Archive

Author Archive

The Bad, The Ugly, And FINALLY The Good of Knoxville 2018

September 16, 2018 1 comment

I got home from Knoxville, Iowa about 2:30 a.m. I took notes all three days of the Knoxville Late Model Nationals to do this blog. So—–

First a bitch. This applies to not just the Marion County Fair Board, but to all venues. People start lying up to enter the facility long before the announced opening time for the gate. On a day when it is very hot-or in the case of the Boys State Basketball Tournament, very cold, what would it hurt to allow people to enter the place? Concessions don’t have to be open, just allow them to enter and sit down.

Knoxville provides a service I do appreciate-an elevator to the upper grandstand level for those who would have difficulty climbing steps. Before I had my knee replacement surgery, it would have been impossible for me to handle the steps. Now it is just not a lot of fun. I took the elevator up all three days of the Nationals, so I did not have to walk up 71, 73, or 65 steps. I did not particularly enjoy walking down the steps, though I did. So, I do appreciate the service.

HOWEVER, there is a limited number of people who can ride each trip on the one and only elevator, and there are many who want to ride it. Matt kept a place for me in line for 45 minutes each day-thank you Matt, standing that long on the cement surface under the grandstands would not have been kind to my knee that hasn’t been replaced. Matt handled that, BUT there were people standing in line with him that should not have been kept waiting that long. When I got in line on Saturday, there were two people in wheel chairs, one man on crutches, and many people with canes standing in line. What would it possibly hurt to allow these people early entry into the facility? And if the line was lengthy for the Late Model Nationals, it must be far longer for the 410 Sprint Car Nationals.

Second bitch. The Knoxville hotels do a mini-NASCAR re’ room rates. I checked the rates at the hotel we stayed at. On a weekend with no race at the big track, the nightly rates were $50 cheaper than what we paid. Maybe we need to get a hotel somewhere else-Pella is a lovely place, only 14 miles away, though the road in between the towns is not great for late night driving.

Now, a miracle. For my birthday, my friend Tony-not at all known for his generosity-took Matt and me for lunch at the Sports Page Bar & Grill in Pella. Yeah, Lee Ackerman, he really did. And after we ate he drove us downtown to the famous Jaarsma Bakery, parked right in front, and proceeded to buy us whatever we wanted-for me, that was a Pecan Roll, and a Red Velvet Birthday Cup Cake. I was shocked. And want everyone to know that the auditor in Lincoln being written about in the Omaha World-Herald, the one with long bar lunches and short work days is NOT Tony. That is State Auditor Charlie Janssen and in any other state he would already have been forced to resign.

Now, odds and ends from my notes. Two comments I made before any races on Thursday. First was that Josh Richards was going to win Saturday’s feature. Second was that the place reeks of professionalism that about 95% of the dirt tracks in America don’t have. By late Friday I was sorry I made either of those statements. Richards struggled on both preliminary nights, having to run the B feature each night. And like Bobby Pierce, I was NOT overwhelmed with track prep on either Thursday or Friday.

On a heavy track that is very difficult to pass on, the Knoxville qualifying procedure penalizes fast cars and greatly benefits drivers who put up a mediocre time in time trials-in this case read Iowa IMCA drivers. The fast drivers start 7th or 8th in heats, the slower drivers 1st or 2nd because of the qualifying invert. It becomes terribly difficult for these drivers to pass the 3 or 4 cars they need to pass to make the A feature and they end up running in a B, and if they manage to be one of the drivers from the B who do qualify for the feature, they start at the back of the grid. One big thumbs down. I can’t say it makes me very happy to spend over $100 for reserved seats to watch Iowa IMCA drivers start in the front of features and national drivers further back. If I wanted to watch Iowa IMCA drivers that bad, I could go to Marshalltown-no knock on that track, it is actually one I still hope to visit. Just saying I don’t like the qualifying format, which is far too much like the one used for sprint cars.

I am not the only one who didn’t like track conditions for the preliminaries. Bobby Pierce openly complained about how wet the track was on Friday night. Yeah, I know that Brandon Sheppard won the B on Friday night, started 19th in the A and won it too. The exception that proves the rule. If the format has to be time trials and inverted heats, I would rather see the top 6 inverted instead of the top 8. Actually, I would rather see them do away with time trials and go to the two heat format used in the Silver Dollar Nationals and North-South 100. I do like that points from the two preliminary nights are not combined, rather the best night of points determines who is locked into Saturday’s feature.

Random thoughts:

-The economic impact this track has on Knoxville has to be unreal. Hy-Vee and the two Casey’s have to be thrilled when the big shows come to Knoxville Raceway. Same with the hotels, camp ground, and nearby restaurants.

-We saw at least 20 Nebraskans at the track, and that was before the first race on Thursday.

-I like Casey’s pizza. To me it tastes a lot like North Beach Pizza in San Francisco, and that is my favorite.

-Thanks to my son Matt for all he did Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. He is the logistics KING and all I have to do is show up.

-Hall of Famer Jimmy Mars is the only driver who made all 14 previous Saturday night features at the Nationals. And he made it 15 in a row this year.

-9 past winners were on hand, though 2016 and 2017 winner Mike Marlar was not, apparently due to mechanical issues on his car from the previous week.

-Brian Birkhofer was on hand, running the #30 car owned by Jason Rauen. Hopefully we will see more of Birky in 2019-like at the Silver Dollar Nationals.

-There were 57 late models on had Thursday and 56 late models signed in for Friday racing.

-Scott Bloomquist set fast time on both preliminary nights.

