TERRE HAUTE — Over the years the term rookie in motorsports has been as loosely defined as the role it represents.
World driving champions have on more than one occasion been classified in the lowly rookie status at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Most recently past Indianapolis 500 winners and Champ Car champions have been tagged with the label in NASCAR’s lower tier divisions.
No matter your lofty credentials, one is expected to carry the traditional yellow stripes during a rookie campaign.
Chris Novotney knows all about the initiation process. Novotney, the Action Track’s Managing Partner in charge of Track Preparation, wore his stripes a few years back in the Championship Auto Racing Series circuit when he raced late models.
He’s wearing a new set of stripes these days in his new role at the Action Track. A title he accepts as a member of the newly formed DHK promotions at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds.
When it was announced back in the spring that DHK was taking over the reigns at the track, it was thought that former Action Track great Bubby Jones would being doing the track prep. It soon became evident that wasn’t going to happen.
Novotney and his assistant Tim Wolf’s job description in the new venture appeared lost in all the excitement surrounding the track’s revival.
What started out as a mission to reconstruct the contour of the track suddenly shifted to track prep as the May 5 opening night date approached.
They were called upon to put their expertise and experience with earth-moving equipment to good use.
Although their graders did not sport yellow stripes, both were, for the most part, pure rookies as they went about reshaping a racing surface that had been neglected for years.
While some consider dirt track preparation an art, Novotney modestly downplays such thoughts.
“It’s all about moving dirt from one place to another. It’s balancing quantity to where it needs to be. If you can build it right and keep it that way then I guess you could say its a miracle,” Novotney said.
Their skills at molding out a raceable surface were tested early. Rains forced a one-day delay for their season opener. When race day did arrive, they were greeted by a dirt-track preparer’s nightmare.
Bright sunny skies and all day wind. A sure ingredient for dirt track racing biggest headache … dust.
Despite a brief delay to blinding sun due to the timing of the event, the pair received passing marks for their debut. And even better reviews for their efforts in preparing the track for the Tony Hulman Classic several weeks later.
Tired and weary, the pair accepted compliments for their work after the USAC event. They had received passing marks from the drivers, officials and fans alike.
As for their rookie status they both take it in stride. By their own admission they both have bigger and more pressing goals on their agenda. That of keeping the racing alive at the Fairgrounds.
Novotney does not hold back his feelings about racing at the Fairgrounds and what it has meant to the community over the years and potential moves that may bring it all to an end.
“Yes I am a rookie. But one that just wants this place to look nice. I want it to be clean. A place with an appearance where a guy would want to take his family to see a race. A place where the racers want to race,” he said.
“If we do all these things then I think we will have done our part. I just want the Action Track here. I’m not buying into the idea that the place would be better suited for development,” Novotney added.
“Everybody has an agenda. We don’t live in New York City. We live in Terre Haute, Indiana. You can go 10 minutes in any direction and find a place to put a shopping center. To say the community would be better off to take the Fairgrounds and turn it into a shopping center and say that we would get something as good as we have just isn’t right.
“Nine million dollars isn’t going to do it. That’s not enough to replace what we have here. This place belongs to the people. Nobody has the right to sell it,” Novotney said.
Joe Buckles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
TERRE HAUTE — Over the years the term rookie in motorsports has been as loosely defined as the role it represents.
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College Report: Mahurins playing major role for Indiana Wesleyan
R.J. Mahurin, a senior at Indiana Wesleyan, was selected as the Crossroads League’s Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for the period of Nov. 24-30.
The fifth-year senior from Rockville led Indiana Wesleyan, then ranked No. 2 in NAIA Division II, to an 88-82 win over No. 9 Bethel last month in the Crossroads League opener.
Mahurin scored 33 points on 12-for-18 shooting from the field, including 7 of 10 from 3 point range. He also recorded seven rebounds and two assists while knocking down both free throws in the contest.
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I felt compelled to write these words for the sake of you night hunters — or let’s say coon hunters — as well as deer hunters.
In my coon-hunting days, if your hounds ran a coon on to posted property, you left your weapon at the property line and went straight in to retrieve your dogs and come back out the same way you went in. Well, we were actually wrong because you have to get permission from the landowner before stepping a foot on their property. The same goes for tracking a wounded deer.
