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Daytona, A Meltdown, USMTS, And More

February 29, 2012 Leave a comment

I received the following comment on yesterday’s blog and thought I should comment:

“Ron…thanks for writing about Matt Kenseth winning the Daytona 500.  Great race and good times.  Matt won the race without communicating to his crew.  He could hear them…but they couldn’t hear him.  How about Jimmy Fennig?  Crew chief on the 1988 winning car, and now this year.  That’s longevity.  Nice to see an old school crew chief win the big one!”

Dirt-I have heard that every race Kenseth has ever won came without him communicating to his crew.  I will grant you the kudos on Jimmy Fennig.  He has been around for years, and I always enjoy old timers winning.

This weekend is the Winter Meltdown at Southern New Mexico Speedway in Las Cruces.  The race pays $10,000 to win and $1,200 to start, so look for plenty of modified heavy hitters to be inNew Mexico this weekend. It is basically USRA rules, using the USMTS passing points to determine qualifiers.

Included in the pre-entries are: Jason Hughes, Terry Phillips, Jason Krohn, Rodney Sanders, Ryan Gustin, Johnny Scott, Dereck Ramirez, Kelly Shyrock, Steve Miller, and Ricky Thornton Jr. 

If you can’t make it to the track, Scott McBride provided a link that will take you to a webcast of the event-both audio and video and FREE:

http://www.racexr.com/2012/02/17/xsan-to-supercast-the-winter-meltdown-at-southern-new-mexico-speedway-for-free-in-partnership-with-ustream/

Also on tap this week is The Copper Classic at Canyon Speedway Park in Peoria, Arizona.  How do I know?  Wayfarer Ivan Tracy emailed me a poster for the event.  National Series ASCS 360 sprinters and IMCA modifieds make up the bill for this event.

The USMTS mods kicked off their season last week at Royal Purple Speedway in Baytown, Texas.  Terry Phillips captured a Casey’s Cup win, and Jason Hughes and Johnny Scott each won a USMTS National Championship Series race.  No surprise, Ryan Gustin leads the National Series after two events.

Closer to home, Beatrice Speedway hosts its annual Spring Nationals in two weeks.  There is a practice session on 3/15, and separate shows on 3/16 and 3/17.  The IMCA modifieds will race for state, regional, and national points as well as $1,500 to win each night. Of course that happens to be the first weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament and I am definitely a cold weather wuss, so I’ll probably have to read about it on one of the forums. Maybe April 6th or 7th at I-80 Speedway will be my first race of the season.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Crash, James Taylor, I Should Have Gone To Bed, Mining, Airboats, and Tides

February 28, 2012 10 comments

I did not plan on taking a vacation from this blog, but my computer had other thoughts.  It crashed on Sunday, and yesterday I spent over eight hours working with Dell computer techs from the Asian subcontinent of India getting everything restored while not losing any information.  The techs speak a language I do not understand-computer, plus a bad connection and heavily accented English had me close to making a deal with God-get me through this quickly and I’ll go to a sprint car race. Yes, I AM saying that eight hours spent with computer techs in worse than six hours watching sprint car races.

My system was so badly corrupted we ended up loading several of the reinstall DVD’s twice.  I’ve always thought that having friends like Anville and Palmer would corrupt me, but I never thought they could corrupt my computer.  I swear, I am done with Windows-my next computer is going to be an Apple.

Not long after Jane and I were married, going to school and living in a trailer, James Taylor’s awesome record “Fire and Rain” came out.  It was in the fall of 1970 if I remember correctly.  Anyway, they lyrics go:

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain,

I’ve seen sunny days I thought would never end,

I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend

I thought of this song watching the Daytona 500 unfold this weekend.

The rain-did any of you actually watch all of the Fox coverage during Sunday’s rain delay? 

Sunny days-wasn’t last Sunday sunny?  In past years that would have been the day the Daytona 500 was run.

No friends?  I am sure Dale Earnhardt Jr. would have loved having Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon to work with the last few laps of the race, but Johnson went out on lap 2 do to some overzealous driving by Elliott Sadler, and Jeff Gordon blew up before the middle of the race.  Earnhardt  needed one of them to help him get by the Ford Fusions from the Jack in the Box Roush/Fenway team.

For those of you who actually watched all of the Sunday Fox coverage, I am not the brightest either.  I actually stayed up until midnight to watch Matt Kenseth win a race.  I knew my inbox would be full of emails this morning, and not just because of my computer crash.  I think 50 of the 83 emails were from Tony Anville crowing about Kenseth’s victory.

