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Allstar Performance

CONTENTS April / May 2021

Photo: Zach Yost

Tim McCreadie in the Kevin Rumley built #6 at Atomic Speedway, Waverly, Ohio in 2019. Read about Rumley and his Late Model builds on page 32.

5 Welcome to Dirt Empire 6 Foreward – Adam Cornell 8 From the Editor – Justin Zoch 10 News and Notes 16 Lighter Side of Dirt 22 In Memorium 24 Funny Side of the Track 26 Short Track Stars – James Broty 28 Ask The Driver 30 Moving Pics – Speedway Car Cams 32 Kevin Rumley 38 Thomas Meseraull 44 Mike Maresca 48 Review in Pictures 52 Karting Spotlight 54 Moving Pics – Dirt Dobber 56 Short Track Stars – Leah Wroten 58 Series Insights – Rush Racing 60 Photographer Focus – Paul Arch 64 Auxiliary Power – Lauren Stewart 68 Talking Tech 70 Guest Voice – Kelley Carlton 70 Museum Spotlight 74 Dirt Chronicles 76 New & Featured Products 78 Catalogs 80 Advertiser’s Index 82 After Word


A wide-ranging conversation with Kevin Rumley discussing his family’s race team, engineering winning race cars and pairing up with Kyle Larson. 38 TALKIN’ WITH T-MEZ

We corralled one of the best interviews in all of racing and talked USAC Midgets, drifting and the realities of being a professional race car driver with Thomas Meseraull. 42 SHINING IN FLORIDA

New York’s Mike Maresca made a splash in Florida when he scored a big win and impressed during Speedweek’s events to kick off the season. 46 REVIEW IN PICTURES – SUNSHINE SWING

We take a look back at the start of the 2021 season when late models, midgets, sprint cars, modifieds and every other type of race car headed for better weather and big purses. 82 AFTER WORD

A new filing by PRI in the US court system shines a light on the question of EPA rules on emissions controls on automobiles and the racing industry. TO SUBSCRIBE, GO TO DIRTEMPIREMAGAZINE.COM/SUBSCRIBE DIRT EMPIRE MAGAZINE | APRIL/MAY 2021


April/May 2021 Issue 02 • Volume 01 Advertising Info:

email: phone: 315.921.1415 OWNER/PUBLISHER Adam Cornell SR. EDITOR Justin Zoch SUBSCRIPTION COORDINATOR Abigail Cornell WORDS Ashley Allinson, Ashley Zimmerman, Bert Lehman, Bill Blumer Jr., Bob Mays, Brett Swanson, Chad Meyer, Chris Romano, Cyndi Stiffler, Danny Burton, David Sink, Doug Seeger, Elizabeth Madley, Eric Arnold, Gary Costa, Greg Soukup, Jessica Jenkins, Joanne Cram, Joe Duvall, Kelley Carlton, Kevin Oldham, Larry Weeks, Lee Ackerman, Melissa Coker, Mike Spieker, Odell Suttle, Scott Erickson, TJ Buffenbarger, Todd Heintzelman, Vahok Hill





P R I N T !







7 6

02 - Apr/May 2021



PICTURES Adam Mollenkopf, Andy Newsome, Bill Miller, Bill Taylor, Brad Plant, Brandon Anderson, Brendon Bauman, Brian Bouder, Bruce Palla, Buck Monson, Buzz Fisher, Carey Fox, Chad Wells, Chris McDill, Chris Pederson, Conrad Nelson, Dan DeMarco, Danny Howk, David Campbell, David Giles, David Hill, David Pratt, Dennis Krieger, Don Laidlaw, Donna Rosenstengel, Doug Burgess, Doug Vandeventer, Glen Starek, Gordy O’Field, Greg Stanek, Greg Teel, Heath Lawson, Jacy Norgaard, Jason Orth, Jason Spencer, Jason Wells, Jeff Bylsma, Jim Collum Jr., Jim DenHamer, Jim Zimmerline, Jimmy Jones, Joe Orth, Joe Secka, John Dadalt, John Lee, John Rothermel, Jon Holliday, Joseph Swann, Ken Kelly, Lee Greenawalt, Leif Tillotson, Mark Funderburk, Mark Sublett, Matt Butcosk, Michael Diers, Michael Moats, Mike Campbell, Mike Damic, Mike Feltenberger, Mike Howard, Mike Musslin, Mike Ruefer, Millie Tanner, Patrick Miller, Paul Arch, Paul Gould, Rich LaBrier, Richard Barnes, Rick Neff, Rick Sherer, Robert Wing, Rocky Ragusa, Ron Gilson, Ryan Northcote, Scott Swenson, Seth Stone, Steve Walters, Tara Chavez, Terry Page, Tim Aylwin, Tim Hunt, Todd Boyd, Tom Macht, Tony Hammett, Travis Branch, Troy Junkins, Tyler Carr, Tyler Rinkin, Zach Yost, Zakary Kriener

Dirt Empire Magazine is published 8 times annually. Copyright © 2021 Dirt Empire Magazine. Dirt Empire is a registered trademark of Adam Cornell and cannot be used without prior written authorization. Any unauthorized use of the Dirt Empire Magazine Logo or related icons is strictly prohibited. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. All rights reserved. Dirt Empire Magazine and its writers and editors are not responsible for typos or clerical errors in advertisements or articles. Postmaster: Send all address changes to: Dirt Empire Magazine, 218 Flower Ave E, Studio C, Watertown, NY 13601 Subscription rate is $36 US annually. Canadian and International subscribers add $24 annually.



Brinn Inc.


IT IS FINALLY HERE! We are just as excited as we hope you are about the launch of Dirt Empire Magazine’s first print edition. We’ve been floored by the support we have received online and hope we have been able to meet or exceed expectations. Going forward, what are you to expect? After reviewing the most cost-effective way to bring you a real print magazine, we settled on an annual production schedule of eight issues – monthly during the racing season, semi-monthly in the off season. So, when is the next issue of Dirt Empire Magazine hitting shelves and mailboxes? Here’s the breakdown of our annual publishing schedule: February/March April/May June July August September October/November December/January A good number of the decisions we have made with Dirt Empire Magazine have been based on experience and watching the successes and failures of others. We have been frustrated when


Enough of you responded to what we offered, and now we are here, where we’re supposed to be – in print! we see our favorite things like other publications go away. Our goal is to make the right decisions with this publication so it will be around for a long, long time. That doesn’t mean that these decisions are chiseled in stone. We may get to the end of the year and feel that maybe we need to add an issue or two to the production schedule. We’ll see. One thing we are certain of, however, is we won’t be switching to an all-digital format. We love print. We love paper. Though a digital copy will be co-produced and available online, we’re with you on this: a magazine should be enjoyed on paper, not on a three-inch mobile screen. So, why didn’t we produce a print version of the Dirt Empire Magazine preview issue in February, which was only available online? It was a simple matter of marketing. One does not covet that which one

does not know exists. More succinctly, you don’t want something if you haven’t seen it. We felt it was important to show, not tell, both subscribers and advertisers alike, what a new dirt track racing publication would look like before asking them to fork over their hard-earned cash. We feel like the digital preview issue accomplished its purpose. Enough of you responded to what we offered, and now we are here, where we’re supposed to be – in print! Our goal is to create, with each and every new issue, an exciting and fun publication that captures the heart and spirit of the dirt track experience. We’re always open to your suggestions for story ideas, ways to improve, commendations and critiques. Feel free to reach out to us on social media or via email. We want to hear from you. Now that all of that is out of the way, let’s go racing! Sincerely,

Adam Cornell Owner/Publisher



fore WORD

By Adam Cornell

IT MUST BE NICE FOR ANYONE WHO WORKS for themselves, or has started a new business, there is nothing more grating than someone saying, “It must be nice,” when they see your success. It’s frustrating, because without saying it, they have spun a narrative in their head: “You’re lucky, things have just fallen into place for you, it’s not fair you’re lucky and they aren’t.” What they don’t seem to understand is that running a business and creating something out of nothing isn’t a nine-tofive job. There are some days that don’t end until 2am. Others that have to start at 4am. If your head does manage to hit the pillow before midnight, it’s usually filled with a list of things you didn’t get accomplished that day and cannot forget to do before the next day’s agenda begins. There is no one there to tell you what to do next. No road map to success that you can follow. It’s working, it’s building, it’s hoping, it’s believing. It’s winning and failing and then not giving up. I’ve learned over the years this truth: people who work for someone else can’t wait for the weekend. People who run their own business wish there was an extra Tuesday. I think if ever there was an industry that knows better than to say, “It must be nice,”


it’s the racing industry, and specifically those who work on and build racecars for dirt track racing. Late nights getting the car together, hours upon hours repairing after a race, don’t forget the travel or the pressure washing; all without the guarantee of success. In fact, a majority of competitors in dirt track racing will never taste victory during the entirety of their racing careers. Work ethic is respected in this industry. (So is partying. But I’ll save that for a different column.) It’s not the same in every industry. I have a former classmate who works as an attorney. To talk with him, you would think that the goal in life is to try to bill as many hours as possible to a client while actually shooting the back nine at the country club. “Work is for chumps,” is the attitude. No wonder nobody likes lawyers. As the old joke goes, in a shipwreck, the sharks don’t eat the lawyers out of professional courtesy. Building this magazine from nothing has been challenging, infuriating, stressful, and scary. It’s also been rewarding, fun, exciting and an adventure, to be sure. Perhaps not too unlike building a race car. (Probably far less complicated, and if I mess up, I won’t catapult myself into turn four. But other than that. . .exactly the same.) Every day is a workday. But also, every day I get to work with and talk about race cars. I get to work with great people from all across the country, including amazingly talented writers and photographers, not to mention industry professionals and marketing people. Each day is a challenge, but it’s also its own reward. One of the things I never got an opportunity to do while working at other publications, was to interact directly with subscribers and readers. I had the rare chance to talk a bit with a reader or two at a trade show or race. But


to be the face of the magazine now gives me the honor of speaking with readers from all over. It’s a bonus I did not anticipate and am thankful I get to experience it. I am sure as the racing season starts up and we shake off the rust that naturally grew on the nation in 2020 from the pandemic and everything else, there will be new challenges, rewards, new ups, new downs. I couldn’t be happier to be facing the new year at the helm of Dirt Empire Magazine. Thank you for coming with us on this journey, I hope you enjoy the ride. I looked at myself in the mirror this morning as I reflected on everything we’re doing at Dirt Empire, and I said “It must be nice.” I smiled and answered, “It sure is.”

Photo: Melissa Tousley


White Knuckle Clothing Inc.


from the EDITOR

By Justin Zoch

PERMANENCE THE MAGAZINE you’re currently holding was first imagined in the final few weeks of 2020 and it has been a long three months finally getting this ink to soak into this page. It’s not the first issue we built under the Dirt Empire moniker but it’s the first one to go to print, and thus, will forever be the debut issue. The digital preview edition was a great experience and featured a lot of talented writers and photographers who gave us their seal of approval and allowed us to share their work and our vision – I’m very proud of that digital edition.

Unless you have lots of ink and a dedicated printer...magazines are just better. 8

However, being a diehard for the printed word, this one will always be the first one in my mind. There’s something special about holding a magazine in your hand that can’t be replaced by an online edition. It’s the permanence of print that always make me extra proud of a product. It’s designed to be kept, savored and collected (or recycled promptly if you so choose!) and that’s what I love about it. Even after 20 plus years in magazines, I never get tired of seeing a product I’m involved in show up in the mailbox. I didn’t start off writing in print though. I first started typing up race reviews in my dorm room at Gustavus Adolphus College in the late 1990s and titled my weekly missives Upper Midwest Ramblings and volunteered to send them off to plumber turned webmaster Allan Holland on his then burgeoning From there, I went “syndicated” and found several other websites, including to print them but Hoseheads was first and always garnered the best exposure. Eventually, I left college and went to work at Mid-States Racing News for Howard Mellinger in Webster City, Iowa, before Dean Nardi hired me on to edit FlatOut in 2001. FlatOut was my favorite magazine even before I worked there and Kevin Eckert graciously allowed me to write for it. My first piece was a Q&A with Craig Cormack and Rodney Droud on the messiness of the Eagle Raceway/ NSCA schism around the turn of the century. I’m pretty sure I stared at my first byline for about five minutes before starting the story. I have that on my shelf in my office along with every other FlatOut I ever helped assemble. I just read it again right now – took me 30 seconds to find it.


All those years that I toiled on Hoseheads and searched for my voice and shared my news, notes and ramblings, I would regularly post around 4,000 words per week (for reference, this column is about 600!) and used travelogues, interviews and personal anecdotes. Almost all of them are lost to the void that is the internet with the exception of a few found through google searches on old websites. I’ve long wished to go back and read those rambles. That’s why this issue is so important to me – its real and it lasts. Just two weeks ago, my father surprised me with a truly special gift – a huge chunk of my columns. As I was posting online and moving to the next column, he was printing off my work. He found them and gave me a long, detailed look at the racing scene from 99-01 and short glimpses of myself from 20 years ago. I never expected to read them again because they were never printed. Something tells me this magazine might be stashed away somewhere in that house to be found 20 years anon. Thanks Dad!


Summit Racing Equipment




& Photo: Dennis Krieger

GARY WEBB just keeps spinning. The veteran race car driver will soon kick off his 50th season behind the wheel of a race car. The Iowa native was inducted into the National Late Model Hall of Fame back in 2008 and will look to add to his 521 wins total during the season. Webb will turn 72 in April.

PRI HAS FILED an amicus brief in a lawsuit between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Gear Box Z. Inc. (GBZ), arguing against EPA’s contention that the Clean Air Act (CAA) does not allow a motor vehicle to be converted into a racing vehicle used solely for competition. For more on this topic, check out the AFTER WORD column on page 82 of this issue. If you can’t sleep at night, and are adverse to taking sleeping pills, you can use the QR code below to read the entire amicus brief. default/files/magazine/89-1.pdf


LUCAS OIL PRODUCTS has had a major impact on short track racing and they have now promoted their key motorsports coordinator. Dan Robinson has a new expanded role within Lucas Oil’s Motorsports Division, which includes Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland. As Vice President of Motorsports Operations, Robinson will be responsible for all operational aspects of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League and the Lucas Oil MLRA along with Lucas Oil Speedway. His duties will include financial performance, operations, marketing, sponsorships, staffing, human resources, safety, scheduling and event planning. “Dan’s knowledge and experience of the grassroots motorsports industry will help us build on what is an integral part of our marketing strategy,” said Morgan Lucas. “Dan has earned this role with what he has accomplished in Wheatland and we are proud to have him leading our motorsports promotional efforts.”


