Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Just Had To Share This.....

Hi there! Hope you are enjoying the Holidays and that Santa was kind to you.

While perusing the websites to compile the Specials Schedule for 2011 I came across the announcement from the owners of 24 Raceway in Moberly, Missouri, stating that they would not be racing during the 2011 season, but that the facility is up for sale or for lease if anybody is interested.

"Over the years, there has never been any shortage of folks with suggestions as to how to manage a racetrack, and plenty of those folks have not been shy about offering their advice. Now is an opportunity for those with the ideas to step up and take over a fully operational; turn-key facility, whether it's a lease arrangement or possible sale."


Way to go Hawkeyes! You have to give out three "Player of the Game" awards in this win: Marcus Coker, Micah Hyde and The Replay Official who had the guts to overturn the call on that fourth down pass based upon one split second shot taken from through the legs of one of the Iowa defenders showing the nose of the ball digging into the turf. An Honorable Mention "PoG" to the sideline cameraman who nailed that image!

The 2001 All Iowa Points are complete and I will have a summary up here early next week, plus the full rundown will be added to the Points page.

Have a safe and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Legends and Leaders?

Through some stealth research I have been able to obtain the list of the other "finalists" that the Big Ten considered for the names of its two divisions in 2011 before deciding upon "Legends and Leaders"

Stars and Stripes

Bo and Woody

Tom-ay-to and Tom-ah-to

Jets and Sharks

Strength and Speed

Pimps and Hoes

Warriors and Gladiators

Gods and Super Heroes (have to give credit to the morning guy on WHB in KC for this one)

East and West

City Folk and Country Folk

Livers and Gizzards

Bob and Tom

Bait and Lures

Ducks and Lizards (unfortunately the sponsorships fell through.....think about it)

Bats and Mitts (already used at many Sports Bar restrooms)

Great Lakes and Great Plains

Ham and Eggs

Reality and Expectations

Wow, do I miss racing season!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Worries, Concerns And A Look At 2010

As I pull my notes together to summarize the racing events that I was fortunate enough to attend in 2010, I can’t help to worry a bit and wonder just what lies ahead of us as race fans for 2011 and beyond. Too many times this past season I sat in grandstands that were very sparsely filled, usually due to an unfavorable weather forecast or threatening weather. Sadly though, sometimes the skies were bright and blue and there still wasn’t enough fans to fill up half the stands.

Our sport is in trouble folks and we had better realize soon that it is not us, the race fans who will travel a hundred miles or more to get their fix, who will watch a radar all day to see if a track is going to be run or not and who makes room in their entertainment budget to attend two or more shows a week, that can carry the load. Promoters need to get the “casual fans” back to the track and hopefully, by presenting a well-run/high quality program those casual fans will be converted to fanatics like us, or like you……someone who will read the ramblings about racing of some guy on a blog in the middle of December.

How can we help? Well, I saw one example today of what we shouldn’t be doing. The Lee County Speedway in Donnellson issued its first release of their 2011 schedule this week and after running the IMCA Late Models eleven times each of the past two years, the division is only slated to appear twice next season. Obviously this is a business decision being made by the promoters leading one to believe that the race nights that included the Late Models did not draw enough extra people to justify the costs. But for at least one race fan, the announcement was akin to a slap in the face to him stating that he knew of at least ten people who would not come to the races there unless they were running Late Models and wishing the Speedway good luck with their boring four cylinders and too many Mod classes. Does this help the sport at all? There are still two Late Model events on the LCS schedule for next year, wouldn’t it be better to encourage people to get out and support those two Late Model shows so that maybe that number can grow in the future? The comment about the ten people not coming to the races unless the Late Models were running actually made me chuckle because wouldn’t that be about the same as someone saying, after they announced that West Union was closing down early last year, “I know ten people that won’t go to West Union if they’re not having races there”?

Why are we all so negative about everything? The drivers don’t like the rules and the purse isn’t high enough while the fans, at least the ones making the most noise, don’t like much of anything it seems when it comes to the sport. When I was doing my part to help promote “Shiverfest” this Fall I placed the press release stating the Who, What, Where, When and Why, including the purse structure on several websites. On one of them, somebody making their first post ever (a classic AWP) stated that we should be ashamed that we were only paying $550-to-win for the Modifieds given the number of cars that the event draws each year. Hey, thanks a lot for the help buddy! The $550 was actually higher than it had been before thanks to some new sponsors that had come on board, so imagine their pride if they happened to venture across that thread. (By the way, Shiverfest was rained out for the second year in a row but still raised $1,000 to help individuals and families who are fighting kidney disease at the Southeast Renal Dialysis Units.) Yes, I know that the loud-keyboard negative nellies are in the minority, but we have to stop letting them have the most impact when it comes to the internet! Not everything is going to go right when you attend a night of racing at a dirt track, but instead of harping on the one or two things that went wrong, make a point to play up all of the things that went right. It’s not that hard if you really are a “race fan”, just look through all of the previous posts on this blog, or any of the other folks who take the time to promote the sport on Positively Racing, to see how it can be done.

