---- — During the gray months of winter, there are those times we as race fans look to in an attempt to come out of the funk that the winter months bring.
That’s why I look at this past week a lot like I used to as a kid the day after Christmas — excited, but a bit melancholy as well.
Sure, there are still some races left before we shut the book on the 2013 season, but the excitement and intensity that goes hand in hand with Indiana Sprint Week is honestly, something I don’t think can be duplicated by anyone involved.
Unlike the World of Outlaws, where teams are geared for racing multiple nights in a row, USAC drivers and teams are for the most part, regular guys and girls who have full-time jobs and a very expensive hobby — racing.
Just watching the best non-wing drivers slugging it out night after night with the intensity ratcheted up to levels unimaginable is special to see. Being athletes, the drivers will tell you that it’s hard to remain as sharp and focused night in and night out as they are during ISW.
And to think one of the principles behind the concept of ISW is former Kokomo Speedway track owner Kent Evans.
I recall shooting the bull with Evans one night and he spoke of how he and some other track owners sat down and came up with the concept of ISW. Had it not been for those owners and promoters and their forethought, there’s a good chance the most special week of the year for sprint car fans would never have gotten off the ground.
It’s funny sometimes to check out the Internet message boards and see some of the folks’ ideas about a multitude of topics pertaining to the sport. Though I try not to look at the message boards all that often since more often than not I turn off the computer frustrated by “experts” who claim to have all the answers to racing’s problems, yet are content to keep that treasure trove of knowledge to themselves and those who choose to read one of their posts.
However, one topic that came up that a friend told me to check out was the one regarding whether or not ISW could work without USAC as the sanctioning body.
Page after page went on about the topic, some pro, more con. However, unless there were some track owners who opted to completely unify, I can’t imagine it working.
There was a time when drivers were, for all intents and purposes, forbidden to compete outside the sanctioning body in their equipment. Let’s face it, if the World of Outlaws competed each and every week at your local track, the event would lose its appeal in a hurry.
Some might argue that Kokomo is essentially a non-sanctioned USAC show each week, but I would have to disagree, at least this year. And the key element in my saying that is money.
Right now there are around 10 teams that pretty much chase the full USAC Amsoil National Sprint Car circuit full-time. Among those teams are the likes of Dave Darland, Hunter Schuerenberg, Bryan Clauson, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Tracy Hines to mention a few. Of those, only Clauson’s Tony Stewart Racing/Chevy Performance No. 20 team is a unit that cost isn’t an issue, at least from the outside looking in.
The rest of the teams gunning for the title are pretty much smaller teams with a very tight budget.
Before electing to chase national points, Schuerenberg and his Hank Byram-owned No. 35 was pretty much a regular each and every Sunday night. Same thing with Steve and Carla Phillips’ No. 71P that Darland is now wheeling. Hines didn’t miss a single event to my recollection last year when he was driving nationally for another team. This year though, with his own equipment, his only visits have come on nights when either USAC’s sprints or Honda National Midget Series are in town.
Bearing that in mind, that has helped make ISW all the more special. Only a sanctioning body like USAC could bring all those cars and drivers together for an event. Without their sanction, all they would have to do is schedule a handful of national events outside the state during the same time as a non-sanctioned sprint week and the car count would drop off dramatically.
So, this was really just my long-winded answer to what seemed a credible question. But all ISW fans need to take the time to stop Kent Evans when he is in town Aug. 22-24 for the Sprint Car Smackdown and shake his hand and thank him for helping grow the sport he loved dearly.
MIAMI CO. SPEEDWAY
Amboy’s Laine Hite held off a stellar field of non-wing mini-sprints to highlight the racing action Saturday at the Miami County Speedway.
In addition to the feature win, Hite scored a heat win as well before taking the checkered in the A-main. Trailing him to the line was Brandon Rose, former USAC Honda National Midget Series champion Russ Gamester, Jordan Lambert and Aaron Davis. Former Kokomo Speedway sprint car Rookie of the Year Ron Dennis was 11th, Bradley Jameson 12th and K.C. Hughes 13th. Kokomo’s Mark Monroe, who scored a pair of feature wins a week ago, was 17th while Bob Bourff of Sharpsville was 19th and Kokomo’s Shelby Larson 20th.
Gamester bounced back in the Senior Class, taking the win over Kris Knox, Bourff, Rob Parrish and Clarence Hoch. In the Wing Class feature event, Brian Busz was victorious over Monroe. Sam Kimmel, Barbie Kimmel and Jesse Holt rounded out the top five.
Devan Myers turned in a stellar night in the Restrictor Class, first capturing a heat race win then following it up a little later in the evening in the feature. Thaddeus Black was second, Jadon Rogers third, Dalton Walker fourth and Justin Harper fifth. Area drivers Krissy Durr (sixth), Kayeleb Bolton (eighth), Deaven Bolton (ninth) and Garrett Jameson (11th) all were in the feature as well.
Noah Brooks hit paydirt in the Junior Class feature event with Colin Grissom coming home second and Hannah Rogers third. Kayden Bount and Nick Weideman rounded out the top five. Wade Weideman picked up a heat win and finished eighth.
The track will be back in action Saturday night and a large turnout of cars is expected as the non-wing division will be gunning for the $1,000 that goes to the winner. There will be no winged cars this weekend as all classes will take the wings off for the special show.
Brett Bowman may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the sports department.