MATT SHEPPARD will start the 2021 season on probation with the Super DIRTcar Series after an incident during Florida Speedweeks with Max McLaughlin. According to the official complaint, “Event and explanation: During the Feb. 11, 2021 Super DIRTcar Series event at Volusia Speedway Park, driver Matt Sheppard went into the Michael “Max” McLaughlin’s pit area after the feature event was completed. Verbal discussion from Sheppard, escalated into a physical confrontation.” Sheppard will be on probation until July 1.

HAVE JUMBOTRON, WILL TRAVEL. The World Racing Group now has three of these mobile jumbotron screens that will tour, one each, with the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars, World of Outlaws Late Models, and the SuperDIRT Big Block Modifieds. They were all on display at Volusia for the Dirtcar Nationals, including one positioned so the lower Gator Pits could watch the action remotely.

Photo: Paul Arch

RPM SPEEDWAY has a new promoter as long-time race fan and tech inspector Chris Sutton will take over the reins of the Kansas Speedway. The track, located in the central Kansas town of Hays along I-70, will continue to feature IMCA divisions. “I want to see this track continue to be a success. It’s a very big piece of the IMCA racing puzzle in the state and consistently has had one of the biggest car counts in Kansas,” said Sutton, who has also been involved as a competition director, track prep guy and announcer. Photo: Bill Blumer Jr.

ANGELL PARK SPEEDWAY will have new promoters in 2021 as Gregg and Angie McKarns will take over promotional duties for the new season in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. The McKarns also manage the nearby asphalt Madison Int’l Speedway and run the ARCA Midwest Tour and are looking forward to a season full of Badger Midgets, USAC National Midgets for the Pepsi Nationals in September and will continue to run winged Sprint Cars with visits from the IRA and the All Stars. The speedway is owned by the local volunteer fire department and hosts the National Midget Hall of Fame in turns one and two. AARON REUTZEL WON in the World of Outlaws return to East Bay Raceway Park in early March in an event that only became possible when Golden State COVID protocols canceled the tour’s Western Swing. It had been 38 years since the series last appeared at the Gibsonton, Florida, racetrack, which was the longest stretch between dates in series history.

THE CHUNKY POODLE is aiming to be the best marketing partner in the history of the USMTS. Weren’t we way overdue for a series with an official cookie? The drought has ended as Chunky Poodle will be peddling products at USMTS events as they’ll be active in the autograph sessions and handing out cookies at various events. DIRT EMPIRE MAGAZINE | APRIL/MAY 2021





Photos and Text By Brett Swanson

#17 James McFadden

UPS AND DOWNS DOWN UNDER The 2020/21 Australian racing season has just concluded and it had just as many twists and turns as one would imagine. We tasked writer/photographer Brett Swanson with giving us the highs and lows of one strange season. BEST OF… 1.Just getting to go racing after the 2019/20 season was cut short early followed by the delay to the start of the 2020/21 season, especially more so in the southern states of the country. 2. Lachlan McHugh replacing Robbie Farr in the East Coast Pipelines Racing NQ7. McHugh has been virtually unbeatable in his home state of Queensland as well as taking a couple of big wins (as well as a big wreck) when he was able to venture south over the likes of James McFadden, Jamie Veal and many of the country’s best racers. 12

3. 50th Anniversary of the Premier Speedway Clubs moving to their current Allansford site, home of the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic. 4. Tyler Maggs. Impressive grandson of legendary car owner Jack Maggs (Aussie speedway royalty) who is showing brilliant speed and maturity in Junior Formula 500s in only his second season since stepping up from a year or two in dirt karts. A name to keep an eye on in the future. 5. James McFadden’s form after returning from the USA and having


to quarantine for two weeks. He had a great month of January winning a couple of big-dollar 360 and 410 shows including the Fifty for 50, a substitute event for the non-running of the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic. 6. Supercar racer Cameron Waters debut in a sprint car. The black top racer who is used to speeds of 190mph (300Kph) at the awesome Bathurst circuit and others will spend as much time turning left as possible between his paid ride in Australia’s premier circuit racing series. Dirt is nothing new to Waters, although a sprint car is, as he is a National Champion in Modified Production Sedans and has spent time in a late model.

#24 Tyler Maggs

WORST OF… 1. World famous Parramatta Raceway not commencing its final season as promised while the state of New South Wales awaits the construction of a new replacement facility due for the 2021/22 season. Sydney and Australian fans and competitors have been denied the opportunity to farewell the iconic track. The promoter blamed COVID yet every other track in the country is up and running!

Rumours persist that the promoter took government cash to make the land available for redevelopment early. 2. No American tourists. Due to Covid and International and interstate border closures, no Americans were able (willing to quarantine for two weeks) to contest the prestigious Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic leading to its postponement for the first time ever. Many interstate teams

were also unable to travel due to state borders being closed to other states. 3. Lockdowns. State governments closing borders to other states making it impossible for teams/fans to travel interstate for big races and restrictions on crowd numbers at those venues that area able to operate.







Kerry Madsen rode out this grinder at Knoxville in August of 2020. Photo: Conrad Nelson DIRT EMPIRE MAGAZINE | FEBRUARY/MARCH 2021


the lighter side of

Photos by Rick Sherer

DIRT QUICK QUIZ Question: What is Fremont Speedway champion Nate Dussel doing right now? A) Attempting to wash some errant track dust from his eyes. B) Cooling himself down on a very warm, humid night.


C) Working on product placement for a prospective future sponsor. D) Celebrating like there’s no tomorrow. Your first 3 guesses don’t count. *Must be 21 years or older and wearing a fire safety suit for protection.


Whether it is for pandemic protection or not getting plastered with Northern Ohio mud pellets, Duane Zablocki has a piece of really good advice on the rear of his top wing. Photo: Rick Sherer



Lazer Chassis

the lighter side of

DIRT THE TUCKASEE TOILET BOWL race at Clarksville Speedway in Clarksville, Tennessee was rescheduled from February to March 11th, 12th & 13th 2021. Whether sitting or standing, winners Tanner English in the Super Late Models, Beau Deyoung in the UMP Open Wheel Modifieds and Matt Cooper in the 604 Crate Late Models are proud of their new thrones.

Photos: David Giles

TOM AND FRAN CHIAPPELLI like to use their Sprint Car not just to advertise their sponsors but also to advertise their ideas and their motivations. The nose wing features a quote from author Michael Nolan about why they are so passionate about hauling their car to Port Royal Speedway every Saturday night. Meanwhile, the quote on the dash is Latin and translates roughly to “don’t let the bastards grind you down” According to photographer David Giles, it was originated by British Army intelligence agents at the beginning of World War 2 and adopted by U.S. Army General “Vinegar” Joe Stilwell and 1964 presidential candidate Barry Goldwater.

“Go-karts are what you ride at amusement parks. Karts are what you race at racetracks.” - Bill Blumer Jr. Photos: Josh James Artwork Photo: Dave Pratt



PITSIDE PARTY GAMES The MLRA tour can get to be a grind, particularly during a pandemic, but these guys found some levity during 2020. No one has ever had more fun grinding a tire than Casey Mooneyham at Outlaw Motor Speedway while Brett Ladenhoff doffs an air filter at Tri-City Speedway.

Photos: Todd Boyd

Photo: Donna Rosenstengal

COMFORT ZONE World of Outlaws 2021 regular James McFadden grabbed a few quiet moments to himself as he reflects on a successful, but difficult, year spent racing in America and his home country of Australia that was often punctuated by travel restrictions between the two countries due to COVID. Perhaps no one has dealt with more red tape trying to get to the racetrack.


Right Foot Performance Products



the lighter side of

DIRT VINTAGE T-SHIRTS WITH holes, or new designs that are wholly awesome! We don’t care, if it’s a cool looking racing tee, we love ‘em!

THROWBACK TO THROWBACK The 14th Annual Bob Miller Reading Racing Reunion was in 1999 and the drivers shown on the front of the collectible shirt were Kenny Brightbill (19),Gerald Chamberlain (76),Jimmy Horton (3) and Tommy Long. Submitted by Mike Feltenberger

OUTLAW TRAVELER Brad Furr was a regular competitor with the World of Outlaws and the WoO Gumout series at the turn of the century but this shirt came from California before he hit the road full-time. Submitted by David Giles

HOLEY SHIRTS If you have a favorite vintage t-shirt or a new design that grabs your eye, send it to Dirt Empire Magazine at with a quick quip about why you love it.


PRETTY IN PINK Three-time IMCA Super Nationals champion Mark Noble campaigned the Wolf Racing/Larry Groen Breast Cancer Awareness 74 in the 2009 event and likely sold a lot of this design. Submitted by Chad Meyer


Salon at Studio B

in memorium

ELDORA’S BERNEICE BALTES ALTHOUGH IT HAS BEEN nearly two decades since Earl and Berneice Baltes sold Eldora Speedway to Tony Stewart, she was still Eldora Speedway First Lady. Berneice, who passed away on February 24, co-founded the famous raceway in 1954 and was an integral part of every piece of Eldora history. She famously managed the concessions – including the world famous pizza burgers – and the Eldora ballroom and strived to make sure that every visit to Eldora was full of hospitality and innovation. Berneice was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and often served on promotion panels. Berneice was 93. Photos: Paul Arch

TMC’S HARROLD ANNETT OFTEN KNOWN AS the owner of the most beautiful Sprint Car ever, Harrold Annett built his TMC Trucking Company into a worldfamous brand while simultaneously leaving an indelible mark on the sport. Annett first owned a sprint car for Mike Brooks in the late 1970s before teaming with Sammy Swindell in the mid-1980s. Aside from his success on the track, Annett also had a successful real estate business in the Lake of the Ozarks region. Annett was married to his wife Debbie for 38 years. His son, Michael, continues the family’s racing legacy and competes in NASCAR’s highest levels.


Photos: Paul Arch


Dominator Race Products Wehrs Machine & Racing Products



the funny side of THE TRACK By: Adam Cornell

© 2021 Adam Cornell

Every time Pop can’t find a tool I learn a new word. I’m hiding some sockets to see what he says next!





Dueling 32s of Danny Bouc (inside) and Brandon Grosso in Deleware. Photo: Dave Pratt

“Just going to hang out at the track”. - J.R. Berry Photo: Dan DeMarco



short track

STARS Lonsdale, Minnesota


IT ALL STARTED ACROSS THE SEA when a young man took a summer job painting his grandmother’s house in Norway to help fund his dream of racing cars. That project has grown into generations of the Broty family racing sprint cars. Family roots and vacations spent in Norway allowed Scott Broty to build relationships like the one that brought Eide Entrepreneur across the ocean and to be the title sponsor for Broty Racing last year. Along the way, the need to utilize building and repairing their own race engines to keep up with the rising costs of racing began the family business Broty Racing Engines, master minded by Scott Broty, and rounded out with assistance from sons James and Scotty Broty. “We celebrate together and we lose together. It’s not just me getting to drive the car - it’s the whole family’s hard work,” said James. Days around the Broty Racing Engine shop are quite busy, producing ten to fifteen fresh engines a year for customers, leaving Scott and James to find a balance between preparing their 26

Photo: Jeff Bylsma

customers for their upcoming races and ensuring the cars for James, and little brother Scotty, are ready for their schedule as well. James has a large goal for the Broty Racing Engine shop, starting with finishing up his certification in CNC machining. He plans to hone his skills toward creating custom parts to market to potential racing engine customers. “I’m lucky my dad has built a strong foundation for this to no longer be a dream but a goal for us. I want to have the ability to do everything under one roof – building engines, dyno services, machining, repairing rear ends, steering gears, plumbing, welding, and chassis repair. I want it all with our name on it. Making parts is simply a component; we’re building an empire here.” While at the core, the Broty family comprises the foundation of the Broty Racing Team, there are two additional members of the team that play integral parts in both their success and passion in racing, “Greg Parent helped my dad when he was winding down his career


and has went on to help Scotty and I. His philosophy is that the young guys are the future. Through this relationship, he has become family. Nick Reed has been my best friend since middle school, he was the only person with an interest in racing at that age and has been a member of the team since I started racing.” During the 2020 race season, the Broty Racing team saw both James and Scotty fielding sprint cars in the #33 and #33B, respectively, where they ran the Midwest Power Series and the five state region in both 410s and 360s. While goals in 2020 found the team looking to build confidence, consistency, and develop fast set ups using unfamiliar and new equipment, James still finds himself dreaming for the future of Broty Racing, “I have 2024 Knoxville Nationals written on my refrigerator at home. I will be 33, and the number 33 is obviously special in our family. It’s a reminder every day of what we’re working toward, and I feel like we might be ahead of schedule. I had a few other things on

Photo: Scott Gulbrandson

A throwback to 2012!

there [the list] I wanted to cross off first, so when we went, we could do it right. That way if we get our butts kicked, I can still say we did it right. Being able to see that goal everyday keeps me motivated to just keep working hard, it’ll be here sooner than later.” The schedule changes from COVID-19 last season left the Brotys facing off with many reputable names and teams, all while still configuring a new set up and making his first freshman laps in a 410 engine. James Broty contributed the source of his drive and perseverance from a Facebook message from the late Jason Johnson, “After Jason won the Knoxville Nationals, I sent him a message [on Facebook]. In his interviews he always talked about visualizing. I said, I’m just a kid from Minnesota, wanting to make a dream

Photo: Bill Taylor

happen, you always talk about this [visualizing], what do you mean by it? How can I apply this to my life? Ya know what, he responded, he talked to me about how he thought about each lap, each win. How he visualized it happening.” One thing is very certain, regardless of the outcome of each race, the Broty Race team comprised solely of family makes each memory that much sweeter, “when you have your family behind you supporting you every night, it makes the bad nights a lot easier, but it also makes the good nights that much more fun. Sprint car racing is all I have ever known and it’s what I feel I’m meant to do; after watching how smooth and fast these guys are, carrying on the family tradition is all I’m ever going to want to do.”

