We all know that short track racing is hurting economically – seemingly just like everything else in America. It’s now more important than ever to give the fans in the stands a great show to keep them coming back and supporting the sport. But what’s not helping to do that is the amount of disqualifications we have seen around the Southeast, and beyond, lately. In just the past four weeks, we have seen two victories change hands, and two more podium finishes snatched away for tech infractions. What’s going on here?
Let’s first rewind the clock to late June, Augie Grill’s motor was disassembled and the heads were inspected in three different states before a victory in the Miller Lite Super Late Model Series at Mobile was stripped from Grill and given to Chase Elliott. That was followed up by Brenan Poole’s disqualification in the UARA-STARS event at Tri-County Motor Speedway (NC) this past weekend. The next night at Gresham Motorsports Park, TJ Reaid was the victim and lost a second-place finish in a CRA event. That same night, AJ Frank finished third on the track In the Pro Cup race at Motor Mile (VA), only to get dropped to the bottom of the list because of what we can only expect was a tech infraction.
There have even been issues outside of the Southeast. Midweek, we found out that Trevor Sanborn was moved from second-place and disqualified from last weekend’s PASS North race at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME) due to what was reportedly an engine issue.
Sure, it hurts a driver and team to get bounced out of their finish. But the real people who get cheated the most out of this deal are the race fans. Drivers will say ‘it’s a gray area’ or ‘there was no competitive advantage’ to what they found. But is it? When results are determined by hundredths of a second in many races, every little advantage could matter.
The tech guys are trying to be fair across the board and make sure that people don’t get turned away thinking that they can’t beat certain people in certain series. We can understand that logic. After all, would you want to go race in a series where a guy has won 12 times in 13 races?
So the racers have a job, go fast and do anything they can to make it fast and not get caught pushing the envelope.
At the same time the tech guys have a job. Keep the cars on a level playing field and watch for illegal parts in the car.
Where the system breaks down is when the lights are on in the tech shed at two o’clock in the morning and the fans who showed up and paid their admission that night have left think that the green car won the race. Then three days later they read online or in a newspaper that the third-place car was the winner because the green car and the red car didn’t pass the tech.
We tried to separate the fields a few years back with crate motor races, or Pro Late Models as we call it in the South. After a few seasons, we can honestly say that didn’t help. In fact, it was almost the opposite. Now teams will have both crate motors and built motors ready to go in the shop to be able to switch out for different tracks.
Here in lies another problem - with multiple types of motors already in the mix and the addition of crate motors, that almost doubles the different combinations that roll through tech.
Now I am not asking drivers not cheat or asking the tech guys to ease up. But Let’s think about what this is doing to the sport. It’s giving it a black eye. Like Major League Baseball with the strike in 1994. It only hurts the fans and the fans are the reason we have a place to race.
The real reason we get to partake in high-speed cat in mouse games is because the blue-collar family likes to go to the track to see racing. We don’t want them to go to the movies, but chances are that they might start considering that if they find out a few days later that the hero that they saw win a race ended up getting placed to the bottom of the results sheet for that night thanks to some unapproved part.