Oklahoma Tidbits Column
By David Smith Jr
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The following was sent to me by a radio racing talk show host that covers auto racing on Sunday mornings out in PA. This person is a very good friend of mine and though it would make for some pretty good reading. He did not tell me where it originated from. Fox Might Trade Golf for Speedvision...By Mike McCarthy
There's more news in the rapidly developing quest by Fox Sports to acquire 100% of Speedvision. According to Multichannel News (another article also here), the final piece of the puzzle apparently is the final 15% of Speedvision that Fox needs, which is the portion owned by Comcast.
Fox owns 31% of The Golf Channel, and Comcast is reportedly trying to acquire that in exchange for the 15% of Speedvision coveted by Fox. All other parties with ownership in Speedvision, including founder Roger Werner, have reportedly agreed to sell to Fox. Mutichannel News reports, however, that "there is no indication that Fox and Comcast will imminently reach a deal." But terms of the apparent deal do not have to be finalized until June 30.
The Multichannel News article also claims that Fox "is unlikely to rebrand the network as a NASCAR channel right away. But that same source said there is nothing stopping Fox from creating a NASCAR-branded channel a couple of years down the road. That delay could stem from existing programming contracts Speedvision has with other entities, including Formula One and Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART). Typically, Speedvision's programming contracts run for three to five years."
Frankly, Fox may not officially rebrand the network right away, but don't be surprised to see a version of "The NASCAR Channel on Speedvision" for 8 - 12 hours a day. This is a golden opportunity for NASCAR and Fox to start slowly with a type of standalone channel, build a brand, gauge consumer and carrier interest, air unique programming, and start with a base of 40 million households and add to that significantly over a few years. Speedvision is already profitable and would even make a lot more money with NASCAR.
Furthermore, the F1 programming is not a problem for Speedvision or F1. The F1 contract is reportedly for only this year anyway, and Tony George and Bernie Ecclestone are continuing to look for broader distribution for F1, which still has the potential to lead to a contract in future years with an over-the-air network and a cable partner. Additionally, Speedvision may be an even more attractive partner for F1 in future years if the network gets NASCAR, as the stock cars would probably drive up the household count by 10 million plus in the near term. The F1 programming is almost always on at a time when NASCAR is silent, so the network would not feel that it has conflicting entities.
It's looking like something is going to happen that will bring NASCAR to Speedvision. The only matters remaining are how much Fox will have to pay, how much NASCAR will be on Speedvision, and when all of this will happen.
(December 11)Well hello from Midwest City and how is everybody? You know, you would think the early part of winter would be real real slow racing news wise, but with the Tulsa Shootout, Chili Bowl midget nationals and sprint car racing begining the first of February, there never seems to be a dull moment. This is also the time of year where rumors run rampant, schedules are announced, promotions are invaded upon and my car decides to leave me stranded. It is also the time to reflect on the season just past and what could happen next year and thats what we will be doing in this last column for the year.
So lets get started shall we?
We started the year off tragically, something that set the trend in racing not only nationally, but locally also. The first race of the year saw me at State Fair Speedway in Oklahoma City for the opening weekly show of the season. Being staff writer for the American Sprint Car Series, I had learned that Ken Whitehouse was to run the full tour for 2000, looking to win rookie of the year honors. A brief interview with Ken some thirty minutes before race time gave me some insight about Ken, his past racing experiences and his hopes for the 2000 season. Little did I know, just one hour later, Ken was involved in a nasty crash on the front stretch, which would take his life approximately one month later. All the more reason for this writer to hate the job I love so much, as you get to know these drivers and their families on a personal basis. Tragidies like this makes you wonder if it is worth it or not.
Throughout the season, several high-profile drivers also met their death. NASCAR drivers Tony Roper, Adam Petty and Kenny Irwin gave prove that death had no prejudice. Then finally, the Oklahoma area lost yet another veteran as Pete Frazier passed away in an accident at Dutton Speedway in Ft. Cobb. Pete was the founder of the FACTOR 1 chassis, which is prevelant in many micro races. I remember Pete when he took over the famed OFIXCO champ car ride in 1985 after Jerry Stone announced his plans to head east to PA. for some sprint car racing. Old time racing also lost one of its greats as Aaron Madden also passed away after a long illness.
That ends the worst of my season in review as no race or sanction is as bad as losing drivers we love to watch compete.
Let's shift into a much happier gear and talk about the best that happened for the 2000 season.
Three items head my list of this topic. The first seeing former State Fair Speedway champion Wayne Johnson getting a very established ride aboard Fred & Jo Threatts F&J Contruction sprinter and compete full time on the ASCS national tour. Not only was Wayne finally able to show his talents against the best 360 drivers in the country, he also won the ASCS national championship AND the prestigous Knoxville 360 nationals. What was also a pleasure was seeing him and his rival Larry Neighbors "mature" on and off the track, often hanging out and parking next to each other. If this happened ten years ago, police and EMTs would have been called as there was no love loss between those two.
Another "best" for the 2000 season was the first ever NCRA outlaw speedweek, right here in the Oklahoma area. The week of the fourth of July proved to be perfect as it brought about consecutive races and an average of thirty cars per race, showing one track owner what a mistake he made by backing out of his scheduled event. Even though I am staff writer for ASCS, I have always been a NCRA fan and supporter and for the outlaw division, was glad to see this will now be an annual event.
And finally, which also goes for the best race of the season (non-ASCS as many of those shows were just incredible) has to be the World of Outlaw race at OKC, promoted by MAR-CAR president Shane Carson. After four weather related cancellations, Shane FINALLY was able to pack the grandstands even though rain threatened the race thirty minutes before race time. It turned out to be one of the best races the big half mile track had held and to top it off, "hometown" favorite Andy Hillenburg of Broken Arrow took the feature win in front of an enthusiastic crowd.
Now to get on with the news both on and off the track.
Talked to good friend Beth Stanton, wife of Gary Stanton, and she assured me that despite the rumors to the contrary, Mark and Karl Kinser WILL once again be utilizing MOPAR motors for the 2001 WoO season. Dale and Dave Blaney will also continue using MOPAR motors. She also informs that MOPAR has entered the late model ranks with Hav-A-Tampa late model driver Steve Francis being the the first high-profile driver to use them. Series champion Scott Bloomquist inquired about the MOPAR motors but could not strike a motor deal. Midgets are also getting into the act as Ohio veteran Gary Runyon is the first to purchase one of the new MOPAR midget motors. Guess business is good at the Nicholisville Kentucky plant.
Tyler Walker is said to be the new driver for Johnny Vances Silver Bullett team. Ray Evernham and Tyler are said to be looking into the possibility of running a MOPAR midget, but nothing is set and more than likely won't at this time. Tyler is also looking for a WoO ride and my uneducated guess is he will team up with the Forbrook/Vasser team as last years driver Greg Hodnett is going back to PA. to again piolot the #12 Apple Chevrolet sponsored sprinter.
It is looking like the battle of the promotors round two as once again Carson and Devils Bowl Speedway promotor Lanny Edwards are at odds. For twenty years Shane has always had the exlusive rights to all WoO races at OKC and the fairboard has always worked with him, until now. According to Shane while he was out of town, Lanny supposidly called the fairgrounds and told them that Shane did not want to promote a March WoO race and he would like two nights. So, Lanny will promote the WoO on March 17-18 at OKC while Shane will have his annual Bud Carson Memorial WoO race June 19. Remember it was two years ago Shane got the shaft (as did thousands of OKC race fans) when Devils Bowl got rained out and they moved the OKC race to a monday night, giving Devils Bowl the sunday night race. Something tells me this is not over by no means and things they could be a cookin behind the scenes. Guess if you got the checkbook, and your "partner" needs your services, you can get darn near whatever you want.
Speaking of debacles at OKC, their season ending rules change has forced one long-time car owner Don Strawn to pull out his seven car stable and only sponsor one car on a friday night basis. James Bean will piolot the Strawn sponsored factory stock, the only class that wasn't required to switch to the Brodix spec head. James had his heart on competing in the Pro Stock division but the rules change brought a hault to that. The Strawn team will be present at Tulsa Speedway on Saturday nights as David Lee Lambert and female Michelle Decker will run in the tracks two barrell division. Strawn tells me that David Lambert will compete on the NCRA 360 division while his understanding is Marcus Jackson is said to be competing his own car on the NCRA 360 series. Don tells me he saw no basis for a rules change and if there was one, it should have been the ASCS spec head. He also tells me the tracks "if you don't like it, race somewhere else" comment made the final descion.
Due to the tracks rule changes, which doesn't take into affect until mid-June, several drivers, including Bruce Jennings, are just going to compete until the rule goes into affect. There are several drivers, however, who have bought the spec heads from the speedway office and those are Loyd Clevenger, Tony Poe and Gary Flatt. Loyd will also run the entire ASCS Sooner Region.
There is a new dirt track being bulit, this one in west Kansas. Jetmore Kansas is building a three-eighths mile track with a one-eighths go-kart/midget track and state of the art motor-cross track inside of it. The pits and grandstands will be on asphalt, as they were runways at the former Jetmore Airport. The opener is set for May 12, with eighteen saturday night weekly races planned, rotating three classes per evening of sprints (outlaw or limited-winged and non-wing), modifieds, late models, hobby stocks, cruisers and pony stocks. There will also be seven special events, including the NCRA sprint and modifieds, Rocky Mountain midgets, professional short track motorcycles and the ASCS. The ASCS race is set for saturday night, June 23rd. The small track will run on friday nights, featuring micro-midgets, go carts and short track motorcycles. Sprint car driver John Blurton is one of the six investors on this Jetmore Complex. Oklahoma Tidbits wishes the best to all involved and will make at least one visit to the new facility next year.
Hutchinson Raceway Park in Kansas has been purchased. Paul Dutton, a former sprint car driver who now piolots modifieds, has taken over the track and will run friday nights. That's all the information that I have at this time, although I do know that the track will host the ASCS onfriday night, June 22nd. I will have more information on Hutchinson Raceway Park in my next column, sometime in January.
While we are speaking of Kansas and ASCS, the tentative date for the series first ever visit to 81 Speedway in Wichita is Sunday night, June 24th.
Got late word from the ASCS office that long time sprint car veteran Mike Peters has indicated he will compete full time on the ASCS national tour. Talk about variety for the series in the 2001 season, the age will range from fifty-one to Stephanie Chappells seventeen. More on Mikes decision in next column.
Talked to Tulsa Oklahoma Stan Henry who informed me his intentions on running the new ASCS Sooner Region. Stan sights the indecision at Tulsa Speedway for next year as the reason. It has been rumored that the outlaw purse will be cut and the division will run every other week but nothing has been decided, leaving many drivers obting for something different. This will be an interesting year as far as sprint car racing in Oklahoma is concerned.
A little news on the Chili Bowl, which will be held at Tulsa Expo Raceway in Tulsa Oklahoma on January 11-13th. As we go to print there are ninety-one drivers pre-entered with estimates close to one hundred and forty by race time. Steve Kinsers son Kraig will be aboard one of the Caves entries while Steve will make a thursday decision on whether or not he will compete afterall. Other entries include Bud and Brent Kaeding and Kasey Kahne, along with first time visitors Craig Dollansky, Jason Myers and Tony Jones-son of former "outlaw before they were outlaw" driver Bubby Jones. Danny Lasoski and J J Yeley are also going to compete. Last years Chili Bowl feature winner Corey Kruseman will not be back to defend his title as he will be "down under" in Austrailia, leaving car owner Andy Bondio looking for a top notch driver for his entry. No word on that driver as of now.
If you watched the Irwindale Silver Bullett race on ESPN2 several weeks back, you may have noticed they announced they will be showing the Chili Bowl one night later on sunday January 14th. The only races that the "total sports network" will be showing will be the two "B" features and the championship feature. This still makes the simulcast a great idea as you get to see the complete thursday and friday night preliminaries in their entirety and the whole saturday night program. For 2002 ESPN2 will show the Chili Bowl finale two weeks later.
In order to get the local press from OKC and Tulsa more involved in covering the Chili Bowl, Jack Hewitts two-seat sprinter will be on hand the tuesday night the week of the race to give rides to all press and media members. This should give those "less racing knowledgable" press members something to remember as you know they will be totally unaware of what to expect.
