Archive for September, 2012

More Bad Ass Knoxville Racing-Night One Deserves Two Posts

September 28, 2012 Leave a comment

A few more thoughts about last night in Knoxville.

We arrived early in the afternoon so we could visit the Sprint Car Museum.  When we parked in the Hy-Vee lot across from the track it was only half full.  Despite that, I counted cars from 9 different states in the lot-Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, and of course, Nebraska.  The Knoxville Late Model Nationals is truly becoming a must see event. 

Missouri driver Jesse Stovall won heat #2 driving the Al Humphrey orange #6. He had a few problems in the feature and finished 22nd.

Other heat winners were Jimmy Mars, Billy Moyer, and young Tyler Reddick. 

Former Busch All-Star driver and recent inductee into the Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame, Ray Guss was third in his heat and finished 19th in the feature. Another former Busch All-Star racer, Denny Eckrich, finished a solid 9th

I hate it when a car that time trials 2.5 seconds slower than the fast car and is being lapped in his heat manages to change the outcome of the race because he can’t get out of the way.  No name, but the driver is from Council Bluffs, Iowa.

If I counted right, 25 states were represented on the track last night. 

I love the atmosphere of this event.  And it is an event, not just a race.  The football stadium like grandstands, the midway full of vendors, and fans from around the country all make the Nationals the place to be in late September.  I talked with people from Missouri and Illinois, people who just came up and started talking-and I don’t even wear a race t-shirt. I did not walk across the lot talking with one of the lovely MAV TV girls though.

I got an email from reader Ben Hoesing this morning.  He was sitting right behind Matt and I and didn’t realize it until the races were over.  He emailed asking if Joe Kosiski sat with us during some of the races, which he did.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that I liked the fact that only points from one night are considered for qualifying for Saturday’s feature.  That is good news for Don O’Neal and Jimmy Owens, as both drivers had an off night by their standards. 

By my tally Billy Moyer has 480 points.  Bloomquist has 486 points.  Birkhofer has 474 points. Steve Francis has 476 points. Shannon Babb has 470 points.  I think all five are locked into the Saturday night feature.  Jimmy Owens has 426 points and that might be good enough for a feature spot too.

If you can’t make it to night # 2 of the Knoxville Late Model Nationals go to the track website and purchase the video streaming.  I don’t think you will regret it.

And check out coverage of the event.  Their coverage is outstanding.

While I am not sure there is a god for promoters, someone has smiled on Knoxville this weekend.  With highs in the 70’s during the day, lots of sunshine, and temps that aren’t too cool at night, the weather is perfect for racing.

I just received an email from a sprint car person who stated that “Knoxville is not and NEVER will become a fender track.”  I don’t disagree that it will always be known for sprint car racing.  That doesn’t mean that for one weekend a year it can’t be a great late model venue. 

With my first blog of the day this is now 2,000 words for one night of racing.  I am thinking this really is The Rest of the Dirt.  Thanks for stopping by.




Big Boy, Bad Boy, Bad A$$ Racing In Knoxville

September 28, 2012 1 comment

I am writing this blog with just five hours of sleep after a long, late night trip home from Knoxville.  I prefer to call my thoughts this morning random, not incoherent.

I still do not like time trials, but if they are a must, group time trials are the way to go.  Last night, 4 cars at a time were on the track, and it went fairly quickly.  What made it even more tolerable was that each driver’s lap time was shown on a display above the track’s big screen immediately after crossing the start/finish line. Scott Bloomquist was fast time. 

B O x 2 does not equal a stinker.

Picture a heat race with Brian Birkhofer, Jimmy Owens, Scott Bloomquist, and Don O’Neal.  If you were at the Knoxville Late Model Nationals last night you would not have to picture it, you could have watched the drama unfold.  The vagaries of time trials put all four in the same heat race.  Not only were they in the same heat race, but because of the event invert, they started 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th, and only four of the 16 cars in the race qualified for the feature. Add Million Dollar Man Donnie Moran, former Lucas Oil champion Earl Pearson Jr., and Jason Feger to the mix, and it was hard not to think WTF? I’m not forgetting my friend Tow Dad’s son Matt Furman who finished a strong second in the heat to put one more Iowan in the A feature.

