Check Out These Other Pages At Hoseheads
Bill W's Knoxville News Bill Wright
KO's Indiana Bullring Scene Kevin Oldham
From the Grandstand Ron Rodda
Wagsworld Ken Wagner
Keeping Track Dino Oberto
Tri-State Outlook Duane Hancock
Hawkeye Ovals Eric Arnold
Runnin The High Groove Paul KuyawaHoosier Race Report Danny Burton
I Just Wanna Race Brad Vores
Butts In The Bleachers Rusty Rogerson
Not Just Another Racing Column Pastor Dudley Balmer
Dirt Divas Camisha MillerCentral PA
The Hoosier Race Report
by Danny Burton
There may be a few out there who recall the old country song “Together Again” by most notably Buck Owens. Unlike many country music weepers, this song is a celebration. As Chris Windom waved by-by to the rest of the field at the Kokomo Speedway on a cool Sunday evening, that was the song that came to mind. Windom was reunited with car owner Jeff Walker the other day as the continual episode of Hoosier sprint car racing’s merry-go-round took another turn. Justin Grant was out of the Walker ride and Windom was back—in a big way.
A brisk wind out of the north made for weather straight out of March. In the parking lot or under the bleachers, one would find temperatures at least five degrees warmer than the bleachers, especially at or near the top. A few crazies turned out to the O’Conner family’s jewel of a race track nonetheless.
28 cars made the trip and one of them was Kyle Dautrcih, who tipped ‘er over during group qualifying. He’d make it back, but Robert Ballou wasn’t so fortunate. Last week’s Kokomo winner took a nasty ride in turn three when a wheel malfunctioned. The Madman was okay, but done for the night. It hurt even more because Ballou had just set fast time for the night.
Max McGhee took an early lead in the first heat and missed out on a good scrap behind him. Wes McIntyre came out ahead, taking second behind McGhee and ahead of Logan Jarrett. Kurt Gross was fourth and Dustin Smith made a last lap pass of Todd Gnat to advance to the feature.
Gary Taylor, born in Washington State but a Hoosier for now, won the second heat. Mr. Windom was second. The guy who used to drive the Walker car, Justin Grant, was third and was driving a car Windom drove last year with some success, the Pollack owned 21x. Grant edged Josh Spencer while Matt Westfall was just ahead of Parker Price-Miller to take the last seat before the music stopped.
Jerry Coons Jr. made a nifty outside pass of Joshua Clemons to win the third heat. Scotty Weir, seeming to be at home in the Keen 18, was third. Chad Boespflug was fourth; sadly that would be his highlight of the night. Joltin’ Joe Ligouri got around Chris Gurley late to wrap up a feature spot.
The 12 lap B got off to a grinding start as there was a four car meeting in turn one. The re-start went better and Mr. Gurley came home first. Price-Miller was second with Kyle Dautrich third. Brian Karraker came back from the early mess to finish fourth. Tyler Hewitt did the same as he took fifth.
The sun was still shining. Few complained much.
The front row for the 25 lapper would be a Mac attack with McIntyre and McGhee leading Taylor, Windom, Coons, Clemines, Jarrett, Grant, Weir and Gross to the green. The boys got one lap in and then the red waved for a four car scrum in turn one. Grant, Gross, Boespflug and Price-Miller were involved with PPM tipping over to warrant the red. All were done.
The re-start saw WesMac leading Windom but the Illinois native took the lead right off the bat before giving it up to McIntyre again. A Kyle Dautrich spin negated the pass and Windom was back in front again. This green flag session would be green to the end and Windom was flying around the top all the way. He did his best to stink up the show.
He failed only because of Scotty Weir, for the most part. From ninth Scotty moved up steadily. Before the crossed flags he was third behind Windom and McIntyre. Taylor was fourth with Coons fifth.
Soon after halfway Windom began to deal with heavy lapped traffic. Here would be the best chance for the contenders to catch Windom, either by catching the traffic at a good time or having Windom get tripped up. It didn’t happen. Windom lapped into the top ten by the time the field got the five to go signal.
CW was one understandably happy racer in victory lane. And why not? He was reunited with the guy who had helped him have a good bit of success a few years back. The magic was still there.
Weir edged McIntyre at the end to grab second. Taylor was fourth with Coons fifth. Matt Westfall made a strong run to crack the top five before settling for sixth after starting 14th. With all the usual madness of Kokomo, seldom does one finish where they started, but Logan Jarrett did that in taking seventh. Chris Gurley rambled from 16th to eighth. Dustin Smith and Brian Karraker ran ninth/tenth (I think).
It was cold, but I’ve been colder at a race track. No complaints here.
There was one record set, a good bit after the final checkered had waved and the grandson had taken a seat in Josh Spencer’s and Jamie Fredrickson’s cars. He stayed awake all the way to the Hamilton County line.
I like the Buck Owens version, but Emmylou’s ain’t bad either.
Gearing up for the next O.J. trial, I’m…
The Hoosier Race Report: The Road Less Traveled
Perhaps everyone at one time or another should try the road less traveled. You might take a different route to work. Maybe you could watch a new TV show. Why not ask that weird girl out? You know, the one who intimidates your guy friends. Or you could try out a different line around the race track, one the others are afraid to try, thinking they might lose positions. If so, you could have been Brady Short at the Gas City/I-69 Speedway on a cold Friday night. For Brady decided give the high groove a try and it worked like a charm. With only four laps to go, Brady passed none other than Dave Darland to win the 30 lap King of Indiana Sprint Series feature and add to his KISS point lead.
For the second race in a row we left home in a downpour. And like last Sunday’s trip to Kokomo, the farther north we went, the less rain we encountered. The last brief shower we drove through ended at the Grant County line.
34 teams were in the area and decided to stop by. Several USAC teams dotted the pits on the night before the crews headed southwest to Haubstadt.
The vigorous west wind put a multitude of fine dust particles on me, especially my eyes and for the first time in years I retreated to the truck for goggles. I should have packed a blanket too.
Tyler Courtney won the first of four heats. Scotty Weir came from eighth to second. Brady Short was third with A.J. Hopkins fourth. Bobby East brought out the second of two yellows as he spun an ill handling car.
The second heat was the strongest top to bottom. It became an eight car freight train and it was tough to pass. Shane Cottle won with Hunter Schuerenberg second. Jerry Coons Jr. was third and Robert Ballou hung on for fourth. Notables headed for the B included Gary Taylor, Casey Shuman, Brady Bacon and Chad Boespflug.
Josh Spencer was the third straight pole sitter to win a heat. Dave Darland completed a last lap pass to take second from Chris Windom, back in the J. Walker machine after a year plus hiatus. Kevin Thomas Jr. was fourth.
Logan Jarrett steadily pulled away to win the fourth heat. Matt Westfall was second. Last week’s Lawrenceburg winner C.J. Leary was third. Parker Price-Miller was fourth, sending Joltin’ Joe Ligouri to the B.
Some good cars and drivers would be loading up early after this B. Gary Taylor won with fellow front row mate Chris Gurley second. Max McGhee was third and Ted Hines was fourth after coming out on the good end of a backstretch tangle with Brady Bacon. Chad Boespflug and Bacon loaded up early while Bobby East and Casey Shuman were granted provisionals.
The front row was a classic mix of youth and experience with Logan Jarrett and Dave Darland up front. Darland took the early lead as Josh Spencer slotted into second right away.
The 30 lap race had an uneven beginning with two yellows and a red when Max McGhee tipped over after clouting a sitting C.J., Leary, who had spun. The last yellow of the race was on lap nine when some of the boys did the accordion thing coming out of turn two. This re-start had Darland still leading and Spencer still second. Logan Jarrett was hanging tough in third. Trailing were Matt Westfall, Tyler Courtney, Hunter Schuerenberg, Scotty Weir, Mr. Short, Jerry Coons Jr., and Chris Windom.
Most all of these guys were hugging the bottom and at some point here Short had enough of that and began trying the high side. Funny thing, it began to work. By the halfway mark he was third behind Darland and Spencer, who were rolling merrily along, not counting their money yet but no doubt with high hopes.