Randy Mooneyham has taken over the promoting duties at Monett Speedway in Monett Missouri. The track will run friday nights weekly, consisting of factory stocks, modifieds, cruisers and IMCA type late models, though it will not be IMCA sanctioned at this time. Monett will also hold sunday night specials, including at least one ASCS national tour race.
Joplin 66 Speedway announcer/promotor Mike Sweeton bugs to tell me that the big boys of the AMA motorcycles will invade the track on saturday night, June 2nd. The track will host their first ever ASCS speedweek race on wednesday night, July 18th.
Looks as if Lincoln County Speedway in Meeker Oklahoma will again be in operation for the 2001 race season. Playday will be held on March 24th and 31st at 2:00 pm with the season opener scheduled for April 6th at 7:30 pm. IMCA modifieds, factory stocks and mini stocks will be the classes of choice. For more information contact second year promotor Mike Howard (918) 866-2312.
Last, but not least, I would like to send congratulations to long time friend Danny Jennings on his marriage to Jaime Blair. Danny and his parents were the first racing people I ever met back in 1984 and I spent many a weekend traveling the NCRA champ car circuit with them. I consider Danny a very good friend and wish nothing but the best for the defending State Fair Speedway sprint car champion and former ASCS rookie of the year. Good luck to you Danny and Jaime and may God be with you always.
That's all I can do damage with for this year. Next column will be all the news and happenings from the Chili Bowl, along with news and notes from the Tulsa Shootout held the weekend before. I will also give any other news and quotes that may take place as, once December is complete, racing season starts only one month later. I hope everybody has a very safe and happy Holiday season and may Santa Claus give you all you wish for and may God bless you and yours during this special time of year. Please remember do NOT drink and drive around New Years and as always ,watch out for the other guy.
(October 30) Well hello from Midwest City and how is everybody. Well it is that depressing time of year when time has changed back an hour, the Dallas Cowboys continue to not only embarress themselves but their fans also and most importantly the end of another racing season. But with the bad there is some good as this is also the time of year when rumors run rampant throughout the racing community and with those who are committed to their racing, plans for the 2001 season seem to be finalized. This latest edition of OklahomaTidbits will focus on the final sprint races that I attended to close out not only the month of October, but race season also. I have what I think is an abundance of news, quotes and my usual off the wall predictions which, as a rule, has become fact. So let us get started shall we?
This past last weekend of October found OklahomaTidbits in a rather unusual predictament. The World of Outlaws made their annual year end Devils Bowl appearance for the Winter Nationals, which I have attended faithfully since 1983, the first year I was allowed to drive on my own. But a new twist this year found the annual Short Track Nationals for 360 type sprints at Little Rock Arkansas also on the same weekend. With reserved tickets for Devils Bowl (top row isle seats-can't pass that up) in hand, the choice was obvious. After had paid back in April for those tickets, would I miss my $32 six months later? After a long three minute descion on what to do, I had my answer. I would attend the WoO race at Dallas on friday night, then head east to I-30 Speedway in Little Rock for the final night of the Short Track Nationals, with an overnight stop in Texarkana along the way.
A hard twenty minute rain greeted me upon my arrival in Mesquite around 4:00 pm that friday afternoon and after my usual stop at "Catfish Cove" for an all you can eat buffet, the skies had cleared and off to the track I went. Forty-eight sprinters were on hand for the two nights of racing and knowing about the descion that faced alot of the top 360 drivers-who also compete in big outlaw events, my eyes were focused on who stayed to race in Dallas and who traveled to Little Rock. Among them notably absent from the outlaw race were Larry Neighbors, Zach Chappell, Jason Sides and former Devils Bowl track champion and WoO feature winner Gary Wright. Also missing were drivers racing for local Dallas car owners, newly crowned ASCS national champion Wayne Johnson in Fred and Jo Threatts F&J Construction sprinter and Travis Rilat aboard the Chris Archer entry.
One driver who did stay at Dallas and make car owner Lanny Row proud was Eunice Louisiana driver Jason Johnson, who finished third in the final ASCS national point standings. Jason finished a strong thirteenth place finish on friday nights preliminary and then had his best ever WoO finish on saturday night, coming home seventh-thus making his descion to stay in Dallas a profitable one. Jason will head west to race at Vegas with the WoO and do double duty as race driver and also will exchange wedding vowes with Bobbie Myers (former late Kevin Gobrecht fiancee). Oklahomatidbits wants to send the best of wishes to both as this writer got to know Jason very well on his first full season on the ASCS tour and also got to converse with Bobbie herself. Plans before the Dallas weekend were to have Jason continue driving for Lanny Row and compete at most ASCS sanctioned races next season, but the team will also head out east to Pennsylvania during speedweeks with the All-Stars, as Bobbie has family in that area. They also plan to compete in more outlaw events in this area. The current 2001 Builtwiser chassis, constructed by former Sammy Swindell crew chief Tony Wilson in Memphis Tennessee, was designed with alot of imput by Jason himself.
One noticable occurance witnessed by myself on friday night, and word from others who were there on saturday night, was the very disappointing crowd that attended. The track always had a strong opening night crowd on friday nights with saturday nights finale always a sellout. Whether the weather was a factor remains to be known, but I also feel that with Houston Raceway Park and Texas Motor Speedway all holding their two shows the same month, this could have very well been a major factor. To give those who have attended Devils Bowl, the old seats on the south end were almost completely empty while the top, where the new seats are, were filled-but not full.
The racing was not very enjoyable as the pre-race rains made the track fast but also one groove causing passing to be rare. The best part was seeing Daryn Pittman picking up his second preliminary feature victory of the season. He is one of the most smoothest young drivers out on the outlaw tour and with the right equipment could no doubt beat the veterans regularly.
Promotor Lanny Edwards recently purchased the land directly north of the track and has begun clearing the trees in the area which will serve as the new pit area, hopefully for next year.
Talked to long time friend and newly crowned WoO rookie of the year Danny Wood who says he is satisfied with his season, though he wishes he would have finished more consistantly up front. Danny is aggressively still in contact with reps from Pepsi and hopeful that they will come aboard with national sponsorship money for his second full season on the outlaw tour next year.
The World of Outlaws will again visit Devils Bowl Speedway twice next season, March 9-10 and October 26-27. Reserved tickets are on sale and can be made by calling the speedway office (972) 222-2421.
From there it was on to Motel 6 in Texarkana for an overnight stay before heading to one of my three favorite tracks, I-30 Speedway in Little Rock. Upon my arrival I found sixty-five sprints on hand for the second night of racing. Among them were the before mentioned drivers who were not at Dallas with the general consensus the same as the why. When you show up for an outlaw race, your already behind the eight ball against the top notch equipment and if your car isn't right, you have no hope in making the feature. About thirty of the drivers on hand during this weekend had a legitament chance at the $10,000 to win feature, which also paid $1200 just to start the feature. A driver (and car owner) can't ignore a purse like that.
One of the surprise visitors was St. Francis County Speedway track champion Tim Montgomery whose parents also own the Farmington Missouri based track. Tim tested a Ricky Stenhouse motor for the weekend as another driver complained it wouldn't run. Well the Missouri hot shoe was quick this night as he finished a strong fifth place in only his second 360 appearance of the season. Tim was so comfortable in both his 360 races that he is looking to venture away from the Farmington race track and compete in more 360 races with ASCS and the Missouri based WOO series next year.
Multi-time Devils Bowl Speedway track champion Kevin Ramey also made the trip to Little Rock with his two month old ASCS motor, which he last ran during the ASCS sanctioned Devils Bowl Nationals two weeks earlier. Kevin was fast all night and made the $1200 to start feature finale, finishing nineteenth. Kevin has always wanted to compete the full ASCS speedweeks tour but never had the motors or equipment to do so. But with another ASCS motor in the works, he plans to attend every ASCS speedweek race next season, while also competing at sanctioned races within a five hour drive from his Dallas home. He tells me he would race out of town more often but it is hard to pass up $1000 to win weekly sprint shows at Devils Bowl, which is only forty-five minutes from home.
The topless modifieds and stock car class were plentiful which made for a very very late night at Little Rock, with the sprint feature taking the checkard flag around 2:30 am, before the clocks were set back. Mike Ward used his outside front row starting position to take the lead at the start, a lead he would not be seriously challenged for the rest of the feature. It was incredibly Wards first ever Short Track Nationals, having competed in the previous nine. Congrats to Mike as this writer is glad to see him take the win. Gary Wright started on the pole but fell back two spots, eventually coming home with a third place finish behind Tim Crawley, who missed making friday nights preliminary feature event.
Tulsa Kenneth Walker also made his first trip to Little Rock since 1993, when he competed with ASCS in its earlier years. It was a pleasant surprise to see the two barrel and outlaw sprint competitor from Tulsa Speedway make the trip for 360 competetion, his second such venue in three weeks as he was also at Dallas for the ASCS Devils Bowl Nationals. Kenneth looked strong in the Eye Care of Tulsa based entry but barely missed the feature. Kenneth will continue to compete at Tulsa Speedway next season but also plans to compete at selected ASCS races in the area when schedule permits. Kenneth will hold a Tulsa Racecar Sale on saturday, November 11th from 10:00 am-6:00 pm at Econo Auto Painting in Tulsa. For more information contact him (918) 227-0081.
Again, even though it was an awfully long night at the track, it was still great to be there as it is one of my favorite tracks. I will have my chances again next year as ASCS has one race scheduled, with two more pending, for the 2001 season. Keep tuned to OklahomaTidbits and official press releases from ASCS for dates to be announced.
If negotiations can be agreed upon, look for the ASCS national tour to make their first ever appearance at a race track many said would never host a show. Details cannot and will not be announced until they are finalized as it also includes another series first ever visit to a racetrack in Oklahoma. Kind of a "this for that" if you will. I will say I am really really excited about this venture but unfortunately nothing more will become of it. Will explain more in next issue but it is rather interesting news.
Oklahoma City driver Robert Sellers, who this year competed in the OKC modifieds, winning five "A" Feature wins and also done driving duties in the two barrell sprint class around Oklahoma. He won eight features with seven of the sweeps (winning the heat race, trophy dash, and A feature), an A feature win at Tulsa and a trip to Coffeyville, Kansas, where he ended up finishing third, but led the whole race. Robert also won the Lincoln County Speedway track championship. With a solid season plans behind him, Robert has decided to make the big jump and compete full time on the ASCS national tour for the 2001 season, looking to gain series rookie of the year honors.
Speaking of ASCS and Oklahoma drivers, the series has formed a Sooner Region, which will hold fifteen to twenty races, all to be held on saturday nights. Tracks commited thus far are Creek County Speedway (two), Lawton Speedway (two), Oklahoma Motorsports Park in Ada and Ft. Smith with negotiations being made with Salina Highbanks, Enid and Mid America Speedway in Coffeyville Kansas, among others. These races will pay $1200 to win with $200 to start the feature. For more information contact the ASCS office (918) 838-3777 or Executive Regional Director Terry Schmidt (918) 371-1332. With State Fair Speedways descion to go to a Brodix spec head for next year, look for the disgruntled OKC sprint drivers to support the series. It should be a very profitable move for both the drivers and organization as the series really needed to have a home basis in the state.
Talking to Shane Carson, who I guess you would consider him a "retired" driver, who tells me his annual MAR-CAR promoted 'Bud Carson Memorial' featuring the WoO, is scheduled to be held on wednesday night, June 20th. Look for the non-wing two barrells to once again be the support division. Shane has nothing lined up as far as driving duties are concerned, so he really wants to promote special races at the fairgrounds, but convincing the board members of the facility to agree is yet another story.
As many of you followers of my column know, I generally make off the wall predictions, with some amazingly coming true and some nowhere close, so here is another one for you to ponder. Ray Evernham and Tyler Walker will team together on the 2001 USAC Silver Bullet Series.
Have you noticed the schedule for the dirt track at Texas Motor Speedway? It will be a dirt track lovers dream weekend as the HavATampa late models are scheduled to run March 28th, then the WoO will compete on March 29-30. NASCARS Busch series will run on March 31. The two premier dirt track series will once again team up later in the year, with the late models on September 13 and the sprints the 14-15. The Nastrucks will run September 16. Interesting.
