Wednesday, April 29, 2009

2009 UFo Series Schedule

The Unified Force championship series, which travels to five tracks in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, released its 2009 schedule. The series and its nine weekend race events attract drivers from across the Tri-state area. Alex Ferree, of Saxonburg, Pa., won the inaugural UFo championship last year.

June 6 - PENNational 33 - PPMS – Imperial, Pa.
July 11 - Mach 41 - Roaring Knob – Markleysburg, Pa.
July 18 - Red Miley 53 - PPMS – Imperial, Pa.
July 25 - Area 51 - Tyler County Speedway – Middlebourne, W.Va.
Aug. 7 - Lunarville 33 - Lernerville Speedway – Sarver, Pa.
Aug. 8 - F-2 Shockwave Twin 31s - PPMS – Imperial, Pa.
Sept. 12 - Area 51 - Roaring Knob – Markleysburg, Pa.
Sept. 17, 18, 19 - The Pittsburgher 100 - PPMS – Imperial, Pa.
Oct. 8, 9, 10 - The Ultimate 91 - Challenger Speedway – Clarksburg, Pa.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Gold star goes to 'the fence'

As rookie Brad Keselowski ducked below Carl Edwards and nudged him out of the way for the win at Talladega, I thought, “It’s about damn time someone holds their line.” Then Edwards’ car went airborne and ricocheted up in the catchfence and my thoughts immediately changed: “Uh, oh. This is gonna hurt!”

Well, now that all the drivers walked away (or ran in Edwards’ case) and the seven fans survived with mostly minor injuries, it’s time to discuss the yellow line. I thought this was a great idea when NASCAR implemented it in 2001, but the sanctioning body has not done a good job enforcing it. Instead of scolding drivers that block cars below the apron, it only penalized drivers who attempt to make a pass after making an evasive move to avoid a massive crash. A perfect example was last year when Ragan Smith went below the yellow line because Stewart gave him no room. Here’s what I suggested last October…

“If NASCAR punishes most drivers in those situations – Smith finished 18th rather than 2nd – then it’s about time they learn to hold their groove above the yellow line and the consequences be damned.”

Apparently Brad Keselowski was listening. He said that he had no intention of moving his car out of the way because he knew what happened to Smith. And that’s exactly what he should’ve done in the situation. But the next question most fans are asking is whether NASCAR should abolish the yellow line. Quite honestly, I think Keselowski and Edwards fixed the problem. The difference now is that a rookie had the cojones to stick his nose in there at 190 mph and refuse to move. How many other drivers are going to try and block to the yellow line in the future? Seems like the problem has been solved.

The bigger concern for NASCAR is finding a way to keep the cars on the ground. They resolved that issue in 1994 with the advent of the roof-flaps, but there seems to be a growing issue with the new COTs. This is the biggest issue facing the sport, because we all saw what an out-of-control car can do at Talladega.

Motorsports Monday

After a two-week hiatus, it's time to return to the blog. Several area tracks have restarted their racing seasons, so let's return with Motorsports Monday. The asterisk denotes the heat winners.

Pennsylvania Motor Speedway
Imperial, Pa. - April 25

Super Late Models – 25-lap feature
1. Jared Miley
2. John Flinner
3. Ben Miley
4. Tommy Beck
5. Brandon Burgoon*

Pro Late Models – 20-lap feature
1. Dave Wade
2. Justin Lamb
3. Jason Rider
4. Bryant Hank
5. Beau Glemba*

Modified – 12-lap feature
1. Daryl Charlier
2. J.E. Stalder*
3. Kevin Miller*
4. Chris Basich
5. Clayton Kennedy

Sportsman – 15-lap feature
1.Craig Koteles
2. Bob Schwartzmiller*
3. Pat Weldon
4, Bill Robertson*
5. Pat Hanley

Stocks – 10-lap feature
1. Curt Bish
2. Brian Huchko*
3. Brian Reddcliff
4. Gary Koteles*
5. Jason Herniak

Young Guns Sport Compacts – 8-lap feature
1. Justin Pons
2. Daniel White
3. Tyler Carson
4. Hannah Ramsey
5. Alec Broniszewski

Motordrome Speedway
Smithon, Pa. - April 24

Super Late Models – 50-lap feature
1.Gary Wiltrout
2. Mark Cottone
3. Barry Awtey
4. Will Thomas
5. Bobby Henry

Modifieds – 30-lap feature
1. Lonnie Hoffman
2. Adam Kostelnik
3. George Nicola
4. Bobby Shipp
5. Bryan Shipp