I’ve been going to local races long enough to know that just when you think nothing screwier could ever happen at a race track, it does happen.  Juan Pablo Montoya’s fiery crash into a Daytona track jet dryer might never be topped though. I realize that Montoya is claiming an equipment failure, but the crash was eerily similar to that of Michael Waltrip in one of Thursday’s Twin 150’s, and that wreck was all driver error. 

Overall I would give the race a B.  I didn’t fall asleep even when it was way past my bedtime last night.

Area Auto Racing News answered a question that has been bothering me for six years. I have wondered what the mountain behind the back stretch at East BayRaceway Park was.  I thought it might be a garbage dump, like Mount Trashmore, Omaha’s dump in western Douglas County.  It isn’t.  It is the remains of a mining operation.  Now I wonder what was being mined.

AARN also showed a great photo of a redneck solution to a track drying problem.  Most dirt tracks cannot afford jet dryers like the big NASCAR tracks.  However, Eas tBay Raceway Park came up with a totally unique solution that might work at other dirt tracks.  Promoters towed an airboat on a trailer around the track. There is no shortage of airboats plying Nebraska rivers and they generate a lot of drying power.

One final fascinating tidbit from AARN.  Because East BayRacewayPark is so close to Tampa Bay, track watering is effected by the tide. At times of high tide, the water level rises and if the track gets too much watering in track prep, one of the turns will get mushy.  On the flip side, if it is low tide, water is almost sucked out of the track surface, and the track needs much more watering during track prep.  I suspect that East Bayis the only track in America where promoters have to consult tidal tables to plan track prep.  Amazing.

Thanks for stopping by.

Danica, Daytona, Team Zero, And Some Basketball Too

February 24, 2012 4 comments

I think Danica Patrick might want to make a donation to the University of Nebraska engineering department.  Anyone who watched the NASCAR Sprint Cup Twin 150’s from Daytona saw Patrick hit an inside wall with tremendous force.  Ten years ago she might have been seriously injured or worse.  Yesterday, thanks to the SAFER Barrier designed by engineers from UNL, she was able to walk away from one of the hardest hits I can ever remember seeing.

In fairness to Patrick she had been doing exactly what she needed to do the entire race-log laps and keep out of trouble.  The wreck was not her fault-as drivers like to say, “Just one of them racing deals.” It didn’t look like she was able to apply brakes, it happened so quickly, but if she had, it might have turned the car and she would have hit driver’s side instead of passenger side.  I was amazed that she had the quick reaction to lift her hands from the steering wheel.  SAFER Barrier or not, that could have been a wrist breaking crash.

Tony Stewart showed he has a strong car, winning the first of the 150 mile races yesterday.  Stewart has won 17 races at Daytona, but never the Daytona 500.  Despite being surrounded by a gaggle of Roush Fenway Fords, I look for the three time Sprint Cup Series champion to remove that blot from his resume come Sunday.

Team Zero-Bloomquist chassis’-finished first and second at Volusia Speedway Park last night.  Dennis Erb. Jr. won his first WoO late model race in nearly five years, continuing a torrid 2012 Speedweeks, and Bloomquist himself finished second.  Chub Frank, Steve Francis, and Jimmy Owens rounded out the top five.

Friend Tony Anville is trying to convince Matt and me to take in Speedweeks 2013.  Anville wants to go for the big track races, and I would love to go for both the NASCAR races andVolusia Speedway Park action.  Unlike Anville who is best friends with the Ricketts family of TD Ameritrade and Chicago Cub fame, I would have to start saving my pennies today and pray for a kitchen pass too.

In today’s Omaha World Herald, Lee Ackerman mentioned “the voice” was going to be back in action tonight.  I thought he was talking about Stan Cisar and wondered what the sign magnate was up too, but he was talking of Rick Allen, announcer on Speed TV’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races.

Finally, I received the following comment on yesterday’s blog: “Lady Tigers made it to state, not going up for the girls tourney too?” Yes, theFremontHigh Schoolgirls basketball team qualified for the state tournament for the first time since 1985.  The 19-5 Lady Tigers have lost only to other teams that have qualified for the state tournament, and are 11-1 in their last twelve games.  And no, I will not be going to their games.  The boys state tournament is a tradition for Matt and me.  We have missed only one tournament since Matt was 8 years old, the year we went to Mike Duvall’s driving school near Charlotte. If I have his age right, we have spent a day or two of March in Lincoln 26 of the last 27 years, so that is the event we will be taking in this year.

