Monday, November 30, 2009

The "Back Stretch" 2009 Season Wrap

If you have followed the “Back Stretch” in Hawkeye Racing News over the years you know that in my December effort I will step back from my positive attitude for a moment to air a couple of complaints in a general fashion. I will do that again this year, but I am happy to say that for the second year in a row it is more of a struggle to come up with something for this column. So one of two things must be happening, either improvements are being made in how racing programs are being presented, or I am being more selective about the tracks that I am attending. Actually, I think that it is a combination of both!

Promoters, if you are not using the “one spin and you’re in” rule during heats and last chance races all I can say is, why not?! It makes me cringe when I see a driver spin and then sit until the caution appears only to then fire it up and drive away ready to assume his position for the restart, a position that is incredibly better than if he would have kept the car running and continued racing. More on that in a bit, but even worse is the driver who spins into the infield and then drives back out to the edge of the track and stops in order to draw a caution flag. When this happens, Mr. Flagman, if you don’t immediately send that driver to the pits then he is making a chump out of you, plain and simple.

When you don’t use the “one spin and you’re in” rule you are allowing drivers to interrupt the racing action that your fans are paying to see and you are extending the length of your program, something that will eventually keep some of your fans from returning to your track. And, worst of all you are rewarding the driver for doing this! That’s right, you are rewarding a driver when you put him to the back of the pack for a restart, not penalizing him. Think about it like this, if a driver spins and keeps it running and returns to racing in a heat race without causing a caution he is now likely in last place well behind the driver in front of him and probably at least a half of a lap or more behind the leader. But if he causes a caution and you restart him at the back, he is right on the rear bumper of the car in front of him and he is only as many car lengths back from the leader as there are cars in the race. Wow, that’s some “penalty”!

Put the “one spin and you’re in rule” into effect and watch your racing program improve. I really do not see how anybody can make a legitimate argument against that rule and if you are not going to step up and do it, then at least you should consider one of the ideas that Ryan Clark had in his recent “wish list” at In Staging on Each time that a driver causes a caution, have him pay a “fine” that would go directly into the point fund for that division. That actually may be even more effective!

The only other complaint that I can come up this off-season applies only to the national Late Model touring series and it involves what I feel is the number of interruptions and delays that these series allow their drivers to create during the feature races. This past season I was at a one hundred lapper where one driver stopped on the track four different times to pull a caution just so that he could duck into the work area to either change a tire or to make chassis adjustments. Why would anybody allow this to happen? This isn’t fair to the fans, or to the other drivers who either did their homework before the green flag dropped or who are just dealing with the setup that they went with. In the past I have seen drivers stop the race as many as three times with a flat tire only to return to the track each time for the restart to race again with another tire that is likely even softer than the one before as they are given a chance on fresh rubber to run down other drivers who decided upon tires that might actually last a full one hundred laps. How fair is that? And it drives me nuts to sit through a caution period that is lengthened by a parade of drivers who stop on the front stretch to have a series official pull out sheet metal. I realize that a traveling series needs to take care of the drivers who follow them and that is why this kind of stuff is allowed, but it makes you wonder just how much better the racing would be if some rules were implemented to keep drivers from taking advantage of the situation. How about each driver is allowed one caution for a flat tire and one “I’m just gonna stop on the track because I don’t like something” caution, but after that they count toward a “two cautions and you are done” rule. And if you need some sheet metal pulled away, then head to the pits under caution and have your crew do the work! Perhaps the best one-hundred-lap race that I have ever witnessed was the Pepsi USA Late Model Nationals at 34 Raceway this September and it was run under a pretty strict rule package. Cause two cautions and you were done, and if you needed bodywork you did it in your pit area. Cautions were at a minimum and therefore long stretches of green-flag action were at a maximum. Coincidence? I don’t think so!

