Archive

Archive for January, 2012

Where No Man Has Gone Before

January 31, 2012 3 comments

The Corn Belt Clash late model schedule can be found on the late model forum on www.whowon.com.  Currently 17 races are scheduled at 14 tracks in 6 different Midwest states.  Most of the races are $3,000-$4,000 to win, though the race on opening night of the USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway in Wisconsin will pay $5,000 to win.  The series will race at I-80 Speedway in Nebraska on April 7th, May 27th, and June 29th.  There are also five additional dates possible, currently listed with my least favorite combination of letters, TBA. 

Scott McBride commented yesterday that I might be running out of things to blog about.  There are times I think he might be right, especially in the off season.  Then I get a little nuttier than normal and come up with something like this:

I decided to do an imitation of my son Matt or Scott, printing off schedules from the Lucas Oil Dirt Series, the WoO Late Model Series, and major unsanctioned events.  I also looked at several regional series and the UMP Hell Tour and came up with 122 possible dates for a super late model driver to run between January 5th and November 11th, as follows:

47-Lucas Oil Dirt Series

26-WoO Late Models

19- UMP (including 4 @ Volusia, The Dream, The World 100, and 11 Hell Tour events)

25-Unsanctioned

  5-Regional (CBC, MLRA, or co-sanctioned)

This would be racing in 26 different states and Canada, at too many tracks to count.

The resources needed for the “You Have Got To Be Shi—– Me Tour” would be unreal.  Start with a driver-preferably young, definitely single, and both talented and in good shape.  Three or four crew members would be needed, two to travel and one or two to stay at the shop.  To agree to the demands of this tour, that would be five well paid employees-no need to worry about vacations or paid holidays, just pay them top dollar. Two cars would not be enough; take two in the hauler and have two more available at the shop.  Engines, oh my.  Tires-staggering, and yes, that was a pun.  Tools, parts, and supplies for both the hauler and shop.  Great relationships with chassis builders, engine builders, and tire suppliers.

Translate all of the above into dollar bills, and it would take my friends Tony and Randy combined to come up with that much cash.  Of course there would be the expense for fuel, food, entry fees, pit passes, an occasional hotel room, and a beer or two.  Add in maintenance and repairs on the hauler and trailer.  For all I missed, well, as Sly Stone said in the 60’s, “on and on, etcetera, etcetera, and wow.”

This would definitely be a once in a lifetime tour.  No driver would be insane enough to try it twice.  The scariest part of this make believe tour is that I have no doubt that both Matt and Scott could come up with more dates than I did, and if they couldn’t do it in late models alone, they would add USMTS or other big dollar modified events. 

If I just had the time and money to imitate Ivan Tracy, I would be watching races in sunny Arizona instead of dreaming nightmarish tasks. 

Oh, check out raving Lunatic’s comments about yesterday’s blog.  As always, Looney makes some good points. Thanks for stopping by.

Advertisements

I Like It When Smart People Agree With Me

January 31, 2012 5 comments

In the current issue of Dirt Late Model magazine, Publisher Mike O’Connor repeated a column from August 2004 titled “Screwarounditis.”  It is a shame that the column needed to be repeated, but it is just as appropriate today as it was over seven years ago.

Mike made a number of pointing that is seems I have been harping on for decades.  One was business as usual with obvious threatening skies.  I don’t have a race track close to my home.  The closest track is about 50 miles away.  When I travel that far for entertainment, I feel I have made a commitment to the promoter, and ask that he do the same for me, AND for every other fan that treks to your track and plops down $10 for a grandstand seat. The same with drivers and crew who fork over $25 for the privilege of being in the pits. Push-push-push to deliver that baby, to finish the race program before the rains win out.

