Sunday, January 01, 2017

Wanna Buy a Road Course

$4.9 million and it's yours. Motorsport Park Hastings is for sale. Turnkey operation. http://www.lashleyland.com/land-for-sale/motorsport-park-hastings

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Racing Resolutions for 2017

I’ve become a believer in setting goals, changing habits instead of resolutions for the New Year, but “resolutions” is something that resonates with more people, and this is more of a resolution list. Let’s just start…

1.    Take in at least one race as a fan in the stands. For the better part of 20 years I haven’t just sat in the stands to watch a race. I can only think of 1 other time in that span and that was before I was married, 17 years ago. Any other race I’ve watched from the pits or the scoring tower or the announcer’s booth or the infield. Time to sit down in the bleachers and catch a few shows.
2.    Take my son to the races! I started going to races earlier than my 6-year-old son, it’s time to rectify that, big time. Obviously, I can combine that with number 1.
3.    Visit one new track. I’ve been to Eagle, I-80, the late Butler County Speedway, Beatrice, Junction Motor Speedway. Time for something new. Perhaps a trip up to the new Off-Road Speedway in Norfolk, catch a show out west, or down in Kansas. Try one new track.
4.    Visit a track I haven’t been to in a while. My last trip to Knoxville was 2008. Yeah. But other candidates are the revitalized Jackson Motorplex in Minnesota, US-30 in Columbus, and maybe next year’s Chili Bowl (close enough).
5.    Watch a pay per view or attend a World of Outlaws show. As a sprint car fan the World of Outlaws is the Formula One of dirt track racing. But I haven’t seen the show justifying the expense. I should at least watch a show and get a feel for the program again.
6.    Attend (as a fan or photographer) a non-sprint special event. Silver Dollar Nationals at I-80, Knoxville Late Model Nationals, a major stock car or modified show, something different.
7.    One night photographing non-action. No infield single car shots allowed. Something away from the show. Years ago, I got a challenge to “shoot racing without a car.” That’s tough, but it’s time to take up some form of the challenge.
8.    Write some blog stories about personalities about the show. You’ve heard my opinion. It’s time for some others to have a say.

So that’s where I stand. I plan to keep all these resolutions. They’re easy enough, right? Let’s break some old habits.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Epilogue and a Preview


It’s been nearly 3 years since I shut down the blog. Time and work commitments, interests that laid elsewhere (and fit in my schedule) and a little burnout guided me to take a hiatus from the site.

Since then, my son has grown, some priorities have changed and I’ve grown a renewed interest in the soul of the racing program. I never left the racing scene entirely; my Facebook page is loaded with photos. Still keep in touch with many of the racing community and will start looking for opportunities to use my talents for the good of the program.

I now have time and desire to continue forward, and one thing that never left was friendships. Granted, maybe I saw people less often, but I like to think I still maintained my bond with them, even if it was only 8-10 times in a year instead of 16-20.

I had lunch with my friend Gary Dominguez this weekend discussing life, the universe and racing stuff when he asked if I would consider bringing back the blog.

I’m also looking for a career…change…I guess, and one of the things I’d like to do as part of the job is writing. I love to write. Haven’t done nearly enough for the past two years. But it’s tough to write without a subject.

Hmmm. Racing is a subject.

So, in 2017 (or sooner?) I’m going to bring back Heartland RaceNews.com. Probably change the look, change the content (more photos, and other such), try for some long-form writing like editorials and other stories add a social media component and whatever I see fit. Will probably integrate it to social media.

I’m excited to get back into it. Times and the way media is disseminated have changed monumentally since I started this in 2006. (Ten years ago? Wow).

But yeah, it’s happening. Looking forward to seeing you at the track.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Done. For Real This Time.




After 7+ years of this blog, I’ve decided to call it quits. As you can see from the archives, my posting frequency has dropped, even considering I quit posting results after 2007.


A few things have come into play:


1. My interest in maintaining this site has waned to the point where I’m just no longer interested. I’ve had to make choices in where I spend my time, and that time is finite. My pulls from other interests outweigh the interest I have in keeping this site up. I have interest in racing in general, but not to the level I need to fill this site with meaningful content. I care about a few classes, and a few folks, but damn if I could tell you anything about the World of Outlaws, Knoxville, etc. I pay attention to none of it. My frequency of attendance has dropped to where I find few talking points.


And because of that...


