Well I’m here in the campgrounds at Eldora for the dirt late model World 100; early Saturday morning and the smoke of smoldering camp fires and drunken body’s cascade over the landscape like a battle field from a bad war movie. Dan Schlieper has taken fast time with Earl Pearson Jr. a close second. Many stories buzzed around the pit area yesterday, but one of the biggest news events of the weekend so far is the switch of Bill Frye to a Rocket chassis.
Bill Frye has been a long time GRT driver and dealer decided he needed to try something different for himself and maybe become a dealer in his area of the Rocket chassis; as paraphrased by reporting on http://www.dirtondirt.com. His qualifying effort was far from stellar as he toured the slick half mile in 18.059, better than a full second off of Schliepers fast time. Frye has always been noted as one of the better tuners and thinkers in the sports and I’m sure it won’t be long before he hits his stride.
With the unpredictability of the invert draw and hard to pass slick conditions, qualifying strategy seemed to play out again at Eldora. The heavy weighted draw of six puts two of the currently dominate slick track guru’s, Jimmy Mars and Brian Birkoffer, on the front rows of different heats, and also pairs up Schlieper and Scott Bloomquist in the third row of the first heat. What a shoot out this should be! Both these guys are fast enough this weekend to put on a show for the win in the, sticky and usually hammer down, first heat race.
I really must comment that Earl Baltes pick for the passing of the Eldora torch was spot on. Tony Stewart has brought Eldora from the typical dirt track persona of good racing and average everything else, to good racing and great everything else. A new luxury box tower, improved catch fences, grounds clean up, the nationally televised Prelude to the Dream, and what seems to be just plain good planning and organization, I believe, has made Eldora one of the leaders into the next evolution of dirt track racing. He even has a prerace show going on both days behind the grand stand, as well as the usual trade show in one of the barns. I loved the atmosphere of the old Eldora with Earl behind the wheel, but Tony’s turning turning out to be quite the wheel man himself.
As far as the dirt late model World 100 from a technical stand point, my focus still seems to be ‘cars that still turn with tons of traction’. It seems to me that five time winner Billy Moyer is struggling with his Victory Circle race car. I saw in the pits early Friday that he is still struggling with his rear strut race car. The car seems to traction up well, but struggled with every attempt to turn in the middle of the corner. I know that early in the year he was experimenting with putting a front strut configuration on his car and it seemed to turn pretty good at the Show Me 100. He is a smart guy with a lot of resources behind him, he will get it better. Other than that a lot of tarps, blankets, and wheel covers hide these cars from view. These guys must really think their cars are so grotesque that they must hide them view to save the embarrassment. We all know that is not the reason.
The season is winding down, so for those of you still racing good luck and race hard.