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Getting “Slideways” on the Pavement to End 1999

By T.J. Buffenbarger

10 / 12 : Most of the Midwest has little or no rain all spring and summer, and just when it’s time for the U.S. Nationals at the Terre Haute Action Track Mother Nature cuts loose with heavy rain. Several campers reported seeing people starting pair of all the species of animals in the area. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad. I still think though the facility earned the name “Terre Float Actionless Track” for the weekend. No word yet on a possible rescheduling of the ASCS Outlaws and Non-Wing sprints for this year, but I have my doubts if that will happen.

The weather might have helped the covered bridge festival that ties up all the hotels from Indy south the same weekend as the Dirt Nationals. Anything providing shelter from the rain probably was very popular.

The only sprint car race in the area on Saturday that somehow escaped the rain was the Mudslingers at Auto City Speedway with the Auto Value Super Sprints. Gary Fedewa and Bill Tyler had a great battle for the win, with Fedewa taking the victory. The funkiest thing about this race though was it’s “the Mudslinger” for the Late Models and Sprints contested on a ½ mile paved oval. The Auto City Speedway used to have a dirt surface, and the Mudslinger was one of the biggest Late Model races around. I believe Billy Moyer is a past winner of the event under NDRA sanction.

Auto City is one of the true showplaces for the Auto Value sprints now. When I ask people about where they see the good racing out of this group, usually Auto City is right up there. With one and two being a high-banked turn that is somewhat tight, and three and four long and sweeping, the cars probably slide around a bit more than on a typical oval.

Leaving last weekend behind us, this week brings the Fall Open Nationals at the M-40 Motorsports Park. Supermodifieds and Sprint Cars butt heads for the $3,000 to win top prize. The event also features “The Legends of Supermodifieds with several legendary drivers attending. So far Todd Gibson, Tom York, Tom Jewell, Ozzie Osborn (will he show up late?), Wayne Landon, and many other drivers from the golden era of Supermodfied racing in Michigan. There are even rumblings of Wild Willie Stutzman coming out of retirement with his Supermodified for the event.

A new website also is going to throw its weight around at M-40. http://www.retrorockets.org features historical photos and stories of the cars and stars of Supermodifieds through the 1960’s and 70’s. The extensive photo gallery has pictures of when the supers were the premiere short track division up here in Michigan and further east.

Practice is Friday night from 3:00-9:00 P.M. EST, and racing takes place Sunday at 3:00. I’d advise getting to the track early to take in a little of the history that will be on hand. I’m really looking forward to this event after years of my Dad telling me stories about watching some of these drivers at Berlin, the Grand Rapids Speedrome, Spartan, Kalamazoo, and other Supermodified haunts around Michigan.

TJ’s Notebook

-Another new website going up this week is autoracingindoors.com. This is a site built by yours truly features information for the upcoming Ruble series events at the Toeldo Seagate Center, and the Ft. Wayne Expo Center in December with the midgets and other divisions. Tony Barhorst and the Classic Motorsports crew put on a great show at the new building in Ft. Wayne last year, and this year’s events should be once again a great way to spend a cold December day or two. Look for more information on the events on the site and on the Slideways page.

-The end of racing season brings on “the rubber chicken” circuit. This year I’ll be dusting off my tie collection for the New 96 Speedway, All Stars, and Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame banquets. To top it off I’m bringing out the tux to be Master of Ceremonies at the 1999 Sprints on Dirt Banquet. This is going to be my first attempt at this, but ask anyone who knows me well and they can tell you I’ve never been lost for words.

-Along with my first attempt at the microphone I’ll also try promoting with my buddy Duane Turner for the 1999 TJ Slideways/Sprints on Dirt Winter Nationals November 13th at the Shepard’s Indoor Speedway in Owosso, MI. This one-day show featuring the alcohol burning NASCARTS on the semi-banked, indoor, slick track oval features your chance to race with drivers of Sprints on Dirt. Cost of entry is $10 per person with a banquet ticket, or $20 with out a ticket. Race time is 1-4 PM on November 13th. You must be 16 years of age to partake in the fun.

-Shepard’s Indoor Speedway is one of my favorite haunts. I’ve had fun there racing various people, as I’ve discovered I’m not the high side, rim-riding driver I always dreamed I would be. I’m more like Kevin “the Carp” Thomas feeding off the bottom of the track. It’s as close to racing as I’ll ever dare to come, and we have a lot of fun out there. I recommend it if you are even in the Owosso area to check it out.

-Just read Kevin Oldham’s column on the track in Farmington. From what I read it’s another must see track to add on the list. It will now join KC, Lernerville, Perris, and East Bay for my must see list. I’m really ashamed I haven’t been to the Lernerville or KC, but it’s so hard to convince myself to go that far when there is always so much good racing in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. I have a feeling I might knock a few of these off my list next year. I just have to talk Lyle Skalland, the only man to own a full blown dirt modified in Charlotte, Michigan, to drag me over there some night. Lyle used to pull his modified every week from Charlotte to Lernerville. Now that’s dedication!

That wraps up this week’s column. If Mother Nature and my cold both subside, there should be loads more information next week. Who would have thought my last two shows of the year would be on pavement? I still might wonder into Butler next Saturday night though. Until then though, I’ll see everyone down the road somewhere. Need to get a hold of me? webmaster@tjslideways.com