Dream lawsuit bans near a resolution, Deery says
By Kevin KovacDirtonDirt.com senior writer
The legal situation surrounding the competitors disqualified for tire infractions during last year’s Dream at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, appears to be nearing resolution, World Racing Group president and COO Tom Deery confirmed Monday to DirtonDirt.com.
Four of five parties involved in a lawsuit have either fulfilled or are in the process of fulfilling obligations to remove their competition bans from UMP DIRTcar- and World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series-sanctioned events, Deery said.
Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., and Gregg Satterlee of Indiana, Pa., have paid their fines associated with the disqualifications and returned signed release forms in which they agree not to take further legal action against WRG in the future, Deery said, making them eligible for DIRTcar licenses that allow them to enter DIRTcar- and WoO-sanctioned events, including Eldora's Dream and World 100.
In addition, Deery noted that he was expecting to soon receive the required fine payments and completed release paperwork from Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., and team owner J.R. Haley of Baldwin, Wis., and his driver at the Dream, Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz. Owens himself announced in a team press release Monday that he was taking care of his obligations while Haley on Monday confirmed to DirtonDirt.com that he intended to do the same.
Deery was uncertain as of Monday about the intentions of Eric Brock’s Best Performance Motorsports team, the fifth party involved in the Dream disqualifications and subsequent lawsuit against WRG, DIRTcar and Eldora. Deery said Brock, who now employs driver Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., but had Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., as his driver at 2016’s Dream, has been provided the necessary information and documents to regain his team's DIRTcar eligibility but Deery had not received any indication of Brock’s plans. DirtonDirt.com left a message with Brock on Monday seeking comment.
The drivers and teams that have resolved their situations did so without admitting guilt, as evidenced by public comments from Owens and Satterlee.
“It was a very tough decision for us to make because we do have such a strong case and I’d like nothing more than to prove my innocence and clear my name from that whole deal,” Owens said in a release. “But at the end of the day, the longer a potential lawsuit would draw out, the more the fans are hurt and really the entire sport would suffer.”
“To put it easiest, we’re gonna put the unfortunate situation behind us and just move forward and go racing,” Satterlee said in an interview with Michael Rigsby during DirtonDirt.com's April 18 Late Model Live show. “It was something that was gonna get drug out way too long."
Satterlee, 32, also acknowledged the lure of racing at Eldora as factoring into his decision to discontinue pursuing legal action. He had to sit out last year’s World 100, which came at the end of the initial 90-day suspensions each driver received from the Dream infractions, and wasn’t looking forward to the prospect of missing the crown jewel event again.
“It’s something that down the road, if I look back and never gave myself the opportunity to win at Eldora, I’d maybe regret it someday,” Satterlee said. “That’s a place all of us that race want to go and win. They have the biggest races that our sport has to offer, and if we’re gonna race and try to be the best we can be, we need to try and win the biggest races they have.”
Deery, meanwhile, expressed relief that the Dream tire controversy appears to be at hand.
“I think everybody’s very pleased that we can finally put this behind us,” Deery told DirtonDirt.com. “I do believe those guys received bad guidance, and because of that it has caused way much more attention and drama than was ever necessary.”
The involved competitors will be eligible to enter UMP DIRTcar- and WoO-sanctioned events as soon as they obtain their DIRTcar licenses. One of the first UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned specials that could see the participation of one or more of the involved drivers is the $20,000-to-win Farmer City 74 scheduled for May 11-12 at Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway, an event that Bloomquist has reportedly expressed interest in entering.