The Lancaster tragedy and how to pack a dirt track with a carrot?

1. Another tragic shooting on the Carolina dirt road

For the second summer in a row, dirt racing in the Carolinas had to endure a gunfight on the track. On Saturday night (Aug 26) a track security guard at the Lancaster Motor Speedway in South Carolina was killed for allegedly refusing entry to a man not wearing a track wristband. A suspect was arrested the next morning for the murder.

This is not a problem endemic to dirt track racing. Unfortunately, sports at all levels have had to endure violence in recent years, whether it’s fights in the stands in the NFL or stabbings in parking lots in the MLB.

That doesn’t diminish how tragic Saturday night was in Lancaster. I’ve been to over 140 racetracks in this country and yes, whether as a fan or a member of the media, I can’t count on all my fingers the number of times I’ve had to deal with security or other track personnel. pointing me in the wrong direction or not understanding ticketing/check-in at the tarmac. That is never a reason to raise your voice, much less shoot a gun.

Say a prayer for the victim’s family and thank the next ticket booth you see at your local track.

2. The Closing of the Eastern Storm Tent Forever

Over the weekend news broke that Pennsylvania’s Grandview Speedway, a rare example of a NASCAR-sanctioned dirt track and a fixed racetrack for USAC’s annual Eastern Storm wingless mini-speed car series, was sold for make room for a car auction location and it will soon cease to be a race track (note that several of the Facebook posts providing more substantive information are part of groups and cannot be embedded here).

Multiple sources have confirmed via social media that track staff were notified of the impending closure over the weekend.

This one comes as a bit shocking. Grandview Speedway has proven to be healthy in terms of attendance and car numbers all season, and its promoter was, in fact, instrumental in getting the Eastern Storm miniseries established in Pennsylvania.

But, no matter how successful a dirt track is, it’s still a very low-margin, labor-intensive means of making money. Cash offers for land are often difficult for track owners to refuse.

Still, it’s hard to swallow that a track where fan support was actually present ended up getting shut down anyway.

3. A return to dirt racing after a year

Well, maybe not a full year, but we need some good news after two slumps to start this column. Nine months after sustaining a spinal injury racing midgets in California, Keith Kunz Motorsports prospect Daison Pursley returned to competition over the weekend at Davenport Speedway in Iowa, scoring multiple top-10 finishes in the Outlaw Xtreme Midget Series competition in the Iowa quarter mile, including a heat race win on Friday night.

No need to comment. It was good to see Pursley back on track and dwarf fans should be excited to see more of him in the fall.

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4. Time to rethink classic racing after Grove crash

That Pursley suffered such a terrible injury despite racing in a top-tier midget car with all the modern safety features was a stark reminder last fall of the perils of single-seater racing. And after seeing what a vintage racing practice at Williams Grove Speedway turned into on Friday night, it begs an important question as to whether vintage race cars that lack such safety features have any place on the racetracks of today. Warning for those who haven’t seen it, the replay is graphic.

Now, thankfully, the driver involved in this incident was alert and communicating when he was transported to the hospital after the accident, and family members reported on social media that he was bruised but okay later over the weekend.

Still, having seen the way his head moved in the cockpit of that race car as he went around laps, I can’t understand how in this day and age, where even the bomber division at most local tracks requires seats of contention, that sprint cars like the ones racing on the track at the Grove on Friday night can run at speed.

There are many fans and competitors at Grove who say drivers running older machines that lack safety features are aware of the risks. And yes, Friday night’s crash was an extreme incident, even by race car standards.

But the historical benefit of such races doesn’t outweigh the risks when they crash like they did. Friday. As important as it is to maintain ties to the roots of the sport, staging events where drivers get injured as graphically as they were this Friday night will ultimately repel more fans than you think.

5. Fingers crossed for another Florida resurfacing

With much of the Florida racing scene on a regularly scheduled hiatus waiting for the extremes of tropical weather to cool down, All-Tech Raceway has been hard at work, putting tons of new clay on its racing surface.

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Now look, resurfacing a dirt track is standard practice. It is necessary, it must be done. But I admit I cringed at the sight of All-Tech footage with dump trucks and bulldozers working everywhere. For one thing, the All-Tech racing surface has been excellent in recent years, with last year’s Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series season opener and this year’s XR Super Series events both featuring glistening clay. and slippery that offers excellent races.

Translation: I don’t want to see that racing surface disappear.

And given what has been seen earlier this year, there is reason to hold your breath until the race cars actually take to the new All-Tech surface. Because both Volusia Speedway Park and Eldora Speedway, racetracks that are nationally recognized for their surfaces, tried to repave this year and were reduced to having to scrape their new clay off their racing surfaces to accommodate major events, since be it the DIRTcar Nationals in February or the Eldora Million in June.

Here’s hoping that the big-name third track is the charm.

6. How to pack a dirt track…with carrots

It has long been a running joke that a headlining class often never finds itself on a dirt track when the PA announcer calls for cars to fill the racing surface before fast laps. Well, the USAC National Sprint Cars were blessed at Kokomo Speedway this weekend with one of the smartest promotions dirt racing has seen in 2022.

Now granted, it may take more of a carrot than shedding, like maybe a right rear tire, to get a super late model out to pack. But it definitely feels like there’s a marketing opportunity here.


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