Another was yellow flag line-ups.  Most tracks use raceceivers, shame on those who don’t.  Via one way radio drivers get instructions on exactly where their car is to be.  How is that rocket science?  Why can’t some drivers ever get it right?  Why are minutes wasted trying to get one or two culprits into the right place?  Tell drivers once, point one time, and then give them the option of going to the rear of the field or to the pits.  I believe drivers hearing would improve drastically if this took place a few times early in the season.

O’Connor does not mention this in his column, but one rule I wish every track would use is the “lone ranger” rule.  If you spin out and do not get your car restarted before the yellow flag flies, you get to go to the pits and not finish the race.  Too many times does a driver spin and can’t seem to refire his engine until immediately after the yellow flag flies.  And how often is this driver in the rear of the field when he spins out?  Which is where he would finish if he didn’t bring out a yellow, and where invariably he finishes after bringing out the yellow. Every yellow adds minutes to the program, and a driver sent to the pits one time using this rule is a lesson to every driver in the pits, a lesson they will remember.

Mike did make the point of the incredible amount of time wasted on post-race winner interviews and photo sessions.  The winner of a feature race has to weigh in, drive around to the front stretch victory lane, unbuckle and climb out of his car, then submit to usually inane questions from a pit reporter, with answers that 99% of the people at the track don’t care to hear.  Let family and friends cross the track from the stands for the photo session and more time passes by.  Perhaps these sessions last only five minutes, but when every track seems to have 4-5-6 classes these days, that adds up to a lot of time added to the program.

Why not save these sessions until all the races are concluded?  If fans want to hear what winning drivers have to say, they can stay and listen.  If they don’t, they will arrive home 20 minutes or more sooner than they expected.

If you think I am being petty when I am talking about minutes, I cringe every time I am at a track and watch people walking out the gate BEFORE the feature class runs it’s A main.  That is the race most fans want to see, and minutes screwing around make it impossible for some to see it-maybe they have small children, maybe they have to get up early the next morning for work, or maybe they have a long way to drive home.  It doesn’t matter; the promoter has failed to keep his end of the agreement reached when the fan presents his $10 at the ticket window.

www.DirtonDirt.com analyst Ben Shelton also had a column in the current issue of Dirt Late Model.  He talks of obese race programs, a new term for too many support classes, and makes the point that the feature class A main should take to the track no later than 10:00 p.m.  If I have to leave before I can watch a late model A main, but have suffered through Hornet and B Mod feature races, I am leaving pissed.  Do you think I am the only person who feels this way?  Not likely.

Shelton’s final paragraph read:  “Putting fans in the stands is harder than ever with the economy in which we currently live and tracks are dying across the country on weekly basis.  Furthermore, potential fans have more options than ever on outlets to spend their hard-earned money, so let’s not give them a reason to not support our races.”

No, I did not ghost write his column.  Thousands of fans across the country are thinking these thoughts.  It amazes me that promoters still don’t get the message.

Thanks for stopping by.

It May Be Sunday, But I’m Talking About Friday-Mostly

January 29, 2012 2 comments

The long awaited I-80 Speedway schedule is out.  The 2012 season opens with the Spring Thaw on April 6th and 7th.  ASCS National Sprints visit on Thursday May 24th. The Alphabet Soup race is in its traditional Memorial Day Sunday slot, and A mods and hobby stocks are the only support classes.

With the 4th of July a midweek holiday this year, the Trifecta has been moved to Friday June 29th and as always will feature super late models, ASCS sprint cars, and A modifieds.  Silver Dollar Nationals II is scheduled for July 19th-21st, with the last two nights Lucas Oil Dirt Series late models and USMTS modifieds only.

The Charlie Clark Memorial is on tap for Sunday July 29th, and perhaps the most significant and interesting change comes with the Cornhusker Classic.  It remains a three day event, but will be held Oct 12th-14th, a weekend without Nebraska football.  More important than the date is a format change.  Each night will be a complete program with features run-no more paying three nights pit passes for one night pay-out.  That is two thumbs up move and I think it will pay off in increases in both the back and front gates.

