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Forum: HoseHeads Sprint Car General Forum (go)
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Topic: This week's Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals driver interview
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Eagle Pit Shack Guy
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September 11, 2016 at 06:09:17 PM
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By Greg Soukup

Even though the Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals for 2016 has been run, we still have racers to interview. This week it is 30-year-old Nate Weiler from Omaha, Nebraska. Nate managed an 18th place finish in the Sunday A Feature.

Q:        You didn’t have any racing experience before the Racesaver class started at Eagle, right?

Nate:  No driving experience. I got my start in racing working side by side learning everything I could from Joe and Stu Snyder. And, when I got the chance, I went and worked a few times with Jack Dover when he needed some help.

Q:        Your grandfather raced. Was he your inspiration for getting into a race car?

Nate:  Yes, he did. But most of my inspiration comes from Stu Snyder. He called me at work one Saturday when I was 16 and asked if I could come help him at the track. I went to Eagle that day after work and fell in love with the track, the type of people I met there and the environment. I never looked back after that.

Q:        What made you decide to run a Racesaver sprint?

Nate:  In 2013, the year that we started the class at Eagle, Roger Hadan asked me if I wanted to try my hand at driving one of the Racesaver cars. And, since I’d spent the last 14 years on the slower side of the catch fence, I jumped at the chance to go play on the fun side of the fence.

Q:        Yours is one of the lower budget teams. Do you think that the Racesaver class is a good deal?

Nate:  I really wouldn’t call our team low-budget; more just a low-budget driver needless to say. Do we have top of the line? No. But, do we have a really good race car? Yes. The best thing about this class is that you can have a lower-end race car and still be just as fast as the high-dollar teams. Racesaver is the fastest growing sprint car class for a reason.

Q:        The rules are very strict. Do you agree that it is needed?

Nate:  I love the fact that there is no grey area in the rules; no plus or minus 2%! The rules that are set for this class is what is making this class grow and attract more drivers and teams.

Q:        Did you enjoy racing at the Nationals?

Nate:  Running the Nationals is always a good time. You get a chance to meet a lot of new people and see how well you can hold your own against some of the best in the nation that run the Racesaver class.

Q:        What about racing against drivers from all over the country, and even one from Canada?

Nate:  I think that it is amazing that the event has grown to what it is now in such a short period of time. It’s going to be cool to see what the event will become in 5 years from now. The fact that we have drawn so many drivers from all over the US and from Canada just means that the Nationals is no joke. You had better bring your A game when you come to Eagle Raceway in early September!!

Q:        Your opinion of the 3-day qualifying format?

Nate:  I think it’s a good deal. Say that you have a bad night on Friday; then you still have Saturday to come back and lock yourself in. The only bad part is that you need to draw good Friday or Saturday, because 90% of your weekend falls on your pill draw and your heat race.

Q:        How about the 3-wide start?

Nate:  I think it’s crazy!! The first start of the race I held back for a little bit; just waiting because I had a feeling that things were going to get messy. After two tries though, we got going and everyone started to get some room to move and race for position.

Q:        Anything else that you would like to say?

Nate:  I just can’t thank my parents enough for everything that they have done to help me keep going in this class. I can’t thank my crew enough for helping my brother Chase and I every weekend; making sure that our cars are able to hit the track. And I cannot thank Roger and Michelle Hadan enough for letting me drive a race car at Eagle. Last, but not least, thanks to my sponsors for helping keep my car on the track.


I am lucky enough to work at one of the best tracks 
anywhere.

Eagle Pit Shack Guy
MyWebsite
September 19, 2016 at 08:35:49 PM
Joined: 02/11/2005
Posts: 1378
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As we continue our interviews with racers who attended the Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals, we speak with the man who finished second in the Sunday night A Feature; Blake Robertson, a 41-year old from Visalia, California.

Q:        You managed to work your way up to second in the finale, ending a great run at the Nationals. To what do you attribute your success there?

Blake:            I think that confidence in your car is huge, just having that helps a lot. We do have a track out west here that has some similarities to Eagle Raceway, so I take the notes that I have from there and apply them at Eagle. I also watched videos of the track; that really helps as the local racers are really fast there.

Q:        What was your favorite part about racing the Nationals?

Bart:   Getting to meet new people, seeing old friends and racing against the best in the country. It’s also amazing to watch how efficient Roger and his crew run the entire show.

Q:        You’ve run 360’s and even 410’s against the World of Outlaws. Why do you enjoy the Racesaver sprints so much?

Blake:             The cost of the engine and the longevity of it is so attractive. With the motor rules and regulations, it makes the playing field very even.

Q:        Is there a big difference in the set-ups between a Racesaver sprint and either a 360 or 410?

Blake:             Not too much difference; just ride heights basically.

Q:        Is it difficult to make the transition between racing 360’s or 410’s and the Racesaver sprint?

Blake:            Not really for me. It just takes a few laps to get the different feel.

Q:        What did you think of the 3-wide start?

Blake:            I have only gotten to do it once and with the track being as wide as it is and the caliber of drivers involved, it was awesome!

Q:        Anything that you would like to say to the fans and racers who haven’t made the trip to the Nationals yet?

Blake:            This is a must-attend race for both fans and racers. We travel over 1600 miles just to attend! The racing is awesome and the track is fast. If you want to test your skills against the best, then the Racesaver Nationals is where you need to go!!


I am lucky enough to work at one of the best tracks 
anywhere.

Eagle Pit Shack Guy
MyWebsite
September 25, 2016 at 01:59:58 PM
Joined: 02/11/2005
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By Greg Soukup

This week we feature a driver whose weekend did not go as well as they had hoped, as it ended up with him just missing the transfer from the G Feature on Sunday. Blake Scott hails from Pauls Valley, Oklahoma and is a 14-year old rookie in the Racesaver class who had the time of his life at the 2016 Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals.

Q:        What was your racing experience before starting up in the Racesaver class?

Blake:             At 8 I started racing junior sprints in Oklahoma City. At 11 I moved up to the restrictor class and raced that for a few years and even won a track championship last year in 2015.

Q:        Why did you choose to start out in the Racesavers rather than a 360 or other sprint?

Blake:             My Dad and Andy Shouse talked and they thought it would be a great class for me to move into. The cost of racing seemed to be cheaper than running in the micros.

Q:        What tracks did you race at this year?

Blake:             We raced most of the Sprint Series of Oklahoma tracks, several in Texas and then Eagle Raceway.

Q:        Having raced a year in the Racesavers, what do you think of the class?

Blake:             I think it’s a great class to race in that isn’t going to break my Dad racing (laughs). The cars are very even, so I don’t have to worry about being out-motored, just out-driven. I like the super-strict rules; they keep the fields even and the costs down.

Q:        Did you enjoy your first visit to the Racesaver Nationals?

Blake:            It was AWESOME!! Eagle Raceway is my favorite of the tracks that I raced at. It’s a super-nice place with great fans. I can’t wait to go back next year and for years to come!

Q:        What was the best part of your experience?

Blake:            The best part was, being so young, at 14 most of the other drivers couldn’t believe that I was the driver! And after the races, all of the fans wanted my Dad’s autograph (laughs again)! They couldn’t believe I was the driver either.

Q:        What was it like racing against teams from all over the country?

Blake:            For me, it helped a lot. Most tracks have a few fast guys, but up here at the Nationals, everyone is fast so you better be on your game.

Q:        Where did you finish on Sunday?

Blake:            Well; our weekend was up and down. We didn’t make it out of the G Feature Friday, and blew a motor on Saturday. That had us starting way in the back Sunday. We didn’t get the results we wanted, but, we left Eagle with me getting some good racing experience and making some good laps. I definitely hope to be back and race at Eagle Raceway for several years to come.


I am lucky enough to work at one of the best tracks 
anywhere.

Eagle Pit Shack Guy
MyWebsite
October 02, 2016 at 09:53:29 AM
Joined: 02/11/2005
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By Greg Soukup

Next up in our series of interviews with Racesaver IMCA Nationals racers is a 23-year old; Shon Pointer from Grand Island, Nebraska. Shon came in 11th in Sunday’s A Feature.

Q:        Did you have any kind of racing experience before the Racesaver series started at Eagle Raceway?

Shon: I started racing micro-sprints at the age of 11, then raced mini-sprints until I was 20.

Q:        Why did you decide to move up to a Racesaver sprint car?

Shon: I thought that it was a good, affordable class. And I got the chance to finally drive a full-sized sprint car at a track that I dreamed about racing at as a little kid.

Q:        Speaking of affordable, yours is a rather low-budget race team. Do you think that the Racesaver class is a good idea?

Shon: I sure do! It gives people like me the chance to race a full-sized sprint car at an affordable cost. There are some rules that are strict, but they are all agreeable.

Q:        Did you enjoy your weekend at the Nationals?

Shon: I enjoyed every minute of the Nationals. I met a lot of good people. Everyone at the Nationals had a chance to win. The local drivers that I’ve raced against and the drivers from out of town are no slouches either. The visitors are a very difficult group of drivers to race against.

Q:        What about the 3-wide start?

Shon: It is definitely very different. You have to give people space but you’ve got to be aggressive at the same time.

Q:        Is there anything else that you’d like to say to the fans out there?

Shon: I just want to thank Roger Hadan and French Grimes for putting on the Nationals here at Eagle. They gave a lot of people the chance to drive a sprint car for affordable prices. It makes for some tough competition for sure. Thanks to all of the fans that came to Eagle every week, and to all of the fans that came to the Nationals. Also, to the tow crew for everything that they have done and the safety crew for making sure that everyone is okay after some very nasty wrecks. They are very, very professional.


I am lucky enough to work at one of the best tracks 
anywhere.

Eagle Pit Shack Guy
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October 10, 2016 at 06:28:54 AM
Joined: 02/11/2005
Posts: 1378
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By Greg Soukup

As we near the end of our driver interviews with those who participated in the 2016 Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals, we turn to the young man who won the Jake Ita Memorial Race of Champions on Saturday evening. 34-year old Jason Martin moved to Nebraska 4 years ago and made his presence known almost immediately in the local sprint car racing world.