Short was getting through turn three very strong and used this to get around Spencer on lap 17. Next was Darland, a few car lengths ahead but Short wasn’t about to quit. Closer and close he came and finally Dave had to see the black 11p as it’s nose appeared in turn three, where else. This one would be tougher for Brady. But he and the car were up to it. Darland was passed on lap 26 after a lengthy battle and now the race was Short’s. But someone forgot to tell Dave. Short didn’t exactly run away and one little bobble would do him in.
The final rundown had Short and Darland leading a mob scene across the line led by Courtney and Spencer. A medium sized (as opposed to large) blanket could have covered a group that included Jarrett, Westfall, Schuerenberg and Windom, fifth through eighth. Scotty Weir and Kevin Thomas Jr. finished up the top ten. Some of those positions were decided by inches.
After the race Short claimed to “suck” at Gas City. No longer can he make that claim, risking a Pinocchio moment. This combination of Brady and the Pottorff Logging race team is on a roll after a huge KISS win at Bloomington last week.
Short had indeed taken the road less traveled. Others tried it after he did but no one had the success he had. Where others couldn’t find the traction on what my grandson has started calling the high side, Brady found it. Team chemistry, desire, a fast hot rod and a racer who will do what he can to win gathered together at the start/finish line at 9:40 p.m. on Friday night to celebrate a well earned win.
Short and company extended their KISS point lead over Darland. This coming Saturday the Lawrenceburg Speedway will be the next stop for KISS action.
Apropos of little, usually I take a road less traveled to Lawrenceburg and Lincoln Park and, well, just about everywhere except to the kitchen.
Checking the sky for snowflakes (today), I’m…
The Hoosier Race Report: Putting Puzzles Together
It remains fascinating how it is that different combinations of people and machines can work together—or not. Talented people can form what, on paper, seems to be an unbeatable combination. But sometimes when this team shows up, soon it becomes apparent that this group isn’t working well together. Inevitably they go their own way, usually remaining friends, but knowing that there is hopefully another way. But sometimes the new combination clicks. Then pictures and interviews in victory lane follow. As a fan I get a kick out of that, no matter who it is. So on Sunday night at the Kokomo Speedway, I got a kick out of seeing Robert Ballou in the Baldwin Brothers pride and joy outrun a very strong field for the second night in a row as this new combination seems to be working out.
It was high time that the grandson and I caught a race at Kokomo. Weather, the usual culprit, had kept us and many fellow fans away so far in 2013. Unfortunately, weather probably kept quite a few fans and maybe some race teams away as well on what turned out to be a beautiful night for racing.
But there were 25 thoroughbreds ready to rumble; this group included several USAC runners, some of whom would excel and others struggle. Such is the nature of the King of Indiana Sprint Series.
Mr. Ballou set the bar high in winning the first heat. Brent Beauchamp’s evening was shortened considerably when he couldn’t avoid Landon Simon’s left rear tire. BB flipped in what looked like slow motion, landing hard. He was done for the night. Jerry Coons Jr. was second with Dave Darland third. Brady Short and Kyle Robbins trailed, but locked up feature starting spots.
Josh Spencer ran a great race for ten laps. But the first half of the second heat saw him hold off Levi Jones, driving for Jeff Walker, until the pass was made. Levi and Josh ran one/two, with Gary Taylor nearly grabbing second at the line. Chad Boespflug was fourth and missed seeing a terrific fight for fifth. Chris Gurley took it, edging Brian Hayden and Kurt Gross.
The third heat began with my hollering in Karston’s ear “five wide!” That didn’t last as front row mates Shane Cottle and Wes McIntyre finished first and second. Kevin Thomas Jr. was third. Scotty Weir and Hunter Schuerenberg avoided the B.
It was noted (by Brett Bowman?) that Brian Hayden used to race Logan Jarrett’s dad. But for this race, he and Logan started side by side, no doubt not making Brian feel any younger. Jarrett won by a large margin over Landon Simon, who recovered from an early race tangle with Kurt Gross. Casey Shuman, replacing Jon Stanbrough in the Batcheldor/Rice 22, came from the last row to finish third. Hayden hung on for fourth while Parker Price-Miller overcame an early spin to grab the 20th starting position in the feature.
The third heat winner and runner-up, Cottle and McIntyre, would be the front row for the 25 lapper. The all-veteran second row was Coons and Jones. Ballou and Spencer followed. The green flag waved at 8:05 p.m.
Cottle took off at the green, opening up a half straightaway lead over Jones, who tried running above the cushion for a few laps. Lap 11 saw the yellow wave for a spinning Brian Hayden. The re-start was Cottle, Jones, Coons, Thomas (from ninth already), Ballou, Darland, Weir (from 12th), WesMac, Spencer and Boespflug.
First Levi, then KT, passed Cottle soon after the re-start. The five time USAC sprint champ must have seen Thomas making good time on the low road, so he tried it himself. But neither could know that Ballou was on his way. He shuffled Thomas aside and had Jones in his sights when Robbins spun on lap 16. This re-start read Jones, Ballou, Thomas, Coons, Darland, Weir, Cottle, Spencer, Gary Taylor and Boespflug.
Robert was kind enough to let Levi lead a couple of laps after the green waved, but then made his move. From there it was mainly watching mini-battles in the pack. Right around lap 20 Jerry Coons Jr. slowed suddenly on the front straight and headed for the infield as cars swerved to miss him. Dave Darland was on the move. He passed Thomas, who has been impressive while racking up three wins so far this year, for third with five laps to go.
Ballou won by several car lengths over Jones, Darland and Thomas. Brady Short had the best run that few saw, charging late from outside the top ten (after starting tenth) to take fifth and keep his KISS point lead. The second five were Weir, Cottle, Taylor, Boespflug and Casey Shuman, who also ran under the radar for 30 laps and started 18th. Ol’ Case passed more cars than anyone else all night.
The time was 8:20 as Robert did his best Thomas Meseraull imitation in his victory lane interview, thanking everyone he could think of. He was happy and pleased and had every right to be. Fans that had to work the next morning had to be pleased, too.
From where I sit and/or stand, it seems like Robert Ballou could be described as a bit rough around the edges—in a very good way. He probably cleans up good, but Robert seems to be a blue collar guy, one who will work as hard as anyone to race and race well. His own car that he’s run from time to time won’t win any “pretty” awards, but neither Robert nor his fans mind much. I’d not be surprised to know that he may well rub some folks the wrong way. I’d be very surprised to learn that he’d be bothered by that. So far, he may or may not be a guy you’d want to hang around.
But you’d be missing out a bit, because Mr. Ballou is, if nothing else, very good with kids. I was told this some time ago and I’ve seen Robert with kids, including my grandson, enjoying himself. If that isn’t enough, he married a young lady with two kids of her own, taking on a responsibility that few men would care to tackle.
So much for assumptions and stereotypes. Parents, after the races, take your kids to the pits. You’ll be happily surprised to know that there are plenty of Robert Ballou types back there. They will sign anything, pose for pictures, engage in small talk and smile for real at your kids.
Heck, they might even talk about tough it is to put that puzzle together.
Eating Governor Christie’s Big Mac for him, I’m…
The Hoosier Race Report: It Pays to Hang Around
There is very little, if anything, that is logical about sprint car racing. People inevitably spend more money than they can hope to earn. Often they drive great distances to see a race that may or may not be a thriller. Or they wait out a rain delay, hoping to see at least a bit of action. Those who did the latter on what became a wet Saturday night at the Lawrenceburg Speedway were rewarded with a 25 lap feature that wasn’t decided until the third turn of the last lap. C.J. Leary only led a few hundred feet of the race, but they were the ones that counted as he passed heavy favorite Kevin Thomas Jr. after a two hour rain delay. What logic is there in waiting two hours to see a race that took less than 15 minutes to run? Compose your own answers. If you’re a fellow race fan, you already know.
It was a case of gratification delayed as my annoying health issues raised their despicable head on Friday. I was grounded from making the 44 mile trip west to Bloomington on Friday night the third and ended up missing a fine race with Brady Short coming from 15th to win the opening round of the King of Indiana Sprint Series. We should note that the 30 lapper was caution free, making Short’s effort even more impressive. And it’s back to my favorite nurse practitioner this coming Friday so we can slay this mini-dragon once and for all.
As Lincoln Park once again suffered from too much rain, the ‘burg would dodge the drops most of the night. 27 ponies stepped to the gate, with a few heavy hitters scattered through the three heats.
