NARC NEWSLINE – January 19, 2023 – By Jim Allen … There are so many things going on in motorsports that missing a single day on social media can put you in a time warp. Everything seems to happen so fast; some of it good and some of it not so good. Among the headlines during the past couple of months were life-threatening RV crashes, million-dollar to win sprint car races, a shootout in Tulsa that resembled a WWE event, high-limit races, and even some proverbial head-butting between some of the big names in sprint car racing. There is a ton going on locally also, so buckle up and take notes:
STATE OF THE UNION: I attended a pair of promoter’s workshops this offseason. The first was the WARPA meeting in Portland in mid-November, followed by the December RPM Promoters Workshop in Reno. The way I heard it and read the room the messages were completely different. In the Pacific Northwest, where most of the tracks lost the first third of the schedule to an ungodly number of rainouts, promoters were basically doing the happy dance. Attendance was up and growing car counts complimented the great racing. By comparison, the promoters in Portland seemed a lot less stressed than their California counterparts in Reno.
While sprint car racing was pretty darn entertaining in ’22, every promoter in California is actively digging to entice an additional 500-600 fans into their grandstands each week. It’s the difference between good and great, but with the highest operating costs in the nation, California racetrack promoters are having to work extremely hard just to make ends meet. All are doing their best to support racers, but they also have to buy groceries – and that’s a fine line to walk. Either way, everybody seems very optimistic regarding the future of 410 sprint car racing on the left coast.
HOOSIER TIRES: Most in dirt track racing assumed that a pop of a champagne cork on New Year’s was going to signal the end to our tire problems of ’22. Better slam on the brakes on those impure thoughts because Hoosier and other tire manufacturers took to the podium to spell out the situation at the workshops. When pressed on how much of an improvement we could expect to experience (enjoy) this year, Hoosier was hard-pressed to answer just five percent. Trust me when I say this, but they are not proud of that figure, but are diligently working on improving the crisis. By the way, the sheer demand for racing tires nationally (all classes) is off the charts. This cuts both ways. It shows that motorsports and grass roots racing is growing – but it is also complicating the problem by driving demand above what can be supplied.
Like most other businesses in the post-Covid world, Hoosier needs people who actually want to work, and they need an influx of raw materials. They have been forced to make dramatic increases in labor rates to recruit talent, and it is working … slowly. Speaking of raw materials, just three years ago it cost about $2000 to get an entire shipping container of raw rubber from Indonesia to Indiana. For your rubber fact of the week, four countries in Southeast Asia grow 70% of the world’s rubber supply and there is a shortage which was caused in 2020 when replacement trees were not planted. Today, that exact same container of raw rubber can be yours for right around $32,000. Yes, that is a real number! You can’t make that stuff up! As a result, there are more price increases coming in the near future and the ticket price of a Hoosier Right Rear racing tire is fast approaching $400 a pop. For all of the politicians who say inflation is running at six-to-eight percent, I call B.S.
Hoosier also announced improvements to their manufacturing process, by reducing the number of tire SKU’s from over 1300 to less than 400. Less SKU’s means they can build more tires because they don’t need to constantly change tire molds and tooling. In hindsight, it’s seeming like something that needed to happen years ago, especially in stock car racing where some associations allow 20+ different tire configurations/compounds.
So where is all this leading? To be honest with you, I’m not really sure. Is there a possibility of events being cancelled? It could happen! Will things get better? Yes, but it will take time. All I really do know is that one of the toughest jobs in motorsports right now is your local Hoosier tire distributor rep. Nobody ever calls to find out if they’re having a wonderful day.
And to close out this topic, here is a little flashback to 1995. At the time, the NARC sprint cars were running a McCreary MC-3 right rear club tire. The cost … wait for it … a whopping $135 each. Even at that price, most car owners thought the price was outlandish. You can imagine what they are thinking now. We need a time machine.
2023 NARC SCHEDULE: Yes, it’s aggressive, featuring twenty-four races at 15 different tracks. Among those shows are new additions at Antioch Speedway (April 29th) and Brian Crockett’s Douglas County Dirtrack in Roseburg, Oregon. This is the same Douglas County track that was best known for stock cars on a paved 3/8 mile. I guess if you can “pave” a dirt track, you can “dirt” a paved track. That’s exactly what Crockett managed to pull off. Test runs have been impressive and now it’s the second stop on the Fastest Four Days in Motorsports. That blast of racing will be a lead up to an exciting stretch of seven NARC events in ten days. It looks something like this:
- Thursday, June 15th – Southern Oregon Speedway (Central Point, OR) – Thursday Night Thunder
- Friday, June 16th – Douglas County Dirtrack (Roseburg, OR) – Friday Night Frenzy
- Saturday, June 17th – Willamette Speedway (Lebanon, OR) – Sprint Car Invasion
- Sunday, June 18th – Grays Harbor Raceway (Elma, WA) – Timber Cup
- Monday, June 19th – Sleep in, golf, and head to Skagit!
- Tuesday, June 20th – (NON-NARC POINTS RACE) Skagit Speedway – 410 Open Show
- Wednesday, June 21st – Participate in a variety of fan-friendly, non-racing activities at Skagit. Alcohol will probably be involved.