Back to being worried…..the reduced number of Late Model events at Lee County, the fact that 34 Raceway is up for sale, the fact that Bloomfield and Eldon are still looking for promoters and the fact that I haven’t heard one thing out of Columbus Junction tells me that things aren’t going well in my neck of the woods. If they were, then the story for each would be different and it has gotten to the point that even I, the person who always felt like he wanted promote a weekly track once his days of paying tuition were over, no longer has that desire. If you are going to put that much work into it, and take that kind of risk, then the reward needs to cover it and I don’t see that happening in many places anymore. And, when it does, you see racers and “fans” ripping the promoter for making a buck or two. When did it become a crime for a promoter to make money… earn a profit for his risk and efforts? I have been a part of several conversations the last few years, and I have seen forum threads discussing who should be the next promoter at such-and-such track and a common statement is, “well he’ll need to lose some money to get things going there.” Really?? Hey sign me up for that! Just what I want is a bunch of people bitching at me and telling me all the stuff I’m doing wrong while LOSING MONEY AT THE SAME TIME!!”

So what needs to change? I think that overall we need a major attitude adjustment and it starts all the way at the top. Have you noticed how many empty seats there are at the NASCAR Cup races? Only if you catch that brief glimpse of the grandstand since the networks have obviously been instructed to stay off of those crowd shots that they were so proud of ten years ago. I’m probably going to piss off most of my driver friends here, but the participants need to realize that things don’t always go up. When NASCAR was riding the wave of popularity the purses grew and, when they were all selling out, the price of the tickets grew even more if you look at things from a percentage standpoint. So now you have Joe Cupdriver making $7 million a year to drive a race car, but he is doing so in front of a grandstand that is only two-thirds full because Family of Four can no longer afford the now $600 that it costs to watch him. So they stay home, perhaps rent a movie, play Wii, or grill out on the back porch. So the question is this, if it takes ticket prices to go back down to $200 to get Family of Four back to the track, is Joe Cupdriver willing to cut his salary down to $2 million a year?

So how can you loosely apply that concept to the weekly track level? Last year we saw a few tracks try reduced admission nights to get more fans out to experience the sport. Of course some of the finest AWP’s stated “it’s about time that the promoters gave back something to the fans,” again showing the stupid attitude that needs to be changed, but for the most part I’m guessing that this type of promotion didn’t work as well as perhaps hoped. If it takes a $5 grandstand ticket to fill the place up again, to get Family of Four out to the local tracks again on a regular basis, then what is Bob Localdriver willing to do to help make this resurgence begin? Perhaps race for a little less money to win, or to run second? What if the price of a pit pass went down from $25 to $15 to make it possible for that kid who helps Bob work on the car to go to the track again every week rather than having to skip a show here and there? Would Bob be willing to accept a reduction of $10 as well in his "to start" check?

For Bob Localdriver it’s not as easy as it is for Joe Cupdriver to still compete for a significantly smaller purse, that’s understandable. The cost of competing on a weekly basis for Bob is going up, up and up, but that is something that the technical folks (the people who actually know something about the rules) are tackling. But the bottom line is this, if we don’t all work together soon, the purse level will be a moot point when the track that Bob used to race at now has weeds growing where the preferred groove used to be.

We made it to sixty-six events during 2010 at thirty-one different tracks located in six different states (Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Oklahoma and Tennessee). Once again we spent the most time, twelve nights, at the Knoxville Raceway and close behind was the Lee County Speedway in Donnellson where we spent nine evenings. Four trips each were made to 34 Raceway just west of Burlington, Quincy Raceways and the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa while I went to the high-banks in Marshalltown three times this season. I went to Dubuque, Moberly, Farley, Tipton and Vinton each twice this year while the following tracks were visited once this year: Lincoln IL, Sedalia MO, West Liberty, Quad City, Independence, Webster City, Spoon River IL, Tri-City IL, Tri-State IN, West Union, Columbus Junction, US 36 (Osborn MO), Peoria IL and Memphis MO. Plus I visited the following tracks for the first-time ever: The Chili Bowl (Tulsa OK), Duck River TN, Clarke County (Osceola), Valley Speedway MO, Butler MO and Mineral City in Fort Dodge. And the visit to Fort Dodge returns me to that status of having been to each and every track in the state of Iowa that currently runs a weekly show!

