"Webatorial" - By HammerDownUSA.com Editor Bobby Gerould - Rain puts asterisk on Nationals - - August 12, 2005 - Knoxville Raceway officials canceled the Thursday night preliminary program completely despite 63 cars completing their time-trials, and the running of four of five heats in the 2005 Knoxville Nationals. Rain during the fifth and final heat race forced an end to racing for the night (morning). The plan is for the canceled winged sprint car program to run with a complete re-draw, time-trials, heats, and C, B, and A Features on Friday. The Non-Qualifier's program will be pushed back to Saturday at noon. ...Numerous teams that thought they had points compiled 'in the bank' through completed time-trials, and heats Thursday, before the rain came for good, were stripped of their seeming success. Johnny Herrera was the driver with the most points that had also transferred through his heat race into the second preliminary feature. Most of the top qualifiers failed to transfer through their Thursday heats due to the rain soaked track being one grooved, and narrow. Similar conditions prevailed in the first heat Wednesday night but there is no do-over for that. I bet Greg Hodnett wishes he could be in on the Thursday 'Mulligan' deal. Hodnett ran ninth in the opening heat race of the 2005 Nationals.
...Latest to donate to the Racers Racing Series are Scott Chilcutt, the owner of Shane Stewart's Old Glory #4, and the crew from HoservilleCA.com.
...Also a belated tip of the HammerDown! Hat to Steve Faria and Don Sharp the Tulare promoters who with Ron Shuman used a little progressive thinking in running the Sunday day show earlier this April. The original plan had SCRA at Tulare going heads up with USAC/CRA at Hanford, about ten minutes away. The track held up nicely for a day show and the racing was good.
Spring 2004 Madera Raceway ... ...Madera was our stop on Saturday. Going to a few pavement races this year I have observed talent that I previously would not be aware of. I've also been able to see the progress many drivers have made since I last pounded a little pavement a few years back. ...There were many beautiful race cars in the pits. The USAC Western States Sprint Car Series is a blur of color living up to the heyday standard of great looking Western machines. Mark Monico's #21, Lori Scott's #7s, Michael Newman's #9, the Western Speed cars, Mike Murgoitio's sprinter, Greg Taylor's #41, and Chad Ede's car all come to mind as sweet.
...I have been late to jump on the Ford Focus bandwagon but I must admit they put on a heck of a show at Madera. Seasoning for young talent in the Focus Midgets is a great thing for racing. Drivers run full features in front of big crowds at major events. The cars are fast enough to appreciate the racing, and the racing is close. Based on a full midget chassis, the Focus spec engine is $7,500. The cars are relatively affordable to almost anyone who is serious about racing. I'm surprised more veteran racers who want to control their own deal haven't jumped into the Focus pool. ...How long before another BIG corporation gets into sprint cars and midgets? I'd say the MOPAR and Ford folks look pretty smart right now. MOPAR has made a serious imprint on open-wheel grass roots racing by supporting teams and promotions.
...Tom Schmeh of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame is the latest supporter of the Racer's Racing Series. Thanks to Tom for many years of giving to the sport. Without him, debates about who should be in the Hall would be moot. There would be no Hall.
...In 2004 HammerDownUSA.com will initiate a points championship for drivers based on a 60-race schedule consisting of both winged, and non-winged open wheel sprint cars, midgets, and champ dirt cars. This politic-free driving championship will be known as the Racer's Racing Series (RRS). The high point earner will receive 40% of the points 'kitty'. Runner-up will take home 20%, third gets 15%, and fourth 10%. 15 % of all donations will go to maintenance of the Series. The schedule crosses all sections of the USA and runs from March to October. Points will be awarded based on feature finishing position. At the biggest races, and the toughest race tracks, The HammerDown! Race Gear Racers Racing Series will tally points. Many of the most prestigious events in American open-wheel racing are featured. Funds will be donated by race fans and businesses that believe in our HammerDown! dream of a racing series that would be the ultimate challenge for any driver. Our series (RRS) will have no official affiliation with any event or track but would welcome tracks to acknowledge the RRS in return for promotional efforts on our website for their races on the schedule.