Talked with NCRA president and 81 Speedway promotor C Ray Hall who gives me some hints for his 2001 race season. The SCRA west coast sprinters will be back, possibly on sunday night June 10th while the annual NCRA/All-Star Thunder tour will once again take place. For the first time in NCRA history, the series will have a booth set up at the PRI show in Indianapolis with Gary Wright having his outlaw sprinter on display. Also look for another NCRA speeweek series, more than likely to be held around the fourth of July. Was not told this but due to last years success, i feel it is almost a certain. C Ray will host a NCRA promotors meeting on saturday, November 4th, to get confirmation on dates for the series' outlaw sprint, sprint, late model and modified series.
Two day tickets for the O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, to be held January 11-13, will go on sale November 1st. To reserve your tickets contact the Chili Bowl office (918) 838-3777. Also don't forget that for the second straight year, the Chili Bowl will be available for simulcast. Last years simulcast seemed to go without any glitches and officials are expecting even more simulcast locations this year. If you are interested in holding a simulcast for your area, contact the Chili Bowl office. The simulcast would be ideal for banquets, meetings or company get togethers. Heck if you have enough friends and most are unable to make the journey to Tulsa, this would be a novel idea itself. I have no more than five friends so leaves me out of hosting one.
Finally there are several auctions and swap meets scheduled for the Oklahoma/Texas area. Joplin Speedway promotor Mike Sweeton informs of the 3rd Annual Ozark Motorsports Trade Show and Racers Auction on December 9 & 10 in Springfield, MO. It's a neat trade show and the auction has done real well the past two years. There were about 2,300 people through the show last year and this one should be even bigger. There is also a chassis seminar on Saturday night December 9 from 7:30 pm until 11:30 featuring guest speaker Jim Logue from AFCO Racing Products. Booth space is still available for the trade show and consignments are being accepted for the auction. Interested persons can call Danny Felker @ American Made Race Cars at 417-781-9926.
Also, Greg Deatherage will be having the following auctions/swap meets during the winter. Please make plans to attend...Nov. 17th and 18th in Wichita Falls, Tx. 4th Annual Texas Auto racers auction, Trade show, and swap meet, also on Sat. night there will be two seminars - Rex Merritt of Bilstein shocks and Eddie Martin doing a 3 hour dirt class. And Jay Watson and Bilstein doing a asphalt seminar. they both will be going on seperately costing $30.00. Also on Jan. 12 and 13th, during the day of the Chili Bowl (8am to 5pm) Greg will be promoting the Billy Moyer Chassis seminar at the Embassy Suites Banquet room in Tulsa, this will give racers a chance to go to the class during the day and attend the Chili Bowl at night.
Then again on Jan. 19th and 20th in Oklahoma City(OKC Fairgrounds) will be the 2nd annual auction, trade show and swap meet.All 3 events will be great for winter racing. Any questions people have can call Greg at 940-723-7241 days or 940-733-2843 cell.
Please make plans to attend.
That about does it for this edition of OklahomaTidbits. Remember if your interested in more racing news in the Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma area, make sure to subscribe to Jayhawk Racing Journal (785-282-6500) based out of Kansas. Make sure you tell them David Smith Jr. sent you. During the winter make sure you keep checking the official Oklahomatidbits website (www.oklahomatidbits.com) for all the late breaking racing news and 2001 track schedules as they are finalized. The way my site has taken off I really look for more tracks to send me results and race information to be able to give to you, the race fan.
In our year end December issue, I will have my best/worst and depressing recap for the 2000 season and my predictions on what could be a very interesting 2001 race season throughout the country. I hope everybody takes care and as always, watch out for the other guy.
(August 20)Well hello once again from Midwest City and how is everybody. Lots to cover this column, including my recent visit to Route 66 Speedway in Amarillo Texas with ASCS the week before the Knoxville Nationals, news and notes from the sixth annual 'Thunder Through the Plains' tour, featuring the All-Star Circuit of Champions and NCRA, plus other newsworthy 'tidbits'. This could be one of them long dragged out affairs so let's get started shall we?
The week before the nationals found me at the beautiful Route 66 Speedway in Amarillo Texas. Once I arrived on the east side of town I got my motel and headed to what I really wanted to do when I got there, go eat at the Big Tex. You've seen them signs off of I-40, free 72 oz steak if eaten in one hour. Well that ain't for me but, a chicken fry steak will always do the trick. I found out from earlier this season, when my family went with me, that they have probably the best chicken fry steaks in the country. A chicken fry as big as a regular sized plate with just enough room to put down a scoop of mashed potatoes. I am telling you the place is great and easy to find. Just look on the north side of the road for the big cowboy overlooking everything. The NCRA 360s will make their final appearance of the season at the track on September 15th so if your planning on attending, make sure you check out the Big Texan.
Afterwards it was on to the track. We were down on cars (19) but you only start twenty-four in a feature so whats the point in having more. Plus, I have always stated it doesn't matter how many cars you have, people remember if it was a great race. Well once again the track didn't disappoint in hosting another entertaining race as Terry Gray got caught behind a lapped car allowing Wayne Johnson to take the victory. Our races always brings the Amarillo crowd to their feet and once again we accomplished that. I do hope we are back next season as it is one of the first class facilities around.
The next night found me at Lawton Speedway for the second night of ASCS racing. The car count was up to twenty-three and a great crowd awaited us. Problem is the nigh was strung out and it was after midnight before were to get out of there. My favorite track (because of its quarter mile size and red clay) produced a Gary Wright feature victory. After the race there was some cockiness and let me say this, the season isn't over as there are still more races to go. Don't get too over confident in your quest for something cause it may not turn out the way you think.
The next weekend was the Knoxville Nationals. Several emails and phone calls had several people wanting me to show up and it almost worked for the saturday night finale, but the wishing of the kids kept me home all week, except for a fourty-five minute drive out to Meeker for the two barrell sprints. Another dry slick dusty track due to the water truck being broke down but there was passing in the feature. Twenty-one cars were on hand with twelve of them from Tulsa, who had the night off, and the rest from around the city area. Rafe Essary won the race which was announced to pay $1000 to win, but promotor decided he couldn't pay that much so the total was dropped. Promotors, don't mention a payout unless your positive you can pay the purse. You may have the cars now but chances are they won't be back next time.
The city area two barrell sprint drivers are trying to get organized for next season but every track wants to run them weekly, on saturday nights. If the area promotors can get together and run them once a month, the division will succeed. OKC also needs to go to the two barrell class and the car counts would no doubt double. But, when your averaging three thousand people on friday nights and have good car counts, why change. Well for one the pro stock division is a mess as far as rules go, there are way too many factory stocks competing and the 100 inch modifieds are getting too old. There have been some viscous crashes on the quarter mile and luckily drivers have survived. I just hope the old chassis doesn't really hurt anybody.
Next trip, the sixth annual Thunder Through the Plains tour featuring the All Stars against NCRA with the opener at Thunder Hill Speedway in Mayhetta Kansas. I once again was asked by the All Star officials before hand to do the stories for the week as their staff writer was unable to attend. This is the third year I have helped them and NCRA out as I always schedule my vacation for this period. We don't get to see that series but one week a year and this is it. I have only missed two shows in the six years of the weeklong series and it always brings out close competitive racing. A stroll through the area found me at a casino where I found nine sprint car haulers in the parking lot. I decided to try my luck on the quarter slots and with five dollars in I quickly gained sixty-five. Heck I could double that and actually did, but greed took over and two hours later I was back with what I came in with. While doing one of the slots, Dale Reed stopped by and bent my ear. Dale informs he is back living in the Wichita area after spending several years in the hills of Arkansas. Dale just never seems to age and looks really really good.
At the track, forty-four cars were signed in to the high banked oval. A great car count considering the WoO support series (known on the east coast as the 'Gummy Bear' series instead of Gumout) were just two hours north in Lincoln Nebraska. Come to find out during the Knoxville nationals, WoO competition director Bobby Jackson made the announcement that the Mayhetta race was cancelled so drivers could be at Eagle for their race. This brough about questions and luckily the NCRA trailer was at the nationals, where drivers and fans found out the race was still on, not cancelled. Another slick move by Teds boys to hurt the car count. On top of that, Eagle Raceway promotor Craig Cormack approached several drivers to come to Eagle Raceway instead of Mayhetta and he would pay them $100 show up money. A couple were NCRA regulars and they opted to stick with guarenteed $200 show up money and a chance to gain valuable series points. But all that wasn't the best part. The best part is that the promotors at Mayhetta spend over $10,000 advertising that Danny Lasoski would compete in Verne Masseys #20 sprinter, the one which Tony Stewart has interest in. Well Ted threatened to fine 'The Dude' and penalize him two hundred points if he competed, which led to Lasoski having to sign autographs instead of racing. The dictatorship continues but one day Teds luck will run out. This promotor is plenty wealthy and is persuing a lawsuit against this practice. I forget the nature of the lawsuit but several tells me it is in the law books but has never been tried. Danny, nor any of the outlaw drivers, are under a writtin contract so the threats Ted makes are unjustified. We will see what happens in the months to come and hopefully the World of Outlaw founder will meet his match. Turns out we didn't need any of those twenty-five cars the Gumount series had as we had our full field of forty-four. All Star points leader Kenny Jacobs took the lead on lap nine and held on for the victory in his quest for his second consecutive series championship.
Chico Californias Ryan Flynn made his first ever appearance for the week of Thunder. Ryan competed in 360s out on the west coast before moving up to the 410s just six months ago. Keep an ear open for this young driver as he has tons of potential once he gets that all important seat time.
At the race found several of the top ASCS drivers in competion, including Zach Chappell, Jason Sides, Jason Johnson, Wayne Johnson and Larry Neighbors. Sides and Jason Johnson would compete in all five races while school would cause Chappell to miss one race and a blown motor cause Wayne to miss the final three races. Neighbors would make all except the Tulsa finale.
It was then on to the motel for a rather relaxing night of sleep until that next morning. While wearing just socks, undies and a t-shirt, I was doing my daily setups to get this belly shrunk when the door became knocking. Figure it was the usual room service so I yelled out my usual, " I am not ready yet", to check out. Then I hear the mans voice saying "This is the county sheriff, could you open the door please?" While fumbling to put on my jeans, some reason I became sweaty. Geez did I flirt with somebody I shouldn't have? Opening the door I found out the last name of Smith has its disadantages. Seems they were looking for a lady who was escaped at she was in the area. Her last name of Smith. After searching my room he stopped and asked if I was at the races last night (Mayhetta). Told him I was, in fact, and he then responded to tell me his brother raced sprints cars but wasn't able to race due to lack of motors. Ain't no telling who you will meet when it comes to racing.
A quick exit found me on construction plagued I-70 on my way to the big half mile of Sedalia Missouri for night two of the week. Held on the Missouri State Fairgrounds, this race was held in conjunction with the Missouri State Fair, which brought motels to double their prices. Not me as I traveled one hour later closer to Kansas City for my motel. Mike Goodman won this race in front of a half full grandstands-which I am told seats close to fourteen thousand. Goodman finished second the night before at Mayhetta and was plenty fast this night. A scary wreck in the B feature saw last years NCRA rookie of the year Jason Sides and Michael Lambert getting together coming down the front stretch on the final lap. Both were fighting for that final transfer spot when Michael hooked a wheel and started flipping, getting so much air that would even make Michael Jordan proud. Both cars came to a stop entering turn one with Michael upside down in his destroyed sprinter with fuel pouring out. Fellow Tulsa driver Matt Saint was also caught in the brew-haha and while rescue workers just stood in amazement of the wreck, Matt ran over to the semi conscious Lambert and pulled him from the car before rescue workers finally decided to get to the car. Michael was complaining of pain in his legs, back and neck but was later released from a local hospital. Michael would come back to compete in the final race of the week at Tulsa, driving one of Zach Chappells back up cars. He was walking awlful careful and stiff, still plenty sore from his crash four nights earlier. As we mentioned in previous column he is looking into obtaining an ASCS 360 motor and do some racing there while still campaigning his outlaw motor. Was glad to see Michael up and "limping" around cause his accident was a tough one. During the night, current ASCS points leader Wayne Johnson blew his motor in his heat race, causing him to load up the F&J Construction sprinter and head home, out of 410 motors. Wayne is contemplating running the NCRA outlaw division full time next year.
