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Not Just Another Racing Column Pastor Dudley Balmer
Dirt Divas Camisha MillerCentral PA
NOT JUST ANOTHER RACING COLUMN
by Pastor Dudley Balmer
Old Modified + Children = Memories
When I was 5 years old my dad took me to Pittsburgh's Heidelberg Raceway
for my first racing experience. During a red flag period, I like many
other kids, ran to the fence to get a closer look at the cars. As I
looked into the car of Lee “Smokey” Stover, he looked up and waved. That
wave was from a real race driver and it was just for me. That night
began a relationship that has kept me in the sport in some capacity
since that night in 1950. From a kid hitch hiking to the races, to a
crew member, to driver, to racing pastor, the love affair has persisted.
Now a vintage modified has perhaps began a similar journey for another
youngster over a half a century later.
As the 2015 racing season ramps up so does our anticipation for our
northern swing. Our hope is to visit shows of various sprint series as
well as several vintage events throughout the second half of the season.
We hope to meet with as many track chaplains and racing folks as
possible. The Tom Hagar modified restoration is still in he works as
well. Lots remain to be done before age forces us to the front porch
rocking chair. We hope it is you that we get to visit in our upcoming
travels. Until then we will simply say God Bless and see you at the
Racing Musings For 2015
The following are just a few thoughts, notes, grumblings and rumblings from the desk of an old guy being blessed to be part of sprint car racing for my 54th year. So here we go...... A. J Foyt just turned 80 years old. Though most folks associate A.J. with his Indy career which continues, A.J raced NASCAR and was one of the fiercest sprint car competitors of his day. From Langhorne to Ascot, A.J. beat the best. I always found A.J. friendly and willing to talk till one time I mistakenly parked my golf cart in his spot at the old Speedway Motel. Ooops. Next.....Tony Stewart heading up the All Star Circuit of Champions. Tony was, is and always has been a sprint car racer and it will be interesting to watch the elevation of the All Star group. Conflict with the other series has been worked out and I'm sure a lot of teams are looking at the All Stars in a new light. Also...... As Jimmy Jeep Knapp starts his 30th season of pushing race cars. The familiar yellow “War Wagon” will be sporting a new motor, transmission and other updates. Congratulations to Jimmy on his passing 100 race tracks at which he has pushed and on his 30th season. Next...... Long time New York racer Jon Button has passed away at the age of 76. Jon competed on dirt, pavement and at the drag races. Later he restored vintage race cars many of which he raced. Son Gordy is in the Empire Super Sprints Hall of Fame. Jon will be missed by his many fans and friends. In addition...... Indiana sprint car racer Jamie Frederickson who sold personal name signings on his race car for $100. to sponsor the car found the idea so successful in 2014 that the Frederickson team is doing the same deal for the upcoming season. Look up Jamie Frederickson Racing on Facebook or Twitter to participate. Next......Rico Abreu will be jumping into the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East with H Scott Motorsports and Justin Marks. The 15 race schedule will be Rico's priority for the 2015 racing series. Rico stated that he plans to run 110-120 races this year so sprint car and midget fans will still get plenty of opportunity to see Rico on the dirt tracks. His first race will be February 15 at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida. Talk about a guy rising to the top in a hurry. Another young guy...... Christopher Bell wound up 2014 with an unbelievable 27 A-main wins, competed in the Chili Bowl Nationals to kick off 2015 and immediately left for five consecutive nights of sprint car racing in Australia. This young gun plans an even more aggressive schedule in 2015 than last year. Oh to be young. In addition..... Retirement seems to be working well for Steve Kinser. He has already won one event since announcing his retirement from the World Of Outlaws as a regular competitor. The 20-time World of Outlaws champion may no longer be competing full-time, but he was at full song winning the A-main at Cocopah, Arizona. Somehow I believe this will only be the first of many. And for our 305 friends.......Attention all 305 Sprints, Eagle Jet Top Gun Sprints would like to invite you to join us for our 2015 Speed Weeks races. The first two nights will be at East Bay Speedway Park on Friday and Saturday, January 30th &31st. Then on to Golden Isles Speedway in South Georgia for two events on Saturday night February 14th and Sunday afternoon February 15th. All events will be complete shows with a pill draw for heats and passing points for “B” and “A” mains. Any questions about tires and rules please call Don Rehm at (813) 677-7326.12/27. Bummer.....Volusia County and Daytona International Speedway have decided to cancel the popular Daytona Beach ½ Marathon, which has been held during Speedweeks in February. Organizers said it is being cancelled due to construction at the track. Runners began at Daytona International Speedway, went to the beach and then back, with a “victory” lap around the speedway. The county is currently looking at ways to better grow the race, hoping to attract upwards of 15,000 runners.The route was named one of the seven most scenic half-marathon courses in the United States by Active.com. In past races, several of the NASCAR stars took part in the run. And in the not gone department...... The United Racing Club is alive and well and anyone interested in scheduling races, sponsorship opportunities or racing with the United Racing Club may contact Curt Michael at 302-344-1882 Fans and competitors can follow all of the news and announcements concerning the club via its facebook page under United Racing Club or on twitter @UrcClub Continuing on club info. The United Racing Club is a traveling 360 sprint car organization run by racers for racers. The Club's concept was started in 1947 and was very successful for over 50 years. Now, the Club makes its return to the racing world in 2015 and the idea is that the group will be governed by its racers. Now for all the vintage racers...... Daytona Antique Auto Racing Assoc Nationals are set for February 25th 26th and 27th at Bronson Speedway in Archer, Florida near Gainsville. Contact Karen Dunn at email@example.com or 321-720-7283 for information. Complete info also at darraracing.org. Association president J.T. Dunn is recovering from a stint in the hospital and we pray for his complete recovery. Enough for now..... This is only a bit of the news that comes by our desk. Much of it you probably have heard, some, maybe not. Bikini clad spring breakers are heading to Florida and so are the racers of every flavor. Pastoring and other commitments may limit our involvement a bit but we will make some of this years Speedweeks we hope. Thanks for your response to our column. Pros and cons are all welcome. So, until we get the National Speedway Ministries motorhome loaded and headed east. God Bless and see you at the races.
