The season is winding down, and that can only mean one thing. Well, more than one, and we will get into a few of them here.
First off, we talk about the differences between running a Pro Stock and a Sport4 many times. The only real difference is experience and money. When it comes down to the dedication to the sport, there really isn’t much at all. Teams from our Fast Friday spend as much time, if not more to compete week after week and do what they love.
More? How can you say more? It’s easy. Let’s take what happened to Jeremy Lambert a week ago Friday into context. When his 1987 Monte Carlo Pure Stock left the track, there was a lot of damage to the chassis, to the point that it was unusable. Now, being a G body car from the 80’s, it’s almost impossible to call up a parts supplier or chassis builder to get the parts needed to put it back together when the frame is twisted like a pretzel. Yes, you can get chassis parts, but the rules are they must be stock.
So, it’s off to the local salvage yard to get your parts, take them off the donor car, clean them up and install them on yours, and hope they aren’t damaged. You can’t just cut off the snout and put it on a chassis jig to prep a new one to go on. Many times, guys like Mark Murphy take time out of their week and put it on a frame machine to get it back onto the track. He’s done that now for over 15 of our competitors.
In the Lambert’s case, that couldn’t be done. So, they stripped the car down, salvaged what they could, and put a new chassis under the car. That’s A LOT of hours and work to do that.
Now, when my father was racing, he would shut the body shop he owned down, and get the racecar back. That’s not always possible. People have families to feed, bills to pay and priorities above racing. So, what did the Lambert’s do? They used up all of their spare? time and by Thursday night/Friday morning, the car was back together.
That in itself is a feat. He went out and finished in the top five by the end of the night with his rebuilt racecar. There were no calls to the local chassis shop to drop the car off on Sunday and pick it up on Thursday, ready to go. It was late nights and early mornings spent to get the car back. Luckily, they didn’t have much to do on the other three cars they prepare week after week. Kudos to the Lamberts for getting the car done and back the following week, and for bringing the car down for the on track Meet and Greet with photos to prove it. Just take a look. I hope my picture of their collage does it justice.
On Saturday, we watched Larry Gelinas get into the wall and roll over his Rollie Linblad prepared Ford, destroying his car. He and Alex Melnicki got together and slid up the racetrack in a wild wreck. Luckily, the safety equipment worked and they were able to climb out of their cars with some bruises and some memories they hope never to have to relive again. I was told afterwards that the 48 will be done for the year, as the car is a total loss.
Rollie is a chassis builder and will make sure that when he returns, he will be able to have the success he is used to here at Seekonk.
The racing was hard all night long, and when the season is winding down, there are a lot of pent up frustrations. Calls that didn’t go your way, this guy got into me and didn’t get a call, the track called me on something and it wasn’t right, whatever the case may be. That is where perception becomes reality. What you perceive to be true, is true to you, regardless if it was the right or wrong call.
Now, no one is perfect, and I can attest from being in that seat of Race Director, you will be wrong in a lot of people’s eyes. And, sometimes you are. Most of the time, it’s the correct call.
There was one such incident that happened in the Pro Stock feature, where one driver was called with a penalty when he had nothing to do with what happened. It was the wrong call. After watching various videos of the events that unfolded, a public apology was issued to the team about it. I’ve had to do that myself. Things happen so fast, that there is that opportunity to get it wrong. Way to be the official we know you are.
Now, that happened two days ago, and of course, social media is b lowing up about that incident, and others that people seem to want to blame the track on.
One person was quoted “Only at Seekonk” about the Gelinas and Melnicki accident. Really? Things like that happen at every racetrack across the country. Drivers make mistakes, and unfortunately, other teams have to pay for that mistake with damage to their own car. It’s not the track’s fault the wall was there that they ran into. It wasn’t the officials fault for a driver making a mistake.
