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Galesburg Speedway Red Flagged

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The Galesburg Speedway did not open last weekend as scheduled and it’s unlikely the race track will open this Saturday becau...


Ron Flinn Hospitalized

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Reports out of Crystal Motor Speedway this morning are that Ron Flinn has been hospitalized due to a coronary issue. Accordi...


Action to begin at Spartan Speedway

If the grandstands along the front stretch of Spartan Speedway look a bit higher than normal, well, they are. The speedway p...


Auto City postpones due to Cold

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Although the weather was picture-perfect for testing on Thursday afternoon, Mother Nature brought us cold and windy condition...


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Why did they name it that?

Sunday, 03 May 2009 13:26 Rand Thompson
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Ever wondered how a place first gets named? I know I have, and racetracks are no exception. Many tracks are named for their location, such as Flat Rock, Kalamazoo, Owosso, and Mt. Pleasant. Others have names that still represent some local connection such as Auto City near Flint, Spartan Speedway near Lansing, and Berlin at the county fairgrounds. Still others seem to have no connection to anything I can discern, like Oakshade or Thunderbird. If you look back at the names of some of the thousands of the current and defunct tracks of the past you can find some names that were quite creative and entertaining.

Some tracks had rather innocuous sounding names like Bob's Picnic Grounds in Pontiac, Mom's Family Raceway in Reed City, and Partington's Pastures in Sterling Hts. Joy Fair actually started in his very first race at Partington's Pastures in 1949. All three of them sound like pleasant places to pack a nice lunch for the family with fried chicken, potato salad, and apple pie to spend a quiet afternoon. Certainly no indication you would hear roaring engines, the grind of metal and have your nice lunch covered with flying dust.

At the other end of the spectrum, you had names like Suicide Circle in Georgia, Ted's Torture Track in New York, Hofer's Death Valley Speedway in Illinois, Hell's Half Acre in Texas, and my personal favorite: Satan's Bowl-O- Death in New York. Are you starting to see a common theme here? Joy Fair told me his parents thought racing was a sin; apparently they weren't the only ones. The suicide angle seemed to be very popular with three separate tracks in Texas, all named the Suicide Bowl at different times.

The bowl nomenclature was not limited to college football being used for many racetracks as well. You have the famed Chili Bowl in Tulsa, the Akron Rubber Bowl in Ohio, an Iron Bowl in Alabama, a Peach Bowl, Tobacco Bowl & Sugar Bowl in Georgia, Bean Bowl in California, Ice Bowl in Alaska (makes sense!), an aptly named Dust Bowl in Montana, and a Devil's Bowl in Texas and a couple other states.

Then you have names that seem to have no connection at all, like Boss Hogg International Speedway in Florida (I wonder what TV show was popular then?) and Whiskey Ridge in Muskegon, Michigan. I'm not sure how many drivers would want to race at Flippin Speedway in Arkansas until they saw it really was located in the town of Flippin. Anderson Speedway in Indiana was originally named Sun Valley Speedway, which is odd since Anderson is neither particularly known for sun or is in a valley.

So the next time you go to the races just ask yourself "I wonder why they named it that?"

Thanks to Allen Brown for writing the book The History of America's Speedways and providing the great info.






Gone but not forgotten

Saturday, 02 May 2009 14:11 Chris Sylvester
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2008_08_05_31sh_001_jpg_sized Lou Blaney, a father, friend and a heck of a driver.

Lou began his career in 1958 at the legendary Greater Pittsburgh Speedway in Clinton Pennsylvania. Driving the old coupes, super modifieds and sprints, little did his father know is that he would become an instant success. The young driver was part of the three car team of Gib Orr, Dale Johnson and Blaney, known at the time as the “three white mice”. The team won a great deal of the races running against drivers like Dave Lundy, Bobby Adamson, Mac Clingan, Dean Mast, and Gus Linder.

He moved to the Modifieds in 1978. His first Modified was acquired by long time car owner Bill Thomas from legendary modified stock car driver and builder Dick Tobias of Lebanon. Blaney was a winner right out of the box aboard the car. He continued to drive Modifieds and Super Sprints until 1981, when his son and current NASCAR Nextel Cup star, Dave Blaney, started driving the sprint car.

