I went to Donnellson last week for the MLRA special. The night was chock full of photo finishes and was a well run show as has become the norm under Mike Vangenderen. Other tracks should emulate what Mike does at his tracks. He wastes no time,prepares a good track and presents a overall good show for the fans and drivers alike. It was nice to see a lot of touring drivers and they return in June to the Lee County Speedway. The finish of the stock car feature was one for the record books as it may have been the closest finish ever for that class. The bottom line was mostly dominant come feature time and the track did slow down quite a bit during the late model A main. It was one of the bigger crowds I’ve seen at LCS and hopefully when the MLRA returns they will get an even bigger crowd as Donnellson is a good track for the series. The sport compact feature was wildly entertaining as well. I appreciated the drivers that came down from Minnesota to run for the weekend and I hope they enjoyed themselves. Billy Moyer was using a borrowed power plant for the night from his son Billy jr. and it may have been the first time I’ve ever seen him run a Ford as Billy has always been a Chevy man to my knowledge. It was very weird to see the UMP mod big dogs like Long,Wietholder,and Lodge struggle versus the IMCA mods but this may have been a open versus crate engine issue. Congrats to the winners as I thought every feature was good.
Friday I went westward about 30 minutes to my new “home” track,the Stuart International Speedway for their season opener. Ross Pederson is the new announcer at S.I.S. and I thought he did a good job. For those that don’t know Ross he has a daily radio show on 1460am KXNO in the afternoons with co-host Chris Williams and both guys are race fans. Chris grew up attending Corning weekly. The races were very good as the track was in good shape for opening night. I shot videos and tweeted results which made for a busy night on my part. There were around 66 race teams for opening night and the stock car class is gonna be very tough in 2017 with the new drivers that have joined the returning stalwarts. https://www.youtube.com/user/freedomleft/videos is the way to watch the races from Stuart. If you want to attend S.I.S. the races usually start around 730pm and the view is always a wonderful one out on the northwest edge of Stuart. NIck Roberts drove a heckuva race in winning the mod feature but he needed help from the Pruitts just to start the race in the way of borrowed parts. Cory Bushnell drove his 55 stock car to the win and it was the best i’ve ever seen him run anywhere. Congrats to the winners! Please visit S.I.S. some Friday evening and you won’t regret it hopefully.
I have observed a noticeable increase in live real-time social media posts from race tracks and others at the races and to this I say:Bravo! Keep it up because it is great and only helps grow our sport in my opinion. We in dirt track auto racing need to embrace new technologies in order to keep our sport growing. Sticking to the “old ways” is sure death as far as i’m concerned. I will try to do my part to move things in a positive direction as much as I can. I highly recommend going to the http://www.iowastockcars.com forum and posting there your best info, thoughts, etc. We need the new blood! Friday May 12 will find me back in Stuey for week #2 of racing at S.I.S., but the results from Farleys’ big weekend will peak my interest as they come out. Somebody is going home with $50,000 after running their “IMCA type” modified and somebody else will go home with $20,000 after racing the sport mods A main Saturday night in Farley. Please follow me on Facebook,Twitter,Instagram and subscribe to my YouTube page as well. Thanks for reading this blog, now get out and support your track of choice this weekend!
I went to Marshalltown and Boone this past weekend to watch some modified, sport mod,stock car,and hobby stock racing. The weekends events just reinforced my long held position on a number of topics. The first topic is just how good a track the Marshalltown Speedway still is. Some years back the track was changed for the better in turn 4 and for the worse in turn 1. The high line outta 4 no longer dominates and neither does the high line entry into 1. It was interesting seeing the 1st & 99d come from deep in the field to win there features. During the mod feature I was just about to say out loud “hey the 21k really seems to have changed his ways”. Then the 21k ran over the 62, saving me from uttering my initial thoughts. The 1st of Scott also had a good Sunday in Vinton, winning the feature there as well. Marshalltown is in my opinion the best track in the state because it produces good racing whether tacky or slick. I still wish the track was configured like back in the 80’s but the modern version is still better than the rest most nights. I sure hope the pay-per-view captured the scope of just how good the racing is there. The only drawback for the night was how cold it got after 1030pm. I am very excited to return as soon as i can and highly recommend you visit as soon as you can as well.