We made it to fifty-nine events during 2009 at twenty-two different tracks located in five different states (Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Kentucky). Once again we spent the most time, twelve nights, at the Knoxville Raceway and close behind was the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa where we spent nine evenings. The two tracks closest to my Mount Pleasant Iowa home were next in line as we made it to the Lee County Speedway in Donnellson seven times and we were at 34 Raceway just west of Burlington five times this year. We went to the Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland Missouri and to the West Liberty Raceway three times each this year and we spent two nights at each of the following tracks: Lake Ozark Speedway (Eldon MO), Quincy Raceway, Marshalltown Speedway and Springfield (MO) Raceway. We attended one event each at Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway, Humboldt (KS) Speedway, Benton County Speedway (Vinton IA), Iowa Speedway (Newton IA), Farley Speedway, Iowa State Fair Speedway (Des Moines IA), Independence (IA) Motor Speedway, Bloomfield Speedway, 24 Raceway (Moberly MO), US 36 Raceway (Osborn MO), Boone Speedway and the Cedar County Raceway (Tipton IA). Of those tracks above, four of them were a new site visit for us including Springfield, Humboldt, US 36 and the Iowa Speedway.

As far as series were concerned we saw the USMTS Modifieds six times, the Deery Brothers Summer Series for IMCA Late Models five times, the MLRA Late Models on four occasions, and the World of Outlaw Sprints, the Sprint Invaders, the Lucas Oil Late Models, and the USAC Midgets twice. We caught one show each of the ASCS Sprints, the POWRi Midgets, the All Star Sprints, and the USAC Sprints. This was the first time since I can remember that I did not hit a UMP Summer Nationals event as weather shot down my plans each time. Fourteen of the fifty-nine races (23.7%) that I attended this year were “weekly shows”. I started the year with a spur of the moment road trip to Kentucky Lake on March 6th as temperatures hit the mid-70’s and my season ended in frustration when Mother Nature put an early end to Shiverfest at Donnellson on October 25th. Along the way we dodged the weather pretty well and saw some great racing with solid car counts and good crowds despite the state of the economy. Here’s hoping that the 2010 season will be a good one for all of us both at, and away from the racetrack.

Have a safe and wonderful Holiday season from Jeff, Christine, Ashley, Kyle and Morgan out here on the Back Stretch!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

USAC Sprints and Midgets to 34 Raceway

Open wheel fans will definitely be marking their 2010 calendar for Saturday night June 26th as the USAC non-wing, or "traditional", Sprint Cars and Midgets will take to the high-banks at 34 Raceway near Burlington. Promoter Amy Laue told me that the event will be unique in that it will be the first time that the two USAC sanctioned divisions have ever run together on the same night in the state of Iowa.

This was the biggest bit of news that I picked up when Christine and I popped into the track's annual banquet Saturday night after attending my cousin's wedding reception. Keep your eye on in the next few days for more details.

While the party was winding down as we arrived late it was nice to catch up with friends, and it was no surprise that many of them are the same ones that you will still find in the pits enjoying a cold one and having some fun a couple hours after the last checkered flag flies!

Have a great Turkey Day!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Weekly Racing Returns to Sedalia; Thursday's With Joe at Britt

A couple of pretty interesting happenings in our coverage area during this final full week before the Holiday season sets in. First came the announcement that Joe Ringsdorf will be the new promoter at the Hancock County Speedway in Britt for 2010. And, since Joe is pretty busy promoting Fairmont on Friday, Algona on Saturday and Mason City on Sunday, the new race night for the north central Iowa facility will be on Thursday. Throw in Alta (not promoted at this time by Ringsdorf) on Wednesday night and drivers in that area will now have the opportunity, if they choose, to race weekly five nights a week! You would never find this outside of the upper Midwest as in some regions of the country you are lucky to even find a special event on a night other than Saturday. I am guessing that the All Iowa Points championships in five divisions will run through Britt next year.

