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Prairie Dirt Classic-Part One

July 31, 2016 Leave a comment

Before I begin talking about Matt and Ron’s Excellent Adventure, I need to thank a number of people. First and foremost would be my son Matt. It was his idea to go to the Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury American Legion Speedway in Illinois and though I was hot/cold/indifferent about the idea he convinced me to go. And he did all the detail work too-making hotel reservations, planning travel routes, and even finding the perfect parking spot at the track. I have always been proud of my son, but all he did this weekend made for an almost perfect trip-and he had no control over the Modified races at FALS. Thank you Matt.

Next, I want to thank Michael Rigsby. Yes, thee Michael Rigsby of the famous dirt late model site www.DirtonDirt.com. The tickets he gave us were fantastic, and I appreciated the tail gate food and drink as well. I know Matt appreciates Michael’s friendship and I appreciate Michael’s friendship with him as well.

I am tired. We left the track at 12:30 a.m. and drove back to Davenport, Iowa, a 2 ½ hour journey. All the way back to the Quad Cities I was thinking we made a bad decision not staying closer to Fairbury. However, when we left for home this morning, we were that much closer, so even with less than 5 hours of sleep we did make a good decision.

This is definitely going to be at least a two part blog. A short post now and then a nap in a comfortable bed awaits me. There is too much to write about for just one post. Almost everyone who reads The Rest of the Dirt is a serious, hard core dirt late model fan. And if you are a serious, hard core dirt late model fan, at least once in your life you have to make a pilgrimage to the Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury American Legion Speedway in Central Illinois.

It is everything I love about auto racing. It is an old fairgrounds track-the front stretch grandstands are well over 100 years old, the atmosphere is electric (so that is a cliché, I can’t think of a better way to describe it), and the racing. Oh my god, the racing. Over and over and over I was doing my imitation of James Essex, saying “Are you kidding me?” OK, I am not quite as polite as James, but what I said was close to his trademark line.

You simply have to see it in person to believe it. Two wide, three wide, even four wide racing, lap after lap after lap. Unreal. I thought Michael and the DOD boys may have been a little bit homer when they named the Prairie Dirt Classic the race of the year for 2013, 2014, and 2015. I now know better. I don’t know if DOD will name this year’s race the best of 2016, but the two nights of racing at FALS was the best I have seen in person in years.

Our seats were along the back stretch, just before the cars entered turn three and right about where the cars left the track for the pits. FALS is a quarter mile black dirt oval and you can see all the racing from any seat in the house. The cars almost fly through the turns and Eric Wells on Friday and Bobby Pierce on Saturday did try to fly. Wells made a valiant attempt at leaping over the scoreboard between turns 1 and 2, and Pierce tried to knock down wall in turn 3. The action happens so fast it is almost impossible to absorb all that is happening, and no it is not because my mind is slowing down.

Take I-80 Speedway and turn the intensity dial from moderate to extremely high, and then throw in a few bottles labeled ‘insanity,’ and you have FALS. At least you have the fans at FALS. They are passionate to the point of fanaticism. And I offer that as a compliment. However, I was surrounded by Fat Heads on Friday.

Yes, Fat Heads. Not auditors working for the Nebraska Department of Revenue, blown up head shots of drivers. Some were photos of favorite drivers. Others were not of favorites. The person sitting next to me had one of Bobby Pierce, with the caption “Overrated.” Love it. They yell and cheer for their favorites-99% of their favorites are FALS weekly drivers, and yell and salute the drivers they do not like-I can’t repeat the yells, and those salutes are often a middle finger extended. And yeah, I even liked that. Perhaps I am turning redneck in my old age. I wish Nebraska fans had as much passion.

And I wish Nebraska late model drivers could compete with tour drivers as well as the Fairbury locals did. Kolby Vanderbergh set fast time in Group A qualifying, and veteran Kevin Weaver set fast time in Group B. Vanderbergh won his heat as did Mike Spatola and Dereck Chandler. Nebraska drives can’t put that on their resumes. Few qualify for the Silver Dollar Nationals feature through the heat races. Not many make it through a B-feature either. Track and SLMR provisionals seem to be the way locals make the SDN field. So that is why Matt and I drive 500 miles to watch a race on a Friday night, instead of 50 to a local track.

