there are only two days left to make a $25 donation and get discount tickets for the ABC Race.

Picture an overweight, out of shape 60 year old standing on his head juggling bowling balls. If the 60 year old was a magician he could make you believe he could juggle those bowling balls-heck, the magician could do his act at a bowling alley and roll a strike with every ball he juggled.

I am 60, overweight and out of shape, but I don’t want to try to stand on my head anymore, and those bowling balls I have been juggling are pretty heavy.  I am no magician-I am going to drop a ball now and then.  Some blog posts aren’t going to be very good.  I hope you will forgive me the occasional post like today’s, and know that I will try to do a better job tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by. And please go to www.therestofthedirt.com and make a donation to the Fans Fund for Brian Birkhofer or Jason Feger.

Eckert-Birkhofer, Tight Budgets, Silver Dollar Nationals, And Iowa Highway Drivers

May 24, 2011 9 comments

When Joe Kosiski and I talked last week about the Fans Fund for the Silver Dollar Nationals, he mentioned that many late model teams are running on a very tight budget, including many nationally known tour drivers.  The point he was trying to make was that very few drivers have the money to pay an entry fee to a race and forfeit it by not showing up.

Obviously he was telling me that drivers who have prepaid to run in the Silver Dollar Nationals are going to be there.  I am not ready to buy into that theory 100% yet, but he may be right.  Go to Rick Eckert’s website, and the home page tells quite a story.  Eckert is looking for primary, associate, and product sponsorship in 2011, and has to win races or get sponsorship to follow the entire WoO circuit, even though he is on top of the current point standings.

Eckert is hardly a Saturday night late model driver trying to bust into the big time of dirt track racing.  The 45 year old Pennsylvanian has been one of the top dirt drivers for years.  He is a former winner of The Dream, and has also won the Dirt Track World Championship, and the Gopher 50.  He has finished in the top ten in season points every year since 2001 in the World of Outlaws and its predecessor tours Extreme and UDTRA.

Brian Birkhofer should be known as “Big Race Birky.” He has won numerous crown jewel events, including The World 100, the Dirt Track World Championship, Cedar Lake Outlaw Nationals, the Knoxville Nationals, and the Show-Me 100.  His sponsorship situation may not be as critical as that of Eckert, but Birkhofer is also down in sponsorship dollars in 2011.

If name drivers like Eckert and Birkhofer are having budget difficulties in 2011, it is easier to accept Kosiski’s theory that others don’t have money to waste on anything, including entry fees to races they may not run.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that Kosiski is correct and that all drivers who have prepaid entry fees for the Silver Dollar Nationals will be there.  Go to the I-80 Speedway forum on www.dirtdrivers.com to check out the list of prepaid entries.  It is impressive.

I am debating on going to US 30 Speedway on Thursday because I have get up early on Friday to make a trip to Sigourney, Iowa on Friday to place flowers on the graves of some of my wife’s family. I will be back on Sunday to go to the Alphabet Soup race.  Given who named the race years ago, I can hardly miss it.  I am sure Kyle Berck would prefer I pick someone else to win the race, with my poor prognosticating record, but I see Berck shaking off early season struggles and building some momentum toward the Silver Dollar Nationals by winning on Sunday.

Just once I would like Mother Nature to be cooperative on Memorial Day weekend and give us nothing but sun.  I don’t need to get rained on at a race track-been there, done that, don’t need to do it again, and I don’t need to drive several hundred miles along I-80 in a storm, amidst Iowa drivers.  You know what they call Iowa drivers?  You may call them idiots out wandering around, but I say they are ignorant obfuscating wasteful agitators.  Sorry Stroker, although not terribly sorry, unless my born and raised in Iowa wife hears what I said. DO NOT tell your mom Matt.

Thanks for stopping by.