The next night was on to Salina Speedway in Salina Kansas for the third stop on the tour. Down on cars (thirty-nine) but not excitement as one of the original outlaws, Danny Smith, and Minnesotas Travis Whitney put on a good show. Danny led the first eleven laps before Whitney led laps twelve through twenty-two before he blew a tire causing him to stop on the track. This gave the lead to Danny, who then had to hold off a hard charging Travis Rilat. Travis, in his first season running with NCRA, challenged Smith the final six laps before his right rear blew on the final lap in turn two. Travis went from a sure runner up finish all the way down to twenty-second.
It was a great race but there was one pet peeve. Promotors, when holding a special event, run that feature first before you run your support classes features. On this night it was the cruisers and on this night they took up way too much time, much to the displeasure of a bunch of fans around me. Those after midnight features aren't good for anybody, especially the travelers who may re-think their plans next year.
A thursday off found me to regroup around the house before a friday night visit to the home of 'Thunder Through the Plains' 81 Speedway in Wichita Kansas. Thirty-four cars were signed, including a winless Gary Wright. However Gary Wright and Wichita were made for each other and after waiting sixteen laps, took the lead from race long leader Kelly Kinser with a beautiful sling-shot move in turns three and four. Gary has won the last three Thunder stops at the track and wrapped up his eighth consecutive NCRA championship. Gary had his familier Davey Ochs wrenching throughout the week. Davey caught up to Gary during the nationals and was with him through the Tulsa finale on saturday night. Crew chief Bobby Kraft has left the Wright team and went back down to the Houston area and driver John Bankston.
Pennsylvania driver Todd Gracy set fast time on the night in his FORD powered sprinter. Todd is running for All-Star rookie of the year honors and told me he has really struggled this season. Todd ran the Cooper Ford in that state from '94-97 before breaking his neck, putting him on the sidelines. This is his first year back with the team and was his first ever appearance during the Thunder tour.
Want to give kudos to 81 Speedway promotor (and NCRA president) C Ray Hall. There were close to forty cruisers on hand and he elected to run their heats in between time trials, heats, dash and features for the sprints and got them out of the way before he continued with the three features for the cruisers. Made it nice for those of us who travel to be able to see what came to see and not having to stay after midnight.
From there it was on to Tulsa Speedway for the thunder finale with forty cars and an exellent crowd in attendance, which was really nice to see for the promotor who is really struggling for attendance on his saturday night sprint program. The day was hot and windy and, well, thats all I can say positive for the finale. You knew it wouldn't be much when the infield announcer (I call them "Mr. Microphones" as you give them a cordless mic and they think they are something important)said there was a table set up at the gate entrance asking people to sign a petition to get the best sprint car drivers back to Tulsa. To me, if I were the All-Stars or NCRA, I would take that as a slap in the face to organize something like that. Plus the infield announcer basically saying they weren't happy with what they had. They are said to be delivering the petition to Ted Johnson at Las Vegas in October to get him to bring the outlaws back. I fully understand that the WoO makes promotors money but face reality, no matter how much we sprint fans want them to go back to Tulsa, it isn't happening. Do they have a paper shredder in the corporate suites at Vegas? Back to the track, I guess thats what it was, yes maybe the weather had something to do with it, but I feel that is no logical excuse. This isn't the first time the track was like it was and some of those times it had rained during the week. Time to change the subject.
And now, on to the real news and notes.
Well it seems sprint car owner Joe Landen has re-thought of permamently parking the sprinter drivin by Foster Landen. Joe tells me he bought his boat and things are going great, but he really misses the time with his son at the race track. He tells me he is looking for a new enclosed trailer, Missouris Travis Mise bought the other one he had for sale, and he will run Foster at Tulsa in a 410 until they get their trailer. Right now plans for next year include a variety of sprint races, whether its outlaw or 360s, they could try them both. But Joe really likes the ASCS series so I woold look for him back on the circuit next year. They are still bothered by the Salina Highbanks fire of Jason Johnson as there was lots of finger pointing in that deal. Drivers make mistakes, especially those with not much seat time, but the fact is all drivers "step on their wienee at one time or another. Drivers shouldn't be too quick to critisize as all have made their fair share of mistakes. Hell some veterens with many years still do. Hang in there Foster and Joe, it will be good to have you back.
Charlie Peters informs his son Chuck is going to compete full time on the NCRA 360 tour next season. Chuck competes at various two barrell sprint shows and also races occasionaly at OKC. Charlie is very instrumental on getting local saturday night tracks in the area to run the two barrells once a month and is one of the reasons as to their success in this area.
Another OKC driver is making a change. Mike Johnson has decided to not run weekly at OKC and not chase the NCRA 360 points as he is running out of funds. Mike is now searching for sponsorship and equipment to run alot of ASCS sanctioned races next season. Mikes brother Wayne is the current ASCS points leader.
And yet another OKC driver, Marcus Jackson, is said to be tired of the weekly crap at OKC and will move to the outlaw type sprints. They plan to compete full time on the NCRA outlaw tour and spend time at Tulsa Speedway on saturday nights. It is not known whether Marcus will be back with Don Strawn next year or not. Fellow OKC racer Travis Scott has made that move to the outlaw sprints and competes weekly at Tulsa.
The ongoing sage at OKC continues. Is Bruce Holtz out or is he going to be? He is under contract with the State Fair but does that mean he has to run the track? I hear the horse stables on the fairgrounds is in desperate need of cleaning up so there is a possibility. No use in beating a dead horse about that situation. Lets keep going shall we?
Understand new Joplin Speedway promotor Mike Sweeton has his requests in to host the west coast non-wingers of SCRA next year. Is this true Mike? If so, better start tilling and watering the track now. Haven't talked to Mike in some time but will catch up with him when ASCS makes their final appearance of the season there on saturday night, September 9th. ASCS always puts on a good show at the track so hope to see alot of you there.
Shane Carson getting two WoO races next season, with it possibly a two day show? It is being talked about but nothing, that is nothing, is official and won't be until November. Shane is still trying to get the fairboards approval for his winter nationals to be taking place the weekend of October 21st. Fairboard is saying they have a big horse show that weekend and the MAR-CAR promotor is telling them this is race cars outside, not anything to do with the other buildings on the grounds.
I still say the WoO sanction of the Knoxville Nationals are numbered. The new dirt track in Nashville will not be built until next year as they are concentrating on their pavement track. Atlanta Motor Speedway is also building a new dirt track facility and there could be some local involvement in that track.
Look for female sprint racer Stephanie Chappell to compete with ASCS at Lone Star Speedway in Kilgore Texas on saturday and sunday night, September 2-3.
The ASCS region one is back, this time under the guidance of Colorado sprint car driver Jim Starr. Jim is the new region one co-ordinator for the series, which sanctions ASCS races in Colorado, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Canada. To find out more about the series contact Jim, (303) 429-3974.
That's about all I can think of as far as the sprint car news go. A big thank you to the sixty-four different drivers from thirteen states that made the Thunder Through the Plains tour yet another big success. A big thank you to Bert and Bridgette Emic of the All-Stars and their staff writer Scott Hall, along with NCRA president C Ray Hall and their staff writer John Rittenoure for again asking my assistance in covering the tour. It is probably the most underrated tour for outlaw type spritns in the United States as each year it keeps getting bigger and better.
Creek County Speedway will host the Supernationals for modifieds, paying $1000 to win and $100 to start the feature on saturday night, September 2nd. There will be no claiming that night and drivers will draw for position and run on the passing point system. I know nothing but I do get the feeling there will be an Oklahoma based modified series. Just one of them, "vibes" a man gets.
October 26-28 will find Salina (OK) Highbanks Speedway hosting a three night, $5000 to win, $500 to start feature for the modifieds. That should bring cars from throughout tens states.
As of right now ASCS is off the weekend of September 22-23 and if that is the case, look for myself and 'OklahomaTidbits' to be at State Fair Speedway for the NCRA modifieds and late models,covering the race for NCRA. It is always a great time during the running of the State Fair and an average of 80 modifieds and 40 late models is the norm. If anyone from the internet or Jayhawk Racing Journal is planning on attending and want to meet up, I will announce where in next column. All of this is if ASCS can't schedule replacement dates cause of the Tulsa Fairgrounds cancellation that weekend.
Gary Holt and Jim Word are the new promotors at Lake Country Speedway in Ardmore. The track was gracious enough to host the two barrell sprints weekly, the first track this side of Tulsa to bring them in. Am told there are lots of stuff in the works for next season and it should all be good.
Lanny Edwards is not selling Devils Bowl Speedway and that means he is NOT going to turn Lawton Speedway into a half mile track, as rumors have had it.
On the same note, promotors at the Walters drag strip tell me they are not building a dirt track, at this time. Understand they are building another drag strip however. If they ever do build a dirt track, look for lots of former Wichita Falls dirt trackers to compete there.
Thats about does it for this column. Hope everybody has a great rest of the month of August and make sure you enjoy the racing as season is just aout done for. Hope everybody takes care and as always, watch out for the other guy.
(July 26)Well hello once again from Midwest City and how is everybody. Well ASCS speedweeks have came to an end, along with the driving to and from work during the week, to each race. Among some of the highlights that did occur during my driving was the fact I heard some old songs that really fit the situation. The twin fiddles and steel guitars of "Much too young to feel this damn old", "Ridin my thumb to Mexico", "Amarillo by Morning", and "Everywhere." To me those are probably the best traveling tunes around. Of course sounds of Metalica and Creed greeted us in those 'tough to keep my eyes open' moments in the middle of the night. Lots of racing and traveling and some news that came out of them so let's get started shall we?
Batesville Speedway in Batesville Arkansas was again the ASCS speedweek opener. This track, which is best known for it's late model racing, had a much better race than last years with North Carolina driver Billy Wilburn taking his first career ASCS sprint car feature. Billy is a regular in the ASCS South Eastern Tour and spends his sundays changing front tires for NASCAR star Rusty Wallace. Billy says he was totally stunned and speechless when he had stopped on the front stretch as he had no idea he just beat the best the ASCS had to offer-which included Gary Wright. Billys speedweek would last only five races as he flipped off of Salina Highbanks turn four on wednesday night, loaded up, and went home.
West Memphis was the next stop as a noon barbque dinner awaited drivers and race fans who were attending the nights second speedweek stop. Wayne Rhodes, owner and founder of "The Hunting Catalog" sponsored the event which saw a great turn out of drivers and fans. You can check out what the Hunting Catalog has to offer at their website www.thehuntingcatalog.com. One of their highlights is a scope mounted on a rifle that allows the hunter to take a picture of his game before he pulls the trigger.
Upon my visit to West Memphis was pleased to see long time friend Kevin Eckert, driving all night from a Bloomington Indiana non wing sprint car race. Kevin lets nothing stand in his way when ASCS comes to "The Ditch" and it was my pleasure of watching the nights racing together. Kevin is the editor of "Flat Out Illustrated", a pictorial magazine of past and present of sprint and midget racing across the United States. Some pictures have never been seen before and has complete descriptions of the significance of the picture. To subscribe call 1-800-536-5277. Cost is $10, for one year and six issues. Give it a try as you won't be disappointed.
After my son told my wife he was rather upset I would not be home to watch his AAU championship games on sunday afternoon, I then drove all night home after West Memphis and saw my sons team win two games, the final one for the National AAU Championship for 8 yr machine pitch. The team won and are what you call national champions. Was a smart move on my part for putting racing to the side for something I know I, and my son, will remember always. My son caught all eight games that were played over the four days and I couldn't be prouder. Thanks to Don Hubbard for taking care of the Monett ASCS story while I was away.
Creek County Speedway gave me my first chance to see Stephanie Chappell in a sprint car. Stephanie made her debut at Monett where she made the feature. The seventeen year old micro piolot served notice to all drivers (and fans) with her fast, but smooth driving abilities. Thursday night in Paris Texas she even passed two of her male counter parts to pick up her first career sprint car win, this coming in the B feature. The win was popular amongst the near capacity Paris crowd as she recieved a standing ovation. With the advice and guidence her parents will give her, look for Stephanie to climb the latter to success slowly but surely and taking all the right steps in her sprint car career. Her father David, you might say is "retired" drove modifieds and the old champ dirt cars before moving to sprints back in the early 90's. Davids son Zach is currently running for series rookie of the year honors and is currently a strong fifth in the point standings, getting faster and faster each race. Notice David has grown more gray hairs as the season has progressed.