The Dream? Long-term sponsorship big enough to encourage a driver to follow the nondenominational Racer's Racing Series which would ultimately include our own promotions. A "kitty" donated by race fans and businesses will be the reward for the top four drivers in points in 2004. A unique "Billboard" will be created at the top of the RRS schedule that in itself will be a competition. The race fan or business that pays the highest contribution will gain the "Top of the Billboard", creating a friendly battle for HammerDown's Grass Roots Supporter of the Year. For instance, HammerDown's $20 contribution will own the Top of the Billboard until someone pays more than $20. (RRS Home)
...First person to e-mail HammerDownUSA.com a picture of Janet Jackson's boob? Chico announcer and buddy, Troy Hennig. Treat yourself to Troy's announcing sometime. He does it the right way by arriving early and talking with the racers. He then imparts his knowledge to the race fans in an enthusiastic manner. He's no boob
...HammerDown! Mailbag: We get letters, stacks and stacks of letters. From time to time we will share with you some of the questions and comments that roll into the home office.
Ed Call of Carksburg, CA. writes: "Even more of a joke than Johnny Anderson not being in the Hall is Dick Glaspy not being there. For three decades the most feared cars in nor-cal were the #44, #XX, the Tri-C car, and the Payless Hardware car. What the heck is up with that?"
We agree. Dixon (his given name) was a gifted mechanic and a heck of a nice man. The #44 super modified driven by Anderson, Jerry Belville, and even Jack Hewitt was a consistent winner. When Brandy & Glaspy rolled out the XX sprinter, I immediately had a new favorite car. Anderson, Hank Butcher, Jimmy Boyd, and later, Ron Horton all had a go in different variations of the XX. When Dick Glaspy tuned the Tri-C #3, Dave Bradway Jr., Tommy Estes Jr., and I believe Jimmy Sills were the shoes, and without question they went fast. And you are also correct to mention the Payless #11x. Jeff Swindell and Glaspy teamed to run as strong as anyone in 1989.
...Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain is highly recommended to all HammerDown! readers. The television show airs on Speed Channel. Basically a race talk show , Wind Tunnel is great because of the overall knowledge in all forms of racing that Despain offers. The hot topics of the day are dissected with vital guests offering opinions and insight.
HammerDown! Best of 2003 - Racetrack food - Give us Mountain Dew, and a few choices other than hot dogs, hamburgers, and beef chili and we are cool with your set up. Eldora Speedway gets high marks for fair pricing and a wide, albeit, high-fat variety of eats. Their self-serve system works well. We also are fond of Santa Maria Speedway, and their crispy burritos. The Kettle Korn at Tulare's Thunderbowl Raceway is always a treat.
...A statement from USAC says that the sanctioning body will "explore the possibilities of the (Silver Crown) series moving to some of the Nation's finest Super Speedways." Maybe I AM getting old but the mile track races are already not that exciting, now we want to put these cars on parade at tracks considered super speedways? Imagine the gap from the front to mid-pack, at say, Daytona. Citing the lure of BIG track experience for drivers, and a desire by BIG track promoters to cash in on the popularity of the Silver Crown series, USAC has commissioned Riley & Scott to develop a prototype chassis. Presumably this would be a "safer" car, built for tracks over a mile in length. Testing should begin in 2004. I've got a better idea. Let's keep the tradition where it should be. How about Calistoga, Las Vegas (Dirt Track), and Perris on the Silver Crown schedule? If you must continue to seek sloppy seconds from NASCAR, the Bristol 1/2 mile is the only track that quickly comes to mind as a place I would like to see a Silver Crown race. There is no denying that the stock car set and their dollars are intrigued with open-wheel happenings. Our open-wheel stars are snatching up all the good rides, and generally changing the face of the good ol' boys garage area. USAC surely sees the potential of added expo$ure by racing as a $upport $eries on NA$CAR, or IRL weekends. Okay, that's cool, but please do not lose sight of where the series roots are. We enjoy not having to fight the large festival style crowds that accompany a Cup event. Why not schedule a race on a NASCAR weekend at the closest good dirt track? Actually, I know the answer to that one too. Many of the good dirt tracks offer no comparison in the amount of money that can be generated. At a track like Calistoga, there are only so many seats, and (if it was done on Cup weekend at Sears Point) the corporate hob nobbers would have their stuff set up at the NASCAR track. Networking is easier when everybody is in the same place. The 'big weekend support deal' works good for car owners, sanctioning bodies, and drivers. They race in front of curious fans, and have the opportunity to impress Big Whigs. Also, the safety teams are more experienced and better equipped at BIG tracks. It just sucks for the true fan. Where is the natural open wheel excitement of cars strung out on pavement? Every Silver Crown race should look like those old Dick Wallen movies. The Champ Dirt-Cars are at Terre Haute, with dirt slingin'. There are racing side by side. The most skilled driver comes to the front.