2. I really can’t speak with much authority on the subject. That hasn’t stopped 90% of people on the internet, but I felt that one thing I had was some credibility in what I wrote because I tried to speak from a position of experience. The thing is, I haven’t been there/done that in years now, and my social connections in the sport are strong, but few. It would hard to be objective with a limited viewpoint.


3. My interest in photography used to be satiated by my weekly trips to the track. Those that know me know I’m VERY passionate about the art of photography as a whole (racing and non racing), as much as some people are driven by excelling behind the wheel or the competition on track. However, I also wish to do other photo projects - the only time I’ll have for that overlaps most races, too. I can’t be in two places at once. 

I also am cultivating new interests and plan on exercising some creativity there as well.

It’s not that this hasn’t already been known, and I'm not getting out of racing entirely, but I just wanted to formally put the “closed” sign up to let those still reading know there’s nothing new coming for now. I do plan on hitting some races 2-3 times a month, and I plan on maybe putting my takes up on a message board, or other avenues, but for now, this site will go dormant. I do plan on getting old photos archived into the Google environment for posterity’s sake.


To everyone that read, commented, and talked to me in person, thank you so much. I appreciated every bit of it.


- Jason


Saturday, March 29, 2014

I-80 Speedway Gearing up for the Durst Double Down Spring Meltdown

From ASCS Midwest Region


It's getting close to racing season and I-80 Speedway is gearing up for the season opening Spring Meltdown on Friday, April 4 and Saturday, April 5. To kick off the 2014 season, I-80 and Durst Motorplex are announcing the Durst Double Down Spring Meltdown Weekend. Any driver in any class that wins both nights features at the Spring Meltdown will receive a $2,500 bonus.

Also $5 off discount tickets for the Spring Meltdown will be available at Durst Motorplex, 115 “O” Street in Lincoln starting next Thursday, March 27. Watch for our ad in the Lincoln Journal Star featuring a $100 off coupon on the purchase of an automobile at Durst Motorplex. Grandstand ticket prices for the Spring Meltdown are $20 for Friday and $25 for Saturday for adults. Children (6-12) are $5 with 5 and under free as always.

The Spring Meltdown will once again feature the stars of the Midwest Late Model Racing Association (MLRA) and the Corn Belt Clash (CBC) Super Late Models as well as the stars of the ASCS Midwest Racing Series Sprint Cars both nights. Unsanctioned A Mods will race for $1,000 to win on Friday night and $1,500 to win on Saturday night.

The Super Late Models will be racing on April 4 for $2,000 to win with April 5th's features paying $3,000 to win. Last year, Chris Simpson of Oxford, Iowa and Terry Phillips of Springfield, Missouri picked up Spring Meltdown wins. Chad Simpson of Mt. Vernon, Iowa is the defending Corn Belt Clash Champion while Tony Jackson, Jr. of Lebanon, Missouri won the Midwest Late Model Series Championship.

The ASCS Midwest Sprint Car Series will be racing complete programs as well on April 4 & 5. Both their features will pay $2,500 to win. Last year, Springfield, Nebraska's Jack Dover and Sioux Falls, South Dakota's Gregg Bakker picked up Sprint Car features at the Spring Meltdown. Dover was also crowned the ASCS Midwest Champion. Josh Most of Red Oak, Iowa won the A Mod Feature at last years Spring Meltdown.

There will be an open practice on Thursday, April 3 from 6:00 pm to 9:30 pm. All classes are welcome. Pit Passes are $20 for car and driver and $10 for all other personnel.


I-80 Speedway is located one block north of Interstate 80 Exit #420. Halfway between Lincoln and Omaha. The physical address is 13909 238th Street, Greenwood, Nebraska. For more information, visit www.I-80Speedway.com or call (402)-342-3453.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Carroll "Speedy" Hill Passes






I apologize for the delay, I just learned of this today.


From the Family of Carroll Hill:

We are saddened to report that Carroll L “Speedy” Hill has passed away. Speedy dedicated his life to ensuring the safety and well being of racers and race fans throughout the Midwest for over 50 years. He will be greatly missed.

Viewing will be Saturday March 29th, from 5:00pm to 8:00pm at Westlawn-Hillcrest Funeral Home located at 5701 Center Street in Omaha. All are welcome.

Funeral services will be held at St. Matthew Lutheran Church on Sunday March 30th at 2:00pm with internment to follow at Westlawn Cemetery. There will be a luncheon at the church following graveside service. The church is located at 60th and Walnut Street in Omaha. Service is open to anyone who would like to pay their respects.

