Saturday, March 27, 2010

34 Raceway Practice Day

I was unable to make the trip out to Nebraska to catch one of the two big Modified shows out there this weekend so instead I popped down to 34 Raceway for a bit today to take in some of their practice. At least sixty cars were on hand including around eighteen late models on a chilly day with a stiff wind blowing across the track and into the pits. There was also a nice little gathering of spectators who enjoyed the free grandstand as they prepared for the track’s season opener next Saturday April 3rd. The track was in great shape, but the parking lot would have been an adventure if this would have been an actual race day. With a favorable weather forecast for the week ahead, everything should be a "go" for next Saturday and you can find the details in the ad on the front page of

I was amazed at how far some of the drivers traveled in for a practice day, but with 34 Raceway hosting the season opener for the Deery Brothers Summer Series for IMCA Late Models on April 10th (details also in the ad on the homepage) I guess that I shouldn’t have been surprised. Several Quad City area drivers were on hand, Brian Hunter pulled down from Independence and Charlie McKenna came all the way down from Clear Lake. One the storylines for IMCA Late Models this year will be the emergence of the SPI regulars as they make the transition and it was good to see Andy Eckrich on hand getting some laps at 34 as he prepares for the Deery opener here.

If you are looking for news from Nebraska stop by TapFan’s Tours on PositivelyRacing as he was in McCool Junction and I am guessing that we will see some news out of Beatrice soon on the 4d Fan Report. Here are some pics from Burlington taken with my little digital Canon.

This brought back memories of days long ago. Waiting on a train behind a non-wing Sprint Car on an open trailer.
Seth Woodruff airing up the right front on his Four Cylinder
Jeff Waterman

Nick Guernsey

Tony Davis

John Ahlers

2009 All Iowa Points Late Model Champion Ray Guss Jr.

Mike Zemo Jr.

Brian Hunter

Nate Buesling

Andy Eckrich (56) and Leroy Brenner (53)

Denny Woodworth (45) and Todd Malmstrom (75)

Denny Woodworth

Clayton Deppe pulled his IMCA Stock Car down from Kellogg IA

"SuperDave" Schrier

Derek St. Clair making the move to an IMCA Stock Car in 2010

Jeff Mueller

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Notes....

If you read my blog from yesterday you will see that I let the weather forecast effect my decision on whether or not to make the trip to Malden. I am happy to report that the weather held off and the track was able to run their big USCS Sprint and Modified show. Looks like they had well over twenty 410 Sprints in attendance with Marshall Skinner taking the win over Derek Hagar, Jim Moughan, Tommy Worley and Chris Williams. Robert Powers kept the Modified trophy in Missouri with Mississippi's Chris Moore in second and Tennessee's Hunter Rasdon in third. Paul Reeder and Austin Matthews completed the top five. This event kicks off the 2010 All Missouri Points chase and I guess that I will have to try to make my first trip to Malden at some other point down the line.

Yes, I could have hit the road and seen some racing yesterday, but as you'll see in my Saturday blog I still had a great day and it was topped off by the big upset that was pulled off by the Northern Iowa Panthers over top-ranked Kansas. My son Morgan played against Ali Farokmanesh at a couple of camps when he was in high school and Mo said then that this kid was a player to keep our eye on. We saw him play some high school games for Iowa City West and he always played with great confidence, so it was no surprise when he stepped up and took the shot that had just about everybody watching saying "nooooooo, pull it out and burn some clock". Ali knew that he would bury it, and when he did the Panthers buried Kansas. I am looking forward to seeing if the Panthers can make that next step to the "Elite Eight", they are definitely one of the best of several cinderella stories in this year's tournament.

The World of Outlaw Late Models had two shows this weekend with Darrell Lanigan winning at Ocala Florida and young Austin Hubbard taking the win at Screven Speedway in southern Georgia. For Hubbard it was his first career win with the Outlaws and it is a good bet that there will be many more to come. Iowa's Jill George who is competing for the Rookie-of-the-Year title on the 2010 WoO schedule finished 19th at Ocala, one spot behind another female competitor April Farmer, and she did not make the feature at Screven finishing sixth in the first B-Main. Defending champ Josh Richards holds the point lead after this weekend while Jill is tied for 16th in the standings with Jordan Bland. The Outlaws head to Texas for a doubleheader this coming weekend at Battleground Speedway and Lone Star Speedway.

