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Short Track Roundup (12/10/97)

10 December 1997

Mobile, AL - The first week of December has come and gone and throughout
the southern tier of the country there are still races to be found. During
the past week there were three big events scheduled and two of them managed
to beat Mother Nature to the starting line.

        In Arizona the Late Model weekend for the Winter Heat Series was
forced to be canceled due to rain, not a common occurrence in that region.
The forecast looks better for this weekend when the Southwest Tour cars
will be on the track. 

        The biggest race of the year for the Late Models took place over
the past weekend in Pensacola, FL where they held the 30th Annual Snowball
Derby. It should be noted that one driver, Red Farmer, has started every
one of the 30 Snowballs and he was honored before the race for his
accomplishments. Red qualified 13th after not having driven on asphalt all
season, another example of the ability he possesses. In the Pete Moore 108
held Saturday night, Tony Walls led the entire distance to take the win
over Donnie Brusso and the "Texas Tornado" Tommy Grimes. Sunday the
Snowball produced a repeat winner as Bobby Gill passed three cars in the
final laps to take the checkered flag and the $15,000 paycheck. Eddie
Mercer was second and Rick Crawford took third. Gill previously won in 1993
and now joins an elite group with two wins in the season ending race.

        At Columbia Motorsports Park they held the Suwanee Truss 200 for
the Florida Pro Cars and Scott Bramlett was the victor in a caution filled
event. Dave Weltmeyer came home second with Ronnie Burkett third. 

        The Frigidaire All Stars held their banquet Columbus, OH where they
honored Frankie Kerr and car owner Stan Shoff as the 1997 Champions. It was
announced that Frigidaire will not be back in 1998 and the All Stars are
currently pursuing other title sponsors. In a case of musical chairs Dean
Jacobs will replace brother Kenny in the #92 car for 1998. Kenny will
replace Dale Blaney in the Tim Hughes owned car and Dale will
move to the World of Outlaws and replace his brother Dave. Dave is moving
to the Busch Grand National Series.

        In other news from the World of Outlaws, Gary Stanton is apparently
negotiating with Karl and Mark Kinser for 1998 to campaign the #75  Mopar
Sprinter. That would be one potent combination should they come together.

        The 1997 racing season is about over and the 1998 season is about
to begin. During the past year the Late Model scene has taken a big hit
with the demise of the TIDA in Texas and the Hooters Cup Series. This
leaves a void in Late Model racing that to date has not been filled.
Although there was a rumor out of Tennessee that Don Nerone was going to
bring back the United Speed Alliance, there no word recently on that
becoming a reality. The beneficiaries of the Hooters Cup death will be the
Florida Pro and Southern All Star series which will find their fields a
little more competitive in 1998. The Slim Jim All Pro series will also see
some of the top Hooters drivers move over to that series, from whence most
of them came in the first place.

      441 Speedway in Dublin, GA is changing from clay to asphalt for 1998
while at Volusia County, they are reversing the two tracks with the half
mile becoming dirt and the 3/8 mile going to pavement. South Alabama
Speedway in Opp has finally been sold and the word is that it will reopen
in 1998. 

        The short track scene will suffer from another assault from NASCAR
in 1998 as Daytona's Pepsi 400 moves under the lights on July 4th, thus
taking away one of the best night's of the year for track promoters. One
can only wonder if the France family has forgotten where their roots lie.
With more and more Cup races moving under the lights in future years, the
short tracks will find it increasingly more difficult to draw crowds and
must take a long hard look at the way they promote and present themselves
to be successful.  1997 has seen many tracks take a beating from the
weather and one can only hope that Mother Nature will be kinder in 1998.
Perhaps El Nino will take a siesta. 

        This weekend the place to be will be Waycross, GA where the
Southern All Stars are running a big Late Model show on the fast surface of
Waycross Motor Speedway. Expect many of the big names of the Dirt Late
Models to be on hand for this event. Have a Ball, Ya'll!   

John Kaiser -- The Auto Channel