Jason finished in 5th place in the Friday night preliminary A Feature, putting him in the middle of the second row for the big show on Sunday. When the checkers flew for the Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals finale on Sunday he had managed to advance to the third spot behind eventual winner Jack Dover and Blake Robertson who passed him in the closing stages of the race.

Q:        You've driven everything from 360's to 410's with the World of Outlaws. What is the attraction for running the Racesaver Sprints? 

Jason:            Well, I reached a point in my life that it was time to get a real job and start thinking about paying for my son’s college tuition instead of $45,000 sprint car engines.  I decided if I wanted to continue racing, I was going to have to race what was available to race.  Before I moved to Nebraska in 2012, there weren’t but about ten to fifteen 360 shows that I could race within a 250 drive from my shop and maybe three or four 410 races, so we built a 305 to go and play with on the weekends that we had free.  We actually found ourselves enjoying the 305 racing a little better than the ultra-expensive and high stress levels of 360 and 410 racing.  Now that we are here in Nebraska, the same scenario exists, not many 360 or 410 races around and Eagle races every Saturday night 25 miles from our house, pays well, and is always a fun track to race on! 

Q:        Is there a big difference in set-ups between the Racesaver 305, a 360 and a 410?

Jason:            There is a bit of a difference when it comes to the 410 cars because of the higher horsepower all aluminum engines, but from 360 to 305 cars we don’t do anything any different. 

Q:        Was it difficult to make the transition from 410’s and 360’s to the Racesaver sprint?

Jason:            I do find it to be a bit difficult to go and race 360 cars anymore, simply because we don’t get to race them but maybe once a month or so.  Usually, with the Racesaver we are racing on a short track at Eagle and with the 360 those guys always race on big fast half miles, and it is a whole new world.  Things happen faster, they’re way easier to spin the tires when you get to the slick part of the track, and the pure speed is an uncomfortable feeling.  It’s like when you were just a teenager again and your buddies pressured you into going as fast as you can down the county back roads and you wanted to do it just to be the cool kid in school! 

Q:        You won the Race of Champions this year, and have always run well at the Nationals. What is the key to your success there?

Jason:            Yes, it was sure nice to win that Race of Champions race.  The race track was super slick and that is when we seem to really excel.  Confidence is 90 % of this game.  I feel that I have a ton of experience in the race situation, where you have to go forward and pass cars in order to get locked into the A-main on your qualifying nights.

Q:        What do you enjoy the most about racing at the Nationals?

Jason:            The atmosphere!  I love it that we get to hang out with people from all over the country; we’ve become good friends with a lot of them.  There is also the competition level that I enjoy!  To be honest, I’d say that there is some of best racers in the country that are racing at the Racesaver Nationals, simply because there is only the select few that can afford or have been given that golden opportunity to go on and race at the highest of levels.

Q:        Do you enjoy the 3-day qualifying format?

Jason:            I like the fact that you can have multiple chances to get on the track and improve.  I have been very fortunate that I have not been buried deep in the field and had to come through the alphabet soup.  One year, it rained a lot and made the track just almost unpassable and we didn’t make the show, but we came back the next night and ran through the field in the heat race and won the qualifying feature and started on the front row still.  They’ve changed that format since and we would have started inside of the fourth row this year, which is still great!  It’s been proven that a guy can come from deep in the field and run up front on Sunday’s finale.

Q:        What is your opinion of the 3-wide start?

Jason:            I don’t have a problem with it, it’s a great marketing idea and I appreciate a promotor that does just that, promotes his brand and what he has to offer the fans! 

Q:        What would you like to say to those who haven't made the trip to the Nationals yet? 

Jason:            Where have you been?  Haha!! No, seriously!  This race is getting to the “MARQUEE EVENT” status.  When I’m driving to the track and pop up over the hill and see all the haulers, campers, and fans, it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up and gives me chills down my spine.  It is just a fun atmosphere that I wish we could have more of during different times of the season!  Every year, I can’t believe it is already over and I have to wait a whole year to do it all over again!


I am lucky enough to work at one of the best tracks 
anywhere.

Eagle Pit Shack Guy
MyWebsite
October 16, 2016 at 08:23:11 PM
Joined: 02/11/2005
Posts: 1378
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By Greg Soukup

This week we visit with a young man who not only won the 2016 Eagle Raceway Racesaver IMCA points championship, he managed to come back from destroying his race car Friday night to win the A Main Saturday night. Tyler Drueke, who lives just down the road from the track, took advantage of his up-front starting spot to take the lead from the outset of that race and hold off the competition all the way to the checkers.

Q:        You started out in, and still race 360’s. What attracted you to the Racesaver sprints?

Tyler: When I started out that was all we had around here. There was no local 305 racing, not with good car counts anyway. I had pretty good 360 motors when I first started, but I think times have changed and we've fallen behind. The Racesaver motors are much more affordable; they tech a lot to keep everyone on an even playing field. When I lose a Racesaver race there is no doubt, I simply just got beat that night. I'm paying the bills now; my parents still help out a little bit, but my partners and me can afford to put a car on the track more often that is capable of winning races night in and night out than say twenty to twenty-five 360 races. To summarize: even playing field and affordable.

Q:        How much of a difference is there in set-ups between the Racesaver sprint and a 360?

Tyler: Set-up wise they’re not a lot different. We definitely have to keep the Racesaver a little more free. But I actually tried some things last year on the 305 and liked them so much that we started doing them on our 360 program as well.

Q:        Is it difficult making the transition between 360's and the Racesavers?

Tyler: I've only run my 360 six times or so in 2016. It's a lot easier going 360 to the Racesaver than going from the Racesaver back to 360. I can definitely notice the difference in speed; it just takes me hot laps and a heat race to get back to where I'm comfortable. I personally don't think I've been real smooth in the 360 this year, just because I'm a little rusty.

Q:        You won the second night of qualifying for the Nationals. What is the key to your success there?

Tyler: If I told you then everyone would know; LOL!! Speedway Motors Racing Engines builds us a motor that is very easy to drive and negotiate traffic with. I have a 2009 J&J Chassis that I love and we've been really successful with that particular car over the years. This Racesaver deal is so tough because everyone is so even. A lot of the times it comes down to decision making in traffic. It also helps to start on the front row of your heat and feature like we did that night.

Q:        What do you enjoy the most about racing at the Nationals?       

Tyler: The one thing that really stuck out in my mind was the driver intros. All the kids giving you high fives as you walk up into the spot light to do a pre-race interview. That was the first time that night I looked up and saw how big of a crowd was there. As a race car driver you want to win the biggest races with the most competition in front of huge crowds. I was jacked up after that and immediately got really focused because for the first time in my career I felt like I had a legit shot at winning a really big race where the best from all over the country were there. 

Q:        Do you enjoy the 3-day qualifying format?

Tyler: I do in the sense that if you don't qualify on night 1 you're going to be on the track all 3 days. It makes it really tough though when you draw bad. I started 6th in the last heat race on Friday night. Threw a slider for the lead coming to the checkered and lost by a car length or so. My reward was starting 15th in the B-Main because I was in the 15th heat. Then we got caught up in a wreck on the start of the B. I went from possibly being on the pole of the A-Feature 250ft before the start/finish line in the heat to tore up and in the trailer before turn 1 on the start of the B-Feature. There is no good format for 100+ racecars but the guys with the fast cars always seem to rise to the top.

Q:        What is your opinion of the 3-wide start?

Tyler: The historic significance of a 3 wide start, tying it back to Indianapolis is really neat and something unique that sets this A-Feature apart from every other sprint car race in the country. But as a car owner/driver starting in the middle of the field it is very nerve wracking. Ultimately it's about putting on a show. So as long as the fans enjoy it and the drivers keep a level head and don't try and win the race on the first lap, I'm all for it.

Q:        What would you like to say to those who haven't made the trip to the Nationals yet?

Tyler: The fan experience is incredible with how they get everyone involved. I know the track will continue to find new ways of enhancing your experience, because the Hadan family is really good at that. Drivers, if you haven't made it to Eagle yet I really encourage you to make it out next year. The track is an awesome 1/3 mile high-banked bull ring; very racy!! There is almost always a cushion on the fence then it gets worn out and you have to go catfish around the bottom, then someone drives by you in the middle and you have to move around again. When you show up, find a local and ask about this old girl’s signature trademark in turn 1. You'll thank me one day.


I am lucky enough to work at one of the best tracks 
anywhere.

Eagle Pit Shack Guy
MyWebsite
October 23, 2016 at 11:28:39 AM
Joined: 02/11/2005
Posts: 1378
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By Greg Soukup

In last week’s interview, Tyler Drueke mentioned his Friday night meeting with the turn 1 wall by saying “When you show up, find a local and ask about this old girl’s signature trademark in turn 1”. The first Facebook comment posted about the interview came from 72-year old Charlie Ware, from Matthews County in Virginia, who also participated in this year’s Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals. He stated “you also might ask someone who experienced that turn 1st hand I'm still hurtin'..”. Charlie’s incident happened when his rear axle, which had some slight previous damage snapped, resulting in injuries that he is still recovering from.

Q:        How long have you been racing?

Charlie:         I’ve been racing since my teens. I started out in the drag racing world, and raced until the economics of it got unbearable and we had to quit. We were racing a blown alcohol dragster when I got out of the sport.

Q:        How did you get involved with the Racesaver sprints?

Charlie:         When I got out of drag racing I was working construction all over from the east coast to Oklahoma, Texas and that area. I caught the racing bug again when a boy here in town told me ‘come on over here and ride this go-kart’, and the hook was set at that point. I raced go-karts for a number of years on both dirt and asphalt. Then a friend of mine who I helped out in the go-karts got out of that sport and started racing sprints with the Virginia Sprint Series. He did that for a couple of years with his son driving the car until his son decided to step out of the seat. So, I guess I worried him to death until he invited me to come over and drive it one time, and I stayed racing with him for a couple or three years. After that I bounced around for awhile helping people, and was working part-time for a fellow up around Richmond, Virginia. He was into sprint car racing too, and he had a chassis that he had bought that was an old Pennsylvania Posse car. I made a deal with him, went and got the car. I put it together and that’s where I am today, still in that particular car.

