Archive for May, 2012

Hatfields, McCoys, and Dirt Track Racing

May 31, 2012 2 comments

Watching the Hatfields and McCoys on History Channel this week I thought of similarities between the feud and dirt track racing.  Yeah, I know-hillbilly rednecks involved in each. That was too easy. How about Randall McCoy having 16 children and Devil ‘Anse Hatfield having 13? Sounds like several Omaha dirt track racing clans to me.

The Hatfield and McCoy feud kept growing and growing in the 1880’s and got totally out of hand, just like the B-Mod class on dirt tracks in the 2000’s.  The names Hatfield and McCoy are permanently linked.  I hope The Rest of the Dirt is never permanently linked with B-Mods.

Time and again it would have been in the best interest of both families to give up the feud, yet it escalated. Sounds like dirt track promoters and tracks nearby, around the country, not just in theMidwest. The Hatfields and McCoys brought knifes to every fight, and there is no shortage of promoters today willing knife another promoter in the back. I will say that one promoter I know has been keeping his nose out of another promoter’s faux pas, no Devil ‘Anse there.

The mountain people liked their moonshine.  Until the mini-series, the last time I saw that much drinking was at a 410 wingless sprint car show a few years ago at I-80 Speedway.  Was that the last live sprint car show I went to?  That I don’t remember means it has been quite some time.  No, NOT too long.

I was giving some thought to visiting US 30 Speedway tonight to watch GOTRA in action along with the track’s regular show, but a cool breeze from the north and sprinkles had me starting to think differently.  Then I received an email from John and Cheryl Ferguson that the races had been cancelled, so it looks like my racing schedule for the week will be the USMTS mods webstreaming from Junction Motor Speedway tomorrow, heading to JMS to take in the races at the track on Saturday, and then on Wednesday June 6th watching the Prelude to the Dream on HBO PPV.   I have had worse weeks.

This has been one of those days when I have struggled over hours to produce something good.  I like it much better when I can get a blog done in 30 minutes.  Thanks for stopping by.


USMTS @ JMS-A Real Alphabet Soup; Give ‘Em Books & They Eat The Covers; A Little NASCAR

May 30, 2012 2 comments

The USMTS traveling circus sets up its tent at Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Nebraska this weekend.  Some of the best modified drivers in the US will be on hand for two nights of Casey’s Cup racing at the 1/3rd mile oval.  Friday’s feature winner will take home $2,000, while Saturday’s winner will receive $3,000.


The top five in the Casey’s Cup standings are Rodney Sanders, Ryan Gustin, Stormy Scott, Jason Hughes, and Johnny Scott.  How many of the leaders will be on hand this weekend is impossible to guess.  Sanders does have it on his website, but other drivers might be heading to Ark-La-Tex Speedway in Vivian, Louisiana for the $10,000 to win Doug Murphry Memorial.


Originally the JMS schedule had one day of Casey’s Cup racing and one day of the USMTS National Championship Series.  When it was switched to two days of Casey’s Cup racing I can’t say.  I hope this does not hurt the USMTS car count. One driver I am very much hoping to see is Ryan Gustin.  Gustin alone is worth the price of admission to a USMTS show.


Pits open at 3:30 p.m. both days.  The front gate opens at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, and 5:00 p.m. on Saturday.  Racing starts at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and 7:00 p.m. on Saturday.  Support classes on Friday are cruisers and non-sanctioned 4 cylinders.  On Saturday Hobby Stocks, B-Mods, and NASCAR Late Models will be support classes.  Admission for each night is $15 for adults, $5 for children 6-12, and children 5 and under get in free.  Pit passes cost $30.


If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch the races via live webstreaming at:


I tried this last Saturday, watching feature races from JMS.  Obviously it is not like being at the track, but it is much better than no racing at all. I am going to be online watching Friday night.


I must be in a funked up mood today.  I read a post on a forum where someone was explaining the “back gate reality of racing today.”  Normally I would launch a dozen or so cruise missiles and fire a barrage from the 16” guns on the battleship Dirt, but today I am just thinking give ‘em books and they eat the covers.  No wonder writing skills are going down in public school standardized tests around Nebraska.  Thinking skills must be even lower.  Maybe I am not as funky today as I thought. That was kind of nasty, but totally true.