Another Tulsa area rookie, Foster Landen, is in the middle of one of them mid summer rookie learning curves. Foster has tons of talent, as mentioned many times before in OklahomaTidbits, but seems to be over anxious behind the wheel. Foster was in the middle of Jason Johnsons fiery Salina Highbanks crash, but not the lone cause of the accident. Foster will slow down and get faster as the year rolls around and I feel there is not major concern about his driving at all. I remember Andy Hillenburgs first sprint car race (well couple of races) as Andy hit any and everything on the track. Andy gained experience has races and years rolled around and today is probably the best known Tulsan to ever have raced with the WoO. Fosters father Joe is one of the nicest men you could ever face and is the bank president in Collinsville Oklahoma. Maybe I could give him some of my banking business. Got to patronize those in our sport ya know.
The seventh stop of speedweeks was a rather interesting spectical. Devils Bowl Speedway, or as Dallas folks like to call it "The Bowl", brought a fast track with lots of passing and a chance for one veteren sprint car driver to find out what can happen when driving your rig on Lanny Edwards parking lot. Gary Wright finally got passed Terry Gray late in the race in a battle that saw side by side racing for the lead. Wayne Johnson and Larry Neighbors started on the last two rows of the feature and was both up in the top fifteen before a bad ignition switch ended Neighbors run. Wayne came through to finish fifth in Fred and Jo Threatts F&J Construction sprinter.
The night wasn't over for Rager however. The former Indy 500 veteren, known for qualifying at Indy using a used school bus motor back in 1981 (and making the field) were leaving the track, cutting through the parking lot. For those who do not know, Lannys parking lot is sacred ground and is only meant for fans-without the motorhomes. Lanny then chased down Ragers rig on his four wheeler, stopped him, and informed him he would not hesitate in having him arrested for tresspassing. A humbled Rager was then escorted out the track, where Lanny took him and his trailer to a very tight fitting exit, causing the trailer to be heavily dented and scrapped down the side. He says he will be back next year for a return visit.
But the best part of "Ragers Tales" was the night before at Paris. After recieving what he thought was a rather rough passing attempt, Roger went to the car in question right before the start of the B feature, promptly picked up the sprinters front end with driver strapped in, brought it to his chest, then promplty held it with on hand and told the driver it better not happen again. The young driver then went to ASCS founder and president Emmett Hahn to tell him what happened. Not believing this story, Emmett then went to Ragers trailer and a friendly wager was made that he could not do the same to Gary Wrights sprinter. Roger promptly walked over the Garys sprinter, picked it up by the front end, then let it down. Said Rager afterwards, "Emmett, I found out one thing. Garys car is fifty pounds lighter than mine." Rager was so impressed with the drivers and staff of ASCS that he informs he will run full time with the series next season. Roger is from the old school and when they tell you something, take it to the bank. He predicts the future of the outlaw type sprinters is not good, saying there won't be a weekly scale of outlaw type sprinters in two years.
Gary Wright, who won the speedweeks title for the second straight year, was quoted in the Texarkana paper that ASCS speedweeks is the most underrated sprint car event in the nation. This coming from the driver who won a World of Outlaws, All Stars, NCRA and ASCS feature in one year, and done it twice. Look for major news concerning next years speedweeks soon as it will become the best yet.
Thats the wrap on ASCS speedweeks, a rather successful speedweeks as far as crowds and cars participating go. Here is other news from around the Oklahoma area that we have learned.
Jack Moulton of Oklahoma City has decided to retire. Jack first drove motorcycles back in 1971 before making the move to the 100 inch modifieds at OKC. In 1984 he then moved to the champ dirt division, a year in which I had the pleasure of meeting. Jack was the third driver I had ever met, with Ricky Jennings and Steve Carithers the other two. Jack started racing 410s back in the mid 1990s and always supported the Dallas, OKC and Tulsa outlaw specials. Jack will concentrate his time at his new business venture, Imperial Trailers in west Oklahoma City. Imperial Trailers is a rather new trailer business specializing in horses, but has also been assembling racing trailers. Best of luck to you Jack and hope to see you around the track.
Michael Lambert of Tulsa informs that making the June northern tour with the NCRA outlaws should have been done years ago. Michael says he has enjoyed this year in racing more than any other and has learned a great deal. He feels it has made him a faster and smarter driver, something which I have thought for years. You stay at one track every week and you get only as good as your competition. Michael says he has also heard so much good news about ASCS that he will build a motor and run selected races with the series next year. Michaels brother Jimmy retired at the end of last season, a year in which also saw him compete full time on the NCRA outlaw series.
Congratulations to Darrin Steward and Craig CrystaI on their first career sprint car wins in the outlaw and champ sprint divisions respectively at Tulsa Speedway recently. Darrin is the younger brother of WoO support series regular Shane Stewart while Craig is a former regular with ASCS.
From information I have gathered, dont look for the WoO to be sanctioning the Knoxville Nationals either next year or 2002. Talk is of a rival National type race to be held in Nashville Tennessee at a track to be built. I have said several times before that the face of sprint car racing, on a national level, is fixing to change. For the best? Depends on what you expect.
I still say Earl Baltes will retire after his one million to win late model race in October. I have been wrong many times before but my contact seems to have it as the gospel.
Creek County Speedway in Kellyville is no longer IMCA sanctioned as far as the modifieds go. I understand that the claiming is getting way out of hand at many tracks in the Oklahoma and Texas area, scaring alot of drivers away. I haven't heard of NCRA having any sort of trouble with their modified class, which fields over forty modifieds per race. Paying $2000 to win at OKC sees NCRA have car counts above eighty which this driver insists that if the track would hold specials for the cars, they would average over seventy a race. Again, IMCAs on the half mile and the two barrel sprints on the quarter mile oval, paying $1000 to win. I still say what a novel idea.
Could there be a new modified series being founded in this state? Stay tuned.
In schedule changes concerning NCRA, the August 20 NCRA vs. MLRA Late Model challenge at State Fair Speedway in Sedalia, Missouri has been cancelled as has the August 12 modified series event at Tulsa Speedway is also cancelled. The NCRA 360s will again visit Route 66 Speedway in Amarillo on saturday night, Sept. 16th. Thirty-three cars particiapted the last time the series visited the track back in early July.
Shane Carson has about wrapped up helping his wife Debbie getting things situated back in South Carolina. Debbie lost her father back in mid June and the two have spent the past month taking car of family business. You might not see Shane behind the wheel of a sprint car this season (for the first time in his career if I recall) but you can look for him to be making announcements on his "second" annual Winter Nationals soon. Pro Stock, factory stocks and IMCA modifieds are just of a few of the classes that will run, as is the non wing NCRA type 360s on the quarter mile. Serious talk has the ASCS sprints on the quarter mile also. Would love to see it a two day ASCS event with the top four locked into saturday nights main. Wing and non winged sprints on the quarter mile. Dang why can't Shane be the regular promotor at State Fair Speedway. Stay tuned to Oklahoma Tidbits for more information as it becomes available.
Creek County Speedway has added factory stocks to their weekly saturday night division
We spoke of speedweeks a little earlier and forgot to mention that NCRAs first ever speedweeks for the outlaw sprints was a huge success. Over thirty cars were the rule. Too bad those extra five laps at OKC for the feature caused four drivers to tear up their cars and sent Mike Peters to the hospital. Normally they run 25 laps on the big half mile, but it was decided that night to run thirty.
Don't forget this weekends Hutchinson Nationals begining thursday night, July 27th -29th. The NCRA 360s, modifieds and late models are the hightlight of the weekend.
The NCRA outlaws will be back in action (and end their season) with the annual NCRA/All Star Thunder Through the Plains" tour from monday night August 14th-19th. I have again been asked by Scott Hall, staff writer for the All Stars, for my assistance in covering the weeks races, which I have followed since its inception back in 1995. I will miss the final two races, I think, as I may make my first trip out to eastern Tennessee for the two day ASCS events. The begining of the thunder tour on monday shall be interesting as the two series will be at Thunder Hill Speedway in Mayhetta Kansas while the World of Outlaw support series will be at Eagle Speedway in Lincoln Nebraska the same night. People I have talked to say they will follow the thunder tour instead.
Mike Sweeton is now new promotor at Joplin Speedway. Mike, best known for his announcing at the Chili Bowl and at Joplin, will now be in charge of day to day operations of the track. Nothing major will change at this time as Mike is taking care of some unfinished business at the track. Hope his promoting goes better than his announcing does. Whoops, there goes my saturday night spot next to him at the Chili Bowl. Sincerley, good luck Mike on your new venture and hope everyone makes it up to Joplin before the season ends. ASCS will be there this saturday night, July 29th.
Don't forget the third annual 'Tulsa Nastalgia Night' on saturday night August 26th at Tulsa Speedway. The members of the Kansas Antique Racers are also expected to be on hand. I will once again have to miss out as we (ASCS) will be in Fayettville Arkansas that night. Please make your plans to be a part of the nastalgia night as some of the restoration of the old midgets, coupes, sprints and supers are just fascinating.
Speaking of nastaligia, I would love to see all those who will be attending the upcoming Belleville Midget Nationals and Knoxville Nationals to either become members of both hall of fames, or just donate at least $20 if your already a member. I am a strong believer in preserving the past and just think, if every person would donate at least $20, that could go along way to helping do just that.
In closing I want to wish sincere condolences to the family and friends of Pete Frazier. I first remember watching Pete compete in modifieds at Tulsa before he was hired to replace Jerry Stone in the Ofixco champ dirt car back in 1985 when 'Stoney' moved to race sprints in Pennsylvania. Pete later founded Factor One chassis for micros and was also a tough competitor in those cars throughout the nation. Pete died in injuries suffered in a crash at Dutton Speedway in Ft. Cobb on sunday night, July 23rd. Rest in Peace Pete.
All for this edition. Next we will recap what is happening on the ASCS national tour, along with recaps of the annual NCRA/All Star Thunder tour. Again when you see the blue Dodge Intripid with sprint car etchings on the back window, honk and say hello or show my that number one finger. Then again, when you see me at the side of the road with transmission problems, honk and laugh on your way by and until next time and as always, take care and watch out for the other guy.
(June 27)Well hello once again from Midwest City and how is everybody. A little bit of racing and ALOT of rainouts as this seems like early spring, not begining of summer. The Dodge Intripid has alot of miles already racked up and it is just about time to give it up in a trade in. Would like a FORD Explorer but I am really afraid that I will tip it over with the way I turn corners. Guess I could stick with a new version of the Intripid. Then again, getting back my old El Camino would suit me just perfect. Not alot of actual racing news this time, but some information that I think is rather interesting but you may not. Well lets quit jabbering about it and get started shall we?
Shane Carsons MARCAR promoted World of Outlaw race at Oklahoma City FINALLY became a success this past thursday night (June 22). But the kicker is that the original scheduled race got rained out. It looked clear sailing on this night, around 4:00 pm, but just one hour later actual storm clouds and heavy rain was only ten minutes away. Didn't look good but guess mother nature is starting to take a liking to sprint car racing also as it blessed us with a perfect night weather wise. An estimated crowd of 8,000 people was treated to some of the best sprint car racing the WoO had performed at the half mile track in at least ten years. Yes the heats and the dash were a parade, but the vocal crowd got what they paid for come feature time.
Andy Hillenburgs victory was the first by an Oklahoma driver in the twenty years that the WoO have been coming to OKC. However it was not the first Oklahoma claimed victory as Johnny Herrera drove former OKC car owner Jeff Gilliams sprinter to victory back in 1992.
Interestingly enough, the "most powerful person" in sprint car racing, Ted Johnson, was not in attendance. Kind of a wise descion as the die hard sprint car fans in this city (not to mention surrounding states) still haven't forgot last Octobers screw job. OKC fans can be outspoken and viscious at times, hence the 1986 near-lynching of the late great Rich Vogler when stuffing crowd favorite Jon Johnson against the backstretch guardrail in the USCA/NCRA silver crown race. I can kinda remember back in '69 when Wayne Cox and Harold Leep took each other out in turn four at the track. I remember the crash, then remember my parents rushing down the isle when a near riot broke out. Needless to say, Hillenburgs victory had the crowd on its feet with approval.
Back to Vogler, sadly, it was ten years ago this July when he suffered his crash. He has not, and never will be forgotten-whether we liked his driving or not.
