Tuesday, April 28, 2009

IMSTEA High Mileage Challenge

On Monday the Indiana Mathematics Science and Technology Education Alliance (IMSTEA) made their yearly visit to O’Reilly Raceway Park with the running of the High Mileage Challenge. On the left is a shot of two Nationwide cars during the race in 2007 and on the right is one of the IMSTEA cars that were here. Just looking at the two you can tell it is something that is out of the norm for us. Seeing all the hard work these students put into their cars is truly amazing.

Also the competitors and their families are so nice and appreciative of what we do. I had four or five different parents and students stop me and say thanks for letting them hold the event at the facility.

President Jim Thompson took a few minutes out of his day to explain the event.

I was very curious with an event like this what is the biggest thing he hopes the students walk away with?

“I want the students to get the knowledge of how to weld together math science and technology and how to get something done. Also they learn how to get things done in their community because they have to go out and get sponsors and raise the money to build the cars. Those two things are the most critical.”

Some of the schools have been involved in this event for a handful of year and I also wanted to know how long it took to complete the cars?
“The schools that have done a previous event can get there cars done is a school year they usually start in September and get it ready to go here in April. First year schools actually won’t make it the first year because they will try to get their car together and won’t get it done but they will bring the kids out here and they will get motivated and then they will come back the next year and they will be able to come back year after year.

Jim has been involved with this event for a handful of years and has seen it grow and the cars change through the years.
“The development of the cars from the first year we had this we had a car made of 2x4s, needless to say it didn’t do very good on mileage. Now we have several carbon fiber cars and seeing that progression over the year is neat. We also started at 270mpg and last year we were at nearly 1200mpg and this is pretty neat.”

The last thing we talked about was if students had taken what they learned and have they applied it to their careers.

“We have a few kids who go on into technology education they will say they learned how to do technology education by doing this. I have had a couple of kids who went into engineering schools and they say it was a big help because it helped me learn how to do something practical because you don’t need to know a lot of thermal dynamics to do this. It helped them to learn something practical.”

Winners were Greenfield Central High School in Stock in the car they created that got 1048.79 mpg.

Mater Dei High School won the Unlimited Class with a car that got 1293.09mpg.

More photos can be found on our Flickr page

Sunday, April 26, 2009

NHRA Lucas Oil race coming to a close

The NHRA North Central Lucas Oil race is rapidly coming to a close and only a few cars remain to take to the track.  It has been a great weekend of racing with temperatures in the mid-80's and a great car count. 

The track has been in great condition and much of the credit goes to a great drag crew we have.  Chuck D. and John D. inspect the track after each run and sweep off any debris or clean up any fluid that has gotten onto the racing surface.  

Also remember early in the season when I showed you all this picture and we talked about how rubber was yet to get onto the track?  

Well take a look at it now!  You can see where each tire track heads down the track and the rubber that it lays down.  This helps the driver have the best traction possible and helps them remain 'In the Groove.'

The IMSTEA High Mileage challenge will be at the track in the morning and you will be surprised about what cars are on the oval in the morning. 

Thursday, April 23, 2009

NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing series at O'Reilly Raceway Park

The NHRA Lucas Oil drag racing series is at O'Reilly Raceway Park and we will be putting up photos and information up from the event as the weekend progresses.

Today was a test session and let racers from across the area get valuable track time leading up to the race.

Video from the test can be found on our You Tube channel.

Monday, April 20, 2009

NHRA North Central division Lucas Oil Race at the track

The 2nd annual Season Kick Off Celebration comes to O'Reilly Raceway Park and will be a perfect way to kick start the racing season. We have had racing events this season but this event will be one of the biggest to date and will feature two great groups that will visit the track.

Taking place on Friday will be a special tribute to former division photographer, Bob Hesser who passed suddenly early this month. No matter how busy Bob was during an event he would always take a second to say hello and was genuinely a nice guy. Be sure to join us as we honor him.

Racers For Christ Family Fun day will take place on Saturday. They will do tours of the pits, arts and crafts and teach the sport of NHRA drag racing. Also on Saturday, Boy Scouts from across central Indiana will be at the track during the day during the Circuit of Fun Event.

The NHRA North Central division Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series features screaming fast Top Alcohol Dragster, Top Alcohol Funny cars and both are some of the fastest cars that race at the track during the course of the year.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pinks All Out Last Chance weekend at O’Reilly Raceway Park

The Last Chance qualifying event for the Pinks All Out show in May takes to the drag strip this weekend and racers are at the ready to get in and get parked.

