A review of the 2006 Wabash Valley auto-racing season reflected much the same story as that recorded on the national motorsports scene.
Stellar individual performances at the major-league level and those at area ovals were tempered by growing concerns over the uncertain future for short-track racing.
A trend that comes in as the top story on the annual Trackside Top Ten Stories of the Year list, which includes:
1. Uncertain future — The future of racing at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds was a constant hot topic of conversation among racers and fans throughout the ‘06 season. Despite repeated denials by Fair Board officials that the valued real estate wasn’t for sale, weary fans still expressed fears that the Terre Haute Action Track and Wabash Valley Dragway will fall victim to commercial development in the not-too-distant future.
2. Changing faces — Adding to the uncertainty at the Fairgrounds was a round of changes in leadership at the southside racing facility. Both the oval and dragstrip had new promoters this past season.
Morgan County businessman Dave Allison took over the reins at the Action Track in a surprise mid-season move. Allison, who also controls promotional rights at nearby Lincoln Park Speedway and Twin-Cities Speedway at North Vernon, replaced former Sullivan County resident Jamie Reed.
Jim Graham of Bloomington brought his drag-racing promotional experience to WVDragway, keeping racing afloat at the eighth-mile strip.
The changes marked a disturbing trend of instability on the promotional front at the tracks. Allison became the fourth promoter in the last eight years. Adding to the uncertainty, longtime supporter for racing at the Fairgrounds, Fair Board president Brad Anderson, resigned his post late in the year.
3. Divided ways — Open-wheel racing suffered through another year of dissension within its ranks, this time on three fronts. Any hopes that the split in Indy-car racing would be healed never materialized. Winged sprint-car racing floundered as the newly formed National Sprint Tour series led by Steve Kinser went head-to-head with the more established World of Outlaws circuit.
By season’s end, the NST had folded as Kinser and Danny Lasoski announced they were returning to the Outlaws in ’07. The U.S. Auto Club ushered in a new era with its “new generation champ car,” a move that sparked a group of discontented car owners to establish the newly formed Premier Racing Association series.
4. Safety first — The sport on the local scene enjoyed a relative safe season, with the lone exception being the serious injuries suffered by veteran driver Jay Drake in a USAC sprint show at the Action Track.
5. Youth and experience — The Action Track enjoyed a competitive year that found new faces and seasoned veterans in victory lane. Joey Saldana, Darren Hagen and Daron Clayton were first-time winners at the local oval, while Jon Stanbrough and Bud Keading added to an already winning tradition here.
Stanbrough clinched the King of Indiana Sprint Series with his win his sixth win at the Action Track — one of 21 feature wins that earned him national Sprint Car Driver of the Year honors.
6. Terre Haute racers dominate — For the second straight year, local racers continued their winning ways in impressive fashion at Lincoln Park Speedway. Kenny Carmichael (sprints and stocks) and Richie Hawkins (Bombers) won three of the track’s four division titles. Terre Haute drivers swept the top three spots in the sprint and Bomber classes.
7. Terre Haute racer shines — Carmichael’s impressive two-title season is more noteworthy in that it marked repeat championship runs in both divisions. His crowns and nine-feature-win year earns the Terre Haute racer Trackside Driver of the Year honors for the second straight year.
8. Teams shine — Whether it was on the Midwestern short tracks or international road courses, Terre Haute-based operations made their presence felt.
Team Apex Racing USA, under the leadership of David Hunt and Jim Exline, was again a force to reckon with on the Formula BMW USA series with stellar runs at the Canadian and USGP. BWB Racing won a USAC sprint car feature at the new Iowa Speedway and was a solid contender on the Premier Racing Association circuit throughout the year.
9. Indy winners — Three of the biggest marquee names in racing make it to victory lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, adding to its reputation as the Racing Capital of the World with three storybook endings.
Sam Hornish’s dramatic last-lap win over rookie Marco Andretti and Jimmy Johnson’s victory in the Brickyard 400 helped propel the pair to championship drives in their respective series. Michael Schumacher bid farewell to Formula One racing with a record-breaking fifth USGP win at IMS.
10. Wabash Valley Dragway — The Wabash Valley Dragway drew competitors from throughout the Midwest, but it was a strong local contingent that carried off the hardware at season’s end.
When WVD teams gather for their awards banquet Feb. 10, five of the six track champions will have Valley connections. Title holders included Jasonville’s Gary Thompson in Super Pro and Terre Haute racers Kenny James in Pro, Jeff Lathrop in Sportsman, Brad Miles in Motorcycle and Zach Gosnell in Jr. Dragster. The lone “outsider,” Jordan Eaker of Brownsburg, took the High School title.
