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DirtonDirt.com exclusive

Friday's live updates from IMIS trade show

December 7, 2012, 7:50 am
By Todd Turner
DirtonDirt.com managing editor

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 7) — Friday marks the second day of the final International Motorsports Industry Show at the Indiana Convention Center. More than 25,000 attendees are expected with more than 500 exhibitors at the event that runs through tomorrow afternoon. Today's blog-style updates of interest to the Dirt Late Model folks: | Trade show coverage index

4:46 p.m. | Second day wrapping up

The second of three days (and traditionally the busiest day) is wrapping up as attendees began to drift toward the doors. ... We'll have more video coverage later tonight and a video recap of some of the new products through the weekend. ... What's the first thing someone says when they greet you at the show? Typically something about if you're heard any news. Or, as a reporter overheard moments ago, this exchange among a group chatting at the end of an aisle: "Any good gossip," one man asked. "We started a bunch," replied another. ... While trade show season is just about over, DirtonDirt.com's coverage of the 2012 season isn't. Our Best of 2012 coverage resumes on Monday and appears most non-holiday weekdays through the remainder of the year.

3:58 p.m. | Even more IMIS tidbits

Michigian Dirt Cup champ Brandon Thirlby of Traverse City, Mich., is coming off his best season with 15 victories, and he’s planning for more traveling in 2013 starting with World of Outlaws Late Model Series series action at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla. Thirlby, touring the IMIS aisles with girlfriend Leah Salay and his modified-driving brother Collin, recently bought Billy Moyer Jr.’s two-car transporter. ... Brad Hall of Tazewell Speedway is working the IMIS show to write a technical column for Late Model Illustrated. He also plans a little off-season racing in a buddy’s Crate Late Model at Talladega (Ala.) Short Track’s Ice Bowl. ... Lucas Oil, which already owns its own production company, also plans to start a motorsports network in the second quarter 2013 showing not only Lucas Oil-sponsored tours but other racing series that aren’t typically on television. The announcement was made by Bob Patison, executive vice president of Lucas Oil Products.

3:50 p.m. | West Coast visitor

West Coast Late Model Shootout promoter Chris Kearns was among IMIS visitors, and he's always a fan of visiting Indianapolis — a place he'd like to retire near in years to come.

For now, Kearns will have to be happy with a weekend at the trade show making racing connections. Kearns will be busy in 2013 directing the open-wheel USAC tours in California, but he'll have more time for the West Coast Shootout after giving up promotional duties at Santa Maria (Calif.) Speedway. He's glad to be out of the weekly grind with the chance to give California Late Model racing a boost after a few lean years.

"Last year we only had six races on the schedule, and this year I have 14 because I've had time to work on it," Kearns said.

The complete schedule isn't ready — a Calistoga (Calif.) Speedway date is uncertain — but the opening stretch of races is an interesting one. The California-based series will open the season March 1-2 at Canyon Speedway in Peoria, Ariz., and Cocopah Speedway in Yuma, Ariz. The tour heads to the dirt track at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway for a mid-week show, then wraps up the four-race stretch on March 9 at Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway.

2:53 p.m. | Working loyal sponsors

Arkansas driver Billy Moyer Jr. was glad to report he landed a few new product sponsors at IMIS, getting a deal with FK Rod Ends and another with Bell Helmets. And while he’s grateful for new help, he knows the key to trade shows is dropping by the booths of existing product sponsors — especially those loyal for many years — for an appreciative handshake and heartfelt thanks.

“It’s more important to hit those guys you’ve got than try to get somebody new,” Moyer said.

With big-money cash sponsorships few and far between, all professional racers depend on companies that provide sponsorships with complimentary and discounted products that provide teams reliable equipment.

PRC, Wiles Driveshafts, Peterson Aluminum, Red Line Oil, Sweet Mfg., and Performance Bodies are among companies that have been with Moyer several seasons.

He recognizes some of his earliest connections came by virtue of being the son of Hall of Famer Billy Moyer, but he’s no less grateful. “Before I produced on the track,” said Moyer, a three-time winner on the Summernationals in 2012, “they were with me.”

2:46 p.m. | A third-generation McCammon

Doug McCammon was among the most successful Dirt Late Model racers from Illinois through the 1990s, and his son B.J. has turned his fair share of laps over the years, too. Dirt Late Model fans will be introduced to a third McCammon next season as Chaney McCammon, the 16-year-old granddaughter of Doug and daughter of B.J., hits the Crate Late Model division.

The Palestine High School student had started her racing career driving 600cc mini sprints, but it wasn’t working out so well. And Doug and B.J. found their stock-car background wasn’t of much help.

“We didn’t know anything about that,” Doug McCammon said, so they considered a switch to Crate Late Models. To give Chaney a chance to test it out, she borrowed the Crate Late Model of Aaron Heck after the races one night at Clay County Speedway in Flora, Ill., for five test laps.

