Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Hacked" on Facebook; No, I am NOT selling out and retiring - YET!! I-80 announces $25,000 to win Late Model show

Imagine my surprise Saturday when I logged onto my Facebook page and I saw my status: “blog update. I'm selling my race car. Any bidders? I'm quiting my job and leaving town on my motorcycle.” When the time comes, I may post something like that, but it won’t be for a couple of years, anyway. I also will not be selling my race car, unless it’s to upgrade.

I DO have a race car for sale, but it’s the SCS stock car we raced in 2009. I have advertised it on DirtDrivers.com on and off since last season but haven’t had any serious inquiries. Make me an offer, you might end up with a race car!

When I retire, that will give me more time to race. I will also be leaving town on my motorcycle a lot more than I am now.

This just goes to show that a person must ALWAYS be sure to log off any computer they are using. I am glad the AWP (Anonymous Weasel Poster) didn’t put anything bad on my status.

After working Wednesday and Thursday (Thanksgiving) nights, I got about 2 hours of sleep Friday morning before getting up and going to Lincoln for the Nebraska/Colorado game. We met Heather, Hollie & Ed on the west edge of Lincoln after having a quick cup of coffee with my brother and sister-in-law and nephew. Heather’s friends from Greeley saved us a parking place in the area where the new arena will be built and we spent almost 2 hours tailgating. Hamburgers, hot dogs and a variety of refreshments. I got about 20 winks, then we made the half mile walk to the stadium. By the time we found our seats, it was just under 30 minutes to kick-off.

I’m glad I bundled up. My only regret was that I did not have a ball cap. We were in the northeast corner of the stadium and after shading my eyes for the entire first half in order to see, I was glad when the sun dropped behind the west grandstands. It was a good game with a great crowd. I wonder what it will be like in the future, when the Big Red are in a different conference.

Once we made it back to the car, we were able to find our way to Spaghetti Works where we all enjoyed a good meal and some catching up. Once we were dropped off at our car & headed home, I slept like a rock until we pulled into the garage at home. Two hours of sleep just doesn’t cut it for me any more!

After all of the match-ups against the Oklahoma Sooners in the past, it’s only appropriate that Nebraska will be playing Oklahoma for the Big 12 Championship on Saturday night. That brings back memories of Thanksgivings in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s spent at an uncle & aunt’s in Elkhorn watching Nebraska and Oklahoma battle for the Big 8 title. I sure miss those gatherings!

After spending Saturday at Jason & Emily’s for an “official” Thanksgiving, Sunday was spent removing the rest of the tin from the race car. I hope to be able to get the sheet metal cut and formed for the floor and firewall on my days off. I’ve NEVER done this much work on the car during the season!

David tells me that the engine he built for his class project at college will be going to the dyno between now and Christmas. Since it’s a class project, he says the dyno won’t cost me anything. I sure hope he’s right - I know that in Lincoln, dyno time runs at least $50 an hour.

I saw an announcement on DirtDrivers.com that I-80 Speedway near Greenwood, Nebraska is holding a late model special in July. They have announced that the winner of the A Feature will take home $25,000 and it will pay $1,000 just to start. This will be the largest “to win” race ever held in the state of Nebraska and should pull in the top dirt late model drivers from across the United States. I would just love to go, but it looks like this will be at the same time that we will be on the road to Chesapeake, Virginia for the Blue Knights International Convention. Maybe the race will become an annual event and I will be able to attend in the future.

While I-80 is already announcing their late model special, we have yet to hear anything out of Beatrice Speedway in regards to the 2011 schedule and rules. I sure hope they don’t wait as long as they did before the 2010 season to make any announcements. I do know that about 30 loads of dirt have been brought in and put on the track to help make the racing surface better. Other than that, if anybody knows anything, they certainly haven’t passed it on. I sure hope something is released soon!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Deputy Sam Brownlee, Weld County, Colorado; EOW 23 Nov 2010

I opened my e-mail when I got up today and found one from the Blue Knights e-mail list I am on. This concerned a Weld County, Colorado Deputy who was also a Blue Knight who was killed in the line of duty yesterday.

