Archive for September, 2017

How Many Sprint Car Races Can Hold My Attention, Plus NASCAR Ratings Tank

September 25, 2017 Leave a comment

Though I didn’t leave home, I watched plenty of races this weekend. I watched sprint cars from Wheatland, Missouri and two Pennsylvania tracks, and five different IMCA divisions from Beatrice, Nebraska. Yes, I did do a lot of switching around-whenever there was a break in the action at one track I clicked on another. And yes, I got enough sprint car viewing to last me for the rest of 2017.

I have watched very little NASCAR this season. I simply have not been interested. Apparently I am not the only one. The Chicagoland race-first in the NASCAR play-offs-was down 14% in viewership from 2016, and 28% from 2015. It was the lowest rated Cup race at Chicagoland since the race was first televised in 2001.

Of the 26 Cup races through Chicago, 22 have posted declines in ratings and viewership. 21 of those races were at either an all-time or decades long low.  I am not enthused about Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon, Denny Hamlin, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., or Joey Logano winning races. I once thought Kyle Busch might be someone I could cheer for, especially after his terrible Daytona wreck. He seemed a changed man, more mature being married and having a son. Now it appears the old Kyle has regained control, and that is not someone I like. I am OK with Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Jimmy Johnson, and Kevin Harvick, but not so big a fan as to bother watching. In the end, like millions of others I tune out.

Not that long ago I never missed a NASCAR race, went every Sunday night to races at Sunset Speedway and then Nebraska Raceway Park, and when the NASCAR Busch All-Star Tour or the WDRL was not too far away, I went to specials too. Now, as I said, I don’t watch NASCAR. I try to avoid weekly shows as much as possible. I still enjoy going to specials, but I admit that it is the crown jewel events like the Silver Dollar Nationals, the Prairie Dirt Classic, and the Knoxville Late Model Nationals that really capture my attention.

I am sure this trend will continue in years to come as more and more of family free time will be taken up attending activities of my grandson Henry. We haven’t taken him to any races yet, and we really haven’t even considered it much. Baseball, basketball, swim lessons, running club all are time consumers. Would I rather watch a B-Mod B-Feature or watch Henry play ball? Yeah, that is a no-brainer for sure.

I suppose NASCAR can change and once again pique my interest. Of course it seems like they try a dozen new things every year and none of them work. Dirt track promoters could actually start on time, run fewer classes, get done at a reasonable hour, but I don’t see that happening either. So big time features it will be, along with remembering what once was. Sometimes change isn’t for the better.

Thanks for stopping by.





A Knoxville Wrap, Plus For Your Viewing Pleasure

September 19, 2017 Leave a comment

Before calling it a wrap on the 2017 Knoxville Nationals, I would like to make a not so bold prediction for 2018. Josh Richards will finally add a Knoxville victory to his impressive resume. I would say the track owes him one, but in reality it owes him more than one. Richards led much of Saturday’s 100 lapper only to be passed by Mike Marlar on lap 92 and tire trouble ended his night a few laps earlier. Last year Richards was running second and ran out of fuel, and the West Virginia driver does have four runner-up finishes at Knoxville. Yeah, snake bit, Heartbreak Hotel, or any other cliché for a tough loss you want to add.

The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series heads to Brownstown Speedway in Indiana for two shows this weekend. Richards continues to lead the series point standings, followed by Tim McCreadie and Scott Bloomquist.

The World of Outlaws late models have a three night swing through the nation’s heartland. On Friday night the outlaws will be at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City. On Saturday they venture into Oklahoma for a $10,000 to win show at Salina Highbanks Speedway. They finish the weekend with a Sunday night race at 81 Speedway near Wichita, Kansas. Brandon Sheppard holds a commanding lead in the series point battle, with Chris Madden and Shane Clanton trailing.

