*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.
The latest edition of the Turn 2 Blog is presented by the American Crate All-Star Series.
Richard: The four-day run that made up the double Dirt Late Model Dream races at the Eldora Speedway has come to an end. After so much racing being packed into such a relatively short period of time, the word that most often came into my mind as two nights of preliminary races and two separate Dreams were playing out was unprecedented. In the history of this sport there had never been anything quite like this.
To start off with, the unprecedented nature of actually conducting two crown jewel races in one week was an amazing accomplishment by owner Tony Stewart, general manager Roger Slack, and everyone involved in the running of the Rossburg, Ohio track. I have never had anything to do with the day-to-day operations of a racing facility but I can’t begin to image all of the planning and the work that had to go into making this event(s) happen.
If someone came to me today and said they wanted me to lead the effort to plan for just one race, I honestly would not have any idea where to begin. So my hat is off to those who managed and carried out what appeared to be a seamless and well executed plan.
You have had more to do with being involved in racing on the track side of things than I have. What are your thoughts about simply pulling off the logistics of such a task?
Michael: Running any kind of show on back-to-back nights takes a lot of effort and planning. Everyone has to be on the same page and a plan needs to be in place to make sure both nights go off without a hitch. If you can run a program for one night, running two should be as simple. Just do the same thing each night.
Running more than two nights is something I haven’t been a part of at this point. I will say it takes dedication from the staff to make it work. Everyone has to plan to be there each night. Plans have to be made in the event someone cannot make it one night.
I can’t imagine the effort, logistics, and planning it took to run two Crown Jewel races on the same weekend. I realize the programs were condensed from three nights to two for each one but there were a lot of people watching. There had to be a lot of pressure to make sure each night was successful. And they certainly were, including Thursday night when the rain moved in. Had that night been a wash out, that’s another day for everyone involved. I say kudos to everyone involved.
Richard: I said the word unprecedented would be a theme here. That certainly applies to what Brandon Overton did over the course of those four days. With the level of competition in that pit area, I do not believe I would have bet on anyone being guaranteed to win even two features, much less four.
Obviously, we had some odd circumstances but to think anyone would ever win two preliminaries, two crown jewel races, and $273,000 in the space of four days is unbelievable. I am not as versed in the history of Dirt Late Model racing as you are but I can’t imagine that there has been a more monumental achievement.
Of course, Donnie Moran won $1 million back in 2001 at Eldora, but that was one race. What Overton did was four races over the course of four nights. And two of those wins were in 100-lap features with all the perils that come with not only two features but also all of the heat races and the two other features. It seems as if the odds would get any driver over the course of that many laps but the No. 76 was flawless.
Have ever seen anything that would compare with Overton’s performance?
Michael: I have never seen anything like this. This tops Jonathan Davenport’s win streak of 2015. As tough as the competition is these days, there have to be so many things go right just to be in that position. And when you’re in position, you still have to drive some great races and hope someone else’s mistake doesn’t take you out of it.
The money won’t be the same. But the only way a person can come close to matching it is if someone else can duplicate the feat by winning both World 100s in September. The money will be less, but the car counts should be higher – bringing more chances for someone else to ruin the night of a top competitor.
Hopefully, we’ll never see anything like this again. Not because I don’t want anyone to equal or top what Overton did. But it took a global pandemic and some strict local and state mandates to prevent last year’s race from happening and move it to this year.
Richard: I definitely agree in hoping we have seen the last of pandemics for a very long time.
One last usage of the word unprecedented actually occurred after the second Dirt Late Model Dream had ended. UMP DIRTcar officials had announced during the drivers meeting on Friday that the top-3 finishing cars in Saturday’s feature would be impounded so that they could be given a thorough teardown in a building located on the Eldora property.
I have been to races in which the winner was declared legal by simply rolling over the scales and maybe having the deck height checked or some other simple measurement. And I have been to a few(particularly sanctioned Crate Late Model races) where the drivers have been told take their cars to the series trailer for a more complete inspection. Still, these typically only involve fairly routine checks that can be completed in a few minutes time.
The lone exception to that comes when tire samples have to be sent to a lab for a closer look.
At least to me, the use of the word ‘impound’ which means, of course, that no crew member will touch the car until the inspection is completed was unprecedented to me. And from the sound of things coming out of the drivers meeting, officials were looking for something specific related to traction control.
Ultimately, the cars of Overton, Chris Madden and Chris Ferguson were cleared after a few hours but I don’t remember officials at a dirt race, even the crown jewels I have been to, so adamant about conducting such a strict post-race teardown.
Two points come from this in my mind. First, it is important for fans, officials, and competitors to know that the rules will be enforced and that the race winning cars are legitimate. But at the same time, I don’t really think it’s in the best interest of the sport for dirt racing to evolve into a situation such as that of the pavement-based Snowball Derby where more people seem to know of the ‘Room of Doom’ and the technical director than the drivers.
I hope there can be some sort of happy medium found so that we don’t get into a situation in which fans leave the track thinking one driver has won only to read hours or even days later that such was not the case.
So two questions for you again with your historic knowledge of the sport being greater than mine. Do you recall a time in which cars were impounded and not just driven to a series trailer? And, what are your thoughts regarding more involved post-race inspections?
Michael: It is extremely rare that such a thorough inspection take place following a Super Late Model race. I’ve seen it in crate races and Limited Late Model races, but not Super Late Models. And those usually involve some type of engine tear down. I don’t think that was the case here.
It will be interesting to see how this came about to prompt officials to do this following Saturday’s race. There are a number of rumors pertaining to this and I’m not going to get into each one of them. As it becomes more certain, it will be interesting to see if this comes from legitimate concerns or a matter of a sore loser not being able to stand getting beat.
I know there are various products out there to aid drivers in all kinds of aspects in the cars. Until winning drivers are caught with them, they’ll still be out there. Once a winner is busted, here comes a new rule.
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