Saturday, October 3, 2009

Random Thoughts On a Gloomy Saturday Morning.....

Well this week has been a disappointment so far! Hopefully the sun will break out later this (so far) gloomy Saturday morning and both Knoxville and Donnellson can hold their racing events tonight. If you were looking at going to Donnellson tonight make sure that you check the website or call the track at 319.835.5523 before leaving home as I know that Terry needed some drying today so that he could get on the track and get it ready for tonight’s Heartland Challenge.

You have to feel for the race officials at Knoxville as not only did Mother Nature torture their signature event, the Sprint Car Nationals, in August, but now she is making an unwanted repeat performance for the Late Model Nationals. There is absolutely NOTHING that you can do about the weather, you can only react and do what you feel is the best thing possible. Unfortunately in this day and age no matter what you do, somebody is not going to agree with you and they are going to boldly state their opinion on one of the forums. The problem is that they are often only considering their own circumstances and how the decision effected them rather than thinking about the big picture. Plus, it is a lot easier to draft a solution when your financial stake is, at most, the cost of fuel, a ticket and maybe even a hotel room. My guess is if they, like the promoter, had thousands of dollars at stake, the internet jockey likely would not come to that same conclusion. Yes, I have been personally disappointed by decisions made by promoters when they are faced with bad weather, but when it is their show backed by their money, it is their decision plan and simple.

One of those tough decisions that the Knoxville officials have to make tonight is how they will run the show and I am going to tell you right now, no matter what they do somebody is not going to be happy! Race fans love the format where drivers qualify with the quick timer earning 200 points, run heats with ten cars inverted in each and having to run in the top four to transfer to the A-Main while also earning points (100 to each heat race winner with three point increments on down), and then having "C", "B" and the A-Main. The A-Main paying out points in the same fashion as qualifying with points being awarded to the B-Main and C-Main competitors as well. This is why many will tell you that the two qualifying nights for both the Late Model Nationals and the Sprint Car Nationals are the best four nights of racing action that you will find anywhere. The drivers don’t like it even though the system has never yielded what I would consider a "fluke" qualifier for the Championship feature at either event. The cream always seems to rise to the top all while giving the fans some of the best racing action that they will find anywhere.

Tonight though is a "one shot deal". If they run the format similar to a qualifying night then you can bet that the fastest qualifier is not going to be real happy about having to start tenth in his heat and having to get all the way up to fourth to transfer to the Championship feature. If they don’t invert several cars for the heats then the fans are going to feel like they missed out on some of the magic of Knoxville, so as I said no matter what the officials decide to go with there is somebody that is not going to be happy. Oh well, I guess that is just the nature of our sport anymore.

Lee County Speedway promoter Terry Hoenig is catching some of that grief right now and it is actually my fault!! For the eleventh year in a row Terry and his wife Jenni are promoting the annual "Shiverfest" event to be held on October 24th in Donnellson, an event that originated as part of the old National Kidney Foundation (NKF) Tour for a Cure that I operated for four years. "Shiverfest" has built up a nice reputation over the years as being a "fun" event where drivers from all around the area can come in and compete. It is not a "big money" show and, while the racing is still the primary draw, there is also Trick-or-Treating for the kids, hayrack rides through the pits prior to the action, pumpkin carving contests and more, all while raising money to help out the individuals and families who are battling kidney disease in the area. Back in 1999 it seemed pretty easy to put together a set of rules for this event that would allow just about every Modified, Stock Car and Hobby Stock from around the area to compete. Eleven years later though, with rules in each division becoming more diverse from track to track, that is no longer an easy task.

Using Modifieds as an example, the split between the IMCA Modified and the Open/NASCAR/USRA Modified rules has really grown over the past few years. So much so that tracks like Davenport and Maquoketa actually ran them as separate divisions for the first time in 2009. It would be very easy for Terry to just say that the Modifieds must run IMCA rules at "Shiverfest", especially since the division produced twenty-five or more cars each and every race night at Lee County this season. But if he did that than several drivers who have made the trip in each and every year for "Shiverfest" would no longer be able to compete. So with my encouragement Terry has tried to come up with a set of rules that will still allow the non-IMCA cars to run the event without giving them a competitive advantage over the drivers who have supported the Speedway week in and week out. His "thanks" for making this effort? He has open motor guys chewing him out for not allowing quick-change rear ends and he has some AWP from Wisconsin (why would he care anyway?) giving him hell for opening up the rules at the end of the year. Oh well, I guess that is just the nature of our sport anymore.

This is not new for Terry when it comes to the rules for "Shiverfest" and we hope that we’ll see the same thing happen on October 24th that we have seen in the past. Drivers, fans and their families who want to have one last fun day of racing before the season ends will show up and we will have another great show. If you want to bitch and argue please feel free to stay home as I wouldn’t want you to ruin it for the rest of us!!

Drivers and fans around Memphis, Missouri, have to be feeling pretty good right now with the announcement that Wayne Messamaker will be promoting weekly racing at the Scotland County Speedway in 2010. I am excited for Wayne and the great things that he can do with that competitive race track in Memphis, but I will caution him about this. Don’t be surprised if when Messamaker announces the three or four divisions that he plans to run next year, there is suddenly a big discussion as to why leaving out this class or that class will be the "downfall" of the track. I hope that I am wrong, but I guess that is just the nature of our sport anymore.
I found it interesting that Jeff and Amy Laue felt the need to put out the open letter that they did this week. If you haven’t seen it you can check it out on the 34 Raceway forum board at Apparently they felt the need to squash some rumors that are going around, rumors that always seem to pop up about 90% of all racetracks at this time of year. With twenty-five race nights in the books for 2009 and one more still on the schedule, 34 Raceway ranks second among all of the All Iowa Points tracks for number of event held this season. Knoxville will get their twenty-fifth night in tonight while the Boone Speedway leads the way with twenty-nine. The folks at 34 Raceway have worked their tails off in 2009 so they deserve a rest this off-season.

And as I wrap up these thoughts at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning I notice that tonight’s races at the Lee County Speedway have been cancelled due to wet grounds. Their next race will now be "Shiverfest" on October 24th.

Here’s hoping that I can get up to Knoxville tonight and then on Sunday I am looking forward to my first trip to the brand new Shepp’s Speedway near New Berlin, Illinois.

Support the sport, be Positive!!!

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