Lucas Oil Racing TV will show all three nights of the Jesse Hockett/Daniel McMillin Memorial from Wheatland Missouri, starting on Thursday. The Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars and the WAR Sprint Cars will be featured. Speed Shift TV has multiple events this weekend, starting with 410 Sprints from Susquehanna Speedway on Thursday then going to Williams Grove Speedway on Friday and Lincoln Speedway on Saturday for more winged wonder racing.

If sprint cars aren’t your thing, Speed Shift TV will also show the IMCA Septemberfest from Beatrice Speedway on Friday and Saturday. What will I be watching? Some of the sprints and some of the IMCA action, especially the IMCA stock cars.

Although the 2017 season is coming to an end, Speed Shift TV still has 27 nights of racing on its schedule. Lucas Oil Racing TV has 10 live events scheduled through November. And will be showing 11 nights of late models, including the season ending indoor Gateway Nationals in December. Yes, TROTD Speedway will be open for business no matter how cold the Nebraska weather may be.

Thanks for stopping by.




More Knoxville

September 18, 2017 Leave a comment

Yes, more Knoxville. Only two of the top ten WoO late model drivers were in Knoxville this weekend, Brandon Sheppard and Tyler Erb. Sheppard can race with anyone, anywhere, and Erb can wreck anytime, anywhere, but where were the rest of the WoO regulars. The series remains a national tour-it does travel across much of America-but a baseball comparison would be that the Lucas Oil series is Major League and the WoO is AAA.

As at Eldora for the World 100 and at FALS for the Prairie Dirt Classic, there was a large contingent of local drivers at Knoxville. I hate to admit it, being far less than a fan of the brothers, but Chad and Chris Simpson are really the only Iowa drivers that can seriously compete with national caliber drivers. Chad was 26th and Chris was 11th in Saturday’s feature.

Saturday’s rain made for a blazing fast track. It also made for lots of tire trouble. Rain or no rain, if the feature is to remain 100 laps, I think that in addition to a fuel stop on lap 51, that the stop can include changes that can be done in 10 minutes, such as tires. If this rule had been in effect, the outcome of the race would have been different. Yeah, I am saying this as a Jonathan Davenport fan, and the opposite argument is such a rule penalizes drivers who have not been as hard on their equipment.

Davenport has had a profitable three weeks, earning $25,000 at the Hillbilly 100, $50,000 at the World 100, and collecting 2nd place money of $20,000 at Knoxville. Of course with the nearly obscene cost of running nationally, weekends like those are needed. More on Davenport later.

In an interview last weekend, veteran Steve Francis hinted at retirement, suggesting that technology had taken the fun out of racing for him. Matt and I had talked about Francis on the drive over, not realizing he was considering retirement, and wondering just what he might do after his driving career was over. Francis just turned 50, and for those not in sports, that is a long way from retirement. With the cost of racing I wonder how much money the Hall of Famer has been able to save over the years.

Maybe it was because I was riding the elevator this weekend with lots of “old” people, but it seemed like the number of old people at the race far outnumbered the young people. Matt had an interesting idea about how to engage the very young. What driver might appeal to the very young like Mike Duvall did with his Flintstone Flyer? How about Superman, Jonathan Davenport? Matt bought Henry a Jonathan Davenport Superman t-shirt, his first dirt racing t-shirt, and Davenport has a way about him that I kids would love if they got close to him. Think of M & M’s sponsoring Davenport and kids visiting his trailer after a race getting a small bag of the candy treat.

If you want to involve teens more, Hudson O’Neal would be a perfect spokesman. His demeanor is that of a typical 17 year old, but he is an incredibly talented driver and for someone that young is quite polished when interviewed. He would be a great spokesperson for some company. What do teens love? Other than their phone? Or maybe he could have some smart phone for a sponsor.

At the NSCHoF program on Friday, the young O’Neal was asked about going NASCAR racing. Anymore talent is not enough. You have to show them the money, bringing big sponsorship dollars with you. That is a shame because there are plenty of young dirt car drivers with just as much-even more-talent than drivers on any of the top NASCAR circuits.

