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There’s A Place Called Kokomo, Plus JMS

August 27, 2017 Leave a comment

Yes, I am still around. Yes, I am still a race fan. NO, I have not forgot how to write-and hush to anyone wondering if I ever knew how.

Thanks to Speed Shift TV, I spent Thursday and Friday in front of the computer watching USAC Sprints from Kokomo Speedway. Both nights were filled with two things sprint car fans enjoy-wheelies and wild wrecks. BUT, there was plenty of good, hard racing too. Kokomo Speedway jumped to the top of my list of track I would like to visit. Too bad they don’t have a Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series show there.

Last night Matt and I had planned to go to Park Jefferson to watch USMTS modifieds and 360 sprints. Unfortunately Mother Nature had other plans as PJ was rained out. Steph and Henry were at Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City, so Matt did not want to stay home and decided that a second trip to the magical kingdom-not Disney World, rather Junction Motor Speedway would have to suffice.

I called JMS magical because it is the place that three hours show go to become five hours long. I have yet to attend a show there where track prep came close to being just right. I have been there when the dust was so bad in HOT LAPS that you couldn’t even see cars in turns 1-2. Last night it was just the opposite, way too wet.

OK, so the track was too wet. That means instead of a handful of pick-ups and a few IMCA Sport Mods get every car in the pits on the track to pack it. Track announcer Wayne Dake came on the PA apologizing for what he called a “20 minute delay” in starting. Either Wayne was misinformed or outright lied-either or both are possible-because it ended up being 7:45 p.m. before the first race took to the track, a 45 minute delay. I did not like the delay, but being misinformed about it was beyond irritating.

Do you think fans would be upset if NU football or Creighton basketball games started 45 minutes late? But this is just routine with dirt tracks. Now, add a 30 minute intermission. These dirt track “brief intermissions” chap my butt. Yeah, let officials take a rest room break. Got it. 15 minutes ought to be plenty. The late start and extra intermission added an hour to the length of the show last night.

JMS is also quick to throw a caution flag and slow to clean up any problems. A minute here, two minutes there, and before long anther hour is added to the program. We left the track at 11:15 p.m. and there were still two make-up features to run. So, yes, it could have easily been midnight when the show ended, meaning a night with only ONE B-feature took five hours to complete from the original 7:00 p.m. starting time. If this was a new track, new officials, maybe some slack could be cut. But it isn’t. The track has been around for years. Shows that are much longer than they should be are ingrained in this track, part of the culture of JMS. For fans, the facility is probably the best in the state. Too bad what happens isn’t.

Going 100 miles each way to JMS always leads to some good conversation with Matt. Of course Henry is our favorite topic, but last night we talked about WoO sprint cars. We may actually go to a WoO sprint car show when they are at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City in October. No, I am not lying. We are talking about it seriously.

Anyway in talking about the Lakeside show, Matt pointed out that WoO sprint shows allow for only one support class. If only that was the case with all specials. And if the support class could NEVER be Sport Mods.

We were also talking about the lack of cars at MLRA races. I believe there were only 18 at the two day show at Junction Motor Speedway a few weeks ago. Why not make the rules similar to rules in the SLMR series? A lot of drivers likely figure they have no chance of winning against open competition, but the SLMR rules are great equalizers. The SLMR shows get full fields every race paying just $1,200 to win. How many cars would show up for $3,000 to win?

Also with the MLRA, cut the number of events to no more than 24-20 would be even better. No time trials either-everything is passing points. And only the Show Me 100 and Silver Dollar Nationals would be co-sanctioned with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.

I don’t know that Matt agreed, but to me if there are 24 events, the driver’s point tally should be just his best 20 events. I think this would encourage drivers to make every event because it would mean throwing out up to four off nights.

Do I think anyone will listen to such ideas? No, but to me the person that came up with them is a helluva smarter than the people setting the rules now-and only one of those ideas was mine.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

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Silver Dollar Nationals vs. Prairie Dirt Classic-And The Winner Is: Race Fans

August 6, 2017 Leave a comment

I watched some of both nights of the Belleville Nationals. I was disappointed that a legendary event had only 24 cars in the pits. I am not into open wheel racing enough to comment on the obvious difference of opinion between USAC and POWRi, but there were 35 cars at the POWRi show in Peveley, Missouri.

One of last night’s heat races was supposed to start eight cars, started only six, and one car was black flagged for not maintaining a competitive speed. Five cars on the track at Belleville is simply ridiculous.

The grandstands at Belleville seemed full, but the pits certainly weren’t. For shame.

