Archive for October, 2011

2nd Blog of 10/28/11-More On Johnson/Knaus

October 29, 2011 3 comments

I just received the following from Matt.  I didn’t know about the meeting when I wrote my earlier blog, but was thinking it strange that NASCAR had no response to someone who was practically advertising that NASCAR would think they were cheating in post-race tech.  Again, Knaus did try to put a spin on his comments to make it look like no cheating was involved, but why say this over the radio?  Every word said on the radio is heard by hundreds if not thousands of people.

“NASCAR officials met with Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson Friday morning at Martinsville Speedway in the aftermath of last Sunday’s Talladega controversy where the crew chief instructed his driver to damage the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet if he won the Good Sam Club 500.

NASCAR released this statement in response to the incident:

“We had the opportunity to visit with Chad and Jimmie this morning in Martinsville. As the sport’s governing body we were doing our due diligence to look into this and gain some insight into the comments Chad made before the race atTalladega. We have a responsibility to the rest of the garage area to ensure that everyone is competing on a level playing field with the inspection processes we have in place. The 48 organization knows that from this occurrence that their car is likely to be a regular customer at the R&D Center for post race inspection the balance of this season.”

Be sure to read my first blog of the day and thanks for stopping by.


NASCAR-Talladega To Martisnville

October 29, 2011 Leave a comment

It is human nature to want to gain an advantage on your competitor, and NASCAR teams have always lived by the philosophy that the entire rule book is a gray area, and it isn’t cheating if you don’t get caught.  Unfortunately for the crew chiefs and car chiefs of the Michael Waltrip Racing teams of David Reutimann and Martin Truex Jr. and the JTG Daugherty team of Bobby Labonte, they got caught trying to use windshields that were not the appropriate thickness in theirTalladega cars.

All six were suspended for the remainder of the 2011 season, and the crew chiefs were each fined $50,000.  The three drivers involved were docked 25 points in the driver standings. None of the teams will appeal NASCAR’s ruling, and rather contrite statements condemning team member actions were issued to the press, like no one else knew what was happening.  Give me a break.

Prior to Sunday’s race crew chief Chad Knaus told driver Jimmie Johnson that if he won the race he should damage the rear of the car doing the silly burnouts most drivers seem to want to do when they win. Knaus tried to put a spin on this about bump drafting and NASCAR tolerances, but he has a record of NASCAR suspensions too. This certainly was not as dramatic as Junior Johnson telling Darrell Waltrip to blow the engine in his car after winning an early Winston All-Star race, but from now on anyone damaging his car in a post race burnout will have fans wondering if he cheated.

While such actions may not be cheating on the track, team orders and drivers dropping to the back of the field to avoid the “big one” at Talladega cheat the fans of what they pay a lot of money to see-racing action, with all the drivers battling to lead and win the race, not 20+ two car tandems shuffling around the track until the final laps of the race.

NASCAR will be racing at Martinsville this weekend, and I would love to see Jeff Gordon use his 24 car as a heat seeking missile of revenge, introducing Ford drivers to the Martinsville walls.  I see Denny Hamlin shedding a little of the frustration of a subpar 2011 winning in his home state.  Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson will battle for second, and I see the Roush Fords of Edwards and Kenseth taking a hit in points.

Thanks for stopping by.

Lakeside Comes Back, Plus A Wish List And More Talladega Arguing

October 27, 2011 1 comment

After losing much of its 2011 season to Missouri River flooding, Lakeside Speedway near Kansas Cityhas started its comeback.  On Saturday track officials and supporters met to begin clean up of the facility, and yesterday the track released its 2012 schedule.

The track’s weekly series will race from mid-April to mid-October, and five specials are also scheduled.  The World of Outlaw Sprint Cars will race at Lakeside on Saturday June 30th.  USMTS mods will take to the track on Friday July 13th.  The ASCS Warrior Division and GOTRA will visit on August 24th and 25th.  The Jayhawk Modified Classic will run on 9/21 and 9/22, and the season finale will be a modified shoot-out paired with MLRA late models on October 19th-20th

I am not sure how many overnight trips new dad Matt will be able to take in the coming years-Tucson in January and Volusia in February are no goes-so USMTS races we can go to and come home in one night might be a big part of our 2012 season as we have no plans to go back to weekly racing shows. July 13th is going on our schedule, and of course the Alphabet Soup Race, the Trifecta, and the Silver Dollar Nationals are already there.  I am hoping that JMS will keep their USMTS race in June like it was this year, and not revert back to racing in the cold of March.

