RaceChaser Editorial: The Good and Not-So Good in Racing
I’ve shied away from most racing opinions this year but I felt like with the season winding down it was time to share the good and the not-so-good I see in racing. 100 percent my own opinion
The Wissota/NLRA Late Model numbers, at least in the RaceChaser area, have been very good. River Cities was usually in the 20s (for regular events), I-94 was usually in that 18-20 range (for regular events). Even on weekends when there are some special events elsewhere, the numbers have been good. I can think of the additions the past couple of years — Mike Greseth, Jason Strand, Sam Zender are a few examples — who have been good for the class. And it’s really good to see Mitch Johnson back behind the wheel, too.
IMCA Stock Cars. They are IMCA’s best class in my opinion and they not only race hard, but also have several cars capable of winning. Just watch a race at Red River Valley Speedway some week and you will walk away impressed.
Young Drivers. We have a great crop of young talent locally. Drivers like Tye Wilke, Jack Koranda, Ashton Spieker, Bryce Sward, Cole Greseth, Tucker Pederson, Collin Compson, Amelia Eisenschenk come to mind, and there are several others. Racing’s future depends on young talent like this.
Seitz Memorial. Fantastic car counts for an event honoring a driver I admired greatly when he raced. 54 late models and 48 modifieds is incredible. River Cities Speedway is the perfect venue for this event.
Wissota National Point Contenders. We have several in the RaceChaser area again this year. Two drivers from the area, Tyler Peterson and Lucas Rodin, won Wissota national titles in 2021. This year, Justin Vogel, Kyle Dykhoff, Peterson, Cole Schill and Brody Troftgruben are all in the top five of national points.
INEX Legends. Another class that had a bit of a downswing a few years ago, and now it’s consistently in the 20s at RRVS and Buffalo River Speedway, and also draws good numbers at Sheyenne Speedway.
Steffes Street Stock Tour and Rebel Midwest Modified Tour. Good car counts and very good racing, and a lot of parity. I think this has been a big boost for those classes locally. Nice to see them get to run for some extra money.
Racing Families. The Jacobsons. Saurers. Pedersons. Langlands. Carters. Meyers. Wards. Schills. Swensons. Gerdes. Gierkes. Mehrwerths. Lees. To name a few. Racing families are what make racing great in part because of their love for racing but also their commitment to the sport over many many years.
Diehard Fans. You see them in the stands every week. They don’t bitch about concession prices or ticket prices or little things but love being at the track and supporting their favorite drivers, Every track seems to have a handful of those folks.
Sexism in racing. There are a lot of female racers who get some sexist remarks, whether in person or on social media. There was an Iowa late model driver who got hit on repeatedly on her racing Facebook page to the point where her dad actually made a post to stop it.. There is no room for sexism in racing, or room for inappropriate comments about a driver’s looks/appearance. Or assume they are inferior because they are female. That BS needs to end and end now. I am friends with a lot of female racers, and not only are they good racers (just like the guys), they are nice people. I won’t be silent when I see those remarks any more.
Social media trolls. I can’t believe the amount of people who make negative comments on drivers’ Facebook pages about a person’s results. Some drivers post they finish in the top five, for example, and a response would be “well there were only eight cars.” Guess what, drivers can’t control how many cars show up. There are a lot of drivers who are new to racing and proud of an accomplishment like a top five, for example who just get blasted for their posts on social media.
Plus, there are a lot of people who talk like experts on racing who simply are not, and some people take their word as gospel. I choose to ask those in the know and trust their judgment and opinions over someone who thinks he/she is an expert because they buy a ticket.
A mod counts. Aside from Red River Valley Speedway, which consistently had good numbers in the IMCA Mods, the A mod counts locally were down some -- Norman County, Viking and I-94 (aside from special events). This was a trend outside the RaceChaser area tracks, too and that includes Wissota and IMCA tracks. The late model class was in this spot a few years ago and bounced back, so I’m hopeful for the A mods to experience a similar rebirth. Adding a driver like Justin Froemming to the A mods locally is a nice boost.
Long Shows. I may beat this to death, but we have weekly shows that should be done in 2 1/2 hours getting done in 3 1/2. This invitational season, at tracks outside the area, some shows have lasted 6-7 hours, but when you have a lot of cars (and in some cases too many classes), people at least expect a longer show going in. A weekly show with 60 cars taking four hours? Unless there is a red flag or a serious crash that takes a while to clean up, or some kind of medical emergency, that should never happen. Too many tracks spend a lot of time farming the track on race night and this drags shows. So do solo spins where the car magically restarts after the caution waves. Sorry this one is a major pet peeve of mine.
Accepting Criticism. I have no problem accepting criticism for the blog when I make a mistake, or when someone disagrees with an opinion of mine. That’s fair game. I do have a problem when someone personally attacks me.
In terms of criticizing a track on social media, I think some of it goes too far and instantly becomes personal. Do drivers and fans who pay to get in to the track have a right to criticize a track for things like officiating and track prep? yes. However, I do think talking to people in person, one-on-one, is a better way to display these opinions than to make a snarky Facebook post for hundreds of people to see. Tracks, at the same time, need to be willing to listen to these folks when the criticism is constructive. Things can improve with dialogue like that.
(Some) track prep. This is a general issue I have with racing, mainly outside of the RaceChaser coverage area, is that track prep at some tracks is lacking. Some tracks spend a lot of the race night farming the track which adds a lot of time to the racing program. I'm not talking about farming at intermission, I'm talking about every 3-4 races. As a result we end up with race tracks that are not very racy at all for features. Follow the leader racing not only loses fans but also leads to impatience and wrecks.
Announcers who butcher names and hometowns. We have a lot of good announcers around in my coverage area. But when I venture outside the area, in person or watching online, I've seen announcers just massacre names and hometowns. I'm not talking about messing up a name, everybody does that, or a hometown. It's consistently doing so. A trip through the pits, for drivers you don't know, doesn't take that long to ask these folks.