-Matt toured the Bryan Clauson Suites on Thursday. For a mere $25,000 you can lease a suite for an entire season. Oh wait, no you can’t. They are sold out.

-We went to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame on Friday, mainly for the Josh Richards session, but also to see the Bryan Clauson display. The display was fantastic, especially the videos.

-Sexagenarian Billy Moyer had a fast car on Thursday. He was looking good in his heat, had moved into second place, and then blew a brand new motor. He was able to replace it on Friday and did well enough that night to lock into a starting position in Saturday’s feature. It seems like the “retired’ Moyer has run more this year than he did before he “retired.”

-Josh Richards is well-spoken and his program at the NSCHoF was really good. I think that more and more the top dirt late model drivers are as well-spoken as 99% of the NASCAR drivers, and are certainly more approachable.

I no longer have any desire to go to weekly shows, something I did week after week, season after season for many years. I now only want to go to specials, and then only to ones I truly consider to be special-and regular weekly classes with a raised purse is not special to me.

I only went to a track 10 times this season. I did watch many events on the computer, especially the USAC Midget and Sprint Car shows on Speed Shift TV. I am not sitting in the heat or cold, not eating dust, not getting rained on, and can leave the computer any time I want to do something else. Many times I watched hot laps, time trials, and heats and then turned off the computer and did something else. I enjoyed the time I spent watching races from track I will never visit, but just as much enjoyed that I could leave at any time.

Plus when I am at home watching, I do not have to listen to drunk, stupid, foul-mouthed “fans” like I do at the track. I can handle drunk, I can handle stupid, I can handle foul-mouthed, it is when it is all three that I start wanting to do an Anville on those people.

Back to the track:

-Yes, Brandon Sheppard won both the B and A features on Saturday, but without plenty of cautions, I don’t think he would have won the A. If it was hockey, Austin Rettig would have been credited with at least two assists helping Sheppard reach his goal. Maybe three.

-Darrell Lanigan and Dennis Erb Jr. did not have good weekends. Neither qualified for a preliminary A feature. Both had to run the Saturday B feature to qualify for the 100 lap main event. Erb finished 12th and Lanigan 16th in the feature.

-Bobby Pierce is worth the price of admission. He seems to get himself in qualifying jams and ends up starting far back on the feature grid, but then moves to the front plenty fast. He started 22nd on Saturday, briefly led, jumped the cushion coming out of turn two and dropped back to second, got involved in a racing deal with Don O’Neal and ended up 7th. After struggling all weekend, Josh Richards ended with a podium finish in the big money feature. To me it was great seeing veterans finish first and second in Knoxville, with O’Neal claiming the runner-up spot and Jimmy Owens getting the win.

-The SLMR invitational was a success. I was afraid it might not work out well, but the racing was good, and the finish between Kyle Berck and Todd Pospisil was outstanding. It has been a LONG time since I saw cars bump 4 times coming out of the final turn, heading for the checkered flag. Definitely invite the series back next year. Maybe they were used to fill out an otherwise short evening of racing, but they were darn good filling.  I enjoyed watching Andrew Kosiski finish 3rd in the SLMR feature. There were laps he ran so well it reminded me of his dad in the 53 car.

-Saturday’s 100 lapper was great, with the best dirt late model drivers in the country doing what they do best. Yes, I do want this on Thursday and Friday too-like I said with 3 nights reserved tickets costing more than $100 I believe it is up to the speedway to prepare a track where this happens. I would give Thursday night a C-. Friday was a C. Saturday was a B+. So, while I was disappointed in the prelims, Saturday will get me to go back again in 2019.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

P.S. While I enjoyed the trip to Knoxville, especially Saturday night, I did miss my grandson’s second ever flag football game. As he did last week, he ran 50 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the game. He followed that up running 10 yards for a 2 point conversion. Later he threw a pass to his buddy Dane for another 2 point conversion, and late in the game intercepted a pass and ran it back for another touchdown. Yeah, WOW.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Prairie Dirt Classic-A BIG Thank You

July 30, 2018 Leave a comment

I didn’t include this in yesterday’s blog post because I thought it deserved attention on its own. This is my thank you to my son Matt for all he did to make our Fairbury trip special-which was pretty much everything.

-He reserved out seats at FALS. This is not as easy to do as it sounds, with the tremendous demand for tickets for the Prairie Dirt Classic. Still, he managed to get great tickets, AND as long as we continue to reserve them each year, they are our seats.

-He reserved a rental car and drove from Midway Airport in Chicago to FALS and back to the airport. My only task was paying for half of the rental fee, BUT I got to sit back, enjoy the ride, plus I learned new ways to group certain words as Chicago drivers acted nutty per Matt.

-He reserved our hotel room, checked in before we headed to FALS, and checked out when we left Sunday morning. Again, all I had to do was pay half of the charge. Matt even got up first to shower at 7:00 a.m., even though we didn’t get back to the hotel until 1:00 a.m.

-He ordered pop, water, ice, and a Styrofoam cooler that he picked up at Dave’s Grocery in downtown Fairbury. We all know that race track concessions are outrageous. 

-He has introduced me to some interesting and well known people who make a living from dirt late model racing-no, not drivers, but others important to the sport. They know he is a serious and knowledgeable fan. Yeah, he knows drivers too, but I usually don’t go into the pits.

-More than once he got concessions for me.

-At Midway Airport Matt took one of my bags-I have a CPAP machine, plus my wife insisted I pack for a week, even though we were staying only one night. Of course it could have been that he thought I was going too slowly, but no matter what I appreciated it-that damn airport has a lot of walking to it.

-He got us to the airport in time to switch flights yesterday. The flight we had booked was going to be delayed, but we managed to switch to an earlier flight. We got home before our original flight even left Chicago.