For nearly 70 years the URC banner has been a mainstay
in sprint car sanctioning. The other day I received an email saying that
the United Racing Company was folding its tent. A bit of internet
searching confirmed the fact. My first thought was that the URC banner
was gone forever. This is personal because in 1962 this organization
under the direction of president Louis Kunz welcomed this young kid with
no experience into the clubs ranks. I got to follow such names a Earl
Halaquist, Lou Johnson, Jiggs Peters and many other legends, usually
from far enough back that it was barely possible to read the numbers on
the tail of their cars. I was however, treated like one of the traveling
gang. Though we were a bit more competitive in later seasons on
occasional hookups with the group it was that first season that made the
URC “family” impression. Not knowing all the factors that led to the
incorporation and the formation of the United Racing Company from the
United Racing Club, any opinion on my part would be purely conjecture.
As of December of this year, the United Racing Company has pulled the
plug and the United Racing Club is being resurrected as a “club” as in
the beginning. We are aware of the turmoil of sprint car racing in the
east. There is the 305 contingent which in itself is a good concept.
There are those of the 358 persuasion and the 360 group. Add into this
mix the folks that are promoting the non wing cars and there are a lot
of people vying for a limited number of cars. Through years of
experience we know that having a meeting of sprint car folks is sort of
like having a hockey game without passing out sticks at the door. The
idea of reaching a goal is somewhere lost in the fight. We have been
made aware that the ARDC midget folks are not as secure as in past
seasons. Cost have always been the issue but even more today than a
decade ago. Equipment costs to be even remotely competitive and travel
expenses challenge independent teams. Insurance costs, the ability to
guarantee purses and administrative expenses test sanctioning bodies.
URC and ARDC are two names that have provided legendary teams and
drivers for generations. We are pleased to learn Curt Michael, 8 time
URC Champion and several others have been working to bring back the
original club concept. The following information was gleaned from the
new United Racing “Club” web site. It goes as follows.
Those Most Thankful
As we give thanks this Thanksgiving Day for our many blessings and launch an attack on the golden turkey, the 2014 racing season for the most part is only a memory. There are a few names that come to mind from the past season that might have special thanks to offer for an extra special racing season. Rico Abreu certainly had a memorable season and became a 2014 fan favorite. His personality and aggressive driving whether in a midget or sprint car has brought him respect and an abundance of new fans. In addition to being one of the winningest drivers in the country we all have seen the video of him along with Jonathan Allard pull Tim Kaeding from his burning car. Coast to coast, he was a factor where ever he competed. It will certainly be fun to watch where this young man's career takes him in future seasons. Likewise Christopher Bell has much to be thankful for this season. We met Christopher at Rick Ferkle's a couple years ago at the beginning of his career. A nicer young man you would never want to meet and he can wheel any type of race car to victory lane. Dirt or pavement, even a full bodied stock car. It makes little difference to this talented driver. There is no limit to where his future may lead and to the checks he will be able to cash. Christopher and Rico are two rising stars that are on their way to dominance in their sport. Another driver who again has defended his perch on top of the national sprint car scene is the tough Donny Schatz. Some would say that it is someone else's turn to win the WOO trophy but Donny has taken on all comers and once again stolen the hardware and the big money. After a difficult season for himself, Tony Stewart has to feel good about his sprint car operation. There is not much we can say about Tony's other driver, Steve Kinser. Steve has given the sprint car world much to be thankful for through the years as being the one to beat. This veteran has nothing left to prove. He has done it all. We can only imagine Thanksgiving dinner with the Kinser clan.
National Speedway Ministries has given Nancy and I an opportunity to interact with many racing folks from all over country, as does this column. For that we are most thankful. Knowing and working with folks like those mentioned above is certainly a privilege. We continue to be amazed at the response to this column. The relationships with the drivers, crews, track personnel, fans and press are what makes the effort worthwhile. Our involvement in vintage racing is also an exciting part of what we do. We are thankful for the opportunity to interact with the stars of seasons past and their cars that preceded the machines of today. Our friend, Bill Wendt is recovering from shoulder surgery after flipping his vintage midget at a recent DARRA event. Bill and the David Johnson crew plan again to attempt to set a speed record on the salt for a vintage Indy car in 2015. We are hoping this is the year all will fall into place for this monumental task. Also on another positive note, Millstream Speedway near Findlay, Ohio will reopen for the 2015 season. We have written about the failings of tracks around the country and we give thanks when one comes back after being dark for several seasons. New dirt is being hauled in for Eldora as that famed oval gets a racing surface facelift for the 2015 season. Another positive for the upcoming season.
