Gary Rowe - CPA
Dougs dirt diary
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Gates-Cole Associates SUNY Canton Automotive Technology program
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sunday, September 11th 2011
   New on the Audio Page from the Utica Rome Speedway:
 
Pre race conversations:
 
Steve Hulsizer reflected on his 2011 season and told me about the tired engine under the hood. 
Kevin Bates explained how he picked up a ride for the New Yorker and how things are back home. 
Andy Bachetti remembered how his Friday night went and talked about his Super DIRT Week plans. 
Todd Burley told me about his 50 lapper the night before and why he chose to run the outside. 
Mike Mahaney finished eighth on Friday night and wondered if he may have a new Sunday home.
Ryan Odasz talked about his ride for Utica Rome and evaluated his 2011 season at Fonda.
 
 
After the heat races:
 
Mike Mahaney walked me through his pass for the lead that led to him winning the first heat. 
Stewart Friesen led every lap to win his heat race and described the wild action in the first turn. 
Bill Trexler won the third heat race and thought back to his nice showing at this event last year. 
Todd Burley described the totally different racing lines he used as he led every lap in his win. 
Ronnie Johnson saved the best for last in his heat and talked about his pass on the final lap. 
 
After the 100 lap New Yorker feature:
 
Bobby Varin led the final 70 laps to take the $10,000 first prize and offered his take on sail panels. 
Stewart Friesen came home in second place and told Mike Mallet about his 100 lap feature.
Ryan Phelps had the early lead in the New Yorker and talked with Mike Mallett about his 3rd place. 
Todd Burley finished fourth in the 100 lapper and talked about the condition he was dealing with. 
Ronnie Johnson had a nice fifth place finish and explained where he started to lose fourth place. 
Matt Hulsizer was the hard charger of the race and talked about moving up from 24th to 6th
 
It is hard to believe that we are where we are right now. The 2011 season just ended last night for the Utica Rome Speedway as New Yorker Weekend brought it to a close. As always I had a fun time and as usual on the second day of this show, the track was totally different that it was on Friday.
 
Bobby Varin ran his big race win streak at Utica Rome to three as he won the New Yorker yet again. Remember he won this race last year and followed it up with a Victoria win in the spring. Yep, he tough to beat in these sail panel races and you’ll be surprised what he says about them afterwards in victory lane. 
 
That interview as well as sixteen others are on the site today for you to listen to as well as lots of new photos from both nights of racing at the big half mile. I have the standard six pre race chats up as well as all five heat winners and the entire top six finishers from the New Yorker. I had to show Matt Hulsizer some love as he drove from 24th to 6th. Great run for him huh?
 
Early on in the feature it looked like Ryan Phelps might be the guy to beat but Mike Mahaney was tough as the two swapped the lead several times. Then Mahaney chose the bottom in a four wide deal in slower traffic and clipped a utility tire with his left front sending him to the pit area and bringing out the first of two cautions on the day.
 
Before that it was a real good four car race as Phelps, Mahaney, Stewart Friesen and Varin were all right together. Phelps was able to hold the lead until lap 31 when Varin was able to slip by. After that, Varin was on a mission lapping all but two cars. Yeah, there were only three cars on the lead lap at the end. Wow!
 
Like I said, it was a sweet win for Varin and car owner Dover Dave and the $10,000 will surely come in handy at this time of the year with lots of big shows coming up over the next month and a half. 
 
My strategy for the day was to chat with the folks I did not get to on Friday and I did a pretty good job of that. So in the can right now are twenty one new interviews that will come out over the course of the next five days. I may also try to get in the studio today between football games but if I do not, I will hit it for sure on Monday.
 
I also took over 100 photos as I wandered through the pit area. All those are up today as well as many others that our friends sent us. I have at least one more bin waiting to put up and hopefully today you will see lots more appear. So keep checking.
 
As always, a big thanks goes out to everyone at Utica Rome. It all starts with owner Gene Cole who has always trusted me as much as he trusts the people he has working for him and it shows from top to bottom. He is surrounded by good people and it makes for an experience that is unique in the short track world. 
 
I am always proud to be a part of the races and thankful that the drivers who trust me enough to let them into their lives to help tell their stories. I will miss Utica Rome as it was the second track I ever went to. I can’t wait to get back next year and hope too much doesn’t change as the facility is for sale. And I’ll see you all at the banquet in a few months.
 
