NARC NEWSLINE – March 25, 2020, By Jim Allen … And just like that, racing season and every other sport in America gets slam dunked by a China-borne virus named after a popular Mexican beer, which is hawked by a former Dallas Cowboy quarterback! What are the odds? Who saw that one coming? I didn’t! You didn’t! And that unique scenario led to school closures, mass panic, pantry raids at Costco, the instant demise of the travel industry, shelter in place, and toilet paper being hawked on the streets like it’s crack!
So how does that effect all of you fanatic sprint car fans? Just scroll through the social media site of your choice and it rates somewhere between totally pissed off to predicting an open wheel apocalypse (whatever that is!) Many have wanted to revolt and race no matter what politicians and safety officials preach. That got even more complicated when many fans lost their minds after watching California’s very own Carson Macedo win at Williams Grove in Pennsylvania. If they’re racing, why can’t we race? I get it. We all get it. But on the other side of the coin, nobody wants to actually get “it” – most specifically the COVID-19 virus.
The bottom line is it’s pretty hard to stage a “successful” open wheel event with less than 250 people, all of whom must be social distanced by at least six feet, while all of the veteran (older) race fans are quarantined at home surfing Amazon for hand sanitizer and face masks. Yes, several promoters and sanctioning bodies have considered running renegade and staging racing events anyway. But deep down, short track promoters know they will take a financial bloodbath in the process and that is probably more dangerous for our sport than the actual coronavirus itself. By the way, in the time it took to read that, the recommended group body count has already dropped to 100 …, no wait …, make that 50. Now another press conference by the governor and it’s down to 10 people, who now have to prove they haven’t sneezed since the third grade. Heck, by the time you’re done reading this piece, it will be highly recommended, suggested and legislated that you and your significant other can’t sleep in the same bed.
At this point, promoters are between a hard place and a harder place because while we do this for fun and an entertaining break from reality, their livelihood is probably at stake. They are being forced to cancel everything, batten down the hatches, cut every expense, and sit tight and hope they can outlast the storm. That is pretty depressing because a lot of work goes into preparing a track, negotiating a schedule and sponsorships and gearing up for any season. And this knife cuts on both sides, because as of right now, the State of California is still expecting their facility lease payments to be mailed in a timely fashion. If a concession isn’t made, we might be worrying about ALL tracks like we perpetually do about Calistoga (which may now be the most stable track of the pack after contracts were signed.)
Which brings us full circle to the slam dunk portion of the NARC King of the West Fujitsu Racing Series. Two races schedule, two races postponed indefinitely (which is Latin for cancelled.) And now that the State has mandated that no activities are to take place on any fairgrounds until May 10th, that officially scrubs the 30th Annual Dave Bradway Jr. race at Silver Dollar Speedway until 2021. Keep in mind that the May 10th date is the “best case scenario” timeline. That would tentatively make the May 16th Peter Murphy Classic the season opener, which is coincidental because it’s Mr. Murphy who has been preaching for years to “Bring a Friend” to the track. Motorsports is going to need a lot of friends to recover from this. Let’s hope that all of your friends are still employed by then.
Speaking of Murphy, everybody figured that Peter Murphy was one of the luckiest men alive when he took over the reigns at Keller Auto Speedway. I did! You did, we all did! He marched in with a new vision and passion, new paint, new sponsors, and a healthy bounce in his step. That resulted in an awesome season opener in front of a packed house at the Kings Fairgrounds. He also has some great plans lined up to help grow 410 sprint car racing in California with some additional non-KWS competing races. Fast forward a month and now he is in a permanent holding pattern over the Central Valley until the Fair Board and Health Department deems he can turn the lights on again. That stinks worse than being stuck on a quarantined cruise ship.
In the meantime, we all need to be patient and go out of your way to support all of those in your family and our racing family – while properly maintaining social distancing. Let’s get through to the other side of this global catastrophe without having to perform any memorial laps for anybody. If you want to do something nice, send your local track promoter lunch (DoorDash or GrubHub); try to support the people and sponsors whose names adorn your favorite racing heroes cars, and with some luck, the 2020 season will not have a big asterisk next to it.