Joe Buckles can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A review of the 2006 Wabash Valley auto-racing season reflected much the same story as that recorded on the national motorsports scene.
- Sports Columns
Redneck Quaker: Here’s a lot of stuff to think about
I would like to express how dedicated the folks of the Emmanuel United Methodist are to their religion and all the folks in the community.
Michael Bolin is an inspiration to all, for his love of the outdoors and great fellowship, being a positive up-beat person.
Redneck Quaker: This fisherman has spent 43 years catching ultimate cold ones
I know, it’s getting late in the year for an ice fishing story, but I’ve had several request from you ice walkers! And there’s plenty to learn from Bryan Holland that can be applied next winter.
Ramblin' Reck: Four prep basketball teams still in contention
The season now is over for all but four high school basketball teams in the area.
Ramblin’ Reck: It’s officially Tourney Time in the Valley
The regular season now has ended for most high school and college basketball teams in the area. It’s Tourney Time.
College report: Valley softball pair help Ball State start off with 12-2 record
Two Wabash Valley products have helped the Ball State softball team get off to a 12-2 start, including five straight wins last weekend to capture the Louisville Slugger Invitational at Arizona State.
Redneck Quaker: Edington, Mafioli set up marriage in unique way
Kaylee Edington says being outdoors gets you away from the turmoil in life and that is why they want to include it into the most important things in their lives.
Little did she know a marriage proposal was being planned for her while she was shooting sporting clays in the great outdoors.
Ramblin Reck: Cloverdale riding 10-game winning streak
Illinois high school boys basketball teams commenced postseason play Monday night and teams in Indiana are set to close out the regular season. Two of the teams with top marks in the area are Cloverdale and Clay City and they met last Saturday to cap a good week of basketball.
TODD GOLDEN: Relax, guys: Play loose, have fun
What seems like an end can really be a beginning for Indiana State’s men’s basketball team.
Redneck Quaker: Wabash Valley Limbhangers conducting banquet March 7
Stand by for news!
No, I’m not Paul Harvey, but please read on about a lot of fun that is about to happen in the turkey-hunting and bass-fishing worlds.
Ramblin’ Reck: Regular season winding down in high school basketball
Time flies when you’re having fun … and playing basketball.
It’s hard to believe that the regular season ends this week for high school basketball teams that we cover in Illinois. The postseason begins next Monday.
Paris, Casey and Marshall have the top marks and Robinson has had some good wins playing a tough schedule.
From The Press Box: The nuts and bolts of compiling a Mock Selection for the NCAA Tournament
Before March Madness comes the March mystery of the run-up to Selection Sunday.
College Report: Valley pair square off in softball pitching duel
Administrators and coaches long ago scheduled the East Tennessee State and Indiana University softball teams to both compete in the Georgia State Panther Invitational in Atlanta last weekend. Little could they have realized, however, that a Sunday afternoon pitching matchup between the two teams would pair two successful, blonde, and versatile performers from western Indiana in a head-to-head clash.
Redneck Quaker: National Wild Turkey Federation banquet coming Saturday
The Sycamore Ridge chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation will have its banquet this coming Saturday at the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union Hall, 8801 E. Milner Ave.
Doors open at 5 p.m. with dinner at 7. Food is catered by Rick’s Smokehouse; you will lick your fingers to the bone after enjoying one of their fine meals.
Ramblin’ Reck: Grizzlies shoot, make just one free throw in win
Memphis defeated Atlanta 79-76. The big point about this game is that the Grizzlies shot just one free throw in the game — and made it. That is an unofficial record for the shot-clock era.
Redneck Quaker: Everyone should meet John Steinbrenner at least once
I’m struggling to find the correct words to describe this incredible 44-year-old outdoorsman!
At times, I will get down on life and feel sorry for myself. Everyone should meet John Steinbrenner at one time n their life. This man sees no challenges, just solutions for anything he comes up against.
From the Press Box: Loss couldn’t ruin great day for ISU, Terre Haute
When I write, and when I can, I like to give myself a bit of time to soak in what I’m going to write about. After Indiana State’s 65-58 loss to No. 4 Wichita State on Wednesday, I went home, had a bite to eat and pondered what I thought the night was all about.
I knew ISU’s disappointment cut deep. Really deep. A cruel reality of sports is that losses linger on in the memory with greater resonance than wins often do. Given the shots that rattled out, fell short and missed the mark in the final five minutes, this is a defeat that will, sadly, dog the Sycamores tonight, tomorrow and 20 years from now.