Earlier this week I mentioned I would do a blog on comparing fields at Late Model crown jewel events. I would rank the events as follows:

#1-The World 100 at Eldora.

#2-The Dream at Eldora

#3-The Knoxville Nationals

#4-Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury American Legion Speedway

#5-Silver Dollar Nationals at I-80 Speedway

#6-USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway

#7-Show Me 100 at Lucas Oil Speedway

#8-North/South 100 at Florence Speedway

Some might argue about #4-#8, and I admit there is room for argument. I am just going to compare the PDC and the SDN though.

Josh Richards was at the SDN, but not at the PDC. Bobby Pierce was at the PDC but not the SDN. Both have won major events. Richards is a multiple time WoO champion, while Pierce is a multiple time Hell Tour champion. Both are capable of winning any event they enter. I would give a slight nod to Richards and the SDN though as Richards does not make the too aggressive mistakes Pierce does.

Steve Francis was at the SDN, but not at the PDC. Rick Eckert was at the PDC, but not at the SDN. Francis is on the Lucas Oil tour, Eckert races with the World of Outlaws. Eckert has several wins this season, so a slight edge to the Eckert and the PDC.

Hudson O’Neal was at the SDN, Devin Moran was not. Moran was at the PDC, young O’Neal was at home. Both have plenty of potential. Moran does have a national tour win on his resume, so slight edge to Moran and the PDC.

Jimmy Mars was at the SDN, Shane Clanton was not. Shane Clanton was at the PDC, Mars stayed closer to home to race with WISSOTA. Both have big wins and Clanton is a former WoO champion. Mars is on the downhill slope of his career, Clanton is in his prime. Big edge to Clanton and the PDC.

Nebraska locals were at the SDN, Illinois locals were at the PDC. If 12 local Nebraska Late Model drivers were in a feature race with 12 local Illinois Late Model drivers, I believe the top half of the finishers would show far more Illinois drivers than those from the Cornhusker state. So talent wise the PDC comes out ahead of the SDN on local drivers involved, but also on numbers. There were 65 Late Models entered in the PDC, just over 50 in the SDN. To me, the big difference is the number of local drivers entered in each event.

That is just about the quality of the Late Model field. The USMTS Modifieds at the SDN are more talented as a group than the UMP Modifieds at the PDC. The USMTS does not time trial at the SDN and for some unknown to God or man reason, the UMP Modifieds do time trial at the PDC-a big waste of time in which a lot of the grandstands at FALS empty out.

There are multiple racing grooves during the feature races at both the SDN and PDC. Three wide racing is common. Both features are always exciting, and the reason I would give the nod to the PDC is that it is a smaller track and there is absolutely no let up to the action. It is simply insane for 100 laps. Perhaps some of that comes from being so close to the action-at the PDC we are close enough to be pelted with mud flying off cars entering turn three. At the SDN my left knees complains about the 47 steps I climb to my seat.

Anyway, while the PDC gets the nod over the SDN-just my opinion-BOTH are great races and the best back to back racing Late Model Specials period. Now if I could figure out how to post photos on Word Press I would show you a few Matt great overhead photos Matt sent me.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

A Final 1300 Words On The Silver Dollar Nationals

August 1, 2017 Leave a comment

Here are some thoughts from several others regarding the Silver Dollar Nationals a few weeks ago.

 

From Jim Hitzemann:

 

My take is always a little different as I am busy working with explosives and don’t get to watch a whole lot but the 80 lap feature which I did with Jimmy and Glenda Wyman and Jack McKee from the infield grandstand by the scale… I thought that O’Neal was going to pedal it to a victory but Shirley had a different plan and that damage to his car was enough to take the possibility away.  He must have gotten something else fixed when he went in the second time because he was coming late in the race…

 

McCreadie was the class of the field however and I don’t think that Bloomquist would have been able to catch him as it sounded as though he was lifting awful early and just kind of coasting around there after he would his get his half straightaway lead time and again.  Brandon Shepperd’s run from the butt was amazing, he just kept picking them off one by one…He and Richards were coming for a bit but Richards leveled off. Hudson O’Neal is going to be a heck of a shoe once he settles down a little, I’m sure there were several drivers that weren’t thrilled with some of the moves he made and he is lucky that Pearson Jr didn’t put him in the wall harder coming off of 4 when the race was getting to “go time”.   Overall a hell of a race with multiple grooves on the track very race able!!!!  The view from the backstretch amazes me as you see them come off of 2 and it is as when they really start biting they were wanting to head to the outside wall more than normal, which is something that I’m sure was a handful for some of them out there… Not sure but, I would guess that is from the track not slicking off as much as it usually does.

