MMR, apparently you think that I've personally abandoned the "little guys" somewhere along the way, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. I'd love to see a whole field of 440 and 500 OM's back out on the ice or dirt like we had 20 years ago, but the sad fact is they just aren't around in viable numbers any more at least in MI, WI, and MN. The MSDRA offered to host any class that wasn't already on our run schedule last year at the BOTB, provided they could put 4 or more entries on the track. If memory serves correct, we even reduced that to 3 sleds for a class that weekend. The 600 Pro Stock guys came out in force, and even had some bonus money in their class, but I don't remember seeing one 440 or 500 OM sled. Craig you've been fighting the cleated track battle for at least ten years now, and I admire your persistance, but wouldn't it have made a lot more sense to just give it up and throw a rubber track on your Mod? I think the cost issue becomes moot when you figure you could have stuck just $20 a month in a cookie jar back then until you had enough saved for a new track and suspension, and you'd have been back to racing at least 5 years ago. It just doesn't make any sense to me to have a race sled sitting around gathering dust, when you could be racing it.
To me, the real hero's and backbone of this sport are guys like Todd Serra. He hand built his own Open Mod, had zero test time in it, knew he had a ton of bugs to work out of it, but still loaded the damn thing up and traveled 10 hours to the World Series this year. Oh, and he came by himself as his buddy that was supposed to come crew for him bailed at the very last minute. Todd KNEW he was going to be outrun by Razzy and the other 1000's, yet still came out to support the event and have some fun. He didn't have a crew with him, but figured he'd grab some people to help him out at the track. The point being here, is that being a racer was more important to him than just winning the race. He was there to have some fun, make some laps, and spend time with like-minded people doing something he loved. Todd "gets it". I just wish more racers would get it as well, and realize there is more to this sport than winning bonus money or setting "world records".
How many of you guys watch NHRA drag racing? Are you familiar with Big Jim Dunn in the funny car class? Dunn is a low buck privateer racer running up against huge teams like Force, Schumacher, and Kalitta every weekend. He's outspent, and obviously out-powered, yet he still shows up every weekend. Why? He rarely makes it out of the second round, and knows it would take a small miracle to actually win an event, yet he still shows up and races. So why does Dunn even bother? Because he's a drag racer, and he "gets it".
Reminds me of another guy that used to race back in the early 1990's in the MSDRA, by the name of Bob Beagle. Bob was an older gentleman, and he ran a little 440 Open Mod that in all honesty wasn't very fast. He would show up all over the state with his little sled, with the single goal of knocking off one of the Bellman's sleds in his classes. He didn't care about winning as much as he did about trailering the Bellman's. It was his stated mission. Now my memory is foggy on if he ever actually beat those guys, or even if he made any final rounds (440 OM was a badass class here in MI in those days), but he was there every weekend to race, have fun, support the association, and go fast on his drag sled. Or at least as fast as it would go. I learned a lot from Bob back then, in regards to having fun, having friendly rivalries, and enjoying the sport as a whole.
Maybe that's the bottom line, is that too many racers forgot that this sport was fun, and began taking things too serioulsy for their own good and the good of the sport.