OK, not everything at the Prairie Dirt Classic came up smelling rosy. Just like I wrote about modifieds at the Silver Dollar Nationals, I am going to right about modifieds at the PDC. Not with the same anger, but with some annoyance. Oh, and speaking of anger, modifieds, and the SDN, I talked briefly at the DOD hangout with Ben Shelton, and asked him why he participated in the criminal act of out of the car interviews of USMTS drivers racing in a dash. It was not Ben’s idea, he was supposed to interview only two of the drivers, but someone with a lot of USMTS power “urged” that all ten of the drivers be interviewed. I believe most of you can figure out who that was.

In an irritate Ron card game, out of car interviews of drivers in a dash (SDN) trumps two modified non-qualifier scrambles (PDC), but just barely. I’ll write about PDC modified scrambles and more tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by.

P.S. Forgot this Michael. Thanks also for having a place at FALS where Matt and I could meet Tim Christman, Series Director of the World of Outlaws late models and Matt Long, Senior Director of Business Development at Charlotte Motor Speedway. And I liked Matt’s thinking, both Matt Long and Matt Meyer of limiting the number of mods at specials like the PDC, by making the support class an invitation only event.

 

 

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Head East

July 28, 2016 1 comment

News Flash-As you are reading this post, Matt and I are on our way to Illinois-somewhere along I-80 in Iowa, being irritated by Iowans, and we know what the Iowa acronym stands for. Anyway, Thursday night in Davenport. We talked about a trip to Maquoketa, which is about 40 miles northeast of Davenport. Unfortunately the fair race tonight has about every IMCA class except for Southern Sports Mod (they do have the Northern version though) and the 305 sprint cars. You know how we feel about back gate classics.

Friday morning it is on to Fairbury, Fairbury American Legion Speedway to be exact, and two nights of the Prairie Dirt Classic. For the past several years this event has been touted by www.DirtonDirt.com as the season’s best race, and we want to see what the hullabaloo is all about. Tickets are not easy to come by, but thanks to one of the drivers who normally runs the PDC being suspended by the World Group, a certain party had tickets available for us. No, it wasn’t tickets to be used by Bloomquist fans, it was another of the Eldora 5.

In addition to our back stretch grandstand seats, I have a media pass-only the third time I have ever done that-and Matt is getting a two day pit pass, so we will be roaming around talking to drivers and crew. And maybe some tailgating with Matt’s friends-yeah, everyone seems to like Matt.

This is likely to be our road trip for the year. At least my road trip. Time constraints with my new job, and Knoxville changing dates this year rules out a trip there in September. Jane is having her other knee replaced in October, so that means no Friday jaunt to Kansas when the NASCAR Sprint Cup series visits. I am looking forward to our visit to FALS.

I will report on it when we get back. Maybe Sunday, maybe Monday. Maybe both.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

You Got Me Goin’-I Can’t Let Go

July 27, 2016 1 comment

Thanks to The Hollies, circa 1964 for the title.

Since I heard the schedule that Fairbury American Legion Speedway runs for the Prairie Dirt Classic, I have been giving some thought to B-features, last chance races, and non-qualifier races. My thinking is obviously different than promoters and tour directors, but it is what I think-and at least what some other fans think too.

To me, B-features are last chance races. You don’t need both B-features and last chance races.  Drivers have had an opportunity to run a heat to qualify for the evening’s feature-or in the case of the Silver Dollar Nationals, run two heats. If they don’t qualify via the heat, they have an opportunity to run a B-feature and qualify. In the late model division, if they don’t qualify for the A feature, they can run the Belt Bash, the non-qualifiers race. This race should not become a last chance race for drivers who finish in the top three positions. They had their chances at qualifying, they didn’t, and the pay-out on the Belt Bash makes for a nice consolation for not qualifying.