-More than anything, I enjoy talking racing with Matt. He knows more about the sport than 99% of the people involved, and quite frankly is smarter than any promoter I know. Dirt track racing would be far better if someone found a niche for Matt to fill.

And he is well versed on college sports, another road trip topic, and of course he is always willing to talk with me about my favorite subject, my grandson Henry.

He does similar things for the Silver Dollar Nationals, the Knoxville Late Model Nationals, and every other race or University of Nebraska sports event we attend. He makes going easy for me. I do not tell him often enough how much I appreciate all he does, but I do appreciate it more than he could ever know.

Thank you Matt.

P.S. Our next big event is the Knoxville Late Model Nationals in September, but I am ready to head back to Fairbury, dust and all.

 

 

 

Young Moran Captures Biggest Win-The PDC At FALS.

July 29, 2018 Leave a comment

Matt and I took a flying trip to Fairbury, Illinois yesterday. Flying, in every sense of the word. Yes, several airplanes were involved-Southwest 7377’s from Omaha to Chicago Midway and back, and a rental car (driven by Matt made a fast trek down I-57 and U.S. 24 to Fairbury American Legion Speedway for the 29th annual Prairie Dirt Classic.

Normally, well, that would be the two other times we went to the PDC, we would leave on Thursday and drive the 500 miles to the Illinois town not far from Bloomington. This year though because of my new job I could not leave on Thursday. Yes, I do know I have had a number of jobs since I wised up and left the one I held for 29 years. I am just doing temporary gigs now, and my current job is my fifth such position, working anywhere from a month to a year.

Anyway, though we don’t have deep pockets like our favorite auditor, we discovered this was the way to go. From the time we left my house until I got home, I was gone just 33 2/2 hours. The drive from Midway to FALS is a piece of cake, although Matt considers Chicago drivers to be rude (that is my translation of what he actually said a number of times). The Omaha-Chicago flight is a short one and Midway is not a difficult airport to navigate. We stayed overnight at Pontiac, which is about 25 miles from FALS and on I-57.

A jumble of thoughts:

-4 drivers we thought might be there were missing in action, Scott Bloomquist, Darrell Lanigan, Josh Richards, and Tim McCredie. Lanigan is not having a Darrell Lanigan type season and since the Lucas Oil series is off for two weeks he might have headed home to regroup. Josh Richards had two cars to rebuild after the Silver Dollar Nationals last week. Tim McCreadie went home to race a big block modified. Oh, and the sport’s drama queen Bloomquist was banned from the race for the second time in three years.

-I have wondered why the track runs the PDC under a WoO sanction, but as long as the Lucas Oil Series does not schedule against this race it is a good idea. Obviously the PDC gets all the WoO regulars, a goodly number of national drivers like Billy Moyer and Shannon Babb, a fairly stout group of locals, and 6-10 Lucas Oil regulars. No way do the WoO regulars show up in those kinds of numbers if the Lucas Oil series sanctioned the event. 61 late models were on hand.

-There were also 61 modifieds on hand for the PDC. I realize you can never get rid of these cars, but here is an ID. Run modified time trials and heats on Thursday, along with practice sessions for late models drivers. You have hundreds of RV’s and campers surrounding the track from Wednesday on, so this could be a new income source for the track. You get pit passes from mods and late model teams and aren’t paying out a penny that night. I am sure MANY fans would wander over to the track to watch. On Friday run modified last chance races and the championship feature. Since promoters seems to equate number of races with how much admission they can charge, have a $2,000 to win modified invitational on Saturday night. The top 24 in Friday’s feature will race in one of two heats on Saturday and then in a 25 laps feature.

I say this because the last chance modified races are at the very least an irritation, and border on a joke. In the first two modified last chance races on Saturday, there were 11 cautions. Friday’s program as I described above would not be longer than previous Friday programs because time trials are eliminated. Saturday’s program would be shorter-no way does 2 heats of A feature type mods take as long as 3 last chance races of B feature caliber modifieds. And the mod feature that night would be 15 laps shorter than last night’s mod feature. That would darn sure get the program done before midnight, which it seems is fairly common anymore.

Or maybe I am just getting chauvinistic about mods again. I bitched about the weekly mods at the Silver Dollar Nationals too.

-Texas Tornado Tyler Erb did it again. If you haven’t figured out my nickname, how much damage does a tornado do? During the 100 lap PDC feature, Erb spun out in turn 3. Don O’Neal could not avoid Erb’s car and ran over the nose, ending what could have been a top ten finish for The Real Deal.

-We sat in the middle of the backstretch grandstands this year, instead of close to turn 3. I didn’t think anything in dirt racing could top watching late models fly into FALS turn 3, but I was wrong. Watching them roar out of turn 2, side by side or even three wide, and slide up to the backstretch wall is even cooler.

-Iowan Chris Simpson started on the pole for Saturday’s feature, but pitted early and often and finally pulled in. Superman Jonathan Davenport hoped to back up his SDN win with a PDC win. Early in the race Davenport moved from 16th to 8th place, but like Simpson pitted often and was never a factor in the race. Simpson ended up 21st and Davenport finished 16th.

-Brandon Sheppard looked like he might run away with the race, but a caution bunched the field, and young Devin Moran grabbed the lead from Sheppard. Moran held the lead despite numerous cautions, but Sheppard caught up with him and looked to regain the lead. Moran changed racing grooves and ended up distancing himself from the field. WoO point leader Mike Marlar finished 2nd and Sheppard was 3rd.