I have written in the past about officers losing their lives in the line of duty, and the Officer Down Memorial Page - ODMP.org - shows that so far in 2010, 147 officers have died in the line of duty. If I reported on every one, I would unfortunately be doing it full time.

The story of Deputy Sam Brownlee caught my eye for a couple of reasons. First, Deputy Brownlee was a Blue Knight. Blue Knights is the largest and best Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club in the world, with over 20,000 members world-wide. The other thing that caught my eye was the fact that it happened in Evans, Colorado, which borders Greeley on the south. My oldest daughter, Heather and her husband and son live in Greeley. Three years ago they moved from Evans to an area in Greeley which is farther west than where they were living.
There have not been a lot of details released about the actual shooting, but today it was reported that Deputy Brownlee was involved in a struggle with the suspect. The suspect eventually got Deputy Brownlee’s sidearm and shot Deputy Brownlee three times.  Other officers on the scene returned fire and the suspect was also killed.
The incident started an hour earlier with a domestic violence call in Ft Morgan, 55 miles east of Greeley. A woman reported that her car was stolen by a man she knew. The stolen car was spotted on Hwy 34 and a Morgan County Deputy and a Wiggins officer attempted to stop it. The driver refused to stop, and a nearly hour-long chase ensued with speeds reaching over 100 MPH at times. At times the suspect drove on the wrong side of the road and at Kersey, 10 miles east of Greeley, his vehicle was clocked at 107 MPH. Stop sticks were deployed to slow the vehicle down. The driver eventually stopped in Evans in the area of Coyote Lane and Cedar Lane. The suspect ran from the car and there was a foot pursuit that ended when Deputy Brownlee and the suspect were both shot.

The Greeley Tribune had a map along with the story. I thought the area sounded familiar to me, and when I checked it, I learned why. It is just about 4 blocks from where Heather and Dana used to live.

I will not name the 20-year old suspect because he does not deserve to have his name and picture made public. I will say this - he was a gang member and was currently on probation for felony menacing in January and DUI in July. He was also arrested for assault causing serious bodily harm in March, but that charge was dismissed. According to the Greeley Tribune, Court records show that the suspect still owes $30,000 restitution in the felony menacing case.

It appears that Colorado’s judicial and probation system failed the public by letting this career criminal back out on the street.

I send my condolences the family, friends and co-workers of Deputy Sam Brownlee. May God guide you through these difficult times. To Deputy Sam Brownlee, thank you for your service and rest well. Your fellow officers will take over from here.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I HATE winter and cold weather!!

I have lived in Nebraska all my life, but the older I get, the more I hate the cold weather. We haven’t even had a lot of cold weather yet, and I already have one heck of a head cold! I woke up Tuesday afternoon with a scratchy throat and a bit of a runny nose. Wednesday was about the same, but got worse as the day went on. I started taking AlkaSeltzer Plus cold Wednesday evening. I stocked up on sugar free cough drops, more AlkaSeltzer and Kleenex yesterday, I don’t really look forward to going back to work tonight. Oh, well, I’m training a new officer, so I can let him do all the talking.
When people talk about the racing season being over, it really means there aren’t any races going on. If you know anybody who races, stop by their shop and see what they are doing to their race cars during the off season. Some are freshening old engines or building new ones. Others may put new skins on their cars, while others completely rebuild their cars over the winter. We are kind of on the end of completely rebuilding.
While we ended the season with a nearly fresh engine, my nephew, David, took one to Hastings Community College, where he is taking Automotive classes. The engine has now been completely rebuilt with some new internal parts, and has actually been run a little. I think it’s been run quite a little, as he told me he needs another five gallons of fuel for when they get it on the dyno. I sure hope it gets better fuel mileage when it is in the car.
I am also in the process of cutting the entire firewall and floor out of the car and will have a new aftermarket floor and firewall made. This will make working on the car a lot easier by giving us a lot more room. I will be spending as much time on the car, if not more, than during the season.