As far as young talent in dirt late model racing, I am less concerned about the future than I was several years ago. Brandon Sheppard in the Rocket house car has been amazing this year. Though I am not a big fan, Bobby Pierce has won a number of crown jewel events in little over a year. Devin Moran has won some races, and as I said, Hudson O’Neal is very talented. There are others too. Hopefully there will still be a sport for them to showcase their talents ten years from now.

I had not said much about Mike Marlar winning back to back Knoxville Nationals 100 lap races, but that really is a fete. Good equipment well prepared, talent, and luck is often not enough to accomplish what Marlar did, so two thumbs up to the driver from Tennessee.

Knoxville might be the last race I attend this season, though there are still plenty of races to watch on the computer. I guess Beatrice this weekend is a possibility, but I can watch it at home on Speed Shift TV. The Fall Brawl or Cornhusker Classic at I-80 are still to be run, but neither really grabs my attention. Matt has discussed going to Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City in October for World of Outlaw sprint cars. Ouch. Maybe. Or go to Kansas Speedway for NASCAR practice during the day and then to Lakeside. We’ll see.

Anyway if Knoxville was my last race of the season, it was very enjoyable. And next year maybe I will try one of the $10 ribeye steak sandwiches one of the midway vendors has for sale.

Thanks for stopping by.





September 17, 2017 Leave a comment

After spending two nights at the track watching preliminary events and tuning into Lucas Oil Racing TV last night for the Knoxville Late Model Nationals finale, I have lots of thoughts, in no particular order.

Well, no particular order except the first thing I have to do is thank my son Matt for his thoughtfulness. My left knee is shot, getting worse every day, and I am having it replaced in early November. Our tickets for Thursday and Friday at Knoxville were in row 27-meaning a climb of 16 steps just to get to the grandstands, and then of 54 more steps without a rail to get to where our seats were. The thought of climbing all those steps, most without a rail was daunting, and the thought of coming back down to the ground was scary. However, Matt emailed the track and was able to get an elevator pass for us-meaning we were able to ride the track elevator to the top of the grandstands. We did have to climb down 13 rows, or 26 steps, but for some reason the track had aisle rails from row 40 down to row 26, so I had no fear of falling. This really gave me some peace of mind, and I greatly appreciated it.

-On Thursday we were sitting in our seats before the race, the sun was shining and it was about 90 out. And then it began to rain. It only rained for about 15 minutes, but that was enough to set back Thursday starting time by not quite an hour. Matt looked at a weather app on his phone and it appeared the only rain anywhere in Iowa was right over Knoxville.

-Jonathan Davenport had a near perfect point night on Thursday. He was second fast in time trials, won his heat, and finished 3rd in the feature, garnering 494 points. Mike Marlar did have a perfect point night on Friday, setting fast time, winning his heat, and finishing 1st in the feature, all in a back-up car. Davenport and Marlar made up the front row of Saturday’s feature.

-Brandon Sheppard started 22nd in Thursday’s feature and moved all the way to 4th at the finish.

-Jimmy Mars was the only driver to appear in all previous Knoxville Nationals 100 lap features, and he made it again this year, finishing 4th on Saturday night.

-Billy Moyer had nothing but woes this weekend, starting with scaling light after his Thursday night heat, and finishing 52nd out of 56 drivers in points that night. Friday was just as bad as a wreck on the last lap of the B feature kept him out of the second preliminary feature and ended up making the field for Saturday virtually impossible. Moyer did not race Saturday. I do hope he will be back next year, as this would be a said end to his racing in Iowa.

-This has nothing to do with Knoxville, but my 6 year old kindergarten grandson ran all 35 laps around a 1/16th mile track at his school’s PTA fundraiser. I had said on Facebook that I was sure he would go the distance, and he did not even stop for a water break, he wanted to finish before he drank any water. Yes, grandpa is very proud of Henry.