-One of the many things I like about FALS is there is action everywhere on the track, with 2 and 3 wide and pack racing the norm. Unlike sprint car fans who think single file, going really fast, and turning left is racing, FALS produces what I have loved about racing since 1955.

-Illinois fans are rather passionate about the sport. In three trips to FALS I have seen more “you’re #1, one finger salutes” from backstretch fans than I did in years at Sunset Speedway or I-80 Speedway. Just stating a fact.

-Yes, the American Legion Commander should speak at this race. However, how about doing it during one of the farming sessions. That would shave another 10 minutes off the length of the program. And yeah, I do think that is important. Every minute any race lasts past 11:00 p.m. is a bad thing.

-I cannot believe the number of golf carts being driven around FALS-AND on the streets of Fairbury. MORE than any golf course has for sure.

-Two local businesses, Dave’s Grocery and Casey’s General Store must be solid gold during the PDC weekend. We stopped for pop and ice at Dave’s Grocery, and the person helping Matt said this weekend was the second best of the year for the store.

-I may make certain “Ill-annoy-uns” unhappy, but for the second year in a row, I think the SDN feature was better than the PDC feature. Both tracks have set the bar high for fan expectations, so what was a good race last night was not what I would call a classic. I am very glad Devin Moran won-I am always happy when someone I wrote about in Dirt Late Model magazine wins a race, but the young man is simply a good kid. Here’s to more success for the #9.

-At least part of the PDC lived up to its name last night. Dirt. In the early 70’s, one of the first Cornhusker-Hawkeye Challenges at Sunset Speedway was rained out on Saturday, so they held it on a Sunday afternoon. I remember that well. Jane and I had not been married long. We were poor. I did have a new parka I wore to the track, and at the end of the afternoon it was coated in dirt. BUT, that was nothing to last night at FALS.

Now, I do not mind getting hit by small dirt clods during a race. That reminds me of Sunset Speedway. But the dust was unreal. I had dust in every uncovered bodily orifice-that would be eyes, ears, nose, and throat. I don’t know if fingernails are considered to be orifice like, but I had dirt under every fingernail as well. And yes, I ate dirt for those of you who have been at least thinking I should eat dirt. I was eating a sandwich and fries during the modified featured and I thought the fries seemed a little gritty. I looked at the cardboard tray the food came in, and the entire area above the food was covered in dust. This morning I opened my wallet to see how much money I had left, and the inside of my wallet was dusty. I am not lying and I have no clue how that could have happened. But it did. And the roof of our car rental held enough soil I could have planted corn-and the car was parked behind the backstretch bleachers. Perhaps this was a little too much dust?

-One thing the grounds crew at FALS did that I-80 Speedway ought to actually think about doing is water the roads in the parking area.

-Perhaps it is karma, but once again I sat by an idiot, just like last week, although the SDN idiot was simply an idiot about facts. Last night’s idiot was beyond believe. If he had one beer, he had 15-and I know he had one beer because he was holding one in his hand and had two more beers sitting on my seat. Then he smoked almost the entire time he wasn’t drinking beer, at least early in the night. I always love someone’s cigarette smoke blowing in my face. Since I look stupid-I admit it-this guy decided to enlighten me on dirt late model racing. Perhaps you did not know it, but the PDC is the second richest dirt late model race, exceeded only by the World 100. That is what he told me, among other things that had me wishing I wasn’t so polite. So, being stumbling drunk, sharing totally incorrect information and cigarette smoke wasn’t enough to irritate me. About halfway through the evening he pulled out some Beechnut chewing tobacco. I swear I am not making this up. We were sitting in the front row and this guy thought he could spit unto the grassy area in front of the stands, maybe three feet away. Mostly he couldn’t.

Matt got Jonathan Davenport’s autograph for Henry. Henry likes Davenport, aka Superman, and loves it when he beats Darth Vader, aka Scott Bloomquist. In NASCAR he likes Kyle Busch-driver of the M & M’s car, and calls Keselowski “Bad Brad,” and says Denny Hamlin is a crybaby. Two guesses where he got that from, and no it is NOT grandpa.

Yes, I still believe you should visit FALS during the PDC weekend if you are a dirt late model fan. 29 cars starting on a 1/4th mile track means action all over. The backstretch midway is awesome-and includes popcorn, BBQ, sweetcorn, and pizza vendors as well as a ton of t-shirt trailers. You can enter the pits from the backstretch midway-you do have to upgrade your admission to a pit pass, which Matt did, talking with Shannon Babb and going to the WoO driver meeting. The small town atmosphere is awesome, and 500+ RV’s and campers is mind blowing. It is like a dirt racing state fair.

Are Matt and I going again? Very likely in 2019 we will do what we did this year, a fast flying trip to Illinois.

Thanks for stopping by.

-Darn, I almost forgot. The best race of the night was the 25 laps Prairie Dirt Shoot-Out, a race similar to the Belt Bash at the Silver Dollar Nationals. The winner can take $2,000 first place money or start at the back of the 100 lap PDC. As he did at the Silver Dollar Nationals, Bobby Pierce did not impress in PDC qualifying. He was so bad he started far back in the Prairie Dirt Shoot-Out. And then proceeded to give fans and drivers a 25 lap clinic. Running close enough to the wall to bend his spoiler and bouncing through turn 2 time after time did not stop Pierce from passing Jason Feger late in the race and claiming a PDC spot. I have not been a Pierce fan, but after his SDN run last week, and this race, I do admit he can driver the wheels off a race car.

 

Superman Leaps Tall Buildings-And Passes Pierce Late

July 22, 2018 Leave a comment

A Silver Dollar Nationals recap:

If you have money-a lot of money-you can buy a dirt late model. That doesn’t mean you should, just that you could. And if you buy a dirt late model, you can race it anywhere it is legal to track or sanction rules. That doesn’t mean you should, just that you could.