If you look in Monday morning newspaper results for the latest NASCAR Sprint Cup race, the results will show finish, laps run, money won, and something called “rating.”  I had no clue what rating was until I looked it up this morning.  It is a “Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race. Must have raced in 75 percent of scheduled point-paying races.” I can now say I know what it is, I just can’t say I know why it is.  NASCAR could  have added “number of times cut self shaving, number of times irritated wife, number of times caught speeding on North Carolina highways, and jet take off position relative to all other drivers in race to get home.” Anyway, Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson, and Denny Hamlin are the top three in the ratings standings.


Actually I found out the above when I confirmed that the Sprint Cup Series is at one of my favorite tracks, Dover. Dover is right up there with Fontana, Chicagoland, Pocono, and Loudon. I’m thinking Sunday is going to be nap time for me.


Thanks for stopping by.





Looney, Vaught, & MARS; SDN Provisionals; Jill George; Hatfields & McCoys

May 29, 2012 6 comments

Brad Looney and Will Vaught were suspended by the MARS Dirt Car Series for a post race altercation at Monett, Missouri on Sunday.  The five race suspension will last the entire month of June, and includes races at I-80 Speedway near Greenwood, Nebraska and Adams County Speedway in Corning, Iowa.

I have never understood the appeal this sanctioning body has to some Midwest tracks.  I would not call previous MARS races in Iowa and Nebraska as invasions-most drivers from this series are from southern Missouri and Arkansas, and only a handful have ever made the trip north, leaving locals to fill out the field.  I don’t see that as being worth the sanctioning fee and I see promoters misleading fans if they suggest anything else.  With Looney and Vaught suspended, the MARS sanction for the I-80 and ACS races seems almost worthless.  Any southern Missouri drivers they get from MARS also race with the MLRA.

Vaught and John Anderson now have provisionals for the Silver Dollar Nationals feature race from winning the Spring Meltdown and Alphabet Soup races at I-80 Speedway.  The two are 1-2 in MLRA point standings, and the MLRA will also get two provisionals into the event.  Though there is a lot of racing happening between now and late July, if Vaught and Anderson maintain there positions in MLRA standings, the series provisionals could go to Jesse Stovall and Terry Phillips who are currently 3rd and 4th in MLRA standings.

My son and I are arguing about the SDN provisionals.  He says Anderson would take an MLRA provisional, thus putting Kyle Berck in the race since he finished second to Anderson in the Alphabet Soup race. He knows more than me about most things racing, but I still disagree with him on this. Actually both seem likely to qualify through heat races anyway, so provisionals might not be needed by either driver.

Iowan Jill George was injured Saturday night in a WoO late model heat race at Tyler County Speedway inWest Virginia.  I have refrained from writing about George in the past-her husband Rick Hartzell is one of the owners of Three Wide Media, and I still do occasionally contribute articles to Dirt Late Model and Dirt Modified magazines, so I see writing about her as somewhat of a conflict of interest.  Photos on the Jill George Hartzell Facebook page show the car was basically torn in half in the crash.  George did not break her leg as some speculated, but she was bruised and had 14 stitches taken in that leg.

This is not the first major crash George has endured.  In the last three years she has had at least one other big crash in her dirt car, and flipped at Daytona in an ARCA race.  I don’t see George becoming the next Danica Patrick, so considering the frequency of serious incidents, perhaps now is the time for her to reflect on her future in a race car.

Billy Moyer won the Bud 50 at Tri-City Speedway inIllinoison Sunday night.  The win was just one more $10,000 check finding its way into the Moyer bank account in Batesville,Arkansas.  Jimmy Mars finished second and Brian Birkhofer third. Moyer finished fifth in the Show-Me 100 on Saturday night, but both Mars and Birkhofer had forgettable weekends at the Wheatland, Missouri late model crown jewel event.  From results this season I have been wondering if other chassis makers had surpassed the latest Mars/Birkhofer MB chassis.

Did you know that my friend Tony Anville’s Great-Great-Great-Grandfather was Devil Anse Hatfield?  Actually I don’t either, but they do have similar personalities.  After watching night one of the Hatfields and McCoys on the History Channel, I am sure that Randal McCoy and Anse Hatfield would be dirt track promoters today at tracks not far from each other.

Oh, and I could see Kevin Costner playing the lead role in the Ron Meyer Story.  Thanks for stopping by.

