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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Superman Conquers The World, Is Knoxville Next?

September 10, 2017 Leave a comment

A little over a week ago, Clark Kent aka Jonathan Davenport found a phone booth and donned his Superman outfit for the first time in 2017. Davenport won the Hillbilly 100 at Tyler County Speedway in West Virginia, giving him a big boost in momentum entering World 100 prelims.

Davenport finished 2nd in a Thursday feature and 8th in his Friday feature, giving him enough points to start on the pole for his Saturday qualifying heat. He won his heat and started the World 100 on the inside of row 2, just behind pole sitter Hudson O’Neal.

The Blairsville, Georgia driver stormed past the young O’Neal and led lap1. And lap 2, and lap 3, and lap 4. And led every other lap too, becoming the first driver to lead all 100 laps of dirt late model racing’s most iconic event since Dan Schliepper did in 2003. It was Davenport’s second World 100 victory in three years.

Odds and ends:

-Pole sitter Hudson O’Neal is just 17. He did not qualify for the Saturday night main event last season, so this was his World 100 debut. I am certain there will be many more in his future. For those of you going to Knoxville this week-me too-Hudson and his dad Don will be mainstays of the Friday morning program at the Sprint Car Hall of Fame.

-Not having many World 100’s in his future is Hall of Famer Billy Moyer. The Batesville, Arkansas driver hinted this would be his last World 100, but he is supposed to be retired but he has run 56 nights already this year and will be at Knoxville starting Thursday, so maybe there is a glimmer of hope Mr. Smooth will be back at Eldora next season. Moyer has 8 wins this season, so he still can find the way to Victory Lane. Oh, Moyer finished 8th last night ahead of name drivers like Sheppard, McCreadie, Pearson, Owens, O’Neal-father and son, Pierce, Bloomquist, Clanton, and Richards.

-I am not a big fan, but have to admit that Darrell Lanigan had a great week at Eldora. Lanigan won both of his preliminary features and finished 5th in the World 100. Those finishes were worth $28,750 dollars.

-The 50/50 winner amounts at Eldora are staggering. Saturday night’s raffle drawing winner took home over $35,000. That is not a typo. Of the drivers, only Davenport left Ohio with a bigger check.

-If I heard correctly, Saturday’s attendance was the biggest ever for the World 100. I realize that many weekly dirt tracks struggle-I tend to blame promoter for that, but most of the crown jewel events see plenty of butts in the grandstands.

-Scott Bloomquist did not have a typical Bloomquist week at Eldora. Not being allowed to time trial on Thursday was just the start of a “not good” three days for the Zero car. While Bloomquist often has an off-night at the track, he normally bounces back. He did not in 2017. His feature finishes were 12th-8th-24th. Still, guess who will be among the favorites at Knoxville this week. Yeah, Bloomquist.

-There were 10 Rocket chassis in the feature, and Davenport, Gregg Satterlee, and Mike Marlar, the top three finishers, all drove Rockets. Other chassis makes in the feature: 5-Longhorn, 2- Sweet Bloomquist, 1-Pierce, 4-Club 29, 1-Swartz, 3-Moyer Victory, 2-Black Diamond, 1-MB Customs, and 1-Capital.

-17 states were represented in the feature, including 5 Illinois drivers.

-Among the drivers not making Saturday’s feature were Steve Francis, Steve Casebolt, Mason Ziegler, Eddie Carrier Jr., Billy Moyer Jr., Brian Shirley, and Shannon Babb.

This week is the Knoxville Late Model Nationals, one of the big three events Matt and I attend-the others are The Silver Dollar Nationals at I-80 Speedway and The Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury American Legion Speedway in Illinois.

Knoxville means good conversation on the drive over and back, breakfasts at Hy-Vee, lunch at Pizza Hut with Tony and Lee, and visits to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and to Slideways Karting. It means sitting in row 20 (my left knee is already complaining) behind the flag stand. This year I’ll even be wearing a race t-shirt, one I bought at FALS in July, and that is definitely a first.

