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Everything posted by ChrisAkulis

  1. ChrisAkulis

    Ryan Newman

    Long read, but you know how I am with words….. I was thinking about this quite a bit last night. I’m a bit of a history buff and I think the hypocrisy of NASCAR is astounding. The whole advent of restrictor plates came about after Bobby Allison’s crash into the catchfence in 1987 – 33 years ago! And in all that time the only solution to the problem of pack racing and massive wrecks at Daytona and Talladega has been to tweak the aerodynamic elements of the cars – a smaller/bigger spoiler, a roof flap, wickers, enclosed side windows, etc… all the while keeping the plates and ‘tapered spacers’ that force the cars to run essentially the same speed first to last. But NOTHING has been done to the root cause of the problem, which is the tracks themselves. The technology of the cars and the intelligence of the engineers has vastly outgrown the ability of the two tracks to host reasonably safe races. These cars simply can not run on tracks that large with that much banking, the same way that they could in 1979. The kicker here is that NASCAR owns both tracks – Daytona and Talladega. And to reconfigure them down to reasonable levels of banking, (which would eliminate the pack racing) would cost them MILLION$ of dollars, which they are unwilling to spend. Thirty three years of carnage, injury, and even death prove that point. Instead, they invent new rules for the cars and then mandate them onto the owners so that THEY are the ones who brunt the cost. However, this is where the hypocrisy starts. When Miami Homestead was built, it was a mini replica of Indianapolis, with 4 distinct corners connected by short straightaways. The track ran 2 seasons that way with a plethora of crashes, including a blunt angle impact crash that killed John Nemecheck. NASCAR’s solution was to threaten to take races away from Homestead unless they reconfigured the track, so in 1997 the ‘4 corner’ layout was ripped out and replaced with a traditional full radius, banked configuration. Cost the Miami owners millions, but they had to do it. And in 1997 Texas Motor Speedway opened to massive criticism from drivers and owners for its awkward transitions from straightaways to corner entry. The first race there was a crashfest. And shortly after, the architects were forced to rip out half the track and start over again with a configuration that mimicked Charlotte. Again, huge expense to the track owners but nothing to NASCAR. It’s time for NASCAR to put its money where its mouth is and spend their OWN money to fix the two most dangerous tracks on the circuit. Cut the banking down to 10 degrees and be done with it. Good handling cars and skilled drivers will separate themselves from the pack mentality...
  2. ChrisAkulis

