A SHORT TRACK THANKSGIVING by Bob Dillner & Mike Twist
Racing Fans Have Many Things to Be Thankful for This Holiday
At the Magic Mile in New Hampshire this year, we saw Busch North standouts Kelly (the dad) and Ryan Moore (the son) battle tooth and nail for the victory, neither of which would eventually enjoy. In the south, Dick and Wayne Anderson have terrorized both the Florida short track world and each other for years. Up north, PASS boys Mike and Ben Rowe almost took each other out of the DNK 250 at Unity (ME), yet remain as close as ever. Texans Greg and Chris Davidson remain some of the top Super Late Model competitors in the nation while Fred and Brian Campbell consistently find a way to kick everyone’s tail end on the Michigan asphalt scene. These are just some of the father/son combos we are fortunate enought to see..
In 2004 we have seen fathers pour their hearts and souls, and even their pockets, into their sons racing efforts. Glen Smith isn’t a rich man in monetary means, but he is in his love for his son Casey. And it is because of Glen that 19-year-old ASA rookie Casey Smith is getting noticed by teams in the NASCAR garage. Yet the Smiths are not alone. We see similar situations to this across America. Former northeast Modified hotshot, now jack-maker, George Brunnhoelzl and his son, George III, in the Hooters Pro Cup ranks, Ron Wimmer and his son Chris in ASA and now the Craftsman Truck Series, and Danny Darnell and grandfather, Bay, with their son and grandson Erik in NASCAR’s Southeast and Midwest Series’ are just a few that come to mind.
Kelly (#47) and Ryan Moore (#74). (51 Photos)
The holidays are upon us and for many of us in the racing world; it can be a sad time. No more races to go to or compete in (except for the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola FL on Dec 5), no more engines to tune or tires to stagger; only time to reflect on the season gone by. And while all of us are thankful for the time spent with families while scarfing down as much turkey as possible (between the main meal and leftovers for nearly a week) and watching plenty of football, we as racing fans also have plenty to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Family is the key to the holidays and in many cases the key to success on the short tracks of America. This year we have seen many father and son combinations bang bumpers on the speedways of America.
And let’s not forget about the brothers that race together these days. Bob and Bill Park had a family reunion of sort by competing in the North South Shootout Modified race recently at Concord Motorsport Park. Meanwhile, Jason and Burt Meyers put the chrome horn to each other in the Mod wars at Bowman Gray Stadium in North Carolina each and every week throughout the summer. Jason and Jeff Jefferson have been duking it out for NASCAR’s Northwest Series title the past couple of years; right now Jeff has a couple titles on his brother. How ‘bout that for some sibling rivalry?
Billy (#20) and Bob Park (#19) at CMS this November.
And there are the Bozell’s, all three of them, Andy, Phil and Jeff, who all finished in the top four in points at Michigan’s Kalamazoo Speedway this year. Btw, Andy won the title.
Any racing fan can appreciate and be thankful for two of the most famous racing families in America, the Sauters and the Bowshers. Jack Bowsher is both a former USAC Stock Car and ARCA champ. In fact, now six-time ARCA champ Frank Kimmel calls Jack the “AJ Foyt of his time” in his realm of the racing world. Jack’s son Bobby won an ARCA title and his youngest boy Todd is still competing in the ARCA Re/Max Series. Jack is still heavily involved with the team in every aspect.
As far as the Sauters, and there are a lot of them, they keep on making their mark on the racing scene. Jim started it all, but his boys Jay, Tim and Johnny have done all right for themselves in the shadows of the racing father. Now, the third generation of Sauters is beginning to make his mark. Travis, one of Tim’s three sons, is showing signs of stardom in the upper Midwest Late Model ranks.
And speaking of youth, we are also appreciative of all the talent the short track realm is producing these days. To see the stars of tomorrow shine so bright so early is nothing
short of amazing. Bobby Santos, Reed Sorenson, Stephen Leicht, Charlie Bradberry, Joel Kauffman. JR Norris, Joey Miller, Andrew Morrissey, Justin Diercks, Chuck Barnes Jr., Jason Hogan, Donny Lia, Chuck Hossfeld, Joey Logano… the list goes on and on. Someday you will be able to say, “Hey, I saw that kid when he was racing at…” Just think how many people are saying that about 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup champ Kurt Busch, who was the 1999 NASCAR Southwest Series champ.
We are also thankful for the veterans as well. The ageless greats who still race – Red Farmer and Dick Trickle come to mind. And there are the masters who have raced for years and still have not forgotten how to win. We’re talking about guys like Butch Miller, Junior Hanley, Freddie Query, Bobby Gill and Steve Carlson.
And don’t think for a moment that these old guys aren’t always fast? Want proof? Look no further than NASCAR’s Busch North Series where the season long Bud Pole winner was none other than Dave Dion. He won’t tell us how old he is, but let’s just say he got his start in racing behind the wheel of a ’57 Chevy long before they were considered collectable cars.
Red Farmer is still a wheelin' machine!
And what would the racing world be without the characters that provide as much entertainment off the track as they do on it. Every Mike Cope, Ted Christopher, Wayne Anderson, Rick Fuller, Mike Garvey and Scott Bloomquist makes it just a little more fun to go to the track each week. Sometimes it’s to see them win and sometimes it’s just to see what they will say next.
The next Sauter - Tim's son, Travis
Yet, even in our saddest days in the sport, we can be thankful for the support of the racing community. After Tom Baldwin passed away in a tragic accident at Thompson Speedway (CT) this summer, there were plenty of tears, but there was also hope. Many of his fans and friends got together to honor his memory by raising money for the children of the Petty’s Victory Junction Gang Camp. Seeing a sea of Tiger Tom T-Shirts (which were sold to raise the money) in the pits at Thompson when the Modifieds returned to finish the final laps of his final race was proof of how close this racing community really is.
And finally, we are all thankful for the fans. They come out in the rain, in the cold and on the hot summer nights and without them none of this would be possible for any of us to do.
Enjoy your friends and family this Thanksgiving, but as they always say a family that races together, stays together. And that is something to be thankful for.