Joe always seemed to take a lot of heat on the internet forums, but fortunately that has calmed down some the last year or two. I have always been impressed with his shows when I have been able to attend them and he and his wife Marian, who sadly passed away not too long ago, were fantastic to work with when I had the NKF Tour. Here's wishing him the best of luck in Britt. The full press release can be found at

Down in Missouri the big news is that the State Fair Speedway in Sedalia will return to weekly racing action on Friday nights in 2010 under the guidance of a pair of Late Model drivers turned first-time-promoters in Jason Bodenhammer and Reid Millard. The big half-mile that sits in front of the spacious grandstands will see Late Models, 360 Sprints and A-Modifieds do battle each week with the season opener slated for April 16th. With three premier divisions on the card race fans will pay $12 admission and hopefully they will see that big grandstand fill in nicely as Sedalia has always been one of my favorite racing destinations. I also noted that Millard and Bodenhammer have secured the services of former Adrian Speedway promoter Glenn Portzen to handle track preparations. Portzen has a reputation for going that extra mile to provide a fantastic racing surface and I witnessed that first-hand during our NKF Tour event at Adrian in 2001. With Portzen on the job I would bet that you will never see a one-lane dusty slickathon at Sedalia!

The return of weekly racing at Sedalia cannot be good news for the folks at LA Raceway in La Monte. Only fifteen miles from Sedalia, LA sprung up when weekly racing disappeared from the state fairgrounds a few years back and the tidy little track filled the Friday night void nicely in the area. They themselves just announced this week that A-Modifieds would return to their weekly roster of divisions after taking this past year off, but it looks as though they will need to carve out a niche with their other classes (305 Sprints, B-Mods, Street Stocks and Hobby Stocks) to set them apart from Sedalia on Friday night. As always, we hope for success for both facilities!

Take a look at the Calendar page at and you will see that our 2010 Specials Calendar is already starting to take shape. One race still to go for 2009 though and that is the annual Turkey Classic at the Springfield Raceway on the Saturday afternoon after Thanksgiving. I am hoping that I can talk my wife into stopping there, but even if I cannot convince her, you will be able to check in with Kevin Trittien and TapFan's Tours to get a post-race report.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Three Drivers Repeat, Two Return to The Top and Three Others Take Their First All Iowa Points Championships

There were some familiar names on top of the final All Iowa Points standings for 2009 as three drivers repeated their 2008 titles and two more drivers returned to the top of their respective divisions after more than ten years. There were some new faces as well at the top though as drivers in the Modifieds, 360 Sprints and 305 Sprints picked up their first-ever “state championship”.

Ray Guss Jr. won the All Iowa Points Late Model championship three years straight in 1989, 1990 and 1991 and he returns the top of the standings in 2009 for his fourth state title. After pairing up with Hershel Roberts part way into the season, Guss went on a tear and moved past early leader Mark Burgtorf in July. “The River City Hustler” racked up fourteen feature wins and had forty-three top-five finishes on his way to the title. Terry Neal finished second to Guss on the strength of thirty-eight top-five finishes and sixteen feature race wins. The early pace-setter for the Late Models, Mark Burgtorf finished the year in the third position after taking the checkers first in seventeen feature races.

Former IMCA National Late Model champ Kevin Blum ranked in the fourth spot with Andy Eckrich being the first non-IMCA regular on the chart in fifth. Jason Frankel, Jeff Aikey, Todd Cooney, Matt Ryan and Leon Zeitner complete the top ten. Cooney (2nd), Guss (3rd), Eckrich (4th), Frankel (5th), Neal (6th) and Burgtorf (9th) are in the top ten for the second year in a row. Blum made a successful return to the Late Model ranks after finishing 110th in the 2008 Modified standings, Aikey was 38th in last year’s Late Model standings, Matt Ryan was 15th and Zeitner was 36th.

After finishing third behind Todd Shute and Ryan Ruter in the 2008 All Iowa Points Modified standings, Jeremy Mills left no doubt who would win the title in 2009 as he dominated the division beating runner-up Jay Noteboom by seventy-three points. Mills captured twenty-five feature wins this season as part of his fifty-nine top five finishes on All Iowa Points tracks. This is the first All Iowa Points title in any division for Mills although he also previously challenged for a Hobby Stock title. Noteboom tallied twenty-two feature wins and thirty-seven top fives as he improved his ranking by four spots after finishing sixth in 2008. Perhaps the surprise driver of the year in any division, Max Corporan ranked 234th in 2008, but after winning thirteen features this season he ended the year tied for third. Scott Hogan made the long trip from Vinton to Burlington every Saturday night to win the track championship at 34 Raceway and that success helped to put him in that tie for third with Corporan. Adam Larson landed in the fifth spot with Reese Coffee in sixth. Two-time AIP Modified champion Mark Schulte settled for seventh, Darin Duffy and Ryan Dolan tied for eighth while Bruce Hanford completed the top ten.