Rick Ferkel Dudley Balmer Christopher Bell
A New Can Of Worms
This past week brought a long overdue close to the Stewart / Ward incident. With our prayers still going out for the Ward family for their loss, the autopsy certainly opened a new can of worms. Within minutes of the revelation of the toxicology results I was getting phone calls, emails and texts saying that others frequently see or have seen drug use in the pits by competitors. Weed was not the only substance mentioned by these folks as hard drugs apparently are in use as well. A well known driver in a major series was witnessed doing a line of coke in his trailer so I'm told, again hearsay, before strapping in the race car. We all knew that many years ago there was occasional smoke around a few of the cars but certainly nothing like what we apparently have today. One father said it was very troubling to him that his son was racing next to someone who was under the influence of a mind altering substance. Adult beverages have never been allowed in the pits. There is sound reasoning behind that long standing practice. This recent death brought sprint car racing into the spotlight in a negative way. Since there was enough marijuana in Mr. Ward to impair his judgement, their observation not mine, one would imagine that a wrongful death suit against Tony Stewart would not carry much weight. The racing community however can not survive if on track incidents become subject to legal scrutiny. Racers and racing as a whole would not survive continual legal attacks. All the legal ramifications aside, which of us want to run into a corner with someone who is not in complete control of his faculties. What lies in store for us in the future? Will we have to pee in a bottle before we get our arm bands or will officials ignore the problem till a major tragedy forces the issue to the forefront again? Certainly all major sports are finding that if they don't keep their house in order there is an outsider more than ready to do it for them. While discussing the drug situation with a retired state detective, light was brought to my attention of the responsibility of track management and their being held complicit in a fatality. He also stated that with the rate of dissipation of marijuana in the body and considering the amount reported in the young man in the New York incident and considering the time line, he was surely partaking while on speedway grounds. His family's attacks on Tony Stewart and others are perhaps understandable, but also regrettable and ill-advised. The whole family supposedly loves racing and must realize that it is a contact sport, often with high emotion. Note the response of Kevin Ward Jr. to the on track incident. Is the high of racing a sprint car lacking for these individuals? When a fatality results from someone found to be under the influence where will the legal responsibilities end? Certainly not only the driver but the owner, sponsors and the track itself will be accountable. All will share in the legal ramifications. The names and information shared with me in confidence by the concerned observers will remain in confidence. As I follow the careers of the folks mentioned to me, I can only hope that future press releases will contain only details of their competition activities. Teams can not compete under the constant threat of legal action for every on track mishap. Once the doors to the attorneys office are swung open they can never again be closed. Apparently this issue is far more common than most of us have known. The challenges of our sport seem to be mounting and it is disappointing to know that some are coming from the participants themselves. If those in charge fail to address the issue now that it has surfaced, someone else surely will.
With the Daron Clayton family dealing with the loss of their little son Kinser it was heartwarming to see the push vehicles making the trip to lead his procession. Jimmy Jeep Knapp said that seven vehicles were on hand to lend their support. The racing family continues to care for its own. Good job ladies and gentlemen.
Our recent trip to North Florida Speedway was a great evening with our Daytona Antique Auto Racing Assoc. friends. Much of the evening was spent with past president Dale Miller. It was good to catch up with a good friend while watching some fast on track competition. A fun night for sure. All folks planning to attend the DAARA Winter Nationals should be getting their banquet reservations in as not to have to sit in the parking lot and smell the good food from a distance. Remember, the time is earlier this year with activities beginning November 5th running through the 8th.
Much of our racing excitement this season has come from you folks. Thanks for keeping us in the loop. We still look forward to meeting as many of you as possible. Remember too that online signup for the CAP program can be done through our nationalspeedwayministries.com web site. The 2015 season is just around the corner. What better Christmas gift could you give your favorite racer than a year of CAP protection? Till next time, as always, God Bless and see you at the races.
Time To Move Forward
NASCAR driver Tony Stewart ran over a competitor, 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr., during a confrontation at a sprint car race on Saturday night.
Kevin Ward Jr., a 20-year-old race car driver, was killed Saturday night after he was struck on the track by NASCAR star Tony Stewart.
Famed race car driver Tony Stewart hit fellow driver Kevin Ward, Jr. at Canandaigua Motorsports Park on Saturday night.
These were the kinds of headlines we woke up to that recent Sunday morning following the death of Kevin Ward Jr. First and foremost our hearts go out to the Ward family, his crew and all who are affected by his passing. This will long be remembered as a black day for sprint car racing in general. Reading the first accounts by writers that obviously know little about dirt track racing and less about Tony Stewart, one would have thought that he had chased down the other driver with a mindset to do him harm. After seeing the video and the computer reconstruction more times than I care to remember, certainly it is the lack of forethought by Mr. Ward that is responsible for his death. Slow motion and some video experts state the the angry driver was actually attempting to jump on Stewart's car. Whether this is actually the case or not he was clearly going after the moving 14. After nearly being hit by the blue car he was undeterred in his pursuit of Stewart. How can responsibility be placed on a driver who held his line and was respecting the speed dictated by the yellow? Many of us have gotten out of our race cars in anger but most have not lost all reason or self control. Watching the cars enter the fateful corner it is easy to see the hard slick shiny surface. Tony got in a bit too hard and lost side bite. Something not mentioned is the possibility that as the 14 slid up that Ward could possibly have lifted, dove under the loose 14 and might have pulled him coming off the corner since the 14 had obviously lost bite on the slick track. Other brilliant minds ask why did Stewart have to go in so hard against lesser competition. My reply to that would be what driver straps in with the attitude of just making laps and allowing other drivers to just feel good? When the green comes out a race driver races. Tony races because he loves sprint car racing and he wants to promote the sport and he does this at great personal expense. The brilliant reporters who appeared on all the news outlets portrayed Stewart as an uncaring hothead bent on doing harm to any competitor who got in his way. Most of these journalists did not even have a picture of his sprint car to post and many inferred that the race was somehow sanctioned by NASCAR. There is so much wrong with what happened that night and the period that followed. A racing deal gone bad. A young man dead. Perhaps the greatest ambassador for sprint car racing in recent memory on the sidelines from sprint car racing for who knows how long. Sprint car racing in general taking an unneeded hit by an uneducated media that is intent on making the story rather than reporting the facts. It was truly a bad night in so many ways. Certainly Tony is getting advice from an innumerable amount of sources, legal, financial, sponsors, family and fans. If I could ad my two cents worth I would just say racing in general and sprint car racing in particular needs you back. Sprint car racing would take a serious hit if Tony picked up all his toys and went home. It is good to hear Tony will be back in the Stewart Hass 14 at Atlanta.