Run the Belt Bash at the end of the Saturday night racing at the SDN. If people want to watch they can. If they want to go in the pits when the racing is done, they can watch. But if someone does not care about the outcome of a non-qualifiers race, they should not have to watch it before they can see the race they actually came to see. Actually what happens is that with all the fiddle-farting going on, fans see a race that doesn’t mean much to anyone but drivers, crew, and family and end up leaving before or during when the BEST drivers at the track-in the nation-are battling for a large sum of money. Sorry, there is something really wrong with that picture.

32 cars is more than enough for the start of the SDN feature. Actually, I happen to think it is 6 cars more than enough, but I know that is one battle I will never win. Qualify 24 cars through heats and B-features, and then give 2 provisionals each to the Lucas Oil and MLRA series, 2 provisionals to the SLMR series, and finish out with 2 track provisionals. Anyone unable to claim one of the 32 spots is liable to me a moving road block for the likes of Davenport and Bloomquist and shouldn’t be out there anyway. If you think I am wrong in my thinking, Scott Bloomquist has stated that no one who hasn’t won a race should be in the feature. And, I think he meant no one who hasn’t won a special event feature.

I do hope that the USMTS format reverts back to two shows in 2017. I suppose it won’t because whoever put up the additional $5,000 in the winner’s share will want it to be $10,000 once, not $5,000 twice. OK. So be it. But either eliminate the second set of Friday heats for the modifieds, or do away with the Saturday last chance races, and run B features on Friday to finish out the qualifying. This isn’t Deer Creek or Humboldt where the mods are kings for the weekend. They are a support class at the Silver Dollar Nationals. And if there is ever another modified dash, do it Saturday, don’t ever again do out of car introductions for such a race, make it six cars for six laps, not 10 cars for 10 laps, and make the finish of the dash the order those cars start their feature, not the really bizarre win and all you get is a chance to draw a number from a bag. And, run the USMTS feature AFTER the late model feature. Again, if someone wants to stay to watch the feature, they can. I suspect most people are going to leave after the late model feature, and honestly, by then they should have had plenty of beer to drink.

I realize that I mentioned I spend $100 at the SDN, but in addition to too many concessions, Matt and I split the cost of 4 tickets, I guess more to support the race than give us more room.  That adds another $65 to that total. If I couldn’t afford it, I wouldn’t spend it, but that doesn’t mean I want to spend that much money to be at the track until after 1:00 a.m. and it doesn’t mean I want more chances to watch the slowest cars run-which is what last chance races and non-qualifier races are.

This is the kind of event that people who aren’t race fanatics attend. But instead of turning them into race fans we turn them into people who are disappointed they have to miss out the big race because it is after midnight and they have little children. That is simply wrong.

I knew that there was a reason I liked Mike Pierson, other than that he likes racing, basketball, and hockey. Here is a comment from him:

“Slowhand I don’t know about the fireworks after the feature but is there any way to have the loud noise makers on the front stretch between the sponsor billboards and the track instead? The amateur fireworks on the back stretch all weekend just white-trashed up your professional display, would it too much to ask them to not do that?”

That comment was in reply to a comment made by Jim Hitzemann. I thought Jim’s PROFESSIONAL fireworks post-race display was really good. And I agree with Mike about stopping the backstretch amateur display. To me the guy is saying “Hey look at me. I got fireworks and it is after the 4th of July. Plus I am gulping down a lot of beer.” My thinking of the guy shooting these fireworks is he is an idiot. And if he is drinking too, he is a dumb redneck, and I don’t care how expensive his motor home is.

I probably have complained enough in getting my point across the past few days. Unfortunately, I doubt it will have much impact.

Thanks for stopping by.

P.S. The Lucas Oil show at Macon, Illinois was over by 9:30 p.m. A and B mods were support classes, but between all three classes there were less than 50 cars, so no B features, no last chance races, no non-qualifier race.

