1. Derby Time - This time of the year, there's a chill in the air and plenty of anticipation for a big event coming up. But we're not talking about Christmas. We're talking about the Snowball Derby. The biggest short track race in the land will enjoy its 42nd running next week at Five Flags Speedway (FL) and everyone is excited. If you can possibly get there, whether by car, phone or hovercraft, you need to go and take it all in yourself. If you can't, you'll be able to follow along all week at Speed51.com and Speed 51 Radio on RaceTalkRadio.com.
2. Change is Good? - A new ASA Late Model is going to roll out to the public at the upcoming PRI show in Orlando and it's been teased as a machone that is a “radical departure” from the current car. If this is really true, we're wondering why. At this point in the short track game, the last thing that teams need is a unique car or engine package that is different from series to series. Remember the old ASA National Tour car? Having unique racecars and engines didn't help that tour survive and that equipment was nearly impossible to sell after the tour was all done. Heck, we think that Travis Kittleson still has one of those cars or engines still up for sale!
3. “On Top” - With Four Others Above You - Within minutes of when the official results of the World Crown 300 were released last Monday morning, we got a press release from the camp of fifth-place finisher Tanner Berryhill titled “15 Year Old Berryhill on Top of World 300”. At first, we had to wonder if another four finishers were tossed out of the tech line at GMP. But four paragraphs into the release, we learned that “on top” really meant a fifth-place finish. C'mon guys. A top five in a big race like that is something to be proud of, so there's no use redefining words to make it look like you won when you weren't even close.
4. No-Budget Banquet - The season ending banquet for Saturday night competitors at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME) recently took place at a Hilton. It was a fancy show and in a surprising move. It was free to the racers. “Due to the many challenges race teams faced this season, and in an effort to make it affordable for all, there will be no charge to attend” said Oxford track owner Bill Ryan. We salute Ryan and his staff for footing the bill and taking care of teams who were loyal to his track.
5. Super Pinto? - We've seen Super Late Models take on many identities in addition to the standard ARP and Five Star Impalas, Monte Carlos, Fusions, Camrys and Chargers. Jerry Babb used to race Cougars and Mustangs in his home state of Maine. There are a handful of Cadillacs out there as well. But we'd never seen a Ford Pinto SLM before. That was until Jeff Fultz won the recent North South Shootout SLM race with the label of “Pinto” on his front end. The choice wasn't an accidental one either. Fultz got his start in racing wheeling a Pinto Mini Stock around Winchester Speedway (IN).
6. Return to Wilkes County - Over the years, we've seen plenty of half-baked attempts at trying to reopen North Wilkesboro Speedway (NC). The track is one of the most historic venues in NASCAR history, but got shuttered over a superspeedway turf war in the mid 1990's. There's a lot of work to be done to make the joint racy again, but with announcements that the USARacing Pro Cup, PASS South and ASA Late Model tours have booked dates at the track in 2010, we're keeping our fingers crossed that there is enough serious involvement this time to reopen the track for good.
7. Same Name Doesn't Help Pass Tech - When a driver named Max Gresham enters the first ever race at Gresham Motorsports Park, you might think that he'd get favored over other competitors. After apparent World Crown 300 winner Jeff Choquette was disqualified and Gresham (the grandson of the track owner) was next in line for the victory, it really started to look like that could be the case. But then Gresham was disqualified as well for not passing tech either. We say kudos to the track for that. If a race facility is willing to disqualify someone with the same last name of the track owner after the biggest event of the year, you know that tech is fair.
8. Finally! - Way back in 2005, what was then the NASCAR Busch North Series got rained out on their date at Lee USA Speedway. Then they got rained out on the make-up date. An announcement was going to be made about when the race would be made up. We waited, we waited and now it has finally come. What is now the NASCAR Camping World East Series will return to the track on July 30, 2010. It's great to see the series get back to its roots, but we have to wonder if the rainchecks from 2005 will be any good six years later.
9. Gobble, Gobble - A great short track tradition continues this weekend with the running of the Turkey Derby at Wall Stadium in New Jersey. The track was supposed to shut down a few years ago, the victim of suburban sprawl, but it has risen like a Phoenix and the event seems to be as healthy as ever now. Guys like Jimmy Blewett, Donny Lia, Matt Hirschman, Ted Christopher, Jamie Tomaino and Rowan Pennink will all rumble for the victory this weekend. If you are near the Jersey shore, stop on by and catch a great event!
10. What Off Season? - Although it seems like the off-season is just about to begin after next week's Snowball Derby, don't fret. It won't last for long. ARCA testing is scheduled to begin at Daytona International Speedway in just a few short weeks. Then it won't be long until we head to the Ice Cold Shriner's Bowl, Speedfest, The PASS Winter Fest at New Smyrna and so on…