I would like to add grandson Henry to our tradition, but Matt says he can’t go until he is in third grade, just like I made him wait.  We’ll see about that in a few years.  Steph say Henry can only miss school one day for the tournament, and I am OK with that.  Matt said he must also get straight A’s and make his bed everyday.  Matt may have received straight A’s once or twice; my memory is a little foggy there, but as far as making his bed?  P-l-e-a-s-e.  He probably made his bed as often as he got straight A’s. Grandpa plans are being Henry’s biggest lobbyist.

Thanks for stopping by. 

P.S. TheFremontboys have not qualified for the state basketball tournament this century.  It may be 2027 before they do-led by future all state guard Henry Meyer.

Moyer, Volusia Double Header-That’s Entertainment

February 23, 2012 5 comments

Below is a comment my spam software caught. I made no corrections to grammar or spelling, and could not decipher the intent.  This reminds me of emails I get from a beret wearing sprint car fan:

“I’ve declared that least 3992127 occasions. The issue this specific prefer that is because are only as well compilcated for your normal fowl, if you know why.”

Billy Moyer won Tuesday’s WoO late model feature atVolusia Speedway Park.  Why does anything this 54 year old Arkansan do surprise me?  He is like the Mississippi River-he just keeps rolling along. 

Rounding out the top five at Volusia were Darrell Lanigan, Steve Francis, Rick Eckert, and Dennis Erb Jr.  All of these drivers are having great Speedweeks.

Volusia was rained out last night, setting up a Friday double header.  I am confused by my thinking on this.  You would hear me bitch from Omaha to Mitchell if a local race program took six hours to run, and afternoon racing on a dirt track is something I have panned many times in the past.  So, why does the thought of a day/night racing double header lasting at least six hours intrigue me? 

Same with basketball.  One of my bucket list outings is to attend the NAIA National Tournament in Branson.  Believe me, it is not because of Branson that I want to go, it is because there are 32 good college basketball teams starting the tournament.  The first three days will feature 8 games each day at one site. 8 games-that is basketball from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.  15 hours of basketball and I would be thrilled-half sick from pizza, hot dogs, popcorn, and soda, but thrilled.

Matt and I will be attending the Nebraska Boy’s State Basketball Tournament in Lincoln on March 8th and 9th.  We’ll leave home at 7:00 a.m., watch all of 5 games and at least half of a sixth game and get home after 10:00 p.m. and then do the same thing the next day.  That week is my favorite week of the year.

So why aren’t six hour local race programs OK?  Look at how much time is spent farting around during a race program that lasts that long.  Some race programs have intermissions that drag on as long as the Orange Bowl half-time show (another event I do not watch).  Yellow flags drive me bonkers-especially ones brought out by last place cars spinning out and said drivers refusing to refire their engines and keep the race going.  There are times I think tasers are in order.  Lining up cars for a restart should be no more difficult than players lining up for a free throw, and wouldn’t be if tracks set back drivers that wouldn’t line up properly.  On and on, little things that might add only a few minutes to each race, but when the track is running 5-6 classes these little things start adding hours of time to the show and No entertainment value.

Yes, I do know my comments have the same effect as spitting into the wind.  I am not sure how I went from praising Billy Moyer to condemning six hour race shows.  I guess it boils down to I like to be entertained.  I am willing to spend my hard earned dollars, but I expect something in return.  Billy Moyer is entertaining.  College basketball at any level is entertaining. The state high school basketball tournament is entertaining.  Too much that happens at a race track that does not HAVE to happen is not entertaining.

Thanks for stopping by.

For The Love Of Money-The Price Of Gas

February 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Yesterday I received several emails regarding gas prices rumored to hit $5.00 per gallon by Memorial Day.

First email: “Gas prices…will shutter weekly racing this year.  Will it shutter specials too??”  A reply:  “Day-Cation will help specials.”

I realize I have commented on this in previous blogs, but never dealing with the above comments. As far as hard race core fans go, they will continue to go.  I was not planning on many weekly shows, but Matt and I are not making any changes in our race going schedule no matter what the price of a gallon of gas. After years of sitting with hard core fans in hot weathr or cold, I don’t see others making drastic changes either.

I do think it will cause the casual fan to seek more bang for his entertainment buck, but that has been happening anyway since the economy soured several years ago.  I like the idea of showing fans that promoters care about them, and how more of their hard earned bucks are being siphoned away by big oil and speculators.  Instead of charging $5.00 for admission on fan appreciation nights, charge the price of a gallon of gasoline.  Give $10.00 gas cards to fans.  Give $25 gas cards to drivers.  No, not to everyone, even a few each week makes for good PR.