The SLMR late models will race at the track 6 times if I counted right.  And, I also counted “All classes racing” 9 times.  Several of the specials are racing on Sunday, and one weekly show will be run on Sunday to avoid conflict with the Junction Motor Speedway King of the Hill late model special in August.

I am still not sold on Friday night racing, but promoters feel people spend their disposable income on Fridays and Saturdays and stay home on Sundays.  I hope their theory pans out.  I feel late model racing in my home state went from producing some of the best weekly and regional racers in the country to producing nothing but yawns.  My fingers are crossed that    I-80’s efforts will make for a much stronger late model presence in area racing.

I have heard interesting rumors about the track’s front gate admission, starting time for weekly shows and for families and old-timers alike, finish time.  Hopefully the track will be providing that information soon.

Thanks for stopping by.

Arizona Reasoning, Lifestyle Of A Rich AND Famous Driver

January 28, 2012 Leave a comment

I received the following from Ivan Tracy, currently residing in the camping area of Canyon Speedway Park just north of Phoenix:

“I was talking to the promoter here at Canyon last night. He said daytime shows are liked for 2 reasons. 1…Most of these out of the city tracks generate their own power and they do use a lot of fuel. Second is for the fans comfort. It almost turns to a freezing feeling in the desert here at night. It was 65 at sundown yesterday and by 8 it was 41. It got to 38 by midnight.”

Well, there you have the rest of the rest of the dirt.  It is interesting how our minds convince our bodies that 41 is great weather for football but bad weather for auto racing.  I am as guilty of this as anyone.  I don’t mind sitting with 84,999 other people in 40 degree temps to watch Nebraska play football, but I do not want to sit with 999 other people to watch a race in that weather. Maybe the complaint should not be about afternoon racing, but about the promoters not staying ahead of track conditions.

When you are one of the most recognizable athletes in the world, you can’t go to McDonalds for a hamburger or to the local mall to watch a movie.  Members of your “nation” would turn such mundane events into a mob scene.  Instead, you have to find your relaxation in your own castle-electronically monitored of course.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s castle sits on 140 acres of rolling North Carolina land near Mooresville. The house is nice, though nothing like the mansions of some NASCAR stars.  There is a Play Station room that includes book shelves, but no books.  There is a pool room and a bar with an air hockey table.  The inside of his refrigerator is not unlike that of other bachelors-full of Mountain Dew and DiGiorno pizza.  He has an unattached six bay garage and an attached three stall garage.  Racers like cars. He “splurged” on a swimming pool, as if one of the top 20 in earnings athletes has to splurge.  Things get a little stranger outside the house though.

Earnhardt Jr. has two kart tracks-asphalt and dirt-and 18 go karts.  Drivers like Elliott Sadler, Denny Hamlin, Greg Biffle, and Kasey Kahne visit Earnhardt to race karts.  If they get tired of racing karts, they can golf on his six hole course. 

I won’t argue that other wealthy people turn part of their property into a golf course.  I suspect there are also kart tracks on the grounds of others who earn millions of dollars a year.  I wonder how many with more money than they know what to do with have built their own western themed town.  Dale Jr. has.  Whiskey River has a livery, a jail, a bank, a church, a hotel, and a saloon.  He uses it for birthdays, holidays, business events, and a music video was filmed there. NASCAR filmed a commercial there as well.

Perhaps this is a coincidence, but my friend Tony Anville who is good friends with the Ricketts’ family of TD Ameritrade and Chicago Cubs fame calls his Auburn home the Ponderosa.  I am sure most of Anville’s 640 acres are farmed, but given that he is a big Earnhardt Jr. fan, I wonder if he has his own western themed town on the “back 40.”  It would not surprise me.

