Quick Time: Last-minute costumes for Halloween
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 (along with occasional ax-grinding). Quick Time, one of the newest features of our website, will appear every Wednesday at DirtonDirt.com:
Frontstretch: Last-minute Halloween costumes
So you’ve waited until the last minute to come up with your Halloween costume? Never fear. We’ve got five easy-to-do ideas for Dirt Late Model-related costumes guaranteed to win you Best Costume of the Party awards:
• Use an eyebrow pencil to write “Hoosier” on your upper lip. You’re a tire sniffer.
• This requires four or five friends. Your friends should wear T-shirts that say “traction” on the front along with collars around their necks. Tie string to all the collars and lead your friends around. You’re traction control.
• Get a huge map of the earth and tape it completely around your midsection. Paste photos of Jesse James, Al Capone, Billy the Kid, Bonnie and Clyde and Butch Cassidy on the map. You’re the World of Outlaws.
• Use tape to affix arrows on both your upper legs, with the arrows pointing toward your feet. You’re one lap down. (Works best when sitting).
• This one takes you and three friends. Each should hold a 4-foot wooden stick with half of a white sheet attached at the top and bottom of the stick. You’re a sailpanel.
Turn 1: Lanigan’s impressive season
World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., has no doubt had an impressive season. Check out out some of the statistics heading into this weekend’s Peak Motor Oil World Finals, compiled by series publicist Kevin Kovac:
• Lanigan’s winning percentage is .395. No other series driver over the past eight seasons has even cracked 30 percent.
• Lanigan has led 623 of this season’s 2,115 feature laps. No other driver has led more than 163.
• While pocketing nearly $320,000 in series events this season, Lanigan has averaged more than $8,300 per race.
• In 38 series races, Lanigan has transferred to the main event through his heat race at all but three events.
• Lanigan’s 31 top-five finishes are 12 more than any other series driver.
Turn 2: Turning wrenches (and wheels)
Three of Dirt Late Model racing's big-time teams are in good shape if they need an emergency driver. That’s because they’ve got one on the team. Here’s a look at crew members who are also capable behind the wheel:
Cody Mahoney: The 25-year-old Madison, Ind., resident serves as crew chief for the MasterSbilt house car driven by Don O’Neal, an 11-time winner on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series this season. Mahoney is a former track champion at Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway and notched a mid-summer victory this year at Florence Speedway in Union, Ky.
Jason Jameson: The 37-year-old Lawrenceburg, Ind., resident crews for World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion Darrell Lanigan. The former Florence Speedway champ still finds time to compete in his John Weber-owned No. 12 and clicked off a $3,000 victory at Moler Raceway Park in Williamsburg, Ohio, in May.
Anthony Burroughs: The Alabama native (and former University of Alabama football player) crews for four-time Lucas Oil Series champion Earl Pearson Jr. and Bobby Labonte Racing. While he hasn’t competed since last season, Burroughs had a successful regional racing career, notching the 2010 Southern Regional Racing Series championship.
Backstretch: Thanks for the favor
While working the pits, reporters often have information — lineups, inversions, race schedules — that can come in handy for race teams, so it’s not uncommon to help drivers and crew members know when they need to head for the racetrack.
I’m reminded of one instance, though, where I probably should’ve minded my own business. It was at a 1999 Fall Classic at the now-closed Tennessee Motor Speedway in Baxter when I noticed that Alabama driver Greg Skinner’s team was loading up his race car after failing to transfer through a consolation race. I’d also noticed that he’d been listed as a provisional starter for the main event.
Skinner was already in street clothes and getting ready to make an early trip home that Sunday afternoon when I alerted him of the provisional starting spot. Sure enough, he called to crew members and they quickly unloaded the car and scrambled to get ready for the feature.
It’s not so bad that Skinner ended up 21st in the race after dropping out early. The worst part is that he didn’t get home until late that night because the track, which usually raced Saturday instead of Sundays, was asked by the mayor to take a mid-evening break for nearby church services.
So instead of a feature scheduled to start before dark, the track took a break from 6-7:30 p.m. so worship could commence in silence.
When taking a few photos on the frontstretch before the race started, there was Skinner, standing by his car with a big smile. We joked about the turn of events, and I promised him next time I’d keep my mouth shut.
Turn 3: About the weather
We can’t change the weather, but we can all react to it, right? And there are always plenty — and varied — reactions at the dirt track to approaching rain, postponements and the tough weather-related decisions promoters make. Whether someone desperately wants to race or would much rather go home often clouds (pun intended) judgement over whether the show should go on. Here’s a look at five types of reactions:
The “radar denial” guy: Someone who can look at radar and satellite images showing enormous green blogs directly on top of the track and say it’s merely a speck that will clear out soon. Often a home-track fan anxious to see a big race.
The “I’m ready to go home” guy: Someone who usually has competing interests — something else to do that night? A long drive home? No permission from the wife to go to the races? — who can’t believe promoters don’t immediately cancel the event because of the slightest hiccup in the weather. Easily spotted because they’re typically trying to recruit others to the same point of view.
The “cancel it early” guy: Fans who decide on Tuesday that there’s no hope of racing and that a weekend event should be postponed. Seen most often among those making the farthest journey or who might have an easier time attending the makeup race.
The “never-say-die” guy: Fans who greet a 10 p.m. downpour as a mere bump in the road, saying “it doesn’t matter if we stay here all night” as long as we get the race in. News break: It does matter.
The “go with the flow” guy: Those who simply wait a decision by the promoter without offering an opinion. A rarity for sure.
Turn 4: Turn back the clock
Five items from this week in Dirt Late Model history:
Oct. 28, 1984: Jeff Purvis of Clarksville, Tenn., wrapped up his first National Dirt Racing Association championship with a season-ending victory at Cordele (Ga.) Motor Speedway.
Oct. 28, 1989: Larry McDaniels of Valley Center, Kan., captured the season finale on the National Championship Racing Association at Devil's Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas.
Nov. 1, 1997: Bob Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., won the first Super Late Model special event at Kentucky Lake Speedway in Calvert City, Ky., earning $5,000 on a chilly night.
Oct. 28, 2001: Alan Dellinger of Niles, Ohio — racing under the name Jim Dandy Jr. — earned a career-high $15,000 at Challenger Raceway near Indiana, Pa., with a victory in the MACS-sanctioned Fall Fest VII. Dellinger overtook runner-up Davey Johnson late in the 75-lap feature.
Oct. 25, 2006: Owens Stephens Jr., a Dirt Late Model car owner from Flemingsburg, Ky., who fielded cars with wife Mary Lu for drivers such as John Whitney, Steve Hillard, Ben Adkins and Mike Marlar, died. He was 63.
Checkered flag: Five fearless World Finals predictions
• Only one Late Model driver will finish among the top five in both Peak Motor Oil World Finals features
• Scott Bloomquist will be one of Thursday’s fast qualifiers at the Dirt Track at Charlotte.
• At least one of the winning cars will have green incorporated in the decal scheme.
• Darrell Lanigan’s winning margin in the World of Outlaws title chase will break his previous record (160 points).
• One driver will post his first career top-five finish in WoO competition.
(Last week: one of five predictions correct)
Correction: Fixes that Pierce's '97 victory at Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway was the first special event, not first event.