His success in the modifieds is legendary but his best years were behind the wheel of his famous number 10 sprint car. The track championships are too numerous to mention, but the career highlight came in 1973. Driving for the Crash Brothers, Lou was running a three track circuit. Friday night was Lernerville, Saturday night Jennerstown, and Sunday night was Tri-City Speedway. Winning a point race on the last night of the season is thrilling enough, but Lou and Ted Wise were locked up in a last night battle at all three tracks, which sounds like a fantasy but true. And even more unbelievable, Lou Blaney managed to win all three track championships on that last night at each speedway.

Blaney is well-known for his Super Sprint exploits. He recorded over 200 Super Sprint wins from 1961 to 1980. In 1966 driving for Bill Thomas; Lou won the Williams Grove National Open, which at that time was the premier race for sprint cars in the entire country. He placed third to eventual two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Gordon Johncock in the 1963 inaugural event. Three years later, Blaney won the National Open. It is probably the most cherished of his many victories.10_spr_blaney_sized

In 1981, when he started driving the DIRT Modified full-time, Blaney finished second to Merv Treichler in the Schaefer International 200 for his best career finish in the world’s richest dirt track modified stock car race. Unexpectedly, Blaney’s red and white No. 10 ended up on the front cover of Stock Car Racing Magazine that winter, which earned him more notoriety.

Lou was a good athlete even before he started racing, as he was a standout basketball player at Hartford High School scoring 1200 points over his four year high school career. It was probably just a coincidence that Lou’s basketball uniform was number 10. 1980mod_blaney_sized

Late Model car owner Jook George, one night at Expo Speedway, convinced Lou to drive his late model #10. Jook chose the number because Blaney was his hero. It was the only time Blaney was ever in a late model.

Lou’s sons, Dale and Dave, have also had their share of sports headlines. Dale was a star basketball player at West Virginia University and got a tryout with the pros. Dale has developed into one of the premier sprint car drivers on the East Coast. Dave needs no introduction to racing fans, was a star in his own right in the World of Outlaw sprint circuit as well as his current deal with NASCAR Sprint Cup and the Nationwide Series.

Dave finished second at Syracuse, first in the sprint car segment, and repeated in the big modified show in 1989. It’s not very often a father and son will take two of the first five places in the biggest modified show in the country.

Lou Blaney was one of the few big winners that the fans have continued to cheer over the years. Big winners usually have had their share of boos from the crowd, which goes with long term success. Lou was always a quiet, reserved person who won his races with his head and right foot, and not with his mouth.

There have been many great drivers in the Tri State area, but it’s hard to say that any of them are any better than Lou Blaney. His rim riding style was smooth as it was in 1958. And his personality and sportsmanship have never been questioned.

Lou Blaney was inducted into the DIRT Motorsports Hall of Fame in Weedsport, N.Y. He was the first driver to be elected to the Hall of Fame from this region. Blaney’s victory list in the DIRT Modifieds is virtually untouchable. Lou was inducted into the Pittsburgh Circle Track Club Hall of Fame in 1997 along with Jack Freeman, Jean Lynch, and Mike Klapak.

He has victories at Sharon, Lernerville, Mercer, Raceway 7, Tri-City, Expo, Sportsman, Pittsburgh, and Hagerstown Speedway. Lou along with his sons Dave and Dale have ten titles and Lou is second all-time with 118 wins at Lernerville Speedway. Lou’s legendary career has topped over 600 victories since his start in racing, a feat that many could wish to live up to. I had a chance to meet Lou for the first time back in 1995 at Sharon Speedway. He was very laid back, full of wisdom when it came to working on cars and was always there to help you out with anything that you needed.


In the 2002 Season, the Blaney family, along with the help of 2 private investors bought the Sharon Speedway. Over the years since then, the track has had a major face lift. Switching from a wide half mile to a very fast 3/8 mile track and additional grandstands were added to the back stretch.

In the end of the 2003 season, Lou opted to hang up the helmet and enjoy life. Though he left his driving duties behind, he could still be found at the track working whether it be in the water truck or in the office. In January, while checking on some racing results and news on a few of the local sites from back home, I came across a thread on a message board that made my heart drop. Lou Blaney, age 69 had passed away. What more could be said, a man that was looked up to by many old and young alike is gone, but not forgotten. A special thanks to all who brought out there memories of Lou, including Don Gamble and Walt Wimer.1990blaney_kraus_resize_sized


Racing providing economic stimulus Obama can't

Sunday, 26 April 2009 15:14 Chuck Sheaffer
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Times are tough.  Headlines in all forms of the news media are bleak. The economy is faltering, and here in Michigan, we're in deeper than most of the rest of the country.  I know, "tell us something we didn't know Sherlock!"