The B’s made the feature, the O’s did not.  Birkhofer won the heat-to the cheers of almost the entire crowd, while Bloomquist finished 3rd.  Owens and O’Neal were relegated to the B feature, and neither of them advanced to the A main.  You read that right, the point leader and the driver in second place in the point standings in the Lucas Oil Late Model Series did not make last night’s feature. 

Victory Circle chassis by Moyer made a strong statement last night with both the A feature winner and runner-up Shannon Babb running the chassis.  The MB chassis was stout too, with Birkhofer and Jimmy Mars finishing 4th and 5th.

Normally D and C features are not exciting races to watch.  Tim McCreadie changed all of that last night.  T-Mac dropped out of his heat race, relegating him to a 14th place start in the D feature.  Only the top four finishers moved on to the C.  Somehow McCreadie managed to drive home in 3rd place.  That gained him a 22nd starting position in the C feature.  Again, only the top four finishers moved to the B feature.  With a late lap charge, the past Knoxville Nationals winner managed to cross the line in 4th.  With Brady Smith, Jason Feger, Owens, O’Neal, Moran, and Terry Phillips all in the B ahead of him, his quest to run the alphabet and make the A feature seemed impossible. Alas it was.  Still, with only a late lap caution to help him, McCreadie moved from 24th to 9th, definitely a hard charger.

McCreadie runs that other late model national series.  The one that Darrell Lanigan has dominated.  The one that features drivers like Rick Eckert, Shane Clanton, Chub Frank, and Clint Smith.  Although this series had the weekend off, the only top ten drivers from that series to run at Knoxville were McCreadie and Bub McCool.  Writers who want to hand driver of the year honors to Darrell Lanigan should take into consideration that this is yet another of the crown jewel events he chose not to run. I’ll save it for another blog, but Matt and I were discussing a Fan Fund for Silver Dollar Nationals III and maybe concentrating it on getting locals to participate instead of trying to get the Lanigans and Clantons et al to show up.

Billy Moyer is simply a racing wonder.  If you watch him on the track he does not seem to be going as fast as other leaders.  Yet, if he was slower, how did he manage to build nearly a straight away lead on Babb, Steve Francis, and Birkhofer who were fighting for second place in the A.  The hall of famer is a late model treasure and I hope he continues racing for years to come.  Joe Kosiski sat with Matt and me during the D-C-B features and said that Moyer is in great shape and could easily race ‘til he is 60.  Late model fans everywhere would love that.

Joe and Matt together are a dangerous combination. Joe was Matt’s hero even before Matt was on Joe’s pit crew, and they are fun to watch and listen to.  I don’t think Joe sings Johnny Cash, but Matt didn’t last night either.  We just had lots of good talk about racing and our favorite one month old boy, Mr. Henry Ross Meyer.

The Scott Bloomquist boos were loud, but nothing topped the cheers for Brian Birkhofer.  The noise from the stands when Birky won his heat was at loud as the 16-800 horse power engines roaring around the track. Birkhofer is a star in the sport but doesn’t act like stars sometimes do.  Couple that with great talent and it is easy to see why he is a favorite.

Someone said to me “If I was staying over for tomorrow night’s races, I would drive back to Des Moines and stay in a hotel with a good breakfast buffet.”  Who was this anonymous bacon lover?

Talk about bargains-the Hy-Vee across the street from Knoxville Raceway gives up about half of their parking lot for race parking to the Boy Scouts.  The scouts charge a mere $5.00 for the privilege of parking right by the track.  We’ve been looking for a parking permit for Saturday’s Nebraska vs. Wisconsin football game.  So far the cheapest offered is $95 and it is a quarter mile from the stadium.

I was sitting on the brick wall near the entrance of Knoxville Raceway waiting for our friend Tony Anville to arrive.  I was people watching and car watching too, when what appeared to be a new Lexus with the license plates “NASCAR 1” drove by and parked in the Hy Vee lot.  I wondered what Brian France was doing there, but the only person who emerged from the parking lot after that car arrived was none other than the Auburn Aristocrat, Anville.

So much for his statement he drives a beat up sedan with over 100,000 miles on it.