Street Stocks – 25-lap feature
1. Shawn Phillips
2. Dink Colarusso
3. Johnathan Hileman
4. Jason Holder
5. Aaron Minjock

Chargers – 15-lap feature
1. A.J. Poljak
2. Matt Gardner
3. Tracy Keller
4. Denny Keller
5. Ed Neidhardt

Super Compacts – 15-lap feature
1. Larry Dunmyer
2. Matt Sever
3. Gene Zerfoss
4. Scott Ahlborn
5. Bill Schwartz

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

This ain't your mama's dubba-wide

By Scott Beveridge
O-R Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH – An unpeeled banana dusted with paprika and melted cheddar isn’t on the menu at Double Wide Grill, a restaurant in an old filling station in Pittsburgh.

But that’s what a server delivered as a joke to the bartender at the kooky 2-year-old restaurant on East Carson Street in the city’s trendy South Side district.

“That’s why I love working here,” said the bartender named Carly, who bears a mild resemblance to Jennifer Aniston as a dark brunette. “Your foods up,” she said while passing the silly tapas to me and flashing an infections smile.

Of course no one else takes her up on this side dish, but there is plenty of real he-man food being passed around this joint on a sunny Sunday spring afternoon.

The business at Carson and 24th streets also comes with a sense of humor. An old green pickup truck strung with Christmas lights is suspended above the bar while recycled chrome step bumpers double as its foot rests.

Gas pump nozzles pull double duty as coat racks and mirrors framed in car tires can be found in the rest rooms. Meanwhile, hubcaps line the ceiling and empty metal gallon-sized oil cans hang over tables as chandeliers.

The menu is similarly as quirky. The “On TrÃ¥ys” are heavy with beef, pork and chicken dishes and some can be mixed and matched on build-your-own TV dinners plopped on metal trays. The hubcap potato discs with garlic and herbs would complete that meal.

There also are vegetarian selections, including that nothing food called tofu and lighter dishes in the form of a house trailer salad with sweet corn and avocadoes.

This restaurant in a bland four-bay concrete-block garage is another gift to the city by Scott Kramer and Steve Zumoff, owners of the coffeehouse down the street where young bohemians with robins egg blue hair mingle with middle-aged nerds over organic tea.

It’s noisy and especially so on nice days when the garage doors are up and a fleet of Harley-Davidson motorcycles pulls away from the neighboring biker bar.

The place with all of its hillbilly charm is a NASCAR fan’s fantasy. The only things missing are shots of moonshine and the smell of high-octane engine fuel at the racetrack.

(Above photo of the Double Wide Grill restaurant by Scott Beveridge)

Monday, April 6, 2009

An afternoon on the strip

NEW ALEXANDRIA, Pa. - Engines revved and tires squealed this weekend at Pittsburgh Raceway Park for the opening test session at the drag strip in Westmoreland County.

A photographer and I went to the quarter-mile track Sunday afternoon for a profile on what makes these drivers and mechanics tick. There is a clear distinction between those who take this sport seriously and the amateurs who come with their factory-built cars for a joyride down the quarter-mile. Either way, it looks like a lot of fun.

The stands attract a small crowd, but the majority of the audience is in the garage paddock on a hill overlooking the track. It’s these crewmen and drivers that eagerly watch to see who can run the fastest and most consistent times. They line up against the chain-link fence and peer over the track.

It’s a certain breed that makes the weekly trip to these tracks and invests money into an expensive hobby. The story is scheduled to run in the Observer-Reporter on May 17.

(Photo by O-R photographer Jim McNutt)

Friday, April 3, 2009

The King's new conquest

It’s the perfect blend between NASCAR’s greatest name with open-wheel’s biggest event.

The Associated Press is reporting that Richard Petty will field a car for John Andretti at next month’s Indianapolis 500. While Andretti has raced at Indianapolis before, this will be Petty’s first splash into Indy cars as an owner or driver.

This is great news for IRL, which has struggled in recent years to draw more than 33 cars for qualifying, and the recent economic problems certainly foreshadow more problems at the historic track. That’s what makes this announcement so surprising. Petty’s finances have been so putrid, he partnered with Gillett Motorsports in the offseason just to remain viable. But don’t let that partnership fool you: It’s Gillett’s money with Petty’s name.

But this is a great opportunity for more cross-breeding between the two sports. Andretti, Robby Gordon and Tony Stewart often have competed in both the Indy 500 and Cok 600 in the same day, making for an exciting and tiring feat. While this won’t have the same sizzle of a Indy-NASCAR doubleheader, it would be nice to see the King in Indy’s victory lane.