By TJ Buffenbarger
11/9/98: It’s mid-November and my life is still going 100 miles per hour. Just when racing season starts to quiet down throughout the Midwest, college really starts to pick up and I wonder where I ever found time to go to the races. Actually since changing my major to Computer Networking I have found a lot more free time to go out and have some fun this semester. I really have about two more weeks to do that, and then I start preparing for finals. So if you see a link that doesn’t work, please be nice about it. We are probably aware of it, but just don’t have much time for the next month to fix it.
One of the fun things I did find time to do was hopping a ride with new SOD head Duane Turner to the Gas City I-69 Speedway Awards Celebration. Usually I’m more than reluctant to go to racing banquets for local tracks, but Gas City’s event was truly a lot of fun. The event was fairly informal, yet everyone dressed nice, and really didn’t spot any Ya-hoos in the crowd all night. I have to thank Dawn Moss and Kent Christian for coming up with the two tickets we used. Dawn did a great job putting on the well organized event. It’s something everyone involved can be very proud of. The event was sold out when I finally got around to calling for tickets, and Kent’s car owners could not make it. So for one night Kent was driving the TJ Slideways Dynamite Chassis #9 sprint car:-) Kent will be back with his car owner again in 1999.
Probably the most emotional part of the evening was the presentation of the Vince Osman Sportsmanship award from Vince’s wife Jill Osman. That night was the first chance I ever had to even speak to Jill. Even through putting together the Vince Osman Tribute Page and attending the rain out and run versions of the Vince Osman Memorial Classic at Kokomo, we had never managed to meet. When we did, I received a huge hug from Jill. Apparently, putting together that tribute for Vince helped her healing through the process. For myself, I finally felt as well that everything kind of came full circle with my feeling of that scary night at Kokomo. It was very similar to the feeling I got hearing Pat Sullivan talk about the VO classic before racing started at the August classic (see my other column about the V.O. Classic). Mark Clark was a excellent choice, as he is one of the nicest racers in the State of Indiana.
I can’t say enough about the effort of people at Gas City I-69 Speedway. They have accomplished what many of us felt was impossible to do in Indiana: Run a nice facility with a great track surface and finish the program at a decent hour. Gas City if probably my personal favorite track to attend racing at right now. Everyone in the Indianapolis area and surrounding towns that didn’t make it to Gas City last season, it’s your loss! You probably missed out on some of the best racing I’ve ever seen. If you need proof, call Ron Smelter and order the video of the night Jeremy Sherman, Dave Darland, and Mike Mann had a three wide, line swapping, three wide, exchange for the lead. If you don’t stand up and say, “Good Lord, I have seen the light” after that race, you probably don’t have a pulse.
Right now the news from Sprints on Dirt is that Duane Turner and Scott Quintell are going over a few rules revisions for 1999. The group is also working on a tire deal that will help contribute more money into the season point fund. As of right now, no races have been booked for next season. Look for the basically the same schedule with a couple of tracks possibly added in Indiana and Ohio. Gas City I-69 Speedway seemed to express interest in having both of their dates back in 1999 as well.
News from the Auto Value Super Sprints banquet appears to be a little more positive. Dirt shows will be booked the same night as pavement races! *insert alleluia chorus here!!!* It’s about time for those of us that prefer to have dirt blown in our faces rather than chunks of Hoosier Tire gumbo. AVSS also is having a general meeting November 22nd 3:00 at Mike Katz’s, “The Robin’s Nest” banquet hall. Two board positions are up for re-election. If you want to make a difference in this group, please attend this meeting! One person rumored to be running is Dave Ward. Dave will have our vote along with any other dirt sprint car people that want to run.
Bill Jacoby is stepping out of the driver’s seat and will be taking over control of AVSS from Tony Nosal. As for the Jerry Slade series, Slade is calling tracks and owners claiming to have something put together. The news of AVSS booking dirt shows on pavement nights is going to put the hurt on Jerry’s new series. We’ll have more news on this as we hear it. No matter how many series spring up in this area over the next few months, we’ll cover all of them here on the Slideways page.
We’re also hearing from down south that the Hartford Speedway might be sold to a group out of Chicago. I have to wonder why in the world anyone would take the chance on Hartford again. The track is located in a very economically depressed region of Michigan, and a three hour drive from most of the major racing areas in Michigan. If you talk to some of the people that have been attending races in the area for the past three decades, none of them can remember the track drawing constantly good crowds.
Once again I discovered the best thing to do with World of Outlaws races on TNN is to go to an actual race or race event, set your VCR, and fast forward through all the commercials and delays. I felt Friday’s program was pretty well done with the on track action, but was way too long considering all that was shown in full length were the Dash, C, B, and A-Main’s. The race at Heartland Park Topeka was also announced to be added to the TV lineup. Am I the only one that things this is going to be a complete disaster? I’ve very skeptical about how good of a race track this is going to be. This is not a controlled environment inside of a building; this is Kansas in the middle of the summer with some dirt thrown on top of asphalt. It’s either going to be similar to the conditions at Las Vegas or rougher than Terre Haute. Personally I would rather see Chico, Haubstadt, or even Bloomington added to the schedule rather than another half mile or temporary circuit.
As for news from the All Stars (Remember, it’s the group that’s name is a bad word on TNN. Shhhhh!). The purse increase is great news for the racers, but what about the promoters? I’ll have to give a shout out to Gene Frankart at Attica just to get his view on this topic. Personally I think it’s long overdue as the back end of the purse has been increased several times, but the heart of the All Stars finishes between first and tenth on any given night.
With all the purse increases, I wonder if the opening nights of Florida Speedweeks will be still $3,000 to win? If it is, and I was a promoter on Western Pa. or Ohio Speedweek, I’d be a little bit irritated. Why should VCS and East Bay get the All Stars for less than the tracks that are the true heart and soul of the group? I’ll remember that while I’m sitting in a lecture at school when everyone else is having fun down there (grrrrr!).
The best news from this month around the Slideways page, Kendra Jacobs! I’m so proud of what Kendra has accomplished on here in a short time, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer person. In case anyone was wondering, she is as down to earth in person as she is in her columns. I’m honored (yes, honored) to have her writings posted on this page. Check out the latest column, because it’s something all of us track brats car relate to.
I better wrap this one up so I can once again hit the books. I have my year end awards column all outlined out with my best moments from the 1998 season. I came up with enough good stuff that it’s going to take two installments to get everything and everyone in. See everyone down the road sometime this winter! PRI, Ft. Wayne, RCA Dome, and possibly a trip to the Michigan Motorsports Expo in Novi will keep us busy this winter.