Alphabet Soup No Marathon, Thank Goodness; A Couple Of Other Memorial Day Races

May 28, 2012 2 comments

If you clicked on TROTD this morning figuring I would be complaining about I-80 Speedway and the car count for last night’s Alphabet Soup Race, you are going to be disappointed.  The track contracts with tours for special events for a number of reasons, and one is that the tour will be cars that don’t normally race there.  For years no Midwest super late model tour has been strong enough to consistently provide full fields, hence co-sanctions ala the Alphabet Soup Race.  I am getting forgetful in my old age, but I do believe last night’s race was the smallest car count for the event ever.  Despite that, it was a full field, 28 cars. Hey, there was more than one car for every letter of the alphabet.

For several years I have believed it isn’t how many cars are on hand for a race, it is who is on hand.  Last night saw John Anderson, Kyle Berck, the Simpson brothers, the Eckrich brothers, and Jason Rauen in the field.  To me, that made for a good regional tour event, so I have no complaints.

The show started on time at 6:35 p.m. and by 9:05 p.m. Matt and I were on our way home.  I liked that a lot.  We saw what we came to see and did not have to endure a 5-6 hour marathon chuck full of classes I don’t care to watch running races I would rather not see.  Call it profane, but I can use one finger to express my feelings about tracks that run as many classes as I have fingers on my hand-and no, it is NOT the index finger. 

Long ago I quit going to most of I-80 Speedway’s Cornhusker Classic-I call it the Back Gate Classic, because every class that runs in the state of Nebraska participates in that event.  There are other tracks that I don’t grace with my hard earned dollars and one factor in that decision is that I simply do not have the patience to sit through a program of five classes and 150 cars.  Apologists can explain away marathons with if, if, if, but the truth remains that five classes with 150 cars are likely to produce such catastrophes on a regular basis.  Last night, there were 73 cars in three classes, and no one had to explain a too long program.

Both support classes for the Alphabet Soup Race were good ones.  Though hobby stocks do not race regularly at I-80 Speedway, there were still 17 on hand, and the feature was a good one with 3-4 car wide action, and a winning margin of two feet.

The A-Mods field included 3 past IMCA National Champions, and plenty of other heavy hitters.  How good?  Well, multi-time champ Johnny Saathoff finished last in his heat, and claimed the fourth and final transfer spot from the B Main.  Both Saathoff and 2011 champion Jordan Grabouski dropped out of the A feature and Dylan Smith could not crack the final three.  There was lots of slicing and dicing, R-A-C-I-N-G in the A feature, which was certainly the best event of the night.

I would give the event a solid B.  I have watched better races, but I have watched a lot worse shows.

Six Irregulars were on hand.  Actually this was my only disappointment.  Not in numbers, just that Steve Basch was somewhat subdued, not once making any rude comments to me despite plenty of provocation. I look forward to our battle of wits, even though Guru comes with knifes to a gun fight.

I think Joe Kosiski does an outstanding job getting the field aligned after a yellow flag.  Seldom does he take more than a lap to get every car in its proper spot.  Contrast that to the MLRA officials who continue to struggle in this area, making lap after lap after lap to reset the grid.  Thank you Lord for the Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model tour officials who will be running the Silver Dollar Nationals.

Next up for Matt and I is this weekend’s USMTS show at Junction Motor Speedway, probably Saturday of the two day event.

Congratulations to Dario Franchetti and Kasey Kahne for winning the two famous Memorial Day classics.  Despite the Coca-Cola 600 win for Kahne, his third win in the event, today’s Sporting News NASCAR report had five articles (out of eleven total) on Danica Patrick who finished 30th in the race.  Amazing.

Thanks for stopping by.

Bull, Show Me, Slammin’ Sammy, ABC

May 27, 2012 7 comments

For the second time this season, WoO late model point leader Darrell Lanigan won a race paying $20,000 or more to win.  Lanigan captured the big prize at the Jackpot 100, part of the Bullring Bonanza at Tyler County Speedway in West Virginia.  Brandon Sheppard finished second in the Rocket chassis house car vacated by Josh Richards.

In the other big money event of the weekend, Jimmy Owens won the Show Me 100 at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri.  It was not an easy win for the “Newport Nightmare” though, as he fought an ill handling race car and a less than stellar track.  Owens left Missouri with a $35,000 check, a dirt late model crown jewel trophy, and an increase in the Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series point chase.  Don O’Neal dropped out of the race on lap 15, and Scott Bloomquist jumped the cushion and hit the wall late in the race.  Bloomquist managed to finish, but from a possible second or third he dropped all the way to 13th.

By far, the best run of the night belonged to Jared Landers.  Landers started 25th on the grid, and actually took the lead from Owens late in the race.  A power steering fluid link caused some smoking and made his car difficult to handle.  Landers faded to 15th.

