PARADISE: Looking Back At February In Florida

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CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio — Back in the days before the Internet, Twitter and Facebook during our 33 years of covering Florida Speedweeks for Mid-American Auto Racing News, it was hard to get information back home from Florida on how our local heroes represented us against the rest of the nation at places like Volusia, New Smyrna, Daytona and the R.P.M. Promoters Workshop.

The Mid-American beat we traveled with publisher Phil Cole focused on Ohio, but extended to Indiana, West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania, Ontario and Michigan.

Every year we followed to Florida a few of the successful names that might be familiar to you today, racers like Tim Richmond, John Anderson, Jim Dunn, Rick Ferkel, Dave Shullick, Jac Haudenschild, Kenny Jacobs, Steve Kinser, Dave Blaney, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart. Cleveland’s George Eisenhart was also honored as an early R.P.M. Promoter of the Year.

This year’s recently completed Speedweeks still offers some of the old names, but some new influences have emerged from our area.

One of those names that might be unfamiliar (even to those from Ohio) is Dr. Jeffery Jarvis. Not only is Jarvis the promoter of Ohio’s beautiful Limaland Motorsports Park, he is also president of the University of Northwestern Ohio, where students train in technical fields like high performance motorsports.

Classes include welding and fabrication, engine machining and building, dyno operation, driving and steering and suspension, fuel systems and ignitions. The speedway (operated by the university) is one of the labs used by staff and students, who can earn an associate degree in high performance technology.

Also offered are associate degrees in diesel, agricultural equipment, heating and air conditioning, and C.D.L. training. The College of Business offers marketing, I.T., medical records and accounting, all of which can be used in the racing industry.

Dr. Jarvis and the University of Northwestern Ohio sponsored the DIRTcar Nationals at the World Racing Group’s Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., for the second time this year.

While DIRTcar Nationals champions Joey Saldana (sprint cars) and Billy Moyer (late models) were competing with the World of Outlaws and UMP alongside Steve Kinser, Jason Sides, Scott Bloomquist and Jimmy Mars, the real winners were the fans, who enjoyed one of the greatest events in racing history thanks to Tom Deery’s hard working WRG crew and Jarvis’s support.

Kudos to acting track manager Gary Risch, Jr., who was borrowed from his similar position at WRG’s Lernerville Speedway in Pennsylvania. Risch personally prepared the tricky Florida sandy clay that had them racing high and low nightly. High fives to World of Outlaws Late Model Series announcer Rick Eschelman and public relations ace Kevin Kovac, who are simply the best in the business.

Sorry to hear Ohio’s Wayne County Speedway will go to public auction April 6, but looking forward to March 25 when Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park opens the 2011 season with sprint-car and late-model action. Hope to see you there.

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