 

 

 

 

 

More SDN, More Complaining, NASCAR, And A Music Lesson Or Two

July 25, 2016 2 comments

Here is a shout out to WoO drivers who came to Nebraska for Silver Dollar Nationals VI-Chase Junghans, Shane Clanton, Frank Heckenast Jr., and Brian Shirley. I have knowledge of a somewhat well to do fan attempting to lure others from the WoO circuit, most notably Josh Richards. It is my understanding that Richards seriously discussed racing at I-80 Speedway with his wife Andrea and dad Mark, but decided to take a week off instead. However, with SDN VII the third highest paying race of 2017, will drivers Richards be able to ignore the possibilities? To win the Silver Dollar Nationals will be like winning five regular WoO tour races. That buys a lot of parts and tires for the car and fuel for the hauler. Maybe later this fall would be a good time to talk with Richards again.

I am still tired after the late Saturday night-well, early Sunday morning ending of SDN VI. Like Carol King sang, “It’s too late baby, now it’s too late.” I have had several emails from friends stating that the late model feature should be on the track no later than 10:30 p.m. on the Saturday of the SDN. The Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury American Legion Speedway also has modifieds on the bill with late models and has a non-qualifiers feature as well. The PDC feature on Saturday runs before the modified feature, and both run before the late model non-qualifiers race.

Yes, I do realize that other big dollar late model events have features that start late in the evening. I don’t go to those races. I don’t spend over $100 at those tracks on tickets and concessions. I do for the Silver Dollar Nationals. I have no complaints about the actual racing at SDN VI. Maybe it wasn’t as good as some years, but it was still good. I am still smarting from all the fiddle-farting around on Saturday. It wasn’t all unorganized, it was almost like it was part of the schedule. The USMTS mods are starting to chap my behind a little too. They were the ones not coming out for hot laps-I assume they felt they were too good for track packing-until they were begged and then threatened by promoter Joe Kosiski.

And again, I was not kidding when I said that whole farce of a USMTS dash was the dumbest thing I can remember seeing in 60 years of watching cars race around dirt ovals. B-mod problems don’t come from arrogance. To me that dash and out of car introductions of the drivers was arrogance. Yeah, that series did help start the Silver Dollar Nationals. But, make that a BIG BUT, it is now the support class on the bill, not an equal to the late models.

I don’t think that making the winner’s share of the USMTS SDN purse will add many cars to the race. If I was a mod driver I would simply think it was just another $5,000 to Rodney Sanders. If this year’s format was supposed to help someone else make it to the I-80 Winners Circle, well, that was a bust. I really do hope that format will be rethought. LESS IS BEST. It was like what Elvis sang 60 years ago:

“Don’t you know you’re treatin’ me wrong
Now you got me started
Don’t you leave me broken hearted.”

 

From the song “Too Much.”
Yeah, that dash was too much. Way too much. It left me all shook up.

 

Did anyone see photos that compared the crowd at this year’s Indianapolis 500 with the “crowd” at the Brickyard 400? My wife even commented on how empty the stands were. Someone told me the first Brickyard 400 had an attendance of 250,000 while this year only 75,000 thronged to the track to watch a 160 lap version of a USMTS dash. It was not a fun race to watch. New Hampshire-Indy-Pocono three weeks in a row. Three good reasons to nap on Sunday afternoons.

 

News flash. Big news. The Rest of the Dirt has a new sponsor for 2017, giving the writer of this brilliant piece of cyberspace $53. That’s right, not $53,000, rather $53. Thanks Matt. What? I only get the $53 if someone else comes up with another $53. Darn.

 

Wait, another news flash. Oh, this one will have to wait until Thursday. OK. Tune in on Thursday for a big surprise.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

SDN VI Saturday-Good, Bad, And Ugly. See Below For My Definition Of Ugly

July 24, 2016 2 comments

Midway through the Saturday night portion of Silver Dollar Nationals VI I thought to myself “this is the last time I am hyping this damn event.” Most of you know I was not thinking “damn,” but the blog is PG rated. I turned to Matt and asked “why all the fiddle-farting around?” But then, oh my, then came the piece de resistance. For those of you who had a birthday yesterday and graduated from Peru State College, see below for my definition.