Special Request From the Speedy Himself

Those of you who knew Speed know that he was not a "suit and tie" type of guy. Speedy’s favorite clothing was his Nomex fire suit and a pair of extrication gloves. He was in his element and at his happiest when working a racetrack, a fire scene, or similar form of public service. He made it quite clear before his passing that he did not want to peek out from his casket and see a crowd of people wearing suits and ties while shedding tears over his passing.

What Speed wanted was for everyone to wear the attire they normally would be in during a normal interaction with him. Racers should wear their driver’s suits, firefighters should wear their fire gear, track officials should wear their official’s uniform, law enforcement, tow crews, medical crews, etc. should wear their respective uniform. If you don’t have a uniform, casual dress is fine.

Speed loved machinery of all types – fire trucks (his favorite, of course), ambulances, tow trucks, race cars, police cruisers, aircraft, etc. He wanted his funeral procession to include as many of the above as possible. If you have access to anything of this nature, by all means bring it and help send Speedy to his final resting place with a show of warning lights and horsepower! The neighbors may not approve - Speedy would LOVE it.

Speed wanted the many good friends and valued aquaintances he had made over his lifetime to come together for one last story swapping session and celebration. A time of joy rather than sadness. Everyone who wishes to do so is welcome to join us in a final celebration of Speed’s life.

The Hill Family

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Eagle Raceway's Hadan Named Promoter of the Year

Hadan Is 38th ARPY, Stewart's Eldora Gets Event Award

by Stewart Doty

Roger Hadan, promoter of Eagle Raceway, Lincoln, NE, was revealed as the Thirtieth-Eighth Auto Racing Promoter of the Year today in ceremonies at the Hilton Daytona Beach.  Readers of Racing Promotion Monthly, the idea newsletter for auto racing promoters, chose Hadan from among six regional nominees.  Honored as Regional Auto Racing Promoters of the Year were Andrew Cusack, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME); Joe and Phyllis Loven, Volunteer (TN) Speedway; Rich Farmer, Fremont (OH) Speedway, Ron, and Scott Wimmer, State Park (WI) Speedway; and Doug and Traci Hobbs, Evergreen (WA) Speedway.  Tony Stewart's Eldora Speedway accepted the Racing Promotion Monthly Award for Outstanding Annual Short Track Event for the Inaugural Mudsummer Classic, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora (OH) Speedway.  The two-day Workshop, the 41st held at Daytona Beach by Racing Promotion Monthly, concludes tomorrow.  The Workshops are produced with the year-round support of K&K Insurance Group, Inc., Hoosier Racing Tire.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

2014 Nebraska 360 Sprint Schedule

The Nebraska 360 Sprint Series released their 2014 schedule. All dates are tentative.

April 11th (Friday) Interstate Raceway Park Jefferson SD
May 10th (Saturday) Butler County Speedway Rising City. NE (co NCRA)
May 24th (Saturday) Butler County Speedway Rising City, NE
May 25th (Sunday) I-80 Speedway Greenwood , NE
June 14th (Saturday) Junction Motor Speedway McCool Junction, NE
June 27th (Friday) I-80 speedway (As part of the annual Alphabet Soup race ) Greenwood, NE
June 28th (Saturday) Butler County Speedway Rising City, NE
July 12th (Saturday) Butler County Speedway Rising City, NE (co NCRA)
July 13th(Sunday) Boone County Fairgrounds Albion, NE
July 17th(Thursday) I-80 Speedway Greenwood, NE
July 24th (Thursday) Crawford County Fair Dennison, IA
July 26th (Saturday) Butler County Speedway Rising City, NE
Aug 16th TBA
August 31st (Sunday) I-80 Speedway Greenwood, NE
Oct 11th(Saturday) I-80 Speedway Greenwood NE

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Eldon Rhoten Passes

Sad news from the Sprint Car world as owner Eldon Rhoten passed away early Tuesday morning. Eldon was a long-time sprint car owner, at times fielding three cars and during the last few years of 360 Sprints at Eagle, he was responsible for nearly 1/3 of the field, with Terry Holliman, Terry's son Tadd, and Stu Snyder driving.