She didn’t hold back, B.J. said, and when she came off the track she let everyone know she was ready to switch divisions.

“That’s when I definitely decided what I wanted to do,” Chaney said with a laugh.

B.J. said she’s shown skill behind the wheel and hopes she can continue to improve driving the team’s Rocket Chassis they bought from Chad Stapleton. “She’s real smooth and smart,” B.J. said. “She doesn’t get in many wrecks.

And which number is she using? The No. 92, of course, the same numbers used by the McCammons who came before.

1:48 p.m. | A few LODLMS staff changes

With Ritchie Lewis adding duties with the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series has streamlined its staff and made a few changes to ease his workload.

Lewis remains as series director while Rick Schwallie, formerly projects manager, has been named assistant series director. Kenny Kenneda, who has frequently worked as a part-time technical inspector for the series, has taken a full-time job as competition/technical director.

Schwallie will take some day-to-day duties on the Late Model tour from Lewis while Kenneda will oversee tech inspection and serve as race director at series events, Schwallie said. Lewis previously served as race director at most events.

A.J. Bingham, who has served as technical director for the series and occasionally played the role of race director, will stay on in a part-time role, Schwallie said.

Schwallie praised the Lucas Oil team he’s been a part of for seven years, appreciative of how founder Forrest Lucas and others “embrace a family atmosphere” with all the employees.

1:16 p.m. | Show-Me 100 changes

The 21st annual Dart Show-Me 100 is adding $10,000 to the purse along with a $2,000-to-win non-qualifiers’ race in 2013. The announcement was made by general manager Dan Robinson of Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo., at today’s Lucas Oil luncheon.

The 20-lap non-qualifiers’ race, tabbed the Midwest Sheet Metal Show-Me Challenge, will pay $2,000-to-win and $250-to-start for the top 24 drivers who fail to make the feature lineup. The race’s winner can opt to take the winnings or the 30th starting spot in the 100-lap main event.

The May 24-25 event also gets a purse boost with about $300 added to positions from seventh through 29th in the feature field. The $30,000-to-win race now pays $1,500-to-start, up from $1,200 since the race’s move to Wheatland from West Plains (Mo.) Motor Speedway in 2010. Non-qualifiers now receive $250, up from $100.

1:14 p.m. | MLRA adding travel money

The Lucas Oil Midwest LateModel Racing Association, a tour acquired by the title sponsor from Allen and Harriett Chancellor earlier this fall, is adding appearance money to develop a stronger core of drivers, new series director Dan Robinson announced at the Lucas Oil luncheon.

Patterned after the Winner’s Circle program on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, the top 10 drivers in MLRA points with perfect attendance will receive $200 at each race venue in addition to purse winnings.

If drivers miss a race, they must make up the number of missed events before being eligible for the program.

12:50 p.m. | Lucas Oil adds duties for Lewis

Ritchie Lewis, Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series director, has added duties as director of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, it was announced Friday at IMIS during the Lucas Oil luncheon. Clearly for Lewis, a native Georgia, the off-road racing is a change from his stock car roots, but it’s grown on him, he said. “Just go one time and you’ll feel the passion,” said Lewis, who will continue his duties with the Late Model tour. The off road tour has eight 2013 races scheduled in Arizona, California, Utah and Nevada.

12:42 p.m. | More IMIS tidbits

The seminar Racetrack 101: Planning for Success is scheduled for 1 p.m. in room 135 at IMIS. Hosting will be Gerald Newton of Arizona Sport Shirts and Kelley Carlton, the Ultimate Super Late Model Series race director. ... The Lucas Oil luncheon is ongoing with founder Forrest Lucas addressing special guest and media members. Last night Lucas attended the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series postseason banquet for the first time. ... The Rocket Chassis house car on the show floor carries a bit of a different graphics scheme with more white on the sides for a sharp look. Note the listing of Josh Richards above the driver's window as the 24-year-old Richards will be back in the car as his time from his NASCAR career allows. Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., who drove the car in 2012 in Richards's absence last season, has a new hauler and a new car from Rocket in running his own team for 2013, said Rocket crew chief Matt Barnes.

12:32 p.m. | MLRA schedule released

The Lucas Oil Midwest LateModel Racing Association has released a tentative 21-race schedule starting March 30 at Springfield (Mo.) Raceway and going through the Oct. 4-5 Clyde Ellis Showdown at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. | 2013 MLRA schedule

The schedule for the Missouri-based tour includes four visits to Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo., two visits to I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Neb., and the Aug. 9-10 King of the Hill Shootout weekend at Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Neb.

Tracks on next year's schedule not on the 2012 slate are two Oklahoma tracks, Thunderbird Speedway in Muskogee and Tri-State Speedway in Pocola.

11:45 a.m. | Englishes hit IMIS

Father-and-son racers Terry and Tanner English of Benton, Ky., toured the aisles at IMIS, and the elder English was getting around just fine after mid-September back surgery to repair a re-herniated disc and remove scar tissue on a spinal nerve.