Dustin Smith made it two All Iowa Points titles in a row for the Stock Car division on the strength of twenty-five feature wins and fifty-five top fives. Mike Jergens made a big jump after finishing 26th in 2008 to second in the 2009 final standings with twenty-two feature wins to his credit. Kevin Opheim spent another year lurking near the top of the Stock Car standings finishing third this year after being tied for that same position in 2008. Illinois resident Abe Huls was another big mover coming from 22nd in 2008 to finish fourth in 2009, and Matt Greiner advanced three spots from last year to take fifth. Greg Gill wound up in the same spot that he finished last year in sixth, Andrew Burk, Donavon Smith and Trent Murphy tied for seventh while Damon Murty and Jeffrey Larson wound up deadlocked for tenth.

There was a repeat champion in the Limited Modified ranks as well with Kevin Sather claiming his second straight All Iowa Points championship. Sather will need to build a bigger trophy room as he collected twenty-nine of the feature win mementos this year as part of his forty-five top five finishes. Austin Kaplan moved up one spot on the podium over last year as he finished as the runner-up in 2009 with seventeen feature wins and forty-three top fives. Jesse Sobbing was thirteenth in the 2008 Hobby Stock standings and picked up eight points late in the year in a Limited Modified before racing his way to a third –place finish in his first full season in the division. Scott Davis was 141st last year, but this year he ran a strong fourth while northwest Iowa driver Darrin Korthals completed the top five in his rookie season in the division. The 2008 runner-up Luke Wanninger placed sixth followed by Adam Ackerman, Brett Meyer and Dan Tenold with Matt Jones and Nate Chodur tied for tenth.

The most successful driver in the state this year, at least by the All Iowa Points system, was Hobby Stock champion Shannon Anderson. The second generation driver from Atlantic rolled up forty-three feature wins as part of fifty-six top five finishes and he was never seriously challenged in the points this season taking his second straight AIP title. Chris Hovden used a three-race sweep in November to jump from fourth to second in the final standings. Hovden tallied twenty-three feature wins and thirty-six top fives and that was six “top fives” less than each of the three drivers who were next in line Devin Smith, Dustin Larson and Chad Gentz. Rusty Montagne, Nathan Wood, John Cain and Stac Schroeder rounded out the top ten as four drivers (Anderson, Smith, Gentz and Schroder) were in the top ten for the second year in a row.

A driver who resides in Mankato, Minnesota, is crowned the All Iowa Points Four Cylinder champion for 2009 in the division that saw the tightest battle for the top throughout the season. Nate Coopman won twenty-three feature races on his way to the championship after finishing sixth in the final rundown last year. Jeremy Campbell was one spot behind Coopman last year and that is where he finds himself again as the runner-up for 2009 with sixteen feature wins on his resume’. Gary Peiffer paced the field for the early part of the season and wound up in the third spot with the Chandler brothers, Brad and Nathan rounding out the top five. Justin Wacha was sixth, Tim Doocy seventh, Jay DeVries ranked eighth while Zach Ankrum came in ninth and two drivers, Bill Whalen Jr. and Joe Bunkofske, tied for tenth. Coopman, Campbell, Peiffer and Nathan Chandler were all in the top ten for the second straight year.

Terry McCarl kept Mark Dobmeier from taking his fourth straight 410 Sprint Car All Iowa Points championship in 2009 and for McCarl it was his fifth AIP title adding to the honors he received in 1994, 1996, 1998 and 1999. Dobmeier settled for second this season with 1995 AIP champion Johnny Herrera finishing in third. Brian Brown finished in the fourth position while Gregg Bakker and Scott Winters tied for fifth.

