By T.J. Buffenbarger
(May 4, 2021) — One of the best memories I had race chasing in my youth was loading up the car or camper for a spring trip to Eldora for a chilly night of racing on Saturday followed by a sunny Sunday afternoon at Winchester Speedway.
As schedules have evolved Eldora no longer has early April race dates on their schedule and USAC did away with pavement races from the National Sprint Car and Midget tours. Now we have gone over a decade without an open wheel double header at the two legendary racetracks separated by 42 miles.
Until this weekend.
Now fans are presented one of the most unique offerings of the Eldora/Winchester doubles as the World of Outlaws and USAC National Sprint Car Series will start at Eldora Friday and Saturday during the “Let’s Race Two” program before the USAC Silver Crown Cars will take center state at Winchester for the first time in the track’s storied history.
Having the Eldora/Winchester combination again makes me happy to think that a generation of race fans that have never experienced it exploring little towns on the way, finding small town restaurants and stores, and experiencing open wheel cars thundering around two of our most historic facilities.
This generation gets the bonus of not having to deal with a time change when crossing the Indiana border like I used to when I would do the Eldora/Winchester doubles when I was younger. While I enjoyed the extra hour of sleep, losing the hour on the way home before school or work was less than ideal.
Seeing some of the cross promotion between the tracks is nice to see. Brady Bacon and his family should be commended for taking on the promotion of this weekend, stepping up his growing promotion game to another level taking on a Silver Crown Series event.
These are the types of weekends that bring so much worldwide attention from short track open wheel fans to Indiana and Ohio. Hopefully all three nights of racing are a success so we can continue to have race teams and fans make the trek across the state borders for years to come.
- The news that seemed to draw the most attention over the weekend was the fight between Aaron Reutzel and Wayne Johnson in the pit area Friday at I-70 Speedway. The pair had some words following the World of Outlaws event where Reutzel had admonished Johnson for crashing in front of him while Johnson came back calling Reutzel a prick in a post-crash interview.
The fight went viral when the actual World of Outlaws twitter account posted the video. While some were appalled and the incident, the fight was the ideal scenario for both drivers and the series.
The the fight took place between both competitors without other crew members jumping in where the incident grew out of hand, both drivers used their hands and not their race cars to settle the score, and it likely furthered Wayne Johnson t-shirt sales for his low budget team and furthered the perceived villain role for Reutzel that will ultimately end up doing the same for him.
I still stand by my opinion that the sport is more interesting when someone wears the black hat purposely or by perception.
- The California winged sprint car scene continues to be awesome. Last weekend at Silver Dollar Speedway featured over 60 sprint cars in action over two nights of racing. Dominic Scelzi’s victory on Friday was impressive along with his charge from deep in the pack for a runner up spot to Justin Sanders on Saturday.
The driver catching my eye of late out west is Corey Day. The 15 year old second generation driver continues to improve and is on the verge of winning some races in the near future.
- One of the best things I witnessed this weekend were the massive crowds on hand for the return of I-70 Motorsports Park in Odessa, Missouri with the World of Outlaws and POWR WAR Sprint Car Series. It was great such a great turnout for at rack that has been idle for more than a decade. The new layout, like Jackson Motorplex, provided for good racing in both classes throughout the weekend.
Bruce St. James recently took his radio talk show talents to the Chicago market as one of the hosts of the morning drive show on WLS 890 AM. Even though St. James now lives in the middle of prime sprint car country he has made flights back to Arizona to race with the ASCS Desert Sprint Car Series.
Why would someone pass on some of the sprint car options St. James has to race in Arizona? James did not hesitate to answer that question for me. St. James’ crew, sponsors, and equipment all still reside in Arizona and California. Therefor instead of taking on Wisconsin, Iowa, or Indiana St. James has been flying out of Chicago on Friday afternoons to race on Saturday before returning on Sunday morning.
The travel paid off this past week as St. James won the feature at Arizona Speedway. Powered by adrenaline and coffee to power through a 4:00 a.m. wakeup call on Monday morning, St. James is ready to go to entertain Chicago commuters after every race weekend.
St. James joked that one of his goals for the 2021 season is to win the longest tow award with the ASCS Desert series throughout the 2021 campaign.
- While many of the marque races fell to the weather on Friday, Saturday’s conditions seemed to greatly improve except in Texas. The spurt of good weather led us to bump the number of stories up to 15 on Saturday from the typical 10. This is normally only reserved for busy weekends in the summer.