Piece de resistance is outstanding event. My definition of ugly-incredibly stupid, ridiculous, no redeeming value, and irritating to every part of me. The piece de resistance of Silver Dollar Nationals VI? The USMTS dash. To start with, why run a race in which all that is determined is the winner gets to pull a number from a bag to determine the invert? Run the race and the results determine the starting grid, or pull a number from a hat-DON’T do both. I would say the ultimate is that after running the race, which 2nd place starter Jason Krohn won, he drew the #2. Meaning the starting grid for the feature was the same as the starting grid for the dash. Why run the race? Oh yeah, $800 to win, $200 to start. Again, why run the race? Take the money from that race and spread it out among the bottom half of feature finishers.

Anyway, the ultimate was not how stupid running this race was. Nope, not even close. The ultimate was out of the car introductions and interviews of the drivers in the race. I turned to Matt and said “you got to be kidding me.” Yes, I did use an all-purpose adverb with “got,” but again this blog is rated PG. Out of the car introductions and interviews for drivers in a race that paid $800 to win. I went to my first race in 1955. In all the years I have been going to races, this race and these introductions and interviews was the dumbest thing I ever watched.

Bad number:

-25. As in minutes. The number of minutes this dog and pony show added to the length of an already long show.

No, I am not the only person who was complaining about the fiddle-farting around in general and the utterly ridiculous, stupid, pointless, inane, absurd USMTS dash. Next time I will try to be less subtle about how I feel about such things.

The races started late-I mean later than the rescheduled starting time. I absolutely do not blame Joe Kosiski for this. On Friday and Saturday both, I could hear him pleading with drivers to get lined up for hot laps. And then he got angry. I think from now on put it this way: “Your hot laps are at 7:45 p.m. If you are not in line waiting to go on track at 7:45 p.m. stay in your pits. You are not hot lapping.” That was crazy. And this was the USMTS drivers, not the late model drivers.

Good number:

10/14-10 of Dirt on Dirt’s Top 14 drivers were on hand for SDN VI. It would have been 11/14 if Steve Francis had not been hurt last week at Tri-City Speedway in Illinois.

Best line of the night: Not from me, when you hear it though you will be able to guess who said it:

“By the time this event finishes, Steve Francis is going to be cleared to race.” Given it was almost 1:00 a.m. when it ended, Mr. Anonymous was close to being right.

Bad numbers:

-Hundreds. As in hundreds of fans leaving before the end of the late model feature. If I was a promoter this would be second only to fans not showing up at all as far as problems I had to fix.

Here is an idea. I honestly thought MLRA officials were running the show with as many parade laps and caution flag laps run. Were all of these laps really necessary? Every slow lap adds one minute to the show. Yeah, I can hear some people saying, “big deal, one minute.” Well, my thinking is that there were probably 30-40 unnecessary laps like this. Add that time to the utterly ridiculous, stupid, pointless, inane, absurd time wasted with the USMTS dash and an hour was added to the length of the show for no good reason.  Instead of ending about 1:00 a.m. like it did, the show could have ended at midnight-still too late, but a lot better than 1:00 a.m. That is something that track officials and the Lucas Oil/MLRA officials need to talk about and do a lot better. I did not include the USMTS in this. Todd Staley gets those cars lined up and going with very few caution flag laps.

Good number:

-58. The age of runner-up Billy Moyer. The man is simply amazing. We were standing in front of the grandstand listening to post-race interviews and Matt said “Look at Moyer’s car.” What he meant was the other four cars of the top five looked like they had been in an 80 lap battle, while Moyer’s looked like it was just rolled out of the trailer.

Random thoughts:

-I like Brandon Sheppard about as much as I like push trucks. Actually, after he knocked Dennis Erb Jr.-who I very much like-from 2nd to 14th in the feature, I like him even less. I will say that 24th to 3rd is a very good run though.

-Clark Kent found a phone booth to change in at I-80 Speedway and Superman made in look relatively easy winning the Lucas Oil feature. Maybe Jonathan Davenport will get hot now.

-Scott Bloomquist was uncharacteristically out to lunch in the feature. He dropped back to 10th early, made a late pit stop and fell back to 17th, but did end up with a top ten finish.