-Back to Knoxville. There were only 56 cars on hand for the Thursday program and it was down to 51 on Friday. I don’t mind that at all because all the drivers I wanted to watch were on hand. This car count was fairly typical of the count at other major races, except for Eldora.

-Even though I am not a great sprint car fan, I do enjoy visiting the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame, which is just off turn two of Knoxville Raceway. The featured display at the museum was on Sammy Swindell and it was quite interesting-a number of cars, plus a touch screen that gave information on various aspects of Swindell’s career. Good stuff.

-I have enjoyed the Friday morning programs at NSCHoF in the past, and this year was no different. Commentator Dave Argabright interviewed drivers Don O’Neal and his 17 year old son Hudson. I have always enjoyed the elder O’Neal, and the youngster is not only a talented driver, but is well-spoken too.

-We have a Friday tradition in Knoxville. Matt and I have lunch at the Pizza Hut with Tony Anville and Lee Ackerman. When we got there O’Neal and his wife and Hudson had just arrived. Matt and I were able to talk with them for a moment, and I told the proud dad that with drivers like his son, the future of dirt late model racing was bright.

-Track prep at Knoxville is second to none. If only every track would put that much effort into preparing the racing surface for a program.

-With a grandstand that holds 20,000 people, even stands that are half full hide how many people are there. There must be enough in the stands so the track makes some money, because if it was a loser I am sure there would be no more Knoxville Late Model Nationals.

-Matt and I had talked of staying for all three nights of racing, going home after Saturday’s 100 lap feature. With the L-O-N-G rain delay, I am glad we decided to go home early on Saturday and watch on Lucas Oil Racing TV. If we had stayed, we would not have left Knoxville until 12:30 a.m. and arrived home around 3:30 a.m. Instead I was in bed shortly after midnight. Plus the TROTD Speedway concessions served birthday cake and ice cream, and I know Knoxville would not have served birthday cake, at least not my birthday cake.

-We already have our reservations at the Cobblestone Hotel for 2018. And they are for three days Tony. Of course that could change over the next year. Just like the Knoxville Sprint Nationals is for sprint car fans, the Knoxville Late Model Nationals should be on the bucket list of every late model fan.

I am sure I am missing something-oh yeah, Mike Marlar became the first back to back winner of the event-and if I did, I will write more tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by.


Knoxville? I’ll Go With Bloomquist Again

September 14, 2017 Leave a comment

In a few hours Matt and I will be heading east to Knoxville for 14th Annual Lucas Oil Late Model Nationals. The Thursday and Friday preliminary nights will include time trials, 6 heats, a D Main, C Main, B Main, and the A Feature.

The invert is a key at Knoxville. The fastest cars in time trials will start heat races 8th on the starting grid. Only four will qualify for the A feature from the heats. The rest will have to go through consolation races. And no, it is not easy at Knoxville to move up that many spots in a heat race.

If a driver has to race in a consolation race, the best he can start in the feature is 25th.  The preliminary features are just 25 laps, so achieving a good finish in the A feature would be very difficult. And since Saturday’s starting grid is determined by points, a bad night on Thursday puts a lot of pressure on the entire team to have a good Friday night.

Even if you time trial well and qualify well in the heats you can end up with a mediocre point night because the top 8 qualifiers are inverted in the feature. To start on the pole for Saturday’s 100 lap feature is quite an achievement.

So, who am I going to predict to finish first this weekend-aka who will I jinx this weekend? I did a good job of jinxing Bloomquist last weekend as he had a poor-for him-World 100. Since I am not a big fan of the Zero car and driver, and since I enjoy irritating my friend Tony, I will put the jinx on Bloomquist again this weekend. You can bet the Hall of Famer will not want two mediocre weekends in a row. I am betting his best preliminary night will be Friday though.