The second topic is just how different the Boone track is during the day when its dry, and after sundown and a farming session. I thought the heats at Boone were ho-hum. But the features were excellent. It was nice seeing the hobbys run without a lot of yellows and the other features were just as entertaining. The modified feature was one of the best I have seen at Boone in years. There was a battle for the lead, as well as numerous other battles such as between the 2L and the 5. I was filming a particular car but still saw lots of great action all thru the field. When Boone is tacky but not heavy it provides superb racing action and you could run anywhere you want on frostbuster night 2017. The 28r of Russ Dickerson drove a outstanding race and won in convincing fashion in a open motor car over a couple of crate cars. The 2 of Munoz also drove a fantastic race in winning the stock car feature. The races were over before 10pm as an added bonus! I shot fifteen videos between the two tracks which can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/user/freedomleft/videos . A side note from Boone: the price for weekly tickets and pit passes at Boone has gone up $5 in 2017, regardless of whether the 305 sprints are running that night or not. Also the lap counter portion of the scoreboard at Boone outside turn 1 is now digital. Please remember, dirt is for racing, dirtphault is for parking on.
I recently started the 2017 FTF Tour off in Missouri at the Scotland County Speedway in Memphis. The event was the Spring Nationals night one and it had been a few years since i had attended races there. My blogs in 2017 will not be a recap style or form. Im going to try some free form writing instead with tidbits mixed in as well. The first thing to mention is that Mike V. once again moved the nights show along in a efficient manner that other tracks should emulate immediately. An interesting fact to note was that the 77 Kile mod was a Rage chassis even tho he is a dealer for GRT. Another tidbit i noticed was that the 32 UMP mod of Donovan Lodge had a screaming motor but absolutely no traction all night long and was easily lapped in the feature. I was excited to see the 18L of Michael Long run ,but he blew up in hot laps. I was surprised to see Brian Efkamp in a Harris chassis as i thought he was a rep for Shaw in 2016. The races were all good and it was nice to see my friend Bob in the stands. Memphis is one of the better tracks in Missouri and i hope to make it back for the MLRA in June. I headed south after the races on some very poor roads til I got to north of Moberly where i hit four lane finally. I ended up sleeping in my van in a Jefferson City hospital parking lot. I awoke Saturday morning and drove south down to Lebanon where i got on Interstate 44 to Springfield and then took highway 65 to Branson where i met Cyndie. We then checked into our hotel briefly and headed back to Springfield for the MARS super late models at Springfield Raceway.
The races Saturday were almost opposite Fridays as the track in Springfield was poorly prepped to say the least. There were way too many spins, delays, errors, and so forth for me to say that we enjoyed the night. They took a forty five minute plus intermission to rework the track which resulted in maybe five laps of better racing before the track locked down again and became a “putt putt round the tires” affair. the 32 Simpson won easily just by never getting off the bottom. The best race of the night was the final race which was the Legends A main. I like the track at Springfield alot when they water it but if its dry then the show is poor. The officials at Springfield are poorly organised to say the least. The womens restroom is absolutely disgusting according to my girlfriends visit to it and the staff should be ashamed of it. Two toilets out of six were broke,trash was everywhere, and the women decided themselves to declare a third toilet unuseable. The sink had duct tape where metal parts should have been. I felt for those who had to endure a trip to the restroom. Another issue is that at that facility you can smoke anywhere and people do smoke everywhere. I hope all tracks designate smoking areas even if its not a state law like in Iowa. I have to say that Springfield Raceway in 2017 is a dump honestly. It didnt used to be as in the 80’s it was a nice facility. I videotaped three features from both Memphis and Springfield which can be seen here:https://www.youtube.com/user/freedomleft/videos
I hope to see some racing this coming weekend if the weather stays decent so if you see me say hi. I recently had surgery to my left arm so i will be easier to spot than usual with a sling on my arm. Im hoping to get to seven races in the next two weeks. Lets hope for some great racing on well prepped tracks. Dirt is for racing, dirtphault is for parking on!
This blog is gonna be all about the different kinds of fans you will encounter at a race track on any given night. I list them in no particular order & you should ask yourself:which one(s) am I the most like? I like to observe people at the races & mentally calculate in my head what categories they would go in. Here are the categories; 1.the “relation” fan, 2. the “my boy/girl” fan, 3. the “here for the party ” fan, 4. the “hardcore” fan, 5. the “clueless” fan, 6. the “wish I wasn’t here” fan.
Fan #1 the “relation” fan: this is the fan who is related to a racer/crew member/track official. They are there because someone else is there. They are usually found in the pits more than the stands. They probably don’t attend any races their relation isn’t at. They can be very “passionate”. They do not take other people “opinions” of their relation well usually. They are the “relation” fan.
