Quick Time: Pseudonyms keep announcers on toes
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com managing editor
Take a quick lap around the proverbial dirt track with managing editor Todd Turner for a roundup of Dirt Late Model racing through the latest weekend of action along with some other quirks of racing (and the occasional ax-grinding). Quick Time, presented by PFC Brakes, appears throughout the regular season every Wednesday at DirtonDirt.com:
Frontstretch: Drivers of the Week
National: John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., led the final 31 laps of Batesville (Ark.) Motor Speedway’s Bad Boy 98 to earn $20,000 and his first Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory of the season.
Regional: Doug Drown of Wooster, Ohio, clicked off a two-victory weekend, winning at NAPA Wayne County Speedway in Orrville, Ohio, and on the ADRA Dirt Masters Challenge Series at Hilltop Speedway in Millersburg, Ohio.
Weekly: Jared Hawkins of Fairmont, W.Va., swept home-state races at Elkins Raceway in Kerens and Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, leading every lap of both features for his first stateside victories of the season.
Crate: Noah Daspit of Kiln, Miss., won May 18 at St. Tammany Raceway in Lacombe, La., for his third victory in as many weeks. He’s third in NeSmith Chevrolet Old Man’s Garage Weekly Racing Series points.
Turn 1: What’s your alias?
Sometimes you’re trying to lay low. Sometimes it’s a family tradition. Or sometime it’s just for fun. Whatever the reason, occasionally you’ll run into the driver who decides to use a pseudonym instead of racing under a legal name.
Some drivers use an alias throughout their careers, but Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway veteran John Gill of Mitchell, Ind., employed his just once. It was the 1997 Hoosier Dirt Classic at Brownstown when the driver registered to drive the No. 69x car was Gary Dewitt Jr., the name of a long-time crew member for Terry Eaglin Motorsports.
In reality, it was Gill piloting the Eaglin-owned car, but he wasn’t suppose to be racing while still recovering from serious injuries suffered in a November ARCA accident at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Gill, who had undergone surgery on his upper left arm a few months earlier, padded his arm and practiced the car to make sure he’d be OK. He decided to continue — time-trialing, heat-racing and finishing third behind C.J. C.J Rayburn and Tony Stewart in the 57-lap feature — but his name identity was never officially revealed. Instead, it was Dewitt, nicknamed “Deuce,” who went down in the record books as the Hoosier Dirt Classic’s third-place finisher that year.
Another former Late Model driver who raced under a pseudonym was Jim Dandy Jr., the Niles, Ohio, driver whose biggest victory came in 2001 when he pocketed $15,000 in Challenger Raceway’s Fall Fest VII, a MACS-sanctioned event.
Jim Dandy Jr.’s name was actually Alan Dellinger, but Dellinger used the alias as a tribute to his father when he started racing in 1992. Dellinger’s father had raced under the moniker “Jim Dandy,” his high school nickname, because he was serving in the U.S. Army and didn’t want his commanding to know he was slipping off to the local racetracks each weekend.
The nickname made Dellinger popular with the fans, but it wasn’t always easy to stay in character of race driver Jim Dandy Jr. “I still walk through the pits, and everybody hollers ‘Hey, Jim!’ I don't even turn around and look at 'em because it doesn't dawn on me,” Dellinger said after his Fall Fest victory. “It gets a little confusing.”
Another Late Model driver using a pseudonym is Larry White of Arlington, Texas, better known to fans at Devil’s Bowl Speedway as “Sloppy Hog” in the No. ZZ car. The 57-year-old racer was a long-time fan but a latecomer as a competitor, starting out as a driver in his early 40s.
The American Airlines pilot decided on using the alias Sloppy Hog — his CB radio handle from high school — and the unusual ZZ on his doorpanel just to be a little different, he told Keith Courson of uponthewheel.net. He gets plenty of questions about the name, and sometimes continues the gag.
“The story I tell them is that my dad and mom, when they were married, my mom always told me my dad was such a pig that he named me Sloppy Hog so every time that she looked at me, she could be glad that he was gone,” White told Courson. “And everybody gets kind of a chuckle out of that.”