I hope you all have a great day and be sure to pause and think of the thousands of lives lost on this fateful date ten years ago when our country was attacked on our own soil. I’ll be showing my young daughters video of what happened ten years ago so they can understand what happened and who did it. There will surely be some great documentaries on TV today so be sure to share one with a loved one. 
 
Let’s just hope today goes well as there is a Terror Warning out right now. Stay alert, stay vigilant and stay safe. Have a great day everyone! 

 
Saturday, September 10th 2011
   New on the Audio Page from the Utica Rome Speedway:
 
Pre race conversations:
 
Alan Johnson talked about his weekly work on his Modified and the tacky race track he saw.
Paul Kinney explained why he was selling his Modified stuff and switching to Sprint Cars in 2012.
Matt Janczuk showed me the two cars he would drive and talked about how tough it is to move up. 
Chad Brachmann told me about the big block he was running plus his Ransomville championship.
Pat Ward looked at his pair of Modifieds and explained why he was confident about the big block. 
Jimmy Phelps thought back on last weekend and the heartbreaker he had at the Fulton Speedway. 
 
After the heat races:
 
Tommy Denton told me how good his car was in his heat win and how hard he was throwing it in. 
Rocky Warner talked about his Pro Stock heat win and how close the finish was at the line. 
Chad Brachmann spoke about his Modified heat win and the experienced driver he saw all over him.
Ronnie Johnson won the second Modified qualifier and talked about some contact on restart. 
Jimmy Davis led every lap in his heat win and thought back to some trouble he had last time out.
Stewart Friesen walked me through his pass for a heat win and how he held on in the final laps. 
 
After the feature races:
 
Glenn Forward won the Pro Stock feature race and spoke with Mike Mallett about his new car.
Matt Janczuk picked up yet another Sportsman win and spoke with Mike Mallett in victory lane.
Ronnie Johnson led every lap to win the 50 lap Modified main and got to speak with Jeff Barrett.
Stewart Friesen talked with Jeff Barrett about the wild three wide racing he was a part of. 
Alan Johnson told Jeff Barrett about chasing a fellow racer as a kid and now as a race driver. 
 
I had a fun night at the Utica Rome Speedway at a time that I really needed a good time. It was a fall night for sure as it got downright chilly by the time the last checkered flag waved. I hope you brought your hoodies and if you didn’t, you better bring them tonight or get some new ones at the track!
 
The track was fast all night long as the heavy rains of the last week and a half made for some tacky clay. The racecars were fast and after so many slick surfaces all across the board of late, it was fun to see the teams throw some gear to their 800+ horsepower big blocks and let them eat! And eat they did!!!
 
Even with a show north of the border today for the touring DIRTcar teams, there was still a strong 46 car field on hand which is sure to get bigger today. The only driver there that I figured would make the trip to Canada today was Jimmy Phelps as he was there with his family team and not the one he’ll drive for at Autdromme Drummond. So again look for that 46 number to get much higher today.
 
I was able to record sixteen pre race interviews, take a bunch of photos and even get all the heat winners from the Pro Stock and Modified divisions. All but ten of the twenty six total recordings are up today and all the photos are up right now and ready for you to view. As for those other ten interviews, they’ll show up beginning on Monday and throughout the week.
 
What a day it turned out to be for Ronnie Johnson as he led all 50 laps of the Thunder on the Thruway Series race. He held off Tim Fuller early, Pat Ward in the middle and Stewart Friesen late. There was racing going on all over the racetrack with several drivers moving up fast early including Mike Mahaney and Jimmy Phelps who had to come from the consi.
 
But as the laps wore on, some faded while as always others got stronger including Friesen, Alan Johnson, Bobby Varin and Todd Burley who blasted the top in the closing laps gaining many positions. It was a lot of fun to watch and the drivers were super fast on this next to last night of the season in Vernon.
 
All in all it was another great night at Utica Rome. I learned a lot watching a team change carburetors before the final hot lap session as they get ready to attempt to qualify as a Sportsman with a four barrel today. There are going to be some great stories that will unfold in the New Yorker today and I urge you all to come check it out. 
 
Now the reason it was a nice distraction for me was because my fifteen year old cat Indy had a seizure earlier in the morning. We took him to our regular vet instead of the animal ER and it seems like he is doing much better. But it scared the heck out of us and has us on guard for another one. He is our best friend and keeps me company late at night after races when I can’t sleep and my family company while I am away. He is a member of our family whom we love dearly and we pray that he is ok.
 
