By BILL FOLEY
Florida is an interesting place as it can go days without rain.
However, that was far from the case as Brett Deyo brought the Short Track Super Series to All-Tech Raceway for a scheduled four nights. That four nights became two and for a while there was a brief threat to make it a one race swing.
Weather watchers (just about everyone interested in racing), beginning Wednesday night, saw the woe-is-me, build-an-ark meteorologist calling for inches, yes inches, of rain on Saturday. It was a foregone conclusion by everyone in the pits that after Friday it would be time to head home as Saturday was never going to happen.
Wednesday was perfect and then Thursday, just moments before the cars were set to iron out the pre-race surface it began to drizzle. It lasted for about a half hour, but amazingly the show started on time and went on without another obstruction.
Then came Friday. Thunderstorms sporadically throughout the day, but it appeared there was a window where the show could get in by eight or nine. As the DTD TV crew drove south on I75 from Lake City rain came down so hard that the driver couldn’t see the front of his car. It was a “liquid whiteout.” Arriving at the track a soaked facility saw the show canceled by late afternoon.
For many there was a thought that the entire weekend was over. The hopes of getting in three shows had disappeared.
However, Deyo held hope against hope as he waited until early Saturday morning to call it. I really wonder how many teams had hit the road north on Friday night and figured that 100% of rain forecast with it dropping to maybe 93% at night would allow racing on the scheduled final night.
So STSS was brief in Florida, but anticipation is high for the return of the Mods to Hagerstown for the first point race of the year on March 11.
Walking on Eggs?
David Schilling spanked the Mod field on Wednesday and there were some unhappy drivers.
Here you have a surface that is hard to get a hold of. However Schilling from “the knob” ran away and was like a teenager running against a 60 year old in a foot race. It was impressive.
How fast was he?
Well his fastest lap was eight tenths of a second quicker than runner up Matt Sheppard.
Schilling’s car stuck, it did exactly what he wanted it to do and the young driver had the win of his life.
No driver likes to lose, but the pit side mood was significantly different after this one.
Larry Wight questioned the tires that Schilling had and had a feeling they were softened.
However, as Schilling sat in tech with his dad’s car powered by a Brett Deyo owned motor, the comments by those gathered around basically went “Why bother. A Deyo owned engine, in a Deyo series with Deyo tech people. Do you think they will find anything?”
It was a really strange vibe and if you were there you would have felt it too. Something was just different.
One driver later said to one of the DTD TV guys, “It’s one time. If it becomes a trend then it might be something to be concerned about.”
Brett Deyo is doing so much for Modified racing and providing more money than these racers had ever imagined making, but much like any track owner who has a car racing at their track, not everyone is happy with it. There are suspicions or perceptions.
Such is the case with Brett as he brought the STSS to life, has helped develop an engine that is called the “Wegner Weekend Warrior” which is powerful enough to run with the big boys and be a decent price, now is working on the Wegner “Open” motor that Schilling runs that had quite a bit of testosterone. Deyo also sells the tires while also running his own speed shop.
He has arranged for a platform with Flo TV to get these teams national exposure, not only Mod, but Sportsman. He finds money from all sorts of sponsorships. Hell, he even sells the final lap of the feature to a sponsor. He is a true promotor.
He has his hands on not a piece of the pie, but the whole pie.
To his credit his hard work and determination has allowed this to happen.
The reality is single handedly he has done something that few have done for Mods, but he is probably aware that the perception of being so involved creates possible gossip and dissension.
But perceptions are a major part of any sport.
Pit Stops – Austin Hubbard broke a steering arm on night one, ran his heat on Thursday, but failed to come out for his front row consi starting spot. He told DTD they dropped a valve. The weekend was over.
Steve Davis also had to head home early due to engine issues.
Efficiency is a major part of a Deyo run show. Many could learn from him. He isn’t gun shy of starting early if the weather is threatening, will drop the on track draw to save time, will say “no” to Flo heat interviews if it means the racers and fans would be threatened in losing the show. On Friday he was willing to start an hour earlier if it meant getting the show in.
Larry Wight’s car was the last car that Billy Decker had driven in the then three car Gypsum stable.
Darren Smith had himself a heat win and the results of a year of mentoring from Billy Decker is showing. Billy arrived Thursday with golf clubs, not a helmet. Darren will be racing Brewerton on Friday nights, all STSS races and a few Super DIRTcar Series shows as well as Thunder Mountain on Saturday.
Billy Decker is expected to make his ‘23 debut at Hagerstown. Don’t look for him at Volusia.
While many teams simply came to race All-Tech some are doing double duty heading over to Volusia for action this coming Wednesday thru Saturday. It would appear Francois Bellemare, Peter Britten, Danny Creeden, Stewart Friesen, Rick Laubach, Alex Payne, Erick Rudolph, Matt Sheppard, Darren Smith, Corbin Millar, Larry Wight and Yan Bussiere for sure.
Talking to Dylan Zacharias, who maintains Peter Britten’s cars, about his racing plans for ‘23 and he noted that engines he sent out for work last June and August still haven’t been returned. He wants to run Brewerton again this year,.
Sportsman driver Yan Bussiere was driving the car that won the Merrittville Speedway title last year as it was the former Mat Williamson car that also ran Oswego. Yan brought the big-block for Volusia.
There was a Sportsman point fund in memory of Shirley Zacharias, from the Zacharias family. Five drivers each received $500 as the series wasn’t completed. Taking home the extra cash were Brian Calabrese, Dylan Madsen, Yan Bussiere, Ayden Cipriano and Joe Toth.
Scott Hitchens destroyed the right front of his Sportsman in heat action on Thursday and surprisingly made it back out for the consi. Lots, and I mean lots, of work necessary on that one.
The track surface is so unique that a Sportsman driver said, “It is like driving two different cars on the same lap.”
Former Mod driver Derrick McGrew Jr., was running as Sportsmea while 358 regular Phil Vignieri III was also running that division.
I drove up to track on Wednesday and saw Tenderloin and Funnel Cake trailers there. I was in a happy place until they never opened either that night. I’m sure they were there for the recently run Lucas Oil Late Model shows.
If you are ever driving by Lake City, Florida, just off either exits 423 or 427 you will find Mr. B’s BBQ with a Kick. Great food. Had ribs and brisket and they were amazing. The Cowboy Beans as a side are famous. Great customer services, quick delivery of food and super local business that you can support. If you are into chains Gator’s Dockside, off Exit 427, is the go to late night stop for the entire DTD crew as well as many race teams. Big menus and two for one beers (at night). Full dinners to finger food. Lots of other food places along the way off I75.