It is also no surprise that SMI’s Bruton Smith continues to spread the blame for last year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup fiasco at Kentucky Speedway.  Of course the Kentucky Highway Patrol and the contractor he hired to park cars are to blame.  It could not possibly be that increasing seating by 41,000 but not increasing available parking accordingly had anything to do with the nightmare 20 mile long traffic jam. The track has spent some $10,000,000 to correct 2011’s problems.

A www.bleacherreport.com article stated that NASCAR is abandoning secret fines.  OK, if the fines have been secret, how can we be sure NASCAR is abandoning them? Yes, I do realize the fines were not really secret at all.  So why make such an announcement?  Maybe it was a slow news day in the southeast.

Thanks for stopping by.

Rumors, Facts, Why I Care, Earnhardt Jr., Cheech and Chong

January 27, 2012 3 comments

Yesterday I mentioned the rumor of a possible early August co-sanction with MLRA and NCRA at a Midwest track.  Apparently that is not so, but the MARS Dirt Car Series may be joining NCRA, at least according to its website.  I have already expressed my opinion of MARS appearing at Midwest tracks like I-80 Speedway or Adams County Speedway-MARS is a southern Missouri and Arkansas sanction that doesn’t bring enough cars north to cover its fee.

I have heard from a number of people wondering what I think about the rumored new Sunday night NASCAR sanction in the Midwest.  What do I think?  I think it is a battle between ego and common sense whether it will happen.  Ego is attaching the NASCAR logo to your track, though I don’t buy it is worth as much for grassroots tracks as it was 10-15 years ago.  Ego is sticking it to another promoter’s track or other efforts. Common sense is NASCAR runs stock cars, not some other division.  The stock car fan and driver base in the area is Omaha/Council Bluffs.  Promoters at I-80 Speedway think Sundays are no longer viable. What makes Sundays more viable at a track further from the fan/driver base?

Which will win out?  If I were to bet I would put my money on ego, the holy grail of Midwest dirt track promoters. And if you wonder why I write about weekly racing when the only weekly show I plan to attend is at US 30 Speedway, the reason is simple.  Weekly racing is either going to add to or take away the resources a promoter has available.  If cars and fans don’t fill the pits and grandstands, what is likely to happen to the track?

Junction Motor Speedway is making raceceivers mandatory for late models, Modifieds, and B-Mods this season.  They are not renting them, drivers have to buy their own for about $100 from Speedway Motors.  This is a great idea.  If a driver cannot afford $100 for a raceceiver, I question whether he can afford to race at all. Raceceivers and transponders are NOT technology of the future, they are the present.  Promoters who do not use them are forfeiting a great tool for keeping their show running in a timely fashion.

I don’t have a Wild West town like Dale Earnhardt Jr., but like Cheech and Chong, I got a basketball jones.  Tonight will be the fourth night in a row Matt and I will be sitting in the grandstands at some gym, and the fifth night out of the last seven. Basketball jones, I got a basketball jones, I got a basketball jones, baby ooo-e-ooo. It might not be the same as camping out in an RV in Tucson for a week of racing, but we all do what we can do.

Basketball games start on time.  There is a clock to show how long intermission is going to last-maybe race tracks should try that.  Games do not end at well after midnight.  There are plenty of fouls in a basketball game, but it doesn’t take five minutes to line up the players each time, like race tracks seem to take lining up car on each yellow flag.  Admission to high school or small college games is $5 or $6, even to games involving ranked teams (the equivalent of a race special which costs $20-$30). Maybe I should do a basketball blog instead.

Or just keep blogging about auto racing and like a Chicago Cubs fan, tell myself this is going to be the season when everything comes together. Thanks for stopping by.

Sorry Tony-I’ll have to save my Anville/Earnhardt Jr. story for another day.

Schedules-Sort Of And A Racing Fantasy

January 26, 2012 5 comments

ASCS has announced its Midwest Series schedule.  The 360 sprint cars will race 19 times on 7  different tracks in Nebraska, Missouri,I owa, and South Dakota.  Six of the dates will be in conjunction with the ASCS National Series.

