News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Breaking News

Sports

May 3, 2013

TRACKSIDE: Tough to rise from sprint-car racing, especially in challenging financial times

TERRE HAUTE — Open-wheel sprint-car racing, whether it be at the national or local level, has earned a reputation over the years of generating its share of thrills and excitement for its fans and a valuable training ground for drivers seeking to hone their skills that someday might elevate them to the “major leagues” of their sport.

Time spent this past weekend at Lincoln Park Speedway with two of the most recognizable names on the Wabash Valley sprint car scene served up a stark reminder that the glory days when success in one of the most competitive and dangerous forms of racing was often a ticket to bigger and better times has slowly became a thing of the past.

It’s disheartening to discover that the days when a guy could make a decent living winning in a sprint car — while earning a legitimate shot at running Indy — are not only long forgotten but have many of today’s and tomorrow’s stars facing times when it’s just a struggle to make it to the race track.

Witnessing that no team or driver has been totally able to escape a troubled economy, has made it increasingly tougher to gain or hold on to much-needed sponsorship support.

One would think if any driver could escape the troubling times it would be a driver with the credentials of a Dave Darland or the talents of a Chase Stockon or Blake Fitzpatrick.

Listen closely and you learn quickly that not even this trio and their teams are exempt from the rising costs of going racing.

On the surface, it would appear that Darland and Stockon’s days in the sprints are pretty secure, that their 2013 campaigns offer high expectations. Closer scrutiny, however, reveals a measure of financial uncertainty even for these two fan favorites.

That Darland, the perennial frontrunner and title contender, is facing a challenge just to keep his new team is a position where they will be able to run the USAC circuit full time. Stockon hoping to avoid any financially pitfalls that might derail his goals of remaining in a championship hunt throughout the year and Fitzpatrick simply just hoping for a return to racing by mid-summer.

Darland went looking for a new ride in the off-season and landed a spot with the team fielded by Steve and Carla Phillips. While not newcomers to the division, the team has never campaigned full-time in USAC.

“They’ve have had good drivers and cars over the years, but they just haven’t been able to win. They’ve been knocking on the door. The Phillips are working-class people and they will do their best to do the complete schedule,” said Darland.

“I appreciate the opportunity they have given me to drive their race car. With the economy the way it is, finding good rides can be tough. It would be nice to be the one to give them that first win,” voiced the 1999 USAC sprint champ who has 40 USAC sprint feature wins to his credit.

Stockon is hopeful he will be able to follow up on his banner season of a year ago. To do so, he knows his small team has to avoid any potential financial setbacks.

“Our main goal is to finish in the top three in points and have a shot at the championship. I think it’s obtainable ,” said the former Sullivan native. “We started off good with the early races in Florida and should have won at Lawrenceburg, so things have gone well. Financially, it’s always a question mark. No matter who you are,” voiced the two-time winner of year ago.

“It’s always easier to get to the race track when you have good paying nights like we did a year ago. We’re fortunate to have a guy like Tom Burkey at Superior Tanks and Trailers out of Beach City, Ohio, to keep us going. It makes a big difference when you know you have the resources to get to the race track and be competitive each night,” added last year’s Most Improved Driver of Year award winner in the sprints.

Notably absent from the race track thus far in 2013 has been Fitzpatrick Racing out of West Terre Haute. Drivers Blake and Braylon Fitzpatrick hope to be back on track by “mid summer.”

Like Stockon, the pair lost their local long-time sponsor during the off season and are still in search of a backer that will enable them to get back into racing, at least at area ovals.

Like many before them, the local team learned early in the game that it’s hard to compete at national USAC level if you don’t have the proper finances or equipment.

“We learned several years ago even when we were having solid runs, running as well as we were that it was nearly impossible night in and night out to compete with teams like Tony Stewart. You reach a point when there is no payoff at the end of night,” voiced Fitzpatrick.

“When you see a guy like Dave Darland with all the success he had over the years just making it from race to race it tells you how tight the money is. We hope to make some MSCS [Midwest Sprint Car Series] shows and those at the Action Track later this summer,” added the 21 year-old ISU student who has spent time away from the race track working on his goals to attend law school.

 

Joe Buckles can be reached by email at jbuckles4@frontier.com.

 

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
SPT 071914 DEFENDING CHAMP.jpg

Tribune-Star/Bob PoynterOuch: Defending Men's City Chamion Tom Jones reacts to a missed putt on the 6th hole at Rea Park Saturday morning. Jones is seeking his 9th Men's title.

Local Interest
SPT 071914 DEFENDING CHAMP.jpg

Tribune-Star/Bob PoynterOuch: Defending Men's City Chamion Tom Jones reacts to a missed putt on the 6th hole at Rea Park Saturday morning. Jones is seeking his 9th Men's title.

High School
College
  • ISU basketball trio earn national academic honors

    A trio of Indiana State basketball student-athletes have been named to the 2013-14 National Association of Basketball Coaches Honors Court as announced by the national organization. Honored from Indiana State were Lucas Eitel, Justin Gant and Jake Kitchell.

    July 23, 2014

  • Metro roundup: Post 346 rallies past Rockville

    Wayne Newton Post 346 scored a run in the sixth and two in the seventh to get past Rockville 6-3 in an American Legion baseball regional at Terre Haute North on Wednesday.

    July 23, 2014

  • Truebytower.jpg Memorable experience in Morocco for ISU soccer team could help team's growth

    Coming off the best season in its history, the Indiana State women’s soccer team figures to have the experience to do even better in the upcoming fall season.
    Or maybe that’s #TheExperience.

    July 23, 2014 11 Photos

  • Metro: Former Miss Softball joins Purdue staff

    Terre Haute North graduate Megan Ciolli Bartlett, the state’s 2001 Miss Softball and a two-time All-American at Notre Dame, is joining the Purdue coaching staff.

    July 21, 2014

  • Metro: ISU graduate Johnson sixth in shot at Monaco

    Indiana State graduate Felisha Johnson competed in her first International Association of Athletics Federations Diamond League track and field meeting Friday, placing sixth in a shot put competition that featured six of the top seven throwers in the world for 2014.

    July 18, 2014

Sports Columns
SPT072114sprints crowd.jpg

Tribune-Star/Jim Avelis Records: Near perfect weather contributed to record attendance at racetracks around the state, including the Action Track, seen here.

Pro Sports
SPT 072314 PHEGLEY LINE.jpg

It was the Knights' day: Charlotte's Josh Phegley, center, high fives teammates and coaching staff after the Knights defeated the Indianapolis Indians 8-4 on Wednesday in Indianapolis.

Terre Haute Rex
Colts
Auto Racing
AP Auto Racing News
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record Raw: Gunmen Attack Iraqi Prison Convoy U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Raw: UN School Used As Shelter Hit by Tank Shell
NDN Video
Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity
Real Estate News