We had no way of knowing it, but young Mr. Leary made his early argument when he stalked leader Joe Ligouri for the first six laps of the eight lap heat before taking the lead and the win after starting fifth. Joe held on for second with Max McGhee third. Hunter Schuerenberg was fourth with a Lawrenceburg track champ named Joss Moffatt fifth.
Kyle Robbins did a fine job of stinking up the second heat as he ran and hid. Ted Hines was second as Brett Burdette moved from ninth to third by lap three and stayed there. Seth Motsinger was fourth with Brian Karrakher fifth.
Kevin Thomas Jr. won the third heat with a last lap pass of Josh Clemens. KT would be on the other end of that experience much later. Another ‘burg track champ, Logan Hupp, was third, followed by, yep, yet another, Chad Boespflug. Logan Jarrett had to be pleased with his fifth place run, considering his recent luck here.
The B Main would be a bit wild and wooly. J.T. Stapp had something break as he motored through turn two and was clouted by Todd Gnat on the first lap. David Applegate was collected and Tyler Hewitt was also involved. Applegate restarted the race as Garrett Abrams sailed off into the sunset as it were. Gnat held off Brandon Mattox for second. Pat Giddens was fourth and Justin Owens charged from last (13th) to take fifth, but was done for the night as his oil pan was missing a drain plug. A good race spoiled is what it was.
The programmers were in hurry-up mode as rain was on its way to the ‘burg. A quartet of number 17 cars were in the first and fourth rows. Thomas and Robbins made up the first row, followed by Clemens, Ligouri, Leary, Hines, McGhee and Burdette.
The boys took the green and Thomas led the first lap. But chaos took over on the second lap as Hunter Schuerenberg (I think) got sideways in turn three and was popped by Chad Boespflug (I think). Seven cars in all were involved in varying degrees. Boespflug, Brandon Mattox, Logan Garrett and Todd Gnat re-started. Moffatt flipped but was uninjured.
The re-start would be later, as in two hours later as the rain began during the cleanup. As the drops fell we retreated to the car, daughter, grandsons and I. Sitting in the car, I nearly made a bad and dumb decision. We nearly left, but the rain slowed, then stopped.
Knowing who was promoting this thing and knowing that the curfew was still a few hours away, we hung in there. The boys and I found dry seats and Gregg Sauer, who had stopped at the Dairy Queen for some ice cream, joined us, having nearly done the same as we did.
A bit after 11:00 p.m., the green waved again and Thomas resumed his domination. Clemens was second, followed by Robbins, Ligouri and Leary.
The halfway mark came and went with Thomas stretching his lead every lap as Leary had only moved to fourth. This kid was very patient and soon his patience would be rewarded.
The reward would be in the form of a yellow flag, erasing Thomas’ lead. KT now led Clemens, Robbins, Leary, Burdette, Ligouri, Hines, Hupp, Motsinger and Jarrett. Leary made his move on the re-start, passing both Clemens and KRob in two laps. Thomas now had company of the unwanted type. Could it be? Could this kid actually pass the older kid who has been tough at the ‘burg this year?
For the next six laps Leary stayed on the bumper of the RW Motorsports machine, sizing him up. Then he did it. Going through turns three and four, Leary passed Thomas and held on coming to the checkered. It was his second sprint win at Lawrenceburg as well as being his second career win.
Brett Burdette came on strong late in the race to finish third. Robbins was a strong fourth. Clemens faded only slightly to fifth, an outstanding effort by the quintessential low buck team. Steady Teddy Hines was just that, sixth. Logan Hupp was seventh and Logan Jarrett had to be feeling decently after coming from 15th to eighth, after two disastrous weeks at the ‘burg. Joe Ligouri faded to ninth and Seth Motsinger was tenth.
So much for me even thinking that Kevin Thomas Jr. might have this one wrapped up. I may as well stick to guessing the weather forecast. No logic is required there either.
Wondering if Roy and Mr. Rogers were brothers, I’m…
The Hoosier Race Report: The Start of a Trend?
So far I’ve been to six races this year, five of them on dirt. Kevin Thomas Jr. has won three features and Christopher Bell won the other two. Mr. Thomas has won two USAC features this month, first at Lawrenceburg and on Friday night the 26th at the Gas City/I-69 Speedway. There may not be a new sheriff in town just yet, but the cowpokes are starting to take notice. If his win wasn’t impressive enough, Thomas overcame a flip in his heat race and his crew did some hustling to get the car ready for the feature for the second consecutive week—with the same results, a win.
Friday was a sunny and cool day as I headed north on I-69. In every county I traversed, standing water was quite common in fields, pastures and yards. It’s been a wet month in Indiana, especially north of I-70 and it’s also been quite cool. Tonight would be no exception, at least in terms of weather. But at least the rain stayed away.
On the track would be another matter. 29 players had come to play. Jiggs, Tom and the gang had a super fast track to play on. And when qualifications started, play they did. Scotty Weir’s track record of 11.571 was in jeopardy right off the bat. Dave Darland started the ball rolling with an 11.615. Bryan Clauson came very close with an 11.601 lap. But then Thomas Meseraull came out late and claimed the new track record with a blistering 11.441 circuit. Brady Bacon flipped after getting one lap in; it was sixth quick and he would return.
The lightning fast track meant that passing in the heats would be a chore. Justin Grant won the first heat with Tyler Courtney second. TMez came from sixth to finish third and Robert Ballou ended up fourth, sending Shane Cottle, among others to the B.
Hunter Schuerenberg was the second heat winner. Scotty Weir trailed. Bryan Clauson took third while Chad Boespflug had his hands full in the Hazen machine holding off Ted Hines, who went to the B with Bacon. .
The third heat, like the others, featured grooves of low, lower and lowest. But unlike the others, this one was a group of evenly matched cars. C.J. Leary won from the pole with Chris Windom, tonight in a second Jeff Walker hoss, second. USAC sprint point leader Chase Stockon was third. Dave Darland took the last transfer with Landon Simon did some huge bicycling and ending up heading to the B.
The fourth heat had some passing to be sure. Tracy Hines went up a groove and showed that it could be done. Max McGhee won with Hines a strong second. A.J. Hopkins was third and Jerry Coons Jr. grabbed the 16th feature spot available.
The flipping continued in the B Main as Shane Cottle won. Earlier flippers Brady Bacon and Kevin Thomas Jr. finished second and third. Gary Taylor, Coleman Gulick and Logan Jarrett all would move on to race again. Landon Simon appeared to barely nudge Nick Drake, who spun and had his tires get a huge bite of Gas City soil and tip over. A few laps later, Simon, who fought an ill handling car all night, bicycled big time and flipped in turn one. Landon would burn a provisional to make it into the feature.
After Toby Alfrey won the Fusion Midget feature, and after the track was massaged, Weir and Ballou led Coons, Darland, Clauson, Meseraull, Cottle, Bacon, Gulick and Thomas to the green. A red flag waved before a lap was completed as A.J. Hopkins flipped in turn one. No sooner did the green waved again did red lights blink on lap two as Coleman Gulick flipped in turn four.
This re-start was a keeper as Ballou took the lead and tried his best to leave the others behind. He was able to keep his lead but Weir stayed close. Meanwhile Coons and Darland fought for third. And Thomas was on the move, making it to the top five within ten laps.
The yellow waved for a spin by the luckless Simon at the halfway mark. This re-start would be Ballou, Weir, Darland, Meseraull, Thomas, Coons, Bacon, Clauson, Tracy Hines and Cottle. Four laps later Thomas nearly lost several positions he did a half spin in turn four. But instead, he gathered things together and joined the fight for third place.
One last red flag came out for Scotty Weir, who had a great race going until he bounced off the front stretch guard rail and flipped hard on lap 22. He was unharmed.
This final re-start had Ballou leading TMez, Thomas, Darland, Coons, Bacon, Hines, Clauson, Taylor and Cottle. Thomas didn’t like that order a bit, so he swept around both Meseraull and Ballou to take a lead he was not willing to give back. KT won going away as Meseraull also passed Ballou for second. Coons rallied late to take fourth from Darland. Bacon salvaged sixth after an unhappy start to the night. Taylor had the best run that few saw, coming from 16th to finish seventh. Hines, Schuerenberg and Clauson completed the top ten.
