This was to be Paul Ramsey...
This was to be Paul Ramsey Jr.'s very first race ever in the highly competitive Chevette division at Crossville. I watched him and for never having raced before, he was able to negotiate the track and not get into much trouble. And that's the way you learn.
The track has Victory Lane setup outside Turn 2 after the race and I had a talk with Wilson after all of the photos had been taken. I asked, "Where did you learn to drive like that?" He explained that he had run on asphalt tracks the past seven years or so and this was his first year on dirt. He said he didn't know any other way to drive. I said, "Well, don't change a thing."
It was interesting to me that in all of the time I've spent at dirt tracks and watching the cars, as well as suggestions I give in articles in CT, that I have always advocated this style of driving. I had explained in past writings that when I raced Karts on a very good dirt track in central Florida, I drove in straight, braking as much as I could, then drove straight off and I won a bunch of races. I never understood why racers in stock cars couldn't drive like that.
Then I noticed Billy Moyer's and Scott Bloomquist's driving styles in the mid to late '90s and concluded that not only could it be done, but it could be done in a very successful way. We now see more and more drivers using that style and most times it's successful. In this case, our driver with less horsepower, was able to beat a couple of better-funded programs. That is a victory inside of a victory.
In one of the four-cylinder...
In one of the four-cylinder classes, I guess this team had lots of weight it needed to add. Please, if you're reading this, do not add weight in this way. These are dumb-bells of considerable weight mounted through hastily welded pieces of tubing. If the track were to get rough or if the driver rolled the car (far more likely), the bouncing around could definitely break the mounts and this kind of weight flying around could cause serious injury to the driver or others. I think it should be the job of the tech officials to point out obvious safety defects such as this. Don't you agree?
And so I learned something valuable that I hope you take into account with your program. It's not always possible to drive your dirt car like an asphalt car, but the more moisture, the more banking the track has, and when the track has no berm to drive off of, driving more straight ahead into, through the middle, and off the corner, the lower your lap times will be. And the fewer mistakes you'll make, which adds up to much better finishes.
We'd put quite a few miles on the ol' motorhome by now, and were getting worn out. So, we had pre-planned a mid-tour break renting a cabin in Townsend, North Carolina, near the Great Smokey Mountains National Park for a few days. We made numerous trips up into the park in our Jeep Wrangler with the top and the doors removed and the weather turning cooler. It was a refreshing change from a very hot and humid trip so far.
Once we had recuperated, it was off to the north and a 400-plus-mile trip to Eldora. But before we left the great state of Tennessee, we did a quick trip up the road to Bowling Green, Kentucky, to see the folks at Holley Performance Products. In last month's issue, editor Rob explained some of the new technology these folks are working on.
Here I am with Chris Wilson,...
Here I am with Chris Wilson, who put it on the other Late Model teams with his crate motor and asphalt driving style. I asked him where he learned to drive like that and he told me he was a recent convert from asphalt racing. I'd say he's a fast learner.
I had been to Eldora before and for our readers who have been with us for a while, you might remember we wrote a report on a test we did in March, 1998. I attended both the Dream and the World 100 that year and I have been back to this race a few more times since then.
Our thanks go out to the track management, especially Larry Boos, for getting us set up along the midway section where we were able to meet and greet many of our readers and fans. In fact, at the annual Thursday night concert, our bus served as the backdrop for the event with the band playing and crowd having lots of fun all around us.
The facilities were in great shape too. Much has been added to the speedway since Tony Stewart took over ownership in 2004. Lots of new concrete has been added, suites have been built outside Turns 3 and 4 and the event is as well run and organized as any time in the past.
It always amazed me how well organized everything was over the years and it was a tribute to the founder of Eldora, Earl Baltes. He built the track in 1954 and had owned and operated it till Stewart took over. That anyone could pull off a race where, in past years, more than 240 teams came to race for 28 starting positions, is a wonder of promoting.