My other passion - traveling on two wheels - is also be coming to a halt with the coming cold weather. It’s already been over a week since I’ve ridden the Gold Wing to work due to rain a couple of nights and cold weather. However, in what little spare time I have, I can still sit down and try to figure out the best way to go to Virginia Beach and back next summer to attend the Blue Knights International Convention. We have a lot of sightseeing we want to do on the way there and back, as well as once we’re there. Thanks to the internet, when I get tired of working on the race car, I can come into the house, fire up the computer, and research the highways and byways between here and Virginia Beach. I already have one route planned out to get there which includes an overnight stop at Nashville. Before we are ready to leave, I’ll have several routes mapped out. There is at least one other couple that is planning to ride with us, so it will be a great, fun trip.

I took training at Ft Lee, Virginia in 1971. During my time there, I got a lot of sightseeing done in my time off. There is so much history in that area of our country, from the time of the early settlement through the civil war. I spent several weekends in Washington, D.C., visiting Ford’s Theater, Arlington Cemetery, the Smithsonian, and Washington and Lincoln Memorials. We’ll just be in the area for a week, so we will have to plan our trips accordingly so we can see as much as possible.

The off season will also bring the opportunity to schedule some maintenance on the Gold Wing. At 32,000 miles, there will be some things that should be looked at by the dealer as they are far beyond my expertise. With the price of fuel slowly creeping up we will be much more aware of issues that keep the bike running more efficiently.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Beatrice 2011 race schedule??

Almost a month ago, a question was posted on the Beatrice Speedway message board of DirtDrivers.com. The question was when would the Beatrice Speedway schedule for 2011 be posted. They noted that Eagle Raceway’s schedule was already posted.

I did not check Eagle’s website to see if the 2011 schedule was indeed posted. However, I responded to the posting with the following “If they hold true to form, the schedule will come out at the end of February. That's what happened this year.

Sometimes I feel like the Fair Board is hoping we will leave them alone. If they would work with track officials and the racers, we could pack the grandstands and pits every week.

That being said, I know there won't be any rules changes in the IMCA classes. However, PLEASE, PLEASE, Fair Board and track officials, let's put our heads together and make the factory stock rules so the pro-ams can come race with us on a weekly basis if they so wish. The sooner we can do this the better.”

I got the following response from my comment “Ernie, You are very right on it. Beatrice could easily pull in the crowds if they wanted to. I am not sure who makes the decisions (if anyone), but something has to change. I don't like to knock on anyone...but really... this year was terrible. The track needs to be taken more seriously, and ran as a business. They will be lucky to keep the doors open if they keep it up. Is there anyone to talk to about possibly getting a new group to run the speedway? The main simple essentials that a track needs to do are not even done..... (example...working functional website)”

The 2010 season saw the 2nd year that Beatrice Speedway raced on Friday night. After racing forever on Saturdays, racing was moved to Friday in 2009 in the hopes that car count and grandstand attendance would increase. When Beatrice raced on Saturday, they were up against Eagle, McCool Junction, Doniphan, Minneapolis, KS and Mayetta, KS. Since most people work on Friday, the starting time was moved back to 7:30 PM.

I’ve never seen any figures as to what grandstand attendance did, but I don’t believe the car count changed much. However, just changing nights won’t make people attend the races. The races need to be PROMOTED!! Let people know that Beatrice is racing! Toward the end of the 2009 season, a racer at another track told me he didn’t even know that Beatrice was still racing!

Years ago the Beatrice Daily Sun had some pretty good articles and results from Beatrice Speedway. KWBE radio also had a half hour program each week. The Daily Sun seems to have a hard time putting results in the paper, let alone having a story. KWBE moved the Track Talk program to a different time slot, so I continually missed it this season.

Beatrice Speedway has a website, but the person who has been doing it is slow putting up results, and there has NEVER been a story on the races posted. The most recent addition to the website was August 24th, one week before the end of the season. If somebody was being paid to maintain the website, they were overpaid.

