03/04/2003: SOD Plants Seeds For a Bright Future

By T.J. Buffenbarger:

“Sanction a safe, affordable, and entertaining venue that benefits our sponsors, fans, promoters, participants, and the entire racing industry”.

This new mission statement ushered in new era in Sprints on Dirt presented by new SOD president Jason Fausey. Saturday night the new SOD leadership held its first official function with a meeting at the shop of Don Daggett this past Saturday. I expected a handful of people to turn out, so when over 70 people were counted on hand everyone involved was very enthusiastic with the outpour of interest. The new leader, Jason Fausey

For over an hour Jason kept the room full of racers attention (not a small feat by any means) for well over an hour with a great power point presentation that contained vital information for the 2003 season. Topics covered included the future of the series, this year’s schedule, the purse structure, and the point fund for 2003.

Sprints on Dirt’s new look starts at the very top with president Jason Fausey. Jason is originally from the Fremont, Ohio area before coming north to Michigan State University where he eventually received his P.H.D. in Agra science.

Jason was forward with everyone on Saturday that if people have questions he is the man to seek out. When I first met Jason last year I thought he was rather quiet and un-assuming. Instead I found out after getting to know Jason a little better he is a very strong willed and organized person.

My attention was really grabbed by a comment made by Jason when he said, “We’re not the World of Outlaws, but that does not mean we can’t put on a better and more professional show than the World of Outlaws!” This along with other items got all the teams fired up enough that it looked as if they were ready to push off and run the feature!

If Jason continues with this enthusiasm and openness he could be seen trailing on the tail end of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame Poll Most Influential list in a few years. He has so many great ideas. I hope the riggers of running a racing series do not wear down enthusiasm. Time will tell how this will play out.

Some not so new faces in new places:

One of the first new ideas SOD implemented is the formation of an Operations Committee chaired by SOD founder John Naida and Bill Johnson. Both are long time sprint car competitors and will help Jason in guiding the Sprints on Dirt into this new era. Do not mistake though that Jason is very much in charge, but John and Bill will be there to offer support and help out with advise when needed.

Former SOD president Duane Turner and his wife Dawn are going to continue with Sprints on Dirt in different roles. The Turner’s did a wonderful job getting SOD to the point they are at now. This season Duane will do the public relations work while Dawn will be in her normal spot selling tires. This winter Duane has seemed more relaxed and seems to be enjoying his new roll and still being part of the group.

Barry Roscoe along with his son Barry Jr. and crewman Herb are going to be the tech crew for the 2003 season. Last year Barry won his first career sprint car feature and the future was very bright. Some unexpected neck surgery though put Roscoe on the shelf and had to sell his Eagle Chassis he was preparing for 2003. Even though Barry could not race, he still wanted to be involved. This fit in perfect with SOD needing more people for their technical staff and Barry Jumped at the opportunity to do so. From what I witnessed Saturday Barry will be very fair and prepared. It should level the playing field for everyone involved.

Ken and Cheryl Pelkie are friends of TJ Slideways.com and familiar faces around Sprints on Dirt. In 2003 they become official faces on the tour as the official photographers. This should increase SOD exposure ten-fold with their wonderful photography featured in many major publications. SOD is very lucky to have such wonderful shooters involved in the series.

The biggest point made on Saturday is that everyone involved with the series is a big part of group. The drivers, teams, fans, and promoters all made SOD successful for 24 seasons, and will need to work together to keep it going.

Increased exposure:

Several media outlets will be paying more attention to the Sprints on Dirt in 2003. Racersontheweb.com will supply some in car cameras where users can download the footage from the fire breathing sprint cars every week. Racersontheweb.com will also do interviews with the cars and stars of Sprints on Dirt from several events for their website. Make sure to check that out during the 2003 season.

The Michigan Racing Scene newspaper (located just down the road from Slideways Central in Eaton Rapids, Michigan) will also feature the SOD logo on the front page of every edition in 2003 and will have enhanced SOD coverage. This paper is really gaining momentum in state and will provide a great outlet for the group to gain more exposure.

On the sponsor side Engine Pro has really stepped up to the plate in 2003. Engine pro will supply jackets for all feature winners during the 2003 season, brand new officials shirts, Frisbees for the feature drivers to throw out before the main event, and will contribute to the season ending point fund.

Among the other notable contingency prizes will be a band new set of Brodix ASCS heads. This was very pleasing to myself, as I would like to see the 360 sprint cars head more in this direction. The spec heads allows teams to compete at events such as the Knoxville 360 Nationals and the Tournament of Champions. It also allows compatibility to co-sanction with other groups to create marquee events.

Other Notes from the meeting:

General consensus at the meeting tabs Dustin Daggett as the early title favorite with Sprints on Dirt for 2003. The young Daggett will take on the entire SOD circuit this season along with some 410 starts in Michigan and Ohio. Look for Dustin to start his season down at Attica Raceway Park with the All Stars in April.

Ken Mackey was a very interested spectator at the SOD meeting on Saturday. Mackey is hoping to sell one of his 410 power plants to buy a new 360 engine and run the Sprints on Dirt tour and the Brodix Tournament of Champions. With no desire to travel south with GLOSS, the SOD shows have become very attractive to Mackey. Ken is going to start his 25th year of Sprint Car racing, is as confident as ever with his Big Max chassis and advice from Scott Benic to make him as fast as ever during his long career.

“Downtown” Davey Brown also attended the meeting on Saturday. Davey is a former Auto Value Super Sprints regular, and appeared interested in re-joining the 360 ranks.

Gregg Dalman also plans on making another run at the SOD championship this year in his ever trusty Stealth Chassis. Dalman seems very excited to get started in 2003 and may even attempt his first start at Eldora Speedway with the NRA during the Historical Big One weekend.

Jerry Whitney has found a new engine builder to maintain both of his Ford engines this season. Whitney did not get his spare engine back until the middle of summer last year and put the Warpath Racing team behind the eight ball.

Wayne Morrison is still trying to find funding to put a motor back together for 2003. Morrison was having a career year last season and almost won an event at the Winston Motor Speedway. Wayne is one of the most likeable guys in any pit area and we sincerely hope he can find the backing to put together another motor.

Ralph Brackenberry and son will have a two car team based out of their shop in Pigeon, Michigan. This is probably the only two car sprint team in the entire city of Pigeon.

In closing:

This area still has one more weekend of indoor racing to finish off the year before outdoor season calls. Pick you poison in either Detroit, Michigan at the State Fairgrounds with indoor midgets, legend cars, ¼ midgets, and karts or over at Daytona’s Hara Arena for Micros, Karts, and ¼ midgets. Until then I am geared up for the first weekend in April!