Though Mr. Ted was not in attendance, those close to the situation told me that didn't stop Teds "boys" to make it rough on Carson as they constantly harrassed him. Over hearing this, one of the outlaw wives grabbed one of the officials and actually gave him a piece of her mind. Finding this out, and due to what all that has happened to Shane the past couple of seasons, Hillenburg was very adement on how happy he was for not only the crowd, but also Shane for finally getting in a race. I am also told that corporate sponsors Ingersol-Rand and Luxaire, which have offices here, are not very happy that the WoO are not in Oklahoma more than once a year. Hopefully this will bring the WoO back to the city twice a year begining next season.
Got to chat a few with friend Tina Jacobs, wife of Dean. She says his spirits are alot better now that Robert Hubbard is back as his crew chief, Robert and Dean teamed up back in ('96?) for an OKC All Star/NCRA thunder victory. Hopefull this will bring top ten finishes (and victories) to Jacobs and the Holbrook team.
Friend K.B Hennessee has left the PEPSI team of Danny Wood. K.B. decided to stay home and spend time with his kids, a responsability alot of people should consider. David Lee Lambert, son of OKC veteren David Lambert, will now be crew chief for Danny until school starts in September. Danny started twentieth in the feature and had a strong run to finish eighth in front of the hometown crowd.
Gary Wright was going to compete, but motor problems in hot laps trailered the "Dream Weaver" leaving this writer to wonder about the rest of the season. Gary seems to be having more mechanical gremlins this year than I can ever remember.
An added treat on this night was the non wing OKC/NCRA type 360s with the growing two barrel sprints also invited. Forty-two drivers were on hand to tackle the quarter mile, paying $2000 to win. Congratulations to Rafe Essary for picking up the hard earned victory. "Lightnin" Leon Bacon put on a charge from the back and I guarentee if there were three more laps, he would have passed Rafe. Another driver who really caught my eye was Craig Crystal. Craig was running in the top five for over half of the race before being involved in a crash.
Among the out of state hot shoes that made the trip was two time IMCA sprint car champion Johnny Miller. His car owner emailed several times just itching for a chance to compete wingless on the quarter mile. Johnny finish a strong fourth. Bryson Oeshger of Amarillo, Jeff Day of Greenville, Chad Cavett of Rockwall and Jerry Bell of Rowlett also made the trip from Texas. Surpisingly enough, only one Kansas car, Larry Carter of Independence, competed.
Nothing is confirmed at this time, but there is talk of a winter nationlas race in October. My thoughts were to bring in the IMCA modifieds and run heat races for them on friday night, then features on saturday night. Those thoughts seemed to have brought some interest. Other classes being considered are the ASCS on the quarter mile for one night, then the non wing 360s the next night. If the winter nationals are scheduled, I am positive that the Pro Stocks and Factory stocks would also be added.
Through the grapevine, I am hearing that vintage sprints, midgets, supers and jalopies would also be on display during this time.
Could SCRA be headed back to Texas and Oklahoma next year? Reliable sources inform me that Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth is very interested in the west coast non-wing sprint car organization. Shane is also entertaining the thoughts of bringing them back to OKC. All of this, if it happens, could be part of the Non Wing World Championship (NWWC). Could somebody please set a date at the best little track in Oklahoma, Lawton Speedway?
For the first time since 1992, I caught my first non wing outlaw sprint car action this past sunday night at 81 Speedway in Wichita. Thirty-one drivers competed with only four of those being local area drivers. Among them were Steven King, Kirby Hagens, Mike Peters and Patrick Prescot. Thats right city fans, Patrick Prescot. I was unable to make it down to the pits to chat with this driver who seemed to have a bright future in the sport twelve years ago. He did have his sprinter 4-sale however so he may not be getting back into racing.
I was naturally pleased to see the west coast sprinters back in the area as they definately do not follow the leader. There red flag rules are different from the rest of the sprint organizations as they allow drivers to change tires without sending them to the tail of the field on the restart.
Had the pleasure to meet Ken Wagner of the internet "Wagtimes" website. He informed me he was living in Tulsa from 1970-1975 before moving back home to California.
During this night I was able to talk to NCRA president C. Ray Hall and asked him the reasons to the cancellation of the NCRA outlaw race at Muskogee. He told me promotor Harold Leep (my favorite driver growing up) was concerned about the car count for the division, which he has a valid point. Hell the Tulsa regulars parked their cars during the series opener at Tulsa back in May as only ninteen cars were on hand. C.Ray made it known to myself that he will do whatever it takes to keep the outlaw division alive. What more can the guy do, he is paying $500 just to start the feature. One problem is the only closer track running 410s is in Farmington Missouri and of course Knoxville Iowa. At least he doesn't have to worry about car counts in the other three divisions as all of them are averaging over thirty a race.
Tulsas Zac Coats has ran out of finances and has parked his ASCS sprinter for a while. Zac had high hopes of obtaining rookie of the year honors with ASCS, but just was never able to have things go his way. Really feel bad for Zac as he tried his best night in and night out, only to have the "little things" happen to him. Hope he will make it back out on the tour later in the year.
Stephanie Chappell, daughter of "retired"? sprint car driver David Chappell of Talala, will compete in sprint car competition for the very first time during the ASCS tenth annual STP speedweeks, coming in July. Last year her brother, Zach-who is competing for series rookie of the year honors this season, also made his first serious effort of his sprint car career during speedweeks, qualifying for every feature held. I wish lots of luck to Stephanie and if things go right, ASCS could have their third female series regular to compete with the series. Rosemary Ehrnfeld (two years ago) and Mary Anne Williams are regulars in the ASCS South Eastern Tour, with races held in North Carolina.
Saw Mark Evans, founder of the now defunct ASCOF series, in the I-44 Speedway results which gives me the urge to ask the question, "Wheres the money?"
Danny Jennings as decided he will chase his second straight OKC sprint car championship and since he missed one NCRA 360 race already, feels his chances for that title are slim.
I do want to end this column by sending condolences to Debbie Carson, wife of Shane, as she lost her father passed away June 18th in North Carolina. It was a hectic week for the Carson family as they had to deal with press conferences for their WoO show and set up funeral arrangments. Again "OklahomaTidbits" wants the Carsons to know we are thinking about them.
I told ya there wasn't too much news in this edition of "Oklahoma Tidbits." Lots of racing coming up in the month of July with NCRA and ASCS speedweeks taking place. Believe it or not there is only two more months of weekly racing left as it is dang near August already. Keep looking for that blue Dodge Intripid and give me a honk, a wave or just roll down the window and let me know that I am number one and until next time-as always, watch out for the other guy.
(June 7)Hello everybody from Midwest City and how is everyone. Well here it is already June and believe it or not, the weekly season is almost half over now and as always this time of year, car counts should start being low in different classes. Worn cars and parts and sometimes drivers cause the drivers to sit out a few weeks and then come back towards the end of the year. That also shows one other thing, it is almost time for summer camp for pro football. My Dallas Cowboys got rid of Irvin and Dion, but we still have "coach" Aikman.
Some 'tidbit' stuff for you this issue so lets get started shall we?
I want to start out by saying "congratulations" to Aaron and Brandi Berryhill, as the Mrs. gave birth to their first child, a bouncing baby girl, 'Pressly Lee' at noon on monday, June 5th. To follow that up, Aaron won his first NCRA outlaw win for the 2000 season at Dakotah North Dakota the next night. Aaron and his Court Grandstaff owned team seems to be getting dialed in, just in time for the big sprint shows here in the Oklahoma and Texas area.
I would also like to congratulate my all-time favorite driver, Harold Leep, for officially being inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville Iowa. My parents first took me to OKC weekly in 1969-1977 and Harold was the favorite of mine all the way until he retired (or slowed down) back in 1985.
Current American Sprint Car Series points leader Jason Johnson of Eunice Louisiana informs his car owner Lanny Row of Greenville Texas is putting together an outlaw motor and will be in competition for MARCAR promotor Shane Carsons World of Outlaw race at Oklahoma City on wednesday night, June 21st. Half priced children tickets can be purchased at all O'Reilly Auto Parts stores in Oklahoma. Advanced general admission tickets are on sale for $26 by calling (405) 948-6800. It will be the outlaws first and only appearance in Oklahoma this season. NCRA and OKC type 360s will be the support division and will be held on the quarter mile. Let's hope we get excellent weather this fourth time around.
Speaking of Shane, this will be the first year that he will not make a race up north with the NCRA outlaws northern tour. Shane is still rideless due to James Helms passing back in March.
Ryan Craighead, who started out the season being tutored by Shane, has sold his one and only OKC 360 motor to Kerri McAlister and has purchased the ASCS motor that Shane had when he drove for Mr. Helms. Ryan says the ASCS tour is more fun than he ever imagined and is not looking to do anything else. Ryan has participated in seven ASCS national events, making every feature but one, while his best finish a fifth at Monett Speedway in Monett Missouri.
Would like to say congratulations to former ASCS rookie of the year Travis Rilat of Texas City Texas for picking up his first ever NCRA outlaw sprint car win in River City North Dakota. Travis is pioloting the Chris Archar owned CompUSA sprinter full time on the NCRA outlaw tour with hopes of obtaining that series rookie of the year honors.
It will be a busy week for "oklahomatidbits" for the week of June 19th-25th. We shall be at the OKC WoO show on wednesday night before traveling to Memphis and West Memphis Arkansas for two nights of ASCS action on friday and saturday night. From there it is an all-nighter as we will head the seven hours home, get some sleep, then head north for my first taste of non-wing sprint car action as Ron Shumans SCRA sprinters will make their first appearance (okay, CRA back then)since 1992 to 81 Speedway in Wichita Kansas for a sunday night event. This is one show that I have been pumped for some time about.
Look for several Oklahoma/Kansas area drivers to take off the wing and do battle with the west coast stars, with Gary Wright being one of them. Also, my guess is Mike Peters, Jerry Stone, Aaron Berryhill and Larry Neighbors (among others) to do the same.
The little ole quarter mile in Meeker is back up and running again. Lincoln County Raceway will run on saturday nights at 7:00 pm running the fast growing two barrel sprints for $1000 to win, Oklahoma City type factory stocks and mini stocks. The track was to open on June 3rd but it was rained out. The opener will now be June 10th.
While at Sedalia Missouri for the two day ASCS Memorial Day weekend races, I noticed results that the NCRA outlaw opener at Tulsa Speedway only showed ninteen cars in the pits. Some say that the ASCS race hurt the car count but I do not buy that. Yes it may have took four cars but they are averaging around twenty-five for a week night of racing. It wouldn't do any good for another track to run 410 sprints on a friday or monday night cause some of the Tulsa weekly racers wouldn't travel anyway.
The NCRA modifieds, late model and 360s car counts aren't too shabby however as the 360s are averaging close to thirty per race while the modifieds are averaging forty-five and the late models thirty-five per race. You don't think NCRA sanctioning modifieds was the best idea the twenty year series made in the past ten years do ya?
I still confess to this day that if you scheduled a $2000 to win IMCA modified race on the half mile at Oklahoma City that you would have close to one hundred of them guys. Heck to double your back gate, run a $1000 to win factory stock special on the quarter mile the same night and you could get one hundred of them also.
Made my first trip to the new Houston Raceway Park in Baytown Texas last weekend for the two day ASCS race. What a beautiful facility this is as it sits right next to the drag strip. In fact, the back stretch pit area is right next to one of the lanes which gives the people in the pit area an "up close and personal" view of the action. The one thing that is wrong with their weekly competion is they run on saturday nights, the same nights as Battleground Speedway-which is a measly ten miles away. Battleground runs ASCS type sprint rules while HRP runs IMCA type. IF the tracks would run the same type ASCS rules and run on different nights, this could really be a strong area for dirt track racing once again.
However, two tracks working together, now wouldn't that be a novel idea for a change.
While at HRP, I got my first ever chance of fullfilling another dream of mine (first was having a column and working for a race series)as I got to announce the heats and B feature for the ASCS sprinters. Yes, stuttering-shy me announcing. Must have went pretty good as the press box windows were still intact and when the local announcer asked the crowd what they thought of my "rookie" weekend behind the mike, I got a rather loud applause. Then I got to thinking, they always said not to drink the water down there so maybe the fans weren't cohearant to what I was saying. I would do it again in a heartbeat if ever givin the chance.
