Public Forum – July 14, 2010
Save Angell Park!
After spending Independence Day weekend at Angell Park Speedway in beautiful Sun Prairie, Wis., for a two-day USAC midget show, one thing became apparent: A Prairie Burger is a terrible thing to waste.
Angell Park is widely known as the home of several important things. The National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame, perhaps the finest dirt track for midgets on the planet and, of course, the world renowned Prairie Burger. Tasty? Oh, Lord yes! (Let’s not tell my cardiologist, OK?)
I’m sure by now all of us are aware of the conflict that exists between the Angell Park Speedway owners and their long-time sanctioning body, the Badger Midget Auto Racing Ass’n.
Sadly this stupid split has resulted in the cancellation of the weekly Sunday night midget races that have been the highlight of summer for so many diehard racers and fans alike for so many decades.
Apparently history has taught those people responsible for the split very little. Especially given the weak economy, the last thing you would want to do is split your house and divide your resources, but that’s exactly what happened here.
Surely we’ve all seen this before. The CART/IRL war immediately comes to mind. If anyone can explain how the greed and ego-driven conflicts end up doing anyone any good, I’d love to hear about it.
Fortunately there just may be light at the end of the tunnel. A group called C.W. Promotions has recently entered into an agreement with the current management to explore opportunities for racing at the famed speedway.
The head of the new promotional group is Chris Wilke of the legendary Wisconsin racing family. And, in many quarters, there is optimism that Chris has the foresight and common sense to unravel this mess and get on with the business of midget racing.
Until this thing gets resolved, many of us are left wondering what to do with our summer Sunday evenings. Following the recent elimination of the normal racing schedule, long-time Angell Park racer Kurt Mayhew wondered aloud, “Just what the hell do other people do on Sundays?”
Welcome Back, Dave
I have just heard from credible sources that Dave Blaney will be entered in the 50th annual Knoxville Nationals.
Just wanted to say welcome back, Dave! We missed you! We hope to see you in more dirt-track races in the future, because sprint-car fans see fewer start-and-parks than in NASCAR.
It’s too bad that Dave couldn’t land a major sponsor with a Hendrick-caliber team, but it sure is good to hear that he’ll be returning to his roots. I can guarantee I’ll be in line for a T-shirt come August.
Was The Fix In?
If you have been a longtime fan of NASCAR, you weren’t surprised Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won the Nationwide race at Daytona while driving the No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet.
There has never been a more obvious example of NASCAR influencing the outcome of a race since Junior won the July Cup race at Daytona five months after his father was killed.
During that race in 2001 Junior had a dominant car that could pass other competitors anywhere on the track without the benefit of a drafting partner. At this year’s Daytona Nationwide race, even Kevin Harvick knew he didn’t have a chance to pass Junior for the win.
Just before the last restart Dale Jarrett asked Harvick via his radio if he had a plan for winning the race. Harvick pretty much conceded the race and said it was “important that a Chevrolet win.” He didn’t care which Chevrolet it was.
When was the last time you heard Harvick concede a race when he was running second just before a restart with only two laps left?
Things Are Changing
If the NASCAR Chase is working so well, and if things are going so well in the Nationwide Series, why is NASCAR contemplating more changes to both series? A quick look at both series will answer both questions.
More and more of the NASCAR Sprint Cup broadcasts are showing thousands of empty seats at the various venues. That is, of course, only when Fox and TNT are brave enough to pan up through the stands at each race.
Maybe this is because we all know how much the racing public is in love with the worst rule in racing — the lucky dog award. All of the old time racing veterans must laugh themselves silly at that rule.
Imagine what a difference that ruling would have made to Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, David Pearson, Bobby Allison and others. How many more victories would these guys have had if they had raced with this stupid rule?
Now NASCAR is finally looking at changes in the Nationwide Series. The changes have to do with the participation of Sprint Cup drivers in the Nationwide races. It’s probably too late for that kind of tinkering because Cup drivers occupy six of the top-10 spots in the standings and dominate every Nationwide race.
Why watch these races when the outcome is pretty much predetermined? You will never see drivers such as Jack Ingram or Tommy Ellis develop in the lower series (and have a chance at the Cup series) as long as you allow Cup drivers to steal all of their money and TV time.
There are at least 30 Nationwide car owners who need more incentives (money and TV exposure) to stay with this series, but they won’t get it until the domination of the Cup series drivers is greatly reduced.