I know all about racing being a hobby, and have heard the cliché “to get better you have to race against the best.” The Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series is the dirt track equivalent of NASCAR’s top divisions. For series regulars, racing is not a hobby it is how they make their living. AND, if a driver is getting lapped by lap 7 of a 15 lap race, he is not getting better racing against the best-he is a road block and a danger to other drivers on the track and to himself.

I don’t often agree with dirt track legend Scott Bloomquist, but in an interview with Dave Despain several years ago he talked about crown jewel events and how if a driver had not won at a certain level in racing he should not be participating in a crown jewel event. Last night at I-80 Speedway proved what Bloomquist said. A local racer who is not a winner at the local level was being lapped by four Lucas Oil drivers not quite midway through a qualifying race. Somehow he managed to put one driver into the infield wall and end his weekend, and put last year’s Lucas Oil champion Josh Richards into the outer wall, causing much damage to his car. Sorry, two thumbs down to the local.

Again, racing might be a hobby for the local driver, but it is not for Lucas Oil series drivers. They make their living racing. I am not saying there aren’t local drivers capable of running with the Lucas Oil series at an event like the Silver Dollar Nationals. There are, BUT they have been winners at the local level. They were ones who could say they were getting better racing the best, not acting as road blocks.

Random thoughts:

-If you know me, you know I don’t really wear racing t-shirts. I have purchased on shirt in the last 20 years, a Prairie Dirt Classic shirt simply because I love Fairbury American Legion Speedway. However, if I did wear racing t-shirts, Jonathan Davenport and Hudson O’Neal t-shirts are ones that I would wear.

-My grandson has never been to a race, but he has watched some of the computer offerings, and he does have a Jonathan Davenport Superman t-shirt that he wears. When Matt explained Thursday’s Lucas Oil feature to him, it was in terms Henry understands-it was not Davenport vs. Bloomquist, it was Superman vs. Darth Vader and Superman won.

-Glenn Robey was at I-80 Speedway this weekend taking in all the action. The octogenarian still looks like he could pilot a late model, though he said not. He did say he wouldn’t mind racing against Bob Kosiski again though. Here is a thought-find GOTRA cars similar to their old coupes and have Stan Cisar of Action Signs make up 53 and 8-Ball wraps for the cars and let Bob and Glenn do some parade laps at the 2019 Silver Dollar Nationals. Glenn won the first ever feature and Sunset Speedway and Bob won so many races at the famed Irvington, Nebraska track you would have thought he owned the place. Yeah, nostalgia, but both deserve such recognition.

-The weather was very unlike typical SDN weather. All three nights were comfortable, not the 110 in the shade SDN weather we are used to.

-The last 12 laps of the Go 50 with Bloomquist and Davenport racing side by side was about as good as racing gets. Superman high, Darth Vader low, almost like synchronized swimming go through turns 1 and 2. No room for mistakes, none made. And the good guy won.

-Every year I am amazed at the cars that come from the back of the starting grid and move to the front. Ryan Gustin several years ago, Brandon Sheppard last year, and this year is was Bobby Pierce from 28th to first, running away from the field before his car broke. Pierce had not had a great on-track performance until the feature. Actually he had not had a good on-track performance until the 80 lapper. His talent showed last night, thrilling the crowd with his high side charge to the front.

-Tim McCreadie was another far to the back starter who ended the weekend on a good note. T-Mac started 31st and moved all the way to 8th place when the checkered flags flew. Last year’s SDN winner has not had a great 2018, but maybe he is getting better as the dirt late model season moves into its big money month.

-Ricky Weiss was the surprise of the weekend. Ricky Who? It shouldn’t have been Ricky Who after his success at the Wild West Shootout in Arizona in January-2 wins, 1 second place finish and 1 third place finish in 6 nights of racing. After finishing 4th in a WoO late model race in Grand Forks, North Dakota last week, the driver from Manitoba, Canada raced with the Lucas Oil series all week, and finished 4th in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and 7th at Jackson Motorplex in Minnesota. Weiss made the Go 50 feature at I-80 Speedway on Thursday, but mechanical issues on lap 10 gave him a DNF. Weiss had a good Friday night qualifying and started Saturday’s feature on the inside of row 3. He challenged early leader Scott Bloomquist and actually passed him for several laps. Weiss remained in the top five the entire race, and his $20,000 pay-out for finishing 2nd to Davenport at the SDN had to be the biggest of his career.

-There is no doubt Jonathan Davenport earns his Superman nickname every time he takes to the track. It takes guts to run as high as he runs. He bounced off the outer wall several times in his charge to the front, but hung on to claim his second SDN victory. Obviously amazingly talented, Davenport is also well-spoken, nice appearing, and a really good super hero role model. I would be more than pleased to see him pick up a few big dollar wins in the coming weeks, and of course finish atop the Lucas Oil point standings at the end of the season.

-For a few laps Billy Moyer and Scott Bloomquist ran side by side around the I-80 oval. Bloomquist was lapping the 60 year old from Arkansas, but Moyer did not make it easy for the 54 year old from Tennessee. I hope others watched this skirmish too as there aren’t going to be that many more times these Hall of Famers do battle. Well, maybe there will be more times. Moyer supposedly retired after last season, but has raced 38 times this year and finished first 6 times, including his 100th UMP Hell Tour win. And much to my pleasure, Moyer will be racing in the Prairie Dirt Classic in Fairbury, Illinois next weekend.