I am ecstatic for J.J. Yeley, and Kasey Kahne, who recently secured major money and big name rides for their future. I am not too far gone to see the good in that. Tony Stewart has given back tremendously to the open wheel grass roots racers, and hopefully Kasey, Ryan Newman, and J.J. will follow his lead. The point is, those guys made it without any Silver Crown races on a two-mile oval. Why do we need it now? True, Yeley, and Kahne might be better equipped if they had more big track experience but no matter what Riley and Scott come up with, the new chassis still won't be heavy like like a stock car, or sleek like an Indy car. So will the big track experience really mean anything? Were I in charge, I would lead not follow. Spend money on National television. Buy a weekly 1/2 hour show (Inside USAC?), and highlight all the divisions, hyping the Silver Crown races at the best tracks in our HammerDown! world. Make the NASCAR fan get off his butt and visit our tracks in our environs if wants to peek at the guys who will be kicking his boys behinds in NASCAR's future. I have nothing against any of the races on the current schedule but I am entitled to dream... Phoenix (PIR), Memphis, Indy Fairgrounds, Terre Haute, Calistoga, Las Vegas Dirt Track), Milwaukee, IRP, Springfield, Bristol, DuQuion, Tulsa, Eldora, and Knoxville sounds good to me.
HammerDown! Best of 2003 - Us Not Doing a Worst Of List - I shudder to imagine if this column were called "Negativity" instead of Positivity. In media, it is en vogue to bring some anger to the forefront with a "worst of" list. But, in the name of Positivity, we still believe there is too much sour news. So relax. Stirring up dark matter is not our intent. In 2003, I, like you, witnessed good drivers doing regrettable things. Their on track, split second decisions, were usually dealt with at the scene by the victim and his crew, if not the officials. There were accusations of drivers that used their cars as weapons. There were teams that cheated. There were jellyfish men who did not do the right thing. There was failure. There were tracks that were not ready for racing. There was greed. Stories were twisted, and sometimes a person's word was not good enough. Friends passed. Pets passed. Friends took ill. There was disappointment, depression, and upside down. Racing schedules did not make sense. Food choices were limited at many tracks. "Coach" flying sucked (Especially when sitting next to a large woman : ))) on the 5 1/2 hour flight from Chicago home to Sacramento). Many of us were used, lied to, and disrespected in 2003. Many of us hurt, and one of our "can't miss ideas" underperformed.
It's called life, and it isn't all positive. And I know it, and I just wanted you all to know that I know.
And yet for each negative charge above, there is the antithesis. Friends became healthier. The good one's were praised, and respected, and startup teams turned into champions. Men made good on their promises. There was new life as families welcomed a new child or new pets. There was charity. People reached out to one another. Personally, In 2003, the HammerDown! Store, a longtime dream, opened. I fulfilled a goal of watching a non-wing sprint car race at Eldora. There were post-race feasts with special friends. In 2003, I, like you, witnessed great drivers doing spectacular things. Their breathtaking on-track moves entertained and stimulated. I observed the hard work and dedication it takes to run a successful racing operation. I received gifts of historical significance that will better this web site for years to come. A word of thanks from Keith Hutton's wife, Jenny, for the factual job that we did on HammerDown! concerning Keith's tragic death, made us feel purposeful. I saw tracks that were so well prepared, a NASCAR race would have even been entertaining on them. We succeeded in increasing the readers of this web site. I witnessed humans with backbone, working tirelessly so their families could prosper. I read good articles and a book about a true sprint car racing hero. I learned from wise men. I heard stories of superstars doing the right thing.
Perspective = : ))) or : (((
And that is today's word.
...The Ford Focus midget series continues to grow. A competitive Ford Focus Midget, which can be purchased for less than $20,000, will turn laps faster than a Late Model. The Ford Zetech engine produces 178 horsepower, running on methanol with mechanical fuel injection. Perhaps the biggest bonus is that it is self starting.
...Dick Jordan did 231 press releases in 2003 for the United States Auto Club. Jordan's contribution to open wheel racing should never be under estimated. The swirl of news that Jordan's keyboard creates sets the agenda in many cases for what we all will be bench racing about. In the first of his 2004 releases, he points out that in 2004 USAC participants will split nearly $30,000 in total prizes from Holley Performance Products. Expansion of the Earl's Plumbing USAC Fast Qualifier Championships will deepen the pockets of the respective winners.