Other possibilities? The Rocketeers Brandon Sheppard and Josh Richards can’t be counted out. Darrell Lanigan had a great World 100 weekend with two preliminary feature wins and a top five in the Saturday race. Will Jonathan Davenport be Clark Kent or Superman this weekend? Mike Marlar had a good World 100 weekend with top five finishes in all three races, plus he is the defending Knoxville Nationals champion. Bobby Pierce? I am thinking not, but he has won other races where I thought he didn’t have a chance. A sentimental favorite would have to be 60 year old Iowa native Billy Moyer. Like many fans, I wonder if this will be his last Knoxville event.

So who will it be? Of all those I mentioned, I would most like Davenport to win Saturday’s 100 lapper. But I will go with Bloomquist. If he wins I can say I picked him. If he does badly, half the fans will thank me for jinxing him.

Again, if you can’t head to Knoxville, will show the Thursday and Friday preliminary nights and Lucas Oil Racing TV will show Saturday’s racing. Go to their sites for details.

Thanks for stopping by.



Knoxville Nationals-No, Not The Winged Wonders, Real Race Cars

September 13, 2017 Leave a comment

Like the World 100, the Knoxville Nationals reads like a Who’s Who of dirt late model drivers with a solid group of locals added. Like Eldora, Knoxville track prep is first rate. The campgrounds will be full in Knoxville, and there is a plethora of golf carts and 4-wheelers clogging streets. The winner’s share of the 50-50 raffle at Knoxville won’t be in the $25,000-$35,000 range, but it will still be substantial. The Knoxville grandstands won’t host 20,000 be this weekend, but they should. This is definitely a crown jewel event.

Like the World 100, except for hot laps, every time a car is on the race track it is earning points. At Knoxville, only the best preliminary point night counts-I like that, and the points don’t determine starting spots in Saturday heats, they determine starting spots in the various features. I like that too. That is a just reward for a good effort.

I also like the Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series method of time trials. Well, if there has to be time trials, I like it. The field is divided in half and a driver’s best lap time is compared only with drivers in that half. I do wish a provision was added that would divide the top 20 drivers in Lucas Oil points so heats don’t become “top heavy.” Too many times I will watch a heat that is almost like the line-up of a feature, but the next heat will be what I call a “bozo heat,” full of drivers that would be more adept at racing locally than in a national event.

Having the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame adjacent to the track is something I enjoy. I will take a quick trip through the displays and head to the souvenir shop to buy a book or two. The programs are always fun to attend, and if it is hot, well, the theater is a good place to rest and take a nap.

The food at Pizza Hut is Pizza Hut food, but on Friday it is location, location, location. Matt, Lee, Tony, maybe Joe, and I will gather around a table and tell lies and eat pizza. I am not sure how I get stuck with the bill given I am the poorest in that group.

Later, we will head to Slideways Karting, just north of Knoxville. Matt and Tony will race-more like bumper cars for them, and I have always watched. In the immortal words of Sgt. Hulka, “I’m too old for this shit.” I hear a miniature golf course has been added to the site, so that I may do.

We’ll breakfast at the Hy-Vee store across from the track, but more importantly, we will park there as well, helping the Knoxville Boy Scout troop to raise funds. We do, but so do race fans from about a dozen states. When the race is over we can take a side street for about 8 blocks and miss all the congestion. Matt learned his logistics from an expert.

This is a great road trip. The conversation is always good, especially when we talk about my grandson. It only takes about 3 hours to get to Knoxville, and all but about 40 miles are divided highway. All the drivers we want to see will be on hand. The racing is great. The atmosphere is great. All the side events are great. I only have one complaint, and that is because of my soon to be replaced left knee. Aisle rails are needed.

Since Lucas Oil Racing TV is showing Saturday’s action, Matt and I are just going for the Thursday and Friday prelims. It should be a great time.

Thanks for stopping by.






Mike Duvall-Racing Legend, Good And Decent Man

September 12, 2017 Leave a comment

National Dirt Late Model Hall of Famer Mike Duvall has passed away at age 68. Duvall drove the famed Flintstone Flyer, and was a fan favorite. He was the 1982 World 100 winner, a champion in the NDRA-National Dirt Racing Association, and won over 700 features in a career that spanned four decades. Duvall had been suffering from a number of health issues and had been under medical care for much of 2017.

