The packed grandstands had an electricity about them for the NSRA Championship weekend.
Rookie NSRA racer Sierra Jackson set a fast time recently at the quarter-mile Meridian Speedway with a mind-numbing time of 11.297 seconds.
To keep the cars on the ground, the top wing size can't exceed 3,600 square inches, while the nose wing can't be bigger than 1,300 square inches.
The NSRA Sprint Car rules package makes for a show at the front, middle, and back of the pack, and that's just how Sullivan likes it. "There's plenty of slicing and dicing. At some tracks, we're upwards of two seconds faster than a USAC car," says Sullivan.
All that speed lent itself to a rule change a while back. Today, the NSRA inverts its field for the feature using the traditional pill draw for one very simple reason. "We used to have fast qualifiers, but that made for a boring show," explains Sullivan. "We're interested in putting on a show, so depending on the car count for the feature we may invert anywhere from 6 to 12 of the racers. The fast qualifier pulls the pill and, ultimately, more people enjoy the A-Main."
Family is a big part of the NSRA, the #7v car is owned by Kathie Veenstra (right) and driv
Biggest Challenge Interestingly, Sullivan doesn't cite the economy or fuel prices as his biggest challenges. While those are certainly factors that merit attention, the biggest challenge to the NSRA is getting the word out that it's coming to town.
"My biggest issue is when we're leaving town with a car on a trailer and somebody stops and asks when the race is that coming weekend," says Sullivan. "They didn't even know we were there."
Savvy track promoters know that when a touring series like NSRA comes to town they have the opportunity to pack the stands.
"I'm not happy with Saturday nights being plugged up with the 800 pound gorilla (NASCAR)," says Sullivan. "But in a down economy when people can't take off for the big tour, they go back to their local short-track, we've been seeing that in some places."
And that's good for the sport. But promoters are still challenged right now and the NSRA believes that it's up to everybody to work together and help promoters create events that people want to attend.
This three car breakaway is led by Bob Witte of Ephrata, WA (7e) followed by the #5 driven
Championship Weekend One of the tracks people clearly want to be at has been on the NSRA's schedule twice in 2008. Located just 10 miles east of Boise, Idaho, Meridian Speedway was the site of the NSRA's final race of the year and one that would decide the championship.
"When was the last time you saw the wave take place at a short-track?" questioned ASA's Dennis Huth, who was in attendance for the championship weekend. "It reminded me of years gone by ... people were screaming at the drivers, people were having fun in the grandstands."
The weekend was a throwback to what those who grew up in the sport remember from childhood. Packed grandstands, the smell of alcohol-burning race cars, and carnival-style food at the concession added up to an electricity in the stands that, according to the folks who were there, was palpable.
"We had 28 cars show up. We had heat races, A-Main, B-Main. We had a 20 car main event," explains Meridian Speedway owner/promoter Ken Hamilton. "My fans loved it because our local racers had a legitimate shot to win against the out-of-towners. We enjoyed having the NSRA here and they enjoyed being here."
To start the two-day show, NSRA points leader Matt Hein had a near perfect night on Friday; qualifying fourth, winning his heat race, and finishing off the night winning the A-Main event. But Saturday night's action was a bit different. Hein was involved in a Turn 1 crash on lap 27 of the A-Main. Finishing 19th, but with his closest competitor, Andy Alberding, not starting the A-Main due to a broken lifter in his engine, Hein was able to earn enough points to claim his first American Speed Association Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association (ASA/NSRA) championship.