Mike Boston edged out two-time defending champion Jody Rosenboom by just two-points to win his first All Iowa Points championship in the 360 Sprint division even though none of his points were earned on Iowa soil! Boston won the track title at Eagle, Nebraska, a track that is included in the points due to the fact that it is close enough to the Iowa border and Iowa-based drivers race there on a regular basis. Jack Dover ranked third in the final standings while a teenager with a familiar last name, Robby Wolfgang, was fourth. Knoxville Raceway’s 360 Sprint Rookie-of-the-Year Jonathan Cornell finished fifth.

Bobby Mincer won on opening night and never trailed in the 305 Sprint division as he captured his first All Iowa Points championship. Fellow Burlington resident Jayson Ditsworth chased Mincer in for second, Casey Friedrichsen and Kevin Hetrick tied for third while Ryan Voss completed the top five.

For a full rundown of the 2009 All Iowa Points standings in each division click on the “Points” tab at

Friday, November 6, 2009

World Finals...

I'm watching the Friday night action from the World of Outlaws World Finals on DirtVision and, wow, are they really tearing up a lot of stuff in the Sprint Car Main event. Cody Darrah, Jac Haudenschild, Steve Kinser, Brandon Wimmer, Terry McCarl, Dale Blaney and maybe even a few more have been upside down during the first 23 laps that has taken about an hour to run so far.

McCarl was none too happy with Craig Dollansky who is debuting his new Big Game Tree Stands ride this weekend (same sponsor that McCarl has had for years if you didn't already know that) as it was Dollansky who made contact with McCarl sending Terry head on into the wall. After a few tense moments McCarl walked away under his own power and headed straight for Dollansky's car to have a little discussion with his fellow tree stander. The deejays in the announcing booth played Hot Blooded and then the muppet song I Love You, You Love Me as a couple of officials headed off McCarl, and then they followed it up with Why Can't We Be Friends. I'm sure that Terry really enjoyed that!

Finally, after an hour Jason Meyers held off Donny Schatz to take the win with Danny Lasoski in third as the Sprints took the checkers at ten after midnight Eastern time.

The Late Models on the other hand ran the first 25-laps under green with Earl Pearson taking the lead from Scott Bloomquist in traffic just before Dale McDowell slowed on the track with a flat left rear tire. Wisconsin's Adam Hensel has moved from 14th to fifth at the mid-point and UMP National Champ Jason Feger has charged from 18th to seventh.

Back to green and three laps later the leader Earl Pearson Jr. goes up in smoke. Feger is now up to fourth and definitely looks like the fastest car on the track. Two laps later and another caution flies for a skirmish involving Dan Schlieper, Austin Dillon and Brady Smith. Schlieper makes sure that Dillon knows that he doesn't care who he is related to, and Feger is now up to second behind Scott Bloomquist with twenty-laps to go.

NUTS!!! Feger is right on Bloomer's bumper coming off turn four with ten laps to go before Jason's left rear tire blows! What a run by the Bloomington, Illinois, driver but when you look at the final results you would have never known it. Ten to go and it is Bloomquist's race to win or lose.

Now with seven laps to go points championship contender Josh Richards pops a right rear while racing with Shane Clanton and Rick Eckert for third. The other championship contender Steve Francis has dropped out of the top five with a sour powerplant. Chris Madden is now second behind Bloomquist.

Bloomquist pulls away for the win with Madden coming home second, Rick Eckert runs a strong third as he honors his longtime car owner Raye Vest who passed away this week and Darrell Lanigan takes fourth. Josh Richards charges up to fifth and will take a four-point advantage into Saturday's finale, Jason Feger comes back for sixth and it was Jeep VanWormer, Eric Jabobsen, Steve Francis and Austin Dillon completing the top ten.

Keep in mind that you can catch the action from Charlotte live on the Speed Channel Saturday night beginning at 7 p.m. Central time. I have my DVR set to record that one as I have other plans, but I'm thinking that I'm screwed if they run this late again Saturday night. Friday's final checkers waved at 11:45 Central.

Big Announcement In The Sprint Car World?

Will Tony Stewart make an announcement this Saturday night stating that he is starting a new 410 Sprint Car series??? Take a listen to Tampa morning show host, and part time sprint car driver, "Bubba The Love Sponge" and Danny Lasoski by clicking below.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A True Hero.....

