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July 3, 2013

TRACKSIDE: NHRA, midgets among bright spots of racing season

TERRE HAUTE — In a season that has probably generated more rain postponements and cancellations than most fans and promoters would like to talk about, there has been a couple rays of sunshine in 2013.

They’ve come in two forms of racing that just might be the most overlooked and underrated venues of motorsports in the Wabash Valley — NHRA sanctioned track bracket and USAC midget racing.

Both just completed highly successful events with all signs pointing to bigger and better   times ahead for the two contrasting forms of racing.

In what could be termed the best kept secret among the Terre Haute sporting community Crossroads Dragway continues to offer its weekly show of drag racing and  special events equal to that of any facility in the Midwest.

The recent Crossroads 500 not only opened new doors to Valley racers it instituted a inaugural form of racing that might be a trend setter of things to come in straightline racing.

Although rain caused an annoying one-day delay for the new show racers and officials alike voiced a measure of optimism for the future of 500 foot racing on the NHRA’s  smaller 1/8th-mile drag strips located  across the state.

The recognized voiced of drag racing — not only the Wabash Valley scene but nationwide — Nick Agresta of Terre Haute has saw it all in his 50-plus years of following and participating in the sport.

What he saw in the Crossroads 500 not only renewed his optimism for his favorite form of racing but issued a signal for fellow promoters to standup and take notice.

Times are changing and those with an involvement better be prepared for what is about to unfold in the days ahead.

A week removed from the 500 Agresta has had the opportunity to reflect on the new venue with his typical upbeat approach to racing and is beaming with excitement.

“I have been saying for some time now that drag racing is need of change. I am a purist at heart but at the same time I see where bracket racing is in need of reinventing itself. I think what Randy Peters and his staff is doing at Crossroads [Dragway] is a natural for the track,”  voiced Agresta.  

“What they have is a venue for the fast cars with the 500-foot program and the eighth-mile distance for the slower cars. It’s a way of adding a little flavor and juicing up the show, giving a new spin on things,” said the former promoter, now highly respected track announcer.

Like Peters, Agresta is well aware that it might take time for the new concept to catch on with the racers who have the reputation of being reluctant to change.

“It’s the same as it was three years ago when NHRA went away from the quarter mile to the 1000 foot format. A lot of the racing purist didn’t like it but they are in tuned with it now.”

“Change is an inherited thing. Sometimes you have to inject new ideas for things to grow. From a safety viewpoint NHRA has seen the need for change. It’s no different whether it be at the quarter mile or Crossroads,” offered the long-time supporter of the sport. Agresta, who is in his 25 th year of membership in the exclusive NHRA track announcer guild, feels the new concept will slowly gain in popularity as word of its success expands among the smaller drag strips.   

Weather permitting Crossroads will try once again to stage one of their biggest shows of the year with this weekend’s rescheduled Bernie Mann Memorial Big Bucks No-Box Classic. Pro Class winner will pocket a healthy $4,000 payday for his efforts.

I I I

n Midget-week success — With the latest chapter of USAC Indiana Midget Week in the record books it appears the five-race series is now on solid ground with a bright future looming on the horizon.

Young Chris Bell emerged the series champ with two wins. His car owner Keith Kunz was among many voicing a vote of confidence for the series’ future and for that of midget racing in the Hoosier state.

“The fans love the racing and it’s a great opportunity for them to be able to get the number of shows in such a short time span. The five races are just a little more than an hour and half away. That makes it great for the fans and racers,” said the high profile car owner.

As a car owner and racer Tracy Hines is also a big supporter of the series. Five races in five nights. That doesn’t get much better when you start figuring in your expenses. The travel is built in,” said the former series champion.  

“With the races so close together its more important for the drivers to take care of their equipment. You don’t see as many guys crashing each other. Its nice to have championship to run for within the national series.”

Former national midget champion Jerry Coons Jr. is also a strong supporter of the relative new series.

“It’s definitely a positive for our series,” voiced the Arizona driver. “It’s stirred a lot of interest within the division. A good way of building momentum for the midgets. It has created a great deal of new interest within the  national series even if its only for a week,” he said.

