I was on my way to I-94 Sure Step Speedway in Fergus Falls for the Race of Champions qualifier, but as I got past Moorhead I made one more look at the radar, and decided to turn back. Unfortunately I was right as the show was called a little before eight, despite having several cars on the track to pack it after the rain. Just too much rain.
I think I’ve been a curse for I-94 recently — the last three times I’ve planned to go there, it’s rained out. I was really bummed on Friday because there was 116 cars on hand, including 33 Wissota Midwest Modifieds, 22 Wissota Mods and 18 Wissota Late Models.
So I called an audible and decided to cover the World of Outlaws show at River Cities Speedway via Dirtvision.
Three-time World of Outlaws champion Brad Sweet of Grass Valley, Calif. was clearly the class of the World of Outlaw field. I won’t dig much into those details as you can read about that on the WOO site. I will say the final margin of victory was 1.8 seconds over David Gravel.
I will highlight some of the RCS regulars.
I don’t know how Brendan Mullen of Grand Forks didn’t roll his 11M machine after striking the wall on the front stretch about midway through. It was a terrific save. He would finish 16th.
Austin Pierce of Grand Forks jumped the cushion in turns three and four flipped his 2A machine hard off of turn four; he was OK, the car was obviously finished for the night.
The top RCS regular finisher was Mark Dobmeier of Grand Forks, who was 11th. Tim Estenson of Fargo was 12th. Pierce, Jade Hastings, Wade Nygaard, Jordan Adams and Nick Omdahl were all DNFs.
Onto the Wissota Late Model feature where 18 cars took the green. This was not an NLRA show but a regular Wissota show.
East Grand Forks veteran Joey Pederson took the early lead but it was a dogfight up front as Brody Troftgruben, Ryan Corbett of Grand Forks and Greg Friestad of Valley City were racing very hard.
Troftgruben took over the lead from Pederson, who pushed up high in turn two.
Lance Schill of Langdon, who started in 17th, was up to 10th in about 10 laps.
Jason Strand of Portland was challenging Corbett for the third spot as the top two opened up a gap on the field.
Troftgruben opened up a two-second lead at one point on Pederson as he encountered lapped traffic, but the 14 car was flawless through those cars. Pederson would make up some ground late but it wasn’t enough as Troftgruben picked up his second win of 2022 by 1.131 seconds. Pederson ran a strong second with Jason Strand in third.
Two drivers had really solid runs — Corbett, who finished fourth and Jesse Teunis of Lockport, Manitoba, who crossed the line fifth.
Lance Schill was the unofficial hard charger, going from 18th to seventh.
The show was done by 9:30 as rain was nearing Grand Forks.
The NLRA Late Models will be at Red River Valley Speedway on Saturday as part of the WOO for the second annual Howie Schill Memorial. The 25-lap late model feature will pay $2,404 to win and $444 to start.
Now my editorial comments
—I find it interesting that so many people dismiss comments from racers who’ve been around for 20, 30, 40 years or more as just some comments from old guys. Well, those “old guys” are the reason we have racing today. Their blood, sweat and tears, through the good and bad years, kept racing going. These individuals most of the time have a much better concept of taking care of equipment and respecting other drivers. I find myself talking to these individuals and listening to them because they “get it.” Some younger, entitled drivers do not — they don’t respect equipment or other drivers. Not all younger drivers that way and a majority aren’t, but there are enough that do.
These old veterans know a thing or two about racing, and they know things about how tracks are promoted and prepped. I’d advise those who dismiss them as old guys to listen to them from time to time.
—I watch several racing programs on online streams, especially when RaceChaser area tracks are idle or rained out. I am amazed at how poor a job some announcers do with basic information — driver names and hometowns in particular. I’ve announced at four different tracks year ago and I’d mess up a name now or again, but in almost every case, I’d ask how to pronounce these names if I screwed them up. If I kept screwing them up usually some fan would come up and let me know.
Maybe I am spoiled by listening to Ron Krog, who does a lot of prep work, all these years. Keep in mind I don’t get to listen to some RaceChaser tracks’ announcers around as I am in the pits with no announcer speakers listen to. I would love if tracks put an announcer speaker in the pit area.
And frankly the type of announcer a fan likes is personal taste. Some like the loud energetic ones, some like the ones that provide basic information but don’t get overly hyped. But getting names and hometowns correct to me is a pretty basic part of the job.
—I also wonder at what point tracks will quit adding classes and start focusing on 3-4 a night. There are some tracks, according to myracepass, that run nine classes a night outside of our region. You will never see me as a paid spectator at a track with that many classes.
One of the things that has diluted car counts in racing is the addition of classes. I think tracks are looking for that “magic bullet” class — one that is affordable, brings a lot of cars, and produces good racing. In that effort they just keep adding classes, some of which interest me like a smack to the face, to the point where the average race fans will lose interest. I know of some people who used to attend races pretty regularly who stay home because shows are too long and they are too many classes.
We all have classes we prefer over the others so I don’t want to get into that debate. But it’s time to start paring down, and not adding classes to racing.
—I’m thankful for the chance to watch racing on live stream. Dirt Race Central, a presenting sponsor for RaceChaser blog, does a tremendous job. On nights where I have family duty or some tracks I cover are off, I tune in to DRC. It’s always allowed me to cover some events remotely, too which has been a big help on the pocketbook with high gas prices. I also watch WOO shows, Lucas Oil races and some other big events on Flo and Dirtvision when I get the chance. For a racing addict, having a race available on the stream is just awesome.