What the rest of the country doesn't know, however, is how resilient and determined we are in Michigan.

Our new President is supposed to be providing "change."  But as we Michiganians know, if you truly want "Change," you don't wait around for it to happen - you make it happen for yourself.

Here in the Great Lakes State, we don't wait for others to come to our rescue.  If we did, blizzards in the Upper Peninsula would result in calls to the National Guard to dig out our northern neighbors and water-logged farmers fields would be posterized for disaster relief status following our normal spring rains.  No FEMA to the rescue here.  We'll do it ourselves - Thank you very much.

Under the most of the rest of the country's "take care of me" attitude, when people cut back on their recreational activities (like going to the race track here in Michigan), they'd wait for the Feds to come in and bail 'em out.  Well, fortunately, Michigan Short Track owners aren't as ignorant (or greedy) as Wall Street Investment Bankers.

They've recognized an opportunity which has come out of our negative economic situation, and they're doing something about it.

The opportunity is to provide affordable entertainment appealing to the masses.  They're pulling out all the stops with unique promotions and attractions targeted to audiences who previously may not have considered going to the race track.  In fact, some tracks are providing Church Youth Group nights and even Speed Dating opportunities.  Yet others are offering free admission to Military personnel.  Yes, we still respect the Red White and Blue and those who fight for her here in Michigan.

Kudos to our race track promoters for pulling themselves up by the bootstraps and introducing their own economic stimulus.

Now it's time for us as fans to do our part.  Maybe you and your family don't have the means to go to the local short track every weekend, but you can dedicate a few excursions this season.  You can also support the area businesses that advertise with and sponsor your favorite drivers or tracks.  These sponsors haven't backed down - neither should we.

No, here in Michigan, we won't wait for Washington, D.C. to come to our rescue.  From Dixie to Berlin, M-40 to Kinross, and all green flags in between, we're doing our best on our own.

ARA at Dells Raceway Park

Sunday, 26 April 2009 12:56 Dale Danielski
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So where can you go from a record temperature of 89 degrees on one day to a high of 50 the next? Wisconsin of course, and sadly this weather appeared in the wrong order to get the ASA Midwest Tour 2009 kick off race in at the Dells Raceway Park of Wisconsin Dells, WI.

The event was shaping up to be a great one as one of the best fields of Super Late Model drivers were entered for the show. A field of forty-five was looking forward to doing battle and they included Cameron Dodson, who is considered a rookie in this series, and coming off life threatening injuries, Tim Schendel, Dan Fredrickson, defending Series champ Donny Reuvers, Steve Carlson, Jonathan Eilen, Nathan Haseleu, Steve Holzhausen, and Mark Eswein just to name some of the field. Add in Bryan Reffner who has seen success at the top levels of the sport and plans to race this series all year and you have the makings of one dynamite event. But unfortunately Mother Nature had the final say on the day and consequently the event has been postponed to June 6th.

With one event’s demise however comes another’s benefit as La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway of West Salem, WI. had high hopes of getting in their opening event of the 2009 campaign. Featuring three divisions of racing including NASCAR Late Models folks who were planning to attend the Tour race now had the chance to trek 80 miles Northwest to catch a show at the Fairgrounds. Also potentially benefiting was Steve Carlson who was scheduled for the Tour event but could possibly at least salvage the weekend by being able to compete at La Crosse.

But they were wrong again, as Ma Nature wasn’t done yet, washing away the program in the middle of hot laps. An excellent field of 24 Late Models was on hand, but it was all for naught. The track’s opener will now hopefully go in the books May 2nd.

Here and there … Mississippi Thunder Speedway of Fountain City, WI. got their opening event in the books here recently despite lightening flashing in every direction around the track. The track, having been reconfigured from a Tri-Oval to a true oval, drew a good field of cars and nice crowd under threatening conditions. The big winner of the night was Kyle Jumbeck in the WISSOTA Midwest Modified Division. Jumbeck who went on a 12 race winning streak last year appears once again to be the driver to beat in that division … A recent visit to the Chateau Raceway of Lansing, MN. found us witnessing a winning performance in the USRA Modified Division feature by Mike Sorenson. Sorenson is off to a good start at the 3/8 mile clay oval as he is currently leading the early season points at that track … Short and sweet this time around but hopefully as the weather straightens out we will be able to enlighten you with a number of anecdotes in our travels to racing events throughout the land. We leave you with a couple photos you will enjoy…Kevin Nuttleman No. 4 battles J. Herbst No. 82 in preparation for racing this year at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway. Tom Reffner poses with the AMC Javelin he raced to 67 feature event wins in 1975. Reffner purchased a number of parts from Ed Howe contributing to his record setting season. Dale P. Danielski photos.