 

Joe Buckles can be reached at jbuckles4@frontier.comIn a season that has probably generated more rain postponements and cancellations than most fans and promoters would like to talk about, there has been a couple rays of sunshine in 2013.

They’ve come in two forms of racing that just might be the most overlooked and underrated venues of motorsports in the Wabash Valley — NHRA sanctioned track bracket and USAC midget racing.

Both just completed highly successful events with all signs pointing to bigger and better   times ahead for the two contrasting forms of racing.

In what could be termed the best kept secret among the Terre Haute sporting community Crossroads Dragway continues to offer its weekly show of drag racing and  special events equal to that of any facility in the Midwest.

The recent Crossroads 500 not only opened new doors to Valley racers it instituted a inaugural form of racing that might be a trend setter of things to come in straightline racing.

Although rain caused an annoying one-day delay for the new show racers and officials alike voiced a measure of optimism for the future of 500 foot racing on the NHRA’s  smaller 1/8th-mile drag strips located  across the state.

The recognized voiced of drag racing — not only the Wabash Valley scene but nationwide — Nick Agresta of Terre Haute has saw it all in his 50-plus years of following and participating in the sport.

What he saw in the Crossroads 500 not only renewed his optimism for his favorite form of racing but issued a signal for fellow promoters to standup and take notice.

Times are changing and those with an involvement better be prepared for what is about to unfold in the days ahead.

A week removed from the 500 Agresta has had the opportunity to reflect on the new venue with his typical upbeat approach to racing and is beaming with excitement.

“I have been saying for some time now that drag racing is need of change. I am a purist at heart but at the same time I see where bracket racing is in need of reinventing itself. I think what Randy Peters and his staff is doing at Crossroads [Dragway] is a natural for the track,”  voiced Agresta.  

“What they have is a venue for the fast cars with the 500-foot program and the eighth-mile distance for the slower cars. It’s a way of adding a little flavor and juicing up the show, giving a new spin on things,” said the former promoter, now highly respected track announcer.

Like Peters, Agresta is well aware that it might take time for the new concept to catch on with the racers who have the reputation of being reluctant to change.

“It’s the same as it was three years ago when NHRA went away from the quarter mile to the 1000 foot format. A lot of the racing purist didn’t like it but they are in tuned with it now.”

“Change is an inherited thing. Sometimes you have to inject new ideas for things to grow. From a safety viewpoint NHRA has seen the need for change. It’s no different whether it be at the quarter mile or Crossroads,” offered the long-time supporter of the sport. Agresta, who is in his 25 th year of membership in the exclusive NHRA track announcer guild, feels the new concept will slowly gain in popularity as word of its success expands among the smaller drag strips.   

Weather permitting Crossroads will try once again to stage one of their biggest shows of the year with this weekend’s rescheduled Bernie Mann Memorial Big Bucks No-Box Classic. Pro Class winner will pocket a healthy $4,000 payday for his efforts.

I I I

n Midget-week success — With the latest chapter of USAC Indiana Midget Week in the record books it appears the five-race series is now on solid ground with a bright future looming on the horizon.

Young Chris Bell emerged the series champ with two wins. His car owner Keith Kunz was among many voicing a vote of confidence for the series’ future and for that of midget racing in the Hoosier state.

“The fans love the racing and it’s a great opportunity for them to be able to get the number of shows in such a short time span. The five races are just a little more than an hour and half away. That makes it great for the fans and racers,” said the high profile car owner.

As a car owner and racer Tracy Hines is also a big supporter of the series. Five races in five nights. That doesn’t get much better when you start figuring in your expenses. The travel is built in,” said the former series champion.  

“With the races so close together its more important for the drivers to take care of their equipment. You don’t see as many guys crashing each other. Its nice to have championship to run for within the national series.”

Former national midget champion Jerry Coons Jr. is also a strong supporter of the relative new series.

“It’s definitely a positive for our series,” voiced the Arizona driver. “It’s stirred a lot of interest within the division. A good way of building momentum for the midgets. It has created a great deal of new interest within the  national series even if its only for a week,” he said.

 

Joe Buckles can be reached at jbuckles4@frontier.com

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