If you can’t make it to central Iowa this week, Thursday and Friday prelims will be shown on www.DirtonDirt.com. A 2-day subscriber package costs $42.99, while single nights run $24.99. Saturday’s feature race night will be shown on Lucas Oil Racing TV. It is available to yearly subscribers only. Yes, a year’s subscription costs $99.99 but the number of live late model and sprint car events makes it easily worthwhile.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Eldora. 3 Guesses Who Was The Big News In Thursday World 100 Prelims

September 8, 2017 Leave a comment

The B-I-G news from night one of the World 100 weekend? It wasn’t that Mike Marlar set fast time. It wasn’t that race leader Dale McDowell was wrecked by a lapped car during the second heat. It wasn’t that Josh Richards was back at Eldora and won a heat race. No, it wasn’t that Darrell Lanigan and Brandon Overton both won heats and their respective feature races. And it wasn’t that some lucky fan took home $10,721 as his portion of the 50-50 drawing, which was $721 more than each of the feature winners received.

It is Eldora. It was controversial. Yes, the big news involved Scott Bloomquist. The Tennessee driver did not go through tech in time to draw a qualifying pill and was not allowed to time trial-meaning he received no time trial points and had to start 11th and last in his heat. The Zero car finished 7th in heat 4, meaning Bloomquist was forced to run a consolation race, which he won, garnering a 22nd starting spot in the feature.

It being Eldora that was not enough controversy for Bloomquist. The Zero had moved from 22nd to 11th when it tangled with the car of past WoO champion Shane Clanton. Literally tangled, as the right front of Clanton’s car was hung up on the left rear of Bloomquist’s car, sending both to the rear of the feature. Clanton came back to finish 9th, while Bloomquist ended up 12th.

Other than hot laps, the World 100 format is drivers receive points every time they are on the track-time trials, heat races, consolations, and features. Accumulated points will determine the starting grid in Saturday’s heat races, which will determine the 20 starting positions in the 100 lap feature. Provisionals go to the two drivers with the most points who do not qualify through Saturday heats or consolations.

So, that was about 300 words saying that Bloomquist dug himself a hole by not going through tech in a timely fashion Thursday night. It is Eldora, it is Bloomquist who thrives on controversy, so I am not ready to pick anyone else as a favorite in the 47th running of the World 100.

Hopefully I said “Bloomquist” enough to please his biggest Nebraska fan. And add Lanigan and Overton to the list of potential $50,000 winner’s tomorrow night. Both were fast and both looked strong.

Hot laps started at 5:00 p.m. Central time, and it took an hour to complete warm-ups. Time trials took a little over an hour. 10 heats, 4 consolations, and 2 features followed, with the last checkered flag flying well after 10:00 p.m. Fortunately TROTD Speedway had plenty of pizza and Diet Coke on hand, and the track’s restroom was just steps away from my reserved seat. And I didn’t need a coat or blanket either.

Two thumbs up for the www.DirtonDirt.com coverage. Prerace driver interviews was a good way to start the evening. Dustin Jarrett and James Essex did a good job from the booth-better than the NASCAR boobs do. An up to the minute listing of driver times and position during time trials was night. Live scoring during all the races was good. Interviews with heat race winners and the top three finishers in each feature was a nice touch. And multiple camera shots added to the production quality. On track action was good, coverage was good, and I am not complaining about the cost, even though the track makes us pay just a nickel less than what fans in the stands pay.

Yes, I will be watching again tonight. Sorry Ivan, Eldora on PPV is more attractive than live where you are going to be.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

100 Laps, No 80 Laps, Wait-100 Laps Again

September 6, 2017 1 comment

The once 100 lap Saturday night Knoxville Late Model Nationals feature that became 80 laps because officials were concerned a winner could be determined by a driver running out of fuel is now back to 100 laps. I am sure the punctuation of that last sentence is all wrong, and perhaps so is the decision by Knoxville officials.

Apparently officials were concerned that the race had been advertised as 100 laps and that fans buying tickets for Saturday would be upset if the race was only 80 laps. So, it is back to being 100 laps with the quirk being there will be a fuel stop on the first caution to occur between laps 20-40. If there is no caution between those laps, a caution will fly on lap 40 to allow cars to refuel.

I would assume that this is not a NASCAR like pit stop-when the race resumes, the line-up will be the same as it was when the caution flag flew. Will cars only be allowed to refuel? I can see drivers wanting to change tires during this stop, especially if it does not occur until lap 40. Will they be allowed to make a tire change? Will there be a penalty if tires are changed? If the penalty would be a lead lap car just goes to the tail of the lead lap on the restart, would it be worth it to change tires anyway?