-Like I said, random. In Friday’s 10 heat races, 9 winners came from the front row. There were 10 different winners, and only Scott Bloomquist came close to winning both of his heats, with a 1st and 2nd place finish.

-I like the fact that sponsors provide cash for the top three finishers in Friday night heats. With payouts of $300 for a win, $200 for a runner-up finish, and $100 to place 3rd, that meant $6,000 more to late model drivers. I wish a sponsor could be found to increase the purse for the bottom 2/3rds of the drivers racing in the 80 lap feature.

-My sandwich of choice this weekend was not the famed Pork Tenderloin, but the BBQ sandwich instead. And I do love the track’s popcorn.

-A Russian oligarch, Anatoly Hakobanbahr, was seen leaving I-80 Speedway before Friday’s USMTS modified feature races. According to Matt, Hakobanbahr has known ties to Vladimir Putin and Scott Bloomquist-he read that on the internet. Matt tried to take a photo, but only got the back of the Russian’s head as he quickly left the track. Still, there was something about the photo that seemed familiar. The Russians fixed our elections in 2016 and now they are trying to fix races to the benefit of the leader of dirt racing’s evil empire? We are watching you Anatoly and like Superman, aka Jonathan Davenport, seek nothing but truth, justice, and the American way-meaning the driver of the Zero car does not win the Lucas Oil point championship.

-I paid big bucks for a three day SDN ticket. I paid big bucks to see the Lucas Oil late models, NOT weekly modifieds. If I wanted to watch weekly modifieds, I could go to a weekly show much cheaper. Having the mods on Thursday’s bill added at least an hour and 15 minutes to the show. Perhaps a lot of people had Friday off, but a lot of people had to work, and would rather have had the show end shortly after 10:00 p.m. rather than 11:30 p.m. I was one of them. Getting home close to 1:00 a.m. and getting up at 5:15 a.m. to get ready for work was not a lot of fun. My thinking is that if 80 something USMTS modifieds and Lucas Oil late models are a good enough car count for Friday and Saturday shows, 80 something SLMR and Lucas Oil late models should be a good enough car count for the Thursday night program.

-I do like the idea of the Go 50 being a part of the SDN weekend rather than in May. The May date never has worked out well for the track, drivers, or fans. As I said above though, make Thursday a nothing but late model night. And I will take a vacation day on Friday.

-I rarely jump out of my seat at a race, but I admit I did when Davenport passed Pierce with just two laps to go in Saturday’s feature. Davenport is certainly my favorite late model driver now, with 17 year old Hudson O’Neal a close second.

I am probably forgetting a lot about the SDN, and not bitching about some things Matt had to listen to on the way home Thursday and Friday. Not the best of the 8 SDN’s, but it darn sure had some memorable moments and these days that is about all you can hope for.

This coming week is the Prairie Dirt Classic in Fairbury, Illinois. I love the track and enjoy the back stretch fans too. Matt and I are flying into Chicago on Saturday morning and driving the few hours south to Fairbury. It is a WoO sanctioned event, but I expect many of the Lucas Oil regulars to be on hand, along with national drivers like Moyer and Babb and a slew of tough Illinois locals as well. I love walking around the back stretch midway and through the pits. We sit so close to the action we are pelted with dirt clods, just like at Sunset Speedway years ago. FALS and the PDC are a good reminder to me why I have loved dirt tracks since 1955. I do not do weekly racing anymore, but I am afraid if I lived close to FALS that I would be

 

showing up at the track every Saturday night. If you have never been there, make the pilgrimage. You will not be disappointed. Check out the link about the PDC below. Love it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mJHcrC4LWY

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

Silver Dollar Nationals

July 15, 2018 Leave a comment

Is it the prodigal son coming home, or me returning to the scene of the crime? Likely both. After not posting a blog for some length of time, here I am Maybe it is just spending $200 for the right to keep this site another two years-and NO, it has not been making money since the early years, or maybe it is the time of year I truly am excited about racing.

I openly admit that I have been less excited about racing in 2018, than I have in any year. I have watched only a few laps of NASCAR this season, and that was at best inadvertent. I have attended one race live, though I was at Junction Motor Speedway a few weeks ago when the rain poured down before the start of hot laps. Due to another commitment I missed Matt’s trek to Adams County Speedway in Corning, and Park Jefferson was rained out on the night we planned to head to greater Sioux City. I’ll explain more of my no tears later.

Thanks to Speed Shift TV and Lucas Oil Racing TV I still have watched plenty of racing this season. I have visited tracks in Washington, Oregon, Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. I have watched late models, modifieds, midgets, winged sprint cars, and non-wing sprint cars in action. And have tried my very best to miss support class racing.

This coming week I will be watching Lucas Oil late models race in South Dakota and Minnesota prior to heading to I-80 Speedway for three super nights of the SDN. Thank you to www.DirtonDirt.com for the coverage. The site will also be covering the SDN if you can’t make it to the track, and next week will be showing both nights of the Prairie Dirt Classic from Fairbury, Illinois. Like the SDN, the PDC is simply a race dirt late model fans need to see. Because of my new job, Matt and I won’t make it to Friday’s PDC prelims, but we are flying into Chicago on Saturday and will be there for the main event. It is that good of a show.

As I mentioned, I have held little enthusiasm for racing in 2018-at least until this week. I have enjoy the computer races because I visit tracks I know I will never go to otherwise-I won’t be going to Washington or Oregon or Ohio or Pennsylvania, even though the tracks do put on great shows. But more important is the convenience these races provide. It is a constant 72 degrees where I sit, and there is no threat of getting wet if an unexpected shower takes place. In all honesty, I have watched very few features this season. I watch hot laps, time trials, and heats of the feature class, and usually turn off my computer and go on to something else.