Q:        So, you’ve been with the Racesavers and the Virginia Sprint Series for how long then?

Charlie:         I started racing with them around 2000, so about 16 years now.

Q:        Do you enjoy the Racesaver class?

Charlie:         Oh yes! It’s a heck of a good class. It’s something that sprint car racing as a whole needed; something of this caliber. We can thank French Grimes for coming up with the rules and regulations that we still enjoy today.

Q:        Speaking of the rules, what do you think of the strictness of the rules?

Charlie:         I think those rules are in place for a reason. If somebody is into racing, as a racer, then whatever rules are there need to be adhered to and followed. Then everybody gets along fine and it’s a good time, which can be witnessed to by anyone who has been to a couple of these Nationals.

Q:        Was this year your first time to the Nationals?

Charlie:         No, I was there last year also. This year I had an axle break in my car in Saturday’s Race of Champions, which I was in having won the Virginia Sprint Series and Mid-Atlantic region championships in 2012. The accident ended up injuring my back and giving me a couple of cracked ribs that I still haven’t recovered from.

Q:        Were those your only championships so far?

Charlie:         Yes. As anyone who has ever raced in a sprint car can tell you, it’s not easy winning a race at all, let alone a championship. Wins are few and far between. But, I’ve met a TON of good, honest racers. Everybody is kind of like family; you do anything you can for anybody. If it’s in my trailer and you need it, you’ve got it; that kind of thing.

Q:        What do you think of the Nationals?

Charlie:         If it wasn’t so far from home, I would love it to death! (Laughs) It’s quite a jaunt for us. As far as the race itself goes, I enjoyed it as much as I’ve ever enjoyed a race. The camaraderie, everybody getting along, the mass of cars that show up to race, especially this year which in my estimation was probably double from last year.

Q:        What did you think of Eagle Raceway?

Charlie:         Well, if you could get rid of the problem in turn 1, it would be an absolute killer track. That dip in turn 1 was what got me. The rear end that I had in the car I bought used at a flea market. It had a scratch in it that ran linearly. I asked someone about it, and they said that as long as the scratch wasn’t going around the axle that it would be alright if I smoothed it up. I ran that axle for 3 and a half years, and evidently the side strain on that right axle was just too much. It’s not the track’s fault, but that piece just decided to give up and go home.

Q:        Did you enjoy getting to race against drivers from all over the country?

Charlie:         Oh yeah. We’ve made a bunch of friends out there. There’s 4 or 5 teams that go to the Nationals from Virginia, and every year we meet somebody different from a different part of the country. The guys from Texas, all of those Carolina boys; they’ve been good to meet. Them and a couple of the local boys that I’ve met from Nebraska all seem to be on the same page as I am. Some of the Pennsylvania boys have come down and raced with us in the Virginia Sprint Series; I’ve been to Williams Grove and couple other tracks up there. I’ve never gotten to race there, but did go to watch.

Q:        How about the 3-day qualifying format?

Charlie:         I like the draw, but I sure wish that I could get a number lower than I keep getting. The format gives you a chance to go around, and around, and around, and around. As far as seat time, the qualifying procedures and the practice night, the warm-ups all give a driver plenty of opportunity for seat time and learn the track.

Q:        Thoughts on the 3-wide start for the Sunday Feature?

Charlie:         It’s different, it’s unique. I haven’t been in it yet, but it’s a mad house for the first 2 or 3 laps. I think it’s a great format to go with though.

Q:        Anything you would like to pass on to the racers and fans that haven’t been to the Nationals yet?

Charlie:         To the fans, I can say that if they are really a sprint car fan, they will absolutely enjoy the Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals at Eagle Raceway. I mean, there’s just no question about it. The interaction for the fans and so forth, it’s as good as it can get. For the racers I say “don’t come prepared to knock the walls down because it WILL bite you”. You have to be patient and do your best.

Q:        Will we see you next year at the Nationals?

Charlie:         Well, if I can get my back straight and get my car back together I will definitely be there!!


I am lucky enough to work at one of the best tracks 
anywhere.

Eagle Pit Shack Guy
MyWebsite
October 30, 2016 at 12:47:54 PM
Joined: 02/11/2005
Posts: 1378
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By Greg Soukup

In the past few weeks, we’ve spoken to the winners from this year’s Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals Saturday A Feature and the Race of Champions. That leaves the Friday and Sunday A Feature winners; or should I say winner, as 1 driver grabbed the top spot in both races. Jack Dover, 26, from Springfield Nebraska won both his heat and the qualifying Feature.

Q:        You won your heat on Friday, correct?

Jack:   Yes. We started third and won the heat. I knew going out that we had to win our heat, because with so many heats you had to win to qualify for the A Feature; so that was our goal.

Q:        Your started fourth in the A and got a GREAT jump.

Jack:   That was the part of the race that helped me the most. I’ve never had such a great start in my racing career.

Q:        You started on the pole on Sunday.

Jack:   Yes. It’s pretty awesome to say that you started on the pole of the Racesaver IMCA Nationals. Getting the #1 spot against 117 cars on the weekend made it even better!

Q:        You race mostly 360’s and some 410 stuff, even having run with the Outlaws. What’s the attraction to come and race the Nationals?

Jack:   I think that the Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals can be the next Knoxville Nationals. I think it’s going to do nothing but grow the next few years. So, just to be a part of it and to say that I won it twice is pretty awesome! To have my name on the winners list is great, and I’m going to keep coming back to see how many more I can win before my career is over,

Q:        In your post-race interview you mentioned giving up a $10,000 payday to come and race at the Nationals.

Jack:   Yes. I decided to not travel to the Jackson Nationals. The Racesaver Nationals is close to home, and there are so many great fans there. That’s what I love about Eagle; you have so many great fans, and they’re cheering me on. Plus, it’s the Nationals!! The pay isn’t as much, but just the prestige of winning it is awesome.

Q:        Is it a big transition to run a Racesaver sprint after racing a 360 or a 410?

Jack:   It’s actually easier for me, since I’m used to about 200 more horsepower. It’s a lot easier to drive, but like I told Roger the other day “You can’t let off the gas in a Racesaver and expect to make the ground back up with horsepower. They’re so equal it isn’t funny”. That’s what I like about them is because they’re so equal. It shows who’s a good driver, because if you’re a good driver and you’re smooth you’re going to be up front most of the time.

Q:        What is your favorite part of coming the race the Nationals?

Jack:   My drive to win. I mean, it’s the biggest Nationals of any sprint car race that there is; it’s bigger than Knoxville this year. Just like Donny Schatz is #1 at the 410 Nationals, to say that I was #1 at the Racesaver Nationals makes me feel really good.

Q:        Although you’ve never had to use it, what do you think of the 3-day qualifying format?

Jack:   I don’t think that there is a bad qualifying system. They’re all equal. You’re going to have to race everybody eventually, so to me it’s all the same.

Q:        You’ve raced all over in your career already, but what’s it like racing with teams from all over the country?

Jack:   That goes back to having 117 cars. If you have that many good cars and people from that many different states and being #1 that makes me feel great as a driver, and it shows just how good the equipment that my car owner Chris Roseland gives me. It makes me feel blessed just to drive for him.

Q:        What do you think of the 3-wide start?

Jack:   I like it. I mean, it’s something different that you don’t see anywhere else. And, it works!

Q:        Anything you would like to say to the fans or racers that haven’t come to the Racesaver Nationals yet?

Jack:   Just that the fans should come out and support their local racers who make the trip to the Nationals, because I think that one day the Racesaver Nationals is going to be THE biggest sprint car race in the country. The fans who come won’t be disappointed!!


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By Greg Soukup

This week we get together with Stu Snyder, 30, from Waverly, Nebraska. Stu, who has rightly earned the name “Superman”, came home 10th in the A Feature on Sunday at the Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals this year.

Q:        You’ve driven sprints for a long time, mostly in the 360’s and with some 410’s. When did you start running a Racesaver sprint?

Stu:     I ran the Nationals 2 years ago, and then we decided to step it up this year and ran off and on in the Racesaver program and still ran the 360. We ended up 4th in points with the Nebraska 360’s.

Q:        What do you think of the Racesaver program?

Stu:     I think it’s a great deal! I mean, here in the last couple of years it’s gotten to where everybody is competitive; it’s very competitive in fact. On any given night, you don’t really know who is going to win. The motors have gotten substantially better than when they started at Eagle. Even though the rules are so tight they have gotten them to where they really are a lot faster now than what they were when I first ran them a couple of years ago.

Q:        Did you get qualified for the Sunday A Feature on Friday or Saturday?

Stu:     I was kind of one of a kind actually; I qualified BOTH nights. I don’t think anyone else has ever pulled that one out of their hat! We had an issue with a barrel of fuel that was dirty on Friday. I didn’t know it, nobody on my team knew anything about it. We pumped fuel from the barrel into a jug, put it into our fuel tank and went out and won our heat race. Then we locked into Sunday’s A by running ninth. But, when we went through tech we were DQ’ed. So, we stayed up all night Friday into Saturday morning; got everything cleaned out and ready to roll again for Saturday. We started at the back of our heat race on Saturday and won that. Then started ninth or tenth in the Feature and ran second to Tyler Drueke.

Q:        That put you starting eleventh on Sunday then?

Stu:     Yeah. The track was a little different at the beginning Sunday from what it was towards the end. I probably should have left the car where we had it on Saturday night. Roger had a great track all weekend, but he kind of threw a wrench into things when he reworked the track. Luckily the weather held off and we had a great track every single night. Roger reworked the track during driver introductions for the finale. I and my crew chief got together and thought “Man…maybe this thing is going to stay tacky”. So, we changed some stuff. The way it turned out, I wish we’d left things alone because I would have been really good at the end of the race.

Q:        What do you think of the tough Racesaver rules?