I truly don’t think weekly racing will be “shuttered” in 2012, but promoters need to be proactive to the problem if they don’t want to see more empty seats than they already do.  Unfortunately the only thing that most promoters have in common with proactive is both words begin with the same letters. I do believe that weekly racing will take a hit at the front gate if gas prices increase 30-60%.

I agree with the “Day-Cation” comment.  Perhaps an Omaha family would forego a driving vacation to Colorado and enjoy two days at the Silver Dollar Nationals instead.  Instead of any overnight trip this year Matt and I have a “Day-Cation” planned around the Silver Dollar Nationals.  On Wednesday 7/18 we plan on attending the MLRA show at US 36 Speedway in Osborn, Missouri.  The next night we will drive to Raceway Park in Jefferson, South Dakota for a USMTS event.  On Friday and Saturday we will be at I-80 Speedway for the Silver Dollar Nationals.  Four races in four days, but we will be sleeping in our own bed each night.

I don’t see the price of gas having a great effect on weekly track car counts.  Unless they are running for IMCA or NASCAR points, most drivers race only one night a week anyway.  I don’t see that changing.  And if a driver can afford to race for regional and national points I don’t think gas prices will keep him from doing so.

Drivers that might change habits are those that follow regional and national tours.  In the Midwest, I think the SLMR tour is going to be hurt-drivers can now race late models weekly at I-80 Speedway, so why travel to Wagner, South Dakota or Lexington, Nebraska if you live in Omaha, and have a weekly option nearby.

As far as national tours, I wonder how many drivers will follow the entire Lucas Oil Dirt Car or WoO tours-sprint and late model.  Those drivers will travel tens of thousands of miles in 2012, and some drivers might see unsanctioned specials closer to home as more cost effective, even if they pay less to win than tour events.  If ten drivers are capable of winning a national series event, a driver is just as likely to finish 10th as he is 1st, traveling hundreds of miles to do so.  Finishing 3rd at a regional special might pay more than 10th at a national event, and in most cases miles traveled would be greatly reduced.

I don’t expect a Nobel Prize for Economics with this blog.  It isn’t even a good piece for investigative journalism that might bring a writer a Pulitzer Prize.  I wonder when demand for a product is down from several years ago, why prices rise dramatically. Why are certain sob’s allowed to manipulate the system to stuff even more greenbacks in their already overstuffed pockets?  The rich get richer, the poor stay poor, and race fans aka the working class get screwed.

Thanks for stopping by.

Florida, Florida, Florida, and More Florida

February 21, 2012 7 comments

Even for hard core fans, Speedweeks in Florida may be too much racing.  I am sure long time fans pace themselves, but I would want to spend every second I could around a race track in a warm weather state in February.

I have to admit the idea of parking a motor home at the East Bay Raceway Park campground for a week has great appeal for me.  Walk over to my reserved grandstand seat to watch time trials and later the Lucas Oil stars racing, talking with fans from around the country, having a dry place to go when it rains, not having to deal with Tampa traffic each night all sounds good to me.

After the week of East Bay late models, head north to Daytona and Volusia.  Park the camper at Volusia, but spend days at Daytona watching NASCAR’s big three series practice along with taking in the Twin 150’s on Thursday, the Nationwide Series 300 miler on Saturday, and the Daytona 500 on Sunday.  Evenings would be enjoyed watching WoO and UMP late models and DirtCar Big Block Modifieds. 

I don’t know this could be considered two weeks of “getting my fill” of racing, or if it would be overdosing on the sport, but I wouldn’t mind trying it once.  Yeah, it is on my bucket list when I win the lottery.

Steve Francis won two of the three Lucas Oil point races that finished up the late model portion of East Bay’s Winternationals.  Dennis Erb Jr. sandwiched a victory between the two Francis wins.  The Lucas Oil Dirt Series point standings leaving Florida shows Erb in first place, Jimmy Owens in second, Francis in third, Randy Korte in fourth, and Jonathan Davenport a solid fifth.

Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala hosted three nights of WoO late model action.  Darrell Lanigan followed up his $20,000 Screven win by capturing the feature on Bubba night one.  Josh Richards took home the big money on Bubba night two, and Rick Eckert finished first on Bubba night three.  Going into Volusia action, Lanigan leads the WoO late model point standings, followed by Richards, Eckert, Shane Clanton, and Bub McCool.

