This column canít
even start off by saying that winter is over and it is now race season.
It seems as though this season is off to a more prolonged start than usual.
While a few races have been able to sneak past grumpy ol' Mother Nature,
a lot more have been lost to her cantankerous ways.
Races arenít the only thing lost to start this race season. I have to
start off on a sad note this time around. Many of you from the western
PA area know my dad and his group of friends that traveled and sat together
at races from Ohio to Central PA, but especially at Lernerville, Mercer,
and Tri-City. With dadís health failing he isnít able to get to the races
anymore, but the rest of the gang still does. On Saturday April 16th,
two of them went to Sharon. On the way home from the races, Simon ďJuniorĒ
Berdar suffered a fatal heart attack as they were going through Sharpsville,
PA. Bill Poole was the one driving and was able to pull into the city
police station immediately, but it was too late. Iím just glad he was
able to get one last race in and didnít have to suffer. The gang is now
one man short.
This season has already had itsí share of things happening. From Steve
Kinser having a new series lined up to run if their DIRT contract issues
didnít get resolved, to Kevin Swindell flipping out of the park at Eldora
while lining up for the A-Main. What made Kevinís even stranger was that
they had just bought his way into the A-Main after he finished fifth in
the B-Main. Sammy was even up to his own old tricks as he ran his pit
buggy into a car on the track that had tangled with Kevin at a USCS asphalt
show. A DQ for Kevin was the result of that action.
Craig Dollansky actually held the point lead for a little while over Steve,
but the ďPickle GuyĒ (car is green and his mechanic is Gerkin) is now
back out front and won three in a row before Daryn Pittman stopped the
streak. That win gave Australian car owner Reeve Kruck his first win with
the Outlaws. Challenges to Kingís throne are rare and short lived, but
maybe Craig, or even someone else, might be able to reel him in a little
closer this year. Lasoski hasnít been as strong of a contender as usual
so far and Schatz doesnít hit his stride until mid to late summer.
The All Star northern opener at Attica once again proved to be a great
way to open the season for the group. There was a lot of concern as to
how this weekend was going to shake out due to the just completed reconfiguration
of the track. They took the top 18Ē off the track and every one, myself
included, was concerned that it would make it a bottom only track. Those
fears were short lived as the racing was great both nights. Stevie Smith
had his easter egg dialed in both nights, but running over Dean Jacobs
right rear the second night cost him a sweep of the weekend.
Craig Mintz sure has something figured out at Attica so far this year
as he is making a habit out of running up front and coming up through
the pack to the front. It sure looks like he should find his way to the
horse track in front of the crowd this season on a Friday night.
A lot of northern Ohio sprint car fans are anxiously awaiting the return
of the Outlaws to Attica this summer. Glad to see that Janet was finally
able to make that happen this year. She had wanted to have them in before
but politics (in racing? No, never! Cough cough) kept the little speedplant
off the schedule. It should make for a great night of racing.
The other much anticipated sprint car race in Ohio this year was the Ohio
Challenge at Jim Nierís K-C Raceway. The billing of being the Outlaws
vs the All Stars had a lot of people fired up for this race. They were
even more fired up after it didnít happen. And no one is saying why it
didnít happen, other than the Outlaw press release that claimed rain in
the afternoon forced the cancellation. Rain was the easy reason to use,
but not the honest one. People camped out at the speedway reported very
minimal rain at the track. Through the grapevine I was told that many
of the teams were in Indy on Friday night and wanted to officials to call
the show then, based on the forecast, so that they could go run Knoxville
on Saturday night. As it turned out, two teams did go to Knoxville, Terry
McCarl and Brooke Tatnell. Now since these two are not contracted drivers
in the Mean 15, they didnít have to worry about any legal ramifications.
They would have been subjected to the Outlaws point penalty rules if the
race had been run and they werenít there and raced at Knoxville. The race
was called just before 2:00 in the afternoon, so if those two were close
enough to drive in to K-C before race time, there is no way they could
have turned and made it to Knoxville, so they had to have made their decisions
long before the race was called. Did they know something that others didnít?
Were they taking a calculated risk? Did they not care about the risk?
Other teams were reported to have been witnessed in places 2-3 hours away
from the track in early afternoon. If so, were they forcing the officials
to call the show off due to the fear of not having all their teams there?
If so, looks like the drivers just trumped the contracts. If not, was
it that they didnít want to cause more unrest by having to enforce the
contracts against the drivers that didnít show? Another story making the
rounds is that they called it early so they wouldnĎt have to pay tow money.
Could that really be the reason for it? Hard to tell, but it seems to
be a safe bet that there was a lot more to this cancellation than just
the weather. Maybe the grapevine will produce some more information on
this subject somewhere down the line.
It didnít take Dean Jacobs long to get the Pullins Motorsports car running
back at the front of the pack. The Butler, Michigan All Star show saw
Dean lead every lap to collect the win. The All Star show at Attica on
May 27 will see Dean introduce another Jacobs to the world of sprint cars,
as his oldest son, Cody, will be behind the wheel of Deanís #27 he ran
last year on the All Stars. A lot of people remember Cody from his younger
days when he would stand behind the flagman and flag each race with his
own set of custom made race flags. Once he got enough to go the pits,
he put the flags down in order to go help work on his dadís cars. Now
he wants to try it out behind the wheel of one of the most wicked types
of race cars out there. Itís pretty cool that it will happen at Attica
too as Janet has always been one of Deanís biggest supporters. Good luck
Young Kyle Wilson, son of driver Rick Wilson, picked up his first win
with the Patriot Sprints. The Canadian Wilsons are some real throttle
mashers with the New York based 360 circuit. This circuit keeps growing
and getting better every year. Owner, Tom Taber, has made some real progress
with this group and the 2006 season looks to have even more in store.
The Patriots are coming to Central PA Speedway in Clearfield, PA on June
3 and return to Mercer Raceway Park in Mercer, PA the following night.
This will be two great nights of 360 racing.
While we sit here and ponder if a hearse carrying a corpse can use the
car pool lane, your news, notes, and other racing info can be sent to
me using the e-mail link at www.blairsigns.com.