BATTLE ARMOR Shell Shock brought Broty’s Norwegian family roots to a place of constant reminder by creating this unique lid. With Eide Entreprenor from Oslo, Norway as their title sponsor, James wanted to show support not only to his roots, but to their important sponsor from across the pond. After James consulted with Shell Shock, they brought this unique Norwegian Viking/Norseman theme helmet to life. This was a special way for James to pay homage to the place Broty Racing first began when his father Scott started saving money with summer jobs to build his first kart. A dream that once started simply by painting houses has now grown into two sprint car drivers and a 1500 square foot engine shop.



ask the



Dirt Empire is taking questions provided by YOU and will seek out your favorite drivers to get you the answers to your long awaited questions! All you have to do to submit your question is just Like Dirt Empire on any social media and include #DEasks with your question. Then watch for the next issue to see if your question is featured! VETERAN INDIANA MODIFIED driver Kenny Carmichael Sr. took a few moments to sit down with Dirt Empire to answer our very first #DEasks a fan question. With over four decades of time behind the wheel of varied forms of dirt track race cars, Dirt Empire sat down with Kenny to pick his brain on some of the rarely asked but often wondered questions about his storied career. A driver with as many laps as Kenny Carmichael Sr., there are a lot of memories, and a lot of wisdom! 28

DIRT EMPIRE (DE): What is one type of race car that you haven’t driven that you’d like to? KENNY CARMICHAEL (KC): A USAC Silver Crown car. DE: What is the best racing advice you’ve been given? KC: When I raced sprint cars, I was told if it feels like it’s going to flip, it’s not lying. DE: What is one piece of advice you’d give to future drivers that you wish you’d had known when you started out? KC: Race people the way you want to be raced. Don’t just slide someone to move up one place in the feature or for a transfer spot. Newer drivers these days, they’ll spin you out even when you’re running dead last just to get one more spot. It’s not like it used to be. DE: If you had to pick one driver to race 100 laps with, who would it be? KC: It’s hard to say. We’ve raced against so many great drivers like Jack Hewitt,


Photo: Carey Fox

Dave Darland, Kevin Thomas, so it’s really hard to say. Right now, as of today, I’d have to say Kyle Larson, just so you can see what he’s doing and how. DE: What is one driver past or present you’d like to have a drink with? KC: I’d have to go with Jack Hewitt, just because he’s got so many stories. DE: While we know you have 42 years to sift through, what is just one of your favorite racing memories? KC: It’s hard to say, I’ve really got to think about that one. Of course, your first feature win. But, I’d also have to say, being able to run at the Mopar Million that Earl Baltes put on. DE: Compare the first lap to the last lap; what are the differences in your driving, your thought processes, and your emotions? KC: The first lap, I’m looking to see who starts in front and behind me. I’m normally cautious the first corner

Photo: Carey Fox

or lap. Racers tend to think races are won on the first lap, I try and look for openings where you can miss the wreck if it does happen. Middle part of the race, just take what you can get, try to move forward, or if leading start looking ahead at lap cars that you’re gaining on. You normally have a couple of laps to see what line they are running, so plan your move. The last laps of the race, if leading, just be consistent. If I’m second, put as much pressure on the leader if I’m close enough. But I’m not a guy that will move someone to win, not even if it’s for a transfer spot in a heat race. There are some guys that think that’s the way you are supposed to race, heck they will hit you if you’re even running last. Emotionally, I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt if they’ve run into me but this comes with age. I don’t tolerate being roughed up lap after lap either though. DE: What is one thing you struggled with in 2020, that you learned from, and will change going into 2021? KC: We slacked a bit on our maintenance, mainly because we didn’t know when we would be racing from one week to the next. We’ll go back to being a bit more... motivated, wash the car on Saturday if you ran on Friday – do maintenance throughout the week; take it apart, clean everything, drain everything, get it ready for the weekend.

We’ll go back to doing what we did in the past. DE: With such a lengthy career, what do you feel is the key to maintain longevity and success in dirt track racing? KC: I’ve been fortunate enough to have had some great car owners and great sponsors. Always treat their money like it’s your money. Even if it’s feasible for them to spend a bunch of money, don’t do if you don’t have to. If you don’t have to bolt on a new rubber to go out and start 20th in the feature, don’t do it. I’ve had one sponsor that’s been with me for 10 years. When I ran sprint cars, I had one that was with me for 17 years.

has carried over into your everyday life? KC: Hard work, loyalty, things like that. DE: How do you plan to give back to the future generations to continue helping the growth of dirt track racing? KC: Right now, we help all the new drivers that we can when they come out [to the track] and ask questions. If we see somebody kind of new, that looks like they are out in left field and kind of lost, we’ll go up and offer them help. Some guys think you’re trying to set them up and lying, but we tell everyone the truth. We just try to help out guys and get them started.

DE: What has racing taught you that An old shot of Carmichael ripping up the Action Track around the turn of the century.

Photo: Gordon O’Field




PICS SPEEDWAY CAR CAMS For nearly ten years, Michael Elliot has been placing cameras into the cars for amazing POV shots of what the drivers experience. We’re pretty big fans. Use the provided YouTube links or the QR codes to access the videos. You can visit for easy links as well. WINNER #11 DAVID SMITH - 602 LATE MODEL 3-6-21 CHEROKEE SPEEDWAY - IN-CAR CAMERA







Jones Racing Products


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Photo: Heath Lawson

Empire felt it was time to pin down the WHILE COVID-19 TRIED many times mastermind behind Longhorn Chassis. to deter our ability to race, the dirt track While a man of few words, we were able racing community was able to witness to sit down with Kevin to talk about the Kyle Larson write his place in history. storied success, and the creation of the The sentiment of “it takes a village” 6 car, as well as… you guessed it, Kyle would best be applied to the plan that Larson. was developed to allow Kyle the ability to jump from different forms of dirt track DIRT EMPIRE (DE): Originally the racing – sometimes all in the same race team was started by your father weekend. Kevin Rumley of Longhorn Lee Roy. What compelled him to Chassis would find himself a citizen in want to have a late model? the late model village of Kyle Larson, KEVIN RUMLEY (KR): My father grew and the combination would enable the up in a moderate size family with three pair to find near brothers. While It was just a perfect instant success. he grew up a Kevin Rumley opportunity. Kyle called, high school isn’t a stranger to athlete and had we had about a five victory lane, and it chances to go to came as no surprise minute conversation and college, one of that the legendary he said, “Alright, I’ll get his brothers was 6 would give Larson in the service a seat up there and we’ll in Georgia and his first trip to late model victory lane. brought back a get a car together.” When Larson proved car. He watched again in January 2021 how deadly of his brothers try to repair the car or try a combination Rumley and he are, Dirt to do things with the car and could not 32


accomplish them. My father jumped in and made repairs to the car and fixed it for his brothers. He was hooked ever since. DE: Aside from growing up in a racing family, what was it that triggered you to decide to be a part of the racing industry? KR: Well, growing up I thought I was the coolest kid in town because my dad had raced and was successful. A lot of people came over to the shop when I was younger and it made me think I was a part of something special. I spent a lot of time in the shop and got very close to him. I paid attention and started to understand the mechanical aspects, how the car handled, and how it worked. Then it just fit naturally. My dad tried to get me into sports, but the first day of football practice I had my helmet on backwards - that pretty much ended that! He said “you better be smart!” DE: While we all have the recent success of Kyle Larson on our

Kevin Rumley working under the hood of Tim McCreadie’s #39 at Eldora Speedway in 2019. Photo: Zach Yost.

minds, what are some of the other notable wins for yourself and your father? KR: There are dozens, like the Lucas Late Model Championship or the World 100. Definitely the World 100 - it might sound cliché but that is our marquee event; the most prestigious. DE: For quite some time, your father only raced locally with a part time schedule. What were the deciding factors in finally deciding to branch out, travel, and race full time? KR: Well, when I entered college, I started to meet more people in the racing scene and started to work on more things. We didn’t really have a big budget, so we had to rely on building our own engines, making the cars get faster. I started to get exposed to more resources, and we found the opportunity that we could leave our little area and compete, getting better and better. So, in 1997, we built our first toter-home and that allowed us to get out and travel, and be successful.

DE: When the team did begin hauling and racing full time, Jonathan Davenport was brought on board to drive. What about Jonathan made him the best fit for the team? KR: Well, Jonathan and myself, we’ve been very close since we met, he’s a one of a kind talent. When we got him

to drive in 2014, it was on the emphasis of Longhorn Chassis. We had to develop the race car and the main thing that Jonathan has is a very open mind and vision. It was basically just talent, and his open-mindedness to how cars needed to evolve to make a lot more success for us.

Lee Roy Rumley, Jonathan Davenport and Kevin Rumley in victory lane at the World 100 at Eldora Speedway in 2015. Photo by Paul Arch DIRT EMPIRE MAGAZINE | APRIL/MAY 2021


Kevin Rumley tuning on Tim McCreadie’s ride at Eldora during the 2020 Intercontinental Classic at Eldora Speedway. Photo: Zach Yost.

DE: What was it about fabricating and engineering that made you not take the path of a driver? KR: Well, basically I’ve never enjoyed driving. I’ve never found it interesting and always found the cars more interesting. DE: You chose to go to college and pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. Do you feel that this degree still benefits your career the most? Would you still recommend the path you took? KR: Well, the basic fundamental understanding of engineering helps me the most, whether it be vehicle dynamics, understanding the path behind shock absorbers, or meeting peers that have the same skill sets as you, it was all very big. It opens up resources that you never thought you could have. I would highly recommend if you’re pursuing a career in racing similar to mine, to get a mechanical engineering degree.” DE: One of your first successful 34

designs was a cam hub assembly. When you were creating this design, did you realize how much of an innovation this would become? KR: Well, the design came about for my father’s racing. We had to assemble our own engines, we had to pick the components and therefore we had some very good engines because we were able to have freedom then and could use all of our resources. I had the idea to design this piece, it was a very ambitious design, and one that simplified the engines and helped the performance considerably. So, Xceldyne, where I was working, the NASCAR Cup teams

I would highly recommend, if you’re pursuing a career in racing similar to mine, to get a mechanical engineering degree.


we worked with started to notice this design, and they actually built the new RO7 Chevrolet and FR9 Fords around this cam hub mount simply because it simplified the design of everything. We were on a time limit to develop, and it was very difficult, but very gratifying once we learned enough to produce it. DE: What are some other things you have designed over the course of your career? KR: In the beginning of the 2015 season, we were planning to run the Lucas Oil National Series. We had an enormous amount of data that we recorded from various places and various races. There was this underlying problem that I found, a fundamental problem with the cars. I devoted pretty much the whole winter of 2014 to solving this problem. This problem ended up producing a very unique suspension device that looks far more complicated than it should be, but it solved the problem. We went on to have a very successful year as a result. The device we developed went on to be outlawed

of the pieces of the puzzle together and have an avenue to manufacture what was in my head, it pretty much revolutionized the late model industry, and every chassis manufacturer had to play catch up, and I think they’re still playing catch up at this moment. We had a huge opportunity to start with a clean sheet of paper. In other words, we didn’t add to it, we didn’t try to refine it. We started with a clean sheet of paper, and there was a huge advantage for us in the Labontes, they provided their expertise and racing from their asphalt background, and it made a very beautiful product.

A very happy Lee Roy Rumley, Kevin Rumley and Tim McCreadie holding the winning check at the Firecracker 100 at Lernerville Speedway Photo: Paul Arch

and probably created about four pages in the rule book. DE: Eventually the Labontes would approach you to offer you a position at Longhorn Chassis. Was this a decision that took much time to decide on? Or did you immediately know this was an opportunity you needed to seize? KR: So, basically, they were trying to build a chassis business and needed to look at some creative routes to do so. This was in the time that my dad retired from his public job, which meant that our racing budget was pretty much gone. So, we had to get very creative on how we were going to continue racing. The partnership with the Labonte Brothers enabled us to do so and I think it worked out great for both parties. DE: When did you begin traveling with the #6 full time? When the schedule was light and more part time, how did you go about deciding where to race? KR: Well, basically, we never really ran

full time until 2014 with Jonathan, right? So, we kind of always had an outlaw schedule that we would hit. We went to races or racetracks we knew we were good at and followed a true outlaw schedule until deciding to run full time. DE: Let’s talk about your move to Longhorn, how do you think this decision affected your career? KR: Well, when I was able to put all

DE: In the winter of 2012 you integrated the #6 into the Longhorn Chassis operation. How did that benefit your ability to create and design? Do you feel it was beneficial for you to be able to have your own car to make changes to and be trackside to see how those changes translated on race day versus someone relaying the messages back to you? KR: They provided a budget, and avenue for manufacturing the things I wanted to do, and it was extremely beneficial to be able to make those changes on my own car. DE: While everyone knows about Longhorn Chassis, not many know of Rumley Engineering. What does that side of your business entail? KR: So that was a brand created by my wife, so I could have a placeholder for all things racing. She can sell t-shirts and

Jonathan Davenport cranking up the number 6 at Tazewell Speedway in Tazewell, Tennessee. Photo: Michael Moats DIRT EMPIRE MAGAZINE | APRIL/MAY 2021


promote me as a brand. It works out very well, and she’s very good at what she does. She has an insight to know what people are going to ask and to provide that information for them. DE: How did your father being able to be involved in your career as a fabricator/engineer influence or teach you? KR: My father was a perfectionist and had extreme discipline. So, to be a good engineer, you have to have a vision for what you want to do, you have to learn how you need to do it and then you have to have the discipline to apply it to the real world. So, I think my greatest strength is being able to apply what I learned to the real world. I think he laid the foundation for that with his discipline, perfectionism, and hard work. I think that’s probably the thing he taught me the most. Also, at some point in time you have to load up and go race, race cars will never be finished, but you have to load it on the trailer once and awhile. DE: What brought the 6 car back to the track in 2019?