Matt and I met Duvall when we attended his racing school for a Dirt Late Model article I wrote. He was a good and decent man and a man who lived his faith. Below is the article on I wrote on Duvall.


Appeared in Dirt Late Model magazine.  Similar articles appeared in Hawkeye Racing News and Motorsports Weekly.

Duvall’s Racing School Cowpens, South Carolina was a hot bed of area racing March 11th and 12th. Just like it was every weekend in March.  Say what? Cow where? Cowpens, South Carolina-site of a famous Revolutionary War battle, though drivers and crew from around the country are there for another reason-the Mike Duvall Racing School.

American businesses spend countless millions of dollars on continuing education for their employees. Sports camps for our youth have become big business too. So, why not a school to help grass roots racers improve their skills, both driving and preparing a race car? Thousands of late model, modified, and stock car drivers could benefit from a few days at Dirt University.

The Mike Duvall Racing School has a faculty of one. But oh the credentials this teacher possesses. Hall of Famer. 35 years behind the wheel of a race car. Over 1,000 wins-including the checkered flag every late model driver would love to post on their resume, the World 100. But just as important as Duvall’s talent and experience is his patience, AND a genuine desire to see his pupils improve. His goal is for students to “learn more in two days than in five years just driving. I’ll show you the way I do it, and ask you to give me a month when you go home.”

Normally the racing school’s Friday eight hours are spent in class at the Flintstone Flyer shop, with track time on Saturday. However, weather can change the school’s schedule quickly.  Friday March 11th

Arriving at Duvall’s rural Carolina shop, we learned Saturday’s forecast called for rain, so drivers would be hitting the track a day early. A schedule was quickly set up, and an unlikely caravan of several haulers and a hoard of rental cars snaked its way north on I-85 for 49 miles to the Carolina Speedway, near Gastonia. The sky was a Carolina Tar Heel blue, and though it was a little breezy, it was quite comfortable for a mid-March morning.

One look at the track, and it was obvious this Midwestern boy was no longer in Nebraska. Red dirt, what is this? North Carolina red clay. Duvall leases Carolina Speedway for the day, and it had been watered and several vehicles were already packing the track when we arrived. Duvall jumped into the water truck to help finish track prep, while his crew unloaded the haulers, making ready for a long day at the track.

The school uses three cars at the track, a street stock Camaro, an IMCA legal modified, and a late model. All are two seaters, and are radio equipped so Duvall can converse with drivers. The track is set up with two cones entering a turn, a cone in the middle of the corner, and a cone exiting the turn to show drivers a preferred lane to run, as well as areas of acceleration, braking, and coasting.

Ads for the school state that drivers will learn how to drive on dirt tracks, how to enter and exit a corner, how to pick up the gas pedal with your foot, how to feel the bite in a race car, how to make changes in a race car, and how to be comfortable in a race car. Maybe the ad should simply say “you will learn to obey your right foot.” Or, it could say “I am going teach you how to be a smooth driver.”  Be smooth was a phrase heard countless times during the day, and if drivers garnered only one tidbit of knowledge during the weekend, it was “before you can be fast, you have to be smooth.”

Duvall showed he is a true racer this day. Less than two months after major surgery to repair bulging discs in his neck, he was back in a race car-actually it was the third school he had conducted since his surgery. Anyway, crawling in and out of three different race cars when you are still rehabilitating from surgery can’t be a lot of fun. And though it might not have been racing, Duvall drove or rode 200 laps, taking the pounding all drivers do on a dirt oval. 

Drivers run three separate on track sessions, the first riding with Duvall as he shows them how to maneuver the course. Duvall rides with each driver during the second on track session. “They need to show me they can do the job,” states Duvall. “When they do, we pick up the pace some.” And finally, the driver is on his own for the third session. Well, not exactly on his own. Duvall watches each lap closely and communicates his suggestions via radio, not caring that he is Hall of Famer Mike Duvall, only that he possesses experience he can pass on to those who want to learn. 