Take a look at this,0,5894966.story

Current Open Wheel Modified driver and 1983 All Iowa Points Street Stock Champion Bob Dominacki did what comes naturally to him. I had the pleasure of getting to know Bob pretty well back in the late '90's as he traveled with my good friend the late Darrell Bennett working for Iowa Battery. Knowing Bob, it did not surprise me one bit when I read this story.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I'm a Little Grumpy This Morning......

One of the great things about this blog format is that you can scan through the archives to determine if I have stayed consistent or not when it comes to an opinion on a certain subject. Therefore, if you look back to July (Daytona) and April (Talladega) you will see that I have not wavered in how I look at this whole “restrictor plate” scenario. Of course I am thrilled that Ryan Newman emerged unhurt from his wild ride and after going through something like that I would expect him to say some pretty bold things, which is of course what he did. But I still want to know from him, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon and every other driver that rips NASCAR after a late lap melee just what it is that they want NASCAR to do about it???? Seems to me that it is pretty easy to stand there and complain about it, but I still haven’t heard any concrete solutions being offered up by our brave heroes.

The key word in the last sentence of the previous paragraph is that despite being involved in a wild wreck they are still able to “stand” there afterwards. So is their solution to take the restrictor plate off of the cars and let them go 220 or 230 miles per hour so that they can “drive away from each other”? Um, do you remember why we went to restrictor plates in the first place? It was back in 1987 when Bobby Allison had a right rear tire blow out and at 215 mph his car started to slide and then lifted upward nearly clearing the catch fence on the front straightaway at Talladega. Do our drivers of today think that there will not be wrecks without the restrictor plates? Do they feel that they will stop bumping and blocking each other in the final laps of a race if they are running 225 instead of 190? How much worse would have Ryan Newman’s crash been if he were doing 230 mph down the Talladega backstretch instead of 195 mph? Exponentially worse! How much higher would have Carl Edwards’ car flew coming through the tri-oval in April at 225 mph? I shudder to think! And you’ll recall that in that accident it wasn’t because there were thirty cars running four-wide and somebody bobbled, there were only four cars running together in two drafts of two and it was because the leader tried to throw a block coming to the checkered flag that caused that wild accident. I’ve got news for you boys, without the plates you are still going to have guys drafting off of each other and running in packs of two, three, four, or more at Daytona and Talladega so if you try to throw a block, or if somebody miscalculates a move by an inch or two you are still going to have a wreck and, at thirty miles per hour faster, it’s going to hurt one hell of a lot more! Or worse…..

So what did we get yesterday? Mike Helton warns the drivers about bump-drafting and pushing pre-race so for 170 laps we get a three-wide parade with no issues, but when that checkered flag comes into sight, something happens to these drivers of today. And I only use that phrase “drivers of today” because of Ryan Newman’s reference to the greats of the past and how they respected each other. I’m still waiting for a driver to make the observation during a post-race-post-crash interview that “you know, we are all able to put on quite a show and respect each other with some give and take for the first 480 miles, but then in those last 20 we kind of forget how to play nice.” So if NASCAR decides against taking the restrictor plates off the car, what can they do? Maybe they could mandate that all car owners inform their drivers that the cost of replacing their wrecked car will come out of their own paycheck. Sure seems like the drivers of the past respected each other more and perhaps it was because the financial hit of not putting a racecar back on the trailer in one piece after a race was incredibly more substantial than it is today. Sure, the cars of today cost more, but the car itself is a far lesser proportion of the team’s overall budget than it was twenty or thirty years ago. Maybe they can pull 4.3 million dollars out of the purse and state that the only way that it goes back in is if the race runs the last ten laps under green and then, if successful, each of the 43 positions will collect a $100,000 bonus.

