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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

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 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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.