NHRA Nationals Saturday
Saturday was an early morning because I wanted to be there when Terry Simpson ran his second elimination round. Unfortunately, Terry redlighted! Although that was disappointing, he had a good weekend by achieving his pre-season goal of winning a round at a National event.
It was then that I remembered that local part-time professional Top Fuel Dragster driver TJ Zizzo was holding court and making pancakes for all that stopped by. TJ is a favorite at Route 66 Raceway and he sometimes announces at the track. I think he has as much fun interacting with the fans as the fans do with him. While I did not partake of the pancakes, I was told they were very good and TJ said they were "Nitro Fueled"! He also stated he is in serious talks with a major corporate sponsor for his team to continue running his part-time schedule. He is hoping to make the announcement in late July or early August. He stated while he would never pass up the right opportunity to go full time, however it really is an unbelievable commitment of time. It is so much more than just driving, with sponsor commitments, cleaning/polishing equipment and managing the operation it leaves little time for anything else. His 2013 twelve race season left him with little time to do things like fix the roof on his house! Besides, he also has to work at his business! While I was there ESPN Tv stopped by to film some 'B' roll
My last commitment for the day was the Route 66 Fan Pit Zone autograph session featuring my personal favorite, Shirley Muldowney, "The First Lady of Drag Racing". She did not disappoint! She drew such a crowd, that she stayed an extra hour to accommodate all her fans. I was so fascinated, that on several occasions I forgot to press the shutter button! Joining Shirley at the autograph session was Top Fuel Dragster drivers, Steve Torrence, Doug Kalitta, Khalid alBalooshi and Shawn Langdon.
Outside the Fan Pit Zone the NHRA Junior Drag League drivers had their own autograph session. I love working with the kids. They are a lot of fun and very professional when the camera is turned on. Otherwise, they are just kids having fun!
To see all the photos taken that day please click here.
This will be the last report from the Nationals because we did not attend the finals on Sunday. I want to congratulate the winners, Antron Brown, Matt Hagan, Vincent Nobile, Hector Arana Jr. and all the lower level series drivers on a great weekend of drag racing.
To see our complete portfolio please click here.
Rt. 66 NHRA Nationals Friday
I just wanted to get your attention with Angie Smith and the Kandy Girls (Claudia, Alexa and April)! When we arrived we learned our friend Terry Simpson had run his son's (Randy Simpson, General Manager of O'Reilly Motorsports Park in Indianapolis (actually Avon) Camaro earlier that morning. Terry hadn't raced in 27 years and he made a goal of having a round win in a National event. Goal achieved as Terry won his first round run. Congratulations to Terry and the entire family.
After visiting with Terry and Randy, it was time to wander around. Since we didn't have any on-track photography responsibilities, we decided to freelance around and shoot from different angles and different places. Later on local favorite Bob Bode ran his Top Fuel Funny Funny. He developed an oil leak which led to all kinds of things to go wrong causing a massive fire. Fortunately, Bob was not injured, nor the car seriously damaged. If you look at Bob's launch there were some weird streaks of flame prior to the actual fire.
Here are some pictures from the rest of our NHRA Nationals Friday. To see all our photos from the day please click here.
Next up: NHRA Saturday
17th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries
This week is a big week at Route 66 Raceway with the arrival of the NHRA Mello Yellow Series. For those who don't know too much about drag racing, this is the top of the NHRA food chain. In addition to John Force, Tony Schumacher and others there is the JEGS All-Stars. The JEGS All-Stars has all the best from the Lucas Oil Series regions running against each other. There will be a total of 460 cars starting on Thursday. To see the complete entry list click here. Its going to be a great weekend of drag racing at 66!
Here are some photos from last year's event.
To see more from last year, click here.
Rain, Rain Go Away
It didn't! We started the day under cloudy skies which soon turned to partly cloudy, warming as the morning wore on. It looked to be a fabulous day at the track. For the Summit Racing Junior Drag League Challenge, it was going to be a great day of racing for the kids. After two rounds of qualifying, we lined them up to start the elimination rounds. I looked through the tunnel and the western sky had turned to a menacing blue/black color. Two thirds of the way through the Modified group, the storm hit with lightning and a heavy downpour which sent everyone scrambling for cover. After a period of a rain, it was determined that we would be unable to complete the event, in part, due to the Dirt Oval hosting Team Demolition Derby. It would be unsafe for the kids to be driving their cars back to their pits (in the parking lot) as the Demo fans were arriving and driving in the same parking lot. The Junior Drag League Challenge will be held as part of the next Junior's race on July 5th. Unfortunately, since the elimination round was not completed nothing counts in the points. On July 5th, it will be as if today did not occur.
Although the results will not count, there was some racing, so please click here to see today's abbreviated racing.