Many took part in our test and tune on Thursday and then stayed the night in their haulers overnight near the facility. This morning at 8am we opened the gates to get them off of the main highway and into the facility.

The drivers and their families are now waiting for gates to open. Some are cooking out, some are relaxing with friends and others are working on their cars. Brian Mulrey on the left and Sean Bryan on the right are applying finishing touches to a great looking Mustang.

Out of all the racers that come to the track only 64 will make the field for the Pinks All Out Show. Good luck to all during the course of the weekend!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Looking back at the early days of O'Reilly Raceway Park

In a past blog I talked briefly about the history of the O'Reilly Raceway Park and how the track became such a popular racing facility that is know around the world. We will continue to look back at some of the early days of the track and hear the history from those that helped make it. Today I turn the blog over to John Potts, the publicity director from 1985 to 2000. I hope you enjoy what John has to say and I thank him for doing this.

When asked if I’d like to be a “guest blogger” on this deal, I started reaching back into my memories. He wanted to know what it was like at what is now O’Reilly Raceway Park back in the day. Well, I can’t speak for the first days of NHRA’s ownership, of course, because I didn’t come on board as a staff member until 1985.

However, my first trip to the facility was in the early 60s. I got to see Don Garlits win his first Nationals in 1964, and saw Roger Lindamood win Stock Eliminator (is that what they called it then?) the same day in the historic “Color Me Gone” Dodge.

I recall one year when three friends and I rented a U-Haul, put a couple of cheap beds in it, loaded up our motorcycles, and headed for Indy. We parked in the back row of the drive-in, facing the wrong way (so we could see the screen). Saturday, Sunday, and Monday we rode our bikes down the ramp and headed across the street.

I was also there for a couple of those Yankee 300 or Yankee 250 USAC stock car races on the road course, and more than a few oval races – including Parnelli Jones’ win in the first USAC sprint car race on the pavement in 1961, and of course for several times in the flagstand while I was with the American Speed Association.

At an RPM Promoters Workshop meeting in Indianapolis in the fall of 1984, I ran into the late Bob Daniels. He remembered me as a flagman, of course, and at the time I was a newspaper editor in southern Indiana. I gave him a resume, and two weeks later he called me. That led to a part-time job as news director, and for the next three years I lived at the track on weekends.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved ASA, and I even loved the traveling. However, I was growing tired of getting home from places like Milwaukee, I-70 and others at 4:00 a.m. Monday and having to be at work at 6:00.

When the ASA folks commented that I’d still be traveling every weekend, I pointed out that my shortest drive from Scottsburg, Ind. was to Raceway Park, at 99 miles. In those three years and the twelve full-time years that followed, I got the greatest education in all forms of motorsports that anyone could have desired.

Bob Daniels was a rough taskmaster, but when he taught you, you learned it right. I had drag raced in my youth (who didn’t?), but I learned the inside of the sport, along with that of road racing. Bob said he counted on me to help him with the ins and outs of oval racing. I had learned the race managing part from Milt Hartlauf of Louisville, and Bob spent the better part of five years trying to teach me the business side. I hope I learned something.

One of the joys of working there was the people you met. I’d never had much contact with drag racers or road racers before that. I felt somebody from the front office needed to be there for virtually every event, and I made it my business to be that person. Being on hand for every ET race, every road race, opened up all sorts of friendships. I began to realize that something said by one of my new (at the time) friends, photographer John Best, was correct.

John used to say that what made racing so much fun “was the people.” He said, “It doesn’t matter whether they go straight, turn left, turn right and left, it’s the people that making coming out here worthwhile.”

I still cherish the friendships made in those Saturdays and Sundays of cruising through the ET pits on a golf cart, and even in the paddock on road race weekends. I still stay in touch with the Hertensteins, one of the finest families you’ll find in any kind of racing, and was overjoyed at finding out that Patty won the Sportsman eliminator in this year’s opening event.

I managed to get Patty and Brian involved in helping me on big race weekends, and I suppose they’re still involved. One of the best moves I ever made. They love racing and love people as much as I do, and they were happy to pitch in. They also possess the ability to think on their feet and take care of a situation on their own, and to know when to call for help. That is, when you can keep Brian away from the Apple Dumpling trailer.