KR: Basically, I had a year where I consulted for Lance Landers Motorsports with Jonathan Davenport. The logistics made it very hard for me to add value to the team. I needed a car of my own to be able to have design freedom that’s needed to evolve a product. I was fortunate enough to meet David Fritts. He provided a shop in 2017 for me to be creative and do whatever I needed to do, so when all of the pieces of the puzzle fell into place, it was only right to bring the car back. Bringing the car back was basically through design freedom and tracking, see if we could evolve the product any further. DE: Essentially you needed the ability to put your hands on the car you were testing and tuning, as well as witness what happened when you made changes? KR: Yes, so I could have maybe ten ideas, and maybe only one of them will work well. But, having my own car, no one gets to see the nine ideas that didn’t work. DE: Now that we’ve worked our way to the 2020 race season, let’s talk about the subject that has made

so many headlines. How did the opportunity for Kyle Larson to drive the 6 car come about? KR: A mutual friend of Donald Bradsher, who is the owner of Tim McCreadie’s car that we’re very close with, came up to the shop one day and was expressing that his friend, Kyle, would want to drive a late model sometime and the opportunity just worked out great. We just want to race, and we want to be fast so we’re not going to take advantage of him. It was just a perfect opportunity. Kyle called, we had about a five minute conversation, he said, “alright, I’ll get a seat up there and we’ll get a car together.” DE: Kyle experienced immediate success. This shocked some fans, and others say they expected it. Where do you land on the spectrum? Was this the level of success you anticipated when the ride came together? KR: Well, yeah, I mean, I was taught to never leave the race shop unless you feel like you can win. So, I mean, I wasn’t surprised, but it also was a surprise, if

“The 6 car is pretty much Kyle’s. His seat will never be removed until he chooses.” Kevin Rumley

Photos: Dan DeMarco



that makes sense. In the back of my mind, I knew we were going to win. Kyle and I make a very good team. Being in a team, you understand each other’s weaknesses and you try to help balance them out, and that’s what makes us a good team. DE: To be able to jump from a sprint car, to a midget, to a late model, Kyle must be a very good communicator with his team? KR: Yes, he’s very easy to work with, that’s one of his greatest strengths. It enables him to work with all of these different people. When he’s put with someone that he’s going to be very successful with, the conversation kind of goes like this; “I’m just not doing a good enough job.” Me, I’m like, “No, don’t

think too hard, it’s good enough right now.” He has a very high IQ, and he is very focused. It’s a great opportunity to race with him, I’m very fortunate to be able to work with someone like him. `` DE: Kyle has already shared most of his racing schedule for 2021, and has alluded that he will be spending time racing the 6. Aside from Kyle, will we see anyone else piloting the car? KR: No, the car is pretty much Kyle’s. His seat will never be removed until he chooses. DE: While the 2020 race season was one for the record books and enabled you to check a lot of things off of your bucket list, maybe even things you didn’t know were on your

bucket list, but is there anything about the upcoming race season that has you excited? KR: We’re going to enter the Bristol race. The track is a little bit different, as far as bigger and faster than anything. So, that’s my attention, we’re going to build a product that can give Kyle all the tools he needs to win. That has me pretty excited right now. DE: Do you think it’s a good sign for the dirt track racing community to see us returning to places like Bristol? KR: Yeah, it’s great! It’s great for the sport and great for the motorsports industry. It’s pretty exciting times we’re going through right now. So, soak them all in.

Photo: Richard Barnes

LEE ROY RUMLEY February 7, 1936 – November 22, 2020 Lee Roy Rumley, 84, died Sunday, November 22, 2020, following a hard and courageous battle with pulmonary fibrosis. According to the obituary, “Lee Roy will be remembered for his integrity, strong work ethic, determination and loyalty. He was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather and was a role model to many. Most notably, however, Lee Roy will be remembered by the

public as the racecar owner of the iconic #6.The iconic #6 dates back to the 1950’s when Lee Roy and his brothers began racing at local tracks around Greensboro, where their first win was at Bowman Gray Stadium. Eventually, Lee Roy formed K & L Rumley Enterprises with his son, Kevin, and began venturing outside his locality. They have chalked up hundreds of victories with a long list of drivers. The 2016 National Dirt Late

Photo: Scott Swenson

Model Hall of Fame inductee’s career was highlighted in 2015 with driver Jonathan Davenport as the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Champion, winning several races, including the World 100 and the Dream. Lee Roy was able to witness the latest victory of the #6 piloted by successful open-wheel and Nascar driver Kyle Larson. Kevin will proudly continue his father’s legacy of racing.”



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GETTING PHILOSOPHICAL WITH T-MEZ By Ashley Zimmerman THOMAS MESERAULL is primarily known for two things - a unique driving style that even he references as “leaving it all out on the track” and a leave-itall-out-there personality that garners nothing less than incredible interviews and insights. After a roller coaster ride of a Chili Bowl, TMez spared a few moments of shop time for Dirt Empire to answer a variety of racing questions for us. Nothing short of what could be dubbed as “on brand”, he answered each one with as much honesty and flare as fans witness on the racetrack. DIRT EMPIRE (DE): After the strangeness of 2020, what are you most looking forward to in 2021? TOM MESERAULL (TM): I’m definitely looking forward to chasing a USAC title with the RMS team in the midget. There’s also a new track in Indianapolis at Circle City, and they are going to do some Thursday night shows – which is 38

Photo: David Campbell

exciting. Since I also have a wing car, I can go there and run whatever they have, too. DE: Aside from racing with RMS for 2021, do you have any other plans on the race season schedule? TM: Definitely still the same as last year. Running the 47 car; I was second last year at Kokomo in points, we missed winning by just a couple of points. Same as in previous years, the 00, it is kind of a field filler for me as far as just keeping me busy in between driving for Tom [Eades] and the RMS team. I always have a car sitting there with the wing and without a wing, so I’m always ready. DE: Do you feel like you might have shocked people with your overall speed and performance early in 2021? TM: I had a lot of people pumped about how we were running. Ya know, if I did shock them, they need to get used to


it. This RMS Racing is bringing nothing but the best, we’ve built all new cars, whatever we need, we get. These guys are the best, it’s a World of Outlaws caliber team racing USAC. DE: Do you feel that it is beneficial as a driver to not have many moments of down time? Do you feel it is an advantage to have other cars you can hop in and go make laps; when others might be waiting for the next race on the schedule? TM: I mean, the older I get, the more I realize at the racetrack, the guys that have more experience are the guys that I have to worry about. And, nowadays there’s not a lot of those people at the track, you know, so experience is everything. Racing for me, I’m trying to pay my bills, more nights at the track gives me more opportunities to make money. Racing is a gamble, and on average you only get half of the money won. When you have good nights, you

don’t have to worry about it. But, when you consistently have bad nights, that’s when it gets tough and affects your livelihood, at least in my situation. It helps drive me to the front. Right now, a lot of times, the guy I might be racing against doesn’t have to worry about feeding his two daughters, so I’m going to absolutely outrace him into the corner because I have to. DE: You have a new teammate at RMS; Justin Grant. Do you feel having a teammate with the experience that Justin has is going to be beneficial for you? TM: Oh absolutely, yeah. That’s a big part of the reason Justin is here, to make the entire team better; me included. He’s going to be a big asset, to see what kind of changes we need to make and how to make ourselves successful, to win, and to chase a USAC championship. DE: Do you have any aspirations to run a winged sprint car more than you have? TM: Oh, I would, if I had my choice to just go run, I’d go run with the All Stars. It’s just a matter of getting experience, but it seems to be a logical next step. Especially in terms of pay. DE: You didn’t start on dirt with your racing career, what was it about

TM: I would have to say a win that means a lot to me is my win at Four Crown. It was my first national sprint car win, and to do it at Eldora was huge for me. One that I feel that got away was my first BC 39 at Indianapolis. We had a really good car, we led some laps. I ended up destroying the car trying to run up through holes. I didn’t do a good job of using my better judgement - I knew I had flat tires but I Photo: John Dadalt kept running the car like I didn’t think I was going to crash the car, and I did. open wheel racing that caught your eye? DE: What are some of your worst or TM: Originally, I had the pavement scariest wrecks? dream, the stock car dream, the NASCAR TM: I crashed the 66 car at Port Royal dream. In the late 90s, early 2000s, I and it was life changing. I literally don’t lost my ride, we blew up three motors remember names of people I was friends that year and I was just kind of sitting in with before that day. I didn’t really get limbo. This guy let me drive his midget, hurt, but I did, but I didn’t. I still raced and then I just kind of fell in love. I’m the next day, I shouldn’t have, but I did. I kind of the out of control over the top would be aiming to run the middle, and driver, that’s kind of what my courage I’d be on the high side. So, then I’d start is, trying to control the uncontrollable; running the bottom, so I would be in the setting up a dune buggy to go sideways. middle. I shouldn’t have raced the next I fell in love with sprint cars and the day. raw power. The changing conditions of the racetrack, the constant search for speed. I’ve found my home here in dirt racing. I’ve driven a lot of race cars, and there’s just nothing like it. DE: Aside from winning a USAC championship, do you have any other major goals on your bucket list? TM: I’d love to run a road course car. I’d love to do some Formula 1 stuff, some Formula 1 drifting. I’d love to do some professional drifting, they run courses at like Long Beach, Atlanta, and some other really cool tracks. DE: Let’s spend some time revisiting your career overall. What is a win that means a lot to you? What is a loss that still haunts you?

I’m kind of the out of control over the top driver.

Photo: Gregg Teel



chocolate milk, water, a Coke, a thing of pickles, and a bag of chips. That’s my track food. DE: You’ve mentioned drifting now a few times, what got you hooked on drift cars? TM: It’s very grassroots, the way grassroots racing used to be, where you could actually go buy junkyard parts and go compete with what you built. It was the draw that I bought a little 240 Nissan, and I could pull the motor, put a V8 in it, and go drifting. If I needed parts, like brakes, I could go to the junkyard and get brakes off a Nissan 300. Need a rear rotor? You could get an inch bigger rear rotor off an Altima, and with the brackets off of that, you could make it work. I think that was really more what kind of drew me in, and then just being able to drive it. Drifting to me is kind of like flat tracking in a quad, you know, you’re just out there sideways, manhandling.

DE: We’ve talked about the wins, the losses, and the wrecks. There’s only one thing left - what’s the worst injury you’ve ever had? TM: I broke my collarbone flipping a car at the Oval Nationals in California. I couldn’t drive for two weeks since all of my cars are manuals. I was in so much pain.

DE: Do you feel there are skills that you’ve acquired from drifting that have made you better in an open wheel car? TM: Absolutely, it’s all about car control, it’s all about weight distribution. There this Japanese guy, because it all started in Japan on their tight little roads, he made a video called the “Drift Bible”. This whole video is about the fundamentals, gravity, and weight transfer, what you can do once you transfer weight to the corner, and it changed my whole outlook of what was possible. If you don’t know how to drive, whether it’s sprint cars, modifieds, or off road trucks, go watch that video. It’s fundamental.

DE: Any rituals or superstitions when it comes to race day? TM: I’m pretty superstitious about green. To the point where my girlfriend, my kids, they aren’t wearing green. I was always told green was bad luck back in the early years. They wouldn’t even carry money. Mostly, I just like to have a good start to the day, your attitude, your mindset, your mood when you get to the track is huge. My main ritual is after the races, we’re always in the truck and trailer, it’s late, and we can’t ever go anywhere. I stop at the gas station, I get a Lunchable,

DE: Any crazy “I’m about to die” moments in a drift car? TM: I used to go out to the Speedrome, and they would have little drift days on the actual track. I was backwards on the layout that day, where I was coming through the infield, straight towards the exit of the track. I broke a spindle or tie rod on the right front wheel, it was going into it, as it was a left hander, and I plugged it into the gate right there. It wasn’t actually that bad, but I destroyed the car. Compared to crashing a sprint car, I was caged up, but it broke a part

Meseraull made a rare winged start in Australia in 2015 and would like to eventually run the All Star tour in America. Photo: Brett Swanson


T-Mez has talked about his love of drifting. We have some video clips of his drifting antics. If you are easily offended by cars on asphalt, please avert your eyes.




and just straight into the fence. DE: Where is the coolest place they’ve let you take a drift car? TM: They let me drift the Indy Mile. It was probably five years ago. It was sketchy because it was so big. I don’t think I’ve ever been that fast on the dirt drifting. It was like third gear, probably 85-90 mph. I was in a Miata on dirt, it was crazy. DE: Let’s get philosophical for a minute. Many know you had a more grassroots start to your racing career, so for those following a similar path or start, what kind of advice would you offer them? TM: Be persistent, be kind, and don’t give up. Sometimes finding a ride, or finding the right people is an endurance race. You just gotta be there at the right time, right place. I feel like all of my friends that have kept after this, we got the bug, and we just never gave it up, and we never stopped searching for it. Guys like myself, Justin Grant, Robert Ballou, we didn’t move to the Midwest from California for anything but chasing our dreams.

DE: What is a life lesson that dirt track racing has taught you? TM: Patience, gotta have patience in the racing part. With the open wheel cars, they’re so high horsepower, for me, it’s easy to overdrive the car. You got to keep

your cool, you got to keep your patience when a guy cuts you off or slides you dirty. For me, if I don’t keep my patience, I’ll destroy something because I overdrove the car.

“Right now, a lot of times, the guy I might be racing against doesn’t have to worry about feeding his two daughters, so I’m going to absolutely outrace him into the corner because I have to.” - T-Mez

Photo: Mike Campbell



SHAWN COONEY, from Des Moines, Iowa held on tight in his number 301 Late Model as he was hit from behind during heat qualifying at Bristol Motor Speedway during the Bristol Dirt Nationals in March. Photos: Michael Boggs







a main FEATURE



MIKE MARESCA TRAVELLED thirteen hundred miles from his home in Potsdam, New York to compete at the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway in Florida back in February. His quest was to score an elusive victory in the Super DIRTcar Series. “In 2017 we did the whole [Super DIRTcar] tour,” Maresca said. “Then only three or four races in 2018, and just a few in 2019. I just didn’t feel like we were competitive.” As Maresca honed his craft, some of 44

the advice he was given didn’t seem to work for him. “I’d heard and believed it, that you race with the best to be the best,” Maresca said. “That didn’t work for me. I had to learn how to race. I had to learn how to run up front. Once I felt like I could be competitive I decided to go for it again. This was really the first year I felt good about my chances.” Maresca has always approached racing from a different vantage point than many of his competitors.