Turn 2: Show-Me 100 steps up
The original incarnation of the Show-Me 100 was a tough act to follow. West Plains (Mo.) Motor Speedway was renowned for its racy, dry-slick surface. The warmth of track owners Don and Billie Gibson embraced drivers and fans alike. And purses that paid last-place finishers as much as $4,200 filled the wallets of drivers.
With the retirement of the Gibsons, Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo., inherited the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event in 2010. While the state-of-the-art facility built by Forrest Lucas immediately gave the Show-Me 100 a worthy venue, making the transition meant winning the hearts and minds of drivers who have fond memories of life at West Plains. Lucas Oil officials asked for patience, and with the fourth running of the event at Wheatland coming up this weekend, there’s concrete progress as Lucas Oil Speedway begins to put its own stamp on the race. Welcome changes for the 21st annual Lucas Oil Show-Me 100 presented by Protect the Harvest.com include:
• A complete Thursday night program, instead of practice, with a $5,000-to-win Lucas Oil Midwest LateModel Racing Association event.
• Another $10,000 added to the Show-Me 100 purse, upgrading the starting money to $1,500 instead of the $1,200 of the past three seasons.
• A $2,000-to-win, $250-to-start non-qualifiers’ race, sponsored by Midwest Sheet Metal, helping more drivers go home with more money.
Along with making the race the centerpiece of the tour’s TV schedule and working to improve the racing, the Show-Me 100 is starting to settle in at Wheatland. West Plains has its legacy; it’s up to Wheatland to create its own.
Backstretch: More fun with names
Turn 3: Summer vacation?
Drivers misbehaving at 311 Motor Speedway near Madison, N.C., don’t get suspensions. Track owner and promoter Mike Fulp does hand out discipline, but he has more gentle description.
Anything arguing with an official gets an automatic disqualification and two-week “vacation,” as Fulp puts it, while anyone fighting is disqualified and gets a “vacation” from two weeks to up to 365 days.
“I use this word because it sounds nicer,” Fulp says.
Turn 4: Turn back the clock
Five items from this week in Dirt Late Model history:
May 27, 1988: Rex Richey of Ringgold, Ga., won at his hometown Boyd’s Speedway for the first of 15 career victories on the Southern All Star Dirt Racing Series.
May 24, 1996: Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., climbed behind the wheel of a former No. 21 Billy Moyer car at West Plains (Mo.) Motor Speedway during the Show-Me 100 weekend. Moyer had vacated his equipment to drive for Louisiana-based GVS Racing.
May 21, 2003: John Bradshaw, a promoter who had breathed new life into Ponderosa Speedway in Junction City, Ky., died in Yosemite, Ky. He was 57. Bradshaw was in his first season as Ponderosa's owner and promoter.
May 21, 2008: Justin Reed of Quincy, Ill., notched his first career Deery Brothers Summer Series, leading all 40 laps at Highway 3 Raceway in Allison, Iowa, to become the tour’s fourth straight first-time winner. Clint Wendel had a career-best second-place finish with Rob Toland, Boone McLaughlin and Matt Strassheim rounding out the top five.
May 21, 2011: Porter Lanigan, a member of the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame, died at 78. The father of two-time World of Outlaws champion Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., was a long-time team owner and fielded dirt and asphalt cars for standout drivers including Ralph Latham, Ramo Stott, Bruce Gould, Vern LeFever and Chuck McWilliams, beginning in 1964.
Checkered flag: Five fearless Show-Me 100 predictions
• One of the race’s nine previous winners will have his picture taken with Gus the Cool Mule in victory lane once again.
• Springfield’s Terry Phillips will be the top-finishing driver from Missouri for a record 10th time.
• At least two of the top-five finishers will be previously winless in Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series competition.
• Lucas Oil rookie Bobby Pierce will be among the top three in his qualifying group Friday night.
• The winner of Thursday’s MLRA race will finish among the top five in the 100-lapper.
(Last week: One of two predictions correct; three rained out)