Looking Back: 2014 Season in Review

T.J.’s five favorite moments of 2014

2014 had some very memorable moments take place while I was at the race track. Here are my five favorite moments from the past year.

  1. Kerry Madsen in victory lane at the Kings Royal. - Bill Miller Photo
    Kerry Madsen in victory lane at the Kings Royal. – Bill Miller Photo

    Kerry Madsen’s emotional Kings Royal victory:  The way Madsen went about winning the race, his post race interview, and the post race press conference made this not only my most memorable moment of 2015 but likely in my top five of all time that I have covered.  Seeing the pure emotion from Madsen after winning the biggest race of his career was refreshing.  I was so pumped up to tell the story I drove over an hour back to my motel and worked until the wee hours of the morning making sure the world could hear the post race podcast with comments from Madsen following the race.

  2. World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series are Berlin Raceway:  Not many people get to see a World of Outlaws program 15 minutes from home or closer.  Its even crazier when the track you get to see them at is normally has a blacktop racing surface.   Berlin Raceway hit a home run in September with their Outlaw program with the largest crowd by a landslide for the current management team of the Marne, Michigan oval.  The track also was smooth, slick, and racey all night to the point where even the King, Steve Kinser, was feeling it with a three wide move for position in the feature in front of the media tower.  The entire program was done before 9:30 p.m. as West Michigan fans flooded into the pit area.   One can only hope the 2015 edition of this event is even bigger and better.
  3. Dustin Ingle wins a heat race at Waynesfield Raceway Park one year after being air lifted out of the track:  We have a strict no cheering policy, but allowed ourselves a fist pump when Dustin Ingle won his heat race at the Harvest of Sprints in October at Waynesfield Raceway Park.  It was one year ago at that event Ingle had to be air lifted from the track after a scary accident that left him rehabbing various injuries most of the off season.  Ingle returned to not only win this heat race but had a productive season at Waynesfield.
  4. Jack Hewitt returning to the 4-Crown Nationals:  I’ll admit that when the news first came out about Jack Hewitt returning to the cockpit at the 4-Crown I was nervous, but that subsided the day of as Hewitt was jovial with everyone soaking in the moment.   Hewitt did a nice job and seeing him strap in one more time to a Silver Crown car ended up being one of the more fun moments of the season.
  5. Tony Stewart. - T.J. Buffenbarger Photo
    Tony Stewart. – T.J. Buffenbarger Photo

    Smoke rises from the Great Lakes State:  All season people wondered when Tony Stewart might return to a cockpit of a sprint car following his 2013 accident at Southern Iowa Speedway.  I anticipated it would be a Sprints on Dirt program because Stewart has had a history of dropping in with them and the atmosphere of mostly owner/drivers with not a lot of spare equipment would produce gentlemanly like racing that would be a good place for Stewart to get his feet wet again.  Turns out it happened a bit sooner than anticipated when I started getting the phone calls that Smoke was dropping into Tri-City Speedway in July.   Covering that race from afar and the next night in person at Crystal Motor Speedway was similar to seeing a major rock and roll touring band playing your local bar for one night.  The Randy Hannagan, Dustin Daggett, Stewart race for the lead was also one of the better on track battles I witnessed all season.