 

Fireworks central is located in the Steve McKee (Imperial Tile) and Al Belt campground on the backstretch.  Always have a fantastic time with them all and they treat me and my guys very well. Tons of people stop by so I get to see a lot of people that I don’t get to see with not going to I-80 much anymore.  I spent Friday night back there after my little bit of explosives that I had to do and agree wholeheartedly with you that it was a my kind of night.  Some of the heats were pretty good but I think not having any features for the USMTS kind of hurt the evening…. I think that if they are going to keep it that way they need to have another class there to run a full show.  Question is, what class would be best for that?   

 

Thursday was a pretty darn good night from what I got to watch but being so hot made it miserable… Don’t know that I have ever sweat that much while doing pyro.  Even standing in lot D at the phone booth setting up CWS or Home Run Derby…brutal

 

I know that I am going to take some crap for my premature explosion during the caution of the USMTS Feature and some things not going off after the Lucas race but, I know what happened now and trust me, that mistake won’t happen again if I can help it…. really embarrassing… almost as bad as causing a red flag for a corner on fire…. “Measure twice and cut once” falls right in line with what I do.  Hopefully everyone liked them and I hope that they have me back to redeem myself.

 

Got to meet Ryan Gustin after the dust all settled early Sunday morning… Very nice and respectful young man there!  He was ecstatic with the win and loves I-80.  He has a driving shoe for the money on that tour. Still don’t understand why no one has put him in a good Late Model to give him another shot.  Didn’t get to really follow him after the show he put on at the SDN a few years back so, I don’t know what the problem is there…but it seems to be a waste of some really smooth talent.

 

Don’t know if any of this will add to what you are doing for a follow up but, that is what I got.  Have a Great weekend!!! Hope all is well with your health wise as well!!!!!

 

 

 

From T-Mac, no, not the racer winner, another T-Mac:

Glad they got the show going on time Saturday.  Thursday and Friday dragged out entirely too long, especially for those of us who had to work Friday morning at 6:30.  An 8:00 start should mean cars are lined up and ready to roll out on the track at 7:59, not 20 minutes later.  I know they make money selling beer and tenderloins but don’t force me stay home and watch it on pay-per-viewer in the recliner where the weather is always perfect, the concessions are cheap and the bathroom is 10 feet away…

 

I really, really wish LOLMS would do away or at least minimize all the courtesy cautions for tires, helmet changes, etc.  It’s an 80-lap race, plan accordingly and run what you bolted on.  Having a great race stopped so some mid-packer or bad decision maker (see Don O’Neal) can change a tire or have a LOLMS official pull out bodywork is very frustrating to say the least.  We discussed this at length and if I ruled the world there would be no courtesy cautions for anyone after the race hits the midway point, no courtesy cautions at all for lapped cars (or about-to-be-lapped cars) and lone ranger rule in the feature for lapped cars.  At this level of the sport I expect to see a great, continuously flowing race, not a series of trophy dashes.  It was also very nice to see some of the more talented (and patient) local drivers rewarded with some respectable showings this weekend.

 

Having said all of that, the SDN is far and away the best weekend of the year for any late model fan.  If you didn’t like it, you need to turn in your fan card.  I don’t think anyone was unhappy to see Tim McCreadie win this race – he’s a very popular working-man kind of guy and he definitely had his car dialed in.  And Sheppard coming from 32nd to a close 2nd – that alone is the best advertisement for coming to the SDN.  Everyone at I-80 really does a great job with this show and it’s surprising how many fans come from a long way away just to see a star-studded show that’s not weighed down with b-mods, hornets and other assorted slow-moving, crash-happy weekly classes.  It does not need any changes, it does not need any extra classes, filler races or other stupid gimmicks.  It does not need any extra field-fillers that just become start-and-parkers or caution magnets and add nothing to the show besides a number.  This show is the cream of the crop on the perfect race track, no other track in the state could even come close to pulling this off.  Give us 3 hours of great racing with the best drivers in the country, awesome fireworks and a fully-stocked concession stand every night and we’ll be very happy to support it for years to come. 

From Anonymous:

Great A-Feature racing Saturday.  Kudos to whoever directed the show Saturday and made the early decision on order of events and on how things were going to be different on this aspect than years before.

I was also going to blog about the quality of fields at major Late Model events, but this post is long enough as is. I will save the quality of fields for another post.

Thanks for stopping by.