After a period of time, the sky started to lighten and we moved over to the Dirt Oval in anticipation of running the Team Demolition Derby event. The fans starting lining up at the entrance around 3:30 p.m. and at 4 the car gates were open. Everything at that point was looking good. Unfortunately, the weather report was stating that more violent storms were on their way. Several storm cells popped up, but they just skirted the track. At 5:30 p.m. the grandstand gates opened and the fans flooded in to claim their seats. Shortly thereafter, another cell popped up heading directly toward the track. With approximately 1/3 of the track already under water, any additional rain would jeopardize the event. One of the big concerns was the safety issue of ambulance response inside the track. If a driver was injured and the on/off ramp areas were impassable (for an ambulance), then the racing could not happen. The worst case scenario occurred as it started to rain very heavily. Due to this additional rain the event was postponed until October 18th. All tickets and wrist bands from today's event will be honored on that date. Although, no racing actually occurred, there was some great fan interaction. Click here to see what was happening before the rains came (again).
This Saturday we will be covering two events at Route 66. The first is the Summit Racing Junior Drag Racing League Challenge and the second is Team Demolition Derby at the Dirt Oval. It will be a long, but enjoyable, day of shooting. The Juniors run in two classes, Modified and Sportsman, by age. In the Modified class it has two divisions based on an ET speed. The Juniors run an eighth mile track.
Please click here to see the Junior actions from the past couple seasons.
Following the Junior Drag event, the Dirt Oval comes alive with non-stop action of racing and crashing. This will be the second round of the Tournament of Destruction, AKA Team Demolition Derby. If you haven't seen Team Demo, I would highly recommend it. It has been described as Roller Derby with cars in that each team has a designated car that, to win, must complete five laps before the opposing team does. Your support cars are there to block and to crash the other team's car before they can achieve five laps. In between heats, there are two figure eight races. One with cars, the other with trucks. Its usually a night of non-stop mayhem!
To see the previous Team Demo action please click here.
Saturday was a beautiful day for racing at Route 66 raceway. It was the Rockett Brand Fuels ET Bracket Series race #4 along with NHRA Summit Racing King of the Track. The King of the Track pits the four division winners in direct competition with each other with the winner taking home a Wally. The fifth, High School, division is excluded from participation in the King of the Track. The competition was hot and heavy today with what seemed like more "red lights" than normal. Congratulations to the five division winners.
Next up was the NHRA Summit Racing King of the Track.
First up was Michael Opielinski versus Jay Allen with Allen taking the win. Followed by John Singleton Jr. going up against the motorcycle of Greg Darm. John Singleton Jr. took the win. In the final, it was Jay Allen in the dragster versus John Singleton Jr. in the Pro Eliminator. Jay Allen took the win light to take the NHRA Summit Racing King of the Track title.
To see all the action from today's racing, please click here.
To see all the recent Route 66 racing, please click here.
Our schedule for the next week includes the NHRA Junior Dragster League at Route 66 and the Team Demolition Derby at the Dirt Oval, both on Saturday. If I can arrange it, I may try to go to the Wednesday, Rockford Speedway event.
Jeanetta "The Quilt Lady" Holder
During the IndyCar event at the Chicagoland Speedway in August 2009, Janet befriended a lady in the Media Center. Come to find out, that lady was Jeanetta Holder, "The Quilt Lady." Jeanetta has been presenting the winner of the Indianapolis 500 a handmade quilt since 1976, with Johnny Rutherford as the winner. She has been attending the Indianapolis 500 since 1950. Not only has she presented the Indy 500 winner a quilt, but others as well, (such as Brickyard 400 winners Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt). Making racing quilts is not her only connection to racing. As a young woman, Jeanetta also was an amateur racecar driver. She was one of the first lady racers at the Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Ky. She has always had a penchant for racing. Even as a little girl, she would make her own homemade racecar toys and race them! At 82, she still is as active as ever -- loading up her scooter, jumping in her minivan, and driving anywhere she wants to go.
At the conclusion of the 2009 IndyCar race, Jeanetta asked me to take a photo of the Chicagoland Speedway logo that was on the wall behind the Media Center desk. At that time, I did not know why she wanted that particular image.
Many months later, we learned that Jeanetta created a quilt for Chicagoland Speedway in honor of its 10th season. The speedway's official 10-year anniversary would be celebrated the following year. Jeanetta presented the quilt to then track president Craig Rust during the 2010 IndyCar pre-race ceremonies. This was the first quilt created for an individual track.
In 2012, Jeanetta started asking Janet and I to come down to the Indianapolis 500. Due to family commitments, we were not able to make that happen...until now. Jeanetta was gracious enough to invite us to stay with her throughout the weekend of the Indianapolis 500. Upon our arrival, Jeanetta was working on the winner's quilt.
In addition to this year's winner's quilt, Jeanetta created a quilt for Jim Nabors, who was ending his career of singing "Back Home Again in Indiana." The Speedway arranged for Jeanetta to have a private meeting and presentation with Jim. Upon seeing her, Jim stated, "There she is!" When he learned of her upcoming birthday, Jim led the group in singing Happy Birthday to her. As we exited the event, we were met by Miss Hurst herself, Linda Vaughn!
Prior to the race, Jeannetta prepared the quilt, minus the winner's autograph. At the conclusion of the race, she presented the quilt to the winner in Victory Circle (this year accompanied by Janet), obtained the winner's autograph and then brought the quilt home to attach the autograph.