I will see you guys back there today and for all of you going to other racetracks today, I wish you all the best as we wind down the 2011 season. Remember, there are still some races to go to so don’t be too crazy out there. The off season is long and gets even longer when you have a wrecked racecar to fix. Be fast, be safe and have fun everyone!

 
Friday, September 9th 2011
   New on the Audio Page for today:
 
Ryan Phelps told me about the pack of cars he was racing with in the top ten at Brewerton. 
Jeff Cook talked about his “good eighth” place at Canandaigua and why it was a good finish. 
Chuck Bower tells me how busy he and his fellow workers have been because of recent storms. 
Matt Tanner sums up how hisrookie season has been behind the wheel of a 360 Sprint Car.
Rob Keller described some extra work they were doing to his IMCA Modified this past Friday.
Joe Fanelli gets ready to race his 600 Modified at Thunder Mountain and talks about confidence. 
Matt Fay just hot lapped a Four Cylinder at Brewerton and talked about the fun he is having. 
Ed Leubner walks me through this Sunday’s SCCA Rally Cross at Cherry Valley Motorsports Park. 
 
We’re thinking about a lot of you today the flooding is getting worse in the Southern Tier, the Capital Region and Pennsylvania as well. We hope all of you are alright and we pray for your safety. 
 
On the site today we actually have some pictures of some of this flooding and how it has affected I-88 Speedway. A big thanks goes out to Scott Seward for first taking these photos and secondly for sharing them with all of us. It is going to be a while before this is cleaned up and when I find out about a local charity that keeps the money here, I’ll let you know so we can all donate to some folks who really need help.
 
And let’s not forget that this happened in a lot of the same places back in 2006 so this is way too soon for these folks to have go to through this yet again. Plus it could have an effect on who races this weekend and who has to stay home. But again, our thoughts and prayers are with all of you!
 
I did speak with Barb Clark from Utica Rome and they weathered the storms fine and are set to begin New Yorker Weekend tonight. That is where I will be today and tomorrow so look for audio and photos from tonight’s event on the site tomorrow.
 
Now let’s talk about what is new for today on the Audio Page and yes there is a lot on there for a Friday. Ryan Phelps told me about the pack of cars he was racing with in the top ten at Brewerton. He talked about what he saw going on in front of him, why he had to change his plan of attack after the top fell off and described a small issue he was dealing with Saturday at Fulton.
 
Jeff Cook talked about his “good eighth” place at Canandaigua with the ESS and why it was a good eighth. He told me how he ended up in the b-main, how his car felt in hot laps at Utica Rome and described how he has done on the big half mile in the past. 
 
Chuck Bower tells me how busy he and his fellow workers in the power industry have been because of recent storms. He told me why he was not going to be able to run Sunday, how they balance sending workers to other locations while still keeping some close to home and described how his car was in the hot laps last Friday. 
 
Matt Tanner sums up how hisrookie season has been behind the wheel of a 360 Sprint Car. He told me something he learned the night before at Canandaigua, what he did that made the car worse and what it felt like after that. Part of the process here and great interview. 
 
Rob Keller described some extra work they were doing to his IMCA Modified this past Friday. He talked about what they have on the car that not many others do, the frayed wires they were working on and how dominant one particular driver was this year at Brewerton. 
 
Joe Fanelli gets ready to race his 600 Modified at Thunder Mountain and talks about the role of confidence. He talked about how much he enjoys this 1/3 mile track, how nice it was to win there in July and updates us on a driver’s condition after he was involved in an on track fire. Glad to hear Lester is doing better and more prayers coming his way. 
 
Matt Fay just hot lapped a Four Cylinder at Brewerton and described the fun he is having. He talked about where he is as a driver right now, where he would like to be better and explained why he likes to run the outside of the track. 
 
Ed Leubner walks me through this Sunday’s SCCA Rally Cross at Cherry Valley Motorsports Park. He told me how the event will work, how easy it is for first timers to participate with their street cars and previews an Auto Cross race at the New York State Fairgrounds in two weeks. For more, go to www.cny-scca.com .

