From the Staging Lanes | Dec '08

BY: ISAAC DEHAAN

isaac2.jpgWell, it is that time of year again. Christmas is just a few days away, and I have about 2 feet of snow in my yard with only slightly less in my driveway!! Seriously, sand drags are about as far from my mind as it ever is. It’s bad cold outside, and summer seems like it is light years away. That being said, I thought I would go over some of the important and noteworthy things from this past sand drag season. These are presented in no particular order, and just my personal observations, as usual.

Well, it is that time of year again. Christmas is just a few days away, and I have about 2 feet of snow in my yard with only slightly less in my driveway!! Seriously, sand drags are about as far from my mind as it ever is. It’s bad cold outside, and summer seems like it is light years away. That being said, I thought I would go over some of the important and noteworthy things from this past sand drag season. These are presented in no particular order, and just my personal observations, as usual. 

#1 Pro Truck Series. Ok, this is really a 2009 event, but it needs to be mentioned. With apologies to the NSDA traveling circus, this is the first traveling series of its kind in sand drag racing. 4 different tracks, 2 classes, with a series champ crowned at the finale. The IOK track in Cleves OH, Big River Sand Drags in Bonne Terre MO, Ionia Sand Drags in Ionia MI, and WMSD in Mears MI are all hosting events.  Rich Simon has raised the bar for ALL sand drag promoters by putting together this series and bringing major sponsors like Goodyear engineered products, BAD Company Race Apparel, Bad Frog Beer on board as well as Keith and the gang from Hillbilly Proud Productions covering every race in video. NSDN is also planning on covering the series in 2009 also. This is the kind of thing needed in our sport, and should go a long way towards bringing more racers, spectators, and sponsors to our sport.

#2 The Economy. I don’t know of anyone that would argue the economy had a big effect on the 2008 sand drag season. Track attendance was down across the board, both spectator wise and race entries. It was a challenging year for promoters to say the least, with most having to try new methods of promotion to get people in the gates. That being said, 502 entries showed up at the fall NSDA Primm race. That, to me, shows that in tough times racers are going to pick and choose which races to attend. No one is going to race a point series which pays out less than some race wins over a season long deal. That just doesn’t make sense, from any stand point. Racers that support tracks over a season deserve some reward, either at the gate, registration booth, or at the end of the season. Take care of the people that take care of you.

#3 Records. The year 2008 brought some amazing performances on the track.

Dennis Rieck once again stepped up as the quickest man on sand. Dennis ran a mind blowing 2.225 @ 167.14 pass in the finals of Primm, October race 1. However, Dennis was unable to back up the pass the rest of the weekend. Not to be out done, 2007 & 2008 NSDA T/F champ Scott Whipple went 2.318 and 2.338 to reset the national T/F record and take it away from Dennis. Will 2009 be the year that the “mouse” takes the T/F title, or will Scott make it a “three peat”??

Dan Allen opened the season going where only Richard “Top Dog” Montiel and his crew had been with a TAD, the 2.40’s. Richard was the previous record holder at 2.49, but at the first race of the year, in Yuma AZ, Dan and the Lucas Oil/RFC crew showed the rest of the class they were ready to be noticed. Dan proceeded to run no SLOWER than a 2.441 all weekend, with a record setting 2.411 thrown in for good measure.

Mike Lane and “Attitude” are not household names in the sand racing community by any stretch of the imagination, but on one night at the Union County Speedway in Liberty, IN he stepped knee deep into the sand drag racing world. Mike reset the A/4WD record with passes of 2.929 @ 116.55 and 2.944 @ 109.9 to take the record away from Josh and Jerry Stephens. This is noteworthy due to the fact Mike is a past world champion in the mud racing circuit and by all accounts from eye witness’ these were, at best, 280’ passes, out of the throttle at least 20’ early. 4WD cars running sub 3 sec passes were unheard of and unrealistic just 2 years ago, I can only hope that Mike and some of his fast friends make some more sand races next summer, with a “re-gear” so we can see a full pass out of them.

Jeff Guillot in AA/Pro Bike, which is the record that was the most “controversial” of the ones I am highlighting. Jeff and crew ran a fine 2.740 @ 116.87 and backed up the ET with another pass of 2.748 @ 122.26 at Newtown Dragway in Newtown, VA. These passes drew a bunch of banter and criticism due to the fact that the passes were not made during competition, but were “exhibition” passes. Jeff took the high road and brought his “Wild Thang” Nitro-burning 3 wheeler out to the AVI for the Planet Sand West Coast Shootout. Jeff “reset” the record with passes of 2.998 @ 100.79 and a 2.879 @ 101.01. That is history folks, as Jeff and crew were the first ATV to reach the 2 second club.

As you can see, even in hard economic times, the racers still press forward with performance. Who knows what 2009 will bring??

#4 Ionia Sand Drags opening. This may not be big news out on the west coast, but in the Midwest it has the possibility to be a huge thing. Not only did ISD become the quickest and fastest track in MI at its first race (Pat Goodale, TAD, 2.552), but it also boasts the longest shutdown of any track in MI at this time. What does this mean? In a nutshell, ISD can host our T/E, T/A, and even some of our T/F friends from the west coast. This truly makes it worthwhile to put together a group of cars coming out from the west coast and means we should start seeing some fast west coast cars in the Midwest very soon. ISD also has race #3 of the inaugural Pro Truck series, with the finale being at WMSD the very next weekend. This also should help draw racers and spectators alike and hopefully the track will prosper. Gregg Price and crew are planning some upgrades over the winter like more seating, reserved parking, and permanent lighting just to name some. With WMSD and ISD, the Midwest can now boast 2 great facilities within about a two hour drive of each other.

#5 RIP Richard “Top Dog” Montiel and Charlie Brown, Sr. The untimely passing of both of these men is a major loss to the sand drag racing community, not only from a racing standpoint, but also from a personal standpoint. Richard was a guy that was quiet, but loved the sport and used his abilities and resources to help out whenever he could. He pushed the bar in the T/A class and was a threat to win at any event the crew showed up at. He was a great friend to those close to him, and a much respected and classy guy to anyone he met or raced against. Charlie Brown, Sr. was the same kind of guy. While he had retired from the seat of his T/F car, he was still active around the races. I have heard stories of his bringing fresh salmon from Alaska to Primm to share or his buddy Ernest Borgnine tagging along to the races with him. When I asked people what kind of guy he was, everyone got this look of respect and said, a really good guy and friend. That says a lot about Charlie, and he will be missed around sand drag racing. God’s Speed guys, we’ll miss you.

That’s all I have for this month, if the snow lets up and I see the sun again, I am supposed to be attending the scheduled NSDA race in January. There are lots on tap for 2009; the NSDA makes its way to Avenal, CA for the first time, the Pro Truck series takes off, and ISD starts its first full season of racing. Wow, lots and lots going on.

In closing, Happy Holidays everyone, from my family to yours!!

See you in the Staging Lanes.
Isaac DeHaan (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)


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