The latest edition of the Turn 2 Blog is presented by the American Crate All-Star Series.
*Turn 2 Blog is a regular feature on InsideDirtRacing.com. Here, site operators Michael Moats and Richard Allen take turns offering their thoughts on the dirt racing topics of the day from east Tennessee and beyond.
Richard: We’re now well underway with the 2019 racing season and I’ve noticed something already. It feels as if there is a renewed energy at the events I have been to so far. I have been to races at Golden Isles, Screven, North Georgia, 411, Smoky Mountain and Cherokee and every event has had good attendance with crowds that were enthusiastic and tuned in.
I have felt this energy all throughout motorsports this year from NASCAR to endurance racing to dirt tracks. As always, these sorts of things tend to be cyclical and now appears to be one of those times in which the sport is riding up on the crest of the wave.
Case in point, not only was there a record breaking crowd at Smoky Mountain Speedway this past Saturday night for the World of Outlaws Late Model Series event but they were energized. I’m not sure if it is just the fact that the weather virtually all of last season was not very cooperative or if there is some other factor at work here but something does feel different all across the board.
If this is indeed true, there is a real opportunity here for track owners and promoters to take advantage and really showcase their product to an audience that wants to be entertained. And this is coming at a great time considering that most tracks around our region and all over the country are about to fire up their weekly racing programs.
This feels like a good time for auto racing, doesn’t it?
Michael: it is a good time for all the factors you mentioned. The wet and cold weather we’ve had in our area really had people down. With a good weekend of weather, the fans came out in force this weekend at the events you mentioned. I certainly hope that continues if we get several weeks in a row of good weather.
I think the fans are also showing their support for the tracks that have made improvements over the winter. I think those that chose to stand pat will feel the pinch as the season moves along.
The question is how long will this be sustained. I expect another huge crowd at 411 for their Lucas race. Will this continue for weeks to come after that race or will things dwindle down somewhat? Only time will answer that question.
Richard: Whether it be series racing or weekly racing, it is up to the tracks and the series to promote and get the word out in terms of letting fans know they have something worth seeing. Those who work at getting the word about their racing and, as you mentioned, the improvements they have made will garner the rewards in the near and long term.
A new series that seems to be creating some positive momentum, especially among local competitors, is the American Crate All-Stars Series. This Saturday night the new tour will kick off the 2019 season as the sanctioning body for the 15th annual Charles Trammell Memorial at Tazewell Speedway.
I have heard a number of area drivers and teams voice their intention to run this series. I am anxious to see exactly how many do indeed show up and how many stick with it throughout the season.
If all who have said they will race actually do, it could be quite a show at Tazewell and quite a season around our area.
Michael: I’m curious to see who actually does race in this series. As anyone has started a new series will tell you, there are plenty of drivers that say they will race in that series, but not all will do so. If the majority of them are at Tazewell on Saturday, it ought to be some show.
As in our piece last week, another new series is set to take off in a couple of weeks when the Topless Outlaw series gets going for the limited late models. With dwindling car counts in that division, I find it interesting to see how many drivers will actually follow this series considering only a couple of area tracks run that division on a weekly basis. Between that series and the mini-series for limited late models at Smoky Mountain, drivers in that class still have options to race if they want to stay in that class.
Richard: No matter what class a driver hopes to compete in, there is no shortage of opportunities to race.
Finally, we would be remiss if we did not mention the recent absence of Scott Bloomquist from the national racing scene. As has been widely reported, the legendary driver was involved in a motorcycle accident that has left him with significant leg and hip injuries. It has also been reported by his own people on Twitter that once healed he will require a great deal of physical therapy. As a result, it looks as if the leader of Team Zero will be away from Dirt Late Model racing for some time.
Bloomquist has for years been one of the most polarizing figures in all of motorsports. Whenever his rig pulls through the gates of a race track, people take notice. Whenever his car rolls onto the race track, it draws a reaction. Whether he wins or loses, everyone knows that he was there at the end of the night.
Love him or not, Bloomquist holds a significant place in this sport. He will be missed, no matter how long he is out.
Michael: When Bloomquist was facing time away from possible shoulder surgery last year, we noted how the sport would fare without him in the mix. The surgery didn’t happen and everything was business as usual. Now that we are to this point, I think that needs to be addressed again. If this past weekend is any indication, the sport will be fine with a prolonged Bloomquist absence. But just like when Dale Earnhardt passed, his fans were lost and most eventually left the sport. If Bloomquist does miss most or the rest of this season, how will his fans fare this season? It will be interesting to watch. I’m sure promoters are watching closely as well.
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