By TJ Buffenbarger
I’d like to thank everyone who stopped to say something about the column I wrote last week. It was something I had been thinking about writing for a while, but didn’t know how I wanted to put it. Let’s just leave it as I was inspired by some circumstances to write one day, and that’s what came out. So once again, thank you.
I also would like to take a chance to send my condolences to the family of Casey Diemert. To be honest, I had only heard his name before this happened, but from what I’ve read of other peoples comments Casey was an outstanding young racer about my age. That really hits close to home because I know I’m close with a lot of racing people in my age bracket. God speed Casey, we’ll miss you.
I did make it down to the Eldora Speedway Saturday for the opener. I could not have had a better start to the season with the 55 car field and the great racing action. This race was one for my memory banks with Brian Tyler and Derek Davidson battling down to the last turn for the victory. I know Derek is going to give me a bad time at Attica for that, “Rim riding game of chicken” comment, but it was well worth it because of the race for the lead Saturday night. Good show guys, and I can’t wait for Attica.
I wonder if anyone noticed me talking with Dave Darland wearing my new Dean Jacobs sweatshirt? I’m surprised Dave didn’t notice it actually.
Everyone had to be feeling for Danny Smith on Saturday. I feel Smith had at least a third place finish locked up when the crew forgot to put on the fuel cap after the red flag. It was a heart breaker for once of the Denny Ashworth, who has one of the nicest teams in all of sprint car racing. I’m almost certain they will double check that from now on. This coming weekend the team will also have car for Kenny Jacobs to drive. Look for this to last a couple of races until Kenny’s new team is ready to go.
I also have to give some credit to Jason Smith and Mike Devin. The USAC Sprint Car division is off to a flying start, and when things go right these gentlemen do not get enough of the credit. When things go wrong people in the media (including myself) get on their case. Last year everyone started to raise cain after the Tony Elliott/Kevin Thomas situation at Attica. Add that in with Indiana Sprintweek, the 32 car rule, and everything seemed to come back to them. When I talked with Jason Smith at the PRI show, he looked like his dog died that day. I felt really bad for him. This opener should be the start of vindication for Smith has the USAC Sprint, Midget, and Silver Crown series has the largest pool of young talent of all the sprint and midget divisions. I just wanted to say that the hard work has not gone unnoticed, and both of you should take a bow. I still do not like the 32 car rule, but you guys are doing a good job!
The second stop on our whirlwind world tour will once again be at Earl’s for the Pennzoil World of Outlaws and the NRA 360 Sprint Cars. I’m anxious to see how the new heat race format will play out at the Big E. Traditionally at some of the larger race tracks, heat races can get kind of spread out with the drivers riding in a transfer spot. This year should have some great racing up front to get into the Vivirin Dash.
Of course I’ll have coverage from both divisions, as the 360 Sprint Invaders will also be putting on a good show to complement to biggest traveling show in dirt track racing. I’m going to make sure they are not lost amongst the big Featherlite trailers and corporate sponsored race cars, as they are the base of sprint car racing. If someone wants to be a World of Outlaws star, they have to come though the local ranks first. I know this page will never forget that.
Make sure to look out for parking lot shots on Saturday morning. From about 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. est. I’ll shoot some live shots of the cars in the Sidney, Ohio motel district. It’s not exactly the closest town to stay in when at Eldora, but it has lots of restaurants and shopping within walking distance of the hotel. We’ve stayed there for at least 18 years now when going to Eldora, so Saturday morning is a small part of our family tradition that I like to share with all of you.
For everyone that loves sitting in the stands in turns three and four, there has been a very strong north wind so far this week. So good luck to you all while I’m sitting under the roof on Friday and Saturday:-) TJ decals should be ready at Eldora! More details will be coming. Also, make sure to check out the Bob, Rod, Todd section overhaul after Eldora. Should be a lot of fun for all race fans. Until then, it’s off to the Big E. Hopefully I’ll see many of you there as well. If not, keep surfing this page to check out all our weekend coverage.