Fan #2 the “my boy/girl” fan:this is a term my dad came up with for the fan who is there for one driver usually. That driver is “my boy” or”my girl”. If that driver does well then they the fan had a good night. If that driver does poorly then they the fan had a bad night. They usually are incapable of being objective about anything that happens to their driver. They are likely to leave or mentally check out after their drivers race ends. They are the type to accuse others of favortism at the drop of a hat. They are the “my boy/girl” fan.
Fan #3 the “here for the party” fan: this is the fan who is just there to enjoy the atmosphere & have a good time. They might or might not have a basic understanding of auto racing. They just wanna have a “good time” whatever that means. They are usually pretty hip cool kats. They usually like to be the center of attention. They dont listen much to others but you better listen to them. They could just as easily be at another type of event & be just as content. They are the “here for the party” fan.
Fan #4 the “hardcore fan”: they are die hard,dyed in the wool & probably are the most likely to get annoyed by any of the other types of fans fan. They are the keepers of the “secret knowledge” & if you ask them a question you will get an answer & a lengthy one at that most likely. They show up early & stay late to increase their appetite for information. They exhibit the traits of a obsessive person usually. They are the “hardcore” fan.
Fan #5 the “clueless fan”: they are at the races but thats it. They don’t have a clue & don’t want to get one either. Don’t ask them any questions about racing because they don’t have a clue. They might not even know it’s a circle track race they are at. They are just there. The are the “clueless” fan.
Fan #6 the “wish I wasn’t here fan”: They are at the races, they are miserable,they are bored. They might say how “stupid” auto racing is.They might say “whats the point of going in circles endlessly?” They don’t want to be told,taught,informed of something,or even talked too most likely. They just want it to be over! They are there under protest. They probably got dragged their by their significant other. They ain’t happy! They are the “wish I wasn’t here” fan.
Well that’s my take on the types of fans at the races near you! I hope you gotta a few laughs out of it.
The season is now 4 months in for myself as I started the dirt track viewing in March at Springfield Raceway in Missouri & just last night attended the Ron Little\Richard “Bones” Welch Memorial at the Stuart Int’l Speedway(S.I.S.). I think 2015 is shaping up to be a year of transition in dirt track racing with many drivers changing classes,chassis,& other various components of their operations. We have seen the sale of Harris Auto Racing, plus many other local Iowa businesses either start up,change hands, or start new ventures. Over at Karl Performance Billy Moyer is developing a late model chassis that they will sell soon, & BHE has started selling & servicing a couple of non local chassis makes as well. Certain operations have split into separate companies like SIC & Eliminator Chassis. There are other examples too numerous to mention. To those in the industry this is old news i’m sure but for some of us its not. Well known names in the mod ranks like Hunter Marriott,Jon Snyder,Jake Durbin,Brandon Banks,Carter Vandenberg plus many others are all in different chassis from 2014. This kind of change extends to other classes as well with again numerous names too many to mention. One trend i have noticed in 2015 is that many tracks sport mods car counts are down considerably from 2014. Another trend is that some tracks are really struggling like never before with overall car counts,& this is of course a reason to give pause. On another note I am seeing a considerable increase in the number of folks in the pits/stands filming races in 2015 & doing it more professionally as well. When I started filming races a few years back in central Iowa I was really the only one doing it. Now there are lots of videos to watch each week from all over our state. I don’t think their is any relation to another observation I make now but maybe i’m wrong:there is little to no buzz around live ppv events in my opinion in 2015 once the season got underway. I myself have little interest in live ppv events but maybe i just don’t talk to enough people to gauge the overall buzz. In my circle of racing friends there is just no buzz at all.
The UMP Hell Tour has started, the HDT tour is in full swing as is the Deery Brothers tour as well as the USMTS. The WoO sprints just made a swing thru Iowa as did the MLRA. I have hit three tracks to my east for my first ever visits to each(East Moline IL., Davenport,Maquoketa) & am going to try for a few other new tracks later on in the season. Some new names are atop the IMCA points for the north central region & some familiar names are making their mark in different sanctions in 2015. Both Jesse Sobbing & Ben Kates have left the IMCA ranks for USMTS land. Kelly Shryock is back with IMCA mostly in 2015 so far. Other drivers from out of state like Mark Dobmeier have not made near as many visits to Hawkeyeland in 2015. For myself I have been to Knoxville twice,Osky three times,Marshalltown twice,Boone twice, Vinton twice, Des Moines & Stuart every night they have run. I have also been to I35 Winston Missouri once & Webster City once. I film the races at each track as well as take photos unless not allowed by the track to do so. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel “The Fasttrack Fan”. I am on Twitter @thefasttrackfan, on Facebook at “The Fasttrack Fan”, & on Instagram at “fasttrackfan”. I am thinking of using Periscope in the future but being a T-Mobile customer is putting a cramp in those plans. I will not be joining Snapchat as some have wondered as it is not a group based social media platform in my opinion. For those who have not yet joined Twitter I strongly urge you to do so. It is the easiest platform to use to get race info,results,etc. Facebook is not near as user friendly for auto racing. You never have to tweet one single word to use Twitter effectively. I get all my results & info off of Twitter and follow less than 50 racing oriented Twitter accounts. You can also adjust your settings if you dont want to get things such as retweets & blocking another account is easy to do. I tweet results from every race if possible or let my followers know who to follow to get results if im not tweeting. Twitter is a must in my opinion for quick info on race nights. If for some reason you think you can’t get Twitter set up to your liking I will help you to do so. Email me at the firstname.lastname@example.org for help.
