News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Trackside

August 26, 2008

Trackside: Valley racers chasing Wallys

TERRE HAUTE — The stage is set for drag racing’s premier event, the Mac Tools NHRA U.S. National at Indianapolis’ O’Reilly Raceway Park.

Often referred to as the “Super Bowl” of drag racing, the six-day event is slated to get under way today and run through the Labor Day weekend.

Success at the U.S. Nationals can often make a competitor’s year or for a select few — a career. The event carries a measure of prestige within the drag-racing ranks.

Qualifying for the event is considered an achievement within itself. To be fortunate enough to walk away at the end of the pressure-packed speed fest with one of the coveted “Wallys,” the name given to the winning Nationals trophy, is the ultimate goal of any drag racer.

It’s a feat one Wabash Valley racer accomplished a year ago, and he will be back to defend this week. A second up-and-coming Valley racer will be seeking the same at the U.S. Nationals.

Brazil’s Andrew Thomas was the class of the field in the NHRA Super Gas contingent a year ago when he pulled off a stunning upset to bring home one of the much sought after Wally’s to Clay County.

And while Thomas will be the first to tell you that in the highly-competitive world of NHRA drag racing, there’s little time to rest on one’s laurels, even a year later he has the right to savor his winning effort of 2007.

He recalls as a youngster how he and his dad would gather to watch the winners circle ceremonies at then Indianapolis Raceway Park dreaming of the day he might get a chance to compete in his sport’s biggest show.

“I grew up watching those guys race at IRP, seeing them get those trophies. To win one some 20 years later was a very special moment. Something I will never forget,” said the proud Thomas.

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Trackside
  • schrader.jpg Joe Buckles: New alliance features powerful figures trying to lower costs

    Possibly no off track developments involving NASCAR racing  over the past 20 to 30 years has generated as much interest and speculation as last week’s announcement regarding the formation of the new Race Team Alliance organization.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Trackside: Valley race fans should be happy

    Whether your preference is non-wing sprint cars or late-model stock cars, this is the week that Wabash Valley race fans look forward to all summer.
    The best of the best is the only way to describe what will unfold this week at Valley ovals. First comes the continuation of the popular UMP Summer National “Hell Week” tour for late models and its annual stop at Terre Haute Action Track tonight. USAC’s Indiana Sprint Week opens later this weekend with stops at Gas City on Friday night, Kokomo on Saturday and Lawrenceburg on Sunday evening.

    July 8, 2014

  • Trackside: Rising costs make Valley racing more difficult than ever

    The life and times of your weekly short-track racer has long lived up to the colorful and exciting ways coveted by those in the stands who gather each weekend to watch their favorite team or driver compete.
    While the weekly trek to the race track has always presented its challenges, the task in recent times has made those trips to the many dirt ovals across the country a little more difficult to make.

    June 24, 2014

  • Trackside: Likable Dave Darland still chalking up victories at 48

    One of short-track racing’s all-time open-wheel greats continues to add to his growing legacy.
    When veteran racer Dave Darland rolled into victory lane at Lincoln Park Speedway last week, he notched his 94th USAC career win. Add the countless number of open-competition wins over the years and it’s easy to surmise the popular driver is approaching the lofty 200-win plateau.
    His latest checkered flag came in the USAC Indiana Midget Week show at the same 5⁄16-mile dirt oval where he cut his teeth in an open-cockpit car more than 30 years ago.

    June 18, 2014

  • Trackside: Thumbs up given for upcoming Indiana Midget Week

    In his many years of serving in the public relation department for the U.S. Auto Club, Dick Jordan has developed a keen sense for rating the overall health and future of dirt-track open-wheel racing.
    So when the veteran publicist voices a note of guarded optimism for the running of an upcoming series, one knows something special looms on the horizon.

    June 10, 2014

  • Trackside: Crossroads drag strip taking big steps to keep racers

    The eyes of the racing world may have been focused on Indianapolis, Charlotte and Monte Carlo this past weekend. But for Terre Haute area fans and racers, the attention was directed at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds.
    That’s where activities at the Terre Haute Action Track and Crossroads Dragway took center stage. News and results surrounding shows at the two venues offered some encouraging news for the future of racing at the southside facilities.