    Mike Colsten

    To those of us who knew Mike's battle, this is the inevitable day we knew would unfortunately come... I last saw Mike on November 22nd at my parents' 50th wedding anniversary party. He was frail and weak but made it a point to get out of the house and spend time with my dad, whom he was best friends with in high school many moons ago. The table he sat at consisted of Mike, my uncle Chuck, my uncle Larry Groover (another former Modified standout), and their spouses. At first sight you would think there were some classic bench racing stories being spewed at that table, but far from it. The conversations I heard were more about their friendships, the passing of time, and the frailty of life. When Mike had left for the evening, Chuck commented to me that all the racing they did together back in the day didn't mean a damn thing at this point.... Anyone that knew Mike only from the grandstands knew he was one tough, aggressive, go-for-it racer. He got under the skin of most everyone at one point or another, lol.... but when you approached him after the race, you couldn't stay mad at him for more than a few seconds. Mike just had that way of brightening the moment even when you wanted to be mad. And he would be the first one to lend you a hand if you needed something in a pinch (although not many people ran Ford stuff so he was pretty safe in that regard, lol). Away from the track, Mike was maybe the nicest man I ever met. I heard countless stories from my dad about the hell they raised in high school, at cross country meets, and tearing up the back roads of Broome County as teenagers. In my early teens I actually raced Microds with Mike's sons Jerry and Mike Jr.... and in the summer when my dad traveled for work to the west coast, Mike would load three carts in the back of his white pickup and fly up Rte 81 so we could race on Wednesday nights at the old Cortland County Microd Club by the airport. We were all convinced that at some point, one of us was going to lose our cart on the highway when the bungee cords broke, but somehow Mike made it work, lol. He always had a way of getting the best from a situation... My sincere condolences to Lea, Jerry, Jenny, Joey, Mike Jr, Julie, and Jason for their loss. Also to the many who are children in-law, grandchildren, and racing family members like Tim Smith.... Mike was a great family man - God fearing, and willing to help anyone he crossed paths with. He will be sorely missed.... God Speed #51
  3. And you all know that I have never spent a dime on a race car?
  4. The 358 race at Syracuse may well have been the poorest paying race I've ever seen, for what it cost to run competitively there.
  5. "Give me racecar engines that cost $45,000 over ones that cost $5,000" said no car owner - ever. To put this in perspective, I worked on a car that ran a good portion of the SDS back about 25 years ago. Conversations I had with some people in the pit area at the time about how a top shelf Tony Feil engine was going for $22,000 - 24,000 and how people couldn't believe some teams were forking over the money for those. The standard SDS race purse paid $6,000 to win back then - SAME AS TODAY. Only now some teams are paying twice as much for engines as back then, not to mention twice what fuel used to cost and easily 50% more for tires. Where is the tipping point? Or are Modified owners just so ego driven that they will spend $100,000 for an engine to have bragging rights and a few nice shiny trophies for the shop wall? Needs to be a happy medium somewhere.
  6. Out by Rte 31 there is a single wooden building left standing that I believe is part of the historical society's preservation of the fairgrounds? I think that's all that is left of the place. It's right near the entrance to the mega-Lowe's that exists there now.
  7. After watching the video of the SDS race at Brewerton last Friday, I would bet that by the end of the 100 lap Big Block race, the car Matt Sheppard was driving was slower than the guys that were winning and running Top 5 in the Sportsman features. if not then there was no perceivable difference in speed. Do I think such a thing could ever happen at say, LV or OCFS? Not bloody likely. But I can see Weedsport, Oswego, Black Rock, Fulton, etc... maybe Canandaigua on a slick daytime race... I'm not proposing that everyone dump Modifieds. But it's a very telling sign that a guy can spend 10-20% of what a BB cost and go out and run the same speed in certain situations.
  8. I asked this question before.... If a headline crate Sportsman class at Canandaigua had Matt Sheppard, Billy Decker and Danny Johnson in it, would people come watch? Or would they be turned off because the cars go a half second slower than the expensive cars?
  9. ChrisAkulis

    5 mile pt , fathers day

    Perrego has been on a tear all season it seems, either at OCFS, Accord, or on the road. Kind of made that look easy last night. Track was table top smooth and fast, albeit very dusty. Everyone knew that would be the case though with sun and 90 to start the night off... 32 cars was a great field; I think if Danny Johnson ran there weekly he would be very tough; two trips and two Top 5's. Big fields in the Sportsman and 600cc Mod classes also; Sprints were light on numbers (8?) but had an entertaining race.
  10. The motor bill to run a BB at the Valley is astronomical. That’s half the problem.
  11. ChrisAkulis

    SDS Brewerton

    Alan Johnson in his prime was every bit the threat that Matt is now. Ditto for Danny, ditto for Pauch, McCreadie, Hoffman, and Horton. I think the point being made is that a season that pitted all of those drivers IN THEIR PRIME, racing on the same series.... no way Matt wins 12 of those races. But that’s not how time works. For what is he running against now, Matt is clearly dominant. And I’m not sure it’s entirely driving ability, I think his engineering background and their meticulous maintenance program added in just prove to be damn near impossible to beat at the moment.
  12. ChrisAkulis

    5 mile pt , fathers day

    Going to be pushing 90 here today.
  13. Congrats to the whole 85 team. Fonda has never been an easy track to win at.
  14. I think Alex Freisen was a big supporter of the 9:1 also, yes? Seems like I remember him trying to go that route at Ransomville and Merrittville back in the late 80’s / early 90’s? I really wonder what the landscape would have been like with him around.
  15. People like to boo winners, primarily because it's like somebody said - they're watching the same show over and again. You can't fault the driver, it's his goal to win every race he enters. Nobody is going to deliberately lose a race just to make the fans happier... My uncle was booed at Five Mile when he was winning double digit races a season there, and I don't know of many times he ever roughed anyone up or out spent the competition to win (if people saw pictures of the 'shop' where we actually worked on the car, lol).... but fans like to see an unpredictable show with an underdog winner. It's funny though, I remember some of the people who booed him at home would come into the pits and congratulate him on a top 5 at Rolling Wheels or Canandaigua. Go figure that one out....
  16. ChrisAkulis

