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Hello, It’s Me-No, Not Todd Rungren, Ron Meyer AKA Bruton

December 23, 2017 1 comment

Wow, I am doing a blog post. That hasn’t happened in quite some time. I have reasons, but if I am honest, they are just excuses. I can say I will try to do better, but being honest again, I know that isn’t so. Anyway, quality is better than quantity, right?

It is still not too late to get someone special a Christmas present, and you don’t even have to fight all the nut cases at the mall. I have three suggestions that any race fan would appreciate.

First, is a subscription to www.DirtonDirt.com. First because I just happened to do what I am saying you should, give a subscription. If you love late models, and most of you reading this blog do, this site is a must. Day after day all the information you could possibly want about the sport is on display. The articles are great, even though they don’t think I am good enough to write for them, and the videos are top quality. DOD also does PPV’s, and does them professionally-to me they do live late model races better than the networks cover NASCAR races. And often subscribers get a package deal that is better than what non-subscribers get. For example, DOD is covering all six days of the Wild West Shoot-out from Phoenix in January. Non-subscribers have to purchase the races each day, but subscribers get a package deal that saves them more than $50 off the non-subscriber package. Check out the site for more information. And yes, I am a subscriber. Actually I am to all three of these sites.

The next subscription you could give that race fan of yours is to Lucas Oil Racing TV. LORTV is going to provide live coverage of 17 nights of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, including 8 nights of racing in late January and early February from Georgia and Florida. That alone makes a subscription a great deal, but as the commercials say, “wait-there is more.” For open wheel fans-and there are a few reading this, LORTV will air one night of the Chili Bowl, and 8 nights of the Lucas Oil ASCS 360 sprint car series. 10 ARCA races will be shown live, including races from Nashville, Toledo, Elko, Madison, and Berlin-that is in Michigan, not Germany. There are 16 other live events scheduled, meaning 53 live events will be aired. AND, there are over 80 different shows covering any division of racing you can imagine. This is a great value-like DOD and Speed Shift TV.

Yes, Speed Shift TV is the other site you can subscribe to. Thanks to Speed Shift TV I watched more sprint car racing in 2017 than I ever have. And yes Speed Shift does late models, modifieds, and midgets too. The site has 23 events scheduled for January and February-starting with the Ice Bowl from Talladega, and every month has 10 or more live events.

I know some reasonably intelligent people who do not like the onset of racing coverage on the internet. I like it. I never stay home and watch an event on the computer that I would otherwise go to-OK, the Beatrice spring and fall races are ones I might attend-rather, I get to see races at tracks around the US that I would never visit otherwise. Sprint cars in Washington, modifieds in California and New Mexico, USAC sprint cars in Indiana and Pennsylvania, late models in Arizona and Mississippi, and midgets indoors in Oklahoma. I watched them all in 2017 and will again in 2018. Do these races keep me from going to weekly shows at a local track? NO. With the advent of 6 (or more) weekly classes at most tracks, I have no desire to go to weekly shows.

As far as specials Matt and I will attend in 2018, there are only three for sure-the Silver Dollar Nationals in Nebraska, the Prairie Dirt Classic in Illinois, and the Knoxville Late Model Nationals from Iowa. A USAC sprint car race-if there is one-in Nebraska is a possibility, as is a USAC midget race from Fairbury-in Nebraska, not Illinois. Matt seems to think a show from Park Jefferson and one from Junction Motor Speedway are musts for us, and I go, reluctantly. Matt also has been talking up a WoO Sprint Car race at River Cities Speedway in North Dakota. That is a far away track, but no further than FALS in Fairbury, Illinois and like the journey to FALS, all but about 75 miles are on Interstate highways. Who knows?

2018 is going to be an important year in my life. Yes, the Sunset Speedway book. Yes, my grandson’s activities-personally I which he had games every night as I would rather watch him play than watch any pro event. I don’t know if I will still be working full-time as I am now in Omaha or if I will be working part-time, temporary, or not at all. I do know that January 25th is a big day, and one I am concerned about. My left knee will be replaced that day, and I am more than a little worried. But I survived prostate cancer in 2016 and I know I will get through the knee surgery too-but keep me in your thoughts in late January.

I am not real hung up on making sure I say Merry Christmas. If someone says Merry Christmas to me I say the same to them. If they tell me Happy Holiday, that is what I say to them. No one has ever said Happy Hanukkah to me, but I am saying that now to several of my readers. Mainly just enjoy the season is what I have to offer. That, and a big thanks for stopping by.

 

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Sunset Legacy

November 13, 2017 2 comments

Yes it has been a long time-yet again-since I last posted on TROTD. I could say that yet again I am unretired, but that would just be a convenient excuse. “Unretiring” just means I have another temporary gig. This one I really like though. Anyway, I do not have writer’s block either. I just haven’t had much to say. The last race I attended in person was the Friday of the Knoxville Late Model Nationals. I have watched a number of races on the computer, but none that made me really want to write.

I was in Philadelphia the weekend of November 3rd-5th, attending Book Baby’s Independent Author Conference. There is a lot more to publishing a book than putting pen to paper, and I wanted to learn more of the various steps necessary to be successful in publishing a book. And I wanted to get fired up about the Sunset Speedway book. The conference was fantastic-I definitely reached my goals, and then some.

Many people at the conference were already authors, meaning they had already published one or more books. I am still just a writer, but that will change in 2018. I am looking forward to working with many people on the Sunset book-yes, it will be a history with plenty of photos, but much of it will be in the words of former owners, drivers, crew members, officials, and fans.

I want the book to be the best ever racing book, and will work hard to make it so. There will be a book website, fundraising, get-togethers, interviews, AND hopefully items other than the book for you to purchase. We are calling the project “Sunset Legacy,” and the person who came up with the name for the Alphabet Soup Race came up with Sunset Legacy to honor the place where many of us spend many enjoyable summer Sunday nights over the years.

If you would like to be part of the Sunset Legacy, contact me at:

brutonnb@yahoo.com

I can’t guarantee that every story or photo given to me will be in the book, but those that aren’t will be on the website-OR, maybe there might even be a second book if the first one is a hit.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

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 www.DirtonDirt.com 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.

 

 

 

Knoxville-Randomly

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, www.DirtonDirt.com 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.