NARC NOTES: I nominate car owner/former NARC president Walter T. Ross to be inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame. #justsaying … We are planning to honor the legendary LeRoy Van Conett at our March 21st event. That doesn’t mean we can’t acknowledge him now! The eight-time NARC champion claimed 65 feature events and was a dominating force any time he slipped into a sprint car. Those are some great memories, even if one can only remember a portion of them. … Geoffrey Strole recently announced that he will be chasing the NARC King of the West schedule this season. The “G-Man” from Hanford cut his teeth as a series rookie in 2012 and finished 12th in points. He’s aiming to improve that to the top 10 this season! … While we are on the subject of nicknames, “Wild Bill” Anton will also be a frequent flyer this season. … The cancellations have actually helped a few NARC-KWS teams. Chico’s Kenny Allen wasn’t going to be ready for the NARC season until May. Now he will be rolling in with with a new racing program, car and updated motor. … Same thing with car owner Clayton Snow, who was tooling around in Arizona. … And one of the newest teams who really appreciated the extra time was none other than Willie Croft. The Roseville driver has literally built a new team from scratch for the 2020* season. This includes everything from building a new hauler to buying the wrenches to put inside it. …
RANDOM THOUGHTS: iRacing may become the most popular sport in America this year. Desperate times bring desperate measures. … Do we take it for granted that every driver who buckles up in a sprint car has some kind of medical insurance? Not to single anyone out, but why would anyone even consider getting into one without insurance? All of us are invincible – until we get hurt – and then hindsight is the worst kind of reality check. For those of you without an option, take a look at stida.com, which stands for the “short track independent drivers and associates.” For less than $300 bucks you can buy a policy. If you need it, I’ll lend it to you. If you don’t pay me back, I’ll send Vinnie to break your kneecaps, which means you’ll need insurance anyway. … Have you every wondered how Cornhole Tournaments get televised on ESPN, but not many, if any dirt track races? … Since most of us are spending a ton-o-time on social media these days, start posting some of your favorite racing memorabilia and photos. … Wishing new Antioch Speedway promoter Chad Chadwick the best in his efforts to improve that facility. Like Peter Murphy, he has big plans to take motorsports to the next level at his Contra Costa Fairgrounds race track. We would like to plan a return trip. …
… What do you do with all of your spare time? I agree, you can only watch Netflix reruns of Breaking Bad, Rake, Dexter and Narcos so many times before you go bats**t crazy! For that reason, your NARC King of the West racing series entertainment guide highly recommends a subscription to SpeedShiftTV.com and/or MillsVideo.tv. Pick a random race, pour yourself a beer in a plastic cup and see if you can predict (if you are young) or remember (if you are old) the top three finishers. Make sure you throw some dirt in your face every few minutes for the full effect. Or take it to the next level and do it naked when the kids are in bed. What? I just threw that in to see if you were still paying attention! … This is also a good time to surf the libraries of some of our great photographers; many of who have websites showcasing their work. Others you can reach on social media. I’m sure they would love an order for a nice photo of 2019 series champion DJ Netto to mount above your bed. … There are also some great podcast available, a couple of which I’ve been on recently (sprintcarunlimited.com & Across the Groove.) … Support those who support sprint car racing.
So let’s steal a page from the Disney playbook, which is to end every story/movie on a positive note. There will be good news ahead – if we’re patient. We will still be alive if we do the right thing. Race cars will be ready to go and your favorite dirt track(s) will be anxious to open their ticket booth. And when we finally take the first green flag in qualifying, we will have an 80-way tie for the NARC King of the West Fujitsu Racing Series championship point lead late in the racing season. A battle for the ages!
Coming to you live from Auburn, CA. See ya! Stay healthy and start lining up your friends for when this show gets on the road again.