-I do like that Jason Krohn and his daughter’s boyfriend Rodney Sanders bumped during the USMTS feature. I do think that we have heard for enough years “Rodney Sanders girlfriend.” Marry her Rodney.

Interesting numbers:

-SDN VII will pay a whopping $53,000 to the late model winner. $10,000 will be added to the back end of the purse. SDN will now be the 3rd best late model winner’s pay day. Given the Kosiski family’s close association with the #53, that is a good place to stop adding to the winner’s share. Now build up the purse from 6th place on back.

-SDN VII will pay a nice $10,000 to the Rodney Sanders time to get married fund. OK, the USMTS winner will receive $10,000 next year. Since Sanders has won 7 straight USMTS features at I-80 Speedway, why bother thinking the money will go to someone else? Again, I would like to see the purse built up behind the winner’s share.

Memo to Lee Ackerman: if you like me Lee, when ticket renewals come up, please do NOT put Captain Obvious behind Matt and me again. Yeah, my play by play announcer from Friday night was behind us again on Saturday. I wanted to turn around and say “I have $100 in my pocket. If I give it to you, will you please shut the hell up?” Unfortunately by then I had spent money on two sandwiches and two Diet Cokes so I had a LOT less than $100 in my pocket.

Memo to Joe Kosiski-You mentioned the importance of the #53 to your family and racing. How about creating a souvenir program worth buying using the #53 as centerpiece? You have the second best race historian in the area on your staff-sorry Lee, #1 has to be Glenn Robey-let him do an article on your dad. And you too for that matter since both of you drove the 53. And yes, on Andrew too. Throw in some photos from the Sunset days. Add pages for race results, and a page of coupons too (like pork tenderloin sandwich for $4.00 and a bag of popcorn for $1.00). Make it like the program for the Knoxville Late Model Nationals. Lee Ackerman knows what to do with this. I would buy such a program.

And maybe spend some money on your sewer too. I thought it might be the fellow behind us, but a number of people said something to me about the odor. Well, maybe it was the guy behind me with all his b.s. It was NOT me.

I hope the $10,000 to win USMTS purse will lure enough modifieds that some have to pit outside the infield. Replace the back stretch fireworks idiot-not you Jim, the one who thinks he is being super cool and had one explode on the ground last night-and do us all a favor.

And I forgot yesterday to wish my friend Tony a Happy Birthday. I know the mod charade wasn’t a great birthday present and then your favorite had troubles in the feature, but you got to see Matt and me and sit with my favorite retired auditor Bob Reist, so it was still a pretty good birthday.

No doubt I am forgetting something, but not getting home until 2:30 a.m. has my brain working even less than normal. That is too late.

Thanks for stopping by, and anyone who didn’t like this blog should call Matt.

P.S. I realized I was forgetting something. Despite the utterly ridiculous, stupid, pointless, inane, absurd USMTS dash and the fiddle-farting around, I will likely hype SDN VII thanks to two good features.

 

 

 

 

Silver Dollar Nationals-Friday At Nebraska’s Biggest Race

July 23, 2016 Leave a comment

As an accountant I realize there are good numbers and bad numbers. As I race fan I can say the same thing. Good numbers from the Silver Dollar Nationals:

-57. The number of late models on hand. 50-60 is a perfect number with the qualifying format, so 57 is a great number.

-44. The number of USMTS modifieds on hand. This may be the biggest modified count of any of the Silver Dollar Nationals. I can’t say for sure-I don’t remember what happened five weeks ago, so I for sure don’t remember a count from five years ago.

-21. The number of states represented in the two classes. Throw in a Canadian province too.

-9. The number of past WoO and Lucas Oil champions on hand. Jonathan Davenport, Scott Bloomquist, Jimmy Owens, Don O’Neal, Earl Pearson Jr., Billy Moyer, Tim McCreadie, Darrell Lanigan, and Shane Clanton.

-2. The number of Dirt Late Model Hall of Famers racing. Yes, that would be Bloomquist and Moyer. Of course three other HOF members are also on hand-Joe, Steve, and Bob Kosiski.