Ramblin' Reck: Upsets leave Syracuse in No. 1 spot
A wild week of men’s college basketball action ended Sunday with Indiana’s Hoosiers knocking off Big Ten leader Michigan 63-52.
TILL IT'S OVER: Indiana Track and Field museum in Terre Haute a treasure for city
Greg Gibson and Dave Patterson were named honorary members of the Indiana Track and Field and Cross Country Hall of Fame on Saturday at a reception for the 2014 inductees Saturday.
The Wabash Valley inductees were former high-jump state champion Ted Sweatt of Terre Haute Wiley, former Sullivan and Indiana State standout Erica Moore, former state mile record holder Jack Corridan of Wiley and Tom Henderson of Brazil.
Hughes, News & Views: Odds in favor of Richard Sherman being mentioned here
I’ve explained my post-2011 NFL allegiances before, but allow me to summarize them one more time for any new readers to this column.
I eased into liking the Indianapolis Colts as my favorite team in the late 1980s. Like plenty of other Wabash Valley sports fans, I became Colts-obsessed when Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne and others turned them into an elite franchise in 1999 and the early 2000s.
When the Colts beat Da Bears 29-17 in Super Bowl XLI on Feb. 4, 2007, I yelled as loud as anyone in Terre Haute.
Ramblin’ Reck: Even after 20-point loss, Sycamores move up to 51st in RPI
Checking out some basketball polls and rankings -- colleges first:
In spite of losing to Wichita State, Indiana State moved up to 51st in the weekly RPI totals from 63. Some other rankings: Kansas 1, Wisconsin 4, Villanova 5, Wichita State 9, Creighton 10, Illinois 58, Northern Iowa 70, Indiana 77, Missouri State 78, Purdue 87, Butler 90, Notre Dame 94, Illinois State 108.
College report: Terre Haute pair Berry, Comer to boost Sycamores’ lines
While many people have varying opinions on the most important position on a football team, most old-school gridiron veterans would consider strong line play as a necessity for anything else to work — kind of like pitching in baseball and guard play in basketball.
FROM THE PRESSBOX: Time for constructive criticism, not panic for ISU
I said before Indiana State’s Missouri Valley Conference showdown with Wichita State that there would be no need to hit the panic button if the Sycamores lost at Koch Arena on Saturday.
REDNECK QUAKER: Hunting bear will provide challenge you seek
Brett Dalton and some fellow turkey hunters decided to try their hand at bear hunting, but found it to be more of a challenge than they thought.
Don’t forget, Mother Nature calls the shots!
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Little to lose, a lot to gain for Indiana State
It’s hard not to get excited about today’s Missouri Valley Conference summit meeting between co-leaders Indiana State and Wichita State. Who wouldn’t be?
AMEY TAKES AIM: Emmitt 'Tank' Tyler remembered as a great football player, great mentor
Visitation is 4 to 7 p.m. today and 10 a.m. until the 11 o’clock services Saturday at Second Missionary Baptist Church for Emmitt “Tank” Tyler.
The former Garfield and Indiana State fullback and linebacker passed away on Jan. 8 and is survived by his wife Debra and sons Emmitt II and Ethan, along with three goddaughters, two sisters, five brothers and a huge extended family.
Ramblin' Reck: After snow, busy week in prep basketball
Because of lots of snow and ice, high school basketball action was limited in the area last week. This week promises to be a busy one, especially with better weather conditions in the forecast. Some key prep boys games are slated, two of them tonight.
AMEY TAKES AIM: Basketball clock ticking down for Union
If there’s an unfortunate unintended consequence of the several weather-related postponements to the Greene County Invitational — which is operating as well as it possibly could have, Steve Brett was adamant about going on record to say Saturday evening — it’s that losers of Saturday’s four first-round games won’t get to play their usual two additional games in the consolation bracket.
Ramblin' Reck: Both ISU basketball teams off to strong starts in MVC
College basketball teams have commenced league play and it's nice to see Indiana State teams in the top spot in the Missouri Valley Conference standings.
From the Press Box: I’ve seen the enemy … and it’s the double bonus
I’ve seen the enemy.
I’ve seen it turn the game of basketball from one of exciting flow into a nonstop parade of tedium. I’ve seen it morph hundreds of what would-be thrilling, last-minute, end-to-end conclusions into foul shooting exhibitions that suck the life out of a gym or arena near you.
It’s the double bonus. It’s a scourge, one that is often overlooked when ideas on how to make the game more entertaining or to speed the game up are put forth.
Amey Takes Aim: Tourney provided a few Classic moments
This column was falling into place nicely until about 1:15 p.m. Saturday. Then youth and inexperience reared up to bite it.
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