Post-race saw Thomas saying that he loved the track, Meseraull happy for KT and he urged fans to bring a friend to the races to see what we’d just seen, and Ballou saying what relatively few realize: that Mike Dutcher is a well kept secret as well as being a top notch mechanic. Aiding Bryan Clauson with his 2012 success, this year Dutcher is with Thomas and company.
Schuerenberg took the point lead over Chase Stockon by one point as the boys headed southwest to the Lincoln Park Speedway.
There was a disagreement during the street stock feature in the pits. The race was stopped so an ambulance could reach the pits and treat a gentleman who was struck and not by a car. No names or descriptions here, seeing that I wasn’t present at the time and much information can’t be officially confirmed. Besides, it’s probably all over the internet by now. And as this article is wrapping up, no penalties have been announced. But you can almost bet the farm that they will.
Next stop, beautiful downtown Putnamville, Indiana.
The only trouble was that the rain, which was expected, followed my grandson and me to Lincoln Park Speedway, dampening our plans.
But we did get to do some visiting before and after the shortened program. Karston invaded the pits, looking for drivers to talk to him. It wasn’t his toughest assignment.
USAC’s finest were in the house, at least those who didn’t go to Lawrenceburg or elsewhere. Bryan Clauson was the fastest of the 35 cars that showed up. Seth Parker finished one lap in time trials, but flipped on the second. Dakota Jackson flipped in turn two of his first lap. Neither was hurt.
With intermittent sprinkles, the first heat was completed. Landon Simon had qualified with only seven cylinders clicking on the SST 41, but that was fixed as he ran away with the win over Josh Burton, Chris Windom and C.J. Leary. First lap mayhem ensued when Tyler Courtney and Bryan Clauson were caught in an accordion. The Sunshine Kid did a nice helicopter imitation while B.C. clipped him. Both were done for the heat, along with Brady Bacon, another victim. I doubt if any of those guys minded the rain that was to come.
The second heat had just begun when A.J. Hopkins flipped for the second time in two nights, though with two different cars. A.J. was okay, but while the cleanup went on, the sprinkles became a drizzle. The track went away fairly quick as there were no cars circling to keep the moisture at a decent level. And the radar didn’t look good either. (Later, as we headed west to Terre Haute, our hangout for the weekend, the rain hit even before we left Putnam County.)
USAC and the LPS crew got together and determined that this baby needed to be re-scheduled. As this is wrapped up on a pleasant Monday afternoon, no official date (though I’ve heard an unofficial date) has been set. No matter to many of us; we’ll be off work the next day anyway.
Sunday brought more frustration as the Sumar Classic at Terre Haute’s Action Track was postponed (not cancelled, I hope) early that morning. My three day race weekend became a day and a fraction. Worse for my grandson and many others, it was only a fraction.
Elsewhere, Bloomington raced Friday with Bub Cummings picking up his first sprint car win. Lawrenceburg again avoided serious rain and Joss Moffatt won over Gary Taylor, who is starting to turn heads.
One of these weekends we’ll get a trifecta in.
Growing gills, I’m…
In our lives we’re all confronted with obstacles sooner or later. Some are overcome while others either remain or simply whip us, sometimes daily. But it’s a good feeling of accomplishment to triumph over any obstacle, big or small. In racing, it is the same. One can appreciate the efforts of others who are faced with potential roadblocks and treat them as opportunities to excel rather than an obstacle. So it was with Kevin Thomas Jr. and gang this past Saturday night at the Lawrenceburg Speedway as they changed an engine between their heat race (the third of five) and the feature. If that wasn’t accomplishment enough, they proceeded to outrun a strong field to win the 25 lapper, passing C.J. Leary midway through. Thomas is now two for two at the ‘burg this year, having won on April 6, beating a powerhouse lineup of USAC’s best.
This weekend’s riding partner posed no obstacles. The call came from the one of a kind Butch Wilkerson, who needed a ride to Lawrenceburg. I picked Butch up in North Vernon and off we went, with Butch telling stories, as he does so well.
We arrived in time for hot laps. I left Butch off at the gate and the next time I saw him, he and Marv Fish were huddled together in Section A, fighting off the cold and enjoying some of the best heat races I’ve seen in awhile.
Eldora and Lincoln Park had both fallen victim to the weather and, for the second straight week, Lawrenceburg was the only game in the area. Eldora’s cancellation brought a few USAC runners down to the ‘burg. 44 sprinters came to play in the dirt. As often happens in life, one person’s misfortune becomes another’s fortune. Lawrenceburg (and its superior drainage system and less rain) would benefit again.
C.J. Leary won the first heat of five from the front with Scotty Weir second. Cagey Ted Hines came from eighth to slide Ryan Dautrich for the last spot as only three would move on from each heat.
Dave Darland was the last of three leaders in the second heat. The Rave started seventh. Landon Simon led until he was balked by a lapped car (in an eight lap heat). The sometime Buckeye/sometime Hoosier settled for second. Coleman Gulick took third.
Kevin Thomas Jr. let everyone know he had come to play hard as he went from fifth to first in the first lap of the third heat. KT simply checked out, missing a good fight behind him. Tyler Courtney came from eighth to take second. If that wasn’t enough, third place Logan Hupp came from ninth/last to finish third after some pressure from Jarret Andretti.
Logan Jarrett might be excused if he thinks that he’s an owner of a Lawrenceburg jinx of some sort. Last week he flipped during the feature. On this night, he’d lose a left front tire, which beat a path over the wall into the pit area. With that aside, friend and keen observer Ed Kemp commented before the heat that this would be the most evenly matched heat. And it was; Ed is seldom wrong. Joss Moffatt won after a torrid battle with Brady Short. Chad Boespflug edged Matt Westfall for the final transfer.
Max McGhee was the third of three leaders in the fifth heat. Dakota Jackson was runner-up and Bret Burdette was the show in more ways than one. The young man from Sunman came from eighth to race his way into the feature.
With the robust car count, two B’s were on tap with each sending the top three to the A. The first semi featured a major upset as young Mr. Andretti, with help from Grandpa Aldo, held off Kyle Robbins, who was the show. KRob had to dispatch of both Nick Drake and Justin Grant to race again. Drake was third and Grant, in the Jeff Walker bullet, was fourth and done. Who would have foreseen that?
Coleman Gulick ran away with the second B. Josh Burton had a healthy margin over third place Matt Westfall. Logan Jarrett made a valiant run from 14th to come up short, finishing fifth behind Mike Miller.
Between his heat and the feature Thomas’ crew merely changed an engine, a desperate thrash that would end God knew how. Somehow this tiny group of super-motivated people did it. When it was time to push the cars onto the track, here they came, one obstacle overcome. KT would be starting on the pole, which didn’t hurt.
Next to him was Mr. Moffatt, a ‘burg track champ who is always a threat here. Behind them came Leary, McGhee, Darland, Weir, Simon, Courtney, Short and Jackson. Not a weak sister (or brother) in the bunch.
As the green waved, Chad Boespflug came to a stop on the backstretch and a re-start was in order. Thomas had jumped the start and he traded spots with Leary. Another obstacle.
Leary grabbed the lead with Thomas settling in behind the kid from Greenfield. Not much changed in the first ten laps, and then the race’s second yellow waved for Moffatt, who spun in turn two. The order was Leary, Thomas, Darland, Weir, Short, Hines, Simon, Shuman, Gulick and Jackson.
On this re-start, Jackson stopped, bringing out caution period number three. Also Thomas was crowding Leary and was ready to pounce, which he did on lap 15. For the lead that was it, but it was a treat watching Darland try to get by Leary. The People’s Champ couldn’t get it done and had to settle for third. Scotty Weir was a steady fourth. Brady Short looked strong early, but leveled off at the end, finishing fifth. For the second week in a row Landon Simon was sixth. Little Shu was seventh and Gulick was eighth after starting 17th. Hines hung on for ninth and Bret Burdette, like Gulick, came from B Main-land (18th) to take tenth.