This year, after exiting Victory Lane, Jeanetta was met by Beccy Hunter-Reay, wife of race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay. She wanted to personally thank Jeanetta for the beautiful quilt.
Later that day, Jeanetta went about the task of affixing the winner's autograph (Ryan Hunter-Reay) to the quilt.
On Monday morning after the 500, the Speedway hosted the winner's photoshoot. The car was pulled onto the racetrack under the starter's stand and the driver posed with family, friends, teammates and sponsors. It is here that Jeanetta made the final presentation of the quilt.
This was a memorable weekend that Janet and I will never forget! First, I want to thank Jeanetta for inviting us into her world. She is a special lady, and we love her! Second, I want to thank Tim Sullivan, the Hulman-George family, and all the folks involved with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for allowing us access to be able to tell this story. And finally, thank you to the Henry Ford Museum for background information.
To see more information about Jeanetta and her quilt's induction to the Henry Ford Museum Hall of Fame please click here.
What a weekend of racing and exhibitions at Route 66! Three days of Top Alcohol and Funny Car Dragsters along with Top Sportsman, Super Comp, snowmobiles, etc., and then the Burndown at Sundown on Saturday which because of some precipitation, stretched into Sunday. In all, there were eleven classes of dragsters. Friday was the first round of Qualifications for the Lucas Oil Series.
To see all of Friday's action please click here.
The day started out bright and sunny, with a large crowd and finished with a persistent, drizzly rain which shortened the program. In between, there was some great racing and the first half of the Burndown at Sundown. The Qualifications and some eliminations continued all day until the rains came and then the fields were locked. We did get the completion of the first round of the Burndown at Sundown. It was decided that the second half of the program would be completed, as much as possible, on Sunday. Fans could present their tickets and be admitted free for the entire day.
Please click here to see all of Saturday's action.
The day started a little cool, however the action on the track was as hot as ever! A whole day of eliminations with the second half of the Burndown at Sundown at the halfway point.
Sports Illinois Huddle
On Tuesday, the Chicagoland Speedway hosted the Sports Illinois Huddle to a memorable evening of food, drink and racing. The Sports Illinois Huddle is a conference by Sports Illinois Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVB's) and Sports Commission members. Sports Illinois is an organization formed through the Illinois Office of Tourism and the many CVB's throughout the State of Illinois. Tuesday evening's event started with a reception in the Presidential Suite and a presentation by NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett. Following the presentation, the attendees were served dinner provided by the food supplier of the Chicagoland Speedway, Levy Restaurants. Just prior to entering the infield, a drawing was held and a select few were awarded a pace car ride driven by Dale Jarrett. During and after dinner the attendees were given the opportunity of a Dale Jarrett Racing Adventure 3-lap ride-along. I think almost every attendee took advantage of the opportunity. I just remember hearing whoops and high-fives from everyone who took a ride! It was a super night of fun for everyone!
Next up for us this weekend is the Burndown at Sundown at Rt. 66 in conjunction with the NHRA Lucas Oil Division 3 Series.
NASCAR will be in the Poconos for this weekend.
Friday night was the "Schools Out" Test & Tune with Beat the Cops. It was a late arriving car count. Early on, I was a little disappointed, however as the night went on more and more showed up. It wound up with a pretty good car count and good racing. Photography wise, I was down one of my front line cameras due it being in for repair. Second, I had to look for some different angles because the sun was directly in my face. After the sun went down, I attempted to use the back-up camera similar to the way I was used to doing, however it just wasn't working well. As long as I have good light, that camera will work fine, but when the sun went down things got more difficult. I did get some good shots, but overall I was a little disappointed in the night, photography wise. Below are some of the night's action. Please click here to see the photos from the entire night.
In the NHRA, congratulations to Richie Crampton-Top Fuel, Cruz Pedregon-Funny Car, Jeg Coughlin-Pro Stock and Andrew Hines-Pro Stock Motorcycle for their wins at Englishtown in the Summernationals.
Next weekend will be the Burndown at Sundown in conjunction with NHRA Lucas Oil Division 3 Series.
On Saturday, I met Phil Rider at Grundy County Speedway for the STARS Midget opening night. We have been trying to hook up for the past year at Grundy County. This was my first visit there. There were five series running, Mini-Cup, INEX Legends, Classic Modified, Illini Midgets and STARS Midgets. The racing was hot and heavy with one wreck in each of the Mini-Cup, Modified and Stars Midgets. Congratulations to Min-Cup winner Dallas Frueh, Legends winner Andy Jones, Modified winner Tom Scnabel, Illini Midget winner Mike Anderson and Stars Midget winner Austin Prock.
To see all the night's action please click here.
Also congratulations in the NASCAR world to Kyle Busch for his Truck and Nationwide wins at Dover and congratulations to Jimmie Johnson for his Sprint Cup victory, which literally guarantees him an opportunity to run for the championship, which just happens to begin at Chicagoland Speedway.