“I started off racing dirt bikes,” Maresca explained. “Maybe that has an effect on how I race now. I don’t know. On a bike, it’s just you out there. No protection. So, you kind of have to be fearless. In a car, you’ve got the cage, the belts, everything. It’s a little different. But then again, if you make a small mistake on a bike, you can recover. Get back up and keep riding. In a car, if you make a small mistake, you can tear it up. It gets expensive quick.” During the last year, in the lead up to

Photos: Michael Boggs the 2021 Super DIRTcar Series races in Florida, Maresca ran a pretty full schedule, despite some shutdowns due to the pandemic. “One of the things I missed the most in 2020 was not getting to race in Canada,” Maresca said. “I loved racing across the border in 2019. I’ve got a lot of friends up there. With the borders closed, that whole scene was shutdown. I hope we can get back there this year. I guess we’ll see.” Another striking impact of the

pandemic was the lack of fans allowed in the stands through most of the year. “I have to say, that part didn’t affect me as much,” Maresca continued. “Not that I don’t appreciate the fans or anything. I don’t mean that. It’s just, when I get to the track, and I’m out in the car, I am focused on the track. I try to take mental photographs at the big races, take it all in, so I can remember it later and enjoy the moment. But when I’m on the track I am totally focused on the task at hand. So, I’m not paying

attention to anything going on in the stands or anything. I’m there to win. Or trying to win.” Maresca’s decision on where and when to race in 2021 goes back to his feeling on whether he’ll be competitive and have a chance to win. In 2020 he was track champion at Can-Am Speedway in Lafargeville, New York in the 358 DIRTcar Modifieds. He also took home the track championship at Fonda Speedway in Fonda, New York in 2020. “I come at my racing career from a different angle,” Maresca explained. “I have a degree in financing with a minor in project management. I use some of those skills in steering my career. I’ve looked at it this way: I wanted a career that let me have a regular job, but also gave me a chance to go racing anywhere within a ten-hour radius. I’m pretty lucky to live in an area with so many tracks within driving distance. I like Utica-Rome, Fonda, Thunder Mountain (in Lisle, New York), Bridgeport, BAPS, Can-Am. I really love Brockville. I think that’s my favorite racetrack. It’s got a big cushion, some character on the bottom, and always aggressive racing. It’s a fun place to race.” Maresca’s picking and choosing his races and tracks is reminiscent of a sniper picking off his targets, carefully and methodically. Perhaps that’s why the number emblazoned on the side of



Photos: Michael Boggs Maresca’s car is 7mm, accompanied by a rifle round graphic. The 7mm Remington round had a history with snipers, primarily the US Secret Service sharp shooters. (Though it’s commonly used in hunting these days, I’m sticking with the sniper analogy.) Or maybe Maresca just thought it was cool. Either /or. When Maresca headed to Florida in early February, he was locked and loaded and on a mission. “The biggest race of my career was the Outlaw 200 win back in 2019,” Maresca said. “I won about $20,000. But I wanted to win a Super DIRTcar Series race, it’s definitely been on my radar. And I felt really good about my chances this year.” By the second night, Maresca had a victory in his sights, but fell just short, finishing third behind Stewart Friesen and Erick Rudolph. By night three, Maresca had his car dialed in and found himself sitting on the pole after qualifying. It wasn’t going to be an easy battle, however, as savvy veteran, Matt Sheppard, started the race 46

door-to-door with Maresca. Maresca jumped off the line and took the lead and had his hands full keeping Sheppard at bay. But as the race progressed and the field stretched out around the track, Maresca found himself climbing through lapped traffic and extending his lead ahead of Sheppard. A caution with just seven laps remaining could have proven to be the opportunity Sheppard needed to slip by, but Maresca retained the lead and finished with a victory, finally landing his first Super DIRTcar Series victory and his first Little Gator trophy. The rain washed out the final night of racing during the 50th DIRTcar Nationals, ending the race for the championship, giving the Big Gator to Max McLaughlin of Mooresville, North Carolina. “We didn’t get the championship, but I did achieve some of the goals I had going to Florida,” Maresca said. Looking forward to the 2021 season, Maresca is focused on continuing to advance. He has committed to racing at Utica-Rome Speedway Friday nights and


Fonda Speedway on Saturdays. He’ll add races throughout the season at which he feels he can be competitive. Sniper scoping out his targets or financial specialist running the numbers? Whichever the case, he continues to calculate his path to success. “We still have a lot left to do,” Maresca said. “We’ll get there.”

“One of the things people might be surprised to find out about me is that I’m a huge history buff. It’s actually the thing I’m most passionate about. I love Revolutionary War and Civil War history. One day, when I’m old and gray and ready to settle down a little bit, I’ll probably end up being a town historian or something. I think I’d love that.” – Mike Maresca.


Leindecker Racing Engines, LLC


review in PICTURES LATE MODELS MODIFIEDS SPRINTS AFTER A DIFFICULT YEAR, many fans were looking forward to heading out of winter’s grip to the “Sunshine State” of Florida to take in multiple levels of dirt track racing across several tracks throughout the state. Dirt Empire Magazine was fortunate to have great photographers on site to provide us with stunning photos for all of us who couldn’t make the journey to take in the events. We can almost smell the fuel and feel the sun’s Vitamin D!

Brandon Sheppard’s hot rod enjoys the glow.

THE SUNSHINE SWING is the unofficial name given to the group of multiple events that take place in Florida in the winter months of January and February each year. While the rest of the country endured a deep freeze in early 2021, fans were treated to warm temperatures and hot racing action. Organizers included Lucas Oil Late Models, Super DIRTcar Modifieds, DIRTcar UMP Modifieds, Bob Hilbert Short Track Super Series Modifieds, World of Outlaws Sprints and USAC.

Mason Ziegler digging in at East Bay.



Photo: Paul Arch

Photo: Matt Butcosk

East Bay Raceway Park had a tremendous month of racing, including the Lucas Oil Late Models.

STEWART FRIESEN went for a wild ride at Bubba Raceway Park on 1/30/21 after taking the checkered flag the previous night. Photos: Matt Butcosk POINT YOUR SMART CAMERA PHONE AT THE QR CODE ABOVE TO CHECK OUT THE VIDEO!



Hudson O’Neal revels at East Bay. Photo: Matt Butcosk

Tyler Erb had a fast, but turbulent, month in Florida. Photo: Matt Butcosk

Devin Moran (9) dices with Jimmy Owens (20) at East Bay.

Photo: Matt Butcosk





Steve Buckwalter enjoys Volusia’s perfect sunset before shoving off for All Star qualifying.

Tim Shaffer surveys the scene in Mike Heffner’s 72.

Photo: Matt Butcosk

Photo: Matt Butcosk

Florida youngster Conner Morrell at Hendry County Speedway’s USCS show.

Photo: Matt Butcosk





Words by Bill Blumer Jr. Photos by Diane Mech

Emily Billings beams after a race win. Her paternal grandfather, Dean Billings, was a two-time champion in the Dairyland Midget Association and a regular with the Badger Midgets. Maternal great-grandpa, Hank Sauer was inducted into the Southeastern Wisconsin Short Track Hall of Fame as an official. Grandpa Terry Sauer, started racing in 1970 and still races a pavement late model today. Her father Bryan raced, too. All four of the men have participated in race programs at Beaver Dam Raceway.


The high banks of the third-mile rise behind the Briggs Jr 2 class. Adam Zellmer was the point champion, with a three-way tie for second between Thomas Olson, Dayton Hamel and Logan Surita

BEAVER DAM RACEWAY has been an institution of dirt racing on the southern Wisconsin scene since the early 1950s. It was part of the golden age of racing in Wisconsin when modifieds ruled the dirt. Today fans flock to see special events like the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars, national late model events and regional open wheel shows. The staple of the track’s schedule is their Saturday night, five-division program that includes IMCA mods, sport mods, grand nationals, street stocks and INEX Legends. Lesser known, however, is the action that takes place on the fifth-mile oval inside the high banked track. On the weekends, when the big track is running, this area is a parking spot for stalled race cars and a staging area for support vehicles. By Tuesday night, it is watered, graded and groomed just like its big


brother. A framed napkin, hanging on an office wall at the facility, holds the key to the humble beginnings of this important part of Beaver Dam Raceway’s success today. It started about twelve years ago as Jerry Priesgen, Beaver Dam’s Competition Director, was watching his nephew, Cody Priesgen, racing a dirt kart at another venue. As the karts whizzed by, he thought, “Why not our track?” He promptly drew up his vision for the pint-sized speedway on a napkin and took it to general manager Carolyn Mueller. She brought the idea to the ownership group, which then included Scott Boyd, Glenn Hepfner, Bill Muche, Larry Henkel and Lee Merkel. There was no point to pretend a kart program would make the track money, yet the men agreed to build it. The thought was, if you get (mostly) kids into the sport,


at a track where they can grow as racers, the experience will inspire them to move up to the third-mile program. It appears that strategy is paying off. Just a couple of weeks after the goahead was given, Mueller called Priesgen out of the blue to tell him his track was already roughed in. From there, it was apparent the kart show wouldn’t go on at all without a small army of volunteers. According to Mueller, nobody is paid for their Tuesday night work. Track staff help out on their own time and former kart teams who have moved on make up the rest of the crew. This helps keep costs down for the track and racers. Pits passes cover little more than the price of insurance. Priesgen, is quick to acknowledge many of the people involved in the track’s kart program, one being the guy he sends

new people to - Wayne Hutchison. Hutch Having never raced karts, Bill is more wins and two championships under his has helped field karts at Beaver Dam race-dad than crew chief. “I make sure belt, Furseth has made it to Hutchison’s almost since the beginning. His machines, Cole has air in his tires.” He mostly lets his database as he campaigns a Legend piloted by the Zellmer kids, Adam, Mary sons do their own thing on the track. He’ll today. and Faith (with the help of their dad, Tim), occasionally offer a tip like, “Stay on the On the other end of the scale you have have around 100 feature wins and nine bottom.” Despite his years of experience the likes of Cole Balog (6) who was a kid championships. The reason for helping and success, Balog finds a lot of value kart class champion in 2020 and his others is pretty basic for Hutch. “You don’t in the simple things his boys must learn brother, Dylan (10), who was runner up in want to be out there with karts that are the junior sprint class. Accompanying them when their butts are in the seat. Lining up not competitive. (Better teams) make your after a caution, might seem pretty basic, to the track is their dad World of Outlaws drivers better. I see new teams and all but you don’t truly understand the logistics Sprint Car feature winner and multi-time of a sudden they’re gone. If they are not until you do it. IRA 410 champion Bill Balog. competitive, they lose interest. But, if they Race days are rough, though. His gut are close, it’s incentive to come back.” is in knots and he worries like any other At least 30 kart racers in For Beaver Dam’s part in the equation, parent. Victories are sweet though. “I the Beaver Dam program almost started bawling when Dylan won there’s another explanation, one Hutch have gone on to a higher his first race,” Balog said. The fun the boys has documented. According to his calculations, at least 30 kart racers in the have, coupled with the windshield time to form of motorsports. Beaver Dam program have gone on to a and from the track, make it all worthwhile. Nearly two-thirds of higher form of motorsports. Nearly twoBeaver Dam Raceway’s website lists them are racing at the thirds of them are racing at the home track 14 race dates for their 2021 kart season home track on Saturday on Saturday nights. Today, four of the five and seven different classes are offered weekly classes have at least one homenights. Today, four of the for ages five to adult, allowing for many town kart graduate. five weekly classes have more opportunities to keep that pipeline to Al Weisensel, president of the Badger Saturday night pumping. at least one home-town Kart Club (one of the oldest such organizations in the country) said that kart graduate. “kart racers last two and a half years, on average.” This statistic seems to imply folks give up on karting for other recreational pursuits. You will find both ends of the spectrum in the pits on kart night. There are the folks On a smaller scale, compared that have no actual racing background and to campaigning on the big track, also kids whose families are keenly aware families can get a sense of the of the rigors of racing. logistics, time, effort and money Tristan Furseth represents the first it takes to race. Drivers learn group. The teenager’s family enjoyed the flow of a race program and racing strictly from the stands. One day he everyone gets an occasional was riding down the road with his uncle, reminder of the dangers. Here, Shawn Simonson, when they drove by a Dylan Balog, sporting his dad’s kart track. They immediately turned around familiar “17B,” walked away to check it out. Then they went home and after flipping his junior sprint pitched the idea of buying a kart to his last summer. dad, Daryl, who was an easy sell. “It took a bit to convince his mother (Krystal), though,” said the elder Furseth. “What now?” was their first thought after obtaining a kart. The Furseths were surprised by the amount of knowledge you needed and how much work racing was. With the help of Jerry and Steve Sainsbury, local dirt kart gurus, Tristan got up to speed. “I kind of thought Tristan would get bored with it, but he enjoyed it, stayed focused and worked hard. Ryan Sullivan leads Eric Blumer in the INEX Legends class on the third-mile. Both are graduates of BeaThat made it all worth it,” ver Dam Raceway’s karting program and finished second and third respectively in the track’s point race. Daryl said. With a ton of kart DIRT EMPIRE MAGAZINE | APRIL/MAY 2021



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Operator for various national internetbased media companies who provide live streaming services to hundreds of thousands of race fans. I have shot races at well over 55 tracks in the USA-Dirt or Asphalt. DirtDobber Video offers the highest quality professional video services available in the industry today, with a major focus on quality of product. Top notch productions for top notch

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RUSH Racing Series



short track

STARS Independence, Iowa Lonsdale, Minnesota


“I NEVER HAD ANYONE SAY that I shouldn’t be racing because I’m a girl. My goal has always been to be respected as a good race car driver. The last couple of years I’ve embraced being a girl race car driver. There are some guys who try to bully me around a little, but that never happened with the hobby stocks.” Those are the words of street stock racer Leah Wroten, who champions girls in racing. In fact, two girls in her neck of the woods have looked up to her and become racers themselves. Rylie Mullin, 14, is now racing a four-cylinder asphalt car while 10-year-old Makenna Koch is competing in a dirt kart. In 2012, Leah married Nick Wroten, who serves as the co-owner of the race car and the crew chief for his 38-year-