Miracle in the museum.  Yes, I did go to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and museum.  Yes, Ivan, I did realize it displayed sprint cars.  I love old things.  Old building fascinate me. Old trains thrill me.  Old photos take me back in time.  So yes, I did enjoy going through the museum though all but a few of Jeff Gordon’s cars were open wheeled race cars.  The museum is more than worth the $4.00 admission charge, and if you are going to Knoxville and have never visited it, do so.  It is adjacent to the track, so park your car at Hy-Vee and jaywalk across the highway like Anville to visit the place.

The miracle?  Tony Anville actually paid the admission for all of us.  Yes, I did type that.  Now we all had a $1.00 discount because of our reserved tickets for the races that night, but Anville so rarely opens his wallet this may have been a once in a lifetime event for us.

I do admit I envied Anville a little for the first time last night.  About 2:00 a.m. we had just crossed the Missouri River into Blair, Nebraska and had about 30 miles to go before we got home.  Anville on the other hand was tucked into bed at his 5 star Pella, Iowa hotel.  Nebraska does not play football during the Knoxville Late Model Nationals in 2013 and Matt talked about staying over Thursday night for Friday’s races and maybe even staying over on Friday too.  Wow, who suggested that many times already?  I addition to Anville we saw Scott McBride in the grandstands.  Matt said he saw Steve Basch before the race, but Mr. Belleville 100 did not visit us in the grandstands. 

On a somber note, Chris Economaki died this morning.  The 91 year old “Dean of American Motorsports Journalism” was a role model for anyone wanting to write or talk about auto racing.  He went after the stories he thought fans would want to know, and unlike many covering the sport today, Economaki was not afraid to ask tough questions.  Rest in peace Chris.

I should have written this as a column for Dirt Late Model. It is longer than a lot of my magazine articles. Thanks for stopping by.



My NASCAR Prerace Imitation

September 27, 2012 1 comment

Last night I visited my grandson Henry and his dad too.  Matt decided to show me how much Henry likes riding in his little car.  The car comes with a seat belt, but unfortunately like another type of vehicle I don’t like to talk about, it has to be pushed before it can go.  I am glad it did NOT have a wing on top, rather a large spoiler in the back. 

Anyway, Henry loves riding in the car, even puts his hands on the steering wheel in the right places, something other members of his family don’t.  His favorite part of the ride was the times when Matt tipped him back on two wheels.  Oh, oh.  The image that just stuck in my mind was Top Fuel Dragster.  He did not want to get out of the car when Matt decided it was time to go in the house.  That is putting it mildly.

I have already been accused of wrecking Matt’s mind when it comes to automobile racing, and I would just as soon Henry waits a few years before developing bad racing habits. Maybe taking him to some basketball games this winter will get him pointed in the right direction.

We are leaving for Knoxville at 11:30 a.m.  The plan is to meet Tony Anville there are visit the Sprint Car Hall of Fame, then walk through the midway.  I don’t know why I bother, I never buy anything. I do like to look though.  Hopefully Steve Basch will find us-we’re sitting where we always do-and we’ll be able to enjoy a good night of racing.

Actually the only thing I am not looking forward to is the trip home.  Talking about racing will get us past Des Moines, but then we start to get tired and it is still a long way home.  That isn’t a good combination.  I keep thinking we should have planned on staying over, and did Friday afternoon and night in Knoxville too.  Somewhere around the Avoca exit on I-80 when we still have well over an hour before we get home, we will say, “yeah, we should have listened to Anville and stayed at Pella tonight.”  But, we never listen to Anville, and we never learn either.

I am thinking we need a sugar rush on the way home.  Maybe I’ll go to Bomgaar’s and buy some cinnamon bears and black licorice. I can’t buy candy bars-I have not had a candy bar since late May and I don’t want to break that string, so it will have to what used to be known as “penny candy.” I think a nickel’s worth of penny candy-when I was a kid-now costs about $1.89. If nothing else I can use the licorice as a trade-off.  No Matt singing Johnny Cash, no me chomping down black licorice for 125 miles.

Wow, this was like the five hours of NASCAR prerace coverage where Kenny and Kyle and Rusty and Brad talk about everything you don’t need to know and don’t care about.  Damn, I should re-do this, but I don’t have time to come up with another 500 words.  I guess just call me Kenny.