The World of Outlaw Sprints ran a doubleheader at Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap Tennessee, near Bristol, with Joey Saldana winning Friday night and current point leader Jason Meyers taking the Saturday victory. Sprint Cup star Kasey Kahne was in action on Friday and set quick time blazing around the VERY high-banked 3/8-mile in just 10.258 seconds. Kahne finished 19th in the main event, but one of his team drivers had an impressive weekend. Brad Sweet had never even seen the place before pulling in Friday night, but he ran fourth on Friday and third on Saturday. It was notable that Jason Meyers' quick-time on Saturday night was nearly a full second and a half slower than Kahne's quick time on Friday. The WoO Sprints next event is at Tri-State Speedway in Pocola, Oklahoma, on April 10th.

Great to see former dirt racer Justin Allgaier earn his first win on the Nationwide Series at Bristol yesterday. No surprise that some dirt track experience would payoff on the high-banked half-mile.

Good news, the snow has melted here and the forecast calls for warmer and drier conditions this week. Hopefully this means that we will be able to kickoff the local racing schedule over the next few weeks.

Be Positive, Support The Sport!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Snowy Saturday in March!

My original plans for this Saturday was to head a few hours south and take in some racing at either I-55 Raceway in Pevely, or at the Malden Speedway in the bootheel of the Show Me state. But when I looked out the window and saw this scene this morning, I decided to stay close to home rather than risking the seven hour drive to Malden. (Pevely had already cancelled in anticipation of bad weather)

Since I wouldn’t be seeing any live racing I decided to do the next best thing. First I stopped at the Finish Line Restaurant in New London for a tasty lunch and some good conversation with Bill Vantiger. Bill, his wife Pam and primarily his daughter Megan operate this racing themed restaurant located on the east edge of New London and I don’t know what kind of seasoning that Megan uses with her fresh ground beef, but my double cheeseburger was the best that I have had! If you live here in southeast Iowa make sure that you visit the Finish Line often, and if you aren’t from around this area make sure that you stop by and give them a try if you are passing through. I will be trying their pizza on my next trip. And don’t forget about all of the baked goodies and treats at Pam’s Cakes and Bakery that is attached to the restaurant.

After lunch I continued east to West Burlington where the annual 34 Raceway car show is being held this weekend at Westland Mall. There was a nice mix of race fans and general shoppers walking around checking out the beautiful race cars that will soon be slinging the dirt on the 3/8-mile high banked oval. The track is scheduled to hold a practice session this coming Saturday before opening the season on April 3rd with the Brian Hetrick Memorial. Details can be found by clicking the ad on the homepage at

While at the show I enjoyed catching up with several people including fellow Hawkeye Racing News columnist Larry Bontz, Tri-State Speed Review publisher Dewain Hulett , the top man of the Lil’ Racer Car Club Mitch Swinton, and the star of the Pepsi Inside Track Dave Jones. Dave was kind enough to tape an interview with me for his radio show that now everybody can hear at their convenience by clicking on the link at

Modified driver Bill Roberts Jr. told me that he is excited about chasing the IMCA Modified Hawkeye Dirt Tour schedule this year and his sharp looking race car, including the pink wheels (see below), will definitely catch the eye of race fans at each venue. Veteran sprint car driver Matt Rogerson told me that he has no plans as of right now for 2010 and he really isn’t actively looking. It is hard for me to refer to Matt as a "veteran sprint car driver" as I still think of him as just a teenage kid who made his debut at 34 Raceway when I was the track announcer there. If he is now a veteran driver, that just makes me an old announcer.

If you are looking to get your racing fix, the show at Westland Mall continues on Sunday and here are just a few of the cars that are on display. Ryan Clark has some more pics from the show "In Staging" at PositivelyRacing.

Justin Newberry

Jacob Darbyshire

Kevin Hetrick

Colby Springsteen

Bill Roberts Jr.

Daniel Bergquist

Dustin Crear

Jeff Mueller

Jason Cook

Brett Timmerman

Kirk Kinsley

Jay Johnson

Evan Epperson and Mark Winkel

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hoops Update (Racing Related Of Course) and More.....