Comments welcome to Dale P. Danielski, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it 967 10th Ave N Ste A, Onalaska, WI 54650. 608-783-5827.



Wow, this pen is heavy

Tuesday, 21 April 2009 19:13 Patrick McNamara
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My grandfather told me “find a job you love, and you'll never have to work a day in your life”.  I love racing.  patrick_mcnamara-art
This project started in the summer of 2008 when I first contacted Terry about working with him at the Michigan Racing Scene.  Like so many others in the Great Lakes area, I found out that I was losing my job of 15 years and would soon be unemployed for the first time in my adult life.

I had experience working in the media and decided I wanted to apply my marketing and media skills within the racing industry. Once I made that decision, things moved pretty fast.

I knew that Terry Fitzwater had moved to New Mexico and was enjoying life.  I had heard through various people that the Michigan Racing Scene paper might need a person on the ground in Michigan.  With this in mind, I contacted Terry about working with him and the Michigan Racing Scene.  Those conversations evolved and developed over the late summer and early fall.  

In the meantime, my good friend Dennis O'Neil suggested we talk to Dick Beebe about the MARC Times Racing News.  I talked Dick on the several times and finally in November, Dennis and I drove up to Comstock Park and met with Dick and Kathie. Over dinner, we discussed the MARC Times Racing News and finalized its acquisition.  

Terry Fitzwater and I continued our conversations and over the Christmas holiday's as we framed the structure of a deal to acquire The Michigan Racing Scene. The acquisition was formalized in January just prior to the MARFC banquet.

Just as told by Gary Lindahl in his column, I had gone from “From Pony Stock to Publisher.”  

Since January, it’s been a whirlwind of activity.  Seeking out the racetracks and introducing myself and the newly combined “MARC Times Racing News & Michigan Racing Scene” to promoters and track owners.  I have been attending as many track banquets and driver meetings as possible to acquaint myself with the people and personalities in our great sport.  Many days have been spent approaching potential advertisers and sponsors about the new publication, its platform and the marketing mission.  Carefully building a great new website ( or was also essential. During this whole process was the ongoing task of recruiting a staff of new writers and track reporters as well as contacting the previous writers thereby putting together the best team to insure that this will be one the best publications of its kind.
We are now one big group as we work elevating and evaluating our path going forward.  

Suddenly, it was Monday March 30th.  We were going to press the next morning with the new paper and our managing editor Tom Gillispie stated “you haven't written your Publisher's Column yet!”  He was right, but I didn't think it would be any big thing.  I'm a pretty verbose guy and as Ed Inloes pointed out his column, I've never been a guy short on words. In my desk I had a pen that Dick had given me and I had planned on using that pen when I wrote my first publisher's column.

So as I sat at my desk, opened the drawer, reached for that pen I thought ...  “Wow is this pen heavy!!”  I didn't recall it being that heavy when Dick handed it to me and I didn't recall it being so heavy when I put it in the drawer.  But now that I was preparing to write with it, the pen weighed a ton.

Then it dawned on me.  It wasn't the pen that was heavy.  It was the responsibility and expectations that came with the pen which weighed so much.  I hadn't realized it when I was handed the pen or when I had put it away.  Now as I was preparing to actually use the pen, I could feel its weight.

Rather then tell you all the great things we are planning on accomplishing, or all the interesting new features and promotions we are going to present, I just want to say, “We want to earn your trust!”

We realize that over the last few years the MARC Times Racing News and the Michigan Racing Scene at certain times might not have met your expectations.  For some maybe it did, but for others, maybe it didn't.  We not only want to meet your expectations, we want to exceed your expectations.  

Not every swing can be a home run, not every catch is a touchdown.  Nobody goes to Victory Lane every time out.  But week-in and week-out we want you to see a continually improving publication which meets or exceeds your expectations.  

That is my goal and my commitment to you.

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