Stu:     I think that probably in the next 5 years that the Racesavers are going to be one of the classes that has a ton of cars. And, as long as they leave the rule book where it’s at now, I think you’re going to see the car count keep growing. Because the rule book is what it is! It’s black and white; this is what you have to do, this is what you can have. There is no grey area. Everything gets teched every single night after the feature. And that’s on a weekly show!!! Then, when you go to Nationals everybody gripes about having to wait in line to go through tech. But, you have to keep it that way because otherwise you have people trying to find grey areas; trying to do illegal stuff. If you don’t stop stuff like that you’re going to have happen what went on in the ASCS where they came out with a great thing in the beginning with a straight out-of-the-box head but now we’re spending ten to twelve thousand dollars on a port job on a supposedly spec head. I’ve got maybe forty-six or forty-seven thousand in my 360 motor right now. I mean, don’t get me wrong; I love going a little bit faster, and I love the 360 racing. When I ran 410’s I loved that too, but when you drop that Racesaver motor in, it puts the driver back into it. Also, the set-up. Because, you’re limited as a driver on what you can do on the track. You don’t have bleeders to keep the tire pressure down; you don’t have wing sliders so that when the car gets loose you can’t pull the wing back to make the car better. They’ve done things with the rules package for the Racesavers that makes the class what it is. It’s a really good deal. It’s fun to be to be close to home, or even go anywhere in the country and as long as you’ve got a decent bullet under the hood and decent equipment, you’re in the hunt for a win instead of maybe running for third or fourth.

Q:        Since you had to qualify twice, I assume that you’re in favor of the 3-day format then.

Stu:     I think it’s a really good format. I don’t know what changes you could do to the format. If he gets even more cars we may have to go to a 4-day deal, but keep the same kind of layout for each night. It gives drivers like me the chance to not have to start in a Z Feature or wherever and run the alphabet to make the Sunday A Feature. The other thing that I really like that Roger changed is that he made it the first night is the first nine cars in the feature, the second night is the second nine and then Sunday’s B Feature is the last nine. The way it used to be was the first night was the inside row, Saturday was the outside row and Sunday’s B was the middle row. You could try and better yourself at that point even if you were locked in. But, you also took a chance on tearing your equipment up, having another night on your motor, or possibly taking out somebody else’s chance of getting in when you’re already locked in. The way it is now you don’t have to run Saturday at all because you’re already locked in to a better spot than what you could get by running again.

Q:        Do you think that the local guys have a big advantage at the Nationals?

Stu:     I do. I’ve been at a lot of tracks throughout my career across the country, but there’s nothing like running at Eagle. There’s nothing like having the background of running there every week, or every other week for years. It’s tricky! I don’t know how to say it, but it’s just different. To be able to have as many laps on the track as I do, and to have had the success that I’ve had there, it definitely puts the local guys just a little bit above all of the guys who come in from out of town for the Nationals. All of the guys from out of town tearing their stuff up at practice night on Thursday; us locals knew where that hole was in turn 1. It’s been there for 53 years, and it’s not going anywhere. We know how to get through it, or how to go above or below it. I thought our local drivers did a great job. I don’t know the stats on heat race wins, but I’m pretty sure us locals were ahead of the visitors. It’s kind of like the Knoxville Nationals. If you’re from out of state and haven’t run Eagle a lot, I would think you’d come three or four weeks early. Leave your stuff with a buddy here and come in just to run the weekly shows three or four weeks ahead. That would be a big advantage for them and would certainly help them. Eagle is just its own little deal. I’ve run a lot of race tracks, and it’s just…..tricky!

Q:        Do you enjoy getting to race against teams from all over the country?

Stu:     Oh, for sure! I’ve got friends from California, and Texas and friends from South Dakota, North Dakota and Iowa. It’s cool to meet at one place. It’s not like meeting at the Knoxville Nationals, because when you come to the Racesaver Nationals, you know you’ve got just as good of a chance to win as the next guy. It’s just such a fun atmosphere. They leave the pits open pretty much all weekend, so you can come and go as you please. You get buddies from all over staying at your house. It puts the families back into racing.

Q:        Is there anything you would like to say to the fans or drivers who haven’t come to the Racesaver Nationals yet?

Stu:     You’re missing one hell of a show! You’re missing one of the best races of the summer. Once I raced it the first time….I mean, I’m not a full-time Racesaver racer, but that’s one show that I look forward to on my schedule. I really get excited about it. You get pumped up, your sponsors get pumped up, your crew does too. If you haven’t made it here yet, you had darned well better make it here next year!!!!!


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November 13, 2016 at 03:08:00 PM
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By Greg Soukup

Today we learn some more about Nick Bryan; a 29-year old racer from Lincoln, Nebraska. Nick unfortunately had his Sunday run at the 2016 Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals end in the E Feature, after an incident at the beginning of that race.

Q:        You have quite a long history of racing in your family, correct?

Nick:  Yes. My grandfather was track champion at Capitol Beach, Lincoln Speedway, Beatrice Speedway and he raced some at tracks in northern Kansas. After he quit racing he was a flagman at Midwest Speedway and was on the tow crew at the State Fair races here in Lincoln. In 1981 my mother started her first season of racing out at Midwest Speedway, then ran a full season in 1982. In 1983 she was in the race where Bruce Phelps’ car caught fire. She saw that and decided to call it quits after that.

Q:        When did you start racing?

Nick:  I started racing in 2002; sharing the car with my dad that first year. He knew he was going to be having heart surgery, so he was kind of learning the ropes. I started cold turkey! I never had experience in go karts, or mini-sprints before getting in a sprint car. We raced a 360 at Eagle Raceway pretty much. Near the end of the 360’s at Eagle we started to travel a little bit. We raced at I-80, and then at Albion they had a bi-weekly schedule for the 360’s. Then in 2013 we switched to the Racesaver Sprint when Eagle Raceway changed to them.

Q:        You’ve raced in all of the Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals at Eagle, right?

Nick:  Yes, starting in 2013.

Q:        What do you think of the Racesaver Nationals experience?

Nick:  When you run our weekly program, as tough as it is, then you bring in outsiders that are just as tough as our weekly competitors, you definitely have to bring your A game! It’s one of those deals where being off just a little bit can ruin your whole Nationals.

Q:        Having been a 360 racer before, what is your opinion of the Racesaver class?

Nick:  The class has been very competitive over the last 3 or 4 years. I think that there are some things that could be tightened up in the rules to keep it even more affordable. But, competition wise, getting your feet wet by getting in a sprint car and starting out in something that should be affordable versus a 360 or 410 or the 305 class at Knoxville, the Racesavers is probably the best route that anyone can go.

Q:        You mentioned changes in the rules. Do you think the rules should be even more strict?

Nick:  The engine rules package keeps it pretty competitive. With the engine rules, that’s where a lot of guys will go to extremes trying to find that extra horsepower; but, then there’s guys who say “You know what? I’m not going to spend that kind of money just to try and get a little extra ‘Oomph’ out of the motor”. At the same time, outside of the engine rules, for other stuff on the car like shocks and wheels and headers, those rules could be tightened up. That would make the program even more competitive and keep it more affordable.

Q:        Where did you finish up at this year’s Nationals on Sunday?

Nick:  We got caught up in a wreck early in the E Feature and got shoved to the rear. We got back to 2 spots out of moving to the D Feature.

Q:        You had to run all 3 days this year, correct?

Nick:  I’ve never managed to qualify for the A at any of the Nationals yet. When you get so close, it makes you want to come back and try again. The purse is very attractive. Racing with all of the teams from out of town, the competition that they bring, it makes you want to keep coming back to build a bonding relationship with them all. You can get together outside the race track and become friends.

Q:        So, you enjoy racing with all of the teams from around the country.

Nick:  Oh yeah! I mean, I personally think that we’ve got one of the best weekly programs in the country. A few weeks ago I posted on Facebook that I came across a t-shirt vendor, and I asked them if they needed someone to be a distributor here in the Midwest. I wasn’t necessarily thinking of myself; I was just starting up a conversation. So, they asked me what my racing accomplishments were. I may not be the guy who has $50,000 wrapped up in their operation, and I may not end up on the podium every week, but just making the show at Eagle weekly is a great accomplishment! We have 25 or 30 of the best drivers around here in Nebraska. Then you get teams from all over the country, and the experience is just that much better.

Q:        So, obviously you’re a fan of the 3-day qualifying.

Nick:  Oh yeah. Especially in our case. The first night we came out, and I drew 199 out of 200. I could have hung my head, but I decided to take it as a challenge. With the format of the heats and features, I started on the outside of the back row. I moved up a couple of spots in my heat, but the track was really racy. When you have to win your heat to go to that night’s A, you have to be on top of your game to put yourself into a position to qualify. We had a pretty good night on Friday, and it gave us something to work on on Saturday. I didn’t draw very good again on Saturday, so I took it as a challenge again. Anything could happen; someone could pop a tire, there could be a wreck. You just have to keep yourself out of trouble and hope that you can pass some cars. So, on Sunday we found ourselves kind of mid-pack in the E Feature. I really think if we hadn’t got caught up in that wreck at the start of the race that we could have maybe tried some Alphabet Soup.

Q:        How much of an advantage is being a regular weekly racer at Eagle when the Nationals come around?

Nick:  With being a local, and having the track as racy as it is, it’s a great point of view to know that we race there weekly. With that hole in 1, and knowing how to get around it; knowing when the track is going to slick off, what kind of condition your tires are going to have to be in; whether to set your car up to come in early or to come in late; it’s definitely an advantage. When you’re racing the caliber of racers that we have come in from California, Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, you have to bring your A Game, and take every advantage that you can.

Q:        You haven’t had a chance to be in one yet, but what’s your opinion of the 3-wide start?

Nick:  At first, I thought Roger Hadan was crazy! At the same time, I probably would have wanted to either start on the pole or start last. But, after seeing it, and the racers knowing that it’s a long race, everybody knows you can’t win it on the first corner and no one ever has. Watching it, and seeing that it was successful, just makes it that much more attractive and makes me really want to get in there!

Q:        Is there anything you would like to say to the racers or fans who haven’t come to the Nationals yet?

