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National notebook

Notes: After back woes, Korte is ready to 'Party'

March 23, 2011, 9:47 am
From series, track, staff and correspondent reports
Randy Korte
Randy Korte

After sitting out almost all of 2010 with an injury, two-time DIRTcar UMP national champion Randy Korte will make his return to storied I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo., this weekend in the popular DIRTcar UMP Roundup, better known as the Party in Pevely.

While Korte of Highland, Ill., will be seeking his second belt buckle — the unique trophy given to Roundup race winners — hundreds of racers from all eight divisions of DIRTcar UMP Racing will be in competition.

"I love seeing other guys get the opportunity to race at I-55," said Korte, who won the 1997 and 2006 DIRTcar UMP Late Model titles. "It's one of the best racetracks in the country, one that every racer should be able to race on at one point or another. I think the event will be a good deal."

Korte has years of experience at the third-mile oval just south of St. Louis. In the inaugural Party in Pevely event, Korte earned a victory on the second night of racing and was the runner-up in the finale in one of the most thrilling three-wide battles for the lead in the track's history.

Despite sitting out last year with back trouble, Korte will be one of the drivers to push the envelope at this year's event.

"Scott Weber ran well in my car last year with the setup I usually run with, and he ran well down there," Korte said. "I know it works well at I-55 and I don't see why we shouldn't run good - I guess that's the way I look at it. I've been around that place so much I think it will be something I'll be able to get used to quick."

It was hard for Korte, who also is a regular on the DIRTcar UMP Summernationals, to sit on the sidelines in 2010, but he has a whole new outlook heading into this season.

"I've been having back problems, which I thought were normal back problems, it just got so bad that I couldn't get out of the car and it was painful to walk," Korte said. "We still really don't know what the hell it was. I had four tumors on my back in different spots and one on my hip. They doctors thought it was a disease called multiple myeloma, but every time they took a biopsy it would come back negative. They got rid of the tumors and fixed some of the bones that were messed up in my back. After that they just told me to go live my life."

After a weekend tuneup at Belle-Clair Speedway, Korte is ready for the Party in Pevely.

"I know it's going to take a bit to get back into the swing of things," Korte said. "But I expect to run well at the Roundup." — Kellen Burns

Editor's note: The Party in Pevely was postponed by inclement weather forecasts.

NORTH CAROLINA ENGINE BUILDER DIES AT 68: Bill Hendren a long-time engine builder and car owner from Union Mills, N.C., died Saturday at his home. He was 68. Originally from San Francisco, Calif., Hendren became a renowned engine builder, working with both circle track and drag racers throughout his career. In recent years, Hendren became one of the premier rebuilders for GM crate engines used by competitors in the Fastrak Racing Series. “I remember meeting Mr. Hendren just like it was yesterday,” Fastrak official Jason Atkins said. “Mr. Hendren was stern and sincere, yet understanding and compassionate. He valued honesty, integrity, and a strong work ethic.” The Fastrak Racing Series along with officials from various other series and racetracks are planning a memorial race to honor Hendren’s memory and legacy. An announcement of when Hendren’s family will receive friends and family will be posted at www.hendrenracingengines.com. — From track reports

HARDGROVE STEPS DOWN AS PONDEROSA PROMOTER: After making plans last fall to serve as promoter of two central Kentucky tracks for the 2011 season, Brandon Hardgrove has decided to stick with promoting only Lake Cumberland Speedway, the Burnside, Ky., oval long promoted by his late father Harold. Hardgrove, who began promoting after his father’s 2009 death, wants to concentrate all his efforts on Lake Cumberland instead of splitting his time with Ponderosa Speedway, he told track publicist Michael Despain. Ponderosa owner Donnie Sullivan, along with wife Angie and son Donnie Jr., will resume their roles as promoters at the Junction City, Ky., track. — From track reports

MSCCS MAKES ADJUSTMENTS TO 2011 SCHEDULE: The Mississippi State Championship Challenge Series has added two races to its 2011 schedule, while also dropping two other events. Races have been added at Jackson (Miss.) Motor Speedway on April 2 and Aug. 6, while races scheduled for April 1 and June 24 at Northwest Florida Speedway in Blackman, Fla., have both been removed from the schedule. The series also changed the event scheduled for May 28 at Hattiesburg (Miss.) Motorsports Park to May 27. — From series reports

SCHEDULE CHANGES FOR UDLMCS: The United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series has added five dates at Florida racetracks to its 2011 schedule. Three events have been added at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville on June 25, Sept. 3 and a November date that has yet to be announced. Other events added to the series schedule include a date at Hendry Count Motorsports Park in Clewiston Sept. 17 and a date at North Florida Speedway in Lake City Oct. 15. The series also dropped an event at East Alabama Motor Speedway in Phenix City, Ala., scheduled for April 30 and rescheduled the March 4 rainout at Ocala Speedway for July 22. — From series reports

ODDS AND ENDS: Rice Lake (Wis.) Speedway has released plans for the 2011 racing season, the second under the ownership of Adams-Hansen Inc. Late Models will make three, possibly four appearances at the third-mile oval during 2011. Dates for Late Model races include May 14, July 2 and Aug. 2. Late Models will also be featured at a midweek event to be contested on a date in June that is yet to be determined. ... Jackson (Miss.) Motor Speedway will open its 2011 season Saturday night with a few new improvements to the facility surrounding the quarter-mile oval. Ten new VIP suites and a new souvenir stand were built over the offseason, and track owner Don Cliburn plans even more improvements soon. Super Late Model drivers expected to compete in the season opener at Jackson include George Paul, Rodney Wing, Jimmy and Jason Cliburn, Chad Thrash, Brooks Strength and Steve Bryan. ... New promoters at Deep South Speedway in Loxley, Ala., planned to reopen the 4/10-mile racetrack early this spring, but unforeseen issues have caused those plans to be pushed back for the time being. The high-banked oval near Mobile first opened in 2005, but has sat idle since 2009.

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