Speed Zone Blog: Oh, What a Summer it’s Been!

Jacob Seelman Carolinas Racing, Dirt Modifieds, Dirt Track Racing, Featured, Jacob Seelman Blog, Micro Sprints, MidSouth, Midwest, Northeast, Other Sprint Cars, Southeast, Sprints & Midgets, Staff Columns, Supermodifieds, US Legends/INEX, West 0 Comments

CONCORD, N.C. – Blog by Managing Editor Jacob Seelman for Race Chaser Online – CMS/Tami Pope photo – It’s been a little while since I’ve had the chance to renew my blog here on Race Chaser Online, but maybe this next sentence will explain why there’s been a little bit of a gap.

Oh what a summer it’s been!

Between sprint cars, supermodifieds and our weekly Tuesday pilgrimages to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Jack in the Box Summer Shootout, there’s been no shortage of action around the Race Chaser Online/Speed77 Radio camp over the last eight weeks.

I feel like I’ve been halfway across the country this summer, but when I started to think about it, I suppose that’s because I have been. Alabama, Missouri, Arkansas, New York, Georgia, South Carolina, and Mississippi all over the past eight weeks? I wish there was such a thing as the frequent rider miles program, because if there was? I’d be all over that like butter on a South Carolina biscuit. (It’s a Winthrop University thing.)

Now, I know I’m usually very critical of the Summer Shootout, even though I’ve been supporting it in some form or fashion for the past 15 years. However, all-in-all, this summer I feel like was one of the better summers in recent memory. Car counts may not have been what they were five or six years ago, but they were consistently around 120 or 130 cars every round. Yes, there was beating on bumpers, but let’s be real here: about the only way to pass around the quarter-mile at Charlotte is to wiggle somebody up just a little bit.

There were no major altercations this year due to on-track incidents like there was last year towards the end of the Shootout (though Dillon Faggart and Austin Langenstein’s little almost-skirmish after Round Five was fairly interesting) and the finale night was fantastic for every class. There were two championships still up for grabs (with one that literally went down to the final corners in Semi-Pro); we saw clean, hard racing in every class; we saw several first-time season winners on the final night; we saw Daniel Hemric grab a record third championship and 25th Pro division victory and we saw a first-time champion in Josh Brimecombe who never in his wildest dreams thought he would be standing on the top step of the stage.

Oh what a summer it’s been!

I want to say a huge thank you to all the drivers, teams and the staff at Charlotte Motor Speedway and US Legend Cars International for putting up with us the last eight weeks, including Joey Aycock, Chris Mulcahy, Tony Stevens, Lenny Batycki, Steve Post, and John Haggan for all their help and support in making another fantastic season of coverage at the Shootout possible. Special thanks to Tony Stevens for putting up with me in the tower during Round Eight and giving me a chance to hop behind the microphone for the PA and television coverage (which aired on MAVTV last night – it was so weird hearing myself on TV!). Now that was an experience I’ll never forget.

On the sprint car side, it’s been wild and crazy; twelve races in six states over eight weeks is not an easy feat at all, but it has been great. Manning the microphone for the United Sprint Car Series this year has allowed me to see just how passionate the race fans are in the Southeastern United States when it comes to something different, which winged sprint car racing definitely is in this area. I’ve seen veterans like Tim Crawley and Terry Gray add additional jewels in their already-illustrious careers; I’ve seen a young hotshoe in Derek Hagar begin to already leave his mark on the sport as he progresses through the ranks – it’s just been a whole different ballgame since the weather has heated up for the U.S.C.S. this summer. (PS: Expect Derek Hagar in a 410 sprint car on a more-regular basis instead of the 360s he’s been running, possibly as soon as next year. He’s on a roll and the momentum has had people standing up and taking notice.)

Adding to that, I got the chance to fly up to Illinois for the $5,000-to-win Sawyer Chassis Highbanks Hustle for winged micro sprints at Southern Illinois Raceway — you talk about a jam-packed weekend? 76 cars in the pits, a ton of money on the line and a winner from California who never expected to take home the grand prize in as stacked a field as was there in the Midwest. It was my first experience with micros as the premier division on the racing card, and boy was it a fun experience, no matter how different it was for me!

Oh what a summer it’s been!

I even got a chance to head up north with our Editor-in-Chief Tom Baker and finally get him to his first Oswego Speedway Old-Timer’s Reunion (my ninth visit to the annual event). Amazing that for someone who grew up going to the fast five-eighths mile at the Steel Palace, it was his first trip to the summer party.

It was one neither of us will ever forget though.

Getting to co-emcee the event with Tom, who knows more than I could ever dream of about the guys I’ve met and learned about over the past nine years because he grew up when they were racing, was awesome enough – and then to see a great card of racing that night for both the ISMA Supermodifieds and Small Block Supers, I couldn’t have asked for any more. Andrew Schartner put on a show coming through the field in the SBS race and D.J. Shullick “iced” the field after starting eighth to end Mike Lichty’s three-race win streak at the track. Can you ask for any more than that?

Not to forget, Tom and I got to call the action at the Oswego Kartway too the night before the reunion and King of Wings event, which was a whole different breed of action all in itself. I’ve seen concrete kart racing before at the “King of the Concrete” and indoor kart racing at the Rumble in Fort Wayne, but Oswego was my first experience with dirt karts, and you talk about slip-sliding and hard racing? That was it right there.

Oh what a summer it’s been!

So as the leaves start to turn colors and the weather (hopefully) starts to cool off a bit, I’m getting ready to head back to Winthrop University to resume classes – something that’s almost tedious after the kind of fun and the level of adrenaline I’ve been at this whole time, but we’ll make it work again.

Of course, the racing season isn’t over! I’ve got a trip to the Atlanta Motor Speedway at the end of the month, on Labor Day Friday, for the 2nd Annual Wind Creek Casino/Hotel Wetumpka Sprint Car Shootout with the U.S.C.S. Sprint Cars, a potential trip to the Short Track Nationals at Rockford Speedway in September on tap, and a planned return to the Rumble in Fort Wayne at the end of the year, so trust me. There’s still a lot going on.

There is a point to this blog – I just wanted to take a few minutes to actually sit down and take in everything that’s happened over the summer now that it’s coming to a close. My point in all that’s happened over the last two months is this: no matter the fact that things in the racing world may have started off shaky this year, there’s been some really good racing all across the country this year, whether it’s been one of the races I’ve gone to or a touring series race somewhere else in this great country of ours, it’s been a great summer to be a race fan and I’m blessed to be as big a part of this industry as I am.

I only hope the growth we’ve seen this summer will continue; I’m hoping for as exciting a close to the season as what we’ve seen the last two months! Because oh, what a summer it’s been!

And oh, by the way – if you’re wondering where I’m going to be next? Well I’ll give you a hint, I am on the way to another race track, and I plan on having a killer snow cone when I get there. (I am a sucker for good chow after all.)

But beyond that? You’ll just have to see if you can spot me, and if you can, I’ll see you at the race track!

Keep it off the wall, until we meet again.

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