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Red Clay Report - 2015 Time Is Flying By (Read 1521 times)
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Red Clay Report - 2015 Time Is Flying By
02/02/15 at 1:45pm

Red Clay Report - 2015 - Time Is Flying By

Late Model Mark
Pinson, Alabama (February 2, 2014)

Time sure does zip by when you get older, when I was young time seemed to drag by, not anymore. Seems like just yesterday that the 2014 season wrapped up and here it's already February. It has been a long spell since my last column, late last year, my computer died. I likened it to a old Volkswagen bus, it was old, slow, but trudged along until it broke the crank and kicked the rods thru the block, not really but you know what I mean. So near Christmas, went out and purchased a new Dell that has more power and stuff that I'll never use, went wireless for the mouse and router/modem thing as well as a new monitor and keyboard.

My 2014 ended with a road trip to Duck River in November for the Deep Fried 75, that wrapped up the season for a total of 42 races at only 4 tracks as most shows where  announcing Talladega. Speaking of good old Talladega, the track opened the gates as usual for the Ice Bowl. A stout field of nearly 300 cars filled the pits with over 150 Late Models in 3 divisions, all 3 classes were loaded with series champions, track and regional champions as well. This is my second full season announcing and I was super ready for the race, doing mucho research to be prepared and just flat ready to go racing. Despite some cold weather and a gloomy Sunday,the crowd was good and the event wrapped up in a timely matter. There was just about everything that could happen on the track during the weekend, wrecks, rough driving, frayed nerves, flips, spins, fires, blown engines,and in one case some broken bones. 2014 Super Late Model track champion Tim Roszell continued his winning ways from 2014 by taking his biggest win at TST with a popular victory.

The 2015 season schedule at Talladega is taking shape and may hold some surprises  we are working on. Track owner/promoter Lynn "preacher" Phillips is on the slow mend to return  after a very rough summer, fall, and winter dealing with some serious medical issues. Lynn came to the track on Saturday of the Ice Bowl and hung out in the tower suite for some time. When I was taking a break from the very busy on track events I sat on the couch with him, just glad to see him, talk racing, and just having a nice visit. Just a side note, on that busy Ice Bowl Saturday, there were 53 events that hit the track that day, that is a whole bunch of racing action.

In the region around me it appears that most all the players as far as tracks go are ready to race with one exception, Arkadelphia Speedway, the former River Valley Speedway looks to be dark this year after a 1 year run by Gene Norman and family. They tried hard to make it work, the high cost of operating the track made it difficult as well as a reputation of very, very late nights with most events finishing in the A.M. The Normans are great folks and I thank them for trying to make it work. North Alabama Speedway always seems to be a question mark,  Jeff Greer may try some shows this year. It will business as usual at Ft. Payne, Moulton, Dixie, Rome, North Georgia, and East Alabama. Up in Tennessee it looks real good with Tennessee National, Duck River, Winchester, Boyds, Cleveland, Smoky Mountain, and 411 ready to rock. Good news is the high-banked Thunderhill speedway up in Summertown will reopen after being shuddered for a couple of years, The track has been revamped and will run a number of Friday night specials. Another track from the dead is the former Murphys Speedway up in Sweetwater, reconfigured to a flatter 3/8mi. inside the huge 5/8mi. beast, it is now called I-75 Speedway and is ready to go for 14.

Out West,it is good to see my old home track, Bakersfield Speedway out with a smokin' schedule of events with Late Models once a month including the great 2-day Budweiser Nationals in October. Santa Maria, another one of my favorite tracks along the California coast has a super solid schedule including some real good Late Model events. Car counts do concern me but hopefully that will improve. Arizona looks to be a real problem when the regular season starts as there is a real lack of events scheduled.

Here in the South we are spoiled with so many options to see weekly dirt track Stock Car racing, when the season is in full swing, every weekend you can find specials left and right, it can be staggering the number of events to chose from. There are issues of course, some tracks do not draw enough fans or cars, run late programs or have solid information on their websites. Track websites need to updated weekly, period! Start on dang time and finish by the "golden hour" of 11:00p.m. Most fans in the South will stick it out till the end, but by Midnight they do start to leave. Last year at Talladega for example, with a 6 division card, our most efficient night with 98 cars on hand, hot laps started 10 minutes late at 7:10p.m. and we threw the last checkered at 10:19p.m. The latest night was one of those crashfest nights, we wrapped up at a late time of 12:33a.m. Thankfully that was the exception, we are normally done by 11:00p.m.

As I close this column I ask all the regular fans, bring a friend to a race this year, hopefully a new person, talk upbeat about the track and racers, maybe buy at least a drink or some food to help the track. Not trash your local speedplant on the internet, that does hurt racing. Till next time, let us fire up the new season and pound the ground with some dirt racing.

Late Model Mark
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