Speed Zone Blog: Just a Day in the Life

Jacob Seelman Carolinas Racing, Featured, Jacob Seelman Blog, Other Sprint Cars, Southeast, Sprints & Midgets, Staff Columns 2 Comments

April 16, 2014 — Blog by Managing Editor Jacob Seelman for Race Chaser Online — photo courtesy Carolina Speedway — ROCK HILL, S.C. — I know, I know. Bad managing editor. I haven’t written a blog in two weeks. Shame on me.

But hey, let’s remember something here. I mean, you know it’s been crazy when four days after a successful race weekend, you’re still trying to catch up on sleep.

That’s been the story of my work week so far since returning from a two-day United Sprint Car Series (USCS) and United Racing Company (URC) combined 360 sprint car extravaganza at the Carolina and Lancaster Speedways here in the good old Carolinas. I’m exhausted. I’ll admit it straight up.

But boy, was it worth it.

As the voice of the USCS Sprint Car Series, I get to see some pretty crazy things in my travels with them and the calls of the races often reflect that. But even that doesn’t tell the tale of Friday night’s feature event. We had three flips, including one on Lap 2 when Eric Riggins Jr., the self-proclaimed “Carolina Kid”, went out of the park in Turn 1 and nearly ended up in the woods. I about dropped my microphone at that one.

You know what he did? He walked back across the track. The wrecker hauled his car to the pits. He and his crew thrashed on the Fast 47, and Eric nearly won the next night at Lancaster before the car jumped out of gear with six laps to go and thwarted his efforts.

Are you kidding me?

That shouldn’t have been possible with as bad as the flip looked. But Eric and the crew did it. I can’t even begin to tell you how. My specialty is behind the microphone, not knowing which parts and pieces go where! But it sure looked un-fixable at first, I can tell you that.

URC veteran Troy Betts and Florida rookie Nick Snyder both had massive crashes in Turns 3 and 4, with Betts flipping in Turn 3 and Snyder slamming the Turn 4 wall before tumbling along the frontstretch. Both of them, as well, were uninjured. That was the most important point of the night.

And nearly lost in the chaos was the fact that Johnny Bridges, a local boy out of Cherryville, North Carolina, drove past his cousin Lance Moss to break a nearly two year winless drought and go back to victory lane in front of the home town crowd. Now that was fun to see. Victory Lane was exciting and memorable, and the hometown crowd was happy.

And you know what made it even better? Saturday night just added to the legend.

You stick the cousins at the front of the field again and tell them to go nuts, and this time, Moss holds off Bridges on the late race restart to claim not just his first career USCS win, but his first sprint car win period. The tears were flowing in victory lane. The atmosphere was electric.

Are you kidding me? Hollywood couldn’t write this script. But it happened anyways.

I’m thrilled that Lance, after all this time of trying, finally got to have his night in victory lane. Lance is a good guy, one of the local Carolina boys, and to see how good he’s been in these first two races of 2014 is nothing short of astounding. He raced on pavement before he made the move to sprint cars, and won the track late model championship at Concord Motorsports Park in 1996. He moved to the dirt at a time when Pete Walton, the owner of the USCS Sprint Car Series, needed some local drivers to spice up his shows, and Lance was one of the ones to oblige. He’s waited almost ten years for the move to pay off.

Well, congratulations buddy. It’s finally paid off. You’re on top of the world.

I’m also happy for Johnny Bridges. He was almost defeated after last year, going winless for the first time in his career. You could tell that had weighed on him pretty heavily. But to see the smile that he had on Friday, it could have lit the whole city of Gastonia. This wasn’t a driver who felt beaten anymore, but a driver who knows he’s still got what it takes and now has the equipment underneath him to go out and be a serious contender again. It was evident in the gutsy outside pass he made to get the lead on Friday night. Props to you, Johnny. We call you “The Wild Child”, and you’re showing us why again.

I hate what happened on Saturday to Eric. He deserved the win, because he had the outright fastest car on the grounds. He was a half-track gone; there was no one that was going to catch him. There wasn’t. It’s heartbreaking because he’s the hometown kid, and you just felt the air get sucked out of Lancaster Super Speedway, and at Carolina too, for that matter, when Eric had his problems this weekend. These fans enjoy seeing him win. I hate that he couldn’t have done that again on Saturday night, but it was fitting that another local did hold on to score the victory. And Eric will be back. He’s running the entire URC tour in 2014, and I feel like his experience up north will make him super dangerous down south. Beware, boys. The Carolina Kid is gonna be coming.

All in all it was a great weekend. There’s never anything more fun for me than catching a dirt race on a Friday and Saturday night and getting to spend time with family and friends. The fact that I’m blessed enough to be able to do what I do behind the microphone and with the drivers just adds to the joy.

It’s special for me to be able to add that electricity for the fans. They come to see a sprint car race, not to listen to me gab from a speaker. But when I can help tell the story behind that sprint car race that they might not be able to see with their eyes alone, it adds a new dimension to the experience that is just so cool for all of us to watch happen, myself included.

By the way, while we’re talking about sprint cars, I want to give a shout-out and a thank you to our Race Chaser west coast correspondent D.J. Everett, who filled us in on some of the goings-on in California over the weekend. I was disappointed at first to hear that there were only 16 cars that showed up to race the final night of the Spring Break Tour at Perris Auto Speedway when there have been 25-30 cars at every other west coast event, if not more. D.J. though, explained that the reason most of the local boys did not come out to the Outlaws show as per normal was because the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series (KWS) was also racing that same night at the Tulare Thunderbowl.

Normally, the Outlaws and the King of the West try exceptionally hard not to schedule on top of each other, but this particular conflict was one that KWS officials told D.J. was unavoidable. It’s a shame, and I always hate it when we have a short field at any event, but I do know that occasionally, things happen. That’s life, and you make the best of it. The local boys will be back, don’t worry, Outlaws. And they’ll have something to say, no doubt. So thank you D.J., for that heads up. We appreciate it and all the work you do for us up and down the west coast.

So, with all that being said, it’s Wednesday now, and I’m still exhausted. I’ve not caught up on the sleep I missed out on over the weekend, but I don’t so much care honestly. The adrenaline rush, the people and the response from teams and race fans alike about what the USCS brings to these local dirt tracks makes the tired feeling worth it. It’s that, “yeah, I’m flat beat, but doggone it I did something worthwhile,” feeling that you just can’t not smile at in the end.

I’ll be back with the USCS throughout the year; yes, school does have to come first, but I’ll be at the track whenever I can be, because it’s what I love to do, it’s what I have a passion for, and because there’s nothing quite like a day at the dirt track.

Simply put, it’s just a day in my life. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Keep it off the wall, race fans.

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