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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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It Isn’t Snowing In Florida-Or Arizona, And Knee News Too

February 5, 2018 1 comment

For as long as he has been driving and winning, I have attributed much of the success of Josh Richards to driving the Rocket house car and to racing with the WoO, to me by far the weakest of the two national circuits. Rocket is arguably the best late model chassis, crew members are the best in the business, and of course Mark Richards is a huge resource. And the best WoO races-like the Prairie Dirt Classic come when Lucas Oil series regulars are in attendance.

However, I need to give more credit to the driver. Richards did win the Lucas Oil series championship last year, and that not in the Rocket house car. And the way he has started off 2018, well, two wins in two races says it all. Well, almost all-the rest of the dirt is that a blown motor in his heat put Richards into a B Main last night, and power steering troubles before the start of that race relegated him to the 26th and final starting spot. No problem, just do the hard charger routine and win night #2 at Golden Isle Speedway in Georgia.

Tonight it is on to East Bay Raceway Park for six, yup, six straight nights of Lucas Oil late model action. If you subscribe to Lucas Oil Racing TV-and you should, racing action starts at 5:00 p.m. Central Time. They run the program quickly, and everything should be done shortly after 9:00 p.m.

Open wheel fans can tune into sprints from Volusia this week. Matt told me that all the WoO sprint car shows will be aired live this season-including the race in North Dakota. We had been talking of driving there, but a one night subscription to watch this at home is certainly a lot cheaper. He also talked about a WoO sprint show at FALS in Fairbury, Illinois. The track is wild for late models, but I think would be borderline insane for sprints. We sit on the back stretch just entering turn 3 when we go to the Prairie Dirt Classic there, and getting hit by the occasional dirt clod is cool, but I could see sprints flying out of the park there. Whoa.

Update on my knee surgery. The doctor called it a text book operation. I was up early Thursday afternoon, just hours after the surgery. I came home late Friday afternoon. I had met all the requirements to leave and I certainly preferred home to Lakeside Hospital. The old saw is that the first few weeks after surgery you will wonder why you did it, and making it through that period, you will start wondering why you didn’t do it sooner. I will attest to having plenty of pain. And I have not tried to be a hero and refuse pain pills. I have had good days and bad days-today started off bad, but see progress in little battles won. I am pushing hard on the physical therapy and intend to continue. That is the only way to get better. And I will get better.

Jane was kidding and said she hoped I got a new attitude along with my new knee. OK, maybe she wasn’t kidding. I will say they she is amazing and I am very lucky to have her. She has helped me do things I can’t do yet, and simply supports me. Thank goodness. Without her I would probably just stay in bed.

But now it is time for me to elevate my left leg and ice it. I guess that is important in getting rid of the swelling and stiffness. And I did miss blogging. I might have to try to do this more often. 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? 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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.