 
Thursday, September 8th 2011
   New on the Audio Page for today:
 
Danny O’Brien talks about winning the Brockville Ontario Modified championship by finishing 2nd
Willy Decker explained how he balances working on the parts truck with driving his Modified. 
Bill Trexler reflected on his rookie season at Utica Rome and described his hopes to move up.
Sam Reakes IV offered his initial thoughts after taking his first ever laps in a 360 Sprint Car. 
Ben Wheeler almost won at Fulton two weeks ago and told me how he lost the spot on the last lap. 
Bob Bennett got ready for the Fulton Speedway point finale and talked about the heavy track. 
Rich Keller described his recent second place finish at Brewerton and wondered where 2011 went. 
 
Rain, rain go away! That’s what we were all saying on Wednesday as heavy showers hit our area and most of the northeast. Hope all of you are okay as this is pretty bad and so soon after the hurricane. Seriously, I wish you all nothing but the best and pray that you are safe, dry and happy.
 
On the site today are seven new conversations and at least that many more are coming tomorrow as well. I will be back in the studio today before my daughter gets home from her first day of school this year. We went to “meet your teacher” day on Wednesday and Allie is now super excited about getting third grade started. My youngest will go next year. 
 
And even with school starting there are still a lot of big races to go. Both Utica Rome and Can Am have big two day shows while there are three big Modified races on Saturday.
 
I’ll be at Utica Rome for Friday & Saturday and then be in front of my TV on Sunday for the first week of NFL. And you have to wonder if that is a factor in the scheduling of races. Some tracks will give their headline division the week off if NASCAR is running a popular night race and I wonder if this contributed to the off day on Sunday. Hmm. 
 
Now let’s chat more about what is new for today on the Audio Page. I begin with a man who just did something for the tenth time in his distinguished career. Danny O’Brien talks about winning the Brockville Ontario Speedway Modified championship by finishing 2nd in the regular season finale last Saturday. He told me about the battle he was in with Dale Planck for second, how proud he was to have completed every lap at the track this season and how the work his crew does during the week made it all possible. 
 
Willy Decker explained how he balances working on the parts truck with driving his Modified on race days. He wondered if he was a better salesman than a race driver, described his thoughts at the Brewerton regular season finale and why it is best not to look at points on these nights. 
 
Bill Trexler reflected on his rookie season at Utica Rome and described his hopes to move up in the final standings. He told me how comfortable he was in the Modified right away, how smooth is 18 degree motor is when he is on the throttle and wonders where he’ll end up at the end of the night. 
 
Sam Reakes IV offered his initial thoughts after taking his first ever laps in a 360 Sprint Car this past Sunday. He told me how it felt to him on the big half mile in Vernon, how fast the car was and explains why he may be switching from Sportsman to Sprints in 2012. 
 
Ben Wheeler almost won at Fulton two weeks ago and told me how he lost the spot on the last lap. He told me why he switched to Fulton after the midway point of the season, how a late race caution set up the last lap drama and what he saw as he was slid jobbed in turn two on the final lap. 
 
Bob Bennett got ready for the Fulton Speedway point finale and talked about the heavy track he was on in hot laps. He explained why he felt it would stay fairly tacky, described where his car handled better after some suspension changes and how optimistic he was about his chances. 
 
Rich Keller talked about his recent second place finish at Brewerton and wondered where the 2011 season went. He told me what he learned in that runner up finish, why he only made a few minor changes to it during the week and how much he values the input his older brother gives him. 

 
Wednesday, September 7th 2011
   New on the Audio Page for today:
 
Mike Stelter described what he found wrong with his 360 motor and who loaned him another one.
Mike Bowman thought about some recent top ten finishes and how he fixed a vibration in the car.
Rob Hile had a ride in a Modified he had never seen before and told me how it all came about. 
Chris Ostrowksy was back in a Modified this weekend and told me about his return to racing. 
Gordy Button has been struggling with his Late Model and talked about what has been going on. 
Mark Krosky tells me about the Jim Langenback Memorial for Pro Stocks at Lebanon Valley. 
Pete Broderson explains what does differently with tear offs and how he prepares them on raceday.
Jim Money looked ahead to getting behind the wheel of a Pro Stock and talked about his laps so far.
 
Well all of a sudden it sure seems a lot like fall around here. We had a cool fall like day on Tuesday and you can actually see a few leaves starting to turn. Oh man. I don’t know where the season went do you?
 
