Saturday Night Special
Artimus Pyle, the former drummer for Lynyrd Skynyrd who survived the band's tragic plane crash in 1977 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, tried out a new gig last weekend. Pyle wheeled a four-cylinder in the weekly show at Citrus County Speedway (FL). His Saturday night wasn't so special though. Pyle got caught up in a lap three wreck and exited the event early.
Where Are They?
For years, we have heard fans and competitors alike say, “If only they would reopen North Wilkesboro, we'd be there.” Well, the historic North Carolina track has reopened and the fans have been there, but not a ton of teams have been. There were less than 30 entries for the PASS Super Late Model race there earlier this season and only eight starters in Sunday's Sunoco National Tour. We know that the SNT has had low car counts all season, but we are shocked that at least a few Super Late Model teams from the Charlotte area didn't tow up to Wilkes County to take a shot at such a historic track.
If you want to be successful in ACT and ACT-type Late Model racing, here's a hint - put a seven at the end of your number. Brian Hoar (#37) won his second ACT Late Model title this year. Joey Pole (#97) won its two biggest races - the NHMS Invitational and the Milk Bowl. Eddie MacDonald (#17) won the TD Bank Oxford 250. Wayne Helliwell, Jr. (#27) won the Lee USA Speedway (NH) track title and Tim Jordan (#47) won the track championship at Waterford Speedbowl (CT). Even as a rookie, Austin Theriault came within one finishing position of putting his #57 into victory lane at Beech Ridge. Mark Haywood also scored a surprise victory on the Tour this season at Twin State Speedway (NH) with his #77NH entry.
The Right Priorities
It's kind of funny for us to hear competitors on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour bellyache that Bobby Santos, III won this year's championship because of the superior equipment of his Mystic Missile team. The equipment is good, there's no doubt about that, but so is the stuff of the top level of teams on the Tour. The ironic thing though is that these complaints are coming from members of teams who tow their racecars around in semi-trailers and toterhomes - while the Mystic Missile is contained in a 1980's GMC box van that doesn't even have room for a back-up car. It sounds to us like Bob Garbarino's team just knows where to focus their time, effort and money - and it's not on looking pretty or cool, but in going very fast.
There Goes The Neighborhood
It was recently in the news that the real estate website WalletPop.com issued a list of the 25 worst neighborhoods in the country based on crime statistics. One neighborhood in Winston-Salem, North Carolina appeared at number 16 on the list with 175 violent crimes predicted to take place there in a year. That neighborhood is just a mile or so from the infamous Bowman Gray Stadium. We wonder if the borders of the neighborhood were expanded and statistics from incidents at the BGS “Madhouse” like post-race fights, on-track muggings and hit and run wrecks were added to the tally, that the area might move up on the list and contend with certain areas of Chicago, Cleveland, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Washington D.C. for a spot on the ten most dangerous neighborhoods roster.
You Go Girl!
By now, we've all seen the Speed 51 video of the post race altercation between LW Miller and the #79 Hillbilly Racing team after the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour season finale at Charlotte Motor Speedway (NC) from a few weeks back. In our minds, there is no doubt who the star of that footage is - Sandra Hill. As the matriarch of the family who owns the #79 team, Hill wasn't afraid to step up to an angry Miller and deliver him a lecture filled with well thought out arguments delivered in a sassy Southern drawl. We really don't know why Miller didn't just quiet up, look down and say “Yes Ma'am” to Hill after the incident because she clearly owned him in this debate.
Where Am I?
Here's a hint to racing series and tracks - good press releases help to lead to good coverage of your brand of racing. Recently, we got in a press release recapping in detail a race from a touring series that we normally don't cover much of. It was a big show, so we wanted to work that into our coverage. Then, we found that nowhere in the entire race recap or results from the sanctioning body was there any mention of what track they had raced at! Although it would have been easier to just hit delete on that e-mail, we decided to check around to find a series schedule and eventually post the results on our Facebook Feed page. We think that many sports editors at newspapers would have just chucked that press release out and given no coverage to the event at all- and promoters wonder why they get no attention?
Bubba Gale practiced a Rolling Thunder Modified at North Wilkesboro Speedway (NC) last weekend while his son Cale Gale raced and won the feature event with it. After the race, there was some confusion as to which Gale was wheeling the car. Speed51.com talked to Cale Gale before and after the race, so we know he was the one in the car, but the track covered all of their bases by listing Cale “Bubba” Gale as the race winner. Maybe it was their way to acknowledge that father and son worked together during the race weekend?
The North South Shootout has never been a race for one hit wonders. Three competitors - the late John Blewett, III, Matt Hirschman and Burt Myers, have won the race twice. Only Donny Lia is a single year winner of the race and he contended for the victory in his other two NSS starts. That doesn't bode well for the chances of a newbie breaking through to victory lane in Saturday's eighth edition of the event. Then again, the presence of proven winners like Myers, Hirschman, Eric Beers, Jimmy Blewett, Chuck Hossfeld and Ryan Preece on the entry list doesn't bode well for a driver to score his first big career victory in the race either.
Let's be honest - some Modified fans are a little strange. Instead of supporting all of short track racing, they complain whenever their preferred type of racecar needs to share the track with their favor type of racecars. Cries of protest were heard when CRA Super Late Models were added to the North South Shootout. “It's Taxi Cab racing!” is what was heard. Well, if that is true then the taxi line for this race is getting longer than the one curbside at the JFK airport. Defending race winner Jeff Fultz is set to face off against guys like Bubba Pollard, Augie Grill, Ross Kenseth and Ryan Blaney. No matter how much you love Modified racing, the CRA race isn't a feature that you'll want to be caught in the concession line during.