    May 27, 2014

  • Trackside: Tony Hulman Classic set for tonight at T.H. Action Track

    Looking for a potential dark horse winner in tonight’s scheduled running of the U.S. Auto Club-sanctioned running of the Tony Hulman Classic at the Terre Haute Action Track?
    The task is indeed a challenging one. The USAC sprint circuit offers some of the most competitive forms of racing anywhere in the country and picking a potential winner out of a field that has at least eight to 10 drivers capable of making it to victory lane is very much a guessing game.

    May 21, 2014

  • Trackside with Joe Buckles: Stockon enjoying battling with USAC’s top race teams

    When the U.S. Auto Club sprint-car contingent rolls into the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds next week for the scheduled running of the Tony Hulman Classic, young Chase Stockon will find himself cast in the role as a pre-race favorite.

    May 14, 2014

  • Trackside: Valley racers appear destined for banner year at various tracks

    The green flag may have just fallen on the 2014 racing campaign, but early results give all the indications that it’s going to be a banner season for the Wabash Valley contingent.
    Competitors have already made their presence felt at two of the most popular weekly cards, those at Bloomington and Lincoln Park Speedways. Chase Stockon has established himself again as legitimate contender on the U.S. Auto Club sprint-car circuit.

    May 6, 2014

  • Trackside: Track promoters realize rainy weather is part of territory

    The life and times of a race-track operator or promoter is sure to test the patience and character of any individual adventurous enough to journey into such a risky profession.
    Especially if your name is Bob Sargent or Reece O’Connor and your race dates are at the Terre Haute Action Track.

    April 29, 2014

  • Trackside: If weather cooperates, racers are set to start their engines

    With any assistance from the weather, the Wabash Valley motorsports season is expected to shift into high gear this weekend on several fronts.

    April 2, 2014

  • bucklesphoto.jpg Joe Buckles: Fitzpatrick back on track, returns to winning ways

    Following a self-imposed hiatus from the Wabash Valley sprint-car scene for most of the summer, Fitzpatrick Racing out of West Terre Haute has returned to action and the results over the past two weekends have been nothing shy of spectacular.

    October 2, 2013 1 Photo

  • Trackside: Burns, Fitzpatrick provide fun moments at Putnamville

    In a season that has generated more than its share of down moments for Wabash Valley fans and racers, last Saturday’s “King of non-wing Sprints” program at Lincoln Park Speedway served notice that there are still a few positive storylines to be found in the wild and unpredictable sport of sprint-car racing.
    One such storyline unfolded this past weekend on the rough and challenging 5⁄16-mile Putnamville dirt oval. That’s where the runs of Eric Burns and Blake Fitzpatrick sent fans home feeling that if the season has to come to a close, it couldn’t end on a happier or brighter note.

    September 25, 2013

  • Trackside: Stewart proves versatility is one of his strongpoints

    At a time each summer when stock-car racing takes center stage in the heart of open-wheel racing territory, it was Tony Stewart who emerged the big winner last weekend.
    No, not Tony Stewart the race driver but Tony Stewart the owner. He’s the undisputed leader on two racing fronts — the car owner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series with Ryan Newman as his driver and the owner-operator of Eldora Speedway. The popular Indiana native posted impressive showings in both ventures.

    August 1, 2013

  • Trackside: Sprint Week is fun week for USAC fans

    With three rounds down and four to go, the 2013 version of Indiana Sprint Week is ready to take center stage at the Terre Haute Action Track tonight — weather permitting, of course.
    It’s hard not to mention the elements when talking racing at the Action Track this season.
    Race organizers Reece O’Connor and Bob Sargent have felt the sting of Mother Nature worse than most Midwest promoters this spring and summer with all five of their scheduled shows washed out.

    July 17, 2013

  • Finding best talent the key to all sports, including auto racing

    The success of any sporting franchise often rests with the ability of owners to find and mold talent into a winning combination.

