1) RACING IS BACK
The short track racing season got an extra-early start this year with SpeedFest and the NASCAR All-Star Showdown in January, but now it’s time to officially get the 2009 party started beginning with Florida Speedweeks, beginning on Friday. Nine nights of beating and banging around New Smyrna Speedway is sure to make some drivers knock the rust off, others will surely throw their first tantrums of the year and all will be wiped out after nine nights of action – but as any Speedweeks regular can attest, we wouldn’t want it any other way in February.
2) TERROR IN TINSELTOWN
You would think that a three-time Truck Series champion like Ron Hornaday would know that if you throw a racecar hard and low into a corner, it will skate up the track and into any other cars higher up on the track. After the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale this past weekend, it is clear that he hasn’t learned that lesion in his career yet. Just ask Brian Ickler or Jim Warn – as both drivers were victims of Hornaday’s miscalculations in different incidents.
3) SERIES FORMERLY KNOWN AS...
Big ol’ kudos to the new ownership of the series formerly known as the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series. The newly-named USARacing will debut in April at Concord, much to the delight of the racers and fans of the popular Pro Cup product. There were plenty of rumors of the series’ demise, so it’s good to hear a group of racers gather up some cash to keep the series afloat.
4) ALL STARS, EH?
We’re all for doing whatever it takes to win a race. We’re not all for doing it halfway through a race, Mr. Hornaday. As for Joey Logano’s last-lap bonzai move on Peyton Sellers? Well, it was a bonehead move, but Sellers roughed up Logano a couple laps before that. The result of that one? Some hurt feelings, bent up racecars and a grandstand’s worth of boos, cheers and new heroes and villains made – just what short track racing’s supposed to be.
5) DEMO DERBY
A couple weeks back, we went to a Demo Derby…lo and behold, a Pro Late Model race broke out! The PLM portion of SpeedFest weekend at Lanier National Speedway was dispicable, with no less than a dozen cars getting junked at one point or another, most of which happened in the first 10 laps of the race. Not a good way to start off the new season, boys.
6) RACING FANS OR ELITISTS?
Hardcore asphalt Modified fans are known for being loyal, fierce and well….grumpy at times. A good example is how the small but vocal group reacted to news of the ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour being added to a the racing card of this year’s North-South Shootout. Instead of being happy for the addition, some “fans” blasted the appearance of the taxi cabs and threaten to boycott the event. The Mod curmudgeons are known to complain that promoters don’t do enough to expose their favorite type of racing to the masses, yet when someone takes a dynamic step to do that, they complain.
7) DROPPING THE CEILING
February’s DIRTCar Nationals at Volusia County Raceway promises to be a great show for the fans. Those fans will actually be able to see the entire show too. Event organizers will boot any haulers over 9 ½ feet tall from the infield to ensure good sightlines for the fans in the stands. We’re just glad to see the promoters looking out for the most important participants in racing – the fans.
8) BUSCH LEAGUE
We’ve heard the saying before – there are racecar drivers and drivers who race cars. The racecar drivers are the true professionals, talented and not afraid to race whatever, whenever, wherever. Anyone old enough to reach the pedals can be a driver who races a car, however. Perhaps you know them as “wheelholders.” Kyle Busch is a racecar driver. Love him or hate him from the Cup side, what he did at SpeedFest was impressive. Leading a bunch of laps, racing clean and respectfully and putting on a show for the fans. That’s how it’s done.
9) BYE BYE BIRMINGHAM
As the Mayor of Birmingham and his staff giggled as the wrecking ball hit the grandstands at Birmingham International Raceway earlier this week, a dagger went through the hearts of short track fans throughout the Southeast. BIR wasn’t the prettiest of facilities. It didn’t put on the most amazing races all the time, either. But it was a relic of all that was good with short track racing. Now, it’ll be modernized as rereational facilities for the city, but racing fans will never forgive the city for what they did to their track, nor will they forget BIR.
10) PORTA JOHN - OR TOM, STEVE, OR CHRIS...
One of our favorite stories from Speedweeks revolves around a porta john getting tipped over – while a driver was in it. If you have no other reasons to go to New Smyrna every night or to follow it on Speed51.com all week, going just to see if it happens again is worth the trip.