An NCRA late model schedule is also out-eight races at tracks in three different states.  That hardly seems enough to crown a champion, especially when the odds are great that the series will not average a full field of cars.  There is a rumor that a 9th event, a co-sanctioned topless race with the MLRA is in the works, but a promoter I know said he doubted the MLRA would be interested in a topless race. A two night event at Junction Motor Speedway in August is listed on both NCRA and MLRA schedules.

I checked the track website and www.dirtdrivers.com for more information on the I-80 Speedway weekly schedule and fan pertinent information like starting time and admission, but found nothing new.  Maybe this information will be given out at the track’s banquet tomorrow.

One of my favorite racing fantasies is winning the lottery and flying my son and 14 racing buddies to Speedweeks in Florida.  Please note, any of those 14 so inclined to question my having 14 racing buddies will be removed from said list.

Anyway, I foresee chartering a jet, limos for transportation, a nice hotel, good food, maybe a round of championship golf and I would foot the bill for everything.  Of course there would be lots and lots of racing. 

We would fly into Florida on the Wednesday before the Daytona 500 and leave immediately following the conclusion of the 500.  In between there would be four nights of short track action at Volusia Raceway Park, with super late models and big block mods on the bill.  At the big track in Daytona, we would take in the Sprint Cup Twin 150’s on Thursday, the Nationwide Series 300 mile race on Saturday, and of course the Daytona 500 on Sunday. 

At Volusia it would be pits before the races and reserved seats during the races. It would be suites and catering at the big track, with lots of pre-race face and photo-op time with the stars of NASCAR.  I would love to get a photo of Tony Anville with Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Being an accountant I can count to 16-14 friends, Matt and me-so hopefully no one would get lost. I always wanted to be in the tour business and being well organized I already have a plan, just in case the Powerball winner is me. This is definitely on the win the lottery bucket list.

Ah to be old and retired with funds instead of just old.  In 16 nights between February 10th and February 25th, dirt fans could watch 15 super late model races, with 3 sprint car and 4 big block mod races thrown in too.  And add in the big track action if you want. Or, if you are like Ivan Tracy, you could park your luxury motor home on the grounds of Volusia Speedway Park on February 12th and not move it for 12 days, watching 410 sprints, modifieds, late models, and big block mods in action.  From Sylvania, Georgia to Gibsonton, Florida, to Barberville, Florida, it sounds a lot for fun than shoveling snow in Nebraska.

Being poor like me, you can still make it to Florida via the internet.  DirtVision will webstream all 12 nights of theVolusia Speedway Park action. Information is not yet available on the East Bay Raceway Park website, but X.Celerated is supposed to webstream 12 nights of Winternational action from the Gibsonton, Florida track including 3 nights of UMP Modifieds, 6 nights of Lucas Oil Dirt Late Models, and 3 nights of 360 Sprint Car action.

Just to irritate Anville I may purchase both packages.  I will be so far in front of him in the 2012 Super Fan contest he won’t even be able to eat my dust.  Barring rain, none of the Florida events are scheduled for day racing. Arizonans seem to be the only people with a love for daytime dirt track racing.

Thanks for stopping by.

Arizonans Love Daytime Dirt; I-80 Likes Friday Nights

January 25, 2012 3 comments

From TMC who was actually at the Wild West Shoot-Out in Tucson last weekend:

“Hate to be harsh, but they get a D- for track prep on Sunday.  A shot of water and turning up about 2 inches of dirt won’t cut it and they should have known that.  The wind blew half the moisture out before the track got packed by the mods (after what seemed like 100 laps of “packing”, some guys even pitted to re-fuel before the A started), and everyone there knew that it wouldn’t accomplish anything. Then to do the same thing again before the LM feature was just plain silly.  Either blade off the week’s worth of rubber that was on the track, open the damn thing up and water it or just leave it alone because an hour and a half of jacking around with track prep accomplished absolutely nothing. There was no improvement whatsoever with either track prep attempt on Sunday.  The night shows weren’t bad at all, but Saturday and especially Sunday weren’t up to par and you can bet that it will cost them some cars and fans next year. 