As far as series were concerned we saw the Deery Brothers Summer Series for IMCA Late Models nine times, the USMTS Modifieds and the USAC Sprints four times, the Hawkeye Dirt Tour three times and the Lucas Oil Late Models, the Sprint Invaders, The UMP Summer Nationals and the Corn Belt Clash twice. We caught one show each of the POWRi Midgets, the USAC Midgets, the Southern Regional Racing Series, the Monster Midwest Late Models, the Mid-America Modifieds and the MLRA Late Models. Twelve of the sixty-six races (18.2%) that I attended this year were “weekly shows”. I started the year with my first-ever visit to the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa for the Tuesday night qualifier and I ended my season on Halloween Day with my first visit to the track in Butler, Missouri. I was amazed at the number of races that I was able to compile given the battle with the weather throughout most of the year, but I will say that there were a lot of nights where I was watching the radar nearly as much as I was watching the racing action. Here’s hoping that the 2011 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!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jones, Stovall, Cornell, Wilson and Cheevers All Stake Claim On First All Missouri Points Championship

There were no repeats, and no former champions returning to the top as five drivers earned their first All Missouri Points titles in 2010.

The Late Model championship did stay in the same hometown though as Larry Jones of Eldorado Springs replaced fellow resident and 2009 champion Donnie Timmerman at the top of the list. Jones picked up five feature wins among his twenty-six top-five finishes this season to out-distance his competition by seventeen points. With a victory in the final race of the season on Thanksgiving weekend in Springfield, Justin Wells edged out the defending champion Timmerman by just one point to take the runner-up honors. Wells picked up ten checkered flags on Missouri ovals in 2010 while Timmerman tallied five feature victories. Veteran drivers Alan Vaughn and Ken Essary rounded out the top five.

Galena driver Jesse Stovall built up a solid lead in the Modified standings early in the season and his point total held up as he went Late Model racing around the south during August and September winning races in that division as well. Stovall accumulated sixteen feature wins in twenty-five top-fives and that was enough to edge out Jason Russell by just three points for the AMP championship. Russell, a regular competitor at Callaway and Lake Ozark, had eleven wins in twenty-seven top-fives. St. Louis area driver Rusty Griffaw finished in the third spot while Jackie Dalton and Johnny Fennewald tied for fourth. The top-five drivers in the final Modified point standings were separated by only seven markers, a very tight group given the five-point-scale system used. Two-time defending champion Tim Setzer finished eighth.

Another tight battle played out in the Sprint Car division as the top four in the final standings ended up being separated by just three points. Jonathan Cornell of Sedalia, behind three feature wins and twelve top-fives accumulated one more point than both Josh Fisher and Randy Martin while Joey Montgomery finished fourth just three points back. Jimmy Hurley completed the top five. Jesse Hockett had the lead and appeared to be headed for his second straight All Missouri Points Sprint Car title before his tragic death this Spring.

Vance Wilson emerged from the pack mid-season and stormed to a convincing championship in the Limited Late Model division. Wilson’s sixteen feature wins were seven more than anybody else could muster in the division in 2010 as he downed runner-up Jason Bodenhammer by twenty-five points. Bob Test had one less top-five (23) than the champion and finished in the third position while Brandon Imhoff and Jeff Herzog filled out the top five.

Three drivers appeared to be going “all out” for the 2011 Limited Modified All Missouri Points Championship as they could be found racing all over the western half of the state from Kansas City down to Monett. And, using the same point-scale for all divisions, these three drivers tallied more points than any of the champions in the other divisions. Colt Cheevers started strong and ran strong all year to hold off a late charge from defending champion Brad Smith to take the 2010 AMP title. Cheevers had forty top-five finishes on Show-Me State soil including twenty-one feature victories in a very impressive season. Smith had more wins in Missouri than anybody else this year with twenty-three among his thirty-three top five as he finished fifteen points behind Cheevers in second. J.C. Morton ran in the top-five thirty-five times and grabbed thirteen checkered flags on his way to a third-place finish in the final standings and both Eric Tinderholt and Kenny Harris were impressive as well topping the 100-point mark as they finished in fourth and fifth respectively.

The full standings for all five divisions can be found on the Points tab at