Thanks for stopping by.



On Retiring Plus More Knoxville Nationals

September 26, 2012 1 comment

With Tom Osborne announcing his retirement as NU Athletic Director today, I thought back to when another famous Nebraskan retired from the local sports scene.  Yes, I am talking about when Craig Kelley stepped down as General Manager of NebraskaRacewayPark after serving in that position for several years following the 20+ years his family owned Sunset Speedway.  For better or worse stock car racing in Nebraska has not been the same.


Yes, I do miss those days and no, Craig didn’t pay me to say that.  I do have some legal work I hope will be done gratis though.


Those of you who think I have nothing in common with Osborne are wrong.  He will be close to 76 when he retires, and it looks like I will be too.  Of course he wanted to keep working and my bank account says I have to keep working.


For those of you unable to end the late model nationals in Knoxville this weekend, below is a link to a video screening site that you can watch each night of the races:


Thanks for sharing the link Matt.


Scott Bloomquist, Brian Birkhofer, Brady Smith, Billy Moyer, Brian Shirley, Tim McCreadie, and Don O’Neal have won previous Knoxville Nationals, and all except McCreadie are entered in this year’s event.  Just for fun jazz it up with Jimmy Owens, Jimmy Mars, Jonathan Davenport, Jared Landers, and John Blankenship. Ramp it up with young Tyler Reddick.  Stay tuned for Steve Francis.  Will Mike Marlar make more memories? And as they say in Arkansas, “Oil is on the track,” at least they do when the Bobby Labonte Racing #44 of Earl Pearson Jr. is on the track. 


Given the politics of late model racing i.e. don’t look for a lot of WoO tour drivers to be in Knoxville, you can’t ask for a better field of late models.  Add regional drivers like John Anderson, Will Vaught, Jason Utter, Chad Simpson and the Eckrich brothers for some flavor, and you have the makings of a great night of racing.  Then to top it all, the forecast for the next three days is highs in the 70’s, perfect racing weather.


Yes, I am excited, though the amount of steps we will have to climb to our seats is somewhere between how many we climb at I-80 Speedway and how many we climb at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln for football games.  Actually I can’t fault Matt’s ticket purchase-any lower and it would be difficult seeing the back stretch over all the big rigs in the infield.


Can anyone other than Birkhofer, Bloomquist, Moyer, Owens, or O’Neal take home the $40,000 for winning Saturday’s feature?  To me it would be a big surprise to see anyone else standing in Victory Lane.  I don’t see it, though with Knoxville’s unique point system, it is impossible to predict who will be on the pole.


While I am mostly OK with the Knoxville point system, I do not like time trial results carrying the same value as the A feature-first in time trials gets 200 points, first in the A feature gets 200 points.  To me, two laps racing against the clock is not the equal to 25 laps racing against 23 other drivers.  There is always a “sweet spot” during time trials when track conditions are perfect and no more than a handful of drivers benefit from those conditions.  The conditions are the same for all 24 drivers in a feature. 


Time trials carry twice the value of heat races-first in a heat race is worth only 100 points, and that bothers me too.  I do like the fact 10 cars in each heat are inverted.  I also like that only one of the two nights qualifying is used to determine starting positions in Saturday’s feature.  If you have a bad night on Thursday you can still come back on Friday and be a factor in Saturday’s feature.  If you have a great night on Thursday you can use Friday to experiment, or simply save your car for Saturday.  If I time trialed fastest on Thursday, won my heat, and won the Thursday feature, I don’t think my car would be seen on the track Friday night.


If you want to try to decipher the Knoxville qualifying system go to the track website:


Thanks for stopping by.












Knoxville, Plus A Little Knocks-Ville Too

September 25, 2012 4 comments

According to Yahoo, there is going to be a bacon shortage in 2013.  I realize that does not have a thing to do with racing, but my other choice for a lead in was to announce that Kurt Busch is going to drive for Furniture Row racing next year.  Yeah, now you understand why I went with bacon.


