The Topless 100 gets its name...
The Topless 100 gets its name from the removal of the roof from the Dirt Late Model cars. This open-style allows the fans to see the driver better and provides more interest. It's just a fun variation from the normal configuration. It's actually much safer too, allowing a driver to exit the car out the top in case of a fire.
As the race unfolded, I could see where the setups were different than I had remembered in the recent past. The right front corners were down and staying that way. A quick few questions put to some insiders told me something I had run into a few months before, tie-down shocks were being used at the RF to hold that wheel down. And stiffer RR springs were holding the left front down as well.
Look back at the cover on this issue and see what this does to the car, or some cars. In extreme front end dive, there can be a lot of camber change with the right front wheel gaining negative camber. The amount depends on the upper control arm length and static angle. With short upper arms and a higher static angle, the camber change can be unreal.
Jonathan Davenport told me at Barry Wright's shop that he likes this tie-down stuff because for one thing it allows him to see better than if the front end were up in the air. I get that, but the track must be fairly smooth in order for this to work. If not, the front end gets bounced around and the car will push severely.
On Sunday at Batesville, the...
On Sunday at Batesville, the water truck was busy trying to put enough moisture into the dirt to last the race. But it wasn't to be, the track dried out and tire wear was a huge factor. This team was planning ahead taking lots of new rubber to the infield prior to the race, as did many other teams.
All in all, in the heats, the more balanced cars with all four wheels on the ground ended up in the Main event. The problem was, it rained late in the afternoon and again before race time. There was no way the A-main could be run so it was postponed until the next afternoon on Sunday.
In his heat race, after the start, Moyer was a distant third with the two front runners pulling away. The tendency was to project that Billy had nothing for them. But after an early caution, he pounced in a way I had observed before. It was like a new car, he overtook the second place car going into Turn 1 at the green flag and then within a lap, took the lead and never looked back. This is his style a lot of the time. More on Moyer later in the Paducah review.
Did I mention the heat we had experienced on this late summer round of the Tour? We had been scheduled to go to Bloomington Speedway when we were in Indiana, but that race was canceled due to high heat with the heat index at more than 100 degrees. I think the temperatures were near or above 100 all around the Midwest around that time. And it was hot in Batesville too.
At the start, it looked like...
At the start, it looked like Donny O'neal had the field covered, but you can never be sure. Tire wear caused the teams to come in under cautions to replace worn out tires. Some setups helped the tires last longer than others, but all had problems. It was ultimately the timing of pit stops that made the difference in the end as to who was fast the last few laps.
The mid-day heat dried out the track and tire wear became the issue. Most teams had to pit two or more times in the race to replace worn out tires. It made for a very interesting show because as teams put on new rubber, they rocketed to the front. It became a matter of tire management more than driving skill, but then that is a driving skill, isn't it?
Jared Landers, in the appropriately sponsored Mark Martin Ford entry, which is located in Batesville, put it on them in the end and took the win. His late race charge was timed just perfectly to dominate over the fading stars.
Paducah International Raceway
We arrived in Paducah after taking a much needed break in the hill country of Arkansas, one of the few times we were able to stop for a few days and rest. Most of this leg of the Tour had us on the road going between racetracks that were far apart.
When we arrived at Paducah...
When we arrived at Paducah for a "regular" Friday night show, we were surprised to find Billy Moyer and Shannon Babb there. The show turned out to be a high-paying 50 lapper, the USA World 50 MARS/UMP Challenge Night, that was part of a double header with this race and one at I-55 Raceway. Moyer would ultimately win both, but it was the style in which he did it that made our headlines.
In choosing our schedule for this second half of the Tour, we saw certain races and tracks where we needed to be, regardless of the distance between. So, this is what we ended up with and it was wearing us out. Nonetheless, we were accomplishing our goals in a big way. We were gathering lots of valuable information about circle track racing.
The Paducah event was, in our original estimation, supposed to be a regular event of sorts. I guess we didn't look hard enough, because the track was having a special race called the USA World 50 MARS/UMP Challenge Night for $5,000 to win. As we arrived, we noticed that two regulars to the high-dollar shows were there, Shannon Babb and Billy Moyer.