“Three weeks before the surgery, I could barely walk,” said the 50-year-old English.

English said he was cleared by Dr. Clint Hill on Tuesday — Hill is the brother of Tennessee Dirt Late Model racer Vic Hill — but the former UMP DIRTcar weekly champion had actually cleared himself a little earlier. Instead of letting the surgery end his season, English climbed back in the car one last time on Nov. 3, grabbing a victory for Burr Motorsports at Clarksville (Tenn.) Speedway in another double-digit victory season.

At that point in his recovery, English said, he’d been cleared to lift up to 25 pounds, but he managed to wheel the race car without any problems.

The Englishes don’t have any special plans for 2013, but both of them wish they could run more at Paducah (Ky.) International Raceway, which has cut back on its UMP DIRTcar Super Late Model events. That means hitting the road if they want to race on Fridays.

“The next closest Friday night track for us is Granite City (Tri-City Speedway), and that’s three and a half hours,” Terry English said.

11:33 a.m. | Practice makes perfect

Fastrak City Chevrolet Tour champion David Smith of Inman, S.C., is coming off a 15-victory season in 2012 that included a $7,500 victory at Wythe Raceway in Rural Retreat, Va. And he was touring the aisles at IMIS with fellow driver Chris Ferguson of Mount Holly, N.C., eager to start the 2013 season in Fastrak-sanctioned Crate Late Model action at East Bay Raceway Park near Tampa, Fla.

How to get ready for 2013? A little practice never hurt, so Smith plans to line up a day in the coming weeks to test at Harris (N.C.) Motor Speedway, checking the weather forecast ahead of time to make sure the weather is decent.

With Crate Late Model competition so tight, Smith said, practicing helps him find an edge. Testing is critical, he added, and not easy to do during the season.

“Once racing gets going,” Smith said, “you don’t have any time to do any testing.”

11:10 a.m. | IMIS tidbits

Driver Dona Marcoullier of Houghton Lake, Mich., is making the rounds at IMIS. His Doug Finley Motorsports team is putting together a new Rocket Chassis and adding an extra powerplant, and Marcoullier also plans to run a modified again for Dennis Craft. Marcoullier won his first-ever modified start in 2012 and ran six races in all. He had nine Late Model victories, including one at dirt-covered Berlin Raceway. ... Tory Collins of North Vernon, Ind., is touring the show and plans to return to racing in 2013, including some events at his hometown Twin Cities Raceway Park, which is expected to run Super Late Models on Saturday nights in 2013. ... Lee Devasier of Crestwood, Ky., took off the 2012 season, in part because of the closure of his home track, Bardstown Speedway in Bluegrass, Ky. He's at IMIS touring the halls and plans to get his team's two Rockets ready, one a former Steve Francis car.

11:01 a.m. | Cook announces Spring Nationals

A new 10-race, 10-track miniseries through four states has been scheduled for spring 2013 with each of four weekends offering at least $10,000 in winning purse money. The inaugural Spring Nationals was announced by Ray Cook, long-time North Carolina driver and the promoter of summer's Schaefer Oil Southern Nationals. | Spring Nationals schedule

Cook see the March 15-May 11 as manageable for drivers who can't commit to a national or regional tour that lasts throughout the season. "There's not a lot of series that give you a chance to hit the reset button midway through the year," said Cook, who announced the tour in the MasterSbilt Race Cars booth at IMIS. MasterSbilt, Schaeffer Oil, VP Racing Fuels, American Race Tires and Hoosier Tire are among miniseries partners.

Smoky Mountain Speedway is one of four tracks hosting Spring Nationals races along with Cook's Southern Nationals. "We are even more excited about being on board with him for two races," said Smoky Mountain's Casey Moses, on hand for the announcement.

The Spring Nationals carries the same point fund as the Southern Nationals with $5,353 to the champion and payouts to the top five in points and all drivers with perfect attendance. The miniseries is made up of two two-race weekends and two three-race weekends.

8:45 a.m. | Quick notes to get rolling

The show floor is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday. ... It’s been a drizzly morning in Indianapolis with temperatures in the mid-40s, but most IMIS attendees stay in hotels connected by skyways, avoiding the outdoors. ... During last night’s Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series banquet at the Lucas Oil Mansion in Carmel, Ind., the national tour announced its Crown Jewel Cup would be upgraded to $10,000 for 2013 because of sponsorship from ASi Raceway. Check out DirtWire. ... Other Lucas Oil-related announcements are expected at noon’s luncheon. ... We'll be walking the show floor for other tidbits throughout the day. Don't miss Thursday's updates. ... Next year IMIS will be absorbed by the PRI show, which returns to Indianapolis from Orlando, Fla., for the first time since 2004. PRI parent SEMA acquired IMIS last month.

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