There are some guys who try to bully me around a little, but that never happened with the Hobby Stocks. 56

old wife. “My wedding gift was a chassis for a hobby stock race car,” said Leah. “I had it for the next racing season. My husband got a new tool box and new sunglasses.” Nick, who is 51, has owned his own race car building business since 1999 - Dominator Chassis. The building, which is 3,500 square feet, is located in Rowley, Iowa, about seven miles away from the Wroten home. Right now, he currently builds between 10 to 15 cars per year whether it be a street stock, a hobby stock, or his newly developed sports mod. “I’m pretty much a one-man band,” Nick said of his business. “I’ve always been that way. I do all the maintenance, repairs, and set-ups,” Nick continued. “In 2011, we built 31 cars and it was just too much for us to handle.” Currently there are between 80 to 100 drivers out there using the Dominator Chassis. Overall, he has built better than 250 cars. “I have absolutely nothing to do with building the cars,” Leah said. “When I started racing, I didn’t know much of


Photo: Bruce Badgley

anything. I didn’t know how to change the oil. Now I do some of my own maintenance during the week when he’s busy with other things.” “She’s catching on somewhat now,” Nick said of his wife. “But there are some things that I’m not allowed to touch,” Leah added. Nick actually raced from 1996 through 2004 with three seasons in a hobby stock and the balance of the years in a street stock. Along the way, he won a track championship at Independence Speedway in 1998. From 2005 through 2011, the Wrotens hired Justin Temeyer to drive their street stock. In 2012, Jason DeShaw took over and then in 2013, it was time for Leah to get her shot. “We had no one to drive for us so Nick finally decided to allow me to race and I guess he gave me a chance to see if I could do it,” Leah said of her beginning stages of her racing career. “I’ve done pretty well so far since I haven’t got fired yet!” That hobby stock career would extend through 2019 and included some very

nice accomplishments along the way. Besides her 30 plus wins, she won the track title at Independence Speedway and Benton County Speedway in 2018 and was also the IMCA Lady Eagle champion. She also won the State of Iowa Hobby Stock championship, something she repeated in 2019. She also captured the Marshalltown Speedway track championship in 2019. The highlight to her career came in 2015 when she qualified for the IMCA Super Nationals as well as the Race of Champions. She went onto qualify for the Super Nationals once again in 2016. In 2017, she once again, qualified for the Race of Champions. “I’m the only female driver to ever qualify for the Race of Champions,” Leah proudly said. “And it’s certainly not easy getting into the Super Nationals.” Her favorite win came in 2013 when she won her very first hobby stock race at Independence. “It was the first night I allowed my grandparents to come and watch me race,” Leah said. “I had my whole family there, my brothers, my mom and dad and I went onto win the race. That was pretty special for me.” Moving up to a street stock was quite a bit different than Leah expected. “It’s a big learning curve. The hobby stock was basic. I would get to the track and not have much to do. Now we have weight jacks and the tires are a huge difference. The hobby stock class has good competition but, with the street stocks, you have guys who have been doing this for a very long time. They

know what they need when they get to the track. I have to worry about the set-up, the shock, the springs, and the weight jacks. That’s stuff that we didn’t have to do with the hobby stock.” Leah ended up winning the track championship at Independence, was third at Benton County, and 10th at Marshalltown. She also finished third in IMCA National Rookie points and fourth in IMCA Iowa State points. Her goal was to win that ROY and get her first win, which eventually happened. Because of COVID-19 and a limited racing schedule, she will be eligible to run for the ROY once again in 2021. Her schedule includes a full weekend. It’s Marshalltown on Fridays, Independence on Saturdays, and Benton County on Sundays. “For the most part, we break even based on a normal

“We had no one to drive for us so my husband Nick finally decided to allow me to race and I guess he gave me a chance to see if I could do it. I’ve done pretty well so far since I haven’t got fired yet!”

Photo: Mike Spieker

weekly basis,” Leah said. “My favorite track is probably Marshalltown, because of the competition level,” Nick said. Plans for 2021 include a new Dominator Chassis. When Wroten is not racing, she works for the state of Iowa. She is a nurse at the Independence Mental Health Institution. “I work with some of the more mentally challenged patients in the state of Iowa,” Leah said. “I’ve been there since 2005. Most days, I enjoy it, but everything is different because you never know what to expect. We have a wide array of what we have to deal with on a daily basis.” Asked if there may come a time when Leah moves to the next level which could include a modified, Nick said, “I don’t think she will move upward because we’re pretty satisfied. A good reason for that is that I specialize in the hobby and street stocks.” “I like my fenders on my race car,” Leah added. “We’re probably going to stay where we are now until we’re done racing.”

NUMBER SIGNIFICANCE The number 14C has some happened because Tony Stewart is her favorite driver while the C stands for Leah’s maiden name (Cabalka).

Photo: Bruce Badgley




Brad Blackshear powers through the turns at the “Bullring” at Tyler County Speedway. Brad won his first career RUSH Sprint Car race at Bradford Speedway in 2019. Photo: Zach Yost

AS THE SERIES ENTERS its fourth year of existence, the RUSH Sprint Car Series continues to explode in popularity in the Ohio and Pennsylvania region and is set for their best season yet with lots of new races, promotions and, most importantly, race cars ready to emerge in 2021. One season removed from a severely COVID affected season, series founder Vicki Emig is so pleased to see the series not only survive the pandemic year but thrive coming into this season. The RUSH Sprint Cars will continue to compete for over a $20,000 point fund in the weekly series that pays out $5,000 to the titlist. Although the season point fund is impressive, the nightly purse increase for the RUSH Sprint Cars is the headline


coming into this season. For the first three years of the series, they raced for $400 to win and $100 to start but that will now going to a minimum of $600 to win and $150 to start. There will also be eight $1,000-to-win shows throughout the season to add an extra punch. “We cannot express how excited we are for the 2021 season,” stated RUSH Director Vicki Emig. “Honestly at the conclusion of 2020, I never would have believed we would be releasing a schedule such as this for 2021; it really is amazing and a tribute to our partners who share our same vision for the division that have helped set a strong foundation for the RUSH Sprint Cars into the future. This year will see our highest influx of new racers,


and with this exciting schedule of higher paying events the division as a whole is definitley moving to the next level.” As usual, Sharon Speedway in northeast Ohio will host the largest portion of the RUSH Sprint Car Series schedule with 11 events and will give them a huge opportunity to showcase their brand as the support class to the World of Outlaws on May 22. They’ll be paired up with the All Star Sprint Car Circuit of Champions five times throughout the season, as well, which gives a series like RUSH a great opportunity to reach out to expose the brand to new fans. These shows are crucial to a series’ growth. Another key component to growing a series is finding new tracks to compete

at and RUSH has done this as well. They will make their first ever stops at Dog Hollow Speedway and Latrobe Speedway in Pennsylvania in 2021. They will also return to a few favorites for the first time in several seasons when they visit McKean County Raceway in East Smethport, Pennsylvania and Bradford Speedway on Saturday and Sunday, June 19-20 in Pennsylvania. These tracks are both located in McKean County and are just 15 miles from each other. These new events will be of the $1,000 to-win, $175 variety. Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, West Virginia, Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway, and Raceway 7 in Conneaut, Ohio also return to the sked. On the track, it will be a wide open battle as 2020 champion Jeremy Weaver has made the move to 410 racing – another important feather in the cap of RUSH – and will open the door for a new titlist in 2021. However, just as Weaver leaves, the only other RUSH Sprint champion Chad Ruhlman returns to try to add to his 2018-2019 titles after taking a year off. Meanwhile, Weaver’s seat will be filled by regional legend Rod George and Gale Ruth Jr., who finished second in 2018, is also back in a sold ride for the McConnell family. While Ruhlman, Ruth and George are the favorites for the title, several new racers are also expected to make an impact in the first full year of competition according to RUSH’s Mike Leone. “This group includes 2018 RUSH Sportsman Modified “Futures Cup” Champion Blaze Myers, former big block modified standout Bill Watson, Mike Mathieson - a veteran of several area divisions but never Sprint Cars; fatherdaughter combination of Calvin and Amelia Clay, Ohio drivers Bob Bland, Mike Hover, and Kevin Kaserman, along with rookie Phil Young, Scott Dean, and Jordan Hamilton, who is the brother of RUSH Late Model racer Eric Hamilton. Ohio driver Tyler Newhart, who made some starts in Frank Wilson’s 13, started his own team at the end of 2020 and is ready for his first full season. Eastern Pennsylvania racer, Jeff Metsger, has purchased a RUSH Sprint Car and will make several visits.” With a returning champion, a true local legend and a load of new talent ready to go wingless racing, the RUSH Sprint Cars boast a base of over 40 cars ready to roll into 2021. The trajectory of the division shows little sign of slowing down and is one of most impressive things to happen in the open wheel world in the past decade.

RUSH Sprint Cars stage at Eriez Speedway led by Sprint Car veteran Arnie Kent (18), who sponsors the Weekly Series Championship with his Equipment Rental Options business.

2021 PACE PERFORMANCE RUSH SPRINT CAR EQUIPMENT RENTAL OPTIONS WEEKLY SERIES SCHEDULE Saturday, April 10 Tyler County Speedway Friday, April 30 Lernerville Speedway (with All Star Sprints) Sunday, May 2 Tri-City Raceway Park (with All Star Sprints) Saturday, May 8 Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway Saturday, May 15 Tyler County Speedway Saturday, May 22 Sharon Speedway (with World of Outlaws Sprints) Saturday, May 29 Sharon Speedway Saturday, June 5 Sharon Speedway Sunday, June 6 Tri-City Raceway Park Saturday, June 12 Latrobe Speedway Tuesday, June 15 Sharon Speedway (with All Star Sprints) Saturday, June 19 McKean County Raceway ($1,000 to-win) Sunday, June 20 Bradford Speedway ($1,000 to-win) Friday, June 25 Raceway 7 Saturday, June 26 Sharon Speedway Friday, July 2 Dog Hollow Speedway Saturday, July 3 Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway Sunday, July 11 Sharon Speedway (with All Star Sprints) Saturday, July 17 Sharon Speedway Sunday, July 18 Tri-City Raceway Park Friday, July 23 Lernerville Speedway Saturday, July 24 Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway Saturday, July 31 Sharon Speedway Saturday, August 7 Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway Saturday, August 14 Sharon Speedway Friday, August 20 Dog Hollow Speedway ($800 to-win) Friday, August 27 Lernerville Speedway “Legends Remembered” ($1,000 to-win) Saturday, August 28 Sharon Speedway “Legends Remembered” ($1,000 to-win) Saturday, September 4 TBA “Legends Remembered” ($1,000 to-win) Sunday, September 5 TBA “Legends Remembered” ($1,000 to-win) Friday, September 10 Sharon Speedway Saturday, September 18 Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway Friday, September 24 Genesee Speedway ($1,000 to-win) Saturday, September 25 Genesee Speedway ($1,000 to-win) (rain date 9/26) Friday, October 8 Latrobe Speedway ($800 to-win) Saturday, October 9 Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway Friday-Saturday, October 15-16 Lernerville Speedway ($800 to-win) (rain date 10/17) DIRT EMPIRE MAGAZINE | APRIL/MAY 2021



Pennsylvania Motor Speedway - 2010.


PAUL ARCH Gary Cameron III in a 1992 West Virginia wheelie contest.

2010 - King Kinser and Jean Lynch.

1994 Tri-City All Star salute.

Jack Hewitt - Winchester 1995. 60


Decades of exceptional motorsports photography...

Dave Blaney - 1983.

Tim Shaffer - 50th Knoxville Nationals.

Absolute heat race carnage - 2008 Nationals.


Bob Kinser

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Age: 67 Year Started Shooting: 1983 (first 35 mm camera) First Publication to Print Your Work: National Speed Sport News - May, 1985 Favorite Track to Shoot: Williams Grove Speedway Favorite Division to Shoot: Sprint cars Remaining Bucket List Races: Jackson Motorplex Nationals, Perris Auto Speedway Oval Nationals, Skagit Speedway Dirt Cup, Silver Dollar Speedway Gold Cup, Thunderbowl Raceway Trophy Cup

Favorite Thing About Racing Photography: Action, color, noise - the adrenaline rush personalities of drivers, owners, crew men, everyone involved. Seeing friends at the track. I still get a thrill from having photos published. Outside of race cars, what do you like to photograph: Mostly just cell phone photos my cats, nature scenes, historic sites Camera Equipment: Nikon D810, Nikon D700, Nikkor 14-24 f2.8, Nikkor 24-120 f4, Nikkor 70-200 f2.8, Norman 400B Flash, Bolt BV-22 flash, Bolt VX-710N flash



Celebrating Eldora style.



Rodney Sanders ready to go at Volusia in 2013.

The Gator Pond pits at Volusia. 62






Auxiliary Power is all about those individuals who are the support crew for the best drivers in the business (we know they couldn’t do it without them!) LAUREN STEWART has worn many hats in her time in sprint car racing, from supportive fiancé, to merchandise sales, to promoter. No matter the situation, Lauren has been an incredible fan and representative for sprint car racing. While many race fans will know Lauren as the late fiancé of Bryan Clauson, Lauren’s life in racing has had many chapters. DIRT EMPIRE (DE): Let’s start from the beginning, the first chapter so to speak. Where did it all start for you? What began your love for racing? Family roots/history? LAUREN STEWART (LS): My parents started their apparel business 30+ years ago, so I’ve been around racing since I was born. My grandpa was always involved in racing back in the day and I had an uncle who was a crew chief on a handful of different WoO teams. People ask me how I can still love racing after all I’ve been through but that’s never even been a question for me. I love racing, I love the people and the memories it’s given me. I have friends all across the country – even on the other side of the world. And I’m not just friends with them, but with their moms and dads and in-laws and siblings… that’s one thing about racing that is so unique and so special. Racing has also taken from me and I’ve suffered through my worst days because of it, but I’ll always love this sport. My life wouldn’t be anything like it


Sharing victory lane with late fiancee Bryan Clauson and the future Zan Haudenschild at Eldora.