I first met Tony in 1996 at Indy. He was good for Indy car racing as he has been for NASCAR and sprint car racing. He is one of the few that transcends labels and territories. He is private in his charities, public in his support for our sport and an asset we can ill afford to lose. Again, it was a bad racing deal and our hearts go out to the Ward family. Our support for Tony in no way lessens our concern for the Wards and everything they are going through.
The big news this week in sprint car racing has to be the sudden retirement of Sammy Swindell which caught most of us by surprise. We wish Sammy and Amy the best in their future ventures. Watching Sammy and Steve battle through the years has been a treat indeed. Sammy has done so much for racing, in and out of the car for over four decades. Thanks for the memories. Both Sammy and Steve will leave a big vacancy in our sport.
Though our motorhome took a lightning hit recently we still plan to take in the upcoming DAARA Southern Vintage Series event at North Florida Speedway on September 13th. No tv or fridge so we will have to rough it a bit. Also, the DAARA Nationals are early this year so make plans soon to head to the “Bullring” Nov. 5th for three days of vintage racing at its best. Reservations for the banquet absolutely must be in by October 27th. It would probably be a good idea not to wait to the last minute. As they say on tv, place your order now. That is about it for this round from the Dead Lakes in Wewahitchka. We appreciate the comments, both good and bad. As always, God bless and see you at the races.
Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Series
Last season I had the pleasure of taking in a Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Series show at Pennsylvania Motor Speedway. What I saw that night was truly impressive. First there was a full field of satisfied competitors. No one I talked with had anything negative to say about the BOSS organization, actually just the opposite. This was reinforced by the Frederickson race team from Kokomo, IN at the recent Waynesfield, Ohio show where there were over fifty cars in the pits. The senior Frederickson said they signed in, raced, got paid and went home. I had the pleasure of talking to Aalan Fry, head of the Buckeye Machine Outlaw Sprint Series about the positive aspects of racing with the Buckeye boys. Aalan reminded me that former Ohio driver Rusty McClure is a big asset to, and promoter of the BOSS organization. Some of the positives of BOSS are no tire rule, no organization to join, and teams can race the rest of the season where they want and maintain their BOSS points. Race one show with BOSS or make every event, its your choice. These things are truly big in the budgets of independent teams. When talking to Aalan he reminded me that teams don't need a raceiver or a transponder to compete with the BOSS group. This is another money saver. This is truly an “outlaw” non wing deal with the race teams in mind. The tire rule is a tremendous burden to any team that wants to travel away from home. Every season the tire rule changes so last years tires are now useless. Tires must be bought for racing at home and if traveling, most series maintain their own tire specs, so another inventory of tires are required. If you want to run with most series you must join their organization, adhere to their tire rule and their regulations. With the BOSS series, show up with a safe sprint car, pay your normal pit fee and race. Also, there is a $50.00 bonus for the top finishing steel block motor. They have other contingency awards each week as well. There are no van loads of paid staff in neat uniforms for BOSS as they get it done with four folks, one being a videographer. Lernerville has said that the BOSS show was one of the most competitive and best received shows they have had in a while. Other tracks echo their sentiment. It was great to have friend and BOSS regular Tony Beaber win the point title in 2013. To repeat will be a serious challenge as this is a very competitive organization. Some former winged teams have chosen to take advantage of the less costly non wing racing with BOSS bringing the number of regular series competitors to seventeen. Whatever your engine choice, favorite tire and compound, or budget limitations, it doesn't matter. Just be prepared to be fast and enjoy running for a respectable purse. Aalan reminded me that while there are series paying bigger dollars, none make it as affordable to compete. This series is in its fourth year and is continuing to grow with more dates and exciting things to come in the future.
Northern neighbor Ken Bayless in Ontario has put together a non winged organization across the border with the Ontario Topless Sprints. The growing OTS series venture across the border into the US on frequent occasions. Ken assures me that the racers and driver safety are of utmost importance to his series. This group will soon make the trek as far south as PA's Big Diamond and Lincoln speedways respectfully. What a unique idea. Outlaw sprint cars with an organization that is doing it with common sense and with the race teams as the paramount concern rather than extracting money at every turn. We wish both the BOSS group and the Ontario Topless Sprints success in seasons to come. Information on the BOSS series may be found at buckeyesprints.com while ontariotoplesssprints.com has their particulars.
Okay, some thoughts from us here on Lake Alice. We were sorry to hear of the passing of Bill Gardiner, the founder of IndianaOpenWheel.com. He will be missed and his family are in our prayers as they deal with their loss. On the positive side, Jimmy Jeep Knapp continues to improve from his injury back in February. Jimmy, Glenda and the yellow Jeep plan to return to pushing sprint cars this coming month. Great news for sure. Family and ministry obligations have kept us close to the lake up to this point. That is subject to change and we hope to do a limited race schedule yet this season. The Daytona Antique Auto Racing Association Nationals will be here before we know it. It is time for the distant teams to be planning their Florida visit. We hope drivers will take advantage of the online signup capabilities for the CAP program on our nationalspeedwayministries.com web site. If you sign up at this point of the season, coverage is good till this time next year. Don't strap in without it. With that, I will close with thanking everyone for their comments, God Bless and see you at the races.
