By KEN BRUCE
As a fan, we are always upset when the weather gets in our way of us getting in our racing fix. Some of us more than others but face it when we plan to head to a track and it’s gets cancelled we are usually upset. I know I am! This season has got off to a rocky start weather wise with plenty of early season races succumbing to Mother Nature and her fickle whims over the past few weeks, especially for the Modifieds. Georgetown and Bridgeport Speedways have been the only tracks so far this season to get their early season Modified shows in and even Georgetown was pushing the limit with how cold it was for the Friday night portion of the show. The Central, PA sprint car tracks have also had trouble getting shows in but have managed to have a better go of it then the Modifieds.
This past weekend was shaping up to be the first really busy weekend of the season with season openers planned for Big Diamond Speedway, New Egypt Speedway, Grandview Speedway and the Orange County Fair Speedway. All had big paying special events scheduled to kick-off the season but once again the weather won out forcing all tracks to cancel. There were quite a few drivers that had planned on racing all three days and even more that were going to run at least two shows.
I was definitely disappointed in not being able to attend a race on the weekend although it did give me some time to get some stuff done around the house and spend some quality family time. But it made me wonder that if I was disappointed in the cancellations how to the drivers feel about these early season delays. I know sometimes during the summer when the season is going full bore that a well-placed rain-out can help a team especially if they have been racing multiple tracks with multiple cars. It usually gives them a chance to catch up on the maintenance of their cars and give the crew a well-earned break. However, when it’s this early in the season how do they feel when a full weekend gets cancelled. I reached out to a few drivers that had busy weekends planned for last weekend to get their thoughts on the matter.
Question #1 – Since you were geared up for a big weekend of racing, how do feel about everything being cancelled and are you disappointed?
Ryan Watt: “It’s a little disappointing not being able to race. We had the cars ready to go but it also gives us some more time to get things ready for a busy stretch of racing ahead.”
Jeff Strunk: “I’m not disappointed. I understand the tracks have bigger payouts for the openers and the last thing a business person wants to do is lose money or have a bad showing on their grand opening. The cold temps are not good for the engines that are very expensive, even though we do everything we can to make sure we are prepared for the cold weather.”
Billy Pauch Jr: “I’m disappointed, I can usually handle one night being rained out but the whole weekend sucks!”
Duane Howard: “I am pretty disappointed! You know Big Diamond was paying very good for their opener and we were looking forward to getting a good pill draw on Saturday at Grandview. I was really geared up to be the first one to be holding up the Bruce Rogers Memorial Trophy. That would mean a lot to me. The Deyo race on Sunday was going to be a challenge but I was looking forward to it. We are prepared as a team to race, we just need Mother Nature to cooperate so we can get it a good racing groove.”
Rick Laubach: “I am not disappointed at all. The weather isn’t fit yet to race for cars or for people watching.”
Mike Gular: “The weather is a bummer but the tracks made the right call. These cars are too expensive to race when track conditions will likely be bad because of no chance to prep them. Nobody wants to tear there cars up like that. We all want to race but it’s also a long summer.”
Question #2 – What will your plans be now that you have a free weekend?
Watt: “Probably still work on race cars and spend some time with my family.”
Editors Note * Watt ended up going to Bridgeport on Sunday to test on the new 3/8’s mile track
Strunk: “I will still go to the race shop, having a 4-car team with Keystone Racing. We all have full-time jobs and there is always work to do and you try to stay on top of the preparation and maintenance of the cars, engines, truck and trailer to keep everything clean looking and looking good. I will also try to take my better half out for a nice dinner and hopefully she can give me a haircut at some point during the weekend!”
Pauch Jr: “Going to spend some time with the family and in the shop.”
Howard: “So, it looks like I will be getting things done around the house and go out for a couple of nice dinners before the battles begin.”
Laubach: “My plans are to try and get caught up with my other cars and be more prepared. I am behind on my schedule and this will help me out big time.”
Gular: “We have a pretty busy schedule planned so we’ll probably going to keep working on spares and getting organized. In racing you are never done working but I’m definitely going to take my son and daughter fishing at least once.”
So, it looks like it’s a split decision on drivers being disappointed or not but it’s almost unanimous that even though they ended up having an off weekend most of them will still be in the shop working on race cars. Why? Because they are racers and that’s what racers do, it’s in their DNA.
The weather looks to be much better for this weekend so please get out and support your local track. Big Diamond is set for their opener on Friday night with a 30-lap feature paying a nice $4000 to the winner. Saturday night Grandview Speedway will play host to the first annual Bruce Rogers Memorial Money Maker Race. The race will be a big block / small block challenge race paying $7500 to the winner of the 50-lap feature event. Also, on Saturday New Egypt Speedway will open their season with a 40-lap feature event paying double points towards the coveted track championship. The Bridgeport Speedway will be back in action on Sunday on the 5/8’s mile track when the URC Sprints make their initial appearance of the season along with the mighty big-block Modifieds.
As always, I can be reached for questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @dirtracefan25