KERCHNER: The Heat Race


It’s time for a quick trip around the motorsports world.

• If you were surprised to see that first-year Knoxville Raceway promoter Toby Kruse resigned from the position this week, you probably shouldn’t be.

Kruse has a successful track at Marshalltown Speedway and runs his own business besides. Neither offers the challenges of operating Knoxville Raceway.

Though, Knoxville is one of the top five dirt tracks in the world, it is governed by the 24-member Marion County Fair Board. How would you like to answer to 24 different bosses all with separate agendas?

• We were disappointed, but not surprised to see that Fred Rahmer was let go from his six-year ride in the Clemens No. 51 sprint car.

Rahmer, who was inducted, into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2009, is clearly one of the sprint car drivers of our generation, but we don’t think even Fred would dispute that at age 54, he’s on the backside of his career.

At Knoxville last month, Rahmer acknowledged that he has struggled this season getting a feel for the Goodyear tires that have been utilized this season. He said he feels like his car is always sliding.

Rahmer’s sons, Brandon and Freddie, are racing and winning with Freddie recently having made his first 305 sprint car start.

If you were going to pick a guy to replace Rahmer, you probably couldn’t do much better than Paul McMahan. He’s truly deserving of a top-notch ride and will do great things with the Clemens team.

Rahmer and McMahan are both quality individuals.

• The Chase and the Countdown have each arrived. Did you hear me yawn as I typed that?

Honestly, I do see the increased media attention, and to an extent, fan interest that is created by NASCAR’s Chase and NHRA’s Countdown, but from where we sit it just cheapens the rest of the event.

The U.S. Nationals is one of the greatest racing events in the world, but ESPN2’s television coverage of The Big Go was completely centered on The Countdown. More attention was paid to Tim Wilkerson getting the 10th spot in the Funny Car field than on Mike Neff, who actually captured the most coveted prize in drag racing.

Thank goodness that the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 aren’t part of any “playoff” shenanigans.

• We feel for former World Champion Kevin Schwantz in his fight to promote a MotoGP event at the Circuit of Americas next season. However, from the courthouse, this seems like a good time for Schwantz to cut his losses and leave COTA and Dorna to bicker with one another.

• Donny Schatz appears to have taken control of what has been one of the most entertaining, back-and-forth title fights in World of Outlaws history. Five different drivers led the standings this season with Schatz seizing the lead from Craig Dollansky a week ago and pulling to a 72-point advantage during a five-race stretch.

There’s still a long way to go until the final checkered flag Nov. 3 at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, but Schatz’s fifth title appears to be in sight.

• When will Kyle Larson stopping amazing us? It might be a long time. Larson recently won non-winged sprint car and 360 sprint car races on the same night at Silver Dollar Speedway and followed it up two days later by winning his second straight Gold Cup Race of Champions in his first weekend driving for Paul Silva.




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Mike Kerchner
Mike Kerchner is a veteran racing journalist and has been a member of the SPEED SPORT family since joining Chris Economaki at National Speed Sport News in 1991. He is now the Editor-in-Chief of SPEED SPORT Magazine.