Dear Circle Track,
My two sons and I participated in the USAC Ford Focus Series in the Northeast region for three years and I'd like to give the readers some added information regarding both the ups and downs of the series over the years.
You are right about the original concept of a cost-effective, entry-level series getting lost, and this helped lead to the demise of the Northeast Region Series. The one bright spot of the series was the engine program, led by Keith Iaia of SCREAM. The engines were relatively inexpensive and extremely reliable, and we could call Keith anytime for help. He really put a lot of effort into the program.
Costs quickly got out of hand with the $3,400/set gas shocks, the $4,000 carbon-fiber bodies, the $2,000 titanium parts and bolt kits, and the Beast pavement-specific cars. When I voiced my concerns to the person in charge of the Focus program, he defended these expenses and then told me, "I hear you, but I don't hear you."
Up here in New England, we like to see double-file restarts and better handicapping which puts the faster cars near the back, but USAC wouldn't allow us to do so. Instead, the fans were treated to single-file follow-the-leader racing that was frankly pretty boring. USAC's purse demands were also too high for many of the promoters and we began to lose tracks. "You need to get better promoters," was USAC's answer. When we asked USAC to help promote the series, we were told, "You need to self promote." Near the end of 2007, our USAC Regional Director walked away from the series and the last two races were abruptly cancelled, leaving many of us with expensive paperweights. Fortunately, last winter, the Northest Midget Association (NEMA) picked us up and started a series called the NEMA Lites which is now flourishing. The costs are under control and the racers actually have a say in how things are run.
We'll see if Kevin Miller will be able to turn things around in USAC, but I feel that it's too late for the Focus series, as the damage caused by the previous leadership was enormous, and in the Northeast, beyond repair. To us, USAC is just a bad memory.
Glad to hear that NEMA stepped up and you guys have a home. Kevin and his crew do face some challenges and we'll be getting back together with them in the future to see how they're doing.
After reading the Apr. '09 issue of Circle Track on the USAC Sprint Car, I was happy to see something about the Mirco-Sprints. I'm a racer also and the promoter of the Southern Nevada Mini Sprints. We're a small club of about 15 cars at this time. We run two classes of 250cc and 600cc here. But for our main events, we run both classes together so we can put on a good show for the fans in the grandstands. To us, it's more important to put on a show than who will win the race.
We run at three tracks all year long. Our first show this year will be in Tonopah, Nevada, and then on the Death Valley Raceway in Nevada, after which we head down to Mohave, Arizona, to the Mohave Valley Raceway.
Over the years I've been in racing, I have to say this is the most fun I've ever had. I ran a small track in Northern Nevada, but the land owner closed it down. Then I worked at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as a local NASCAR weekly official.
I look forward every month for my Circle Track to hit my mailbox, and really enjoy reading it. It comes with a ton of tips that help us out. So in closing, please keep up the good work.
Randy Knipschild, Promoter
Southern Nevada Mini Sprint
Thanks for the kind words and send us some pics of those Micro-Sprints!
The article "Build Your Own Engine Dyno Time" by Jeff Huneycutt (Apr. '09) was extremely well written. I own and operate a dyno shop here in Southern California. The only thing that was not expressed was BE PREPARED WHEN ARRIVING AT THE DYNO SHOP. All of the appropriate parts, fittings, and so on must be with the engine. Many of my customers come in and do not have the carburetor or distributor or whatever. Many times I'm standing here with my hands in my pockets waiting for the customer to drive back to his/her shop/home to secure a needed piece to make the dyno time work.
Thanks for a good article.
That's a great tip! Readers, if you're heading to the dyno, take heed to Eric's words!