Nick:  If you haven’t come out yet, you are definitely missing out on some good racing. I’ve been to Knoxville a few times to watch that Nationals, but we’ve passed them in car count. With the Racesaver class having rules as tight as they are, it’s going to keep attracting more cars. You have people moving to the Racesavers from different classes, and they all want to match their skills against the best. And, if they want to do that, they have to come to the Nationals at Eagle. If you don’t come, you are DEFINITELY missing out!!


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By Greg Soukup

Chase Weiler, 33, from Lincoln Nebraska is this week’s interviewee. Chase was one of the drivers whose weekend didn’t work out quite the way that they had hoped. Bad luck and mechanical gremlins ended his run in Sunday’s F Feature at the 2016 Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals.

Q:        Your racing background goes back to your Grandfather, correct?

Chase:            That’s right. I’m not really sure what or where he raced. I just learned the other year that he had raced. I know he raced out at Capitol Beach for sure.

Q:        Did you do any racing before you started in the Racesavers?
Chase:            I had no driving experience. The only racing experience that I had was being a crew member for Stu Snyder and Ryan Kitchen.

Q:        So, what made you decide to race a sprint car then?

Chase:            I’ve always wanted to. I’ve had plenty of chances to race before, but I wanted to race sprint cars. So, I waited until I could afford one.

Q:        You are pretty much a low-budget team. Do you think that the Racesaver class is a good deal for racers like you?

Chase:            I think it’s a great deal for people like me. As I said; I always wanted to race a sprint car, but I couldn’t afford a 360 engine. The Racesaver package came along, and I talked to Roger Hadan who is my engine builder, and it made perfect sense for the way to get into it.

Q:        The Racesaver rules are really very strict. Is that a good or bad thing?

Chase:            It’s a very good thing, because it keeps everyone on an even playing field.

Q:        Where did you end up on Sunday at this year’s Nationals?
Chase:            Ummm…somewhere in the F Main I believe. I drew really bad on Friday night, and had to start dead last in my heat race. Then I ended up crashing in turn 1. So, I couldn’t finish my heat race and ended up finishing dead last in the G Feature. Then something happened with my motor and I couldn’t go more than 4000 RPM’s. I got 5th in my heat on Saturday and didn’t get out of the E Feature that night.

Q:        Did you enjoy this year’s Nationals, even with all of your bad luck?

Chase:            Oh yeah!! The Nationals are an awesome event. To get to race with people from all over the United States; meeting new friends and getting together with old friends again. It’s definitely the hardest race that I’ve ever been a part of! There’s no slouches there.

Q:        So, with your bad luck, the 3-day qualifying was a good deal for you?

Chase:            I kind of go back and forth on it. The 3-day qualifying really benefitted me, but sometimes I think if they would go to a split qualifying deal where you either qualify on Friday or Saturday, that would be better. But, at the same time, that deal can hurt you too. I do think that the way we do it now with 3 days of qualifying is great for the fans, because they get to see every car on the track every night.

Q:        Even though you didn’t have a chance to be in it at the Nationals yet, what do you think of the 3-wide start for the finale?

Chase:            I actually got to be a part of the first ever 3-wide start at Eagle Raceway. Roger decided to try an experimental run in the A Feature at a weekly race. That was really nerve-wracking itself, so I couldn’t imagine doing it at full speed. He told us to just take it easy because it was just for show that night. But doing it full speed going into turn 1, I don’t know how those guys do it! I do hope to find out for myself some day though.

Q:        Anything that you would like to say to the fans and drivers who haven’t come to the Nationals yet?

Chase:            Yes. I don’t care if you’re a sprint car fan or a driver; if you haven’t been to the Nationals yet, you are really REALLY missing out!! We had a bigger car count than the Knoxville Nationals, we had a lot of great driving, a lot of great drivers in the best teams in the Racesaver class and even teams from the 360’s come and race. If you’ve missed it so far, you need to get there as soon as possible.


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By Greg Soukup

Brant O’Banion, 25 from Sioux Falls, South Dakota is up this week as we continue to interview the drivers who participated in the 2016 Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals. Unfortunately, Brant was credited only with an 18th place finish in Sunday’s E Feature.

Q:        How long have you been racing sprint cars?

Brant:             It’s probably been about 10 years now.

Q:        How long in the Racesavers?

Brant:            Just this year. I just thought I’d try it out basically.

Q:        Prior to that were you racing 360’s?

Brant:            Mostly 360’s, some 410 stuff is mostly what I’ve been into. Then, I heard about the Racesaver Nationals deal and thought we’d try it out.

Q:        Did you get much experience this year in the Racesavers, or was the Nationals your first shot in one?

Brant:             We ran a week or 2, just a couple of races before the Nationals; then the Nationals, so just a handful of races.

Q:        What made you decide to try the Racesavers?

Brant:            It was something new; something different. I like trying different styles, different forms of racing. Winged, non-winged, Racesavers, 360, 410. I’ll always try it; just to see what I think of it.

Q:        So; what is your opinion of the Racesaver class?

Brant:            I think it’s a great starter class. The competition is really even, which is the whole point of the class. With the motor rules, no one has an advantage. I think it’s great for a lower-bucks class.

Q:        Did you have fun running at the Nationals?

Brant:            It was a lot of fun. I was really impressed with the environment, all of the drivers; Roger Hadan and all of the crew there were really friendly. Just a great environment to race at.

Q:        What was it like to race with teams from all over the country?

Brant:            That was really cool too! People from all the way out in Pennsylvania and all over the country to come there. To have them all come to the middle of the country in Nebraska was really cool to see.

Q:        Since you didn’t manage to qualify for the A Main on Sunday, what do you think of the 3-day qualifying?

Brant:            It’s a good format; I just don’t like the whole drawing thing….the luck of the draw. I’d like to see something a little different, but I don’t know what you could come up with. At least it gives you several shots. If you don’t qualify the first night you can come back and try the next night, or make a run on Sunday. You get several chances, that’s for sure.

Q:        Although you weren’t in it, what did you think of the 3-wide start to Sunday’s A Feature?

Brant:            That was new, for sure!! Unique, and really cool to see. I’ve never seen anything like that before.

Q:        Is there anything that we haven’t covered yet that you would like to pass along to the fans or drivers who haven’t come to the Racesaver Nationals yet?

Brant:            It’s a really great environment like I said before. You show up and everyone is so friendly. It’s like the Knoxville Nationals; you show up with your friends and everyone else to be in and watch some great racing for 3 days. That’s what it’s all about; great racing.


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By Greg Soukup

This time we visit with Matt Richards from Lincoln, Nebraska about his experiences at the Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals.

Q:        You had been racing IMCA Modifieds and then switched over to the Racesaver Sprints when they started running at Eagle Raceway, right?

Matt: Yes.

Q:        So, this is your fourth year.

Matt: Yes, we’ve run the Racesaver for four years now.

Q:        Never having raced sprints before, what made you decide to get into the Racesavers?

Matt: Well, I ran Pro Ams and stock cars, ran late models for a couple of years. Then I raced modifieds for a long time. I wanted to try something different. I hadn’t been around sprint cars very much; I’d built engines for them, but hadn’t been around the cars. It seemed like something that would be fun to do.

Q:        What do you think of the Racesaver class?

Matt: I really like it a lot! It doesn’t seem like you have to spend a lot of money for some of the really expensive parts to be competitive. The cars are really even. Some guys spend a lot of money, but you don’t have to spend very much. There’s only so much power that the engines are going to make.

Q:        So; you are in favor of the really strict rules in the class?

Matt: Sure. There is different combinations you can do. There is only so much power you can make; only so much air is going to go through the Racesaver heads. So, all of that keeps everything even.

Q:        Where did you finish at this year’s Sprint Nationals?

Matt: We ended up 19th in the Sunday A Feature.

Q:        And where did you start the A Feature?

Matt: I won the B Feature, so that made me 19th I think.

 

Q:        You’ve run all 4 of the Nationals, haven’t you?

Matt: Yes. We qualified for the last 3 A Features. The first year we broke the rear axle in one of the last chance races.

Q:        Did you have fun this year?

Matt: Oh yeah. It’s taken me a little bit of time to get used to what changes to make, and how to set up and change the car. You know, not being into these cars very much; it’s quite a bit different than the modified. Some of the stuff is still kind of the same, because they both are circle track cars. But, how to adjust the car, and how far to go is what has taken me quite a while to get used to.

Q:        What’s it like, getting the opportunity to race against teams coming to Eagle Raceway from all over the country?

Matt: It was really neat. We’ve gotten to park next to some guys from Texas. It’s just really neat to meet different people and talk to them, just hang out with them. You get to learn about where they race at and everything.

Q:        Did you qualify the first night?

Matt: No. We didn’t manage to qualify until the last night.

Q:        So, then, you like the 3-day qualifying set-up.

Matt: I like it a lot. I don’t know what they could do different with so many cars. I think it’s a pretty good deal the way that they do it.

Q:        You’ve run all 4 of the Nationals held at Eagle, and made the A the last 3 years. What do you think of the 3-wide start?

Matt: I think it’s pretty neat, and it’s a lot of fun. It can get pretty hairy with that many sprint cars, but it really gets your adrenalin going!!

Q:        Is there anything that you would like to pass along to any racers and fans who haven’t come to the Racesaver Sprint Nationals yet?

Matt: If you are into the sprint cars at all, especially the Racesavers, you definitely need to come to the Nationals. The event is getting so big, and the track is so racey that it’s a great time and a lot of fun for everybody.


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By Greg Soukup

Another week closer to the 5th Annual Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals September 1st through the 3rd, 2017 and this week’s interview is with 47-year old Terry Richards from Denton, Nebraska.

Q:        How long have you been racing?

Terry:            A long time! I started racing go karts when I was 8, and I’ve been racing pretty much non-stop with the exception of a 9 year period when we started a family. But, other than that, I’ve been racing the whole time.

Q:        You started in go karts; where did you go from there?

Terry:            From go karts I moved into Thunder Stocks, which would be like a hobby stock nowadays. Then we moved into a Sportsman Car, from there I moved up to an IMCA Modified. I ran modifieds until 1997, in 1999 I ran an IMCA Sprint Car. Then that’s when we decided to take some time off. I restarted in a modified in 2007, and did that until 4 years ago when I got into the Racesaver sprint cars.