I was busy on Tuesday as I did some interviews in the studio, went to visit a race shop to talk about driving an actual Modified next year and introduced a long time friend to the world of on line racing. Yep, it was a fun day.
 
On the site today we have eight more interviews and at least that many more will show up tomorrow. Plus we added a lot of new photos Tuesday afternoon so if you are one of the folks that checks us out in the morning, be sure to click on the filmstrip on the right side to get caught up.
 
Now let’s chat more about what is new for today on the Audio Page. I begin with a man who had some good power under his right foot after a few weeks of frustration. Mike Stelter described what he found wrong with his 360 motor and who loaned him another one to use this past Sunday. He wondered if he had found the problem and then analyzed what he saw me do in my practice laps in a Vintage Modified at Paradise. I think he is being a little too kind here though but thanks Mike for the encouragement. 
 
Mike Bowman thought about some recent top ten finishes he enjoyed and how he fixed a vibration in the car. He wondered which fix he did actually cured the problem, discussed the big shows at the end of the year and wondered if he would be at the New Yorker this weekend. 
 
Rob Hile had a ride in a Modified he had never seen before Friday night at Brewerton and told me how it all came about. He explained how a veteran Modified driver helped set the deal up, how long it has been since he has been in an actual race and how it felt to him in the hot lap session. 
 
Chris Ostrowksy was back in a Modified this weekend at the Fulton Speedway and told me about his return to racing. He told me who talked him into giving it another try, remembered his last races at Black Rock and why he originally scaled back his efforts. 
 
Gordy Button has been struggling with his Crate Late Model at Fulton and talked about what has been going on. He told me about a consistent over heating issue, wonders if he has the wrong engine under the hood and if he might call it a season after one more race weekend. 
 
Mark Krosky tells me about the Jim Langenback Memorial for Pro Stocks at Lebanon Valley Speedway this Saturday. He talks about the $5400 pay day for the winner, the bonus lap money and encourages all Pro Stock teams to come to honor a great driver who we lost last year. Rest in peace Jim, rest in peace! 
 
Pete Broderson explains what does differently with tear offs and how he prepares them on raceday. He showed me how to put on speed tabs, how much clearer his vision is with this type of tear off and what he did wrong one time. Oops. Good stuff here racers! And look in my Utica Rome photo bin to see what they look like. 
 
Jim Money looked ahead to getting behind the wheel of a Pro Stock at Utica Rome and talked about his laps so far in the car. He told me how surprised he was to even be in the pit area on Sunday, described a handling issue they were dealing with and wondered how it would be later on.  

 
Tuesday, September 6th 2011
   New on the Audio Page for today:
 
Gary Tomkins picked up fifteen spots at Mr. Dirt Track USA and described how his night went. 
Chad Homan was back on the track this past weekend and talked about his late season plans. 
Cory Sparks talked about a motor issue he had at Canandaigua and a car change for Sunday.
Chad Phelps told me about his Friday night at Brewerton where he came home in third place. 
Rick Miller explained how he got behind the wheel of a Late Model and how he has been doing. 
Scott Conover was back on the clay after some asphalt racing and explained why he came back. 
Jeff Herbert remembered his vicious Mod Lite crash at Brewerton and told ne how he is doing.
Bill Shea reacted to finishing in seventh in his first ever time behind the wheel of a racecar. 
 
It was a cold and rainy day on Monday as summer is over I guess! Unlike in years past there was only one race that was on the card for Labor Day and it was rained out. Rumble at the Ridge was going to pay $7,711 to the winner of the Modified feature but Mother Nature would have none of that. 
 
And as I type this up at dinner time on Monday I am hoping to get into the studio a bit later on and Tuesday for sure. On the site today we have eight new interviews and at least that many will show up daily this week so be sure to map out some time to check them out. 
 
Plus we added some new pictures on Monday and will put up more sometime later today. And a big thanks goes out to all the photographers who take the time to send us their work. Really…thanks a lot guys!
 
I also have an article summing up the weekend in today’s Syracuse Post Standard. And if you did not get your copy, you can go online to www.syracuse.com/motorsports to read that as well as more from Classic Weekend at the Oswego Speedway. 
 
Now let’s discuss what is new for today on the Audio Page. I begin with a pair of chats from my Friday night in Brewerton. Gary Tomkins picked up fifteen spots at Mr. Dirt Track USA and described how his night went. He wondered why he had a ball of fire under the car for a while, how close he came to getting black flagged because of it and described some gains he has been making with the Deuce Car on Friday at Brewerton. 
 