Thomas and crew had overcome a significant challenge to come out and take away some of Dave Rudisell’s money, but could have easily chose a different path. Granted, they had the resources that many other teams don’t have to do such a thing, but that isn’t the point. What mattered was the desire to turn that obstacle into an opportunity and, even better, make the most of it. Sure, money counts, but it isn’t all of the equation. It never was all of it and never will be. Intangibles such as talent, desire, and yes, racing luck will never go away.
We should be thankful.
Speaking of overcoming obstacles, my riding partner is a good example. Knocked out of the sport (and almost out of life) 33 years ago, Butch saw his dream of racing at Indy go away for good. No doubt bitterly disappointed to this day, Butch has grown wise enough to see that it wasn’t meant to be. But to his credit, he never crawled into a hole, even when he felt like it. He’s endured the slings, arrows and trials of a full life and has persevered. He’s overcome obstacles far more substantial than most of us will ever see. He is, to sum up, a keeper.
Serving as marriage counselor for Ozzie and Harriet—I mean Sharon, I’m…
The Way Things Are (Like it or Not)
Another year, another bumper crop of talented youngsters is what much of the Hoosier sprint society is seeing again this year. The latest is one Christopher Bell, spending a good part of his 2013 in Indiana, but calling Norman, Oklahoma his home. So far this year he is two for three in our state, winning at Brownstown a couple of weeks back and repeating at Lawrenceburg this past Saturday night. And if not for a flat tire at the ‘burg on April 13 midway through a USAC sanctioned show, he might have made things interesting for winner Kevin Thomas Jr.
Southern Indiana didn’t get near the rain that our cousins up north received. Races that were scheduled for any track north of I-70 were washed out. Lawrenceburg was the only game in town for sprints and 39 of them signed in at the gate. Truth to tell, it was a near USAC quality field with several of the boys in town to try and grab a few of Dave Rudisell’s dollars (before he spent them at the local Bob Evans, but that’s another story).
Mr. Bell made his case early to the assembled jury by running away with the first heat win. With the healthy car count, five heats would be run with only the top three moving on. Ted Hines, who refuses to act his age (whatever that is), was an impressive second with C.J. Leary making a nifty last lap pass of young veteran Matt Westfall to take the last available transfer.
Landon Simon used a 99% perfect slider to motor home first in the second heat after starting back in seventh the SST Racing 41. Jarrett Andretti was second with Max McGhee ending up third.
The third heat was stopped early when Parker Price-Miller flipped after a Robert Ballou slider didn’t quite make it. PPM was okay and would return for the B. With racing resuming, Ballou moseyed off to the win after starting sixth. Hunter Schuerenberg was second and Dakota Jackson hung on for third with Bret Burdette closing fast.
Brady Bacon, with the Hoffman racers visiting their home track, won the fourth heat. Scotty Weir was second with the proverbial blanket finish for third. Moving to the feature was Justin Grant after starting seventh. He edged ‘burg track champ Chad Boespflug, who edged Tyler Courtney.
Yes, Virginia, there was a fifth heat and Logan Jarrett won it. The ageless Brian Hayden, who decided to go sprint car racing again after years of racing his modified, came to the ‘burg after Lincoln Park was rained out and finished second after starting sixth. Young Justin Owens was third.
The first of the two B’s was stopped when Cody Gardner flipped in turn one on lap four. Cody was okay, but the party went on without him. Washington State’s Gary Taylor won with Burdette second. Taking the final transfer from this race was Adam Cruea. Sitting down would be Tyler Courtney, Matt Westfall and Drew Abel, among others.
(Somewhere in here I locked, yet again, my truck keys in the truck. I’ve taken the roasting rather well, using the old “senior moment” excuse. At my age, I use that excuse no matter what. Many thanks to the Lawrenceburg and Greendale protectors of the public—and expert door unlocking men.)
Mr. Boespflug took the second semi with Logan Hupp second in lock step, as various TV announcers like to say. Mike Miller, who has been around the block and is another Lawrenceburg champ, took third and would start 21st in the feature. Coleman Gulick had problems in his heat and came from to take fourth, coming up short after starting 11th. The old adage about a week making a huge difference applied here.
Bacon and Bell led a strong field to the green and Bell used the high side to take the lead right away. Ballou had started third and assumed second before the first lap was completed. The Killer B’s owned the top three spots for the first half of the race, but Hunter Schuerenberg was making some noise. He passed Ballou for second just before the race’s fourth caution came out on lap 12 for a Max McGhee spin and wall banging.
The order at halfway was Bell, Bacon, Schuerenberg, Ballou, Simon, Grant, Hines, Taylor, Weir and Hayden. Bacon bobbled on the re-start, dropping him to fourth. Schuerenberg pressured Bell as best he could but Bell had discovered that the low groove was working best. As a result, no one had anything for the Okie.
But elsewhere, positions were changed and/or challenged fiercely. Ballou passed Hunter for second as the Missouri native might have been having tire issues. After his mid-race faltering, Bacon could not improve on fourth. But Grant was moving up throughout the race, starting 14th and finishing fifth. Simon faded a bit at the end, but still took sixth. Taylor quietly came from 16th to come home seventh. Hines was a steady eighth. Boespflug recovered from a lap nine spin to make it to ninth. And Burdette ventured forth from 18th to get a top ten finish.
Post-race, Bell said that he’d noticed that Bacon was making time by using the low road and he figured that changing his line to that might be a good career move. On such seemingly trivial decisions success can occur, short and long term.
His coaching, advice and other guidance he receives from Keith Kunz cannot be understated and that is a good point to ponder as we survey the landscape in 2013. The talented Mr. Bell is a living example of how this landscape is evolving.
More or less, sprint car rosters in Indiana fall into four types. Maybe the most controversial is the rent-a-rides. Basically, it appears that someone comes to a car owner with a decent sized check (the amount can be anyone’s guess; it doesn’t necessarily matter) and says, here’s the money and there’s the driver. Take this kid and teach him/her to race and win. Sometimes the kid does well and moves on; other times the kid fades away. This can be for any length of time from one race to a year or even more.
Then there is the owner-operator. Often this is a veteran who would rather race than play golf, to use one example. He shows up whenever he can. Often he is a contender as well as being an impromptu teacher. Maybe he used to race with or for his dad. Or maybe he used to race for a different owner, but for the time being he races for himself. The owner-operator doesn’t have to share his winnings, but neither does he get to share his expenses—unless he can find a sponsor.
It’s easy to spot the family rides. A father (often with mom right there, too) owns and wrenches the car as the son/daughter drives. Sometimes they have sponsor help, but not necessarily. If the driver sticks with it, quite often he/she will move on to another ride. But then if the driver sticks with it, quite often he/she will remain for quite awhile with the family ride. It may be accurate to say that most racers start out in family rides.
Finally, there is the hired gun. Maybe he was one of the above earlier in his career, but now he’s moved on to doing this for his share of the money. He may be a full time racer (increasingly rare in these days, sad to say), or he may have another full or part time job on his non-racing time. The way things are going, one has to wonder if the hired gun is on the verge of dinosaur-hood.
May God save, love and bless them all.
The above is a hugely condensed version of what populates the pits these days and no doubt glaringly incomplete. But I’d think the four categories cover most all of sprint car racers in Indiana these days. It doesn’t matter if we like it or not; it’s the way things are for now. Many, of not most, sprint fans may or may not be aware of the dynamics that exist in Hoosier sprint car racing. I’d wager that most don’t care; all they care about is a well run program and good racing. And, for the most part, promoters and racers combine each week to give them just that.
I’m not complaining, just enjoying.
Pondering on the similar looks and behavior of Brian France and that wild and crazy guy in North Korea, I’m…
The Hoosier Race Report: Changing of the Guard? Not Necessarily
In any group of any size, time, that great equalizer, and events determine that those who lead that group will eventually give way to those who come to the forefront and strive to become the new leaders, movers and shakers. This is true from everywhere from Washington D.C. to, well, USAC. Hoosier/USAC/sprint car fans have seen it happen many times. Is it happening again in 2013? Kevin Thomas Jr., for one, hopes so. He, along with Chase Stockon and Brady Bacon, did their part this past Saturday night at the Lawrenceburg Speedway as USAC made its first Hoosier appearance of the 2013 season. Thomas and company ran a close one-two-three in the 30 lap feature, sending a message to their competitors that new sheriffs are in town. As always, time will tell if Saturday’s results are a trend or an aberration…or something in between.
