Let me introduce Ashley Cappetta to you…..

The very first time I met Ashley Cappetta, I was in the pits at Williams Grove. She was helping Brian Leppo. I think she was about 14 years old. One of the first things she told me, was that she wanted to drive a sprint car.

This is no surprise to me. She lives in Central PA….the ‘hotbed’ of wing racing. She goes to school with the likes of Aaron and Amy Ott (among others).

Since meeting Ashley, she has worked with other 410 and 358 sprint car teams at other racetracks (Lincoln and Trailways inlcuded) and has pursued her dream of driving a sprint car.

I remember just two years ago, meeting with Ashley in her dining room and two others who wanted to help get Ashley into a sprint car. While I havent helped her as much as I wish I could, others have stepped in and made sure that Ashleys dream was kept alive.

And this past Tuesday, Ashley made her ‘debut’ at Trailways.

Just seeing Ashley sit in her 358 truly makes me smile. You see, she worked for every single part on that sprint car. And I am proud of her for making her dream happen!

While I was at Trailways Tuesday, I saw Ashley make 3 ‘runs’ on track. Since this was her VERY FIRST TIME out on the track, she was alone on the track.

Run 1:  

Run 2:  

Run 3:  

Now, lets address a few things now that youve seen the video…..

Ashley understands how much these sprint cars cost and she also understands just how hard everyone has worked to get this car on the track. She went to Trailways this past Tuesday in order to get in and get comfortable in the car.

She wasnt out to break any track records, nor was she out to destroy her car.

I think that we, as fans, forget that our drivers start SOMEWHERE.

Personally, I think Ashley did fabulous for her first time on the track. She was taking the turns quicker each time she went out. If I wasnt ‘filming’, I would have broke out the stopwatch just to confirm this.

And for the ‘haters’ out there criticizing her, put your money where your mouth is. So, if you were (or are) one of those yahoos who think you could have done better…….WHERE IS YOUR CAR?

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Since what I have to say definitely takes more than the 140 characters allotted by twitter, I decided to put my thoughts where they belong…..my neglected blog.

First-let me get this out of the way:  Race fans can never be satisfied. Period.

This post addresses two issues that recently have popped up via social network conversations.

First issue:  Track conditions

A long time ago, when I went to a dirt track, the track was wet, tacky and had one heck of a cushion. (with the exception of day races at the beginning of the season) The past five or so years, this trend has gone by the wayside to a dry, slick, blackened track. Granted, with some of the multiple division shows, this is to be expected…..but quite honestly, the racing itself, while still WAY better than Nascar, has gone downhill.

Case in point….This past week Central PA has hosted the Eastern Swing of USAC. Because I was unable to attend a good portion of the races, I lurked twitter and facebook for updates. While I wasnt shocked to see that our local tracks prepared the tracks as normal, it did amaze me that they ran the track in so much and did not give these guys the cushion most fans came to expect.

I was able to attend the Wednesday night race at Lincoln Speedway in Hanover…..which is my favorite local dirt track. When I arrived at the track at 5:30 the track was in awesome condition. It was actually resembling what Ive seen of Kokomo. (If you havent seen a race there live, go check out youtube. The USAC cars really bounce around that place!) Unfortunately, the track was ran down as usual which made for a really dusty feature.

Passing was at a premium all evening. Most was done on the starts and restarts with a few exceptions and all in all, despite my personal complaints, I enjoyed the evening.

Second issue:  Rain delays / Drivers-Teams leaving before its called

Mother Nature is not a race fan. This year has seen more cancellations and rain outs than Ive seen in awhile. No race fan is pleased. No race track is pleased. No race team is pleased.

This past Saturday night, rain forced many local tracks to cancel. Thankfully for most fans, the one track that will try to get in a race, did so. Granted, it was after two rain delays, but they did run the 410 feature. Unfortunately, the 358 feature and thundercar features were postponed. (Today I found out there was some drama surrounding that, but since I wasnt there – nor in the pits – I will refrain from commenting on that)

From what Ive seen discussed, there were 3 410 teams that left the track after running 7 laps of their feature. All these teams were scheduled to race the next day at Clinton County and by the time they had left, it was close to 1 am.

This is where it gets touchy.

As a fan of at least one of the drivers who left before the race ended, I can attest that you can feel ripped off when this happens. Drivers need to understand that while most of us root for a handful of drivers, if our favorite one leaves, it can make you feel this way. Ive seen some really ugly replies to those who vented online Saturday (coming from a drivers family). No fan should be ‘ripped’ in the way I saw.

I think I can safely say that I understand the sport in a unique way, so I do realize that at 1 am with a feature a few laps in and red flagged, if you must leave to get the car ready and the driver and team rested for the next days events, so be it. Take care of what you have to.

But, my question is: would you have chosen to do this if you were in the top 5 or top 10 in points?