Pella used a 15-0 run midway through the third quarter to erase a ten point deficit as they defeated my Mount Pleasant Panthers Thursday night in the Class 3A semi-finals of the Iowa Boys State High School basketball tournament. So now we are getting ready to see if the Panthers can knock off a tough Davenport Assumption team at noon today (Saturday) to finish third.

The Class 4A title game will be watched by many tonight both at Wells Fargo arena and on television as the nation's top-ranked basketball recruit, Harrison Barnes, will be in action for the Ames Little Cyclones as they try to win their second straight title in undefeated fashion. Barnes, who is heading to North Carolina to play for the Tar Heels, is joined by another D-1 recruit in Doug McDermott. The son of current Iowa State University head coach Greg McDermott will be playing his college ball at the University of Northern Iowa beginning next season. Their opponent will be the Rams of Southeast Polk whose roster includes a 6' 4" junior by the name of Austin McCarl. That's right, the third-generation sprint car driver will be doing his best tonight to try to shut down the best high school basketball player in America! Austin played a key role for the Rams in their semi-final win against Linn-Mar on Friday afternoon coming off the bench to to play some tough defense and grab some big rebounds in the closely contested affair. So if you have nothing else planned tonight, tune in and see if Austin and the Rams can pull off the big upset. I would be interested to see if the television commentators mention what Austin does during the summer months!

They were able to get in night number one of the annual Tuckasee Toilet Bowl Classic down in Clarksville, Tennessee, last night. The season opener for the mid-south based MARS Late Model series saw Hermitage Missouri's Eric Turner lead the feature from green to checkered for the win. Oklahoma teenager Gary Christian was the runnerup with Illinois driver Brian Shirley third. Home state drivers Charles Zimmerman and Steven Ashby rounded out the top five. They race the quick quarter at Clarksville again tonight, weather permitting.

The Quad City Speedway in East Moline will be run by the fairboard this year with an event director in place. A couple of people that I have talked to say that this will be a good opportunity for the fairboard to see just how tough it is for a promoter to make a buck there and should make things better down the road. I know of one track that has been running under this setup for many years now and they have been incredibly successful (they'll be running the 50th edition of their signature event this August). The success of other fairboards who have tried it? Not so much. I have spent a lot of entertaining Sunday nights at East Moline over the years and I wish them the best as they kick off the 2010 season the first Sunday in May.

Looks like the fairboard is behind the efforts at the Eldon Raceway as well as board member Terry Doud has posted a schedule of five nights of action for the super half-mile in 2010 on the discussion board at You can also find the nine night schedule for the Bloomfield Speedway there as well. We'll try to get those incorporated into our Calendar at this week along with Quincy, East Moline and more.

The All Missouri Points chase gets underway next week with shows at Malden and I-55 in Pevely and I am hoping to take in one of them if the weather cooperates. The All Iowa Points season is scheduled to kickoff on March 27th at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Nebraska. So how does a race in Nebraska kickoff the All Iowa Points??? The explanation can be found on the Points tab at under "Other States".

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Some Random Stuff....

Wow, what a difference a week makes! When we left town last Saturday morning for our trip to Tennessee the ground was still pretty much completely covered with snow and I had still had piles that were three feet or taller on the sides of my driveway. Now, after some warm weather and even a couple of thunderstorms this week, all of it is gone! Maybe we will be able to start this racing season off as scheduled the first weekend of April in Iowa.

Several of my friends who are not into racing, including my lovely wife, have questioned my sanity after last weekend's road trip. One such individual asked me how long I was at the track and I told him about four hours. His response was "okay, so you drove nine hours to watch four hours of racing and then drove another nine hours home the next day?" See, it sounds pretty stupid when you just look at it like that, but when you are a race fan you don't just look at it like that. Plus, throw in the fact that those eighteen hours of driving gave me a chance to catch up with two good friends who I sadly just don't get to see much of anymore and it is easy to see why my response was "I'd do it all over again this weekend if I could!"