We have been planning this one for several weeks. Wishing I could clone myself and send my selves to both the ‘burg and also to Bill Gardner’s www.indianaopenwheel.com wing-ding at Lincoln Park, I settled for taking my daughter and both grandsons to Lawrenceburg for USAC’s dose of sprint car fun and games.
39 of 40 cars in the house took times with Logan Hupp sidelined by mechanical issues. The 2012 ‘burg champ would return later and end up with a decent night.
Tracy Hines can be considered one of the so-called old guard. He qualified the quickest with a 13.966 with Thomas Meseraull second, ripping off a 13.978.
Nick Drake, improving with every outing, won himself a USAC heat race, holding off no less than Bryan Clauson. Hines was third with Kyle Robbins doing exceptional work in edging both Chris Windom and Shane Cottle for the final transfer.
Dave Darland came from fifth to win the second heat. TMez was second and led C.J. Leary and the ageless Ted Hines to the line.
In the third heat, it was Chase Stockon making a statement, coming from sixth to win. Thomas started fourth and was second. Coleman Gulick was third with Landon Simon beating out Justin Grant for fourth in what may have been the strongest heat race lineup of the night.
Guys went catfish hunting in the fourth heat as most everyone stayed put on the bottom. Robert Ballou won with Brady Bacon, in the Hoffman-mobile this year, finishing second. Hunter Schuerenberg was third with No Way Out 40 winner Christopher Bell dropping to fourth and the start and staying there. Logan Hupp started 10th and barely missed making it to the feature, settling for tenth.
The B Main lineup took to the track and promptly discovered that it was no slicker than I-74 after a couple of inches of snow and/or ice. I counted seven yellows as almost everyone again stayed on the bottom. Almost. Apparently Shane Cottle and Gary Taylor didn’t get the memo. Both figured, hey, why not, and worked their way forward. Taylor was impressive, coming from 15th to challenge for a transfer spot before bringing out the race’s final yellow. Cottle won a hard fought race with Justin Grant, in the Walker 11, trying the high side late and taking second. Jerry Coons Jr., tonight in the Monte Edison burner, was third with Chris Windom fourth. Matt Westfall, doing double duty tonight with his modified, was fifth. And after a miserable start to his night, Logan Hupp came from last (23rd) to sixth, on a track that was a challenge for anyone to race or pass on.
Schuerenberg and Gulick led 21 others to the green, with rookie Tyler Courtney taking a provisional. Darland, Stockon, Meseraull, Tracy Hines, Coons, Cottle, Windom and Thomas were the rest of the front half of the field.
A massive scrum in turn one nearly brought out a caution, but all kept running with Darland dropping several spots. Coleman grabbed the lead, but early on both Schuerenberg and Stockon kept massive pressure on the New York native.
A bit further back in the pack Simon had already come from 14th to seventh when Windom flipped in turn three, bringing out the night’s lone red. The re-start read Gulick, Stockon, Schuerenberg, Hines, Cottle, Clauson, Simon, Thomas, Bacon and Meseraull.
Slicing and dicing resumed with the box score, as usual, not telling the whole story. Gulick officially led laps 1-11, while Stockon led lap 12 before yielding to Gulick for laps 13-21. With a super job of re-working the track after the B, the track crew set up a bullring with at least two grooves and their efforts were rewarded as the two at the front, among others farther back, traded positions sometimes twice a lap before hitting the line.
Halfway home and Gulick with Stockon led Hines. But Thomas was on the move, quietly taking fourth at the 15 lap mark. Cottle and Clauson both wanted to play, but couldn’t quite do it. Stockton took over on lap 22 and it might have seemed like a good idea to bet on him, but Thomas had other ideas.
Two late cautions set up two green/white/checkered re-starts on the 28th lap. By this time Thomas had taken over second behind Stockon with Bacon moving from 11th to third. During the first of these cautions Bell had headed for the pits with a flat tire, ending an 18th to fifth jaunt. Thomas grabbed the lead on the first re-start, only to have it called back. So the Alabama native simply did it again with Stockon unable to counter.
The margin of victory might have been as much as ten feet, with Bacon pressing hard to take third. Schuerenberg hung around the front all race and ended up fourth with Clauson, now driving for Tony Stewart, fifth.
Gulick’s sixth was impressive when one considered he had trouble back there by the left rear tire. TMez and the Throttle were seventh and eighth. Changing track conditions caused Simon to drop back from his early seventh to take ninth. Coons was tenth.
After not taking a time trial, Logan Hupp started 22nd and finished 15th in the feature, offering up a good definition of what a racer is.
If one hangs around to hear victory lane interviews they might be surprised to hear the same name come up when the winning driver thanks people. The name happens to be that of Mike Dutcher, who goes from team to team, winning races no matter who drives. KT Jr. was quick to call out Mr. Dutcher after he exited his car.
Time passes and the guard does change. It’s difficult not to notice that both Jon Stanbrough and his antagonist Levi Jones aren’t running with USAC fulltime this year. Tracy Hines, Dave Darland, Shane Cottle and Jerry Coons Jr., all old guard members in good standing, are most likely in the second half of their careers as drivers. No one needs to tell them that there are plenty of young people who’d simply love to beat them. I’d guess that no one needs to tell the “youngsters” that these so-called older guys have plenty left in the tank for 2013 at least. And these young ones are ready for prime time. Positions one through six were taken by guys under the age of 30.
Grandpa and oldest grandson spent a good deal of time throughout the night strolling through the pits. At race’s end, the younger one was clamoring to join us, so off we went. Time prevented us from visiting everyone, but by the time we left, my daughter had two very happy, though tired, boys. Landon Simon finally got to meet his Facebook buddy and namesake. Coleman Gulick greeted his new best (now four years old) friend. Chase Stockon added to Landon’s (not L. Simon) cap collection and gave Karston a purple tire band to wear around his head when he sweats. I’m very sure that had we accosted any of those other guys, we’d have had a similar reception. Most all these guys helped write the book on fan friendly.
Stockon took over the USAC point lead from Schuerenberg as the boys head for Eldora on April 20. Lawrenceburg has more sprints coming up this Saturday night.
Planning my summer vacation in North Korea, I’m….
The Hoosier Race Report: Reading, Seeing and Believing??
There’s nothing like the start of any new season to get the speculating, pontificating and, yes, complaining off to a fast start. Too often, what is really important is shunted off to the side in the rush to be the first on the internet to speculate, pontificate and, yes, complain. After all, this is the age of the smartphone. (impish grin here)
In my own semi-retired mind, what’s really important that some folks decided that keeping the memory of Jesse Hockett alive and well was worth the effort. Here in Hoosierland, that takes the form of a very early spring race, a 40 lap affair called the Jesse Hockett No Way Out 40. Until this year, it had been held at the Twin Cities Raceway Park, but with a regime change there, the race moved about 25 miles west to the Brownstown Speedway, a place where I’ve eaten dirt periodically since we had a war hero in office and a grand total of three channels on the television set. (Yes, I’m that old.)
So this grand old lady that’s been called a late model track for years became a sprint car track for one night. As is its wont, the quarter mile, extra wide, moderately banked oval ended up as it has done in recent years, yielding a slick track with lots of room to race at relatively slow speeds, but also lots of passing. But the track wasn’t the story of the night.
No, the story was what might be in the near future. The story might be that of the young man who ended up showing some wise and speedy veterans the fastest way around the gracefully aging bullring that is Brownstown. That would be Christopher Bell, an affable enough Oklahoma kid, who was in his first non-wing sprint car race anywhere, who started 14th, and who had second place Dave Darland doing his best Butch and Sundance imitation (who is that guy?).
Aside from the results, it was opening night for sprints in Indiana, with all the anticipation that a long, cold winter can engender. Race teams and fans came from near and far to make up a decent crowd on a relatively mild March 30 evening. 41 sprinters would do their part to help heat things up. We chatty race fans would do our part.
Group qualifying, where you not only qualified, but raced with the same group, was and is a good idea, offering similar track conditions for each group. But group or no group, Kevin Thomas Jr., this year in the RW Motorsports mount, was quickest of all groups with a 13.859 lap; Thomas was in the second of four groups.