    SDS Brewerton

    Should be a great field tonight and perfect weather, about 60 at feature time. Not sure why but I have a feeling we may see a first time Series winner tonight...
  17. Sounds like a great show with a ton of talent there last night. Evidenced by Bachetti and Pauch Jr DNQ... Something I see that was refreshing - four 11 car heats. What a nice change from many tracks who run 6 and 7 car heats and drag the show out.
  18. First time I went to a Freedom '76 was about that time, and they still had the bigger rubber and 9:1 motors. We sat in the stands between 3 and 4 and listening to the guys hammer the throttle through there, I commented to my buddy that they actually kinda sounded like Street Stocks, lol. But they didn't have enough power to burn the tires off so it made for great racing. Also recall asking one of the regulars next to us why they all had such big nerf bars and he just laughed.
  19. I don't know why they ever got rid of the 9:1 engines. They seemed like a super affordable engine package and provided good close racing.
  20. I can count on one hand the number of times I have left a race track early, but tonight was one of them. Without exaggerating, I bet there were 50 cautions tonight between the heats and the first few features I watched. The 358 main alone had about 10 yellows between laps 10 and 11... I don’t know what the issue was but it was beyond painful to watch. I bailed after 4 failed attempts to get a single lap in to start the Sportsman main. Others were already ahead of me in the parking lot. The Street Sticks had the best race of the night, going green to checker in their 15 lap main. It’s a shame the show was plagued by all the yellows because they are trying hard to fix the place up...
  21. ChrisAkulis

    Oh fer One

    I was 5 for 6 in a Little League game one time. Does that count? Do I need to start another '50 win season' thread like last year?
  22. Wow that guy is crazy lucky.... What a difference a couple seconds makes in a person’s life.
  23. ChrisAkulis


    It was more than just the Sportsman though, as someone said the 358 race was brutal. Lap 10 took over half an hour. i hadn’t been there in about 10 years but it seemed like the arc into Turn 1 has changed from what I remember? Did they push the Jersey barriers out into the track further? It almost seemed like all the cars came down the frontstretch at 100 mph and then had to throw it sideways and scrub off a ton of speed to make the corner. That particular turn was the source of about 75% of the yellows I thought. To someone else’s point about Laubach...I do think you need to be really hooked up to win from the back there. ‘Good’ cars just can’t seem to make a ton of progress there. Im not trying to pick on OC, in fact I texted a couple people on this forum from the track saying how impressed I was with the place early in the night. I guess I’d parallel the night to walking out on a movie that wasn’t what you hoped for, or leaving a blowout baseball game early. Doesn’t mean I hate the theater or the ballpark, lol...
  24. ChrisAkulis


    Car counts were great - 28 BB, 34 SB, and 44 Sportsman between the regular and Rookie divisions. SS had 13 but put on a great race. The track did everything possible to move the show along, even eliminating intermission. You could see even their frustration with the constant yellows, they went to single file starts on multiple occasions even after only a few completed laps. For whatever reason though cars just couldn’t stay off each other. Would I go back? Sure. Nights like this happen at a lot of places but as a guy who has been going for over 40 years, sometimes you just throw in the towel as a fan and hope for better next time. Sorry I missed Jeffer winning.
  25. ChrisAkulis

    Truck pole

    Come to think of it Bob, you're probably right. I remember watching live the night that Rich Vogler was killed and that was at Salem or Winshester(?), either way it was an Indiana track. Not sure of the network, but they went off the air very soon after the crash. That was sickening to watch, the first safety worker there didn't even approach the car, he just stopped and motioned everyone else away.