Check out 


With the Knoxville Late Model Nationals happening this weekend, the Sprint Car Hall of fame is going all out to show the better side of dirt track racing.  On Friday veteran Scott Bloomquist will be appearing at 1:00 p.m. in a Q & A session hosted by Dave Argabright, my friend Randy Palmer’s favorite race writer.  Follow that up with a 3:00 p.m. appearance by brothers Joe and Steve Kosiski for the “Stocksville” Reunion.  I suspect I-80 employee Lee Ackerman had something to do with that.


On Saturday the Hall of Fame will host a panel of Iowa World 100 winners from the 70’s-Verlin Eaker, Ed Sanger, and Kenny Walton.  I can remember Eaker and Sanger coming to Sunset Speedway in the early 70’s and resenting greatly that they kicked the butt of all the Nebraska drivers. 


All the above events are free with paid admission to the Hall of Fame museum.  In addition to all the open wheeled cars and memorabilia, a Jeff Gordon display is also on hand.  Matt and I are actually planning on going over early on Thursday and visiting the museum.  Don’t faint, I enjoy museums plus the museum store has some books and videos I am interested in.  Maybe one of them will actually inspire me to do that book I know I have inside me.


Saturday night’s $40,000 to win feature will be shown on Speed TV-eventually.  Actually it will be aired on November 3rd.  The network is on the air 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  So, the network could not fit one of late model racing’s crown jewels into its schedule until 11/3, or over 850 hours after the race was run.


Of course Speed does have hours of important programming like Pinks, Pass Time, and Monster Jam.  And don’t forget NASCAR, NASCAR, NASCAR, NASCAR, and NASCAR.  If you want to know what Brad Keselowski had for breakfast this morning, go to Speed.  If you need to know which crewman farted in the body shop at the Hendrick Racing complex, click on Speed.  If the melodious tone of Larry McReynolds soothes you, Speed is your destination.  Just don’t expect to see a big race until the old news about the race has been forgotten.


Ivan and Randy please note-I did not link another Speed hit program Dumbest Stuff on Wheels to the WoO Sprint Car series.


If you can’t wait forever and a day to watch the Nationals, you can watch video streaming of all three days of the event.  Go to


According to the site the two preliminary nights can be viewed for $14.99 per night, while a price for Saturday’s show is TBD, which is computer talk for a fistful of dollars. 


Enough for today.  Thanks for stopping by.


Late Models And USMTS Modifieds Go Together Like Hostess Cup Cakes, Lay’s Potato Chips, And Diet Coke

September 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Surprise, surprise, Jimmy Owens and Darrell Lanigan won big super late model tour races this weekend.  Owens led every lap of the Lucas Oil Jackson 100 at Brownstown Speedway in Indiana, while WoO point leader Lanigan led the five most important laps-the final five-at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan.


Both collected $20,000 at the pay window, and both padded almost insurmountable point leads in their respective series.  Owens was followed by Steve Francis and Scott Bloomquist, while Billy Moyer and Rick Eckert finished second and third behind Darrell Lanigan.  I thought it interesting that Moyer raced with the WoO in Michigan, while Moyer Jr. finished tenth in the Lucas Oil show in Indiana. Both will head to Knoxville for the track’s three night Late Model Nationals this weekend.


I am psyched for our trip to the Marion County Fairgrounds on Thursday.  I am thinking this weekend is going to be a big one for fan favorite-and my favorite driver too, Brian Birkhofer.  I am not sure anyone can repeat the Moyer sweep of a few years ago, but Birkie seems quite fond of big tracks this season-he has won $$$$$ races at I-80 Speedway and Eldora, and the Muscatine Maniac knows his way around the b-i-g half-mile track at Knoxville. 


I am hoping to see some of our racing pals on Thursday. I know Raceguru Steve Basch will be there.  Maybe Tom Schwartz from Lincoln will be on hand too.  AND, Super Fan Tony Anville swears he will be there and even wants to take a photo of me in the Sprint Car Hall of Fame. 


Although he did not win any of the USMTS battles at Deer Creek this weekend (I can’t believe some anonymous blogger predicted he would win two of the three features), Ryan Gustin “reaped” the rewards from three consistent finishes to hold off Rodney Sanders and add the USMTS Casey’s Cup title to the 2012 USMTS National Title he secured several weeks ago. 