Heat races served as the appetizer for hungry sprint freaks. Jon Stanbrough, however, had to be suffering from a severe case of indigestion as he was the victim of a Brady Short inadvertent ramming as the first heat began. Jon had slowed for a yellow, but Brady didn’t—at least not in time. Stanbrough headed for the pits so Robbie Rice and crew could change a left rear. Short ended up winning with newlywed Jeff Bland Jr. second. Josh Burton was third and Jordan Kinser barely nipped Stanbrough at the line, sending the Hall of Famer to the B. Later the fortunes of both would go in opposite directions.
The bottom groove ruled for the second heat, leading one to wonder if this would be going on all night. Silly me, I remembered it was Brownstown, where no groove is safe from lack of use. Thomas won the catfish contest with Hunter Schuerenberg edging Tyler Courtney for second. That Bell kid was fourth.
The third heat featured a dandy, protracted battle for the lead between Robert Ballou (a Baldwin Brothers shoe now) and Bryan Clauson (driving for my sometime neighbor) until BC did a near spin on lap seven, salvaging second. 95% of the guys out there would have spun to a stop, but this is Bryan Clauson we’re talking about here. Dave Darland was third with Logan Hupp taking a hotly contested fourth over Chase Briscoe and Matt Westfall.
To prove my point, the fourth heat saw most all taking the high road. After stalking Dakota Jackson for several laps, Levi Jones (in a Jeff Walker car) got around another of my neighbors on a re-start. Cagey veteran Shane Cottle, still in the Epperson 2, was third with Justin Grant, in the other Walker car, fourth.
Jon Stanbrough was due to start on the pole of the first B Main, but hit the pits during the lineup laps, reportedly with engine troubles. Most likely someone would benefit and that someone may have been named Matt Westfall. Chase Briscoe won, ignoring a flat right rear, while Westfall held off Dallas Hewitt to join the upcoming party.
Both B’s were caution plagued but Thomas Meseraull didn’t mind so much. He stayed as high as he dared, easily winning the second semi-main. Sprint rookie Bradley Sterrett, bottom feeding, was second.
The promise had been made that the program would not dawdle. With the sprint feature shoving off at 9 p.m., few could complain—though most likely some would anyway.
It was Short, Thomas, Ballou, Jones, Bland and Schuerenberg up front. One might be tempted to say that the winner would come from this group, but….1. The race was to be 40 laps and 2. Recent history tells us that people can pass on this track.
Sure enough, for once I was proven correct as the first lap was led by either Short, Thomas or Jones, take your pick. The first five laps saw Short, Jones and Schuerenberg take turns leading at the line. The first of eight cautions put a brief halt to that. These three resumed festivities until lap nine, which brought the second yellow. The re-start had Jones, Short, Schuerenberg, Thomas and Clauson in the first five. Darland, tonight driving for Tony and Jared Fox, was sixth and Cottle seventh. Both had advanced smartly after starting together in the sixth row. But neither could know what was happening behind them. Young Mr. Bell was eighth. He wasn’t done.
Up front, Jones was starting to assume control, leading much of the middle portion of the race. Thomas and Short stayed close and the fourth yellow appeared when Grant and Courtney met on lap 14. Now it was Jones, Thomas, Short, Schuerenberg and…..Bell. Brady took the lead at the halfway mark with Levi, KT and now Bell trailing.
Bell took over second as Thomas and Jones began to fade. The eighth and final caution waved, followed by a red on lap 23 for fuel. Brady Short’s worst nightmare was now the Oklahoma kid. Jones was third with Darland fourth. Schuerenberg was fifth.
The best run that few saw was none other than Jordan Kinser. Driving for the Hurst Brothers, the big 0 car started 13th, next to Bell. His progress was slower than Bell’s but steady all the same. Now he was sixth and he, too, wasn’t done.
The yellow flag wasn’t to be needed but another red waved for a Tyler Courtney flip down the backstretch on lap 29. Just before the red, Bell had done it, getting around Short for the lead. Darland had passed Jones and Kinser was giving Levi huge fits.
The last re-start of the night gave us several laps of two vastly different lines, both run to perfection by two very talented racers. Bell ran as low as he could around the bottom, seeming to be very close to where the flag stand used to be (when I was in grade school). At the opposite end of the groove ran Short, using the line he’s used here in the past, most notably three years ago during Sprint Week. Brady basically diamonded both straights, running over the slight berm, and getting within a few feet of the wall that guarded the aging grandstands. Hey, it worked—for awhile. Perhaps the Pottorff’s machine was using up the tires; at any rate, Bell pulled away for the last few laps as Brady faded.
At the end Bell had a comfortable margin over Darland, who passed Short late to take second. Brady had to be glad that the race was only 40 laps as Kinser was coming on strong after dispatching of Jones. Behind Kinser was Bryan Clauson, who made a late charge from mid-pack to take fifth. Schuerenberg led the second five, with Jones, Grant, Westfall (from 19th) and Burton trailing.
If he had a special seat for this one, Jesse probably was pleased.
9:53 p.m. and I was in no hurry to join the throng leaving. I hung around with a few diehards to see Nick Speidel take the TQ midget feature. Not a bad opening night at all.
Though it may be tempting to compare this Bell kid with the most recent sensation to pass through here on his way to…wherever he chooses, it’s certainly too early. As is always the case, time will tell. Whether running well on these Hoosier bullrings leads to Indy or Daytona, it’s nice to see these young people progress. For that matter, if running well on these bullrings leads to…more bullrings, worse things can happen.
Nothing against going for that big money, but if, say, my grandson ended up being compared to a Darland, Stanbrough, or one of the others who’ve “stayed home,” believe me, Grandpa would be just as proud. Either way, for Mr. Bell, the sky’s the limit for now.
Here We Go Again
Though March, 2013 has been unseasonably cool so far, this race fan is finally getting that familiar itch. More to the point, it’s just about time for some sprint car racing, Hoosier style.
The indoor races are great in that they serve their purpose. It’s a different kind of atmosphere and racing to be sure. There should be no criticism of indoor racing, but it simply can’t match what racers and fans experience under God’s (usually) blue skies. One may as well compare the proverbial apples and oranges.
In my mind’s eye, I can easily project what lies ahead. I can see, even while sitting here, familiar sights, hear familiar sounds and almost smell familiar aromas (and odors). Here are only a few.
Come March 30 the plan is to visit the Brownstown Speedway, a grand old oval that has changed little since my first visits with my dad in the 50s—when Ike was in the White House, Branch McCracken coached Indiana University basketball and the New York Yankees ruled big league baseball. The only wild card will be, as usual, March weather in Indiana. I wore shorts to Brownstown in March to see the Icebreaker several years ago. And I’ve bundled up against the cold in March as well.
Fridays this winter have reminded me that soon I’ll be dodging those tiny dirt pellets at Gas City. If I’m not at Gas City dodging dirt or watching my grandsons play at the playground, I’ll be at Bloomington enjoying the visual beauty of the red clay, green infield and blue sky and the hottest of hot laps. And I’ll be climbing that hill that seems to get steeper every year.
Like Fridays, Saturday night in Indiana for sprint car fans is a feast. The only question is the location. Again, like Friday, it’s a win/win situation. I’ll be at Lawrenceburg heckling and being heckled by the Section A gang if I’m not strolling through the pits or having a cheeseburger. Or I’ll be at Lincoln Park having a Bar-B-Que sandwich and climbing another steep hill from just outside turn one to the bleachers. Either way I win.
This leaves Sunday and when Kokomo is racing, I’m quite likely to be there, appreciating the first rate competition and the occasional pork chop sandwich. With either, one is left wanting more.
Certainly there will be time for special shows at two other jewels in the crown that is Indiana. When it’s possible, I’ll gladly make the two hour drive to Terre Haute’s Action Track for serious speed and yes, more cheeseburgers. It’s a bit longer drive than Terre Haute (with I-69 eventually cutting off a bit of that time), nevertheless, the trip to Tri-State/Haubstadt is always worth it. Both joints are as racy and well run as it gets.
If circumstances permit, I may well cross the state line and pretend that Eldora is in Indiana a few times this year. It’s another long drive that’s worth it and owner T. Stewart has put good people in place to run it well.