Eldon was known as a very giving owner, and is a permanent part of Nebraska racing lore, and left an indelible mark on Eagle Raceway. I can't do his racing pedigree justice, but I can say every interaction I had with Eldon was a positive one. He'll be missed.

Eldon was 72 at the time of his passing.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Nebraska 360 Sprints Driver/Owner Meeting

From Dennis Parker

The season has ended and now it is time for the dreaded meetings. The Carpetland Nebraska 360 Sprints will be holding a 360 sprint car meeting Next Wednesday November 6th at 7:00 PM. At One Eyed Jacks in Eagle NE.

I stress to anyone interested in this Racing Group or 360 sprint car racing that is a car owner or Driver owner it is asked that you make time to attend this very important meeting. There are a few decisions to make. Once again please try and attend, If you are not going to make it give me a call at 402-677-3757 as we need each and everyone's input. Tell anyone else that might not be on our list please

Dennis Parker

Monday, October 07, 2013

Nebraska 360's Close out Sprint Season

From Nebraska 360 Sprints:


It is one week away from The Carpetland Nebraska 360 Sprints' last race at I-80. Although it is not a points race a full field of cars is expected thanks to an added 1200.00 dollars to the purse.

The winner's share will be 1200.00 and the rest of the purse will just drop down one spot so second pays 1000.00 and so on. 200.00 to start. Some out-of-towners are planning on coming so it should be a great show.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

ASCS Midwest Fall Brawl includes $20,000 bonus!

From Chuck Zitterich, ASCS Midwest

The Midwest Fall Brawl just took a jump to the next level with the addition of the "Double Down....Back to Back Challenge." Thanks to Durst Motorplex and Zoz Farms sponsors of the Double Down there is a huge bonus if a Sprint Car driver can win the features on September 20 & 21. The bonus, a cool $20,000.

Add that to the $2,500 each feature pays to win, $750 each night for the Searsboro Telephone Hard Charger and another $1,000 for the Hotrod Paintless Dent Repair King of the Hill and one driver could leave I-80 $27,500 richer. Now that is some serious money and that doesn't count the Electrical Systems Podium Draw for $300 each night!

Last year's Midwest Fall Brawl saw both feature events go green-white-checker on a lightning fast track with Jason Johnson and Jack Dover picking up the wins. This year's Second Annual Midwest Fall Brawl sponsored by the Home Pride Companies should be no different.

Racing along with the ASCS Midwest Sprint Cars on Friday, September 20 will be unsanctioned A Mods for $1,000 to win and unsanctioned Grand Nationals for $500 to win. Hotrod Paintless Dent Repair is also paying $250 to the A Mod Hard Charger and Pro Tech Electrical Systems is having a $250 A Mod Podium Draw. In addition, I-80 Speedway and Adams County Speedway has a $1,100 point fund for A Mods for I-80 on September 20 and Adams County on September 21.

On Saturday, September 21 the SLMR series and the GOTRA series will be racing with the ASCS Midwest Sprint Cars. Hotrod Paintless Dent Repair will be paying a $250 Hard Charge Award to the SLMR series and Pro Tech Electrical Systems is having a $250 Podium Draw for the SLMR series.

Tickets for the event are $20 for Adults each night, $5 for Juniors (6-12) with 5 and under free as always. Or you can get a two-day ticket for just $25 but there will be refunds only if both nights are rained out. If one show gets completed and the other show rained out, there will be NO refunds. Call (402)-342-3453 and order your tickets today.

Pit gates open both nights at 4:00 pm, with the Grandstands opening at 5:30 pm and racing at 7:15 pm. I-80 Speedway is located one block north of Interstate 80 Exit #420, halfway between Lincoln and Omaha. For more information, visit www.I-80speedway.com or call (402)-342-3453.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

ASCS Nebraska Cup Weekend and Fall Brawl

ASCS Nebraska Cup Weekend

Sept 6 - Friday - Corning, IA - $1500 to win!
Sept 7 - Saturday - McCool Junction, NE - $1500 to win!
Sept 8 - Sunday - Eagle, NE - $5000 to win! (Plus $1400 Lap Money)

Pre-registration for the Eagle $5000 to win race is free if you call the office BY Sept. 3rd. Otherwise there is a $50 entry fee.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

ASCS Midwest Championship / I-80 Fall Brawl

Sept 20 - Friday - Greenwood, NE - $2500 to win! (Plus Lap Money)
Sept 21 - Saturday - Greenwood, NE - $2500 to win! (Plus Lap Money)