Congrats to Oklahoma City driver Mike Johnson as he picked up his first ever NCRA 360 weekend at Liberal Kansas over Memorial Day weekend. Mike is currently tied with Kansas driver Jim Selenke for first place in point standings.
Would it not be rather neat to see brothers Wayne Johnson and Mike Johnson win ASCS and NCRA 360 championships respectively?
ASCS series founder and president Emmett Hahn is enjoying his semi-retired time away from running the series, which is being ran by retired driver Tommy Estes Jr. Emmett is golfing everywhere from Arizona to Florida while working on some deals for not only the ASCS, but the Chili Bowl also. He also is working on another venture that would increase the amount of tracks adopting ASCS rules.
Noticed on my website (www.oklahomatidbits.com) in my forum page, that Ed Beckly is still promoting races, close to sixty a year-mainly the Monster Trucks. Ed promoted races from 1982-1990, 1994 at Dodge City. Ed now lives in Bridgeport Texas. I visited Dodge City once and was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life as good friend Chris Smith (NCRA offical) and I made the trip for a sprint car special back in '85. That was the night that Jon Johnson blew up his sprint car motor and drove his champ dirt car through the streets of Dodge City to make the feature, where he then finshed fifth. It was also the night we ran the local motel out of ice as I have never been so drunk away from home. I sill wonder if they ever got that door knob fixed, that broke as we were trying to get into the room.
I want to end this column by sending best wishes to a couple of Oklahoma City modified drivers. Randy Whitson swerved to miss debree on the H.E Bailey turnpike, coming home from Lawton a couple weeks ago and got bruised up pretty bad. He is at home recovering, still banged and bruised. Also want to send a speedy recovery to Dutch Ter Steege, who suffered a heart attack two weeks ago. Dutch is out of the hospital and said to be ready to go racing. My fond memory of Dutch was back in '83 I believe when it took five police officers and handcuffs to get him off the track, due to an officials call. Dutch is a legend at State Fair Speedway and has been competing in the modified division for many years. Get well soon Dutch and Randy and hope to see you at the track soon.
Hope to have more before the fourth of July weekend. I have already told you my plans for the rest of June and whatever you good people do between now and the next time you read this column of "Oklahoma Tidbits", as I always say, tell the ones you care about how much you love them-take care and as always, watch out for the other guy.
(May 12)Well hello from Midwest City and how is everybody. Racing is in full gear now with tracks across the state well underway. Since our last column, the blue Dodge Intripid and I have been to Creek County and Amarillo for ASCS races and also made a weekly show at State Fair Speedway and Tulsa Speedway during an ASCS off-weekend. Guess its about time I take the car to Pro-Lube, located in Mustang, for an oil change before the Memorial Day weekend racing madness starts.
A few news and notes so lets get started shall we?
Made the recent Amarillo trip with wife and kids (now thats a first after several years)for the ASCS race on May 6th. The beautiful 3/8 mile facility is now under the ownership of former NCRA 360 champion Scott Brown. Changes have the local sprints pitted on the south side of the grandstands while the rest of the classes are continued to pit at the north end. The big rigs of the ASCS drivers were pitted also on the north end with an emphasis on keeping the show going. When one class of cars are out on the track, the next race is lined up according to where they will start the race while the race after that is also staged. Changes to the scenery of the track include two ponds in the infield, surrounded by rails. Plans for this will include two working waterfalls, to be flowing at all times. Twenty NCRA type local sprints were on hand, including the out of towners James Shoun, Larry Neighbors, Mike Woodruff, Michale Johnson, and Jeff Garnett from Oklahoma City. Others included Kansas drivers Dennis Parks, Tyler Ross and John Blurton along with Tulsa driver Tony Edmidston. Larry Neighbors brought his Oklahoma City 360 out for the second week in a row and led every lap for his second consecutive victory at the track. Michael Johnson, John Blurton and Jeff Garnett used their NCRA 360s in both the weekly and ASCS competition with Johnson and Blurton both making the feature, finishing twenty-first and twenty-third respectively while finising the weekly feature fourth and sixth.
Johnson informs he is running for his second State Fair Speedway championship while also looking to win his first NCRA 360 title. His brother Wayne is currently a regular on the ASCS tour and is also looking to win that series championship.
Mike Peters of Wichita made his first ASCS appearance in several seasons, finishing a respective eighth. Mike will run a variety of sprint races this year, mostly with NCRAs 410 and 360 divisions and several with ASCS.
Former NCRA super modified and Oklahoma City track visiter Jiggs Found is still racing after over twenty years, running sprints in Amarillo with the same car number as always #69.
Speaking of the past, Paul Martens of Fairview Oklahoma writes to tell me of the second annual Enid Speedway Nastalgia night, scheduled for saturday night June 10th. A great turnout was on hand last year and look for this year to be even bigger, with several members of KAR (Kansas Antique Racers)planning to attend. With this announcement let me remind you of another nastalgia night, this one at the Harold Leep operated Muskogee Speedway in Muskogee Oklahoma on friday night August 25th, then up to Tulsa Speedway the following night for the third straight year. Please make sure you attend either of these nights as restoration on alot of these old coupes, midgits and supers are just fascinating.
Leon Bacon of Tulsa continues to be on a two barrel hot streak. So far this season he has won the four heat races and features he has competed in, three at Tulsa Speedway and one at Muskogee during a friday night special there a couple of weekends ago. Leon drivers for car owner Steve Hamm and his Aero Dynamic sprinter.
Foster Landen turned heads at a recent Tulsa Speedway weekly show. The sixteen year old Collinsville High School student led the first fifteen laps of the twenty lap feature before becoming over come with yellows late in the race, allowing Aaron Berryhill and Donnie Crawford to pass him on a lap fifteen restart. What might have really turned some heads is the fact that Foster had his ASCS 360 motor against the powerful 410s. This same scenario is what made people take notice of Tim Crawley last season when he had his ASCS motor aboard while finishing fourth in a feature at Tulsa Speedway. Look for Foster to run the entire ASCS national tour,in this his rookie season, with Dennis Crow turning the wrenches on this former Daryn Pittman mount.
Talked to Garry Lee Maier by phone a couple of weeks ago and says he is still in his legcast, which should come off by the end of May. He will then go through a couple months of rehab and if everything heals properly, look for him to be back behind the wheel sometime in late August. Lets hope for a speedy recovery for Garry as he is truely one of the nicest, personable drivers around.
I stick by the last rumor I heard that TNN has bought out the WoO. We shall see if the crow is any good or not. I also am hearing that this is the last year for Bert Emrick to run the All Stars. Again, we shall see.
Oklahoma Motorsports Park in Ada will host the two barrell sprints once a month, nights when they are not scheduled at Lake Country Speedway in Ardmore. Second year rookie Cody Wampler of Walters Oklahoma has one feature win at each track, both running on saturday nights. Lots of talk around Oklahoma City about what to do in the next couple of years concerning the dwindling support of the 100 inch modifieds. I, like most fans my age and over, grew up watching the 100 inch cars and was rather upset when NCRA took our belvoed champ dirt cars away from us in favor of sprints after the 1987 season. Stay with tradition or roll with the changes? Fans, and drivers are split and with the people in charge of the descions, no telling which direction they will lead to.
An unscientific poll I have taken on my website shows that the majority of the fans favor bringing in IMCA modifieds on the half mile for weekly races. With the only track racing IMCA modifieds on a weekly basis almost two hours away, think of the large field of cars that would be on hand for $1000 to win.
Want to thank Tom McAlister for the old '76-80 Oklahoma City, Lawton and I-35 speedway programs. I was no more than ten years old at that time but remember my parents taking me to the fairgrounds often. Tims son Kerry is in his rookie season in sprints, running friday nights at Oklahoma City while also running his two barrell sprinter on selective nights at Tulsa and Ardmore on saturday nights.
Lots of specials coming up for your Memorial Day weekend racing plans. Tulsa Speedway and Tri-State Speedwy in Ft. Smith will host a two day, North/South shootout, begining friday night May 26th at Tulsa then heading south to Ft. Smith the following night. The challenge series will pay $1000 to win from a $14,000 purse. Both features will pay $100 to start and those not making the feature will be paid $60.
The NCRA modifieds will be at 81 Speedway in Wichita on saturday night May 27th, then traveling to Enid Speedway the following night.
Also don't forget the Factory stock special paying $1200 to win, with a $75 entry fee, at Clinton Speedway, not Hub City Speedway, on friday and saturday night May 26-27. For more information contact promotor Bill Greene (580)323-6222.
Several ASCS regulars will have a busy Memorial Day weekend. The three day Sedalia 360 nationals, held at the Missouri State Fairgrounds from May 26th-28th is the same weekend as the NCRA outlaw opener at Tulsa. Several drivers, including Gary Wright, Jason Sides, Travis Rilat, Terry Gray, Zach Chappell Foster Landen and Tim Crawley are all planning on qualifying on friday night at Sedalia, then traveling back to Tulsa saturday night for the NCRA race. They will then head back up to Sedalia for sunday nights ASCS sanctioned finale.
More rambling than anything for this column. The next several weeks have me back full swing with ASCS so there may not be an updated "Oklahoma Tidbits" column but when there is one, look for as much news and notes from our state as I can find out and remember you read it here.
Thats all for this issue,take care and as always, watch out for the other guy.
April 25Hello everybody from Midwest City and how is everyone. Well every track here in Oklahoma has started their weekly season and believe it or not, one more month and the Holiday special races will be in full force. I haven't made several tracks that I wanted to so far but there is still a long season ahead. Not only does my duties with ASCS take up most of my weekends, but my son and his baseball games also are a must. Life doesn't wait for anybody and kids don't stay little. If you have children, spend as much time as you can with them and let them know how much your proud of them and if you don't have children, tell it to someone you care about.
Enough of the sentimental stuff, it's been a tough mid April due to the bombing anniversary so lets get on with the good stuff shall we?
This is probably a false rumor that this WoO sponsor has heard but late word in email says that TNN has bought out the World of Outlaws. This sponsor is checking on this and if it is true, look for that to be the biggest sprint car story for some time. Good or bad if its true? Who knows, but if it is true, I am sure we will find out in no time at all.
I realize that this is three weeks late but I did attend the saturday night opener at Tulsa Speedway for 410 and champ sprint action. Thirty cars were on hand in the outlaw division which has been covered a few times. A few observations on opening night that hasn't been mentioned but did quite impress me. The show was ran quickly and over just after 10:00pm after starting at 7:30pm, which is plenty of time to run two classes of cars that both have thirty cars in each division. There has been many a time in the past that you wouldn't get out of the track until well near 11:00pm and for families that come to the racetrack, that is too late. Though it was one race, and you can't really give an actual summary after one night, I feel owner John Brooks is heading in the right direction in the way the program is run. Hopefully the word will get out to the casual race fan that the new promotion is trying to be fan friendly. I haven't been a strong support of the track for the past several years but as I have always stated, at least they have the guts to run outlaw type sprints on a track where the ASCS type 360s are also competitive.
Terry Schmidt, who recently sold his Terrys Electric business, tells me that he is not out of sprint car racing for good as there is a chance he plans to be back as a car owner within the next three years. He sold his chassis and MOPAR motors to Joe Landen of Collinsville in exchange for some land. Joes son Foster, who is in his first year in a sprint car, has competed in the first four ASCS national tour events with his best finish a thirteenth. Not bad for a driver who is racing on tracks he has never seen before, much less equipment he is still getting use to.
Made my first visit to Crowleys Ridge Raceway in Paragould Arkansas for an ASCS race and what a nice little track that is. The track is wide enough in the turns for four abreast racing but gets rather close down the straights. The only problems were the lack of lights on the track and the flagman, who was new to flagging sprints. Isn't no big harm as no major incidents occured and now the promotor knows what he needs to get done and has said he will make changes as he wants ASCS back sometime later this year-if not definately next season. Promotor Glenn Francis lives in Bakersfield California and bought the track a couple of years ago as a summer getaway.
Speaking of the ASCS opening weekend, at Memphis Motorsports Park, rookie of the year contender Zach Chappell of Talala was suppose to miss the weekend due to his prom. But as any dedicated racer is known to do he said forget his prom, he is going racing. So far this season on the ASCS tour, Zach has picked up three-six place finishes in a row.