This was not an issue last year, and the weather wasn’t really a problem, so whatever they did differently this year didn’t work and I hope they’re smart enough to realize they have a problem and are willing to address it for next year.  I’d hate to see yet another great race go down the crapper because of bad management.  I get enough of that without having to leaveNebraska…”

Tom-you got to see what was going on while I was watching US Steel infomercials.  You were able to judge the effort, while I could only judge that one was made.  There is no question that you are one of the most knowledgeable fans around, so I have no problem changing my thoughts to what is a clearer picture.

I honestly do not understand the thinking behind scheduling a daytime dirt track race.  Drivers do not come from over 1,000 miles away to drive on a rubbered down one groove track.  I typed in race instead of drive, but realized that wasn’t so.  Sprint car fans call going fast and turning left racing, but late model fans want to see side by side action.  Day racing leaves both drivers and fans upset-except Arizonans, more later.

So again, why schedule day races, including the biggest race of the entire event?  I agree with TMC that if the track doesn’t address this problem before 2013, it is going to lose some drivers and fans.  Before Sunday’s race Matt and I were talking of 2013.  His in-laws own a condo in Mesa, and Matt could go racing in Tucson, while Steph and Henry visit her mom.  After Sunday though we both agreed that if the weekend races remain day races there is no way we want to go.

I really enjoyed the Wednesday and Friday events on www.dirtondirt.com PPV, but if the promoters don’t make all the races night events, I would not purchase the whole package like I did this year.  I would probably just choose a one night package on Friday. I realize it is winter, the WWS is late models and mods, but I don’t subscribe to the theory “whatever promoters give us is OK.”

I do hope the track will make some changes, and get the word out early.  This could be a great event and like TMC said, we don’t have to leave Nebraska to see bad track management.

However, this from one of the www.dirtondirt.com people on site this weekend:

“First, you have to understand (and you can look back through our archives for proof)…that they’ve raced in the day for the Wild West Shootout for a LONG, LONG time…and 990% of the time the racing is great. Even the Saturday-Sunday before our PPV started, there were several near photo-finishes with the heat races. Is day racing typically bad across the country? Yes…but out there, up until this past Saturday-Sunday, it has worked great…they just missed this year. So it’s not a “daytime racing is always terrible” thing…when daytime racing out there has always worked.

Secondly, racing in Arizona (fans wise) is COMPLETELY different than
anywhere in the Midwest…those people all prefer racing earlier, and
getting things done, they don’t like to attend races at night…that’s just the way it is out there…another unique dynamic.

Hope I answered your questions.”

So, from those answers I suspect that the program will not see major changes in 2013.  Will drivers and fans give them a second chance next year?  I wonder about name drivers.  The Moyer family?  Likely.  John Anderson-likely.  Jimmy Mars-probably.  Don O’Neal or Tim McCreadie, I wonder. Will fans give them a second chance?  Well, the locals will.  And maybe fans that have been to past WWS events will too.  I am not sure what to think.   

And an email racing flyer from Ivan Tracy provided more confusion.  Ivan has moved his RV to just north of Phoenix at Canyon Speedway Park.  Starting on Friday the track will host 6 races in 9 days, headlined by ASCS vs. USAC Sprint Cars with a support class of IMCA Modifieds.  Three of the shows are weekend events, and much to my surprise, the weekend shows are scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. start.  I have wondered about Arizonans before and this adds to my wonderment.

Finally, Joe Kosiski sat with Matt and I and Mike Pierson for about half of a basketball game last night.  I learned more about the thinking of I-80 promoters moving to Friday night racing, and will be commenting when the track schedule is announced.

Thanks for stopping by.