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From the Press Box: Damage is done for ISU football
As a parent and a professional, there’s a bit of advice I’ve tried to pass along that I’ve found to be true.
No matter what you happen to be doing — whether it be job performance or just your own personal behavior — you can do the right thing for a period of time, even the vast majority of the time, but all it takes is one slip and the goodwill you’ve built up can be gone in one fell swoop.
Rambling Reck: Big victories for Sycamores, Engineers
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It’s a huge jump from the Wabash River Conference, one of the smallest leagues that plays high school football in Indiana, to Division III national powerhouse.
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DAVID HUGHES: The ’78-79 Sycamores rediscover timeless bond
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Ramblin' Reck: Valley football season winding down
There’s a bit of a lull in high school athletics right now, but not for members of five football teams in the Wabash Valley.
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Hughes, News & Views: Shaw preparing for 20th season as Rose-Hulman coach
When Rose-Hulman men’s basketball coach Jim Shaw gets introduced to the Hulman Center crowd before Sunday afternoon’s exhibition game against Indiana State, think of the old saying “time flies when you’re having fun.”
TODD GOLDEN: Munn, Odum want to make paper accomplishment a real one
When it comes to Missouri Valley Conference Media Day, it has historically been a kick in the gut for Indiana State's basketball teams.
But not this year. For the first time since formal MVC preseason polls began in the mid-1980s, the Sycamores rule the MVC roost.
College Report: North grad enjoying sophomore season at Virginia Tech
A.J. Hughes had an admittedly up and down freshman season as the punter for Virginia Tech’s football team, but the sophomore from Terre Haute North High School has elevated his game like one of his long, hanging left-footed punts.
Hughes ranks first in the Atlantic Coast Conference in punting with a 44.8-yard average per punt, a 4.7 increase over last year and a lofty number that ranks him ninth nationally.
Tom Reck: Postseason prep action heats up this week
High school postseason competition fills the Tribune-Star sports schedules this week.
Redneck Quaker: Hunters Helping Hunters big boost for handicapped who love outdoors
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FROM THE PRESS BOX: Injuries, tough schedule have led to Sycamores' slide
No one saw this coming.
On the final October weekend of 2012, Indiana State’s football team was 7-2 and a Football Championship Subdivision playoff bid seemed a mortal lock.
Expect some frosty games in Fall Classic
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College Report: South graduate becomes Wabash College swim coach
Brent Noble’s climb up the collegiate swimming coaches has taken another big step, after the Terre Haute South grad was recently named the new head swimming and diving coach at Wabash College in Crawfordsville.
Noble joins the Wabash program after serving for a year as the women’s head swimming coach at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.
Tom Reck: Fans enjoyed a high-drama sports weekend
High drama prevailed in more than one weekend sports contest.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Sycamores shocked by 1-5 start to season
It was a play that not only symbolized Indiana State’s 17-14 loss at South Dakota on Saturday, but perhaps the Sycamores’ entire season.
Down three with 6:39 left in the fourth quarter, ISU faced third-and-9 from its own 39. ISU ran Shakir Bell to the left and the senior standout had daylight.
Hughes, News & Views: Friends remember Jim Bogle
When I covered the semifinal round of the IHSAA boys tennis sectional at Terre Haute North last week, it seemed like there was an empty seat in the bleachers.
In reality, I noticed few — if any — empty seats because plenty of spectators wanted to watch the host Patriots battle No. 14-ranked Terre Haute South for the right to advance to the next day’s sectional championship match.
In the end, junior Nathan Bogle pulled out a dramatic three-set victory at No. 1 singles to help South edge its crosstown rivals 3-2 on its way to capturing the sectional title.
Yet there was something missing.
The person who would have been in that empty seat I imagined, Nathan’s father Jim Bogle, had been battling cancer for close to two years and could not attend the sectional.
Sadly, cancer claimed his life Thursday morning. He was 52.
Rolling Colts appear to be the real deal
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College Report: People with Valley ties getting up-close look at top-ranked Crimson Tide
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Hughes, a sophomore punter for Virginia Tech from Terre Haute North, did his part in the Hokies’ 35-10 season–opening loss to the Tide.
Fun season continues for Pirates
Postseason baseball begins tonight and I can root for my team for the first time since 1992.
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NFL season offering some early surprises
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