Saturday, September 10, 2011

Shower Power

In the two seasons that I have penned this column, i have tried to stay close to the intent of the site - to emphasize the positives in racing. So i will go ahead and apologize in advance for this missive, which unfortunately will not follow along those lines. I was part of a large crowd on hand Friday night at the Davenport Fairgrounds to witness the once postponed IMCA Deery Brothers Summer Series show. The fact that the race had been rescheduled on the seldom used 1/2 mile, and set during both the World 100 and the Boone Supernationals was very interesting to me - a gutsy move, to say the least.
So I deemed it worth taking a vacation day at work, and with a local racers wife watching the weather, buddy Fred and I headed out on the three hour trek north.
I must say I was a bit nervous as I always am at Davenport, given the track curfew and with the number of advertised laps to be run on the big 1/2 mile, and when no cars hit the track until 6:40, I was clock watching. And then it happened. A ten minute rain shower, moderate though it was, put the entire night in jeopardy. Still, there seemed to be hope when the rain stopped and the track packing vehicles came out quickly. When announcer Phil Roberts made the request for the 80 plus race cars in the pits to please come out and help with packing, we figured we had maybe a 30 minute window at best to roll in the track and go racing. Now I have spent enough time in the pits to know that no one wants to be the first car out on a rain slick track, but it was not long before a dozen or so cars made their way out, followed shortly by another dozen or so. And that was where it stopped. As those hardy souls did what they could to help, another 60 or so drivers stayed in the pits, either convinced the effort was futile, or simply not willing to help. I must say, I have rarely been so disappointed by or disgusted with a group of drivers. Was it a lost cause? Probably. Would it have been a terrible imposition for the drivers to make a half dozen laps, then offer an opinion to track officials that the track would not be raceable? I have seen and heard many excuses last night and today, the cost of fuel, the cost at the car wash, it is not the racers job to work the track, etc. While I tend to agree that it is not the racers job to prepare the track, it was hardly the promoters fault that the rain came at hot lap time. And I am sure the cost of towing home, anywhere outside the Quad Cities, and towing back on Sunday will far exceed the cost of fuel and wash expense involved. Although this was obviously a much smaller deal, I was reminded of the flood of 1993, when the folks in my little river town, which has no levee, worked in extremely hot weather to fill sand bags in a futile attempt to hold back the water from the homes and businesses at the rivers edge. And I still remember those who sat and watched and decided it was a lost cause and was not their job, anyway. Well the water came anyway, some tried to help, and some just watched...
I do not know the Davenport promoter personally, but I do remember going to a race on the 1/4 mile last season when it had rained most of the day. The track was rough, and during hot laps we thought there must be no cars as very few came out. The crowd was understandably small, and I am sure he turned little or no profit this night. But come race time, he had a decent field of cars, and the race went off as planned. In short, he fulfilled his obligation to his drivers and fans even though it would have been difficult to blame him for pulling the plug. The payback he got last night was disappointing. I hope the cars and fans can come back on Sunday night for the re reschedule - I am sure neither group will be as large, and I know we cannot, and now he is under fire for going up against another race to the north. I have been rained out many times before, and this will not keep me away from Davenport Speedway, or Summer Series shows. But then I am not an " average " fan, and I think we can all agree that we need more of those. And last night did nothing to make those folks want to attend more races. And my wife was quick to mention when I repeated the new popular slogan, " it is what it is," the rest of that saying is " but it will be what you make it."
See you at the races.

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