Q:        Why did you decide to go back to a sprint car?

Terry:            Because the IMCA Modifieds were getting so extremely expensive. I’ve got 2 race-ready sprint cars for what I had in 1 modified.

Q:        What is your opinion of the Racesaver class overall?

Terry:            I really, really like it! I wish that there were more tracks that paid as good as Eagle Raceway does. Because for us to tow any distance at all; I mean there’s nowhere close to us so we have to tow a distance; it’s just literally not feasible going anywhere. Most tracks don’t pay enough for even the fuel to get there. I know racing isn’t a money-making deal, but if you go somewhere and wreck in hot laps and don’t even make enough to pay for the fuel in the truck, that’s the tough part. It’s like the guy at Badlands Motor Speedway when I talked to him last year. I made the comment to him “You’re not getting many cars. If you paid a better purse, maybe you would”. He said “We pay more than Eagle”. So I told him “No you don’t!”, to which he replied “We pay $1000 to win”. I then told him “Your purse is $3200 for the A Feature and Eagle’s is $6400, and we get 30 cars a night”. Granted, he was paying $1000 to win, then $500, and fifth place was paying what Eagle payed out for last place. I’m a firm believer in the fact that you have to pay everyone. Everybody pretty much is looking at it the same as I do; I’m not towing somewhere for $100. Plus, with a decent payout you have some of the underfunded teams who can tow somewhere and as long as they don’t tear anything up, it didn’t cost them any money.

Q:        What do you think of the Racesaver rules?

Terry:            I really like the rules, and the next statement I’m going to make about the rules might upset a few people. I think that the biggest mistake in the rules, and it’s not really a rule per se, but it’s allowing an engine builder to seal his own engine. That’s where the cheating is going to begin, if it hasn’t already started. I really think that no engine builder should be able to seal his own motor; somebody else should have to seal it. I don’t want to point fingers at anybody, but it’s one of those deals that sooner or later, if you’re sealing your own engines and don’t have to worry about an IMCA Tech Official, it’s way easier for you to cheat it. It’s extremely difficult with racers from California to New York, having a tech official available is really tough, and I understand that. The whole deal with an engine builder being able to seal his own engine is what hurts. But if you have to go a state or two away like some engine builders would have to do, it makes it really really tough. We just need to get to where an IMCA tech inspects and seals every engine. (Note: There are 15 engine builders in the country licensed to seal engines).

Q:        Where did you finish at this year’s Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals?

Terry:            I was the first non-qualifier again this year. We’re kind of on a streak, because the first year that the Nationals were at Eagle we ran 7th in the A Feature. Then the next year we were the first non-qualifier and last year we ran 7th in the A again. It’s the kind of trend that I want to break; 7th in the Feature isn’t bad, but I want to break the trend. The years that we didn’t qualify we tore up equipment, or something like that.

Q:        Did you enjoy your time at the Nationals this year?

Terry:            Oh yeah! Every time we hit the track we had a fast car. We had unlucky draws, and had some unlucky events happen in front of us. Friday night in the B Feature where I think we could have made the A Feature that night, there was an accident in front of us that tore both wings off of the car. So, we came back the next day. All week, every time we were on the track we passed cars. With the struggles that we had all year, that was more of a win for us because we fought the car, and fought the car, and fought the car. Then at the practice night for the Nationals we used the stop watch and we were within a couple of tenths of the fastest guys out there. So, that was a win for us with all of the struggles that we had.

Q:        You definitely had a bad year this year during the regular season.

Terry:            Yeah.  We didn’t have anything go our way, but we had some really good runs. Then we’d have a good run destroyed by something small. The year started out so good; the first night out we had a great car. It was always something little. It wasn’t anything little mechanical, or something that was overlooked. It was a good learning year; we learned a lot.

Q:        Are you a fan of the 3-day qualifying?

Terry:            Yes; you know, with that many cars, no matter how you do it you’re going to have somebody unhappy about the format. It goes back to you have to have a good draw. We didn’t have a bad draw this year, we didn’t start bad in our heat race. I believe we ran third in our heat, so, being in the 15th heat, that put us in the 15th spot in the C Feature. It’s all about the draw, but I don’t see any better way to do it. To be honest, I don’t like the draw using the computer. I’d rather draw a chip or a pill, because that gives it a little bit more personal touch. The computer deal I’ve just never had any luck. Any other kind of draw, I seem to have better luck, but that’s just me.

Q:        What is it like racing against teams from all over the country?

Terry:            It’s definitely different because you get to race against drivers that you’ve read their names in the newsletter. You know they’re fast, but you don’t know what they’re going to do. You’ve got to be a little bit prepared for everybody. The guys that you race weekly with, you kind of know if they’re going to go low, or that guy always goes high. It throws a whole new mixture in there. Even though it’s the track that I race weekly on, you don’t know what these other guys are going to do; you don’t know their habits. That really changes it up for you. You race against the best in the country, and you get the ones that are the top 20 in the nation at the end of the year. If you’re racing with them, it’s only going to make you better.

Q:        Do you think that racing at Eagle Raceway every week gives you an advantage at the Nationals?

Terry:            I think that we have an advantage in some ways, because you kind of know what the surface is going to do. We’ve been there, we’ve seen it, but at times that can bite you in the behind and sometimes it helps you too. I’ve gone to tracks that I’ve never been on in my life, and you didn’t know what it was going to do. You went out there and used your opinion and it worked; where at Eagle this year we second guessed ourselves so often by thinking ‘typically it does this or typically it does that’ so we made changes and it back-fired. We would look at the track and it looked heavy, so we figured it was going to go slick; but then it didn’t go slick. So, I do think we have advantages there, but you can also overthink the track.

Q:        Is there anything you would like to say to the drivers and fans who haven’t come to the Racesaver Nationals yet?

Terry:            It’s kind of funny. You know, some of the guys that are now racing with us; when the class first started they said “By God, you’ll never catch me in one of them….I’ll never go to one of those races….it’s going to be so boring”. Last year at one of the tracks that they ran 360’s with us the same night, we showed up with 30 cars and put on a great show. I believe that they had 11 or 12 360’s. And, even though they were a little faster, the people came down from the grandstands and said “Your guys’ show was the one to watch, we just thought we were coming to watch the 360’s”. For those who haven’t come out and given us a chance, they really need to. We do put on a really good show, and I don’t care what class it is; if there’s lots of cars and great competition, that’s going to be a good show. I went to a World of Outlaws show and an NSL race this summer. So, these guys are the best of the best, but they didn’t have good racing; they didn’t have good car counts! The guys who won started up front, because the format that they run the fast cars start up front and I’ve always been against that. I understand that they earned their spot by qualifying, but that doesn’t put on a good show for the fans.

 


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December 25, 2016 at 01:37:38 PM
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by Greg Soukup

Merry Christmas 2016. Your present is this week’s interview with Trevor Grossenbacher, a second generation 28-year old racer from Hickman, Nebraska, who is known at the track as the ‘Hickman Hurricane”.

Q:        When did you first start racing?

Trevor:          I started racing when I was 4 years old, racing BMX. I raced that from when I was 4 until I turned 10, then I raced a grow-quad for a year. Then I moved up to mini-sprints in 2000 in the junior sprint class at Greenwood Speedway, and I won the points championship in the class that first year. Jack Dover and I both started racing at the same place and time, and shortly after that we moved up from the mini-sprints to junior sprints then restrictor class and multi-class. We raced multi-class at Wavelink Speedway and around the Midwest in 2006. Then in 2007 we moved up to the 360 sprints at Eagle.

Q:        When did you start running the Racesaver sprints?

Trevor:          2015 was my first year in the Racesavers.

Q:        Do you still race the 360 at all?

Trevor:          Once in a while; maybe once or twice a year. Only if someone asks me to drive, because we don’t have a 360 motor any more. I don’t pursue it too hard, but if someone calls, I will do it for them.

Q:        Where did you finish at the Racesaver Nationals this year?

Trevor:          We got 6th this year. It was a 180 degree turn-around from the year before; we had a little better luck this year. (Note: Grossenbacher went out on lap 16 in the 2015 A Feature after hard contact with the turn 1 wall)

Q:        What do you think of the Racesaver class?

Trevor:          I think it’s great! I was honestly leery about it at first; like everyone was. When we were in that pit meeting at Eagle; the car count was diminishing at Eagle and Roger said “This is the last year for 360’s” kind of nonchalantly. It was a really big gamble for him, I thought. It turned out to be a heck of a deal though. We get more cars now than I’ve ever seen at Eagle. When my dad raced at Eagle that’s about how many cars they had. I think it’s better for the fans. It’s fun though. I have a wife and a 3-year old now, so it’s a lot easier to race 30 minutes from home, rather than travelling with the 360 series now. It’s a family deal for us, that’s for sure. That’s one of the biggest reasons that we switched to the Racesaver.

Q:        What about the Racesaver rules? Are they too strict?

Trevor:          No, I don’t think they’re too strict at all. I think they’re great; it definitely keeps the cost down. Just like the tire rule; they have their Racesaver spec tire that we can buy for $170 instead of the $220 tire, so we save a bunch of money right there. The heads, you can’t touch; which in the ASCS you have a spec head, but you can do a bunch of work to them. So, you can have $6,000 in a set of heads that are supposed to be a spec head. But you can build a whole Racesaver engine for $6,000. You can run a $6,000 motor or a $20,000 motor and the $6,000 motor is going to be competitive thanks to the strict rules. It’s a heck of a deal. It definitely opens the door for people who want to move up and race a sprint, or even those who want to eventually run a 360. It’s a great opportunity for those people. Plus, you’re seeing a lot more 360 guys either dropping down or running both classes to fill out their schedules. Our tough competition is as good now as it ever was in the 360 class.

Q:        Did you enjoy the Nationals this year?

