Race tracks in the area were silenced once again this weekend, thanks to Mother Nature. Well, one of them was silenced for other reasons, but we'll get to that later. Last weekend I got a double dose of dirt action at Hilltop, and while it seemed strange with the classes split up, the action was as wild as ever. The Modified feature last week is probably still fresh in the mind of many race fans and at least a few drivers. Jack Young came from near Cleveland to try his hand against the best Hilltop has to offer. Young put on a great show fighting off the regulars and stole the win. I have to think this guy will be back. On Saturday night, JR Gentry picked up where he left off the night before at Lakeville by setting fast time to start off the night. He then went on to dominate the field in a fast paced, caution free feature. This young fella is finally on a roll like we all knew he should be. Let's hope the bad luck is finally behind him! Speaking of young guns, Brandon Craver picked up feature wins at Lakeville on Friday, and at Hilltop on Saturday. Keep your eyes on both these guys this year.
Hilltop has decided to drop the Saturday night shows so all divisions will now be back to Friday night action as it was last season. It will be a shame to lose the Limited Late Models, but I just don't think there's enough of them around to split between Hilltop and Lakeville. Hilltop will still offer up 5 classes for your entertainment on Friday nights, and some special events on Saturdays. The first flat track bike and quad show of the season will be held this Saturday May 10th.
Also this weekend on Friday night, Hilltop will hold their first Pure Stock Showdown of the season, with $500 going to the winner. This show should be a bit different than past versions with the new rules that were put in place for the 2008 season at Hilltop. All cars must fit these rules to compete, and that should make for a much better show if you ask me. If you've got a LEGAL Pure Stock and want to take a shot against the weekly regulars, by all means, get to Hilltop this Friday night. If your car doesn't fit the 2008 Hilltop Pure Stock rules, you're out of luck. Nothing personal, but it's time to face facts. Those other cars simply aren't considered "Pure Stocks" anywhere other than Lakeville any more. Say "it's just a name" if you want, but facts are facts. Hell, if Lakeville ever really gets serious about enforcing their rules, I would bet some wouldn't be legal there either. I wish Lakeville and their version of Pure Stocks the best of luck. Sprint fans should also get down to Lakeville now that they've been added to the weekly lineup.
Obviously there used to be another track that not only offered those other Pure Stocks a place to race with no rule changes, but even promised them an increased payout in 2008. Over the years that track (and NOT just the latest owners) was responsible for most of what happened to the Pure Stock class. Lack of inspections and enforcement lead to these cars becoming a totally different class. The rules that were close to other track's Pure Stock rules slowly got ripped out of the rules at WCS. Add to that the fact that teams went beyond what was left of the rules, and nobody bothered to stop them, and this class was headed downhill fast. Sure the cars looked nicer and went faster, but the car count suffered when teams could race a Modified or even a Late Model for less money than the top Pure Stock teams were investing. Other teams stopped building Pure Stocks when it stopped being fun running as one of the very few playing by the rules. As I've said before, the tracks are as much to blame as the racers for ending up with cars that can currently only be run at one area track. With financial times as they are, it seems that it only makes sense that the best hope to revive this class is to make it more affordable again. I say it's way past time to put some limits or a claim on the engines to keep this class alive. That's enough on that whole subject.
Now, back to WCS. As most of you know by now, they've locked the gates after just 1/2 of a show and a practice this year. The official reason given was Ernie's health, and I'll take that for what it's worth. Lord knows I've not been a big fan of Ernie or the way he does business, but maybe, just maybe he's sick of all the bullshit it takes to run a race track. Sure, some (and probably even most) of the trouble was of his own making, but it's his right to run a business the way he thinks is best. It's your right to either go to his track, or go some place else if you don't like the way the place is run. I chose to go somewhere else, as did many others. Some folks seemed to love the abuse that they bitched about weekly, and kept going back for more. That just made them more pissed off and they hounded him by telling him how to run the track, their way. Again, that's their right I guess, but I'm not sure it makes sense after a certain amount of time. It make about as much sense as paying somebody to kick you in the balls every week, thinking one week it will feel good. After you've voiced your opinions to improve things, and they're ignored, it's time to move on, or get used to paying to be pissed off. Now to the confusing part. After reading some online forums lately, I'm absolutely stumped as to how the legal system and even the neighbors are being blamed by racers for shutting down WCS. Some seem to believe there's a group of neighbors suing WCS to get rich or shut the place down. Even after being pointed to public records of the legal case against WCS, they still don't seem to get it. I'll try one last time to simplify the situation for those folks. The legal problem relates to WCS going against court orders that have been in place for many years that dictate when and how the track is legally allowed to operate. Now, you can hate the rules if you want, but these rules have been in place for previous owners without major problems. For going against the court orders, WCS was given a penalty that involved fines and suspension of operation for part of a season. Ernie chose to appeal the decision as he has every right to do, and those appeals have dragged on since last year. They're currently awaiting a decision on an appeal as public records show. That is the extent of the "legal situation" as shown by public records. There is no evil conspiracy by the neighbors to collect some cash and turn the place into a strip mall. Just a delay in the case as Ernie continues to appeal the court decision. If you still don't get it, or think I'm full of shit, all this information is public record. Go read it for yourself if you'd like. The worst part of this whole deal is that one of the best tracks in the area is now closed, and that sucks. Blame that final decision on whatever or whoever you want, just not the legal system or those evil neighbors, other than the constant hassle with them didn't help. It's time to look ahead in hopes that somebody else will take this track in the right direction in the near future. I'm more than eager to see that!
A recent call from Ernie Coffman said that they will make their side of the legal situation made public very soon. He understands that it may have little or no effect now, but he feels it's important to get the information out there. I have to agree with that thought. It may not do anything other than stir the fires some more online, but I'm all for exposing facts, and the ones he plans to expose show how screwed up this whole legal deal has become. Ernie also stated that the court orders haven't changed since I last saw them years ago, and for some reason he's being harassed about things that simply aren't in those orders. The things he mentioned weren't in there from I can remember either. What a fuggin' mess lawyers can make of a simple situation! At any rate, each side will have had their chance to publicly state their case, and they've already done that in court. The important part is up to the court to decide and that decision is way overdue. The good news is that there seems to be plenty of interest in the track right now and these problems could be behind him before too long. I'm all for moving on as much as he is on that subject. It's racing season, not bickering season dammit!