Go to and check out the video from Mark Dotson’s bumper cam.  What interested me the most on this video was the amount of dirt clods Dotson’s car was throwing in the air around the track. I realize that drivers have a pretty stout steel grid in front of where they sit, and I realize they all wear a full-faced helmet, fire suit, and gloves, but some of those clods do end up hitting the drivers.


Years ago when Matt was on the Joe Kosiski pit crew he told me that the day after many races Joe would have sore hands from rocks and clods hitting him.  Watching the Dotson video, I can certainly understand.  The clods aren’t just thrown in the air waiting for a car to drive into them, they are shot backwards.  I have no idea what the exact speed of the clod or the approaching car is, but the two could easily be traveling at each other at a closing speed of 150 miles per hour.  Adrenaline and the need to focus during a race might mean the hurt of a clod hitting a hand-or a head-isn’t felt so much during the race, but it sure would be later. Getting hit like that at race speed has got to hurt as much as listening to Matt sing Johnny Cash at 1:30 a.m. on the way home from Knoxville.


While the two USMTS series have been decided, the best modified drivers in the business still have a three race weekend remaining on the schedule.  The 6th Annual Texas Winternationals will be held at Royal Purple Speedway in Baytown, Texas 11/15-11/17.  Yeah, that place is on one of my bucket lists, and not just because the track hosts the first and last races of the USMTS season.  A track with the name Royal Purple Speedway is one every fan should visit.


Thanks for stopping by.



USMTS, Cold Winds, Birthday Steak, Plus NASCAR, Las Vegas And Me-I Wish

September 21, 2012 2 comments

115 cars ran in 8 USMTS heat races in the Featherlite Fall Classic at Deer Creek Speedway in Minnesota.  Most events will have at least the winner or top two finishers in a heat go on to the A feature.  Not this one.  A driver has to finish in the top 15 in passing points to qualify for the A feature.  I am thinking this is not a race that drivers want to start on the pole in their heats. 


If a driver doesn’t qualify in his heat, he can still make it to the feature by finishing in the top three of one of five B features.  Of course all five of the B features started at least 20 cars.  Many tracks running modifieds don’t even need a B feature, and quite a few do not start 20 cars in their A feature.  I think even the most jaded fan would say he had enough racing action to satisfy him-between the heats, B’s, and the A feature, 235 laps were run.


I don’t think I mentioned Jeremy Payne when I was predicting winners.  Well, he took the $3,000 to win A feature last night, holding off Ryan Gustin.  Terry Phillips finished 3rd, Rodney Sanders was 4th, and Jon Tesch came home 5th.


Although Gustin did not win, he did gain enough points to go ahead of Stormy Scott in the Casey’s Cup point standings.  Scott finished 8th in the A feature.


Some people I know are going to a race at I-80 Speedway tonight.  Now those particular people can freeze, but for the rest of you, dress warmly.  The wind gusts are strong, and the wind will be coming right out of Canada and into the grandstands at I-80 tonight.  It could be chilly at sunset.


Nope, I won’t be there tonight.  My family is going to Farmer Brown’s in Waterloo to celebrate the birthdays of three generations of Meyer men-one of us just turned 62, another is going to be 36 on Sunday, and the other had his first birthday on September 1st.  A great steak and my grandson Henry instead of push to start wind ‘em up cars and B-mods.  Boy that was a tough decision. 


I just received my Myers Brothers Award ballot from the National Motorsports Press Association.  The Myers Brother award is named for brothers Billy and Bobby Myers who were early NASCAR competitors.  It is one of NASCAR’s most prestigious awards and is given at a luncheon in Las Vegas preceding the NASCAR Awards Banquet.  Previous winners include Junior Johnson, the Woods Brothers, David Pearson, Richard Petty, Benny Parsons, and Dale Earnhardt. This year’s finalists are Jeff Gordon and Richard Childress.  Yes, I do know who I am voting for.


Some day I am going to play big time motorsports journalist and actually go to this award luncheon and some of the other festivities going on in Las Vegas that week.  Because of my NMPA membership I have the credentials to do almost everything except the big banquet, including interviewing the Chase contenders. If this damn blog ever made some real money, maybe I could. Of course I suck at interviewing, but wouldn’t mind asking Jimmie Johnson if Chad Knaus is as big a jerk as he seems to be on TV.


Thanks for stopping by.