Speed51.com's "The Big 10"
Our Take on the Week That Was in Short Track Racing
by Speed51.com Staff
We’re not sure if there’s a cooler story to come out of the Fall New England Speedweeks than the pride of Rowley, Massachusetts, Eddie MacDonald.  All the dude did was win two of the three races he entered at New Hampshire Motor Speedway – the NASCAR Camping World East race and the Inaugural ACT Invitational.  Sure, he may have destroyed Andy Seuss’ Modified in the third race, but we’ll give him a pass.   Best of all, MacDonald’s East Series car owner Rob Grimm funds the #71 program well, but not nearly as strong as the Cup-affiliated teams in the series.  Even less funded is MacDonald’s Late Model program that won those big Late Model races.  The tow vehicle for that winning car this past weekend consisted of a rusty 20-year-old GMC pick-up, complete with period-correct snowplow headgear, and a trailer that is missing a fender and has its side door bungie-corded shut.  Stick that in your big rig and smoke it!

Perhaps the second-coolest story to come out of NHMS is the phenomenal success story that is Rollie Lachance.  Lachance has led Eddie Mac’s teams to victory in all the above races, plus more in the East Series, where the #71 Grimm team currently sits just 30 points out of the championship going into this weekend’s finale at Dover.  Whether they do or don’t win the title, it’s about time someone gives Lachance some recognition as one hell of a crew chief – oh yeah, and Eddie’s a damn good racer, too. 

Ron Hornaday is still getting it done in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at age 50 and he still keeps track of what happens on short tracks as shown by his answer to a question about age at a New Hampshire press conference.  “Steve Carlson, he won a little Late Model ASA race up there and he told me that I better talk to (Kevin and Delana) Harvick because he was turning 50 and he could drive their other truck for them,” said Hornaday.

Kudos to PASS officials for re-opening Southern National Raceway Park in Kenly, NC this weekend for the PASS National event.  A couple other tours tried re-opening the place that’s up for sale a few times this year, but to no avail.  Southern National’s a cool place, albeit sort of far off the beaten path.  But, it should be a good show with a bunch of Northern guys coming down to take on the Southerners.

Remember the old Nike commercial where Charles Barkley admitted, “I am not a role model?”  Well, last week was a rough week for kids who look up to racers at Stafford Motor Speedway as role models.  On Friday, both Ted Christopher and Keith Rocco took turns wrecking, or at least trying to wreck, each other, drawing suspensions for both drivers for this Friday.  Then, a couple days earlier, SK veteran Frank Ruocco (no relation to Rocco) was indicted on federal fraud and money laundering charges.  All three drivers are currently ranked first, second and fifth in the Stafford SK standings.  Oops. 

Toyota has just won their first manufacturer’s championship in what is now called the NASCAR Camping World East Series – led largely by the performances of Cup satellite teams fielded by Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing.  It seems like only yesterday when the series was ruled by Buicks fielded by Fadden Racing or Dick McCabe, the Tic Tac Pontiac (say that quickly three times) of Kelly Moore, the orange #29 Ford Thunderbird that the Dion Brothers built or even an Oldsmobile driven by someone like Tony Hirschman.

Since just about everyone says our Speed51.com staff has a perfect face for the internet and the radio, we figured we’d just up our ante in the short track coverage that the fans seem to be loving these days.  Speed 51 Radio just announced that they’re going to be covering the World Crown 300 at the new Gresham Motorsports Park (GA) this November, in addition to broadcasting just about every big Late Model event still to come this Fall, including the Winchester 400, the All-American 400 at Nashville, the King’s Ransom ASA Late Model show at Memphis, the Milk Bowl at Thunder Road and that little shindig down in Pensacola in December, the 42nd Annual Snowball Derby. 

Last Saturday, Bobby Grigas III had some engine problems during practice for the Whelen Mod race at New Hampshire.  The team went to a backup car and thrashed to get it ready for the 100-lap race later in the day, but by the time they had it ready to go, pre-race tech had closed and NASCAR would not allow them to start the race due to not having it inspected. Not only did they not let Grigas start, they suspended him for two races for attempting to take the car on the track.  While going on the track may not have been the best idea, NASCAR’s punishment seems way over-done and really stinks.  That move doesn’t help series director Chad Little’s reputation, which already isn’t all that great, according to some WMT teams.

Dr. Dick Berggren, a friend of short track racing and the man who will forever hold the dirt track record at Maine’s Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (The track was paved after Berggren’s Supermodified set that record), has recently written his last column for Speedway Illustrated.  Berggren will be busy with other projects, most recently calling the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for SPEED Channel.  The magazine will be in good hands under Karl Fredrickson, but it’s just going to be strange to not have Berggren writing for the magazine – kind of like Hendrick Motorsports without Rick or Roush Racing without Jack.

The American Speed Association (ASA) organization has seen a couple of their tours go by the wayside in recent weeks.  While this does not necessarily reflect on the organization as a whole, who can blame them for taking their business overseas to see if the racing there can be a little more profitable and sustainable?  ASA is promoting a race in January in South Africa – yes that South Africa.  It’s at a big Las Vegas Motor Speedway-style D-shaped track over there.  I guess if there’s no room for tours in the Southeast, I guess go even further South and East.  Would this be like short track outsourcing?