- Thursday-Saturday, June 22-24th – Skagit Speedway – $50,000 to win Super Dirt Cup (Burlington, WA)
There will be a boatload of money and some serious egos to feed during those ten days and I promise the adventure is worth the trip. Hopefully, if everything works out as planned and California crowds go from good to great this season, the Speedweek concept can return locally to the 2024 schedule..
Another NARC schedule change pertains to the Howard Kaeding Classic at Ocean Speedway. It was originally rolled out as a two-day 410 show. It’s back to Taco Bravo 360’s on Friday and NARC 410’s on Saturday.
NARC NOTES: Both nights of the May 12-13th Peter Murphy Classic will take place at Keller Auto Speedway. In the past, the event was split between the Hanford track and Thunderbowl Raceway, with the tracks swapping the $11,000 to win Saturday headliner. With Peter Murphy firmly entrenched as the promoter at Keller, it only makes sense for the same track doubleheader. It will allow race fans to settle in and enjoy the entire weekend in one campground. … Tulare will now showcase the Dennis Roth Classic as a two-day show on April 14-15th, with the winner taking home $8300 on Saturday night. Look for a possible announcement in the near future about a substantial bump to that amount. …
Fire Suppression Systems are mandatory on all left coast tracks by May 1st. This includes 360 and 410’s. Rock screens are now mandatory beginning at the season opener. … Dish wings are no longer allowed on the West Coast. … …Thank you to former NARC HammerDown! Rookie of the year Jim Taves for sponsoring our second heat race in 2023. The winner of the Kimo’s Tropical Car Wash heat will pocket 100 bucks. … Calistoga Speedway has a heartbeat! All that needs to happen is for the locals to vote on a bond measure in March which will fund the maintenance of the facility. Tommy Hunt is optimistic. Fingers crossed. … 2023 rule books and membership forms can be downloaded at NARC410.com.
NARC DRIVER NOTES: Bud Kaeding will be strapping into Mike Martin’s champ car this season for a handful of races in the Midwest. It’s been a decade since Bud wheeled the big cars. … Congratulations to Kalib Henry who will living the dream on more of a national stage this year. The up and comer landed a ride with Shane Liebig to run for a title at Huset Speedway in North Dakota and other big profile events including the Knoxville Nationals. Yes, California lost another great young driver, but we will still see him at some big events on occasion in the McColloch Motorsports sprint car. … Congrats to Justin Sanders and Joel Myers Jr. for representing the US with some great “down under” victories. … As per Alex Nieten’s NARC Pit Personality story, Justyn Cox is the new shoe in the Bates-Hamilton Racing #42X. Look for this team to make a victory lane appearance at a track near you. … Here is something new out of the Tarlton Motorsports camp. The team is NOT planning to run a permanent driver during the 2023 season. Crew chief Drew Warner stated the team will utilize a “best driver available” approach. They will be chasing the NARC car owner championship.
OTHER STUFF: Watched a WWE event and a midget race broke out. Yup, that’s the best way to describe the Tulsa Shootout where more than 100 flips were matched with an equal number of punches. … It sure is good for our California egos by how well our drivers collectively performed at the Chili Bowl. At least there is some positive to come out of this state. … There is a new scoring tower/announcers booth/business center being constructed at Skagit Speedway. The original 1970-vintage tower was torn down as the improvements continue at the facility. … It’s hard not to get excited about the first ever $1 million to win sprint car show at Eldora. Fans went nuts on social media when they heard the news. Unfortunately, many thought this payout was going to happen with the standard $50 World of Outlaw ticket price. You can’t pay that much money without securing a sizeable increase at the front gate. It’s business economics 101. Tickets are expected to be in the $150+ range. … Glad to see that the World of Outlaws and Kyle Larson’s High Limit Series worked out their differences. By the way, the High Limit race at Tulare was moved to March 21st. … Our thoughts and prayers go out to Bill Andreetta of Sunnyvalley Smoked Meats, our trophy dash sponsor. Bill was recently diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing treatment in Arizona. … There will be plenty of opportunities to race 410 sprint cars on the West Coast. In addition to our schedule, Keller Auto Speedway has three 410 stand-alone shows – with a 360 twist! Peter Murphy has been actively envisioning some unique twist and turns for these 20-car main events, where 360’s will be given the opportunity to start up front. It will feature a standard NARC payoff. I don’t have all of the details yet, but a press release will roll out soon. …
And finally … It’s scary how one’s life can change in a split-second. Our thoughts and prayers are still with the Bloomfield family. Their RV was crushed by an intoxicated driver as they were returning home from a 360 race in Merced before Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, Shannon Bloomfield took the full force of accident, resulting in an extensive list of broken bones and other injuries that seem impossible to comprehend. She is lucky to be alive. Dustin’s heartfelt posts on Facebook during the ordeal were enough to make grown men cry. Shannon faces a substantial recovery process – one I’m sure she will conquer – and it will be an honor to see her at a NARC event in the near future. Amen! …
We’ve only got a couple of months until the 2023 Mini-Gold Cup NARC season opener in Chico. In the meantime, you can find everything NARC on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok and NARC410.com. Don’t miss a single day!
Coming to you live from Auburn, CA. See ya!