It is after the feature class heats when tracks start to irritate me. Support class races that go on and on and on bore me. Intermissions that last forever infuriate me. But at The Rest of the Dirt Speedway, I control all of that. A couple clicks on the computer mouse and I can be on to something else, instead of sitting in the stands fuming over shows I feel are not professionally run. With my feelings running like they are, I suppose it is for the best I do not attend more shows. Right now the three nights of the Silver Dollar Nationals, the final night of the Prairie Dirt Classic, and the three nights of the Knoxville Late Model Nationals are all I have scheduled to physically attend the rest of the season, though I suspect Matt will somehow finagle me into going to Park Jefferson or Junction Motor Speedway sometime.

And I am looking forward to the next few weeks. I was hoping that Scott Bloomquist would not win his 600th feature before the Lucas Oil late models pulled into the I-80 pits, but he took care of that last night at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri. That doesn’t mean there is a shortage of stories for the Nebraska event. Tim McCreadie has not won a Lucas Oil feature this year, and a repeat of his 2017 SDN win would be very popular.  Last year’s point champion Josh Richards has not won a Lucas Oil feature since the Georgia-Florida Speedweeks in February. Youngsters Hudson O’Neal and Bobby Pierce will put on a great show. Don O’Neal, known now as much as Hudson’s dad as being a former Lucas Oil champion has won at I-80 Speedway, and put together back to back wins in Ohio a few weeks ago. Superman, Jonathan Davenport leads Lucas Oil points, but of late has been racing more like Clark Kent. Will any regional driver other than the Simpson brothers (boo) actually compete with the national drivers? There are 14 Lucas Oil regulars and they will all be on hand, but what other well know drivers will journey to Nebraska?

I am hoping the temperature will be somewhere below 100 for the SDN, but will be there no matter how hot it is. I do hope Thursday night’s show will be run quickly. I have to work on Friday and would like to get some sleep before going in.

Thanks for stopping by and see you at I-80 Speedway this weekend.

 

The 5 W’s, Plus Speed Shift TV, KTJ, Sunshine, And Berck. I-80 Dirt Classic

June 9, 2018 Leave a comment

Who? What? Where? When? Why? The 5 W’s of news reporting. Of course my blog is more opinion than news, but today I am going to work with the 5 W’s anyway.

What? The I-80 Dirt Classic featuring Modifieds, USAC Non-Wing Sprint Cars, and SLMR Late Models. That also answers where-I-80 Speedway, Greenwood, Nebraska-though I-80 Speedway is closer to Ashland than to Greenwood. Obviously when was Friday night.

Who? Matt, me, Race Guru Steve Basch, Scott McBride and Jameson, Randy Palmer and late arriving, very late arriving Tony Anville.

Who? Celebrity variety. I met Speed Shift Callie last night. If you ever purchase one of the Speed Shift PPV’s, Callie is their fixer. You have a problem receiving a race, she fixes your problem. She fixed a problem for me during Indiana Midget Week, though the problem had nothing to do with Speed Shift and everything to do with me being a duh. Anyway, a nice and lovely young lady.

Where? Again. Fortunately it was I-80 Speedway. It took me all of my debating skills to convince a certain family member that going to Jackson, Minnesota for the Jackson Nationals was a bad idea. I was proven right when the Thursday program at the Minnesota track was rained out, and it rained yesterday too. Jackson is a little over 200 miles from Fremont. I-80 Speedway is about 50 miles straight south of Fremont, although to get there from my house we have to go west-south-west-south-east-south-east-south-east-south-west-south.

Why? That is the real question. This race was the first Matt and I went to this season. Mainly we went for the USAC Non-Wing Sprint Cars, with the SLMR Late Models a bonus, and Modifieds something to endure. I very much enjoy Non-Wing Sprint Cars. You could not pay me to go to the Knoxville Nationals-Winged Sprint Cars, but if I could, I would certainly go to the USAC Indiana Midget Week or USAC Indiana Sprint Week. I probably can’t go, but I watched the Midget Week on Speed Shift TV and will watch the Sprint Week on Speed Shift TV in July. More about that later.

The car count for the I-80 Dirt Classic was my kind of number-77. 15 Modifieds, 25 Sprint Cars, and 37 Late Models filled the pits. The 37 Late Models ended up being a little problematic though. As if happened, I did not understand why there were 7, yup 7, Late Model hot lap sessions. Unfortunately the 7 hot lap sessions were followed by 7 time trial sessions, something the SLMR shows I had attended in the past did not have.

If you have more than a few of my blog posts, you know I hate time trials. Time trials try my patience. Time trials are minutes of my life wasted, minutes I will never get back. On a dirt track, when you time trial can be even more important than how good your car is. And time trials go a long way to influencing the kind of night a driver is going to have. Sorry, two laps should not be that important.

OK, that is time trials period. I was told the SLMR time trials had something to do with slower cars drawing spots close to the front of the starting grid of a heat. I am not sure who complained, the faster cars or the slower cars. If it was the faster cars, tough, pass them. If it was a driver of a slower car, admit you are slower and tag on the back of the grid while you gain experience. I do not think this was a good reason for having time trials. The SLMR Late Models simply should not have time trials.

Kevin Thomas Jr. was quite impressive last night. He set fast time, finished 3rd in his heat, and dominated the feature after taking the point on lap 6. The 69 car worked everywhere on the track-high, low, middle, wherever it needed to go to pass. Thomas leads the Amsoil USAC National point battle, and it would not surprise me to see him crowned champion at the end of the season.

