By T.J. Buffenbarger
Last Friday I made a last-minute trip for my day job during the afternoon. On the drive home I thought about the racing options I had that night. There was a sprint car show close to home or I could stay at the house and see a multitude of great races from my couch.
I picked the option to stay home.
Why was I home when I could have been at the track in person practically in my backyard?
Because I knew I was getting to see a well-run program.
On my computer screen I was able to see Attica Raceway Park crank off 16 races in around two hours in 45 minutes. This is standard procedure for the weekly programs at Attica unless there something crazy happens such as rain or someone knocking the fence down.
I also had screens with events from Williams Grove Speedway, Attica Raceway Park, and Bloomington Speedway on at the time, all done at a decent hour.
There was also a live stream taking place at nearby facility I thought about covering in person. I decided to look in about 10:45 p.m after most of the above-mentioned tracks had finished their sprint car features. There were mini-wedges (a class for kids that is essentially a rental style go-kart with a late model wedge body on it) on track and they were not even to running the sprint car feature.
Had I gone in person I’d probably be frustrated, but since I chose to occupy my couch the night’s entertainment became seeing if this nearby race in the Eastern time zone could finish before Ocean Speedway completed their sprint car program on Pacific time. Had Ocean Speedway not had to run the grader over the track before the sprint car feature, they would have won handily.
It was unfortunate the featured local sprint car series that has an entertaining product, produced a great field of cars, and had a tremendous feature that only some of the fans that originally showed up witnessed because a good number of patrons carried out sleeping children long before main event time on a rather chilly evening.
Would it have benefitted the website more for me to cover that nearby race in person and write about it? Absolutely. There is no replacement for that. With this being a crazy hobby of mine though its not worth the frustration of being a zombie from a lack of sleep when having to function on a Saturday morning.
Before the online pay-per-view options a long, cold night at a race like this would be the only option for many fans around the country to see a sprint car race. Now fans are empowered with alternatives they can view right from their homes.
Floracing, Dirtvision, and other services have allowed fans to watch some of the greatest weekly and touring shows in the world. Much like stick and ball sports where services that make all the games available for a premium anyone in the country can tune in to see the Posse, the Ohio Sprint Car scene, and various regional and national touring series. No longer does a fan have to put up with subpar facilities, poorly run shows, or endless support classes before seeing a sprint car hit the track.
Does it replace going to the track in person? No. But as life changes at times, it is the better option for me. At 20 or 30 years old I would have grumbled about long nights like the one on Friday but would keep coming back. In my 40’s I view this much differently and value my time more.
I’ve long since conceded local race programs in my area have gone the way of bracket drag racing with lots of classes to keep the gates open. If that is what keeps the gates open, wonderful. When a track brings in a traveling sprint car show and the families that choose to attend are carrying their children out asleep before the feature thought its not helping grow the sport. Neither does lack of organization and not starting on time.
Thankfully, the pay per view option helps alleviate that frustration. In my opinion better option than watching a poorly run program or endless support divisions. Kudos to the promoters that keep these things in mind. For those that do not, I hope you realize that the Attica, Port Royals, and Knoxville’s of the world are closer competition than you think for your sprint car audience.
There was no grumbling or frustration in my world on Friday night. I watched several great sprint car features, was in bed at a decent hour, and started planning a couple of summer trips to some of those facilities to cover one of their programs in person.
• While Anthony Macri only walked away with one victory this weekend, he drew most of the attention this weekend with his 21st to second run at Port Royal Speedway and exciting late race pass of Rico Abreu to win Sunday at Bedford Speedway with the All Star Circuit of Champions.
Macri and crew chief Jim Shuttlesworth have really hit on something over the past couple of seasons. Macri is driving with so much confidence, and thanks to the above-mentioned pay-per-view options it has been enjoyable to see his improvement from week to week.
The thing about Macri I find fascinating is in his post-race interviews he is very descriptive of how he wins races. Both Saturday and Sunday Macri spoke in detail about driver’s tendencies he was able to key on. He does so in such a business-like manner that you expect him to be surprised that he could recall all of it.
• For a moment it appeared Kyle Cummins would have to wait to score a victory in one of the few USAC Sprint Car events he had not won at Tri-State Speedway courtesy of Jadon Rogers. Charging from 11th starting position and using some late race heroics that were among the most impressive things seen this weekend, Cummins scored his sixth career USAC victory at Haubstadt and 10th of his career. What was even more impressive was the victory came after missing the feature Friday at Bloomington Speedway.
• The other impressive miss of the weekend occurred when Chase Stockon did not make the feature at Bloomington. Being out of provisionals, a USAC sprint car feature pushed off without Stockon for the first time since 2012.
To give you an idea of how long ago its been since Stockon did not make a USAC sprint car main: Hurricane Sandy devastated the east coast, Barack Obama was starting to run for his second term, some people believed the Mayan Calendar indicated the world would end, the Hunger Games was top at the box office, Whitney Houston passed away, and Billboard most popular song on the hot 100 charts was “Somebody I Used to Know” by Gotye featuring Kimba.
• Sheldon Haudenschild’s late race surge to win on the final lap Saturday at Knoxville Raceway during their season opener is the latest in late race thrillers we have seen at Knoxville. Last year Rico Abreu has a similar moment that made announcer Tony Bokhoven’s voice crack from the excitement. If you are not watching at least the highlights of the weekly Knoxville shows, you are missing out.
• Rob Hoffman and the Hoffman Auto Racing team have constructed their own race car for the 2021 Little 500 to be driven by Brady Bacon. The car has been to Anderson for one test so far and on the chassis dyno recently at Engler Machine at Tool, which helped reveal the car houses a V8. Hoffman indicated the team hopes to test the unique looking entry soon at Anderson.
• Buddy Kofoid used the weekend off to go sprint car racing in Ohio. The only problem was the Ray Brooks Racing team had not received the chassis they purchased for Kofoid to run this season. Longtime sprint car racing supporter and former promoter Rich Farmer came to the rescue with a last-minute entry for Kofoid.
• Make sure to check out details of the ASCS National Tour race taking place on Memorial Day weekend at Lake Ozark Speedway. Peter and Daryl Turford are taking on race promotion for the first time in a big way with ASCS and POWRi National Midget tours with an over $70,000 purse up for grab. Make sure to get information at https://www.facebook.com/Lake-Ozark-Speedway-70000-Memorial-Weekend-Sprint-and-Midget-Nationals-114282414032111
• Lake Ozark isn’t the only big 360 show in the works for Memorial Day weekend as the National Racing Alliance will sanction a $10,000 to win 360 show Sunday May 30th. Look for more details to come out about this event in the coming weeks.