    June 20, 2013

  • Trackside: Midgets could be on rise in Wabash Valley

    With Indiana Midget Week taking center stage this week at Wabash Valley ovals, it’s time to talk midget racing.
    More specifically, it’s time to examine its status in the Hoosier State and what the future might hold for one of open wheel’s most competitive but yet overlooked forms of racing.
    It’s no secret the mighty, little midgets have suffered from hard times in recent years. Spiraling engine costs and resulting smaller car counts have led to a sharp reduction in the number of races for the midgets.
    Terre Haute Action Track supporters of the midgets know first hand. They lost their popular Hut Hundred a few seasons back and hope of them returning to the local half-mile clay oval remains a question mark.

    June 13, 2013

  • TRACKSIDE: Bad weather gives time to reflect

    With weather-related issues continuing to plague the Wabash Valley racing scene, the lack of on-track activity presents an opportunity to offer an overall assessment of the 2013 campaign to date.

    June 6, 2013

  • TRACKSIDE: Burton’s death shows tragic side of racing

    The tragic chain of events that had unfolded the previous night at Bloomington Speedway had cast a pall over what should have been an enjoyable night of racing at LPS.

    Word had circulated the Putnam County racing facility that earlier in the day that young Josh Burton had succumbed to injuries from an accident the night before at Bloomington.

    May 29, 2013

  • TRACKSIDE: Chase Stockon hopes momentum stays with him in Terre Haute

    Momentum, an element that can be as elusive to a race driver as that perfect setup, can spell the difference in winning or running at the rear of the pack.
    It’s a force difficult to achieve and maybe even harder to maintain. One learns quickly to make the most of the opportunity when it comes his way.
    It’s something Chase Stockon will carry with him coming into today’s Jim Hurtubise Classic at the Terre Haute Action Track.
    Only days following the biggest victory of his young and promising career, the $10,000-to-win USAC feature at Lawrenceburg, Stockon followed that up with another rich payday this past weekend at Tri-State Speedway.

    October 12, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: Stanbrough continues points chase after recent skirmish with rival

    Veteran sprint car driver Jon Stanbrough has never been one to hide his distaste for chasing point championships. It simply doesn’t bode well with his style of racing.

    August 30, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: Brett Andrew plays role in developing NASCAR's new body styles

    The recent announcement from NASCAR regarding the approved body styles for the 2013 Sprint Cup Series follows extensive wind-tunnel testing that was a year in the making.

    August 17, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: Stockon takes giant step forward in USAC

    One of the more impressive and welcomed storylines of the recently completed Indiana Sprint Week was the emergence of area driver Chase Stockon on the national sprint car scene.

    August 1, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: Indiana Sprint Week rises above heat, rain, poor economy

    The 25th annual version of Indiana Sprint Week is now officially in the record books and the latest chapter will go down as one of the most successful in recent years.

    July 25, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: Late models may have no long-term future in Indiana

    Reflecting on what was billed as the biggest week of the summer for dirt-track stock-car racing … while preparing to shift gears for the busiest week of the year for non-wing sprint-car racing in the Wabash Valley.

    July 18, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: Summer heat has made this ‘The Hell Tour’

    It is fittingly billed as “The Hell Tour” for many of the Midwest’s leading late model stock car drivers and their crews.

    July 12, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: Retired driver LaJoie spreads the word of safety

    In his roles as past driving champion and television analyst, Randy LaJoie has rightfully earned the reputation as a major contributor to the sport of auto racing.

    July 4, 2012

  • Trackside: Stanbrough on track at midseason

    When veteran driver Jon Stanbrough ushered in a new season in Florida back in February, he found himself facing a pair of unfamiliar challenges.

    June 27, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: Clauson bucks the IndyCar trend

    On the surface, the distance from the dirt oval at Lincoln Park Speedway to the massive, paved Indianapolis Motor Speedway may appear only a few miles apart.

    June 21, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: USAC Midget Classic not nearly as revered as it once was

    It might be three years removed from its birthplace but the Hut Hundred USAC Midget Classic still holds a special place in the hearts of Wabash Valley racing buffs.

    June 6, 2012

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