Photo: Mike Campbell

LAUREN STEWART is without racing, so, even if it wasn’t a “normal” upbringing, I’ll forever be thankful that my parents raised me in this world! DE: What are some of your most memorable racing events or racetracks? Could you give me a top three? LS: Top three favorite tracks: Knoxville, Eldora, Western Springs Speedway in New Zealand. My favorite track in Indiana is Lawrenceburg. I always say I judge my tracks on three things: 1. Concession stands, 2. Bathrooms, 3. Racing. I’m kind of kidding, but mostly serious. I grew up going to Knoxville every year for the Nationals and it’s the first track I really have memories of. Knoxville is unique in the fact that you don’t ever have to leave once you arrive. You drive in, set up camp back in the campground, and then walk to Hy Vee or Pizza Hut for lunch, hang out and watch the races, then walk across the street to Dingus afterwards. In 2010, I was Ms. Eldora Speedway, and that’s how I met Bryan [Clauson], so obviously, Eldora has a special place in my heart. Eldora has also led me to my current fiancé, Roger, so I have a racetrack in Ohio to


thank for all the loves in my life! And Western Springs rounds out my top three because it’s just about the coolest place you could ever watch a midget race in the whole world. The atmosphere at Western Springs is unmatched. The people in New Zealand love speedway and they love the international drivers, so my experiences there have cemented it as a solid top three on my favorites list. DE: What is one thing on your bucket list that you would love to make come true for the Shamrock Classic? LS: My dream goal as a promoter is to have a big secret in my back pocket and announce it at the drivers meeting. I daydream about it being race day, being at the drivers meeting, and then dropping a bomb like, “hey, by the way, we’re

Photo: Jeff Bylsma

By Ashley Zimmerman

Photo: John Dadalt

racing for $15k to win instead of $3k… ok, have fun! Good luck!” … Of course, doing something like that takes the right partners/sponsors and having the right people involved, but a girl can dream, right? DE: Has being a female promoter caused you any difficulties or been the cause of facing any adversities? LS: Maybe I’ve been fortunate with my experiences, but I’ve never felt at a disadvantage being a female on the business side of the sport. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some awesome women in the sport who have sort of become mentors to me. There are a ton of females in racing, probably a lot more than people realize, so I don’t think being a female in my position is unusual or unexpected to people. DE: We were all bummed to hear about the Shamrock being canceled for 2021, but obviously there’s an entire race season yet to come, where can fans find you throughout the year? LS: In the Emergency Department at Eskenazi Hospital. I’m sort of switching gears and focusing on my “real” career as a nurse, but I’ll always be involved in racing in some capacity. In 2021, you’ll be able to

A 2014 Terre Haute USAC Sprint Car score.

find me in my parent’s merchandise trailer at Eldora or Knoxville. Whether it be in the merchandise trailer or ticket window, I help out here and there at USAC races, as well. Of course, my favorite role at the races is when I get to be “Aunt YaYa” and hang out with my friends’ kiddos! DE: One last, but very important question! How are Chevy and Stewart? LS: It wouldn’t be a story without mentioning my pups! Chevy and Stewart are doing great and are spoiled as ever. Chevy still gets excited when you ask if she wants to go to the races. My parents take her once in a while, so she still has her spot on the counter in their merchandise trailer. She turned 8 in January and Stewart will be 7 in April. It’s crazy to think I’ve had them for that long. I love when people ask me about the dogs or tell me stories about how they remember when they were puppies. When Bryan and I first got Chevy, we had no intention of making her “famous” at the racetrack, it just all happened organically, and we ran with it. When I flew to Florida last month I took Chevy with me and when I was at baggage claim after the flight a lady came over to say hi because she recognized “the famous Chevy Clauson!”


“The idea of the Shamrock Classic started back in 2015. We were riding down the road one day to a racetrack, I’m sure, when Bryan said something along the lines of, “Hey L, what do you think about being race promoters?” I said yes, I thought that sounded like a great idea, plan for down the road… then Bryan told me he had already been talking with Levi Jones at USAC and there was a date, race available in March of next year. So, that’s how the Shamrock Classic was born! Our first event was in March 2016 and Bryan and I sort of just jumped into the deep end of the promoting deal, but we had a lot of help from USAC. I still lean on Levi and Kirk Spridgeon, along with the rest of their team, for support, help, ideas and working with USAC has always been enjoyable. At the end of the day, they want to showcase their series and I want to put on a good show for the fans, so we are all on the same page and working towards the same goal. From the beginning I’ve always had a focus on the “front gate” side of things. I’m a race fan at heart, so when I’m preparing for and planning the event, I think of what I would want to see, do, hear while I’m at the races. I grew up around racing and at the track, so making this a family-friendly event has always been high on my priority list, as well. The Shamrock Classic has really grown in its first five years and I am disappointed we’ll have to wait at least another year until the 6th Annual event can take place. Each year, we’ve added $1,000 to the winner’s share of the purse and I would love to be able to make the Shamrock a big paying race. Hopefully in the future I’ll have a partner, sponsor come on board who can make that happen! Unfortunately, due to COVID and the restrictions in place right now, having the Shamrock Classic this year was just not feasible. The Southern Illinois Center is a smaller venue, so cutting back on fans, capacity just isn’t an option. Besides, I’ve been busy being an ER nurse for the past few months! I definitely do want this event to continue and I have already been talking with USAC about getting it back on the schedule for next year. When I know more, I’ll share that information with everyone!”







Photo: Dave Pratt

Max McLaughlin pushing hard in his debut for Norm Hansell at Georgetown, Deleware.




TECH Photos & Text by Vahok Hill WITHIN THE RACING WORLD, measurement is a very important part of the overall racing process. Racers measure everything - lap times, tire pressures, and so on. From a mechanical perspective, measuring is not that difficult of a process. You just need to make sure that you are using the correct tool to measure. Just like you would not want to measure lap times with just the second hand of your watch you will not measure push rod length with a tape measure. You have to pick the correct tool for the job. Measurement resolution is a topic that needs to be discussed at the onset. You need to understand the resolution of a measurement. In the past I have had people come to me that want me to make a widget for them and we have a conversation and they tell me that the tolerance for a specific dimension is 0.0002 + or - .000001. At that point I smile and tell them they cannot afford that kind of tolerance and I would be guessing that they do not have the ability or the tooling to measure to that fine of a tolerance. For 99.99% of the precision tolerance that the Saturday Night racer needs to measure will be in the thousands range, three decimal points to the right. As the conversation moves toward precision measurement, the list of tools available to the weekly racer is as broad as are the prices. We can use micrometers to measure the Outside Diameter (O.D.) of shafts and the thickness of shims or sheet metal. While a micrometer can measure both of these two types of parts with great success, we need to understand the level of accuracy required for such a


This assortment may be the only types of measurement tools you will need in the shop to help maintain your car form a measurement perspective. The trick is to know when you need a different type of measurement tool or one that has a higher resolution.

measurement. If we are measuring the So, when you hear about a dimension or O.D. of a tube used in the construction a clearance for main bearing to the crank of a bumper or a frame member we shaft of 0.0025 you have an idea how could utilize a tape measure to measure close those clearances really operate. the cross section of a tube and be quite For the Saturday Night racer, you comfortable with the level of accuracy. may never have a need to measure to However, if you were measuring a bearing a resolution of the fourth decimal place journal, a tape measure is not the tool but it does not hurt to understand how you would use, even a dial caliper is not to accomplish this kind of measurement. appropriate for this type of measurement. In general terms, unless you are building You would want to use a micrometer. engines and the related accessories, The trick when approaching any gear boxes and or rear ends you will not measurement is to ask the right questions. really need to purchase any ultra precision How critical is this measurement? The measuring tools. answer to that question will drive you to From a day-to-day perspective, a set the type of tool you should be using to of 6-inch dial calipers, a simple dial measure. The only boundary to the tools indicator with some holding brackets and you can purchase is your budget. a magnetic base, a 6-inch drop mic with a If you are building engines, you need magnetic base will cover 99% of the needs a level of accuracy that will give you of a Saturday night racer. These tools can very exact and precise measurements. be purchased for less than $300 and they If a bearing journal has to be 2.000 in will last forever with a modicum of care. diameter, you will need to use a tool that measures at least to the third decimal place. If your tool only measures to the second decimal place, you will be having some real issues. Generally speaking; most quality micrometers will measure to the 4th decimal place. This is commonly called measuring to tenths. In reference to tenths of thousands of an inch or 0.0001, a human hair The set of snap gauges that have been in use for the past 40 has a range of diameter years. Keep them clean, oiled and well cared for and they will from 0.0015 to 0.0021. last longer than you.


If you start to build your own engines you still may not be required to purchase the complement of tools designed for the engine builder. The reason is that many of the ultra precision functions will be performed, most likely, by an outside engine machine shop and they will handle the majority of the precision measurements. LIST OF TOOLS FOR A SATURDAY NIGHT RACER Together we can go down the list of tools that a Saturday night racer should consider the minimum requirements and we can talk about the costs involved. For measuring outside diameters, (ODs), shims and lengths (within reason, 1 foot and under) and just general measurement you should have at the least a set of sixinch dial calipers. This tool will provide a fast, easy to read measurement and it has resolution to the 3rd decimal place. This is probably one of the most versatile measuring tools you can get and they are very reasonable to purchase. They range in price from $20 to $100 each. In my experience the units costing more do not measure any better or with any greater accuracy. A set of C Micrometers or “C Mics” will handle a broad range of measurement jobs that would call for a higher level of resolution and accuracy. For the racer, a set of three micrometers that range from 0-1, 0-2 and 0-3 to inches is probably more than you will ever need. These can be purchased for about $40 to $55 dollars each and you might even be able to purchase a pre-bundled set for even less per-micrometer. For example, on cost, I was using a set of telescoping gauges, Starrett brand Snap Gauges, the other day and the receipt was still in the box, these were a set of Starrett gauges and I paid $63.78 for the set of six in 1981. They still work great and are in like new condition. Today, 40 years later, a new set is over $300 for the same set. So, this can give you some perspective on cost and the cost of quality. You need a simple dial indicator for measuring surface parallelism on parts that move like the discs on your brake system or measuring endplay on a gear shaft or crankshaft end play. These are very inexpensive for the level of measurement the Saturday Night racer needs. The dial indicator is reasonably inexpensive but it requires some additional tooling to hold the indicator while the measurement is taking place. The cost for the indicator and the associated tooling

will cost in the $60 to $100 range. Measuring into holes to check depth is the job of a depth micrometer. You can also use the tail of a six-inch caliper to measure hole depths in a pinch but for a truly accurate measurement you will need either a set of depth micrometers or a drop micrometer. A good depth Micrometer can be purchased in a set with up to six rods that are interchangeable and will give you a range of measurement capability from 0 to 1 inch all the way to 0 to 6 inches in depth. The costs will range from $60 to well over $500 dollars. Measuring inside diameters brings up a whole different set of problems. When dealing with holes, there is a larger group of different parameters that may not concern us like roundness, taper, concentricity and placement in relation to other holes. If all we want to know is the diameter from a general perspective, our set of six-inch calipers can measure an inside diameter but it can only tell you the size of the hole from an edge-toedge perspective. This is fine if all you are measuring is a hole size to see how big of a drill bit is required to drill another hole or to get the size of a hole to tell what size bolt will fit that hole. From a more precision perspective, if we are concerned about the circularity and the size of the hole, we will use a dial bore to check the size and the circularity or the

When measuring the outside diameter of a hunk of metal, sometimes a caliper will provide a measure that is close enough to make the job faster to complete. If a higher level of precision is required, a micrometer may be the better answer.

low buck method would be to use a set of snap gauges and a dial caliper or a set of “C” mics to determine the hole size and circularity but this method has some real drawbacks. It takes a long time and the results are dependent on operator skill, not just the robustness of the process. If we are measuring a cylinder bore for a NASCAR Cup engine, this would not be the method of choice. To measure this type of ID, you really need a dial bore gauge. This tool will tell you how round a bore is as well as the size. I am sure that the use of a profilometer to measure surface would be called in to use to measure the surface finish of each bore. But for the Saturday night racer this would not be a requirement. The problem with a dial bore is that you need a master dimension to set the tool. Usually this is accomplished with a set of Johannson Blocks or JO Blocks. What Jo Blocks are is a set of ultra precision steel blocks that are ground flat on all sides marked for their individual dimensions and they are assembled together to establish a known dimension. Once this dimension is set you then set your dial bore within the confines of the Jo Blocks to establish the “Zero Point” for your dial bore. Once this is accomplished the dial bore can be placed in the bore and any deviation + or – the zero point gives you the size and the circularity of the hole you are measuring. This works very well for engine blocks and measuring any bore on the engine, cylinder, lifter, main bearing and cam bearing bores. A dial bore is an expensive tool and even more so when you consider the cost of a set of JO Blocks. You can spend upwards of $500 very quickly before you are done. There are alternatives to JO Blocks but they never seem to be as repeatable or as reliable. You can use a “C” micrometer to set a dial bore but it requires a good deal of experience and it is just not the best method. Using measurement tools is not difficult, it just takes some time to learn the process so you get accurate measurements. Another major consideration is selecting the correct tool for the job; this will make sure you are not trying to use a tool that will give you greater measurement resolution than you really need. It really is just that simple. The author can be reached at





By Kelley Carlton AS OF LATE, there has been much chatter about the lack of respect that has been exhibited on the racetrack over the last several months. It seemed to go into hyperdrive during Speedweeks this year – particularly at East Bay. Things got so wild that you had veteran guys like Tim McCreadie expressing exasperation about the inability to handle this type of disrespect as it may have been handled in a former time. As McCreadie so eloquently pointed out, losing one’s front teeth was a triedand-true method of demanding (and usually receiving) respect. However, the dirt racing world has become a much more sponsor-aware and politically correct sport at the upper levels. Throwing hands with someone just is not an option like it once was. If you take matters into your own hands now you will end up with a lap full of trouble from both the sanctioning body and/ or racetrack. Then there is also all the potential legal implications that are common now. For me personally, it was disturbing to see and hear some of the fury and vitriol that several guys expressed verbally and even physically on the track. Maybe the thing that bothered me most was the total lack of forethought of consequences related to using their 2,300-pound missiles as a means of retaliation. Perhaps it is a generational thing, but I do not get that at all. Under yellow there are just too many things going on that can turn 70


that into a really bad situation. I realize that some of it can be chalked up to the heat of the moment but some of it, well, just was plain not good use of common sense. We all know that things happen in a split second in this sport. One official trying to get out. One hung throttle. One insert horror story here.