-6,000. The number of silver dollars handed out to 1st-2nd-3rd place finishers in each of the late model heats, or 12 heats x $500 per heat. Jared Landers collected two bags of 250 silver dollars each for winning both of his heats. Tim McCreadie and Shane Clanton each took home 350 silver dollars, while Scott Bloomquist walked away with 300 silver dollars for two runner-up performances.

-18. The number of qualifiers from Friday racing for tonight’s feature.

-3. Scott Bloomquist is going after his 3rd straight Silver Dollar Nationals win. This is good if you are a Bloomquist fan.

-0. Thanks to Lee Ackerman for reminding me. 0 push trucks were needed at the start of any race.

Bad numbers:

-104. The temperature when we left Fremont for I-80 Speedway.

-2. The number of front row starters I wish were starting much further back, Jared Landers and Chris Simpson.

-2. The number of somewhat important people made to wait while track packing was going on. Last names were Burdic and Argabright.

-2. The number of years in a row that Race Guru’s prepaid tickets have been lost. He was on a list showing what tickets he purchased, but no one could seem to find the actual tickets.

-100’s. I don’t know how many for sure, but there was a long, long line waiting to get their tickets at the pick-up window as hot laps approached. On the track, the SDN is a crown jewel event. Logistics, like this? Well, it is time to get out of the 70’s and into the 21st century. The lost tickets and long line could have been avoided by using a ticket service that allows printing tickets at home.

-3. Scott Bloomquist is going after his 3rd straight Silver Dollar Nationals win. This is bad if you aren’t a Bloomquist fan.

One other gripe. Reserved tickets-more expensive-aren’t really reserved when anyone is allowed to sit in the reserved area. People come and sit anywhere until the actual ticket holder shows up and has to move them out of his paid for seats. Two thumbs down on this.

As for the racing, I would give it a B to B+. Next to too much rain, excessive heat is the toughest element for track prep crews to deal with. Given a heat index of well over 100, I cannot complain about track prep and the racing it produced. It was good, better than anything else Matt and I have watched this year, so thumbs up to Steve Kosiski and the track prep crew.

Heat winners in round one were R.C. Whitwell, Jesse Stovall, Chris Simpson, Jared Landers, Terry Phillips, and Jimmy Owens. Other than Whitwell, no surprises there. Second round winners were Shannon Babb, Shane Clanton, Tim McCreadie, Billy Moyer, Brandon Sheppard, and Landers.

Lucas Oil regulars Darrell Lanigan, Brandon Sheppard, and Don O’Neal have to qualify through a B-feature tonight. Yeah, I know Colton Flinner is a Lucas Oil regular too and he has to run a B tonight as well. Locals Kyle Berck and Tad Pospisil will start 8th and 13th in their B feature.

There are 2 B-features and the 80 lap A-features for late models tonight. I believe the USMTS modifieds will have a 10 car dash to determine starting positions in their feature, plus the 40 lap feature.

Random thoughts:

-why does someone who wants to be a play by play announcer sit behind me at every big event? Last night I wanted to turn around and say “will you please shut the hell up?” to whoever was behind me. We have eyes, we can see, we don’t care if you go to races from Texas to Timbuctu, and we don’t need you to tell us who the fast cars are.

-Don O’Neal really did not do well last night. He won the first SDN back in 2011, but will be starting 9th in a B feature tonight after finishing 5th and 7th in his heats.

-If you watch the races at home and are so inclined, you can play a drinking game by how many times Lucas Oil announcer James Essex talks about a big, huge, or record crowd. Last night he mentioned “biggest Friday night crowd ever for the SDN” many times. And I do like Essex, I think this has to do with TV.

-It appeared that Clark Kent was driving the 6 car, not Superman Jonathan Davenport. Davenport started on the pole in his first heat and finished 3rd. He also finished 3rd in his other heat. Still, that was good enough for him to start on the inside of row 4 in tonight’s feature.