I am dedicating this blog post to my race friend Jon “Jammer” Armstrong who passed away last week and whose funeral was held today. RIP Jammer

I have spent a good amount of time at the dirt track….Im guessing most of you already knew that. Alot of people dont understand why I am so addicted to it, but its not *just about the racing. Its everything.

I love getting to the track before gates open. I like to prepare what Im taking in with me. Once the gates open, I put my stuff down and literally watch the racetrack come to life. If you have never done this, I suggest to do this at least once….no matter where you choose to watch from. Theres nothing like seeing an empty pit area fill up, hauler by hauler….team by team…and seeing the fans stream in. It truly is a wonderful sight.

And once Im in the pits with a team or in my seats amongst friends, all is right with the world again 🙂

Did you know that you can also learn many life lessons from your experiences at the dirt track? Consider it your Friday and Saturday night Sunday School lesson! (no disrespect intended)

*SHARING / GIVING – Did you know that many teams share tools? Did you know that many teams will help another team in the pits? Yes both of these statements are true. Ive seen many teams lend all types of things to other teams in the pits. You know, helping a competitor out doesnt mean youre giving him all your secrets! LOL Did you also know that outside of the track there is a community? No, Im not talking about the community where the track is located…..Im talking about campers! There has been many a night that Ive partaked in eating a burger that someone has given me. (by the way, thanks for that) Without all this sharing and giving going on, the ‘spirit’ of racing would be much-much different.

*FORGIVENESS – Sometimes we really make others mad at us. Sometimes we are mad at others. Either way, you need to forgive them. It doesnt matter if you are a driver or fan….we all need to share the racetrack. If you are a competitor, sometimes you make a mistake. In a split second, you need to decide to either apologize or become a jerk. The other party has to decide whether to forgive you or well, become a jerk. As fans, we encounter all kinds of stuff….whether its having a drink spilled on you or your stuff or having someone park in your camping area, etc. We need to find assertive ways to address these situations because more than likely, this situation will present itself to us again OR we will encounter these people again.

*SUPPORT – This topic covers a multitude of things to say. Ill begin with the obvious…..supporting our community family. Dirt track racing is the only thing I know that does this completely right. I have never before in my life seen another venue where it doesnt matter if you liked someone or even knew them, if there is a loss, we ALL come together to support the family and friends. This not only covers drivers, but fans as well.

  • We ‘race’ to help an injured driver come home and get the medical help they need, giving everything from cash to buying merchandise whose proceeds go towards this cause
  • We (as fans) help drivers by purchasing their merchandise. Did you know that some drivers pay for their insurance with that money?
  • Fans organize all kinds of events during big races (including the ‘famous’ chili-cookoff)
  • Fans helping to save entire divisions by locating sponsors for winners and hard chargers

And and for those outside of the sport, did you know that drivers will pass the helmet for other drivers who are injured? What this means is that a driver will walk into the grandstand area carrying his helmet. Fans put the money in the helmet. This money goes to the injured driver fund or to the injured drivers family for expenses. Oh, and by the way, almost ALL the fans will clap for a driver walking thru the grandstands….even if they boo him on the racetrack.

I guess that one should be called SPORTSMANSHIP – but I basically covered that one in GIVING 🙂

Alot can be discussed amongst the above categories and this isnt an end-all-be-all list by ANY means. And, of course I hope to continue to learn and to continue to see good things happening at the race track.

Until then……keep your elbows up!

First, take a moment to read the below (Or refer to linked post) And then, read my update to this post.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Just my opinion
First, I would like to start out by saying that I would hope everyone would pray for Jeff and his family…I was not aware of how serious his wreck at Knoxville was until after speaking with Judd. Since hearing the comparison of Jeff’s accident to Kevin Gobrecht’s at I-30, I have been feeling a range of emotions.

Being a fan of many drivers, including Jeff and Kevin, I know how dangerous my favorite sport is. I have seen what happens within the racing community when something happens to one of their own. Organizations like the York County Racing Club raise money for injured drivers, and we, as fans, should support this endeavor.

It still surprises me how many people who boo a certain driver running in Central PA. And while I may not be a fan, this driver’s family is there hearing obcenaties throughout the evening. I have witnessed “haters” threatening his family while he is stopped on the track during a red flag. This behavior is appalling.

Now, we all have our pet peeves at different tracks…but when so-called fans resort to this type of behavior, something has to be done. However, this problem has also surfaced on the various message boards in a different way. Not only do we have this particular issue, but the up-and-comers are facing hate as well.

Granted, some drivers DO need to improve….but the only way to improve is to get seat time. Drivers coming up from one division to another also face scrutiny. Many of these drivers have succeeded in the lower ranks of open wheel racing and moved up appearing at Williams Grove and Lincoln. Those on the message boards criticize these drivers mercilessly.