Matt is reluctant to go racing once college football starts.  However, I checked the Husker 2012 schedule, and Nebraska plays away on October 20th.  I have always wanted to go to Kansas Speedway on a Friday to watch qualifying and practice, and then head over to Lakeside Speedway to watch the late models race.  I am going to lobby to put October 19th on our schedule as well. 

There has been a lot of discussion regarding Trevor Bayne’s mess up of Jeff Gordon on Sunday. “Team orders” did not help any Ford driver at all-Carl Edwards was the highest Ford finisher in 11th place.  Bayne following Matt Kenseth didn’t particularly help either driver-one finished 15th and the other 17th.  However, had Bayne continued to push Gordon, he likely would have garnered a top five finish and he and Gordon would have been racing Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton for the win.  Racing politics make about as much sense as Congressional politics.

Thanks for stopping by.

Talladega Redux, Plus All Dressed Up With No Place To Go

October 26, 2011 4 comments

The Ford strategy of Ford drivers working only with other Ford drivers at Talladega turned out well-for the other manufacturers.  How many Fords finished in the top ten at the Alabama superspeedway?  Right-none. 

Carl Edward’s falling to the back of the field until the final laps of the race was point racing at its worst.  Throw in Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. too.  That style of racing cheats fans that pay a lot of money to go to a NASCAR sprint cup “race.”

And though the schedule called for 188 laps of racing, 187 2/3rd laps were Dancing With the Cars, while Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton actually did race the final 1/3rd lap. 

 A nap would have been better use of my time.

Today’s blog is interactive. For those of you who graduated from Peru State College, UNO, or Nebraska Wesleyan, that means I would like you to respond to my invitation.  With Halloween nearing, what costume would you dress NASCAR stars in?

For example, a weasel costume would certainly fit young Trevor Bayne after his actions at the end of the Talladega race on Sunday.  You do not make a deal with a four time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and then hang him out to dry.  Yes Trevor, you won the Daytona 500, but so did Derrike Cope and what is he doing these days?

Jack Roush-Satan, pure evil for changing Trevor Bayne from a hope for NASCAR’s future to an auto racing equivalent of a wrestling villain.

Carl Edwards-a $3 bill, as in the old cliché “phony as a $3 bill.”

What about Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, or Jimmie Johnson?

Feel free to re-costume Bayne, Roush, and Edwards or add any other driver you want-even if they aren’t a NASCAR heavy weight.  For example, Kelly Boen could come to a Halloween party as a Transformer-he turns competitor’s late models into piles of twisted sheet metal. 

You can add fans too. My son Matt could be Humpy Wheeler.  Tony Anville-well, he could either dress as Moses or Richard Childress.  Steve ‘Belleville 100’ Basch could come as Wayne Dake.  Randy Palmer could come as Daddy Warbucks-hair and bank balance fit.  Me?  How about Teddy Roosevelt?  There are several ways that could be interpreted, but years ago I was sitting in a gate area at the Milwaukee airport and someone who looked like a flashback to the 60’s told me I reminded him of Teddy Roosevelt.

Have at it, and thanks for stopping by.

Fulton, New York-NARHoF, Sunset Speedway

October 25, 2011 1 comment

The Fulton, New York township board met recently to enact a law severely restricting the operations of Fulton Speedway.  A curfew of 11:00 p.m. was to be imposed-quite honestly I see that as a good thing, but under the new law the track was only going to be able to operate 12 nights annually, and would not be able to run its two big year end specials, making it impossible for promoters to make money.

Unexpectedly the law met a great deal of resistance from track promoters and fans.  Township board members received hundreds of emails and a standing room only crowd of race fans greeted the township board when it met.  Board members were reminded that the track has 60 full and part-time employees, pays substantial taxes, and its presence helps bring outside dollars to the community.  The outpouring of support led not only a board decision to table the proposed law, but to further study and revise it. You can fight City Hall.

Friday night Matt and I attended the 14th Annual Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame induction ceremony and banquet.  The event was well attended-I am guessing around 200 friends, family members, and fans were there to support the seven inductees.  The largest and most vocal group though was members of the Sunset Speedway family, there to see the induction of the Kelley family who promoted the grand dame o fMidwest dirt tracks for 25 years.

More than a decade after the track closed, the love for Sunset Speedway amazes me.  Thinking of the Fulton Speedway fan support got me to start thinking “what if?” What if Sunset promoters had decided not to reach an agreement with real estate developers to cease racing?  The track had been there since 1957, it would certainly be “grandfathered.”  Would developers have resorted to lawsuits or getting county government to adopt nuisance ordinances like curfews and noise abatement?  What if the track had agreed to a curfew of 10:00 p.m. and to build some type of noise barrier surrounding the track and outside pits?  What if hundreds of racers and fans had packed a Douglas County Board of Supervisors meeting in support of the track? What if thousands of emails had inundated supervisors?  Would such efforts have mattered?

