By Joe Buckles
TERRE HAUTE —
If you’re looking to pick a winner for Saturday night’s season opener at the Terre Haute Action Track, look no farther than the familiar No. 53 Foxco Sprinter driven by Jon Stanbrough.
It’s a combination that has practically dominated the non-wing competition at the local half-mile clay in recent years — a winning trend that Stanbrough hopes to continue in the upcoming Don Smith Classic.
The Brownsburg-based operation is the defending race winner of the Midwest Sprint Car Series-sanctioned event and appears primed to continue its successful ways.
Stanbrough is already off to a fast start in 2010, having notched a pair of feature wins, including last weekend’s Mike Johnson Memorial at Paragon Speedway.
With nine Action Track feature wins to his credit, one would think Stanbrough is dialed into the track surface. That’s not totally true, according to one of open-wheel racing’s hottest drivers.
“Dirt tracks are never really the same,” explained Stanbrough, a two-time Hulman Classic victor. “They are constantly changing, even during an event. So it’s always a guessing game to a point.
“I drive the race track the way it is prepared. I don’t set myself as a one-style driver. I go to every race track with a good attitude. I try not to get involved emotionally if the track is hard-slick or heavy and rough.”
As for his success here, Stanbrough says it makes it easier pulling into Terre Haute knowing that on most nights his team is the one to beat.
“Obviously we enjoy coming here, what with the success we’ve had,” he noted. “It doesn’t hurt going in knowing that you might have the upper hand. You expect to win and that’s a big plus.”
What few fans don’t know is that Stanbrough first race locally was not in sprint but a stock car, a SAC stock car. “It had to be in ‘86 or ‘87,” he said of his Action Track debut.
“I think the first time in a sprint car was in the early ’90s. It’s a place I’ve enjoyed running at, what with all its tradition,” he added.
His first win here came in 2000.
“I don’t know what the success rate is for the guys down here [Terre Haute],” Stanbrough said, “but I’d like to come and add to my record. If I don’t have it [most wins, held by the late Rich Vogler with 13], I’d like add to what I have.”
Few, including the competition, will be betting against him.
• • •
• Hut 100 update —The weather was less than ideal, but from all indications last Saturday’s Hut Hundred midget classic run at Tri-State Speedway came off without a hitch.
Promoter Tom Helfrich couldn’t be happier with the way the night went. While the race was a little nippy weather-wise, it featured a full field of cars and some great racing.
“I can’t remember having a show that cold or windy over the past 20 years, but things went well. It was a great start to an event we want to build on,” offered the second-generation promoter.
Building for the future of the event weighs heavily on the future of midgets, something that is of major concern for promoters and fans alike.
Helfrich is encouraged with the cooperation shown by co-sanctioning bodies USAC and POWRi in keeping the Hut alive.
“I was really impressed with the continuity and cooperation there was between USAC and POWRi,” he said. “It was good to see both sides working together.
“With that continuity, we’re going to make this thing work. It was a great start. I was tickled with the great amount of interest shown after the race. We are already building for next year.”
• Car show success — A big tip of the hat goes to Terre Haute North High School for putting on yet another outstanding motorsports show.
Last week’s show may have been the last for its founder and longtime organizer Chuck Boehler, who will be retiring after 37 years of teaching at North.
The latest version of the show drew more than 70 entries. That’s a far cry from the meager six entries that showed for North’s first show 16 years ago.
While some expressed concern about the future of the show — with Boehler’s impending retirement — those close to the likable and hard-working educator know he isn’t about to totally abandon his prize project anytime soon.
One of the many drivers on hand was Terre Haute racer Daren Krockenberger. His sprinter was carrying the Dad Old Fashion Root Beer sponsorship livery.
His visit at North was one of a 15-stop Dads promotional tour that also included an Indy car machine.
It was nice to see Chuck Wallen at the show. It was his second day out after a lengthy and uncertain hospital stay over the past couple months.
Joe Buckles can be reached at email@example.com.