I am not sure how many of those who are posting actually drive a racecar of any kind, but after hearing the comments, I would doubt they did. Racing is an expensive and dangerous sport…it takes time, effort, and practice to become competitive. I do not have access to a car to offer a challenge like one on the Grove board, but I would challenge any of these “haters” to get 10 laps to see if they could do any better.

UPDATE: Dont you get it? Just because you dont root for someone does NOT mean they cheat. Arent these drivers providing you with your entertainment?

Last night was the final points race for the 410s at Lincoln Speedway. The drama built as Niki Young had problems with his car all night and had to qualify through the consi. Unfortunately, Niki did not finish the consi, but was named the first alternate, and Pat Cooper dropped out to give Niki his spot. Niki had been 3rd in points.

The four drivers in contention: Chris Eash, Brian Montieth, Fred Rahmer and Niki Young

Had Fred Rahmer not gone to Knoxville he probably would have been able to breeze through with some breathing room. Both Eash and Rahmer qualified through their heats, but failed to finish in a handicap spot, and had to start the feature outside of the top 12. Fred Rahmer and Niki Young faced an uphill battle in the feature….with Niki not finishing and Fred going to the pits after an early caution, reporting out for the remainder of the race.

After an entertaining feature that kept the drama building, Alan Krimes came home in victory lane. Brian Monteith was able to finish in front of Fred Rahmer, and was thereby named Points Champion. What a wonderful racing season it has turned out to be!

Copied from Lincoln Speedway Message Board
Feature (25 laps) – 1. 87-Alan Krimes; 2. 89-Cody Darrah; 3. 59-Jim Siegel; 4. 21-Brian Montieth; 5. 6W-Josh Wells; 6. 30-Doug Esh; 7. 22-Greg Hodnett; 8. 17E-Cris Eash; 9. 25O-Aaron Ott; 10. 45L-Scott Geesey; 11. 38N-Nick Schlauch Jr.; 12. 4-John Rudisill; 13. 51-Fred Rahmer (DNF); 14. 5-Adam Lawrence (DNF); 15. 71-Brian Leppo (DNF); 16. 10N-Niki Young (DNF); 17. 71X-Bill Stine (DNF); 18. 9-Craig Keel (DNF); 19. 45-AJ Michael (DNF); 20. X-Bobby Weaver (DNF); 21. 49-Bobby Howard (DNF); 22. 12-Mike Bittinger (DNF); 23. 28-Chad Jumper (DNF); 24. 25-Chad Layton (DNF). No Time

While lurking on the Williams Grove Speedway message boards-as I usually do….I heard about this amazing race a couple of Fridays ago.

During the final laps of the A-Main on August 22nd, Fred Rahmer and Brian Monteith were racing for the lead. Coming down the backstretch, Fred made contact with a lapped car, and — let’s just say, it’s hard to beleive what occurred. Fred never missed a beat – never slowed down – and won the race.

Now, I am really not one who purchases tapes of races-since I would rather attend with that money. Matter of fact, I have 3 or 4 tapes that I purchased from SportsPlus Video and 2 that I taped when TNN came to the Grove for an Outlaw race…we made signs.  http://www.sportsplusvideo.com/

Anyway, after hearing this amazing save from those I know who were at the Grove (and on the backstretch) I HAD to get this race and see for myself. It is a “miracle” that Fred saved his car after riding up the lapped car. Those who were on the backstretch could actually see the bottom of his car. Fred NEVER slowed, racing Monteith for the lead.

Now, I don’t consider myself to be a Rahmer fan, but all I can say is….what a talented driver! Cheers to him on the win. He certainly desrved it.

Another cheer to Fred for the mention of Jeff Shepard. I know the entire racing community wishes him well, but it is special when a fierce competitor recognizes someone.

Wow! All I can say, is wow!  http://www.hoseheadforums.com/forum.cfm?threadID=20212&CFID=14766017&CFTOKEN=6c3aef2632ebccc3-09FF8D48-E7F2-6999-0665FE67027E2FA9

It amazes me that Jeff Shepard fans and the racing community in general have raised enough money to pay off his air ambulance bill AND physical therapy bill.

($17,000 + $12,000 = $29,000) Wow!

I beleive that this really helped the Shepard family. Im sure it alleviates alot of the stress of having the money issue hanging over them while trying to get through a difficult time anyway. Money can certainly stress you out and hinder recovery. If you dont beleive that, talk to me sometime.

Jeff certainly improved enough that he is able to leave the hospital in Baltimore and return home. He will still have to go to therapy several times a week, but being home is a huge improvement.

As I have mentioned many times before, even though I personally know those who didnt root for Jeff, they still came forward to support someone who provided years of racing entertainment. Last Saturday night, when Rahmer came into our section, even those who openly boo him, clapped and gave him money for Jeff.

It is also worth noting that money to help the family didnt all come from Central PA. Not only did racetracks all over the US raise money, but money was raised even in Australia!

Even though it is sad when the racing community has to come together like this, it is also why I love the sport so much.

There is no other sport like this.