That other WoO division was also in action in Florida last weekend.  Danny Lasoski followed an All Star 410 sprint win at Volusia with a WoO win on February 18th.  Not bad for a self-owned team racing on a budget. According to  Area  Auto Racing News, the Missouri driver will be racing about 30 events in Pennsylvania for Tom and Fran Chiapelli who had previously sponsored Chad Kemenah. In addition to the Speedweeks and Pennsylvania races, Lasoski will be racing atKnoxville on Saturday nights and filling out his 100 race schedule with tour events.

The WoO sprinters did double duty on Sunday, with Donny Schatz taking the afternoon checkers, and Craig Dollansky winning the evening feature.  After Volusia action, Schatz leads the WoO points, followed by Sammy Swindell.  The 410 wind ‘em ups are off until a March West Coast swing starting in Las Vegas.

Wow, that was a lot of results.  Too many.  I promise not to do this again in 2012.  I would much rather spout my unvarnished, unwashed, uneducated opinions.  Tomorrow I will talk about several emails I received today regarding gas prices rumored to hit $5.00 per gallon by Memorial Day.

First email: “Gas prices…will shutter weekly racing this year.  Will it shutter specials too??”  A reply:  “Day-Cation will help specials.”

I would love to hear what you have to say about how $4.00-$5.00 per gallon gas will effect your racing this season.

Thanks for stopping by.

Busch, Gordon, Fox, Busch, Johnson-Can You Dig It?

February 20, 2012 5 comments

How about this for the first sentence of your blog….

 “Kyle Busch is a better driver than Dale Earnhardt Sr. was.  He proved it in the Bud Shootout.  If anyone wants to discuss this, Tony Anville sits in row 1 on the West end of the main grandstands at I-80.  Go discuss it with him”.   

I included this not because I think it is true, but rather because the person who emailed me didn’t think I would. 

After spending some time in the Windy Citythis weekend, I tried to do a blog yesterday.  My computer froze up-I am going Apple on my next computer, not PC-and I lost 250 words.  Frustrated, I decided to relax before I went to babysit the youngest member of the Meyer family.  So, if my blog today is less than timely I have excuses, though maybe not really good excuses.

Some random thoughts on the Budweiser Shoot-Out from Daytona:

-I will never be a fan of the man, but after several incredible saves, Kyle Busch deserved to win the race. I don’t agree with Mr. Anville’s comment above, but I am not sure if any other current NASCAR driver could have made any of the saves Busch did on Saturday night.

-I like pack racing better than the two car tango, though several times two cars did manage to move to the front.  Once, I don’t remember the drivers, two cars started in the top groove, dropped to the middle to pass a car in the top groove, then went back to the top groove.  I don’t recall ever seeing such a weave in restrictor plate racing.

-Hendrick Racing haulers carried three expensive heaps of junk back to the Hendrick complex in Charlotte.  Even a three time champion like Jeff Gordon can get impatient and make a mistake.

-Four things I did not like about Fox coverage:

a. For the love of all that is good and right, PLEASE drop your idiot tag line DW.

b. Jeff Hammond disguised by facial hair is still Jeff Hammond.

c. The fawning over Saint Danica was more than a little ridiculous.

d. I wish the end shot of the race would have been Busch and Stewart crossing the finish line side by side, not a head on shot of the two cars.

-Darrell Waltrip was better on the track than in the booth.  Michael Waltrip is better in the booth than on the track, though that is not a huge statement.

-I did not nap during the race, but I did not stick around to watch the Victory Lane interview.

-I did watch the post-race interview with older Busch brother Kurt.  One interview does not mean an amazing change has occurred, but the elder Busch will remove himself from the most hated athlete list if he continues in the same manner as Saturday.

This did not occur Saturday, but the 48 machine of Jimmie Johnson was found with unapproved parts.  Penalties will not be handed out until after Sunday’s Daytona 500, but I hope that NASCAR has the courage to hit Johnson’s crew chief Chad Knaus with a tough penalty.  Knaus has been penalized in the past, even suspended, and I believe repeat offenders deserve severe consequences.

No, I am not so naïve as to believe that no one else is trying to interpret the NASCAR rule book in a manner NASCAR didn’t intend.  My point is there is an arrogance to Knaus regarding cheating, like he is above the rule book. Show him he is not.  Or as the theme from the old TV show Beretta said-“don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”

Can you dig it?  More tomorrow about the Speedweeks dirt shows. Thanks for stopping by.