Chad Homan was back on the track this past weekend and talked about his late season plans. He told me what his goals were for Friday night at Brewerton, thought back on how he had done in the past at Brewerton and reminded us what happened early on that sidelined for most of the 2011 season. 
 
Cory Sparks talked about a motor issue he had at Canandaigua and a car change for Sunday. He told me what he believes went wrong with his 360 engine, how nice it is to be able to run a Doug Emery owned car and what he had to do to get comfortable in something he had never even sat in before. 
 
Chad Phelps told me about his Friday night at Brewerton where he came home in third place. He talked about his second place run in his heat, how good it felt to lead some laps in the feature and how he lost two spots late in the show. 
 
Rick Miller explained how he got behind the wheel of a Late Model and how he has been doing in his three weeks at Fulton. He told me how the deal with Shayne Tenace came about, how much different this car is compared to what he has raced in the past and wonders if his deal may continue into next year. 
 
Scott Conover was back on the clay after some asphalt racing and explained why he came back. He talked about why he chose to run at Fulton in their crate Sportsman division, how their tech procedure helped him make that decision and looked ahead to Outlaw 200 Weekend. 
 
Jeff Herbert remembered his vicious Mod Lite crash at Brewerton a few weeks ago and told ne how he is doing now. He told me what it felt like as the car continued to tumble, how the silence of being airborne seems to take forever and wonders if he’ll get back into a racecar before winter comes. 
 
Bill Shea reacted to finishing in seventh in his first ever time behind the wheel of a racecar. He talked about how much fun he had in a Four Cylinder Super Stock, where he was more comfortable on the track and how close to he came to spinning out in his heat race. His smile afterwards was ear to ear. 

 
Monday, September 5th 2011
   New on the Audio Page from the Utica Rome Speedway:
 
Pre race conversations:
 
Willy Decker told me what went wrong with his car Friday that caused it to bounce and hop. 
Casey Williams thought back on his Modified feature win and how he gave back right afterwards. 
Matt Janczuk explained why he had two cars with him and reflected on his recent win streak. 
Mitch Gibbs explained how he got a ride for Sunday and what his goals were for the evening. 
Lance Yonge talked about his third place at Canandaigua and how late season racing can get wild. 
Jason Barney won at a track that has become a favorite of his of late and told me how got up front.
 
After the heat races:
 
Jeff Leslie won the first Sportsman heat race of the night and talked about his rebuilt engine. 
Joe Harrington got the win in his heat and told me about a big shock & weight change they made.
Bryan Howland talked about how much he had to shut his car down to stay low in his heat win. 
Steve Poirier walked me through his pass for the win in his heat and how hard he drove it in. 
Shawn Donath came from fourth to first in his win and told me about one particular pass.
 
After the features:
 
Matt Janczuk spoke with Mike Mallett about his Sportsman feature win and his championship. 
Shawn Donath ran the extreme outside in his Sprint Car win and told Mike Mallet how he did it. 
Steve Poirier finished in second place in the A-Main and explained why he kept his car low.
Chuck Hebing worked his way from last to first after an incident and talked about his fast racecar.
Willy Decker led all but one lap in the Modified feature and told Mike Mallet about his win.
Stewart Friesen told Mike Mallett how it felt to win his 2nd championship of the weekend. 
 
Unlike last night when I thought a track to the west was going to rain out and it didn’t, this time I got it right as I chose correctly on where to go. On Saturday I thought rain was going to hit Canandaigua so I went to Fulton. Both raced with no weather issues. On Sunday I read the radar correctly and Weedsport rained out while Utica Rome somehow dodged everything and got an entire show in.
 
So I was 50% on my choices this Labor Day Weekend but right on when it came to yesterday. I studied the radar from noon till 3 PM and then decided to head east. I thought that Weedsport would get rain before the 7PM start time and I was right. But as we watched the radar in the tower on Sunday we could not believe how lucky we were to right between to big lines of weather.
 
There was a tornado to the east of us in Vernon and at several times you could see lightning behind turn one. And with the way things look as I type this up at 1AM, today it seems like a lot of folks who don’t need any more rain are getting some today whether they want it or not. My thoughts and prayers go out to you guys and I hope you all get through today ok.
 