It is nice to think the efforts would have mattered, but they probably would not have.  But what if they did?  What if the track had been able to continue racing?  Sunset Speedwayaveraged in the top ten tracks in theUS in weekly attendance.  It would have been in a stronger position to continue weekly super late model racing than its replacement.  Would it have done so?  If it had, what would the state of Midwest late model racing been today? 

It is too bad we can’t do a Dallas bringing back Bobby Ewing to the show-wake up and find it had all been just a dream, and we could all head toState Street on Sunday, Sunday, Sunday, to the only place to be, Sunset Speedway.

Thanks for stopping by.

King of America, and Some Hall of Fame Too

October 21, 2011 5 comments

Ryan Gustin used a late lap pass to capture the opening night feature of the King of American Modfied Nationals at Humboldt Speedway in Humboldt, Kansas.  Terry Phillips finished second to the just turned 21 Iowan, but ended the night leading in points when time trials and heat races were added to the feature finish. 

The top six in points qualified for Saturday’s $15,000 to win feature.  Phillips was followed by team mate Jeremy Payne, Zach Vanderbeek, Gustin, Terry Schultz, and Jason Hughes.  Qualifying continues tonight and tomorrow night.

39 USTMS modifieds attempted to qualify, while the support class B Mods had a car count of 17.  The older I get, the more those kinds of numbers agree with me.  The days of wanting to see 200 or more race cars in the pits are long past for me. The USMTS modifieds had time trials, 4 heats, 2 B features, and the A feature.  The B Mods had two heats and the A feature. As long as the right drivers are on hand-and they were-50 or less cars in the feature class is great.

I am looking forward to tomorrow night’s Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame banquet.  With the Kelley family being inducted into the hall, many of the Sunset Mafia will be on hand and it will be fun talking with some of my old friends.  Among the other inductees is former Fremont resident Gentleman Jim Wyman, my first racing hero from many, many years ago. 

Featured speaker for the NARHOF banquet is UNL Engineering Professor Dean Hibbing who worked on the development of SAFER barriers now used at every major track inAmerica.  With the death of Indy car driver Dan Wheldon safety is on every race fan’s mind, and if there is a question and answer session after the speech I am sure Hibbing will be asked what can be done to make open wheeled racing safer.

Any Hall of Fame board member wanting to add more details about time, place, tickets, feel free to comment. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Silver Dollar Nationals II-Promoter Comments

October 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Dirt Wire in today’s quotes I-80 promoter Joe Kosiski stating that despite Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series sanctioning for Silver Dollar Nationals II the opening night format will remain no time trials, two sets of heats, passing points determining qualifying, and a hard tire rule to benefit local drivers.  Hopefully that eases concerns some fans have with LODLMS sanctioning the event.

DoD was impressed with the running of the 2011 SDN, and I suspect they will treat SDN II like other major events in the 2012 season with ample pre-race and post-race articles and video coverage. Michael Rigsby covered SDN I and perhaps Todd Turner will join him in 2012.  If you are a late model fan, you really ought to subscribe to this site. It costs $65 a year-$1.25 per week, and everything you could hope to know about dirt late models you can find on the site. It makes for an easy Christmas present for the race fan on your list.

It will be interesting to learn the 2012 plans of national drivers.  These drivers race for a living and the Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model series is increasing the total purse of its $10,000 to win shows by $3,325 and its $20,000 to win shows by $4,700.  With travel expenses a major concern for drivers, the series spends an entire week at East Bay Raceway Park near Tampa in February, and 9 weekends on the schedule feature at least two nights of racing at the same track.  8 other weekends involve less than 200 miles travel between race tracks, and after SDN II, the series will race 4 nights in five days in Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland.  It seems the Lucas Oil series is more driver and fan friendly than the WoO late model series.

I had a nice talk yesterday with Ernie Saxton of Langhorne,Pennsylvania.  Saxton writes for Area Auto Racing News and other publications as well.  Like me Saxton is a newspaper junkie who is saddened by the demise of so many racing trade papers.  He is a great source for racing history and tradition, and the only low point in the conversation came when he talked about being old and not having much “thunder” left, then proceeded to mention he went to his first race in 1955-the same year I did.  Ouch. Anyway, I just started subscribing to his Motorsports Sponsorship Marketing News, and would recommend it to drivers and promoters.  If you contact him now at 215-752-1518 you get a 35% discount off the regular $59.95 subscription.

Thanks for stopping by.