This weekend though is devoted to basketball as the Mount Pleasant Panther boys have advanced to the semi-finals of the Iowa Boys State Basketball Class 3A Tournament with a game tonight (Thursday) against Aidan Johnson's beloved Pella "Lil' Dutch" and then again on Saturday whether it be the Consolation game or the State Championship matchup. Trips to State have been few and far in between for the Panthers. The team that I played on in 1981 lost to the eventual state champions Central DeWitt at substate by seven. I still have an occasional nightmare about trying to guard a 6' 10" center by the name of Steve Muller. My brother Kurt's squad of 1984 made it to state and lost in the first round to Iowa Falls when 6' 6" Art Sathoff put up 56 points against MP. (I bet my brother has worse nightmares than I do). In fact, until this past Tuesday when Mount Pleasant downed Western Dubuque in the first round game in Des Moines the Panthers had only won one game in a state tournament sanctioned by the Iowa High School Athletic Association and that came in 1997 when they defeated Iowa Falls in the first round.

At the time I had the pleasure of doing the play-by-play of all the Panther boys games on KILJ radio and one of the kids that MP had to stop that night was a 6' 5" freshman by the name of Nick Collison. Iowa Falls came into that game undefeated and, after the loss, they went through the next three years unbeaten with three straight state championships. Collison went on to star for the University of Kansas and is now in the NBA, but the Mount Pleasant Panthers can proudly say that they handed him his one and only loss in high school.

Nick Collison
Hopefully the Panthers can pick up another win or two at State this weekend!

I was planning on trying to sum up my feelings on the Carl Edwards/Brad Keselowski incident at Atlanta, but honestly I could never even come close to describing my thoughts as well as Ryan Clark did. If you haven't seen it yet, please take a moment and visit "In Staging" at Great job Ryan!

While at the website please also take a look at the Calendar tab as that will let you know where all of the special events are going on in now, the very near future! Have a great weekend and remember our motto here on the Back Stretch: Be Positive, Support The Sport!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hollingsworth Dominates at Ducktona

With a favorable weather forecast for the mid-south on Saturday I made a couple of phone calls to friends Bill and Scott Vantiger and we made the nine hour road trip to Duck River Speedway near Wheel Tennessee for the second event on the 2010 schedule for the Southern Regional Racing Series. We were pleased to find thirty-one Super Late Models ready to qualify as we pulled into this rustic little quarter mile about an hour south of Nashville and there were plenty of race fans on hand as well bundled up and ready for action.

The SRRS uses a unique qualifying method where they split the field into three groups and the drivers with the fastest three times in each group automatically advanced to the forty-lap main event. After that they ran ran three "heat races" which were really last chance events as the top four advanced and the rest went home unless they were awarded a provisional to make the twenty-four car starting field.

A pair of Alabama drivers Ronnie Lee Hollingsworth and Anthony Burroughs qualified for the front row and it was Hollingsworth who jumped to the lead at the drop of the green. Burroughs tried to keep pace, but had no luck even as the leader started working lapped traffic. The first caution waved on lap fifteen when Caleb Ashby slowed to a stop in turn two and on the restart the man to watch was Eric Hickerson. Up until then the track appeared to be locked down on the bottom, but Hickerson went to the top and found a new groove as he tried to move forward from his seventh starting spot. Drivers went three wide on a couple of occasions as they tried to slow the charge of Hickerson who moved up to third and appeared to be reeling in Burroughs before the caution waved again with five laps remaining for debris in turn two.

It seemed to take forever to get the field ready to go for the restart as drivers stopped to consult with track officials and, with the temperatures hovering near forty degrees, it must have taken a toll on Hickerson's tires. When the green waved again he tried that same groove but slipped back to fifth as both Daniel Miller and Ronnie Johnson drove by him. At the checkers it was Hollingsworth taking the dominating $3,000 victory ahead of Burroughs, Miller, Johnson and Hickerson. Craig Smith made the long pull down from Godfrey, Illinois, and finished eleventh.

There were five other divisions yet to run their features, but when the two-barrel Late Models crashed on their first two attempts at a start we decided to head for the warmth of our Nashville motel room. Kudos to the promoters for running the Super Late Model feature second on the schedule allowing us to be on the road by 8:30 p.m.

Duck River Speedway or "Ducktona" as the sign says is a quick little high-banked quarter-mile with new bleachers and bright Musco lighting. It is not one of those new immaculate facilities, but was a nice place to start what we hope will be a great 2010 racing schedule!

Riding with "Brother Bill" made me hungry for some great food at the Finish Line Restaurant in New London, a racing themed establishment run by his daughter Megan. Take a look at their ad on the front page of and maybe I'll see you there soon!