• John DiBartolomeo


First up, there is no way I can ever thank everyone for their prayers, thoughts, e-mails, texts, phone calls and what not after my “procedure” a week and a half ago. If you haven’t read about it in my last Blog, it was quite a bit more than a procedure.

When I think of a medical procedure, my thoughts go to a knee replacement, colonoscopy or something of that nature. This was a good old-fashioned gutting from about an inch below my belly button to the bottom of my rib cage. It’s been slow going since then, but I’ll survive, which is what is important.

The weekend prior to my “procedure,” (I don’t know why I’m even using that word) I attended the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series divisional event at Maple Grove Raceway. In what was supposed to be an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend, turned into a giant camping trip.

On Friday, most of the core sportsman classes got one run down the track before the rains came. Saturday morning the rains were relentless and the announcement was that a decision would be made at noon time. I guess it was inevitable, as shortly before 11:30, the announcement was that Saturday would be scrubbed completely. Mall time and dinner became the order of the day as everyone dodged the rain to at least visit with friends, albeit in maybe 50-degree weather.

Sunday’s schedule was… well it didn’t matter because the weatherman finally got something right. On Saturday, everyone was told of the impending Sunday rain and if you would like to drop out of the race, you could do so and receive your entry fee back as long as it’s done prior to 2:00. In what is typically a 600+ car event, I think there were only about 500 or so entered probably because of the weather reports. By Saturday afternoon, that number was significantly reduced as trailer after trailer left the facility. Even with the Monday holiday as a rain date, I was very impressed they allowed racers to drop out, but it was the right thing to do. The question is: How many times is the right thing done?

Sunday came with more rain along with more chilly temps, not exactly even enjoyable camping weather. Sunday became a wash and with great weather predicted for Monday, and the loss of car count, meant the entire race could easily be finished on Monday. I guess that the 2:00 Saturday deadline was extended and even more cars pulled out on Sunday.

Monday morning peaked with blue skies and a giant yellow ball in the sky. Track drying had commenced in the pre-dawn hours and things were looking up. First up were Jr. Dragsters and the call went out to get them to the lanes. As I watched one team head to the lanes, I don’t think it was a half-hour later when I watched them tow back to their trailer.

The track was undergoing final prep and for whatever reason, the rubber just wasn’t sticking to the surface. And as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in regards to no prep races, the type cars we run on a normal basis require a track that is prepped properly. When rubber doesn’t stick to it, that becomes a problem. And what followed was the “announcement.”

“It’s going to take probably another four hours to re-scrape the track and prep it,” was the call. “In that regard there is no way to complete this race today and we are postponing the event until August.”

What? Under a warm sun and blue skies, I think we all looked at each other in bewilderment. “What did they just say?” But it was true.

Now while we all wasted a weekend there, think of the ramifications of what the track had to endure. I know, we don’t always think of that but basically, it was an expensive weekend for them with absolutely no return on investment. Add in a completely frazzled Division Director and an NHRA staff which had to be paid to be there and you have giant debt they get to do all over again in August… for FREE because everyone was given a credit. Tech will once again be open and new cars can enter, but I’m sure not that many new entries will show up to offset any expenses.

All in all though, that is the name of the game that’s played. Do I feel sorry for them? Partly. I’m not sure of the numbers but I’d be willing to bet the losses will total in the tens of thousandths. It is the cost of doing business but it is something sometimes racers don’t realize or understand. It just was a costly weekend for all. -JOHN DiBARTOLOMEO

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