Do you get where I am coming from? No matter what rules package, or lack thereof that NASCAR comes up with for Talladega or Daytona, due to the nature of the tracks and of the science of drafting you are still going to have drivers racing each other at a high rate of speed inches apart from each other and the only thing that can be done to minimize or eliminate the crashes is to change the mindset of the drivers. You do not need to make that wild move on the final lap to move from seventeenth to fifteenth and pick up those extra six points. And it is better to hold your line and finish second with a car that you can drive onto the transporter rather than to throw a block and nearly fly threw a catch fence so that your crew has to dismantle what is left of your race car just to get it onto the transporter in multiple pieces. Heck, we even have these same late lap issues at all of the other tracks on the schedule and that is a big reason why my interest in NASCAR Cup racing has faded over the past several years.

So again, my follow up question to Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin after the race yesterday is “it is obvious that you want something to change with NASCAR in regard to Daytona and Talladega, what do you suggest that change should be?” A part of me wonders if, deep down, their true honest answer to that would be that we should stop racing at both facilities.

Next subject. A couple of AWP’s are accusing Todd Staley of being a “greedy” promoter because he is still trying to get in night number two of the Annual Fall Challenge at the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa. Heavy rains from last Thursday made the facility too wet to run this past Saturday night so it is now rescheduled for Sunday afternoon November 8th. Greedy for trying to run the second day of a show that he has already collected entry fees for? Wow, a promoter just can’t please anybody these days when it comes to making a decision on how to handle a situation that the WEATHER caused. In my opinion every promoter should be “greedy”, after all why be in this line of business if you are not going to make some money at it! Here’s hoping that there is at least one “greedy” promoter out there for every race track that still exists here in the upper Midwest, somebody “greedy” enough that will go to the extreme effort and costs required to prepare the facility and then risk that elements beyond his control may force his or her bank balance to take a negative hit as a “reward” for those efforts. Oh yes, and then be called about every name in the book on a public forum by somebody so wise that they are not willing to hang their name to their all-knowing comments. Because if there isn’t enough greedy people to go around then there are going to be more tracks sitting idol in 2010 than what we ended up with in 2009 and that would be a shame. Look out AWP’s, there are already a couple of promoters who have released their 2010 schedule where they are going to charge you money for a pit pass or make you buy a ticket in order for them to put on a whole list of races, those greedy bastards!!!

One thing that I know for sure is that a promoter never comes out ahead when he or she is forced to run an event on a date other than when it was originally scheduled. I believe that this was the third time that we have run Shiverfest on a Sunday after not being able to go on the original Saturday date and each and every time we have seen our car counts drop and our grandstand be less than half of what our averages have been on the Saturday shows. This isn’t even a “high dollar” show, but the result of running it on a Sunday has once again proven that it is a loser on a “re-scheduled date” and the last thing that a promoter wants is to end the year on a sour note. That is why we will likely not have a “rain date” for the event going forward, if it is unable to be run on the originally scheduled date then it will just be cancelled and we’ll try again the following October. The majority of the money that is raised for the dialysis units comes from the sponsorship program that we have in place and a great deal of the recognition that the sponsors receive comes in the form of pre-race publicity on the local radio stations. Therefore, while the portion of the sponsorship that goes toward running the race will be refunded, the portion that goes to the dialysis units will still be donated, so even if we do have to cancel the event we still maintain the benefits to the community that we are so proud of.