Look at what changing tires did for Scott Bloomquist a few weeks ago at the Topless 100 in Batesville. Could the same thing happen at Knoxville?

I used to want to go to the IMCA Supernationals in Boone, Iowa. Haven’t for a long time. That changed when I began to realize that 200-400-600 cars does not make for better racing than 80 of the “right” cars. I’ll be watching the www.DirtonDirt.com coverage of the World 100 for three nights starting tomorrow, and while I may check to see who won at Boone, that will be it for my Supernationals experience.

My friend Steve “Raceguru” Basch says I am not qualified to participate in the World 100 experience. He thinks I need to “start slow,” like go to The Dream before I even think of going to Eldora in September. Apparently I am very boring. I still envy Steve being in Rossburg, Ohio this weekend, and hope he has a great time too. And will see him in Knoxville.

I was going to take a day off from blogging today, but the Knoxville news got me going-I couldn’t not talk about it. Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

Who Will Hoist The Globe On Saturday Night?

September 5, 2017 Leave a comment

Did everyone see the new Scott Bloomquist hauler and trailer? Matt sent me a link:

https://racingnews.co/2017/09/05/scott-bloomquist-hauler-debut/

When I saw it, I was reminded of some demonic truck from an old horror film. I suppose that given it is Bloomquist that thought is fitting.

I envy my friend Steve “Belleville 100” Basch. Tomorrow Steve will be heading to the Mecca of Dirt Late Model racing, Eldora Speedway for the sport’s Super Bowl, the World 100.

There is a great video on www.DirtonDirt.com today. This type of video is something Michael Rigsby is totally adept at. On track action and interviews with drivers who have come so close to winning the big one at Eldora, only to have their dream shattered. Really good stuff.

And if you don’t subscribe to www.DirtonDirt.com, why don’t you? If you are reading this and not named Palmer or Tracy, you are a Late Model fan. And if you enjoy Late Model racing as much as I do, well, DOD is like a Bible.

DOD also has an article giving driver odds for the World 100. Yes, Scott Bloomquist is the favorite. Who else could be? Only a Batesville, Arkansas driver named Moyer has had the Eldora success Bloomquist has had and while a win by the 21 would be the feel good story of 2017 racing, I just don’t see it happening. I would like to see Moyer make the race and even get a top ten finish, but that is asking a lot of a 60-something “retired” driver.

Oh yeah, I was talking about Bloomquist. DOD has him at even money, and love or hate the driver from Tennessee that is where he should be. If anyone says he would be surprised to see the Zero car in Victory Lane on Saturday, he just hasn’t been paying attention.

Other drivers I think have a decent shot at winning this iconic clash: Bobby Pierce, Tim McCreadie, Brandon Sheppard, Don O’Neal, and yes, Superman Jonathan Davenport.

Pierce is so incredibly talented it seems almost unfair. I am not a big fan of the young Illinois driver, but Matt tells me that has more to do with his dad than with Bobby. Maybe so. I would prefer someone else take home the globe on Saturday, but probably would not shed tears if it was Pierce. I didn’t when he won the 2016 World 100. Back to back World 100 wins is the dirt equivalent of back to back Daytona 500 wins. Could happen, but as Three Dog Night sang “it ain’t easy.”

Tim McCreadie has already won two $50,000 + events this season, and has been as hot as any other driver in the past couple months. To say a T-Mac win would be popular with fans is quite an understatement. Me? OK. I am one who would love to see the New Yorker climb out of his car, pound on its roof, wave the checkered flag, and thank all the fans for yet another $50,000 win this season.

Brandon Sheppard? How can you ever count out the Rocket house car? I remember Sheppard starting dead last in the Silver Dollar Nationals at I-80 Speedway and passing something like 30 cars to finish 2nd to McCreadie. The next week he plowed through the field at Fairbury American Legion Speedway to win the Prairie Dirt Classic. He has a ton of WoO wins this season. He has only three World 100 starts and no top five finishes in this event, but again, he is driving the Rocket house car.