First thing I found out was that Brian needed a compass. I told him on the radio to park a certain bunch for Super Chevy at the north end of Lot 2. “Uh, John? Which way is north?”

He did okay once we explained that the drag strip ran north and south, with the bridge on the south and the sand trap at the north.

If Scott wishes, maybe I’ll have more to say. Thanks for the opportunity.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The 2009 season starts

The first bracket race of the weekend took to the track on Saturday at O’Reilly Raceway Park and watching cars go down track in a competitive setting is always thrilling. The racers spend so much time and effort massaging their cars in the off season trying to get that extra tenth of a second out of it. Watching them put that hard work to good use is good to see. Congratulations to Chris Stephenson, Marty McKinney, Patty Hertenstein, Chad Isley, Joseph Boyden, Collin Richardson, Scott Tuttle and Kieffer Simpson for getting the first win of the season under their belts.

The first couple of races of the season are also a reunion of sorts as people are able to see each other and catch up after the off season. These racers want to do everything possible to win each week but they are very good friends to each other off the track. They help each with parts, make dinners together and spend countless hours at the track and strong friendships are forged. As the season goes on we will look further into some of these relationships and the strong bond these racers share.

More photos from the weekend can be found the O'Reilly Raceway Park Flickr page, http://www.flickr.com/photos/21955465@N05/

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

New grandstands at O’Reilly Raceway Park

Construction projects continue at O’Reilly Raceway Park with the installation of permanent grandstands on the east, pro pit side of the drag strip. These grandstands are something the fans can use during events and hopefully they are a welcome addition.

They will be of great use for fans of the Mac Tools U. S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, but it will also be used for many of our other events on the dragstrip including Super Chevy Show or Goodguys Hot Rod Nationals.

Also construction of the front office is moving right along as well and there are some new pictures of it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Another trivia time

High temperatures of mid-40’s isn’t ideal drag racing conditions so the Tuesday night street legals have cancelled for tonight. Since the street legals were going to be part of the blog today we instead do a little O’Reilly Raceway Park trivia.

The first Kroger 200, NASCAR race was at O’Reilly Raceway Park in 1982 and was the first time the sport of NASCAR has made its way into Indiana. Bob Daniels, general manager of the track at the time and his wife Eileen are credited for bringing the series to then Indianapolis Raceway Park. The winner of the first race was Morgan Shepherd in an Oldsmobile. Shepherd has three career wins at O’Reilly Raceway Park and here he is in an early publicity photo.

Here is a photo of one of the early NASCAR races at the track.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The start of week is dark and dreary with heavy storms and cold temperatures across Indiana. Normally there shouldn’t be water behind the office like there is now. Hopefully the weather will break and we can go racing this weekend.

The only things that are happy with the water are two geese that have taken up residence on the return road. Pictures don’t do it justice but they are not too happy if you get to close…

Friday, April 3, 2009

And their off….

Mother Nature cut us at O’Reilly Raceway Park a break and we were able to hold our first on track activity for 2009 on Thursday night. This was a test session for our slick tire racers and they were all excited to get to the track and start the season.

The drag crew was hard at work prior to the event making sure the racers had the best track conditions for this early in the season. These guys and ladies put in many hours of hard work and preparation to make sure these events go as smoothly as possible.

Dalton Deffenbaugh, one of our Junior dragsters, was the first car to go down the track this season with the help from his mom and dad.

The first two door cars of the year were piloted by Carl Gilbert in the left lane and Jeff Sparkman in the right.

More images can be found on our Flickr page.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

We have created a YouTube video dealing with our Tuesday Night Street Legal Series. We will be making new videos on many different events as the season goes on but check out what we have done:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

We are hoping to get the first event of the 2009 season underway this weekend and now we will see if Mother Nature will cooperate with us…

It is always interesting coming out of the preseason and seeing the little things around the track that signal the start of the season.

The track has been scrubbed and needs some fresh rubber on it before it will be in the best race ready condition.

New for this year is a new Powerboss track scrubber. Think of a Zamboni for a race track. This will help clean up oil downs and speed up the downtime it takes when the track gets dirty. It is pretty impressive looking and even has flames that come out of the ports in the back to help either put temperature into the track or burn off water. Wonder if they will let me drive it????

The ticketing booths are one of the first things are racers see when they pull into the track. Carol and Jaclyn will be there with bright shinning faces welcoming the racers during the course of the weekend.