Plus the following bonus money:
Durst Motorplex & Zoz Farms Double Down / Back to Back Challenge
** $20,000 Bonus if same driver wins both nights! **
Searsboro Telephone Hard Charger Award
** $750 Bonus Each Night! **

Hotrod Paintless Dent Repair
** $1000 King of the Hill winner! **
Electrical Systems
** $300 Podium Draw Each Night! **


No Entry Fee for this race - But...If you pre-register with the I-80 office before Sept. 13th The Gang at the "WORLD FAMOUS" Dingus Lounge in Knoxville will pay your $10 draw for Friday night.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Speedway Motors Remembers Joyce Smith, “Mrs. Speedway”

From Speedway Motors


We are saddened to report the passing of Joyce Smith, "Mrs. Speedway." With her family at her side, she lost her courageous 34 month battle with cancer on Sunday. She is now in a better place, free of pain, and with her Savior in Heaven.

In 1952, fresh out of college and newlywed, Joyce Smith loaned her husband "Speedy Bill" the $300 he needed to start Speedway Motors. Throughout the years, Joyce's outgoing and friendly nature served Speedway Customers well… "No one could sell hub caps, fender skirts and continental tire kits like Joyce!" Joyce was initially Speedway's bookkeeper, parts runner and counter gal and always served as Financial Officer, Corporate Secretary and Treasurer. Joyce was a trailblazer, a tireless working mom who labored 60-plus hour weeks at Speedway while raising her four boys and still finding time to teach Sunday school. As a respected businesswoman, she was honored to serve and direct many organizations, several as their first female board member.

She was a true "car gal" in a man's world. In the early days Joyce's daily driver was her prized red '34 Ford pickup, a Rebel's car club show winner. Always at Speedy Bill's side for 60 years, Joyce attended or worked more races, car shows, trade-shows than almost anyone in America. Since their inception, she walked the swap meet fields of Hershey, and worked the aisles of SEMA, Daytona, PRI and attended countless street rod and racing events. In 2005 she was honored as Goodguys' Woman of the Year! As the proud co-founder of the Museum of American Speed, Joyce now shares her love and knowledge of racing and rodding history for future generations.

Joyce's friendly, outgoing personality was genuine. She loved people and she was liked and respected by all who had the pleasure of knowing her. The entire Speedway Nation will miss you Joyce!

Bill, Carson, Craig, Clay and Jason Smith

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Kids are Alright


Finally!

After a few work-related and family duties, I got to take my first trip to see the new Nebraska 360 Sprint Series in action at Butler County Speedway last Saturday.

Twenty sprinters took to the speedway on a hot July night. The track was dry: baked by the heat and a later start time – races kicked off about an hour later than posted – but that’s about the only complaint I have. A nice crowd watched a very high quality of sprint cars own the program, along with the GOTRA Vintage cars, Mod Lites (dwarf) cars and “Outlaw” Street Stocks. Unsanctioned full-sized Modifieds were on the sked, but that was scratched for lack of participation. I’d say running unsanctioned Modifieds against three tracks in the area running full weekly shows with a USMTS race at I-80 probably isn’t the recipe for success.

But I’m not here to pan the track or the program. In fact, quite the opposite. Brent Pick and crew cleaned up a dormant facility that was tidy and looked like they had run each week and not just for specials. Concessions were cheap, the infield was freshly mowed, the old tanks/silos outside of turn one had been removed, and the hideous orange guardrails were painted a normal white. They’ve done a great job.
One of the best parts of the night started before any cars took to the track. It was a pleasure to see Steve Janousek, Dennis Parker, Larry White, and Randy Palmer as officials, and received a hearty welcome from each. And the handshakes, waves and nods from the drivers and crew were welcome too. Obviously, there’s comfort with familiarity.

I noticed something else: everyone was relaxed. It’s a different environment without a packed pit and a tight time schedule. The pit meeting was low-key, a few debates got settled without any heavy-handedness, and everyone just lined up and did their thing – raced.

For all the hand-wringing, rhetoric, and animosity of the past few years at Eagle, this was a refreshing break from the tension. Don’t get me wrong – when the call goes the wrong way, all that goodwill goes out the window. But tonight, it was about a group of guys happy to be where they were. No sideshow, no rush – and yet there was no need to rush. Classes lined up when they needed to, they lined up on the yellow flags without any prodding from officials, and the show ran smooth. I realize that the first show at BCS was about as smooth as sandpaper, but everyone learned their lessons and things went easy.