Oklahoma City driver Larry Neighbors picked up his first ever ASCS victory at Joplin Speedway last saturday night. Larry was one of the original drivers to first compete in Emmett Hahns series. After a couple years away to other sprint organizations, Larry came home to ASCS (where this writer feels he belongs) this year and is looking at making a strong run at the championship. This writer works for his dad and predicted earlier in the week that Larry would find the winners circle that weekend. Sure enough happened. Look for Larry to compete at State Fair Speedway this weekend (april 28)then head west to Amarillo on saturday night to test out the track in preparation for the ASCS race there on May 6th.
Understand Aaron Berryhill and the Court Grandstaff owned Trop Artic sprinter was a bullett at Tulsa Speedway this past saturday night before the rains came. Maybe once the team gets that first win things will click from here on out. Mr.Grandstaff reports the team will be at State Fair Speedway this friday night before completing his feature attempt the next night at Tulsa in the makeup. State Fair Speedway will also make up their feature that was ppd. due to curfew from last week.
Look for two other young stars to pick up their first victory of the season, one being last years ASCS rookie of the year Jan Howard of Byhalia and Michael Dupuy of Amite Louisina. I predict they will get their wins early and they will come often.
Former State Fair Speedway track champion Wayne Johnson is more than getting use to his ride aboard the Fred & Jo Threatts #28 F&J Construction sprinter out of Dallas. The team struggled a little bit late last season when they got together but so far this season is second in ASCS national points. Waynes brother Mike is leading points at State Fair Speedway in their limited sprint division.
After Gary Flatt flipped in State Fair Speedways opener, word has it that the car is really tore up and he could be sidelined the rest of the season. The former champion at State Fair Speedway is the only member of the Flatt family still racing at the fairgrounds. After more than thirty years of at least one member of the Flatt family competing at the track each year, sure hate to see it come to an end this way.
Noticed in the recent news on sprint car drivers in the area that papers are now referring them as "sprint car drivers" and not "stock car drivers" as Tulsas Sonny McNatt and the late Ken Whitehouse were both in papers, and not for good reasons. As everyone knows by now, Ken Whitehouse has passed away from his injuries suffered at the OKC opener back in March. To think that just fourty-five minutes before that accident I had talked to Ken about his plans on the ASCS tour this season and he was really upbeat about the travel and having fun. It was the first time I got the opportunity to talk to him and will be something I will never-ever want to go through again. Being a staff writer for a series and also a causal writer seems like a great thing but the major drawback is getting to know the drivers on a personal basis, thats not even including their families. When something like death happens, or even an injury, it makes this writer wish that I was just a racefan and didn't know the drivers and families as well as I do. Unfortunately they say thats the risk of racing, but that don't mean we have to accept it. Thats why this writer always stressed to make sure you let the people you care for know how much they mean to you, you can never tell them too much.
Pro Stock drivers, Hub City Speedway will also have a two-day special for you the following weekend (friday and saturday night) paying $1500 to win with a $100 entry fee. Look for specials for IMCA type modifieds and the OKC 100 inch modifieds to be announced soon.
The HavATampa late model race from Thunder Valley Speeway in Glenmora Louisiana that was held back in March, will be televised on May 1st, 2nd and 8th on speedvision.
On May 13th the WoO will be televised LIVE from the Action Track in Terre Haute Indiana on TNN.
Understand a date has been added to the nonwing challenge series featuring the California based SCRA sprinters. The added date is tuesday night, July 20th at the now dirt Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City Kansas. Don't forget the series will be back after a 7 yr absence at 81 Speedway in Wichita Kansas on sunday night, May 25th.
Here is one for all of you late model and modified drivers, the upcoming NCRA sanctioned event at Wichita Kansas on May 12-13 will be televised on a taped delayed basis by the Fox Sports regional network. Dates and times will be announced. For more information contact 81 Speedway (316)755-1781.
Don't forget that ASCS will be at Creek County Speedway on friday night May 5th before heading to Route 66 Speedway in Amarillo the next night. The new M.A.R.S. late model series will be at Muskogee this friday night, April 28th, before heading to the highbanks at Salina Oklahoma the next night.
That's all for this issue and I will make sure that next time we will have more informative information right here, in Oklahoma Tidbits. If you hapen to see my blue Dodge Intripid out on the highway, give me a honk, a wave or show me that I am number one and thank all of you for everything and as always, watch out for the other guy.
------------------------------- (March 28)Well hello everybody from Oklahoma City and how is everyone. Well the weekly racing season here in Oklahoma City enters yet another season and what a friday night it was-and not all of it was good. My Dodge Intripid and I also made the trip to Joplin for the World of Outlaw parade, my second of the season. More on this later. There isn't too much information this column but hopefully enough to catch your eye.
So, lets get started shall we?
Catching the opener at State Fair Speedway in Oklahoma City friday night was the first in a long time as it is usually held the same time the WoO are at Devils Bowl Speedway in Mesquite Texas-to which I have attended ever since 1984. Tonight, thirty sprints, thirty-two pro stocks and sixty-three factory stocks were on hand to do battle on two very rough tracks. The quarter mile track was in better shape as the factory stocks actually put on a rather decent showing. The half mile track for the pro stocks and sprints was another story, with the track in rough condition due to heavy rain from sunday through wednesday night. Perry Robb Jr. started the pro stock feature on the pole and led all twenty laps for the win. Steve Smith of Edmond closed several times on the leader but was never close enough to mount a serious challenge. Steve finished second giving the MOPAR powerplant the top two positions at the checkard.
The sprint feature saw Liberal Kansas driver Dennis Parks take the lead from his outside front row starting position and quickly led the first seven laps. Last years track champion Danny Jennings started on the pole but quickly fell to third as second generation driver C.J. Johnson took second from his third starting spot. C.J. then took the lead on lap eight but thats as long as he would lead as he fell off the pace one lap later with motor problems. This gave the lead to Marcus Jackson in his new ride, aboard the Don Strawn Automotive #21s sprinter-the team car to David Lambert. Marcus went virtually unchallenged the final eleven laps to take the win and show that he is a strong candidate to win this years track championship. Michael Johnson had the best drive of the night, starting tenth and coming home second. Danny Jennings settled for third with fifth starting Joe Wood fourth and Lloyd Clevenger Sr. rounding out the top five. The track was not in that good of shape but watching them battle through the ruts was rather fun to watch...Now to the details that made this night a downer.
Early in the second heat race, Tim Long was entering turns three and four when he spun, collecting two other cars who had nowhere to go bringing out the yellow flag. While virtually everybody who I had spoken to was watching that corner, when all of the sudden an awful sound happened on the frontstretch in front of the flagstand. Ken Whitehouse went end over end several times, finally coming to a stop about where the quarter mile begins. Ken was driving the Mark Bailey #88 sprinter as Mark will not be racing this season due to his Air Force commitment. It started as normal procedure for the rescue crew when suddenly the emergency vehicles were positioned in front of the wreckage. Right then showed something was wrong. Kens fiance, who happens to work the same place as I, walked down to the south gate and waited for word. Everything was calm but that was well before anyone knew just how bad the accident really was. Air bags and other equipment were thrown from the back end and a look of panic was noticed. I knew something was terribly wrong this time. Ken has taken quite a few hard crashes at this track, each time coming out okay. Fifteen minutes have passed and still a hurriedness was seen. You know, generally when there is a crash the workers take their time getting the injured driver out of the wreckage, but there was no taking time this go around. I then talked to an official at the track who told me he was not breathing at all and was knocked out. A total of twenty minutes had passed when he was finally transported to the hospital. It didn't sound good at all. When the heat races were finally done, I went to the pits to take a look at Marks sprinter. The cage surrounding Ken held up, but in front of that was pretty much trash as several crews helped piece the sprinter back together-long enough to put it back in the trailer.
Immediately rumors floated around that Ken didn't make it, then another that stated he was just fine and would be back next week. After conversing with office officials after the race I understood that Ken was not in good shape, having to be put on a respirator and still knocked out. "Why did this have to happen," I asked myself over and over as I had just talked to Ken about forty-five minutes before race time, asking him about his exact plans of competing in 80% of the ASCS national touring shows this season. After getting word that friend David Jones, a former Larry Neighbors crew cheif, would email me after his visit to the hospital, I headed home.
Saturday morning found me waking up to my email stating the ER doctors were not hopeful. What a long drive this was to be from my sons baseball game to Joplin for the WoO race. Since that day prayers seem to have been answered and are being answered to this day as Ken has shown remarkable improvement, still in critical condition but now wearing a halo. Please keep all your prayers coming, not only for Ken and his family, but for all drivers and their families who may have been injured. Prayers do get answered. It is really difficult in this business that even though you are not related to the drivers or their families, it still affects you beyond believe. My job with ASCS and being their staff writer really bothers me cause if something should ever happen, it would be really tough to deal with, knowing these drivers as I do you tend to get close to each and every one of them. Life is short enough so why do these things happen. As my wife, who does crisis councling for a living tells me when we talk about the tragities in life, there is no answer as to why. Just take each day at a time and one day the reason will be known.
Normans Ricky Jennings was aboard Wichita Kansas car owner Art Bybees #9 sprinter for the opener. He will piolot the sprinter when his son Danny is racing in town.
Speaking of Danny Jennings, the 1997 ASCS rookie of the year will once again drive Red Sherwoods sprinter on the NCRA 360 tour, where he finished second to Jon Johnson in series points last season. Danny was looking for sponsorship help to put him back on the road with ASCS but nothing materialized. Yet another Jennings, this time Bruce, informs that he will run his outlaw sprint for the first three or four weekends at Tulsa Speedway. Bruce says parts for his Mopar 360 have been ordered and he is waiting for them to be made and delivered.
C.J. Johnson and Steven King also made the tow from their west Kansas homes. Steven had motor problems all night and was never a factor as C.J. had the brief lead before his motor problems. C.J. will run Hutchinson and Wichita on friday and saturday nights respectively while chasing for the NCRA 360 championship.
It kind of concerns me these days when people make greatness for young drivers who are still in high school. Some of these "young" stars of tomorrow do have lots of potential-some more than others, but why put pressure on them, labeling them to be the "driver to watch in the future." The young kids hear this, then feel pressured that they have to win races and make good showing every night out. Sprint car racing isn't the only sport that does it, it's that way in other sports also, especially basketball.
Caught my second WoO event of the season and I am astonished at what I have seen so far this year. Counting the live Vegas WoO race on TNN and the two live features I have witnessed live, there has been only ONE pass for the lead and that was on a restart. I almost feel that if it is the same way in ASCS, NCRA, MLRA or other forms of racing that I may cut way back on my racing this year. It just isn't no fun watching NASCAR-type follow the leader racing. I am in now way slamming the WoO as I will be there nine times out of ten if they are in the Oklahoma area. Just wish I was getting what I paid to see.
Speaking of the WoO, they will be at State Fair Speedway on wednesday night June 21 and according to promotor Shane Carson, he will be running NON-wing 360s on the quarter mile, just as he did last November for his winter nationals. This includes the NCRA and OKC type sprints. Please make sure you mark your calenders for this race and help support Shane and his effort to bring back the best in sprint car racing to Oklahoma City.
Speaking of Shane, he will piolot Ryan Craigheads outlaw motor in several races this season and is working on a deal to run several ASCS races. His former car owner, James Helms, is still in bad shape due to cancer so please keep your thoughts and prayers with James and his family.
For all you late model fans, including me, the HavATampa late model race from East Bay Raceway in Flordia back in February will be shown at the following times on Speedvision: April 17th at 7:00pm cst, April 18th at 11:00pm cst and April 22 at 1:30pm cst. The HavaTampa race that was held this past weekend at Glenmora Louisiana will be shown next month on Speedvision. Stay tuned here in late April for times and dates.
Short and sweet, thats all for this issue of Oklahoma Tidbits. This month of April will find me at Oklahoma City for one more weekly show, the Tulsa Speedway opener, the Tulsa and OKC ASCOF races, the opener for the ASCS at Memphis, along with events at Paris Texas and Joplin Missouri with ASCS.
Lots of tracks open this weekend in the state of Oklahoma so please go out and support your local weekly races. Even make plans to attend tracks you never been to. The small town folks like Elk City, Clinton and other small town tracks have drivers who give their all every night and are rather fun to watch.
Until next issue, everybody please take care and as always, watch out for the other guy.