Trevor:          I think the Nationals is great! I love it!! That’s how mini-sprints used to be for us. We’d travel all over to race. When you went to those Nationals you’d have anywhere from 60 to 80 cars in your class, and get to race with the best in the country; which you didn’t get to do every week. So, you really get to see where you’re at; where your team is at. What’s great about the Racesaver Nationals is it’s centrally located here at Eagle. I think it’s a good place for it. Roger has a great facility to do it. I think it’s awesome. You take your camper out there all week; stay out there with the family and have fun. Plus; you get to do a little racing.

Q:        You’ve had the experience before, but what’s it like racing against teams from all over the country?

Trevor:          You learn about a lot of the racers that you haven’t heard about, and a lot of the ones that you have heard about. You finally get to meet new people, make new friends. You get to race with people who are the top dog in their region, and when they come to your area you get to see how you stack up against them. It’s definitely a cool thing. There are a lot of guys you don’t hear of who come to the nationals and now you know who they are. It’s fun; I enjoy it. It’s the biggest race that we look forward to every year, that’s for sure!

Q:        Do you like the 3-day qualifying?

Trevor:          Yes and no. A lot of it is you have to have some luck. With so many cars there, I don’t know how they would do it differently. It really depends on your draw. If you draw good, you have to win your heat to get in the feature. I kind of wish it would be a passing points deal; where if you started eighth in your heat race and finished third, you will probably be high point racer and get locked into the A Feature. But, the way it is now, you’d be locked into the C Feature. I think it works, but it’s a lot of luck now. I think if they went to passing points it would be a little better. You’d have your good guys locked in that could make moves like that. This way is interesting for sure; if a really good racer has a bad draw and has a bad heat they might have to come all of the way from the D Feature, that puts on a really good show for the fans.

Q:        Do you think racing at Eagle weekly gives you a big advantage?

Trevor:          Oh yeah! Everyone who runs Eagle regularly knows there’s a hole in turn 1. I mean, it’s part of the track that’s never going to go away. So; you have the guys that have never raced there before and keep hitting it, and you have the ones who have raced there before and figure out quick that you have to not hit that stuff. The top is fast at Eagle, usually, and it takes a while to learn how to run  good there.

Q:        Is there anything else that you want to say to the teams and fans that haven’t been to the Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals yet?

Trevor:          Plan it on your race calendar and make it a family deal. I think that it is something that everyone needs to experience at least once. It’s a great deal where you meet lots of people. Bring your camper! Roger has a lot of things going on out at the track; there’s always lots of entertainment. A lot of the fun that we have there is hanging out at the races with folks that we don’t get to see every week. I know my son loves it!!


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January 02, 2017 at 12:15:18 PM
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by Greg Soukup

Those of us at the Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals want to wish you all the happiest of New Years, and hope to see you at the 2017 Nationals from September 1st through the 3rd.

This week we get some insights into the racing career of 36-year old Dan Satriano from Papillion, Nebraska. Dan ended up 13th in the C Feature at Sunday’s Big Dance this year.

Q:        When did you first start out in racing?

Dan:   I started out in racing in 1993 in go karts. I ran go karts pretty solidly for 7 or 8 years. We raced them all over the place, but Wavelink was our home track. We raced in Kansas, Missouri and a little bit over in Iowa; mostly just a close radius from home.

Q:        Where did you go after the go karts?
 

Dan: Then I moved to the 600 micros for 3 or 4 years. We really didn’t know what we were doing in the micros, so we really didn’t have any success.

Q:        What made you decide to try a sprint car?

Dan:   I first started in a sprint car at I-80 Speedway when they tried the 305 sprints there; they had the 5.0 liter LS1 sprint car motors. The program only lasted 2 years, and I ran the whole second year, getting second in points. They only averaged 7 or 8 cars a night, with a great night being 10 cars. Then I made an attempt at racing 360’s. I blew up the motor on the very first night, and it took me 6 months to get it rebuilt because those things are so darned expensive. So, I took it back out and blew it up again! I decided that I was done with sprint cars at that point.

Q:        So, then the Racesavers came to Eagle Raceway. What made you get into them?

Dan:   At the time it was announced, I was helping Mike Boston on his 360 sprint and we ALL remember the warm welcome that the announcement got at that time. I talked to Roger Hadan a few times, because I wasn’t really sure that I could afford to do it. After several conversations with him I decided that it was worth a go. I got back together with some of my sponsors that I had when I raced before, and found a couple of new ones who are still with me, and we decided to go racing again.

Q:        You ended up 13th in the C Feature on Sunday this year.

Dan:   Yes, but that doesn’t at all reflect the performance that we had that weekend. It was just circumstances. But, I was just happy that for the first time at the Nationals I won a couple of races. If you win any of those features at the Nationals, that’s the same as winning an A Feature at any track; just winning ANY feature at the Nationals. It was some tough competition in every one of those races.

Q:        What is your opinion of the Racesaver class so far?

Dan:   I think it’s great. I like that a guy like me can have a $7,500 motor and I can run with the $20,000 motors; because the rules are tight enough that it doesn’t make that much of a difference. I think it’s the greatest class of sprint car racing right now. It’s definitely the most affordable.

Q:        Speaking of the Racesaver rules, what do you think of them?

Dan:   I really like the rules, and I really don’t see anything that needs to be changed. I think that everything that they have in place is good. I think that the best part about is if a motor builder tries to push the envelope, it seems like they always get caught. All of the infractions that I’ve seen or heard of since I’ve been involved have all been very minor and as far as I can tell have been unintentional. They wouldn’t really have been much advantage at all from what they did. I like the rules the way that they are, and the way that they’re enforced. I like the strictness of them and the inspections after every weekly race. I really think it’s a good deal all around.

Q:        Although you ended your 2016 Nationals in the C Feature, do you enjoy racing at them?

Dan:   You know, I have a love/hate relationship with the Nationals. I love racing at the Nationals, but I hate how the results end up for me at the Nationals. It’s a wonderful race, and as long as it is held at Eagle Raceway, I’ll be there for as long as I’m racing.

Q:        What is it like racing with people from all over; California to Pennsylvania, even Canada?

Dan:   It’s actually really hard. Everybody who makes the trip is a contender. I don’t think that there are any cars that you could call a slow car that show up to race there. It’s really, really tough. I think that everybody who rolls into that pit area that weekend thinks that they can win that race.

Q:        Do you think that being an Eagle Raceway regular helps you at the Nationals?

Dan:   I wish that I could say yes. No; I AM going to say yes; yes it definitely does help you! We’re familiar with what the track is going to do, how it’s going to change, the procedures and the facility. We’re comfortable there, because we’re at home. So, yes, I would say that we have an advantage.

Q:        Can you think of anything else that we haven’t covered that you would like to say to the fans or drivers who haven’t come to the Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals yet?

Dan:   If you can find a way to do it, you need to come at least once. It’s an incredible event. I’ve never experienced an event like that where you roll through the gate and your first challenge isn’t the race track; your first challenge is going to the inspection barn. They make sure that every single car is 100% legal before it ever sees the race track. Even though I know that my stuff will always pass, there’s still always that stress when you get there before you even touch the race track; because you have to go through that barn! I just think that any race team that hasn’t ever been there needs to know that it’s a fair event for everybody. They don’t play favorites with anybody. They make fair calls on the track, no matter who you are. It’s just a great event. For the fans, if you like watching sprint cars race, you can sit there for 3 nights and watch sprint cars. There’s just nothing like it! If I wasn’t racing in it, I’d be in the stands watching it!!

Q:        Hopefully we’ll have the chance to interview you this coming year after a feature.

Dan:   Oh, you’re going to get to! We changed a whole bunch of stuff this year; we’re going to be fast. We’re ready. We actually have spare parts, and I even changed some things with myself that I didn’t realize needed to be changed. I think it’s going to help a lot. I should be able to actually see what’s going on now.


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January 08, 2017 at 07:19:49 PM
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By Greg Soukup

Gene Ackland, another Eagle Raceway weekly racer is our subject this week. Gene finished 20th in Sunday’s A Feature at this year’s Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals.

Q:        How old are you Gene?

Gene:             I’m 50. There’s still drivers older than me running Eagle weekly in the sprints. I figure Mike Boston is still out there and Dwight Carter. That’s the time when it’s a little easier for someone to do what we do; when they’re a little older.

Q:        Are you originally from Lincoln?

Gene:            I originally grew up in Geneva. Then, when I came to go to college here in Lincoln I ended up staying around. I live just south of Lincoln in Martell.

Q:        You’ve been to all 4 of the Nationals at Eagle Raceway, correct?

Gene:            Yes.

Q:        How many times have you made the final A Feature?

Gene:            I’ve made all of them. Same car, same motor, same driver! I don’t know if anybody else has done that.

Q:        When did you first start racing?

Gene:            I think I was probably 29 or 30 when I started racing mini-sprints, then about 2004 I started racing a 360 out at Eagle Raceway.

Q:        Why did you decide to go with the Racesaver sprints?

Gene:            When they made the decision I was still racing the 360; it was what I had. The first race with it that year I blew it up! I found out that it was going to be cheaper to buy a good Racesaver motor than it would have been to rebuild my 360. So, that’s how I made the decision. It’s at Eagle, and it’s local. The 360’s are becoming more of a travelling deal. I know I’m not going to set the world on fire; I just race to have fun.

Q:        You can travel with the Sprint Series of Nebraska around here.

Gene:            Right. And I do some of those.

Q:        What do you think of the Racesaver class?

Gene:            I really, really like it. For me, there wasn’t much of an option if I wanted to run a sprint car. The 360 was just getting ridiculous. I think it’s a really neat deal how it’s changed and evolved. I like it.

Q:        What do you think of the Racesaver rules?

Gene:            I think they’re pretty good. I was talking to someone at the Eagle Raceway banquet last night in fact. It seems to me that some of the rules are kind of vague. I have no problem with any of the rules. Not everybody is going to be happy; you have to make the rules and go with them.

Q:        Do you enjoy racing at the Nationals?

Gene:            I think that the Nationals are a really neat deal. Just to be able to race against that many people; you don’t get that kind of opportunity very often.

Q:        So, you enjoy being able to race against drivers from all over the country?