Cries of doom and gloom (and even my suspicions) have been largely squelched. A reduced schedule, a low-key environment and maybe just the taste of something new have left the Nebraska 360 Sprint Series doing quite well on its own. There’s still uncertainty, the costs and a question if the sponsors will hold on outside the population bases of Lincoln and Omaha. But for now, July 2013, they’re doing just fine. In fact, promoters at several tracks have asked for repeat shows but the series is wisely refraining from hitting the well too often. “Next year…” is the reply.

I’m not sure anyone thought that BOTH series would be holding their own after mid-summer. Eagle’s 305 class is doing well – and has a lot of advantages going for it: location, costs, and – I mean this nicely – good luck can go a long way while people are still feeling their way around. Just like the days of springed-fronts and Firestone Diamond tires in the 360’s infancy.

So can the two continue to exist? There have been a few of the 360 drivers send opting to take their talents to Cass County on Saturdays, and that’s their decision. There may be a few cars opting to run for the increased money of the touring group. This isn’t a debate about one class vs. the other: both classes have moved on. Fans should do the same.

The bonds formed by the heritage of over 30 years of 360 racing keep this crew going for now. While there are plenty of vets in the class, some of the guys behind the wheel are a decade removed from the class’ genesis at Midwest Speedway, but their fathers, families, friends all lived this sport and did a lot of it with the group I had the pleasure to be around Saturday night.

Oh, the racing? Darn good. A spectacular second heat, and drama in the feature as pre-race favorite Jack Dover went a lap-down after an early-race mishap kept everyone tense: Dover was tearing his way through the field until about lap 20 when the bottom finally gave way and the cushion became the only way ‘round. Trevor Grossenbacher earned his second win of the season.

“Thanks for coming” was a familiar greeting.

No. Thank you for having me.

P.S. I’ll have some action shots online this week and I plan to be at Eagle this Saturday.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Feeling the urge


This Saturday I plan on heading out to the track again, this time with the Nebraska 360 series in their final visit to the reopened Butler County Speedway. It's been a few years since my last visit and it would only be my second race this season. I had plan to hit a few more but rainouts and business travel in June precluded that.

But it was sitting down today with a copy of Vintage Motorsport that set off a little spark. Not only was it topical with a feature on Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed, but the second of a three-part series on the history of Sprint Car racing. Now don't get me wrong, a simple magazine feature isn't nearly enough to encompass the history of the sport, but after reading it the wheel began rolling....

Out came Bob Mays' book Big Car Thunder. The Joe Scalzo's The American Dirt Track Racer, covering the life and times of the dirt champ cars.

And of all things, today's featured video on Fox Sports with Tony Stewart calling his own teammate Steve Kinser an a--hole got me in the mood.

I need to get back in the dirt.

Now, my life has changed such that without it being an part of my life, such as a job in the industry, I can't devote as much as I used to. Every week is too much right now. But the interest is back...I'm starting to miss it. I'm starting to pay attention to it. I browse results, read Brad Brown's ibracn.com weekly...just starting to feel the urge again.

We'll see what happens this weekend. I'm looking forward to it.      

Friday, May 31, 2013

Eagle Nationals Rained Out


You have to ask why? 















The far right tire is at the edge of the infield, the 'berm'. Water is standing on the track. It's at least a foot deep at the edge of the track.

For fans who don't know, there is a spring that runs under the track and exits outside of turn three. In short, no where to pump the water.

A rain date has not been scheduled, but TBJ promotions is working on a possible reschedule.

Bummer. This race is a good one. Hope to see it rescheduled this year.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The New Eagle Raceway



Saturday I took my first trip to the races this season, and visited the weekly show at Eagle. It’s the first season in nearly 20 years where the 360 Sprinters were not part of the weekly program. For people like me who grew up around the Nebraska 360 Scene, it’s a bit jarring when I walked into the pits.

Who are these guys?

Let's go back 16 years. Yeah, that long. 

In 1997 when Craig Cormack took over Eagle from the Beecham family, the track was billed for that first year as “The New Eagle Raceway.” That was the official name of the track for the season. 

It was fitting: the old wood grandstands were being ripped out for concrete and aluminum stadium seating, and a 100,000 watt sound system replaced the monotonic bullhorn speakers. 