When I would get home from work at 6 AM on Sundays, I would look at the Eagle Raceway website to check for Saturday night results. I would not only see COMPLETE results from the heat races and any B Features, but a complete story on the entire evening. I have seen where several Women for Racing members offered to help with the website, but apparently they were never taken up on the offer.

I know a lot of times drivers don’t respond, but a simple questionnaire given out te the drivers at the beginning of the year would be a start. It would outline their racing career and any highlights. Each week of the racing season, a couple of these couple be printed out and put in the program. Maybe the newspaper would even put them in an article, or they could be put up on the Speedway website. That way EVERYBODY would get exposure, not just the A Feature winners.

In the past, there were rules meetings in November, which set the rules and schedules for the upcoming year. That hasn’t happened in the last couple of years. For the 2010 racing racing season, registrations were taken at the end of February.

I would certainly like to see a better flow of information coming from the track. With a lot more effort, Beatrice Speedway can once again be the place to start your racing weekend.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Looking ahead to the 2011 racing season

Looking ahead to the 2011 racing season at Beatrice Speedway, it looks like there will be some changes made for the better. At Octoberfest 2010, pro-ams were allowed to race with the factory stocks. When the announcement was made, there was a lot of discussion on the DirtDrivers message board about the rules.

Current pro-am rules at I-80 Speedway at Greenwood mandate 3,400 lbs minimum weight, 360 cubic inch engine and 11 to 1 compression with a 4412 carburetor. They also use a different tire. Factory stocks at Beatrice are similar to IMCA stock cars with the exception of having to weigh 3,100 lbs, running a 4412 carb, being able to add a spoiler and hood scoop and allowing IMCA Hoosiers or American racer tires. There is no cubic inch or compression rule.

The discussions on the message board suggested that the factory stocks would be faster because the rules would give them the advantage. A pro-am started on the pole in one of the heat races and won. He started up front in the Feature and finished 7th. We had 17 cars race in the factory stocks at Octoberfest. I don’t think we had that high of a car count during the regular season. Also consider that there were a few of the regular weekly cars that weren’t at Octoberfest. If they had showed up, we would have had over 20 cars in factory stocks that night!

I talked to one of the pro-am drivers about the difference in cars. He feels that when the newer “metric” cars started showing up on the racing scene, the front geometry of the pro-ams was a lot better than that of the metric cars. However, the metric cars have improved with being allowed weight jacks and “correcting” the upper control arm mounts for better steering geometry. He feels that the metric car currently has the upper hand in the handling department.

Beatrice had IMCA sanctioned stock cars but they were dropped when the car count became too low. IMCA touts their point fund, but unless you race multiple tracks, their point fund might come close to paying the cost of your license. When Beatrice raced pro-ams, there were rumors for several years that they would be dropped and naturally the car count dropped until they were dropped from the program. There have been rumors since about 2004 or 2005 that the factory stocks were being dropped and the car count has suffered.

There are still a few pro-ams sitting in garages in our area, and there are pro-ams currently being raced that would come to Beatrice at least on a part time schedule if they were allowed to. One of the pro-am guys I talked to is building a car for his son, so that would make 2 new cars at Beatrice Speedway at least part of the time.

I would propose that the pro-ams be allowed to race at Beatrice under the same rules that the factory stocks currently use. Let them weigh 3,100 lbs and have the engine of their choice, instead of being limited to 360 cubic inches and 11 to 1 compression. They already use the same carburetor. Let them run their pro-am tire, the Hoosier IMCA tire or the American racer. Remember, more cars in the pits mean more people in the grandstands.

I have heard that some of our local teams will be changing classes in 2011. At least one hobby stock driver is moving to a factory stock, and a modified driver is having a factory stock built. I also heard that a couple more factory stocks are being built in the Fairbury area. Hopefully everybody who raced factory stocks at Beatrice in 2010 will be back, and with the anticipated newcomers, our car count will increase.