SINCE YOU ASKED
We get to talk with a lot of folks in all areas of sprint car racing. We talk with drivers, crew members, builders, a lot of fans and an occasional promoter. On one of these rare promoter calls, things went from bad to worse rather quickly. He made the mistake of asking me why he couldn't put butts in the bleachers and when I had finished sharing the obvious with him he hung up not wanting to deal with the subject he had actually called about. The last time we took on the subject of promoters or the lack thereof, particularly in parts of the midwest we had threats of bodily harm and were told not to show up at certain tracks or else. I never figured out exactly what “else” was so we were never deterred from visiting their neck of the woods. Certainly good for a laugh considering who made the threats. I digress.
Whitey Hollowood, promoter in the 1950's and early 60's of the Greater Pittsburgh Speedway told me that “you can't have a secret race and make money.” Those words of wisdom from the middle of the last century ring just as true or even more so today. If you turn on the lights and open the gate you are not promoting. Hollowood paid kids to put out flyers, used the print and broadcast media incessantly. Everyone in the tri-state area knew Greater Pgh. Speedway ran every Friday night. There was some story about the upcoming show in every paper, every week. Ahh, promoting. General admission passes were given out at local businesses. Yes, free passes. Empty seats don't spend money. They don't buy concessions and they don't bring paying customers with them. If you want to fill the stands give two passes to each competitor. Stock cars one week, modifieds the next week, etc. Then repeat the process. It doesn't cost you a dime. It makes you money and they will return as paying customers along with their spouses and neighbors. Try it. Speaking of the competitors, they are your assets, try treating them as such. Don Martin used to put visiting teams up in a local motel and provide them the use of his shop. He also made sure they had money to get home on. After a serious crash at Lincoln, Hilley Rife checked on my welfare, chewed a bit on his cigar and handed me $200 to help with getting the car back together. If there were a half a dozen teams in Wolf's diner, up the road from “The Grove” and Jack Gunn came in he would pick up their tab. How many “promoters” today even greet the competitors and welcome them to the track? Speaking of butts in the bleachers, nails and splinters in those butts don't lend themselves to return visits. Perhaps the greatest complaint, at least from casual fans, is that by the end of the heats you cant see the race cars any more. Dirt race fans wear their track dirt as a badge of honor but the dry dust bowls are out of control. When I get emails and calls from racers about the terrible track conditions on a weekly basis it is cause for change. The casual fan and his family will not be back. Explain it away anyway you want but it is promotional failure and lack of consideration for racer and fan alike. I remember loading up at Eldora after mid-night and Earl was on the grader. Track preparation should not begin the day of the race but the night the race ends. All this stuff is just preparing and marketing your product. The gate gestapo is another often heard complaint. If you have good and reasonably priced concessions people will buy them. Being strip searched for a possible concealed bottle of water by an off duty TSA agent is not good public relations. Limit the size of the cooler if you must. How much can a family pack into one small cooler? When they need a restroom break the cooler will be empty and they will go to the concession stand. Restrooms are another overlooked area. Women especially desire a clean, regularly serviced rest room. Often it is the wife that determines how the entertainment dollar will be spent. It would pay to keep this in mind. Perhaps, the most important issue of all is race night. If you race on Friday race on Friday, every Friday. A Saturday track runs Saturday, every Saturday. Special shows are in addition to, not in place of. We can't run because of USAC, WOO, Must See or someone else is within 200 miles is a great way to lose racers and customers. I recently got a call from a man who drove a couple of hours out of his way while on vacation from Connecticut to take in the Friday night sprint races in central IN. To his dismay the place was dark because someone else was running a special show. He and his carload of would-be patrons will certainly never return. Spending many hours piloting our motorhome along the interstates the radio announces every activity one can imagine. We hear about the local fair, high school activities, the local mid-week revival at Brother Ned's church but whats going on at the local race track... deafening silence. We visited Oak Shades Speedway in northern OH for a vintage show last season. This place in the middle of Ohio corn fields gave away fifty bicycles that had been donated by local businesses. The place was packed. First responders night, military and veteran's night, bicycle races on the track, think....give people a reason to come through the gates. My gate opener friend on the other end of the call failed to address the subject about which he called. I have found in pastoring and counseling that brutal honesty sometimes is the only way to affect positive change. I'm not betting on it in this situation however. If you have empty seats, quite possibly it is your lack of effort to fill them.
We are excited about the possibilities of partnering
with a few young men from our local children's home (Taunton Family
Children's Home) in the restoration of our Tom Hagar dirt modified.
Young guys focused on a positive project. We would hope this could be a
fun and rewarding experience for us all. DAARA and vintage racing in
general remains paramount in our racing focus. Join us as we proudly
remember our country this 4th of July weekend and all who have given so
much for it, from its beginning till today. Also, if you haven't signed
up for the CAP benefit program yet we invite you to do so before you get
back in a race car. Internet signup is now available. Details are on our
NationalSpeedwayMinistries.com web site. If you sign up now it will be
in effect till this time next season. In the mean time, wherever your
racing travels may take you, we hope to see you somewhere along the way.
God Bless and see you at the races.
RACINGS NEXT GENERATION
Everyone who reads this column knows of my interest in vintage racing, the history, the cars and legends that drove them. This is something a bit different. May 3rd my friend Jim Buchanan asked me to accompany him to Whitfield Speedway in nearby Scotts Ferry, Florida. We turned off state hwy. 71 and rode back into the wilderness on a one lane dirt road and finally there it was, Whitfield Speedway. This well kept 1/8th mile, semi-banked clay speedway was more than I had imagined. It was complete with a nice press box, aluminum grandstands, refreshments and a crowded pit area. My first thought was that I sure would like to get a midget on that thing. This would have been a great place for TQ midgets or even full midgets, but this is strictly a kart track and there was a bunch of them.