Gene:            Oh, sure. You don’t know the racers from Texas and all over. You don’t know if they’re so much better than you. So, you all get together and you find that out. I think it’s really great for our local guys to race against them and realize “Hey! I’m pretty good”. Some of our locals really are better than they think they are. Racing at Eagle is a lot tougher than they really know.

Q:        Do you think that being an Eagle regular helps you out at the Nationals?

Gene:            Yeah, I think so. I think that you’re a little more relaxed. You don’t have to do all of the travelling; although to some people that’s part of the enjoyment. They get to camp out at the track, but I get to sleep in my own bed. If I need to work on my car I can tow it home and work on it in my shed. All in all, I think that there’s some kind of home field advantage; just like in any other sport.

Q:        Is there anything that we haven’t covered that you would like to pass along to the fans and drivers who haven’t made it to the Nationals yet?

Gene:            I think it’s the more the merrier. People should realize that it’s a lot more than just the racing. It’s the people you meet. I’ve done it 4 years now and there’s guys that I have met from out of state; I still remember them and get to talk to them. It’s just a neat deal.


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January 15, 2017 at 03:29:27 PM
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By Greg Soukup

With a fierce ice storm bearing down on us here in Lincoln, Nebraska, it may be hard to believe that it’s just under 8 months until the 2017 Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals. But, that’s all the time that you have left to finalize your plans to be there for the biggest sprint car race of the year.

We caught up with Jake Bubak; 22, from Arvada Colorado. Jake is the son of former racer Rich Bubak and we spoke to him while he was getting ready for his qualifying night at the Chili Bowl.

Q:        Have you been to all 4 of the Racesaver Nationals at Eagle Raceway?

Jake:  I’ve only been to the last 3.

Q:        How often did you make the A Feature on Sunday?

Jake:  Every time so far. I finished 8th this year. We weren’t too happy with the finish honestly.

Q:        When did you first start racing?

Jake:  I started racing quarter midgets in 2004. Then I went to full-sized sprint cars when I turned 16.

Q:        Was that in the Racesaver sprints?

Jake:  No, it was with the URSS Sprint Series. At that time, it was with a small wing and iron-headed motors. But it’s evolved to the Racesaver rules now.

Q:        What made you decide to start running with the Racesaver sprints?

Jake:  It was what the rules were going to, and we wanted to race at Eagle. Plus, Meyers racing engines were big supporters of ours. They let us use a Racesaver motor so that we could run at the 2014 Racesaver Nationals. We went to Eagle early to get some practice since I’d never run there before.

Q:        You mentioned rules; what do you think of the Racesaver rules?

Jake:  I saw that they are going to a fire suppression system, and I don’t technically think it’s necessary. Other than that, I think the rules are great, but I do wish that they would let us run titanium brakes.

Q:        What do you think of the Racesaver class in general?

Jake:  It’s awesome! I mean, it’s great for young guys who are just starting to get into sprint cars, or someone who can’t afford a 410 or 360. Plus, it’s great that you can go race almost anywhere and have the same rules package. That’s pretty neat.

Q:        I know you weren’t happy with your finish this year, but do you enjoy racing at the Nationals?

Jake:  I have a great time. My family is all from Knoxville, so they come and watch. It’s cool to have everyone there. It’s just a fun 3 days.

Q:        What is it like to get the chance to race against teams from all over the country?

Jake:  It’s pretty neat. If you want to be good, you have to race against the best. When John Carney comes from Texas, and Blake Robertson comes from California and Jason Martin from Nebraska, those guys are really good! And Jack Dover too, he comes and runs that race every year. It’s cool to race against those guys who are the best at what they do.

Q:        Can you think of anything that we haven’t covered that you would like to say to the teams and fans who haven’t come to the Racesaver Nationals yet?

Jake:  I recommend coming, no matter what. It’s 3 days of sprint cars; it’s kind of like the Chili Bowl here. It’s a good time.


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January 22, 2017 at 09:58:16 AM
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By Greg Soukup

The 15th place finisher in the 2016 Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals A Feature was Chad Koch; a 26-year old from Wichita Falls, Texas. Chad is this week’s interviewee.

Q:        When did you get your start in racing?

Chad: I started out racing micros in 2010 and moved up to sprint cars in 2014 and then moved to the Racesaver sprints in 2016.

Q:        Which sprints were you racing before moving to the Racesavers?

Chad: They were called Champ Sprints, and were based out of Lawton Speedway in Lawton, Oklahoma. They were like the 360’s, but with a 2-barrel carburetor and a compression rule. They made around 510 horsepower, and you had to run a small top wing. They actually were more of a handful to drive than the Racesaver sprint. It was really a big learning curve; going from the small wing and getting into a Racesaver sprint with a big wing. It was a whole different driving style! Going from a 5’ by 3’ wing to a 5’ by 5’ wing, I had to learn to NOT back it in.

Q:        Why did you decide to go with the Racesaver class?

Chad: We got to looking at the class, and a buddy of mine had one. I would go racing with him, and help him. I liked the payouts better, and the fact that you could go all over the country and race; which we did! It was a pretty easy decision after realizing that the Champ Sprint class was going to be a dying breed. We would have been tied down to 1 or 2 tracks, and I don’t like being tied down like that.

Q:        Do you like the Racesaver rules then?

Chad: I do. I think the crankshaft rule (48 pounds) is good, as long as they don’t start putting too much compression into the engine. In my mind, that’s what blows engines up; trying to get as much out of them as you can. As long as they stick with these rules; although everyone wants to go faster without a doubt, I think it’s a competitive class. It keeps the driving close and keeps someone from out-horsepowering everybody else, just because someone got a $40,000 motor built against a guy like me who builds his own stuff and can’t afford a $40,000 motor. I can still be competitive.

Q:        So, since this was your first year at the Nationals, did you enjoy yourself?

Chad: I started 25th, got up to 10th and then fell back to 15th. I love the race track!! I already have the Sprint Nationals on my calendar for 2017 in fact. No matter what, we’re coming back to Eagle; even if I wad this car up, I WILL find a way to get back up there! It’s kind of funny, because we showed up for practice night and my wife, who raced 360’s back in the day had been to Eagle didn’t tell me about the track. So, when I got there I texted her “Oh my God! I’m in LOVE with this racetrack”, and she’s like “I wasn’t going to tell you that”. It just suits my driving style, because I like it up against the fence. That hole, or rut or hump or whatever it is getting into one, it can’t eat you! But I like the kind of driving style that you have to show up with. It’s aggressive and patience all at the same time. When you get down by the tires and roll the bottom, I’ve had to do that, but I found out that if you hit the corner kind of in the middle and chop it back down to the bottom of the track that it works. But, I really thought that the track was awesome, and I can’t wait to come back again.

Q:        Did you enjoy racing with teams from all over the country?

Chad: Oh yeah! I thought it was really cool. With Blake Robertson from California, and then you have Jack Dover starting out front; I knew it was going to be tough!! What is funny is that we went to Pennsylvania last year, to Williams Grove with our Racesaver; and a couple of the guys that we raced against out there were racing with us at the Nationals in the A. I thought “Man, this is kind of a trip. I got to race against people from Pennsylvania 2 or 3 times a year being from Texas”, so it was really kind of cool.

Q:        Is there anything else that you would like to add that we haven’t covered?

Chad: Oh man! If you’ve got a Racesaver sprint, you have GOT to come to the Nationals at Eagle!! You’ve got the Knoxville Nationals, which is a 410 race, and you’ve got the 360 Nationals. But, as far as running a Racesaver Sprint, this is definitely our Super Bowl. You have got to come there. We plan on being there for the 2017 Nationals, and I like it so much that we might show up one night just to get to race there.


I am lucky enough to work at one of the best tracks 
anywhere.

Eagle Pit Shack Guy
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January 29, 2017 at 10:49:45 AM
Joined: 02/11/2005
Posts: 1378
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By Greg Soukup

Just over 7 months from now the 2017 Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals will take to the high banks of Eagle Raceway. Mark Watkins, 36 from McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania came in 12th in the 2016 Nationals. He is this week’s driver interview.

Q:        How long have you been racing?

Mark:            I started in quarter midgets when I was 5 years old, and raced those until I was 14, with some go-kart runs thrown in. Then I went to the micro-sprints, then running a 600 micro-sprint for awhile. I started in a Racesaver about 8 or 9 years ago.

Q:        Why did you decide to go with the Racesaver sprint?

Mark:            It seemed like a pretty logical step from the 600 micros. Plus, I’ve always wanted to race a sprint car; and the Racesaver was a nice affordable way to do it. It seemed like a good idea.

Q:        So, you like the Racesaver rules then?

Mark:             Yes. They need to keep the costs under control, and they’re doing a very good job of that with keeping the engine rules as tight as they are.

Q:        Was 2016 your first time at the Nationals?

Mark:            It was the first time for me at Eagle Raceway. I won the 2009 Nationals when French Grimes still had it in Virginia.

Q:        Since this was your first time to race the Nationals at Eagle, did you have a good time?

Mark:            Oh yeah. I loved it! The track was great, all of the people were great. You couldn’t ask for anything better than that.

Q:        I know that you’ve run the Nationals down in Virginia, but what was it like racing at Eagle against teams from all over the country?

Mark:            The diversity of the people, and some of the big names like Jack Dover and John Carney; getting to race against people like that who probably do it for a living and being to be able to stay on the same lap as them is just incredible! I mean, with 117 cars…I thought there was more than that.

Q:        Do you enjoy running in the Racesaver class?

Mark:            Oh yeah. Because the cars are so equal, it’s not who spends the most, wins. It’s who gets the set-up right, it’s who drives the best. It doesn’t matter how much you spend. You can’t spend too much and win, just because you spent that much.

Q:        Is there anything you would like to say to the teams or fans who haven’t made it to the Nationals at Eagle yet?

Mark:            We just had our banquet last Saturday night, and there are a bunch of guys who said that they are going to try and get there this year. I want to say good luck to them, and hopefully I’ll be back. I’ll be bringing out my own car this year. I’ll probably try to run some races in the car that I drove at the Nationals last year. And, anybody in the country, if you think that you can handle it, come on out. It’s a blast!!


I am lucky enough to work at one of the best tracks 
anywhere.

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