News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 24, 2013

JOE BUCKLES: Sprint Week was big success at Action Track

Joe Buckles
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Indiana Sprint Week 2013 is safely in the record books and once again the annual mid-season sprint car classic is basking in well earned success.

From record attendance figures at all six venues that were able to stage their shows, the series once again lived up to its hype and high expectations both from a competitive and popularity standpoint.

We all now know that Bryan Clauson is the newly crowned ISW champ. And deservingly so. 

What we don’t know is how that tight points battle for the title — slated for Tri-State Speedway in the series schedule finale — would have played out if mother nature once again hadn’t once spoiled the day for the fans and racers this summer.

The rain and eventual cancellation at Haubstadt dampened what had played out as a relative dry but typical a nine-day run of heat and humidity. Those who have followed the series over the years expect nothing less.

The annoying five-event stretch of postponement or cancellations at the Action Track this season came to a much-welcomed halt with the running of the Don Smith ISW Classic last Wednesday evening.

Promoters Reece O Connor and Bob Sargent were in need and deserving of a break in the weather and the pair were rewarded with what appeared one of largest turnout of fans in recent years.

Showing the obvious signs of three days of around the clock track prep, O’Connor was able to muster a well-deserved smile as the lights were being darkened at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds late into the night.

The veteran promoter noted that well over 100,000 gallons of water had been pumped into the high mile dirt surface by races end. 

“Tonight was a big plus for everyone involved. The fans the racers and management. You have to give the fans credit. They turned out in a big way even though it was in the 90s and the humidity being the way it was,” said the elated O’Connor.

His biggest challenge on race day was controlling the potential dust and hard slick racing surface. It would have been hard to find a critic to his efforts at races end considering the factors he was going up against.

“It wasn’t perfect but considering it was the first time it had been run on all year I guess it wasn’t all that bad,” assessed the Illinois native who also operates Kokomo Speedway and had hosted an ISW show several days earlier.

He pointed out that the swelting heat and high humidity actually played into their favor as they tried to keep the surface raceable throughout the early afternoon into the night.

“The humidity really played into favor. It helped keep the moisture in the track,” revealed O’Connor. “We had the surface sealed off earlier in the day then at about 2 (p.m.) it took off on us. We actually put more water into the track between 2 and 6 than we had earlier in the morning or night before.”

“When you’re dealing with a big half-mile all the watering-grading efforts are double that of your weekly short track. Like the racers will tell when something goes wrong on a half-mile it hurts twice as bad and cost twice as much to fix.” 

With their first Action Track race finally behind them, the local promoters can now concentrate on their Aug. 31 USAC sprint date while trying to reschedule a couple of the five shows already lost to weather related issues.

The task will daunting. Finding open dates involving two sanctioning bodies — USAC and Midwest Sprint Car Series — and that of Sargent, who stages shows at five tracks, and O‘Connor, who also has Kokomo, and the availability of the Fairgrounds will not be easy.

“We haven’t nailed down any dates yet. We don’t want to step on any other promoter. When you do that it doesn’t do anybody good,” he said.

One of the dates lost earlier — the SUMAR Classic for USAC Silver Crown cars will probably not make it back on the schedule. The show belongs to USAC and is not a promotional effort of O’Connor and Sargent.

 Joe Buckles can be reached at jbuckles4@frontier.com