There were kart operations that totally operated out of the back of the family pickup and there were enclosed trailers and tow vehicles that would do sprint car teams proud. One thing they all had in common was that they came to have fun and they came to race and race they did. Rains had been nearly constant for over a week, but the track was well prepared and was still racy at the end of the night. The pits were as busy as those of any sprint car track in the country. Tires were being prepared, motors changed and strategies contemplated. Thirteen year old Hunter Horne had his dad and mom hard at work on his entry. No baseball or other stick and ball sports for this family. They were into kart racing big time and Hunter was quick to say he wanted to go as far up the racing ladder as he could. Mom was more than willing to promote the family racing endeavors. Hunter however, was not alone in his enthusiasm. Nine year old Layne Duboise had the same aspirations. His daddy was a dirt modified driver and Layne's grand dad was heading up the pit operations. Layne is a big boy for his age and again totally focused on his racing. Cole Galbreath tracked me down and asked me to come over and look at his operation. This 12 year old was fast on the track and wanted to be mentioned in the article. With the name Cole and the ability for promotion who knows where we might see this young man in the future. Whether it was Hunter, Layne, Cole or any of the other racers they came to race and have a chance to win the $200 or $500 depending on the class and experience. They were racing for pride as much as the money and they were serious about it. When I finally went back to sit with Jim in the stands, I found we were in the hot corner of the track. Several karts crashed into the fence coming off turn two just in front of us. Though there was an abundance of incidents it was by no means a crash fest and the competition was really quite good. I came home thinking that perhaps I had seen a future sprint car or NASCAR star at the beginning of their career. The track, out in the wilderness where you expected to see a bear or pack of coyotes appear at any moment, was really a pleasant surprise. That famous southern hospitality was evident at each pit and with the staff as well. Perhaps it wasn't Knoxville or Eldora but it was an evening of racing enjoyed by everyone in the large crowd. I probably would not have searched out the well hidden kart track had it not been for Jim's invitation, but it turned into a fun evening watching our next racing generation in action.
As for our operation, we are in the midst of planning our northern venture. Pastor duties and our new association with the Competitive Advantage folks are keeping us busy. I am really a believer that anyone who gets in a race car of any kind needs to be covered by the Competitive Advantage Program. We are working on getting the CAP sign up available on line. For this and all CAP details just go to our NationalSpeedwayMinistries.com web site and click on the CAP logo. It has been a bit of a rough start for PA drivers as we have had three injured in two weeks. There are a lot of new names out there this season and that is a good thing for the future of our sport. Our adding Twitter to our media capabilities has connected us with some of these new folks as well as friends from seasons past. We plan to do vintage shows with DAARA and VARC during our travels. Until we visit your neck of the woods, we are always as close as your phone or computer. Until then, God Bless and see you at the races.
MEMORIES FOR SALE ON HOSEHEADS
This week while viewing the ads for vintage sprint cars on hoseheads.com I came across an ad for a 1975 Heintzelman car currently in Wooster, Ohio. Memories immediately came flooding back of this particular car. It was purchased new by Gus Linder to replace the well worn Trevis he campaigned for many winning seasons for the late Mickey Banas. The car was sponsored several seasons by northern Pennsylvania car dealer Bruce Kimes of Kimes Chevrolet. The car was housed at the Linder Tire Store on Pittsburgh's Saw Mill Run Blvd. I attended many Pittsburgh Steeler games with Gus and friends and spent time at the shop with Frank Malesky who did much of the wrench work on the car. Gus, the man in black, was a potential winner wherever he competed. Linder and the Mickey Banas owned black 69 were practically unbeatable in the 1960's until Mickey's untimely passing in 1973. Gus continued to campaign the former Banas car until purchasing the Heintzelman machine in 1975. All memories brought back of the 69 are not particularly fond. During the early laps of a feature at Tri City Speedway in Franklin, PA the 69 came to a stop on the track. The two cars I was following opened up with one going on each side of the stopped car and I was left with no where to go except into the dead in the water Linder car. The 69 was damaged and my Bobby Allen car destroyed and I was out for the season with neck injuries. It was a racing deal which strained the relationship with Gus but in time all was well. Several seasons later at Lernerville I was coming off turn four high with Gus coming hard underneath. We touched wheels and the Kimes Chevy went flipping down the front stretch. State police had to separate the two teams in the pits as Gus and his crew felt I should have lifted and that it was retaliation for the Tri City incident. Again, time heals all wounds and many good memories remain of the 69 Banas days and the later Heintzelman car and one of the toughest drivers ever to wheel a sprint car.
An ad, a race car and a flood of memories. If I could afford it, I would own the black 69. This is the thing about this vintage stuff. Every car has a history to tell. Some are restored as is the 69 car, to their historically correct state. Others are brought back to a later configuration to have yet another chapter in historical significance. Everyone of these machines of racings past has a story that deserves to be told. Many of these surviving machines are still owned by the men that raced them while both the machines and the men were in their prime. The Daytona Antique Auto Racing Assoc. the Vintage American Race Cars group and other such organizations across the country keep our racing history alive. Vintage Oval Racing magazine is a welcome monthly visitor to my mailbox. Sometimes I get the privilege to climb behind the wheel of some of these great machines. Our restoration project on our Tom Hagar dirt modified has been on hold due to life commitments and finances to complete it in a way to do it justice. Nancy and I are determined that it will live again and will be a living testimony to an overachiever of the time, and his machine. I remember the senior Mr. Hollowood, father of the late promoter and founder of Speed Sport Uniforms Whitey Hollowood, tell of racing his midget on the old board tracks of yesteryear. Though most of these pre world war two drivers are gone some of their machines remain as witnesses to the early days of our sport. The ad on hoseheads.com opened memories of Gus and the black 69 that covered more than three decades. There are many more barn finds around the country just waiting to be resurrected. It is our desire that none of these treasures ever find their way to the scrap yard.