And here’s another note on Shiverfest that might get some of you talking. The Lee County Speedway proudly flies the IMCA flag in three of its weekly racing divisions, the Modifieds, the Stock Cars and the Sport Mods. But for Shiverfest, in an effort to be able to draw in more cars from around the area, promoter Terry Hoenig has tried to put together a rules package in each of these three divisions that would make it as close to an even playing field as possible for those cars who run IMCA weekly and for those cars that do not. And each year Terry has to field phone calls and e-mails for a month leading up to the event from drivers on both sides of the fence telling him why he is wrong, why he is an idiot and, if he had half a brain, how it should be done. Then, on race day, there is always one or two drivers or car owners who want to get in his face and go through the same process that the pre-race callers and e-mailers did. Frankly, I blame myself for putting Terry through this torture and that is why on the Monday after this year’s Shiverfest I looked through the numbers of this year’s participants. Seven of the thirty-five Modifieds were not IMCA members, four of the twenty Stock Cars were not IMCA members and six of the twenty-five Sport Mods were not IMCA members. Now at first look I was thinking that with 20% of the Modifieds and Stock Cars, and 24% of the Sport Mods being non-IMCA, it was good that we opened up the rules. But then you have to consider how many IMCA racers stayed home because the rules had been “opened up” for this event. I knew of a few and Terry knew of even more, so when you look at the big picture and determine that only seventeen of our total field of 144 racecars (11.8%) were there because we opened up the rules, it made me reconsider my thought process. Is it worth the grief in regard to the rules that the promoter has to take for the month preceding the event and on race day for this kind of turn out from the non-IMCA contingent? Why should a track that supports IMCA and a promoter who believes in the IMCA concept so much be “pushed” to go away from it for a season-ending event? The answer was easy for me and I have suggested to Terry that the 2010 Shiverfest should be IMCA sanctioned for the Modifieds, Stock Cars and Sport Mods. Sure, I would hate the fact that a couple of the drivers that have supported this event from day one, and who have even won this race in the past, would now find that their cars would not be legal to participate. But, if they know early enough, perhaps Bruce, Donovan and others can start working deals with an owner of an IMCA-legal car for a one-day ride in October of 2010. Of course, just because I have “suggested” it, doesn’t mean that it will happen either!

If you peek back a few weeks on the Back Stretch you’ll see that I offered up some unasked for advice in regard to promoters who might take on a track that had either shut down recently or was in jeopardy of closing. One of the tracks that I had in mind when I offered up those thoughts was the Scotland County Speedway in Memphis. This facility is in a catch-twenty-two when it comes to what rules to run as it basically needs to draw existing drivers from two different sanctioning bodies, and two completely different Hobby Stock rules packages in order to have a fighting chance. No matter what the new promoter decided upon he was going to have one contingent not happy with the choice, and the last thing that a promoter at Memphis needs right now is griping back and forth on the internet over the off-season as he tries to sell sponsorship of race nights to prospective supporters. There is not enough money brought in to pay the feature winner in each of these eight divisions (USRA A-Mods, IMCA Modifieds, USRA B-Mods, Sport Mods, Stock Cars, “Outlaw” Hobby Stocks, 9 to 1 Hobby Stocks and Four Cylinders) and nobody wants to watch 75 racecars spread across those eight divisions with only eight to ten cars in each! The promoter has made his choice and has announced his five divisions (one more than I even suggested earlier) and has indicated the type of rules that he will be going with. Now gang, if you want this place to succeed, don’t start lobbying for having your type of rules either through word of mouth or via the internet. Decide if you are going to make the changes necessary to your current equipment either through modifications, or by selling what you have and buying something that does meet the rules to race there and, if not, go race somewhere that you are legal without bitching about it! Give the guy a fighting chance to put on a good show on a nice racetrack in a community with some great small-town dirt track racing tradition.

Only twenty-one Modifieds showed up for a $5,000-to-win show at Outlaw Speedway in Muskogee, Oklahoma, this past weekend. I’m not sure how to look at this, but I will say that I am surprised at the lack of numbers. Terry Phillips took the win with Jason Hughes, Johnny Bone Jr., Jeremy Payne and Kelly Shryock completing the top five.

Final subject of the day involves my second favorite sport, college football. I usually like Lou Holtz, but he kind of ticked me off during College Football Final on ESPN Saturday night. Yes, Iowa’s win against Indiana was incredibly ugly on Saturday and ol’ Lou wanted to get in his digs, but during his rant he stated that the Hawks had to block a field goal to beat Northern Iowa, they beat Arkansas State by only three, they beat Penn State on the road which was impressive, they beat Michigan State who isn’t as good as some earlier thought and that they beat Illinois. Come on Lou, at least get your facts right when you are trying to support your opinion! Iowa doesn’t even play Illinois this year! But they did beat Wisconsin on the road and downed Michigan at home, yes Lou, that same Michigan team that beat your beloved Fighting Irish and that same Michigan team that lost to Illinois on Saturday. So by your incorrect facts, maybe Iowa isn’t so bad after all?

That’s it for me today…..time to get back to being Positive! :)