With three sessions for 8 drivers, and the Flintstone Flyer crew making several changes to the car for each driver during the final session, it is a very long day at the track.  

Not only drivers participate in the Duvall school.  Duvall also encourages crew members to attend the school, so their fee is half the driver tuition. “If the driver and crew can’t communicate what is wrong with a car, how can they fix it,” is a common sense Duvall theory.

A diverse group, different expectations, yet each had one main purpose in mind to learn racing from a master. The smiles of many exiting a car after an on track session, overwhelmed the frowns of a few who wanted to go faster, while Duvall was searching for smooth. The desire of the drivers to drive, to learn, even bettered some strange southeast weather.  Driver changes, car changes, weather changes, it was quite dark when we left the race track near Gastonia. 

Watching one car on the track for 8 hours can test the patience of even the biggest of race fans. Meeting the drivers and crew, talking racing, made the long day go faster-though aching feet and knees said otherwise.  Saturday March 12th

Psst-don’t tell the drivers and crew. We’re talking physics and geometry but they think it’s just racin’. Who would want to spend eight hours talking geometry? BUT, the class room hours are equally as important as the on track hours at the Duvall school. There aren’t many drivers who can run fast in an ill handling race car. So, set up is critical to success.

Every student receives a 24 page booklet that ought to be titled “35 Years Setting Up a Race Car.” Repeating his ad won’t divulge any of Duvall’s secrets, so during this session drivers and crew learned chassis set-up, shocks and springs, wheels and tires, percentages, ride height, toe in/toe out, caster and camber, stagger, how to loosen and tighten a race car, and how to maintain a race car. A huge amount of knowledge to be passed on in a few short hours. Most sessions find questions still being asked long after the clock says eight hours have gone by. But showing the same patience as on the track, Duvall answers each to the satisfaction of the participant. 

It is not my intent to pass along free what others pay hard earned money to learn. If you want to find out Duvall’s 12 steps on setting up a race car, you are going to have to attend the class. If you want to read his two pages of driving tips, you are simply going to have to make the pilgrimage to the rural Cowpens shop of this racing legend. The class is not this year’s gimmick that promises you drastically improved performance. It has been around for many years, and boasts hundreds of graduates. Mike Duvall’s methods are tried and true, proven on dirt tracks throughout the southeast. His class is an investment. An investment in yourself that will pay on track dividends for years to come. 

Sidebar: Racing’s Mecca

Many racers will fly into Charlotte, NC and make the hour drive south on I-85.   The Charlotte airport is relatively painless to decipher. Car rentals are a little cheaper than most bigger cities, and reasonable hotels are available along the interstate highway, in Gaffney and Spartanburg, both near Cowpens.

A trip to the Charlotte area would not be complete without playing Nextel Cup tourist. Lowe’s Motor Speedway-Humpy’s Palace of Speed-is an amazing facility two miles off I-85 near Concord. Tours are given several times daily, and the track’s souvenir shop is a must visit. 

Most Nextel Cup race shops are in the Charlotte area. Barely a mile from LMS is the Hendrick Motorsports complex, including a museum. While access is limited to certain areas in each shop, the only off limits building in the complex is the engine shop. Even if you are not a Jeff Gordon or Jimmy Johnson fan this is also a must stop.

Check race team web sites for shop locations and directions. Or go to the Charlotte Tourism site and click on NASCAR shops to find more info.

There are also several dirt tracks in the Charlotte area. The Dirt Track at Lowe’s, Carolina Speedway in Gastonia, and Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney are several. Tie in the school with the Nextel tours, and a dirt track visit by the Southern All-Stars or WoO, and you have a racer’s dream vacation.

Rest in peace Mike. And thank you for stopping by.



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