And now for the good ,the bad,& the ugly for this blog:
The good is the number of people who free of charge are trying to help out auto racing thru social media. Whether it be retweeting a driver or tracks tweet or maybe just sharing a something on Facebook in order to share the info for all I say thank you! The bad is the tracks that run a race program like every fan lives next door to the track & has no life outside the track so why not take all night! The ugly is the accidents that took place this last week due to all the rain Iowa received. I know some drivers were hurt & lots more equipment was hurt. Its time for the rain to subside for a while on race nights so that we all can enjoy more racing!
Coming in my next blog I give my take on the different kinds of fans that you will encounter at a track near you!
Before we get to the positive aspects of racing I must first mention the not so positive. Already this season we have lost a racer, a track worker, & a fan. Each one was a longtime lover of auto racing and will be missed by all. I was not at the Iowa State Fairgrounds the night of the incident and i’m glad I wasn’t. I have seen many lives lost at the track but that would have been a first to see a track worker lose his life. It’s a sad sad deal but life has gone on & we all must be appreciative of every day spent at the track that those 3 folks will not get to experience. I know for myself personally as I get older I realize how many of my great moments of joy have come at a track watching racers race. I hope you too can do this for yourself as it really keeps things in perspective in my opinion.
Now on to the positive events of the season so far & I think it’s been a great year of racing in Iowa so far. In the IMCA modified ranks three drivers have been hot in 2014: 1x Chris Abelson, 99 Jesse Sobbing, & the 5 Todd Shute. All 3 are close to the 10 win mark already & each driver seems to really be on their game. I don’t get to watch the 1x or the 99 much in central iowa where I live but watching the 5 car win this year has been a great amount of fun for myself. I encourage all fans to stop down & get to know the drivers after the races whenever you can as you never know what you’ll see, hear, & learn. The 23jr of Nick Roberts has already picked up 4 wins in his rookie season in the modified as well. Its been great to see a return of sprint cars to the Iowa State Fair Speedway in 2014 & with Denison dropping the class we are now seeing drivers from out west running ISFS as well which makes for good racing. Please try to get to ISFS at least once this year as this is the last year for the old 1/2 mile before it’s shortened for 2015. There is a Sprint Invader race July 3rd on a Thursday as well as 2 fair races on a Sunday & Monday in August. The weekly racing has really picked up as well & i count myself lucky to see so many different classes all in 1 night: hobbys,stocks,sport mods,mods,trucks,late models,& sprints and all for $10! We have been covering ISFS & S.I.S. for LuvRacin.com this year as Boone decided to not renew our press credentials. That’s why you haven’t seen any videos from Boone lately in case you were wondering. It was not our decision to stop going to Boone but we respect their decision to have us not do what we do for LuvRacin.com & with our videos on Youtube at Freedomleft. We probably wont be back at Boone until Supernats & even then there will be no videos as XSAN has all rights to the week. If any other track would like us to visit them on a Saturday we are available so just contact us at our email email@example.com . We plan to head down to Osky tomorrow night for the MLRA/CBC show which is also the weekly show as well & we hope to see you all there!
Our racing season kicked off in January at the Battle at the Barn in Des Moines on the Iowa State Fairgrounds and that was as always an interesting night of go cart,3 & 4 wheeler,lawn mower, & motorcycle racing. The place was absolutely packed and the races were entertaining as usual. My friend Justin did not race his 4 wheeler this year so he helped out another friend by wrenching on some go carts. We had a good time and saw a lot of old friends & made some new ones. We really look forward to this race every year as it fills our “need for speed”. If you have never been to this race please come in 2015 as Toby Kruse & his crew put on a great 2 days of racing that fills a need in winter for us race fans.