As for the racing at Utica Rome, the Empire Super Sprints joined the show on Sunday they traditionally do on Labor Day Weekend. So the track was black and slick and as always the racing was still pretty good. Drivers were running extremely high as the night went on and several had a good look at the end of the wall coming out of turn four as they searched for brown clay to put their tires on. 
 
Matt Janczuk won the Sportsman feature with a lap fourteen pass to increase his winning streak in the division to four. No drama this time unlike in the previous few weeks as he did not get into someone else’s jingle or have the crew to the shop for parts. It was just a solid win by a driver who has been about as dominant as any driver in any class at the track. 
 
Too bad moving up to Modifieds is tougher than it has ever been financially as Matt is clearly ready from the driving end of things. But in an era where strong, winning motors start at $40,000 and the cost to run a season comes close to or beyond six figures, it is just not possible for some and a problem that I think could get worse in the next few years. More on my thoughts on that at the bottom of the page, so keep reading. 
 
In the Sprint Car A-Main a driver who originally ran at the track in the 90’s in an alcohol burning Small Block Modified used some of that experience at the track to pick up the win. Shawn Donath has been nursing a bad wrist all season long but he was feeling no pain as he blasted the top for the big win.
 
His interview in victory lane as well as many others from Utica Rome are available right now on the Audio Page today plus lots of new photos from the pit area and beyond. Plus I was able to save nine pre race interviews to make our total from the weekend a whopping 27. So you’ll get seven a day minimum for the next four days as I will be in the studio this week as well. And you know you need to keep coming back later today too as we usually get new photos in on Monday. 
 
In the Modified feature race Willy Decker made his way around Todd Burley on the second lap and never looked back going on to his second Utica Rome win of the season. He gave a thumbs up to the crowd as he drove across the line in what must have been a sweet victory for him. Listen to my pre race chat with him to hear about what happened to him on Friday at Brewerton. Never seen anything like that before and from what he said, he hadn’t either. 
 
The Pro Stocks and Pure Stocks also put on great shows as they had double features at the track. A big kudos goes out to everyone involved in this one as there was a lot to do with seven big features and weather all around the track. But everyone stayed calm, did their jobs and the result was a real good show that unfortunately many missed. The radar and forecast kept a lot of folks away and those fans missed another good one with a lot of bang for the buck. Yeah, there were fireworks too. 
 
And now more on my thoughts Matt Janczuk and others like him who would love nothing more than to move up, but just can’t. 
 
Sure you can by an Modified engine for $15,000-20,000 and you might be able to get a win on a perfect night with a slick track, an up front starting spot and a couple of breaks along the way. But that heavy motor with a hundred less horsepower is not going to get you from the back to the front against a tough field or get you a win on a tacky track when money makes you go fast.   
 
There are a lot of Matt Janczuk types out there with talent, desire and the racing resume that would suggest it is time for a move up. But as we see in the top levels of NASCAR, it is tough to be the new guy. Racing against the best in any form of racing takes a lot of time, a lot of money and a lot of patience from the people who fund your ride. All rookies crash, drive over their heads getting into veterans and all will take their lumps. But take too many lumps and someone else will be in the car. 
 
In local racing, if you take those expensive lumps you will be sidelined in no time and out of money. It happens every year. A driver puts everything he has into moving up to the premier division whatever it may be at his weekly track. The driver puts every cent they can into the car and in some cases may even get into hock doing it maxing out credit cards hoping to keep their head above water for a season and get the experience of a lifetime. 
 
Now they bump it off the wall real hard damaging the suspension. Several thousand dollars later (and maybe into more hock) and he is back on the track. Now a motor light comes on or a bigger crash happens. Out of money and out of fresh parts, the car sits and is sold for pennies on the dollar in the fall. 
 
The driver now takes a few years off to recover financially and eventually returns to the division they were originally in and competitive in as well,  Now the driver is wiser from the experience never dreaming of moving up again. And in some cases, never even come back to racing although they may go occasionally to help a friend in the pits. 
 
It’s an all too common story in every form of racing. Dirt, asphalt, road course and drag racing...you name it. It’s all the same and it is what at times can make this the cruelest sport in the world. So congrats to all of you who made it through to Labor Day Weekend and be proud of what you’ve accomplished no matter what the end result may be. You were out there and you did it. Congratulations on doing what most only dream of doing…getting behind the wheel and racing.  

 
     
 
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