There was a definite culture change, a raise in professionalism, and maybe a bit of a high-brow attitude to go along with the polish added to the facility.  

But it was appropriate dress as we sailed into that sea of economic prosperity that closed out the 20th century. Fans saw the concept of “sports entertainment” being put into action with the sideshow becoming an integral part of the show as a whole. It wasn’t about going to “the races” - it was about going to “Eagle Raceway.” Some decried the “circus” and insisted that the purity of the sport had been somehow compromised. What they didn’t realize was the sport is a circus. 

We heard the howls again in 2006 when Roger Hadan took over Eagle and brought in a different style of entertainment, where the sideshow was bus races and garbage truck jumps.  More affordable classes were brought in to bolster the dwindling car counts of the long-standing 360 Sprint and IMCA Modified classes. The times were changing, and again the setting befitted the state of the nation. 

(I want to make something clear: I’m not looking down my nose at any of this or any of the changes. Frankly, Roger’s hit some home runs that we could’ve only dreamed about before. He reacted to the market and its tastes. I’m not immune. I waxed poetic in this blog about enjoying high-school and early college age kids smack each other chasing a rubber disk on a sheet of ice. The last thing I want when I sit down would be a bleu cheese platter with a glass of Chilean Malbec. I’ll take my domestic beer, thanks.)  

But while the rules stayed the same, the times around us changed and we saw the 360’s car count dwindle to the level we saw when Eagle first brought back the sprint cars to a weekly show, and in some cases – lower.

Long story, debates, internet backbiting, yadda, yadda, yadda...

We enter a new era – the IMCA Racesaver 305’s. Welcome to The NEW Eagle Raceway.

What did I think?

As I said before, they’re different. The sound is what got me first. Not as loud, not that ‘punch in the chest’ when the green flag is dropped. There’s a difference. I noticed it shooting pictures. The cars set in different, the car sets in later, and they don’t have that launch out of the corner.

They are different.

I didn’t say bad. I said different.

Hotlaps were impressive. The sprint cars were the fastest thing out there. But as we hit the heats, I saw a definite a gap between top and bottom in equipment and skill. It still was entertaining. I watched the A feature from the road as I sneaked out early in fear that the oncoming storms would catch me in a Cass County quagmire.

The race was decent. Mike Boston provided the drama, and Clint Benson took the checkers. Shayle Bade can wheel a race car. Her second place finish is only a sign of things to come and for the first time, Eagle will have a ‘winged woman’ holding the first place check. It will be soon.

In the first year of a class, gaps between first and last are bound to happen, and most have never driven a sprint car competitively. I'm sure it happened when the "modified sprints" took to Midwest Speedway in the early 80's, but as eager fans and participants we didn't see it. This will change, and I likened it to when Eagle ran the wingless 360’s in 2008. The drivers were tentative until the final night of racing when they finally started figuring it out. Problem was, fans didn't really care. I think this time, the fans will embrace it.

The learning curve will be shorter for the 305’s. And the class is on solid footing. Getting 17 to show up three nights into the season isn’t shabby. The overall speeds and competitiveness will improve. It will become more refined (and yes, expensive), but maybe it’s more manageable than the 360’s that left. While the class has been given the title as the ‘main event’ by the promoter, it will earn it on its own soon enough.

Outside of that, the A mods are still the best show out there. About anyone who starts that A feature has a legitimate chance of winning. But if you want to see the future of modified racing, look no further than the gaggle of SportModifieds owning the pits. 47 of them last week. It’s accessible and competitive. Laini Schwartz topped the field, and hats off to her. Wins are earned when you have that deep of a field.

While I’ve had mixed feelings about the SportMod class, one thing I’ve seen is that it is now becoming the entry point for racing at Eagle. It’s a trend I like. I’m not sure of the future of the Hobby Stock. Are we going to start seeing Ford Fusions and Toyota Camrys being converted to a frame for a small-block V8? I don’t know how you even pull it off. Maybe there are more RWD relics out there, but how long does this last? And I think the compacts are still a great way to get under the lights, but as we’ve seen, the FWD cars may not be the best point to learn techniques for the big machines.

Eagle has changed in its 50 years. The track that hosted Hall of Famers is a different racetrack than the one I grew up at. That track’s different than the one I worked for. And this new Eagle Raceway is different than the track Roger took over in 2006.

It's unfair to make any comparison. I haven’t seen anything like it before.

-Jason