The next stop for us came at the end of March when we traveled down to LCS in Donnellson for their Spring Extravaganza 2 day show. The track was great thanks to Mike Van Genderen’s hard work tho he did manage to blow up the water truck once which was very funny to watch! We got some pictures of it which you should be able to view on LuvRacin.com any day now. It had been 4 or 5 years since my last visit to LCS and the racing was good. Bret Lowry dominated in the sport mods. Richie & Jimmy Gustin won each once in the mods. I noticed that a few drivers down that way had changed classes for 2014 and that made it a little more difficult to tweet results on our tablet than usual. We are using a tablet this year instead of a cell phone so hopefully the results will be more accurate,quicker, & with pictures to boot. Please follow me on Twitter @thefasttrackfan for race results as i will retweet others race results tweets as well as my own. We are also filming again this year most races and those will be on Youtube @ “freedomleft”. The photos we take will be on LuvRacin.com in 2014 again as well. Thanks to Mike & his crew for the hospitality and hard work they do. Most track preppers could learn a thing or 6 from Mike as he does a great job in Osky, Memphis Mo., Eldon & at LCS.
The next races we saw were the annual Frostbusters in Osky, Marshalltown, & Boone. Most everybody knows who finished where at these races as they are in the words of Ron Burgundy “kinda of a big deal” so i wont say much more other than that I thought each nights races was unique from the others & that the clout these races carries continues to grow. The last 3 A’s at Boone were run this past weekend before the weekly races started and they were all good races. The A main for the mods at Marshalltown was a real see-saw kinda of race with Troy Cordes leading most of the way until the last 5 laps or so when others finally passed him. The 5 of Todd Shute & the 20 of Luke Wanninger are both on their games this year so watch out. I think the crates are doing just fine with the reduction in spoiler from 3 inches to 2 inches. On a personal note it is really exciting for us that some of our personal favorites like the 19g,10c,19,5, & others are off to such good starts in 2014 as they are so keep it up guys. On a side note poor Jenae Gustin has had a very fast sport mod but engine gremlins and suspension gremlins continue to thwart her progress but we know the tide will soon turn so keep at it Jenae! Its also worth mentioning that the 23k of Ben Kates is off to a good start in his Harris sport mod in 2014 with 2 wins at Boone that were dominant in my opinion. Weekly races will now be getting underway all over Iowa if they haven’t already so please support your track wherever you reside in our great Hawkeye state!
The Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines is under new leadership in 2014 after the end of the JJAM promotions era that previously ran the track. Tony Moro, John Pat Dorrian, & Eric Lundstrom along with the help of Karl Moyer, Bob Nading, Don Lamberti & others have really done a nice facelift of the whole area at the track. The pits have been moved to the infield except for Racesaver sprints which are outside of turn 2. The outer wall has been fixed and a new fresh coat of paint applied. Guardrail has been added to the top the fence in turns 3-4. Over 150 loads of new dirt was added to the turns & the frontstretch by Larry & Jerod Fleck Trucking & the surface last week was perfect! It was smooth & fast. The ruts are gone & so are the spongy spots. The have added a Kids Zone at the east end of the grandstands where kids can shoot hoops, drive pedal cars, & slide down a giant inflatable slide. They also have printed up a free program for fans with the drivers names & numbers so you know who your watching. I really have to say they have done a wonderful job so far. I know their are those who don’t like the concrete barriers on the inside of the track this year but I hope they will still give it a shot at some point. There is also a victory lane & a work area in the pits now. The white building in the pits on the frontstretch has been turned into a party patio where if you pay $3 more dollars than a normal pit pass you can bring your own food & beverages & watch the races from there all night. This is the last year for the track as a 1/2mile as after the state fair the track will be shortened to a high banked 3/8ths mile for 2015. Please try to get to the track as much as you can & enjoy 1 last year on the old 1/2 mile. The website is http://www.iowastatefairspeedway.com. The Twitter account is @MRPISFSpeedway which they will use on race nights to tweet results weekly as well as general info throughout the week. I hope all of you feel as we do & don’t want to lose racing at the state fair. This happened in Sedalia Mo. a few years back & now its probably gone for good. Please support ISFS in 2014 whenever you can as they are having 3 specials that are not on Fridays & an real honest attempt is being made to return the track to its glory days.
Thanks to the bloggers at PositivelyRacing.com and to Jeremy Fox at foxman1987.blogpost.com for the stories, stats, & info they put out every week for free to all race fans. See you at the races!