A driver who could challenge Thomas is Tyler Courtney. Courtney did not have a good qualifying run and ended up starting the feature 12th on the grid. Getting to the front in a 30 lap feature running against quality drivers is no easy task. Courtney managed to move from 12th to 2nd in the race, despite no caution flags-surprise, the USAC sprinters had to cautions the entire evening. Maybe it has to do with NO wings.

Despite a plethora of cautions in the SLMR feature, Kyle Berck led all 25 laps, picking up his second series feature win of the season. Tad Pospisil finished 2nd, but the only way the Norfolk driver was going to win was for Berck to make a mistake, and that seldom happens. Andrew Kosiski finished a surprising 3rd, and looked good doing so.

The SLMR rules package is one all regional Late Model tours should follow-I am actually talking MLRA here. MLRA car counts are not that good at most races, and the SLMR car counts are good every race. If MLRA has the same rules as the SLMR, I believe their car count would jump from the low 20’s to 40 or more per race. The SLMR is going to be part of the Knoxville Late Model Nationals in September, so obviously promoter Joe Kosiski is doing something right.

Back to Speed Shift TV. There are some who claim sites like Speed Shift TV are detrimental to the sport. I think that is bunk. Speed Shift will show 16 races the remainder of June, 18 in July, 14 in August, 16 in September, 9 in October, 8 in November, and 1 in December. That is 82 shows I can watch, and I will watch many of them. The only track I have visited in those 82 shows is Park Jefferson. The only others I might actually visit are Marshalltown Speedway and Beatrice Speedway. Speed Shift TV allows me to “visit” dozens of tracks I would not otherwise visit. I am not watching Speed Shift TV in lieu of going to a local track, because I am doing very few weekly shows anymore (sorry, 6 classes of racing just chaps my you know what). AND, I can watch racing from warm weather states before and after the Nebraska racing season. Nothing wrong with any of that.

Over all I would give the evening a solid B. I enjoyed the company of my friends, got to meet a celebrity, very pleased with the USAC Non-Wing Sprints, but a little disappointed in the SLMR Late Model feature.

Matt may have other plans, but for now, my plans for this season are lots of races on Speed Shift TV and Lucas Oil Racing TV, and going to the Silver Dollar Nationals at I-80 Speedway and the Prairie Dirt Classic at FALS in July and the Knoxville Late Model Nationals in September.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

Speed Shift TV Has All 6 Nights Of USAC Indiana Midget Week Covered

May 30, 2018 Leave a comment

Thanks to Speed Shift TV, I watched the USAC Indiana Midget Week show from Montpelier Motor Speedway-a track that was built in 1903 as a ½ mile horse track, but is now configured as a ¼ mile clay for vehicles with more than one horsepower. The first auto race at the track was held in 1915.

USAC midgets had four heats, non-wing sprint cars had three heats, and UMP modifieds also had three heats. This translated into 37 midgets, 20 sprints, and 20 modifieds. I do not mind three divisions, even for a special, especially when none of the three are junk classes. And I am now appreciative of car counts of 100 or less. Plus, I have to admit I do enjoy the midgets and non-wing sprints.

There are five more Midget Week shows scheduled-Gas City, Lincoln Park, Bloomington, Lawrenceburg, and Kokomo. You can get a Speed Shift TV package for the rest of the week, or for individual shows as well-and for open wheel fans, sprints will be running each night with the midgets.

Between the midget and sprint heats, Speed Shift TV showed a DVR of an in camera shot of a driver running a midget heat. The mud flying was insane, especially when this car was behind others, or if he jumped the cushion. The driver was ripping away one or more tear-offs every lap and above and below his visor his helmet was covered in mud, while his head was rocking like a bobble head doll. Ha, I used to complain about getting hit with a mud clod occasionally at Sunset Speedway and spinning my head to watch all the action.

In the sprint first heat, Parker Frederickson decided to go for a flight, despite no wings. If you saw the video of a sprinter climbing over the turn one wall at Knoxville last year, this was height Frederickson matched. He walked away from the crash though.

Several things I liked-only when a car didn’t fire did push trucks end up on the track wasting time. I do not like push truck starts. There was just one B feature-the midgets with 18 cars running just 12 laps. Also, the midget feature was run first, followed by the sprint feature and modified feature. To me this should ALWAYS be the case at specials-the top class feature goes first.

23 cars started the 30 lap midget feature-16 qualified in the 4 heats, 6 in the B-feature, and there was one provisional starter.  Drivers came from 13 states and 3 countries. NASCAR star Kyle Larsen took the lead a few laps before the halfway and was never headed. Larsen also set fast time-a new track record, and won his heat. On Sunday Larsen ran his Cup car at Charlotte for 600 miles, Monday night he ran a sprint car, and Tuesday it was a midget. Yes, he is a very talented racer. Unfortunately Larsen has NASCAR commitments the rest of the week so Montpelier was his only Indiana Midget Week stop.

Tyler Courtney finished second, and USAC National Points Leader Logan Seavey came home third. Despite many cautions it was a very good race. Hopefully, rainy weather will stay away and the midgets will put on another good show tonight at Gas City.

One very good thing about watching the races online is that if the support class features run last I don’t have to watch them. So, I had an enjoyable night without watching the sprint and modified feature and shut down the computer at 9:40 p.m. And Speed Shift TV does an excellent job. I know some of you are against PPV’s, but Montpelier Motor Speedway is not a track I will ever get to-thanks to Speed Shift TV and others I get to at least “visit” such places.

I know, this wasn’t my best blog effort, but it has been awhile. I’ll get back in the groove. Thanks for stopping by.