Omahan John Anderson finished 10th in the event.  Chad Simpson also started the race and finished 27th.  Both will be in action tonight at the Alphabet Soup Race at I-80 Speedway near Greenwood, Nebraska.

Congratulations to Kyle Berck for winning the NCRA race at Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Nebraska.  Berck ran third much of the race, but a late lap caution bunched the field and he was able to reign in Travis Dickes and leader Denny Eckrich.  It was the first A feature win for the Kyle Berck Racing prototype chassis.  This certainly provides Berck with some momentum heading into tonight’s race at I-80.

Golf legend Sammy Snead was known as Slammin’ Sammy.  Sprint car legend Sammy Swindell might be considered for that name after WoO action in Charlotte Friday night.  What appeared to be mistakes by Swindell sent cars in two races rolling.  Commentators seemed to point the blame at Swindell, but when he was interviewed, he denied any wrongdoing.  I appreciate old timer Swindell being near the top of the WoO points this season, but I really do not like drivers who will not admit they ever make a mistake.

29 A-Mods and 21 hobby stocks have preregistered as support classes for the super late models in tonight’s Alphabet Soup Race.  The sun is shining as I am typing this, and I am crossing fingers it stays that way today and Nebraska weather does not turn fickle. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Show Me, The Money, I Wish I Had Said That

May 26, 2012 2 comments

Jimmy Owens, Scott Bloomquist, Don O’Neal, and Billy Moyer all won heat races at night one of the Show-Me 100 and will draw for starting positions in the front two rows of tonight’s feature race.  The phrase gets used often, but for super late models fans, it doesn’t get any better.

16 drivers have qualified for the event, but those not yet qualified would make for a good feature at any track.  Running in tonight’s consolation events are Billy Moyer Jr., Earl Pearson Jr., Morgan Bagley, Brian Birkhofer, Jared Landers, Terry Phillips, Jesse Stovall, and Chris Simpson.

Matt was contacted by the track when a 14 person suite was made available for this weekend’s racing.  Wow, I wish he wouldn’t have passed up on it.  Divide the cost by 14, same with a 14 person limo for the trip from Omaha to Wheatland, throw in shared hotel rooms, and it would not have been outrageous.  Oh well, I am still looking forward to tomorrow night’s Alphabet Soup Race and will keep the Show-Me 100 on my bucket list.

Speaking of suites, according to Ernie Saxon in AARN, a luxury suite at the F1 race in Austin, Texas will cost you $237,000, though that gets 24 people through the gates and allows you four parking spots.

A general admission ticket-meaning blanket on a hillside seat-starts at $287.  Grandstand reserved seats go for $713-$851.  Even money man Tony Anville has decided this is outrageous and is thinking of going to the 2013 Daytona 500 instead. I hope I didn’t give I-80 Speedway any ideas for ticket prices for future specials.

I have mentioned before that I very much enjoy columnist Gary London of AARN.  He is a little overweight, wears glasses, and is good at writing about auto racing.  Sound familiar?  I don’t need any 2 out of 3 ain’t bad comments either.  Anyway, London lambasted the NASCAR All-Star race in his column in the current AARN.  Among some of his tidbits that fall in the “damn I wish I had said that category” were:

-“This event is the most over-hyped, over-blown, underachieving night on the schedule.”

-“It seems every year they change the format. The idiot who came up with this year’s idea ought to be forced to open his wallet and grant refunds.”

-“Larry McReynolds, with his fourth grade grammar, tried to make strategy sound interesting.”

-“I have been following racing for 60 years.  Even as a youngster I loved the racing.”

-“It’s a real shame that good racing hardly matters anymore.”

Good stuff.

London also mentioned a rumor that Fox Sports is going to change Speed TV into an all-sports network.  Well, we need more soccer and Australian Rules football on TV.  I just wish someone, somewhere was smart enough to bring back Dirt Knights.

Well, shut my mouth, although that is unlikely.  The NASCAR Hall of Fame has an exhibit on grassroots tracks, featuring Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina, Bowman Gray Stadium, Hickory Motor Speedway, and South Boston Speedway.  I mentioned several of these tracks in a recent blog.  Also included in the exhibit is a 1937 Ford modified that was driven by David Pearson. It is nice to see something other than Sprint Cup at the Hall.