We here at National Speedway Ministries are about ready to announce an exciting partnership. Final details and some internet work is all that stands in the way of the press release. We have never endorsed or promoted a product but when something comes along that benefits everyone that signs into the pits at any event, we take a serious interest in it. Travel details are coming together as well. It is our desire to make more events in our home state of Florida as well as those on our northern schedule. Wherever we may be at the moment, we are as close as your phone or computer keyboard. Until next time, God bless and see you at the races.
LESS DOLLARS THAN A
Several weeks ago
fellow vintage racer Gene Steele on a visit to my home while he was
returning to Ohio from Florida Speed Weeks dropped off a paper
containing an ad for the Competitive Advantage Program. He suggested
that it was something I might want to look into or at least obtain some
follow up information on. After it laid on my desk for several weeks I
decided reread the rather short amount of information in the ad and to
track down the untold hidden details behind the “CAP” deal. My call to
the Ft Wayne, Indiana headquarters put me in contact with Jeff Ladd, the
man in charge. He informed me that the ad pretty much summed up the
program and it is simply affordable insurance coverage for a driver or
crew member over and above whatever the track or organization pays for
the affordable sum of $217.00 per year. This $217.00 entitles you to
$500,000 full excess accident medical expenses over the participant’s
health insurance and track Participant Accident Insurance. This includes
$10,000 accidental death or dismemberment coverage. The package is
available anywhere in the United States and it doesn’t matter how many
races you run or with how many organizations you may compete with. If
you run with the PA Posse then do some World Of Outlaw shows and add in
some All Star events, you are covered. If you run Indiana non wing shows
and then do some USAC shows that is fine. You have coverage. These
benefits kick in after the track or organization insurance is exhausted.
If you have $25,000 in medical expense insurance where you race and you
get seriously injured and have to do weeks or months of therapy and
rehabilitation that $25,000 will quickly run out. With the “CAP” program
you now have up to another $500,000 to pay for your recovery. Your death
benefit is in addition to whatever your track or organization pays.
Remember the cost of this coverage is less than the cost of a right rear
tire that might be used up in one heat race. The $217 flat rate covers
you for one full year no matter how much you race. If you run or crew a
sprint car, modified, late model or any other type of race car you need
to seriously look at this coverage. I would hope that your policy would
be something that you could put in the trailer and never think of again.
If however, the time comes that injury happens and medical bills pile
up, that policy could be invaluable. If you think your track insurance
is sufficient, ask someone who has been through a long recovery and is
many thousands of dollars in debt. I am promoting this because I believe
that every person that works as a crew member or everyone who straps
into a race car at any level should have this coverage. We owe it to our
families. Full information may be obtained on the internet at
CompetitiveAdvantageProgram.com. You may sign up using the form on the
web site or call 855.969.0305 for further information. The entire policy
may be found on the web site. I appreciate Jeff Ladd taking time to
answer my questions and sharing his insight into the benefits and
aspirations for the program.
Added notes from here include an update on Jimmy Knapp. Jimmy is recovering from his fall and has been transferred from the hospital to a rehab facility and is making slow but steady progress. To send Jimmy get well wishes his email is firstname.lastname@example.org We remember too, the Petty family as they deal with the passing of Richard’s wife Lynda. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their many friends and fans. Our extended stay up north to do business for Nancy’s mom dealing with her entering a nursing home, then her being seriously injured in a fall, forced us to miss the DAARA Spring Nationals and all the other Florida Speed Week activities. We certainly missed fellowshipping with our vintage racing family and look forward to the next event. Our travel schedule for 2014 is unsure at the moment but whenever and wherever we may be, we hope to visit with you along the way. Until then, take a few minutes and investigate this Competitive Advantage Program. You shouldn’t race without it. God bless and see you at the races.
TONY BEABER REIGNS AS BOSS CHAMP
One of the best parts of doing the traveling part of our racing ministry is visiting with racing folks away from the race track. Our frequent visits to the Beaberbuilt shop in Gibsonburg,Ohio is always an anticipated stop when we are in the area. I have followed Johnny around many a race track through the years and visiting with Johnny, Pam, Tony and the family is always a good experience. Johnny’s career is legendary to anyone who follows sprint car racing and son Tony is a talented driver in his own right. After surviving a hard heat race crash which destroyed his car on the final 2013 point race of the Buckeye Ohio Sprint Series, Tony jumped into his dad’s car and finished high enough in the feature to win the “BOSS” season championship. The only time I got to see Johnny and Tony race last season was at Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway. On this big half mile it was Tony that parked in victory lane with dad Johnny bringing home an eleventh place finish. The sprint cars fabricated at the Beaberbuilt shop equate themselves well against any name manufacture. Pam runs the business end of the Beaber operation and Tony and John run the shop. First class repair, chassis updates and complete car construction along with quick turn around time keep the Beabers busy when not at a race track.
The Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Series is a growing series for the non wing cars. They had eleven different winners in the 2013 season. The 2014 schedule begins in May and goes into mid October and finds them at tracks in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. Tony looks forward to defending his title against some of the best non wing cars and drivers in the country. Born in 1977 Tony was raised at dirt race tracks across the eastern half of the US. As Johnny built his stellar career Pam kept the traveling young family together. Though she was advised not marry this crazy young race driver, she ignored the well meant advise, persevered, and still keeps shop and family in line. Johnny's career actually started when he was 15 years old under an assumed name to skirt the track age rules. His career took him across the country where he posted wins with the World of Outlaws and All Star Circuit of Champions and was respected as one of the best drivers in the country. With over 200 career feature wins, he became a legend on the Western Pennsylvania circuit, winning championships at Tri-City Speedway, Mercer Raceway, Lernerville Speedway and where he started, Fremont Speedway. As for Tony , his career began in karts and he has successfully competed in midgets, 360 and 410 sprints, with and without a wing. Tony’s first victory came in 2006 at the tough Lawrenceburg Speedway over the nationally known Jon Stanbrough. Winning the BOSS championship the hard way was a great way to end the 2013 season and build optimism for 2014. In addition to his driving ability Tony is a skilled fabricator at the Beaberbuilt shop. The Beaber name, whether you are talking about Johnny or Tony, you are talking about not only a great race car driver but a quality person as well. We certainly wish them the very best for the upcoming season.
As I complete this column we are preparing to leave West Virginia for our Florida home. We arrived December 16 for what we thought would be a three week order of business preparing for Nancy’s mom to go into a nursing home. What was to be a three week stay turned into three months enduring the coldest winter in memory. If you remember the movie Groundhog Day you know how we feel. We certainly will miss all the Florida Speedweek activity and possibly the Daytona Antique Auto Racing spring event which will begin February 27. (See note at the bottom of page). Our National Speedway Ministry motorhome will need a couple of weeks of work after setting through the winter before heading out again. As we thaw out we will plan our 2014 activities. Wherever our travels lead, we hope to see you along the way. Follow us on our NationalSpeedwayMinistries.com web site. As always, God bless and see you at the races.
THE 2014 DAARA SPRING NATIONALS WILL BE HELD 2/27 THRU 3/2 AT THE AUBURNDALE SPEEDWAY. THIS FACILITY IS A 1/4 MILE ASPHALT SURFACE WHICH HOSTS SEVERAL EVENTS DURING DARRA'S SUMMER VINTAGE SERIES. This is one of the nation’s top vintage events with on track competition daily. Keep this one on your calendar.
DON’T NFL SPRINT CAR RACING
In the name of safety for players, fans and everyone involved, the powers that be are remaking the game of football in the name of safety. Helmet to helmet contact now being illegal is leading to more numerous and more serious knee injuries as players are forced to make their hits to the unprotected lower body. Other injuries also are attributed to rules made to prevent concussions and other upper body injuries. Many of these rules are initiated by people who have never played the game or are motivated by lobbying interests. As fans prepare for the biggest game of the year, The Super Bowl, they are told that tailgating, a major part of the football tradition is now outlawed. Much of this is being done by political do gooders, fueled by political motivation. This isn’t a football column you say. Well, with the intervention in all professional sports, can racing be far behind?
At a recent Daytona Antique Auto Racing Assoc. function the guest speaker was a racing insurance company executive. He went so far as to suggest “racing” be taken out of the organization name. He proposed more safety equipment on the vintage cars along with reduced speeds on the track. Adapting modern safety equipment on fifty or seventy five year old cars can pose a problem and ruin their authenticity. The ever growing insurance requirements are affecting each and every track on which sprint cars or any race cars compete. Track insurance premiums and requirements continue to escalate with each new season. As track insurance costs go up, ticket prices or pit passes go up or purses go down. As the dollar amount of legal settlements for race related injuries continue to go through the roof, more requirements will be placed on race tracks and ultimately on the racer by the insurance companies. Noise has always been a problem for race tracks. Too high a decibel count has been responsible for track closure for years. Mandating mufflers has stayed the death of some tracks, but with the ever encroaching residential community the threat continues to grow. The noise police however may not be as great a threat as the ever protective EPA. Trace amounts of oil and fuel going into the ground to say nothing of imagined air pollution invites our government, local and national, to come and save us from ourselves. The fact that motorsports employs literally millions of people across the country, will not carry any weight if we do not recognize the threat of over regulation and prepare to combat it. As we all know from experience, intervention by outsiders into any activity of which they have little or no knowledge is always deleterious to that activity. Why should racing be any different? New Jersey state police have been regulating all forms of racing for decades. Google NJ state racing regulations and see for yourself. As Ronald Reagan once said “the scariest words a person can hear is, I am from the government and I am here to help you.” Over regulation, in the near future, may be the death nail of football as we know it. Can the axe carrying regulators for racing be far behind? I am not sure how to install airbags in a sprint car but the time may be approaching when I may have to figure it out. I have always been a football fan and racing has been my life for over fifty years but I fear overregulation may be the death nail for both. Big brother is coming to save us from ourselves. If you feel this will not affect your racing activities then you are very well part of the problem.
The big February month long kickoff to the 2014 season is practically upon us and Nancy and I are still in the West Virginia north land taking care of business for Nancy’s mom. We hope to arrive home to our Wewahitchka, Florida digs in time to take in at least some of the events. The recent 13 below zero morning reminded us why we now reside in the land of sunshine and the retired. Though our 2014 schedule exists mostly in our imagination at this time, the good Lord always has a way of working it out. So as we look forward to a new racing season, we hope our schedule matches with yours sometime in the near future. Until then, God bless and see you at the races.
Copyright © 2015 by "Hosehead's Sprint Car Photos & News." Do not reproduce
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A Hosehead Production
Copyright © 2015 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