|« A TYPICAL WEEKEND - You Won't Find This Track In The Northeast - Race # 62||A TYPICAL WEEKEND - If It's Sunny & Sprints They Will Come - Race # 60 »|
Friday, August 1 - Tonight it was north on Route 61 into the coal cracker region of Pennsylvania near Pottsville for our racing fix. On a humid night to start of August our destination was the Big Diamond Raceway. We arrived around 7:30 for the scheduled 7:45 start of the racing program. Thank goodness I had called our friend, Keith Barto, from Shoemakersville who saved us two seats high in the stands on the homestretch about three rows from the top. The crowd was a good one and the additional drawing card to tonight’s racing card was the appearance of the ARDC midgets who showed up with a good field of 33 cars. Before I move on Pat and I would like to congratulate our friend and Big Diamond announcer, Mark Garman and his wife, on the birth of their first child together, a baby boy.
Big Diamond management has made so many good improvements in the past few years to the facility with new buildings, graded parking lot, new restrooms, new speaker system and a vastly improved food menu but the biggest thing they need to address now is the racing surface. They had added clay but it continues to peel up in turns one and two and the entire surface continues to be very dusty. They need to work harder and maybe bring in a expert dirt surface preparer to complete their revival. Another suggestion would be when they bring in an added division for the evening drop one of the lower classes (sportsman or roadrunners) for that evening. A four division program starting at 8 on a Friday night after people have worked the entire week should be completed around 11. This night had one division’s feature left to run when the clock struck midnight.
Back to the night at hand. The ARDC midgets ran three decent heats followed by two for the 24 roadrunners on hand. To management’s credit they sent the next heat out immediately after the previous one completed. The 358 modifieds ran three heats for their 29 car field while the sportsman had four heats for the 33 entrants in attendence. All heat action was finished by 9. So far, so good. A ten minute track maintenance session was done with the consies for three of the divisions (roadrunners did not need a consie) following. Another ten minute track prep was performed before the first of four feature races was called to the line. The roadrunners went 15 laps starting at 10:03 and wrapping up at 10:25. Second generation driver, Kody Sites, prevailed in this one which had some excitement at the finish when one car slammed another after the first spun on the homestretch after receiving the checkered. The driver that slammed into the spun driver leaped from his mangled vehicle and the hefty driver sprinted down the track in true Olympic style. At first I thought he was concerned about the condition of the other driver but it was soon apparant that he wasn’t and surely wanted to worsen his condition. Track officials broke things up before anything serious happened and restored order.
Next up was the 20 lap ARDC midget feature with 26 starters making the cut. Young Ryan Smith from Kunkletown was starting first and as the track conditions turned to slick it was a good bet that he would score his first ARDC midget win ever. This young man has a good racing future as he also has run USAC Silver Crown cars most recently qualifying second at Richmond and finishing sixth. Defending ARDC point champion, Andy Martin, dogged his tire tracks but did not make a serious challenge until the last few laps. As they exited turn four for the final time Martin dove to the inside of Smith and the drag race was on. Smith held on by a half car length over Martin with Brett Arndt third. Billy Pauch Jr., another rising star, was the only driver who really tried another groove using the outside to advance from 20th to grab 4th on the last lap over Frank Polimeda. Five cautions slowed this one and it was not one of the better ARDC races of the year taking 38 minutes to run with the clock pushing to 11:17. It was now 358 modified feature time and we thought maybe the bigger tires on these cars would produce more passing but that was not the case. The track was worn out and not that much passing ensued. Craig VonDohren has been on a tear as of late and he moved from his 10th starting position to pass early leader, Ray Swinehart, prior to halfway and pulled away from the field. Jeff Strunk broke through traffic from his 14th starting position late but could not close on VonDohren and ended up second. Well, you say VonDohren started 10th and Strunk started 14th, there must have been some passing. Well, yes to a certain extent but many positions were gained by others wrecking in front of them to the tune of six cautions, five in the first ten laps. Anyhow Ray Swinehart finished third with Ryan Watt (who did double duty in the midgets and 358 modifieds) ran a good race to card fourth with Doug Manmiller rounding out the top five. This race checkered at 11:55 and we decided to call it an evening as did over half of the crowd.
Like I said earlier the managment team at Big Diamond has made great strides over the last few years but it is imperative that they make vast improvements to the racing surface and try to cut down on the length of the program.
It is a short racing weekend for us as Saturday we have a wedding to attend and have no racing plans for Sunday. Next week he head to Indiana for the first time in a few years to catch Indiana midget week with races at Gas City, Union County, Bloomington and Lawrenceburg scheduled on our dance card. Until then get out there and enjoy some good short track racing as the summer months began to wane.
This post has 114 feedbacks awaiting moderation...