Finally, I wonder what my friend Randy Palmer is going to do tonight.  He could go watch an evening of sprint cars and far too many B-Mods or he can stay home and watch the Boston Celtics in game seven of their NBA Play-off series.  He is a devoted Celtics fan, and their game would be my recommendation, but he is also a sprint car elitist, which may cloud his thinking more than it normally is.

Thanks for stopping by.

Slower Is Better; Big Money; I-80 X 2=???

May 25, 2012 9 comments

I have hawked many times, not because I get a kick back for doing so-I don’t-but because it is an amazing source of information for late model fans.  There is a Todd Turner article currently on the site that shows how valuable the site is.

The Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series are conducting tests at various tracks this year to find ways to slow down its cars.  Yes, slow down, as in less speed, better racing.  I have never equated pure speed with good racing, and it seems like others understand that too-just not sprint car people.

The series tested last week during practice for the Bad Boy 98 at Batesville Speedway in Arkansas, and tests will be held tonight at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri during practice for the Show-Me 100.  Showing great wisdom, series director Ritchie Lewis chose Billy Moyer, Scott Bloomquist, and Steve Francis to do the testing.

As Lewis noted, fans might not be able to tell the difference between a 15 second lap and a 17 second lap, but they can tell the difference between a good race and a bad race.  I can remember when the old NASCAR Busch All-Star Tour raced at Crawford County Speedway in Denison,Iowa.  The track was a huge half mile, and one time a radar gun set on cars racing down the back stretch of the track showed super late models hitting 128 miles per hour.  Faster than about anywhere in the Midwest, but I can’t say I ever saw a really good race there.

To me, side by side by side racing throughout the track at 90 miles per hour is far more exciting than single file racing at 128 miles per hour.  Despite the claim of “Home of 100 mph racing,” Sunset Speedway never was a pure speed track and many of the best races I ever saw were at that facility.

One thing I was very surprised to learn was that all three of the test teams think aerodynamics is very important in late model racing, just as in NASCAR Sprint Cup racing.  Bloomquist crew chief  Tommy Hicks said “the air is so important anymore, especially on some of the bigger tracks, when you get close to somebody it takes the air off your car and you can’t pass him.”

Who is going to win the Show-Me 100 this weekend?  Don’t bet the farm against Jimmy Owens taking home $30,000 of Forrest Lucas’ money. Owens, Don O’Neal, and Bloomquist as 1-2-3 finishers would not be surprising at all.

This is a big weekend for the WoO late models.  The series will be at Wayne County Speedway inOhiofor a $10,000 to win show then go to Tyler County Speedway inWest Virginiaas part of the Bullring Bonanza.  Their race, the Jackpot 100 pays $25,000 to win.  Sunday the series moves on to I-77 Speedway at Fairplain,West Virginia for another $10,000 to win show.

Tri-City Speedway near St. Louisis hosting a 50 lap, $10,000 to win UMP super late model show on Sunday May 27th.  I suspect far more Show-Me 100 drivers will race here, rather than in the Alphabet Soup Race at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Nebraska for that track’s $5,000 to win 50 lap CBC/MLRA event.  The MARS DirtCar Series will race at Monett, Missouri on Sunday as well.  Some of the southwest Missouri drivers that race in both MARS and MLRA will have to make decisions where to race this weekend, though logic would say compete closer to home. 

25 B-Mods, 13 Pro-Ams, 21 GN’s, and 33 ASCS sprint cars to the track at I-80 Speedway last night.  Shawn Harker took the B-Mod checkered flags, with Jesse Sobbing finishing 18th.  Sounds like Sobbing was either involved in a crash or had mechanical problems-that is my guess based on him not winning.  Brad Derry won the Pro-Am feature and Matt Buller captured the GN feature.  Danny Lasoski, Brian Brown, and Jason Johnson took 1-2-3 in the sprint car feature. Next up at the track is the Alphabet Soup Race on Sunday.

I am guessing 55 super late models at the Alphabet Soup Race, and really hope there aren’t more.  I will predict one of the Simpson brothers to win this race.  I get confused as to which is the good one and which is the bad one; I just think one of them will win. As for the starting time, well who knows?  Seriously.  The track website says 5:55 p.m.  The MLRA website says 6:30 p.m.  A track representative’s column in the Omaha World-Herald today said 6:35 p.m.  My guess is none of the above; just that it will start sometime and finish sometime, hopefully before Monday morning.

Thanks for stopping by.

P.S. If you get Speed TV, you can watch the WoO Sprint Cars at The Dirt Track in Charlotte tonight at 7:00 p.m.