Now if an Illinois driver is going to make it to Victory Lane on Saturday night, I would rather it NOT be Pierce or Sheppard. I write a Dirt Late Model article on Dennis Erb Jr., so of course I would like him to do well. And Eldora owes Shannon Babb. Babb finished the 2005 World 100 first, but was DQ’ed for weighing 10 pounds light.

Don O’Neal also has a $50,000 dollar win to his credit this season, the USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway in Wisconsin. O’Neal has 14 career World 100 starts, and has finished in the top ten on eight occasions. I like O’Neal-his cranky and doesn’t take much crap from anyone. I do want a McCreadie win, but an O’Neal victory would be almost as good.

This has not been a great season for Jonathan Davenport, but he is coming off a win in the Hillbilly 100, and does have a World victory too, in 2015. Still, if Superman flies to an Eldora win on Saturday, count it as an upset.

So, who is my pick to win Saturday night at the legendary half-mile track? I will go with Bloomquist. And yes, I do know my picks are usually jinxed.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

A “Global” Event Plus Knoxville And More

September 4, 2017 Leave a comment

It is officially World 100 week. If you can’t journey to Rossburg, Ohio for dirt Late Model racing’s premier event, you can watch all three days on www.DirtonDirt.com. Michael and the DOD gang do a great job with every PPV, but save the best for Eldora.  Coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. Central time Thursday-Saturday. There are no 3-day packages. Thursday and Friday PPV’s cost $23.95, while Saturday’s show is $39.95. Prices are dictated by the track.

The DOD production is top notch, with multiple cameras and announcers, interviews, instant replays, and live scoring. I am just a little biased, but I enjoy DOD’s race coverage more than I do NASCAR coverage by FOX and NBC. Yes, the cost is a little more than we usually pay for race PPV’s, but it is worth it.

With the World 100 on tap, the Knoxville Late Model Nationals are just around the corner. DOD will cover the first two nights of this crown jewel event, while Lucas Oil Racing TV will provide Saturday night coverage. The Prairie Dirt Classic remains my favorite event, but Knoxville is a close second.

I enjoy the travel to Central Iowa, always good conversation with my son Matt. And we do talk about things other than racing and my grandson Henry. Cinnamon bears for me on the way over are a must. Yeah, I do know I am 66-actually the last day of Knoxville I will be 67-but the candy is just one more item on our Knoxville check list. Visiting the Sprint Car Hall of Fame is a good use of our time, but not sure if there will be a Friday morning program or not this year-come on Lee Ackerman, get it done. Being creatures of habit, we will visit the same eating establishments for breakfast and lunch, and of course at least much of one afternoon will be spent at Slideways Karting. Matt has a really sore shoulder and may have surgery on it later in the fall, so I don’t think he will be climbing in a go-kart this year. Maybe he can play miniature golf with me.

It has been announced that Saturday’s feature will be just 80 laps instead of 100. I have mixed feelings on this. If the race had been just 80 laps a few years ago, we would not have had the all-time feel good moment of Brian Birkhofer winning his swan song race. On the other hand, I have watched some real last 20 lap stinkers at Knoxville. So, since Birky already has his big win for all of us to remember, I have to say 80 laps instead of 100 is a good thing.

Something I do wish the governing Marion County Fair Board would have installed at the track for the safety of all old people like me is aisle rails. I am having knee replacement surgery in early November, and climbing all the steps to our row 20-something seats is not fun and quite honestly the fear of falling is present in my mind each step I climb. There is no good reason why these rails have not been put in. While I am at it, I would say the same thing to the Fairbury American Legion about the back stretch grandstands at FALS-put is aisle rails.

I watched time trials and heat races of USAC and CRA Sprint Cars and Midgets from Calistoga Speedway in the northern Napa Valley of California. Years ago Jane and I visited Calistoga-the town, not the track-when I had a financial management conference at the Silverado in Napa. The area is beautiful, and the track looks well prepared too.

Jonathan Davenport won a big race after a long drought-his last previous Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory was September 3, 2016. Davenport took the checkered flags at the Hillbilly 100, held at Tyler County Speedway in West Virginia, NOT in Nemaha County, Nebraska. Davenport received a $25,000 check for his efforts. Next year the winner’s share of this major event will be a whopping $50,000.

Thanks for stopping by.

P.S. For what they are worth-nothing-I will make my World 100 predictions tomorrow.