Finally, how can I forget Paragon? The format and the track itself are both unique. Paragon manages to stand out in its own role as my favorite time warp. Mr. and Mrs. Ford do their own thing and have done so for several years now. It works and that’s all that matters.
Pavement racing is most likely a part of my future in 2013. Salem and Winchester will each get at least one visit and maybe more. I’m leaning toward going back to Anderson for the Little 500 again this year, if I don’t end up at, say, Lucas Oil Raceway Park or any other Hoosier bullring.
My first full year of retirement saw me gather in 70 or so races, a full plate to be sure. Not aiming to hustle to that many this year, I still have all sorts of plans that may or may not come to fruition. Last year at this time I had already taken in three races in the Tarheel State, stealing away from the mountain to see what Carolina red clay looked like (a lot like Bloomington’s) and to see a historic landmark that doubles as a great facility—namely Hickory Motor Speedway.
I’m ready for deciding where to park (usually the same place each time I visit whichever track). I can’t wait for hot laps, whether I’m dodging dirt clods or taking notes or trying to figure out who is who. There will be some renditions of our National Anthem that I’ll enjoy this year; some singers will make it about the song and not themselves.
Walking back and forth to the pits will give me a good bit of exercise—and an excuse to say hi to some quality people in the pits. And while I’m there, I may as well copy down the lineups if there is a draw.
Speculating is a huge part of spectating. Once in awhile I’ll offer my opinions but I enjoy more hearing what others say. Sometimes their predictions are true. Then again….
Eight or ten laps don’t matter; heat races are often both competitive and fascinating. People who want to at least finish well enough to transfer to the feature most always have that sense of urgency. No matter which race it is, the hardest racing is often back in the pack. This is maybe even more so in the B Main.
It all culminates in the sprint feature, 25 or 30 laps of madness, anger, slicing, dicing, speed, nonstop noise, wheel banging and yes, sometimes spins, crashes, flips and hard feelings. Winners smile and thank all who helped. Then they all smile for the cameras, happy winners holding high the trophy while kids crowd the fence and dream their own dreams, just as the night’s winner no doubt did not that many years ago.
With work not looming ahead as it used to, I often hang around to see how the support series’ features turn out. If I’m alone, there is no hurry to get home. Sleep? I’m off tomorrow and will take a nap then.
Countdowns are often useful; we need a goal to set and try to reach before setting another one. No matter when your countdown is for your first Hoosier race, may it yield a night of good times, good racing and good friends.
Good times, etc., yes. But…we know it won’t all be that. Surely there will be wrecks, bent race cars, feelings and, sadly, maybe even bodies. This is a part of life, the ups and downs, slings and arrows. What matters is how we handle both the good times and the bad.
Here in Indiana, soon, we will find out.
Still trying to explain to my grandson why USAC sprints aren’t on TV, I’m…
The Hoosier Race Report: The Old Man and the (Race) Track
Back in those so-called good old days, which often were more good than old, he was a terror at this track—and several others too. Now he was well into his 60s and his racing days were an ever shrinking memory. He still had plenty of people recognize him, but they were all 40 or more. He didn’t mind; he was well armed with a healthy sense of self deprecating humor and no illusions.
He lived closest to what happened to be his favorite track and he often showed up when its gates were open. He’d buy a pit pass and amble up and down the lane, greeting the many familiar faces, good naturedly refusing offers to put him back into the seat and simply enjoying the whole setting. His day had passed and it was good to him, despite the aches and pains, the skinflint promoters and owners, and most especially the friends and competitors who had given their all to beat him any way they could.
Sure enough, he spotted a colleague who had landed a job coaching one of the numerous young hot shots that populated the pits these days. In his day Charley had been his fiercest rival; more than once they had fought—either for the lead or afterwards in the pits. But through all that they were still friends, or at least friendly.
Charley had him a live one, a kid whose daddy had money, but more importantly, a kid with real potential and talent. It seemed the more he listened to Charley, the better he did. And best of all, the kid was finally starting to see that.
The retiree waved at Charley, who beckoned him to come over and meet the kid. Charley spoke, “Cad, c’mere. I gotta guy you need to meet.” The old man winced. Cad? What in the name of Tony Hulman was a name like that? As it turned out, the kid’s given name was Cadmus and his parents were classic California hippies.
The kid looked up and assumed a friendly face and sauntered over to the two old guys. Practice hadn’t started and there was no need to hurry---yet. Charley began telling the kid about some of his buddy’s accomplishments, track championships, races won and so on. The old man could tell that the kid was polite and maybe even interested, but was getting a bit fidgety. That was okay; the kid kept giving furtive glances to the car he’d been working on. But finally Charley said something that obviously got the kid’s attention.
Charley said, “If that ain’t enough, Cad, more than once this guy kicked my ass—both on and off the track.” Both oldsters laughed as the kid’s eyes widened.
Cad said, “You had to be tough to whip old Charley, sir.”
Charley chuckled, “He still is. I’d not be surprised if he could jump into this car and outrun a lot of these guys.”
Cad shook his head. “I’d not be surprised….Well, nice to meet you.”
“Good luck, son.” The old man simply couldn’t bring himself to call the kid by his name. He knew some words and knew the definition of the word “cad.” Hopefully, the kid wouldn’t live up to that name.
The old man bought his dinner at the concession stand in the pits and found a spot far enough away from the other occupants of the pit bleachers. He sat down, took a bite of his sandwich, and watched each group come out for a few practice laps.
Cad was with the fourth and last group and the old man watched both the kid and Charley, who was sitting several rows down from the old man. The old man thought the kid looked good, but it was only three or four hot laps.
He was still watching a half hour later when the kid ran his ten lap heat, starting seventh after an ordinary qualifying effort. Here was a test and the old man would see if Charley’s words had sunk in and if the kid listened and performed.
The old man was closer to being a believer less than five minutes later. All Cadmus had done was take the final transfer spot on the last lap from a seasoned veteran—who wasn’t happy, but had to deal with it.
Wandering around the pits while the support classes raced, the old man finally stopped by to check on Charley, curious to see how he and the kid interacted. He was somewhat surprised. The old timer kept his distance and watched the kid and Charley thrash on the car. A new tire here, checking the brakes there, both gentlemen were busy without being rushed. Charley had him a live one, but one who would soon move on, leaving Charley looking for another kid with talent and a dad who had both money and the common sense needed to get out of Charley’s way and let him do his job.
The kid started way back in 19th in the feature and the old man kept his eye on both the kid and Charley, who had assumed his earlier seat. For the first five laps the kid did little, passing a couple of guys who were overdriving—an easy thing to do. But then as the field spread out, the kid began to move forward.
The first yellow flag waved on lap eight and Cad was getting busy, flirting with the top ten. And he wasn’t done. Charley’s adjustments to the changing track were paying off—but the young man was also driving smart. By the time the flag man held out five fingers for the field, Cad was sixth and about to take fifth.
There was no time to catch the front group, but the old man was mightily impressed. The kid was fifth, beaten by three Hall of Fame types and another kid who had started on the pole and finished fourth. It was by far the best run that relatively few people saw.
For the last time of the night, the old man walked down to the pits to congratulate his old friend and maybe the kid as well. He stood, as he often did, at the edge of the small crowd of fellow gawkers and watched Charley and Cad celebrate for only a moment before they turned again to the car. They talked, pointed, and gestured, discussing what the car had done (or not done) during the race.
The old man was about to leave when Charley happened to look his way. He nudged the kid and both waved. The old man smiled, nodded and walked away, heading for his old truck.
Years later a few people who knew no better would scoff if the old man would mention that he recalled when this defending NASCAR champ was learning his craft at Indiana bullrings. When this happened the old man merely smiled, nodded and walked away.
Wondering where Kyle Larson took his punting lessons, I’m……
Copyright © 2013 by "Hosehead's Sprint Car Photos & News." Do not reproduce
anything from these pages without the permission of the photographers,
writers or webmaster.
Hosehead's Sprint Car Photos & News,PO Box 42, Drums PA 18222-0042
A Hosehead Production
Copyright © 2013 by "Hosehead's Sprint Car Photos & News." Do not reproduce anything from these pages without the permission of the photographers, writers or webmaster.
Hosehead's Sprint Car Photos & News,PO Box 42, Drums PA 18222-0042