News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Trackside

August 8, 2006

Joe Buckles: Action Track fans prove their loyalty

Over the years, race fans have deservingly earned the reputation of being among the most loyal and forgiving in all of sports. Especially when it comes to dirt track racing.

A pair of admirable traits that were tested to the limits with last weekend’s running of the Sumar Classic at the Terre Haute Action Track.

Depending on one’s perspective the event either offered the best or worst in dirt track racing.

About the only thing those in attendance probably could agreed on was that the 100-lap main event was the longest they’ve have had to endure in many years at the local oval.

Not since the early morning fiasco served up in the THAT Classic midget event back in 1996 have fans been forced to bear as much as they did Saturday night.

When a night goes as bad as it did Saturday, fans want and deserve answers why it takes two-and-half hours to run a 100-lap feature. If hadn’t been for the yeoman efforts on the part of John Berg, the only wrecker operator on the scene, the marathon affair would have been red flagged for the night.

When forced to sit through 19 caution periods for everything from spinning cars, several which were the same culprits on more than one occasions, broken track equipment and blinding dust, one tends to forget 12 lead changes.

No matter how gullible race fans can be, they deserved better than what they got Saturday night. Track and USAC officials had better hope fans have a short memory by the time the Hut Hundred rolls around next month.

The long faces among USAC officials late Saturday night came on the heels of a very difficult 72-hour stretch for the Speedway-based sanctioning body.

Their “new generation” Silver Crown cars drew an embarrassing short 14 car field at O’Reilly Raceway Park two nights earlier. Only six cars were on the track at the end of the 100-lap race.

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Trackside
  • 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

  • TRACKSIDE: What could have been: Indy’s folklore got richer this week

    It’s a question that will linger for years and only add to the folklore of the Indianapolis 500.

    May 31, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: Sprint car event could generate close racing

    One of the hottest and most competitive weekends of the 2012 motorsports season gets under way tonight at the Terre Haute Action Track with the scheduled running of the Tony Hulman Sprint Car Classic.

    May 24, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: Mulling over the biggest weekend in motorsports

    We’re approaching what has traditionally become one of the busiest and most prestigious weekends in all of motorsports.

    May 16, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: Helfrich: Short-track racing has good future

    When questions arise regarding the current state of sprint car racing, whether they be at the local or national level, one doesn’t have to search much further for the answer than veteran promoter Tom Helfrich.

    May 2, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: Near-capacity crowd turns out for opening night of racing

    Opening night at one of the midwest’s premier short track operations can be like no other time of the year.

    April 12, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: Racing season has promise

    With several “test and tunes” sessions and season openers having already taken the green flag, it’s a sure sign the Wabash Valley racing campaign is shifting into high gear.

    April 4, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: Valley racing showed best, worst of times in 2011

    A look back on the 2011 Wabash Valley auto racing season reveals the best and worst of times the sport has to offer.

    January 1, 2012

  • TRACKSIDE: Menard's victory at Brickyard momentous for family, race fans

    Who says one of those familiar bright fluorescent-colored Menards race cars can’t find its way to victory lane at Indianapolis?

    August 3, 2011

  • TRACKSIDE: After a delayed start, the Terre Haute Action Track gets season cranked up

     Its arrival may have been delayed by several months — for a host of reasons — but the 2011 Terre Haute Action Track season is finally out of the blocks.

    July 20, 2011

  • TRACKSIDE: Changes come up on Indiana racing scene

    With the highly anticipated USAC Indiana Sprint Week sprint card on tap at the Terre Haute Action Track tonight and the Tony Hulman/Don Smith Classic and a host of events leading up to the Brickyard 400 looming on the horizon, it would appear that it’s the best of times for Wabash Valley racing buffs.

    July 13, 2011

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