So, who is going to win? Given his win streak at I-80 Speedway it is impossible for me to say anyone but Rodney Sanders in the USMTS feature. The late model feature is more intriguing. In a typical Bloomquist move, the 0 car did not hot lap and then finished as runner-up in both heats. Bloomquist starts 5th, and it would not surprise me to see him shoot to the front by lap 10 and lead the rest of the race. A sentimental favorite has to be Moyer, who will be running his last SDN. I don’t see Landers winning, and I really hope Chris Simpson has mechanical troubles in the feature. Two cars that will be starting far back but may influence the outcome are Shannon Babb and Brandon Sheppard. Babb jumped the cushion in his first heat race and finished 6th. He won his 2nd heat race and in an interview says he loves the track-it is his first visit to I-80 Speedway. I can see a Top Ten or even Top Five for the Illinois driver. Brandon Sheppard broke in his first heat and won his follow-up heat. If he wins his B-feature he will start 19th, and like with Babb, I can see him finishing Top Ten or even Top Five.

I don’t see any locals finishing in the Top Ten tonight, and it will be a struggle for them to even finish in the Top Twenty. I believe at least 4 will get in on provisionals, maybe 6.

Starting at 8:00 p.m. is the right thing to do tonight, but last night it was after 8:00 p.m. and I doubt if the races finished before midnight. Matt and I left at 11:30 p.m. after the late model heats finished. I am not sure what could have been done different with all the races that were run, but perhaps better minds than mine might want to give thought to this for SDN VII.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

Silver Dollar Nationals-Real Racing Unlike New Hampshire

July 19, 2016 Leave a comment

Was it just me, or did the stands at New Hampshire Motor Speedway seem more than a little empty for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race on Sunday? Could it be that tickets to the event are simply too pricey? Or that lodging costs are obscene? Perhaps it is the on track product simply isn’t great. Or maybe it is a combination of all of these factors.  It seems like NASCAR tracks can knock down grandstands trying to make tickets harder to come by, and it simply doesn’t matter. There are way too many empty seats for TV cameras to miss them all.

For me the words “track position,” are the most irritating words in auto racing. “Fuel mileage” is a close second. I want to see a race on a track where side by side is not a fluke. Where there is passing early, late, and often. Where a ‘W’ on a driver’s resume doesn’t happen because his right foot is just a little less heavy than some other drivers. Yes, I do miss the good old days.

Just the opposite of New Hampshire were the two Lucas Oil races this weekend. Both Tri-City Speedway and Lucas Oil Speedway were packed for the best late model drivers in the country. Yes, I do realize that 5,000 people in Wheatland, Missouri is not like 50,000 in Loudon, New Hampshire. However, I wonder how many of the fans in Loudon left the track disappointed. I doubt many did in Wheatland.

Of course that is one tour, and the best on dirt. Most dirt tracks have their own problems too. Track prep that turns feature races into one groove, no passing events. Or has fans leave with most orifices full of dust. Never starting on time, always finishing late. L-O-N-G intermissions. Concession items supposedly hot that aren’t, supposedly cold that aren’t, and all are over-priced. Track announcers that can’t pronounce driver names. On and on, etcetera, etcetera, and wow-thank you Sly Stone.

I am confident I won’t be making any of those complaints this weekend at the Silver Dollar Nationals. OK, odds are racing will start at least 15 minutes late each night, but the track will be racy, the races won’t end terribly late, and I’ll have at least one pork tenderloin sandwich, the best race track sandwich in the U.S. Matt and I won’t leave angry-we’ll be full of “wows,” and looking forward to Silver Dollar Nationals VII.

For most race fans there is no such thing as easy money. However, if you give them entertainment they feel has some value, they will spend their money. If engineers can come up with ways to make cars so equal there is no passing at too many NASCAR tracks, why can’t engineers also design changes to tracks? Expensive, for sure. But the engineers on every NASCAR Sprint Cup track are expensive, and all of their equipment and testing costs millions.

Maybe my thinking is too simplistic. I have been called simple minded before.

Three days until the SLMR/Nebraska 360 Sprints/B-Mod show with practice laps by the Lucas Oil Late Models and USMTS Modifieds.

Thanks for stopping by.