Many of these guys are racing for a living and the only way to substitute getting hit in the mouth now is to get hit in the wallet. As innocuous as Tyler Erb’s glancing blow on Mason Ziegler after the checkers of an East Bay heat race was, it held the potential to be much more. You can what-if any situation to death but in the case of a sport that is inherently dangerous, those what-ifs can very easily happen. The Lucas Oil Series took immediate and appropriate action to park Erb for the night. And while it might not be popular with some fans, it was absolutely the right thing to do. Many of these guys are racing for a living and the only way to substitute getting hit in the mouth now is to get hit in the wallet. Of course, in some cases, the hit in the wallet does not seem to matter either. I know Chase Junghans fairly


well and I do believe that his comments about destroying cars were said completely in anger. However, I also believe there must be a shift away from that mindset, especially in a moment of anger. There is just no good that can come from it. In this sport, a bad decision in a moment of anger could cause someone to be seriously injured or even killed. That is something that none of us that love this sport can afford to happen. I am just a race who gets to work in the sport I love. I do not know what the best way to fix it is. But racers must find a way to put the idea of personal responsibility first. Be respectful of others’ equipment and more importantly their health. Drive others how you want to be driven. Find a way to suppress the need to get revenge. Get your head on right before you get in the car. And, as my dad used to tell me, “just don’t be an asshole”. Otherwise maybe us promoters should just set up boxing rings in the infield to handle it afterwards. I am sure some would stay and pay to see that show. Hmmmm.

A BJ Parker disciple, Carlton serves as the Director of the Ultimate Series and is the race director at the Gateway Dirt Nationals and the Wild West Shootout. Carlton serves on the Board of the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame. He is a father of one daughter (Katie).



The infamous Mechanical Rabbit resides at the Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed in Lincoln, Nebraska. The 150,000 square foot museum opened in 1992. POINT YOUR SMART PHONE CAMERA AT THE QR CODE

Part of what makes dirt track racing great is its rich history. We want to pay tribute to those who keep a watchful eye on the history of our favorite sport by highlighting the museums across the country.

RESTORATION The car bounced around the Midwest for several year until coming into the possession of “Speedy” Bill Smith of Speedway Motors in Lincoln, Nebraska. It sat in his warehouse for nearly 20 years before Bill struck a deal with Mark Randol and John Layne to restore it in 2007. With technical help from Greg Weld, who drove one of two other Mechanical Rabbits, Randol and Layne did a superb joe of restoring the car to its former glory. (Bob Mays photo)

THE MECHANICAL RABBIT Joe Saldana and Don Brown built a radical roadster-sprint car for the 1967 season and Saldana was completely dominant on the outlaw circuit. He set and reset the track record at Knoxville, Iowa, and only a broken left rear wheel kept him from winning the Knoxville Nationals. Saldana continued his winning ways in 1968 and 1969. At the conclusion of the 1969 season, he sold the car to Jim Mahoney. In 1971, Mahoney hired Jon Backlund to drive the roadster and he won the BCRA title in the car. (Leroy Byers Photo)




CALL OUT WHETHER YOU’RE a builder or a retailer who services the dirt track race car building industry, you need to have the right components. Making sure you have the newest catalog and up to date pricing only makes sense. Here are some of the catalogs that need to be in your shop.

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EIBACH 264 Mariah Circle Corona, CA 92879 800-507-2338

JONES RACING PRODUCTS 72 Annawanda Road Ottsville, PA 18942-9702 Phone: 610.847.2028 Fax: 610.847.8895

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By: Bob Mays

Al Gordon was one of the top west coast drivers of the Legion Ascot era, earning the 1935 Pacific Coast title. An extrovert, Gordon at different times was a tire builder, salesman and even owned a bar. He along with his riding mechanic, Spider Matlock, were killed at Legion Ascot in 1936. (Ted Wilson photo)

Inaugural National Sprint Car Hall of Fame class member Jan Opperman won his first sprint car race in this car at Vallejo, California, in 1967. The Rangerpowered car was owned by Hank Hanstead. It wouldn’t be his last win by a long shot. (Bob Mays collection)



Gary “The Preacher” Patterson (McRay 21) and Lealand “The Tempe Tornado” McSpadden (Bailey Bros. 01) battle at Knoxville, Iowa, in 1980. Both had long careers that ended with National Sprint Car Hall of Fame inductions. (Bob Mays photo)

Southern California veteran Troy Rutherford glides into turn three at Perris Auto Speedway during qualifying for the 2012 Oval Nationals. (Bob Mays photo)



new & featured PRODUCTS

ROUGH TRACK, TOUGH PARTS! Introducing our new heavy duty J-bar! Say goodbye to the double adjuster, and hello to an increase in strength for rough track conditions. WM4019STL | 19” Center to Center J-bar. WM4020STL | 20” Center to Center J-bar. WM4021STL | 21” Center to Center J-bar. WM4022STL | 22” Center to Center J-bar. Wehrs Machine N4477 State Hwy 162 Bangor, WI 54614 608-486-4343

BRODIX® INTRODUCES NEW VALVE COVERS With the addition of our new sheet metal valve covers, BRODIX® puts the finishing touch on your engine combination! These new valve covers feature an ultra thick .500” rail for excellent sealing and maximum clearance to fit most stud girdles and shaft rockers. These aluminum covers are fully weldable for use with additional fittings and include


installation hardware. BRODIX also offers an additional laser engraving option for a customer’s logo. These new valve covers are available for either our big block or small block Chevy compatible cylinder heads. Call your local dealer to inquire about this exciting new product!


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GET YOUR LINES CONNECTED WITH JIFFY-TITE QUICK-CONNECT FLUID FITTINGS Few other parts say you are serious about performance and reliability more than AN fittings and lines. They are a major improvement over a roll of rubber hose and a handful of worm gear clamps. But AN fittings and hose ends have their own drawbacks: Stripped Threads: Tighten too much or forget to lube the threads during assembly and you’ll destroy the soft aluminum threads when wrenching Crossthreading: You think you had the hose end and fitting perfectly in line only to discover they were off by a millimeter and you stripped the threads screwing them together Over-Tightened: All you did was try to give it another quarter-turn and voilà, the nut broke and now there’s a big leak Under-Tightened: Plumb an entire car and you’re bound to have a couple of dozen fittings to tighten. Sometimes, you miss one and it’s leak city…or worse Stripped Fitting Hexes: The edges of the fitting hexes round-off easily, even if you’re using the proper AN tools. Good luck unscrewing the fittings after that happens! Scratched Finish: Anodized finishes are extremely thin and scratch very easily. Kiss them goodbye as soon as you put a wrench on them Leakage: Take a connection apart and whatever fluid is contained in the lines will spill onto the car and ground. And if a flammable liquid drips onto a hot surface… well, you get the picture Designed by racers familiar with the downsides of AN fittings, Jiffy-tite QuickConnect Fluid Fittings and Hose Ends don’t have those drawbacks. Jiffy-tite fittings provide a 100% leakproof seal. A brass valve and stainless steel ball bearings that shut off fluid flow when the fittings are separated. A series of internal seals prevent leaks when the two ends are disconnected.

Jiffy-tite fittings are easy to work with too. To make a connection, simply pull back on the socket collar, insert the plug, and release the collar. No tools are needed, and it only takes a second or two to do. To disconnect the fittings, just pull back on the socket collar. The springloaded valve automatically releases the male plug without making a mess. Plus, the collars are ribbed to provide a slipproof grip, even when your hands are dirty and grimy. You might be wondering if the Jiffy-tite fittings restrict flow. While a miniscule restriction does exist, Jiffty-tite’s high-flow valve design is so efficient that you will never experience a loss of performance or damage to any component due to lack of fluid flow. Other features include: • Bi-directional flow through the valve and the plug • Rugged 6061-T6 aluminum construction with black or gold anodized finish • Corrosion resistant for extra-long life • 360° swivel design • Approved for use by all major racing sanctioning bodies including the NHRA and IHRA • Made in the USA Jiffy-tite fittings can be used in nearly any automotive application and with most fluids including fuel, water, coolant, oil, and transmission fluid. Summit Racing Equipment 1-800-230-3030







Photo: David Campbell

Blake Scott peels the lip at Red Dirt Raceway.



support these





Allstar Performance............................................... 2 Brinn Inc................................................................ 4 Close Racing Supply............................................. 83 Dominator Race Products.................................... 23 Eibach................................................................. 84 Highline Clothing.................................................. 80 HoseHeads.......................................................... 80 Jones Racing Products......................................... 31 Lazer Chassis....................................................... 17 Leindecker Racing Engines, LLC........................... 47 Pitt Stop Motorsports........................................... 81 Right Foot Performance Products......................... 19 RUSH Racing Series............................................. 55 Salon at Studio B................................................. 21 Summit Racing Equipment..................................... 9 T&D Machine Products......................................... 41 Wehrs Machine & Racing Products....................... 23 White Knuckle Clothing Inc..................................... 7 SUPPORT OUR CONTRIBUTORS Dirt Empire is proud to have assembled a crack staff of freelance photographers and writers who blend their passion for the sport with their talent and artistry to make these pages pop. If you see an image that you’d like to own or need a great image for your shop, drop them a line and support them.

PHOTOGRAPHERS FEATURED IN THIS ISSUE Bill Blumer Jr. - Bill Taylor – Brett Swanson – Bob Mays - Bruce Badgley – Carey Fox - Conrad Nelson - Dan DeMarco - David Campbell - David Giles – David Pratt - Dennis Krieger - Diane Mech – Don Figler - Donna Rosenstengel - Gordon O’Field - Gregg Teel –



Heath Lawson - Jeff Bylsma - John Dadalt - Josh James - Matt Butcosk – Michael Boggs Michael Moats - Mike Campbell - Mike Spieker – Paul Arch - Richard Barnes - Rick Sherer - Scott Gulbrandson - Scott Swenson – Todd Boyd - Zach Yost -

HoseHeads Highline Clothing


Pitt Stop Motorsports


after WORD Photo: Todd Boyd

By Adam Cornell EVER SINCE I STARTED working in the motorsports industry, and specifically the dirt track racing category of motorsports, I’ve had my ear to the ground about what kinds of laws and rules might be implemented to help or harm the industry. We all hear our fair share of complaints about when a racetrack that was once located miles from any homes, in the middle of a farmer’s field, suddenly finds itself surrounded by HOA-run subdivisions who now complain about the noise and sue to shutdown said track. As frustrating as this situation is, there’s another issue that has far greater implications that is boiling up from federal regulations. Back in 2015 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began interpreting the Clean Air Act (CAA) to mean that once a vehicle was certified as a street vehicle, it could not be converted to a racing vehicle by removing any emissions control devices or apparatus. The point that is made by the original intent of the CAA was that when a vehicle is certified as a street vehicle, it has to meet certain standards so as to protect the environment, often relying on emissions control devices to meet those standards. Agree or disagree with this, but it’s hard to argue with the difference in air quality over America’s cities. I certainly recall the smog in places like New York City and Los Angeles from the 1970s. For years the CAA was interpreted to not apply to vehicles which were taken off the street, had emissions control devices removed and were subsequently converted to “permanent competition-only use.” In 2015, the interpretations and rule implementations changed. There was a bit


of a hiatus from these interpretations being enforced for a few years, but reimerging in 2021, the EPA is pushing, once again, to make zero concessions for the motorsports industry. The current interpretation is, if a vehicle was once certified for the street, it cannot be stripped of its EPA regulated components and used for racing. In fact, some on the side of the EPA are declaring that no components from such a vehicle may be used on a vehicle that is not also street certified. It does not take much imagination to understand what full enforcement of such an interpretation would mean to dirt track racing. Enforcement could range from reuqiring all comeptition-only vehicles receiving an EPA certification for not containing any former street vehicle components, to complete shutdown of dirt track racing. Granted, dirt track racing has evolved over the years to now have track-only and class-specific builds. Despite this, there is still a whole segment of dirt track racecars that are converted street vehicles. That segment would disappear, and it is often that segment that is the on-ramp for new racers in the industry. PRI and SEMA are actively fighting this interpretation of the CAA in the courts in Arizona. Additionally, they are supporting a bi-partisan push for what’s called the “Recognition of Protecting the Motorsports Act” or RPM Act (well played acronym creators, well played). This congressional bill would protect the motorsports industry by excluding vehicles that are converted from street vehicles to exclusively competition-only racing vehicles from the rules of the CAA. This push to cancel motorsports is not some mere miscalculation of the real-world ramifications of full implementation of the CAA. The systematic destruction of motorsports is a core belief of many who declare themselves environmentalists.


Several years ago, I read an article published by a Washington, D.C. area think-tank that declared addiction to oil and gas-powered vehicles was like a cult. And that, like all cults, it had its high priests and cult leaders. Those leaders are the motorsports industry, declared the piece. How do you kill a cult? You systematically destroy the cult leaders. The piece concluded that the only way to get the masses off their oil and gas addiction, was to destroy motorsports completely. It seemed like a laughable, extremist view, several years ago. I’m not laughing now. If we have learned anything over the last year, it’s this: governments can and will take away things we love because they think it’s for our own good, and we’re just too stupid to see the purity of their benevolence. I need to be clear, I am not advocating for or against any political party or even encouraging political activity. I am simply reporting on a legitimate threat to motorsports as we know it. You need to decide what to do next. If you’re interested in learning what PRI and SEMA* are doing on this topic, you can visit the PRI website here: magazine/industry-news/03-02-2021/ pri-challenges-epas-motorsportsregulations-court Or use this QR code with your mobile device.

*Dirt Empire Magazine is not affiliated with SEMA, PRI or PRI Magazine. This link is provided for educational and informative use only and does not imply Dirt Empire Magazine or its editorial staff agrees with or condones viewpoints or actions from or suggested by SEMA, PRI or PRI Magazine.


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Dirt Empire Magazine Apr/May Issue 02 2021  

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