Another thing I have seen, and it has been prevalent in the past, is the blaming the track for showing favoritism to a driver or drivers because of their sponsor. I think you can get who the sponsor is over this conversation. Because Company E spends a lot of money at the track to sponsor a night, to sponsor several cars, and even being a car owner in a few of the divisions, that this sponsor received preferential treatment. Do you really think that happens behind the scenes? Or are you trying to stir the pot and call the kettle black? It’s never about the driver making a mistake, or about the track making the right call. It’s always about favoritism. I know, it’s only a few that do this, but the few make too much noise.
Let’s look at the ramifications of just that, the so called favoritism. I know this partner well, and he would never ask the track to give him preferential treatment. All he wants is fairness and honesty, that’s all.
I do also know that the social media bullshit that is going on can affect the sponsor in a way he decides not to own any more cars, sponsor any more cars, sponsor the track. Will that happen? It has before. Now, let’s say said sponsor does pull out, will that really affect the track? Of course it will. This partner sponsors a whole division. That’s money that is being put into the purse for that class of competitors. That goes away, and the purse for that division goes down, because of the loss of revenue. Improvements at the track can be slowed. Good drivers can’t afford to compete because their cars were sold, and they don’t have the funds to compete without that partner. Car counts decline, and attendance drops. How does that all help? It doesn’t. and we all hurt from it. No one needs that.
It was mentioned in one of the same conversations that another track in New England is fighting the same social media disease, that keyboard cowboys, posting negative perceptions about the track. Their attendance is down and there are less competitors. Another track, and I don’t remember where, closed down because of it. That’s not an opinion, that is a fact, released by the speedway itself.
While I’m on that subject, I want to call the drivers out on this one. Over the year, we have had the Propane Plus Power five events for the Late Models, Everett’s Auto Parts sponsoring the Late Model division, Helger’s South Coast Power Equipment sponsoring the Sportsman, AND the Sportsman Power Five events, Phil’s Propane sponsoring the Triple Crown for ALL NINE of our divisions, weekly sponsors and more. Lou and I go down on Saturdays to talk to the drivers, the TOP THREE each week, and Kyle and Paul do the same on Fridays, but the winners only. I can count on ONE HAND the times a driver took the time to thank the division sponsor, the Triple Crown Sponsor, the nightly sponsor, the track, or any of the other companies that don’t sit on their race car or truck, yet still help to put the winners purse n their pocket or the trophy they are holding in their hand.
I have personally gone to the drivers meeting at the beginning of the season, a few times, and mentioned to the drivers that it is the right thing to do. Why do these companies put up the money to do this?
A couple of reasons. One is, they love the sport, and they want to give back. Another is that this in an advertising opportunity to get their name out to thousands of fans each week, hoping that their name may spark a mention when talking about that particular product. Need propane for your house or business? Call Phil’s Propane or Propane Plus. Need a used part for your car? Call Everett’s Auto Parts. Need some outdoor equipment for your company or yard? Call Helger’s South Coast Power Equipment. I can mention it all night long, which I do. But they are also giving back to the sport, and they want to hear it from the competitors that they are helping out also. It takes a minute for a driver to see who is sponsoring a night or an event. A simple thanks is what they are looking for. 99% of the time, it goes by without mention. That’s not fair to them, and that is all on the drivers. When the sponsor goes away because it is perceived (there’s that word again) that they don’t care, they go away and the drivers won’t have to worry about someone to remember to thank.
Let’s end this on a positive note. We have some great racing left over the next few weeks as we close out the championship points battles, and the one that is the hottest is the Sport Trucks. With just three races left, Barry Shaw Jr has caught Chase Belcher in the standings, and they are tied. What is impressive about that is that Barry missed one week early, and has been playing catch up all season long. And don’t count out Mike Duarte. He’s not far behind in third.
The D.A.V. Fall Classic is approaching soon as well, not to mention the Haunted 100 for the Tri Track Open Modifieds, with the Late Models and the Legend Cars. It’s not over yet ladies and gentlemen, but it will be soon. Don’t miss a lap of action.