MOWA sprinters at
34 Raceway (Dennis Krieger Photo)
It would be so easy to get gloomy about
racing these days. Take this blasted recession that has everyone
sweating about their jobs; add in the specter of $5 gasoline this
summer; look on the tube at all those empty seats in superspeedway
racing and consider the weak pit area and grandstands at many short
then soak the whole mess with the chilling rains of the
worse spring in memory.
Woe are we.
But not quite so
fast, mister. If any community is equipped to deal with adversity,
it has to be American racers. There are some real entrepreneurs of
there – and some glimmers of light.
All the 13th nonsense
aside, take last Friday night. Way up in New Hampshire near
Dartmouth College, a little dirt track, Canaan Dirt Speedway, was
opening for the year. The featured division was Sprint Cars of New
England (SCoNE), a raggedly group of underfunded hobbyists who
banded together a couple of seasons back. Something big happened
this winter. A full field of shiny open wheelers – realistically one
of the largest divisions currently in the Northeast – took the green
in an explosive feature in front of an enthusiastic crowd. What a
Meanwhile, out at Jacksonville Speedway in Illinois,
promoter Bobby Hawk was taking a gamble. He brought in a new 410
sprint car club, the Midwest Open Wheel Association, MOWA.
Thirty-one teams and a sprawling mob of fans braved a horrid
forecast only to lose the show in the end to the elements. A couple
of weeks prior, though, 34 Raceway promoter Amy Laue made out big
time with MOWA in their very first outing. Thirty-nine winged
sprinters were there in West Burlington, Iowa, and 3,000 people
endured four rain delays to see Danny Lasoski snatch a dramatic win
from charging Kaley “Showtime” Gharst.
Danny Lasoski at
the MOMA opener with the Monster Energy girls.
It was as if MOWA, like SCoNE, had suddenly
jumped fully formed into action. Needless to say, in neither case
that was true.
The birth of MOWA came on a snowy evening last
February when two well-networked Illinois sprint car racers, Joey
Moughan and Jeremy Standridge, “were sittin’ around and got to
talkin’.” They mourned the thought that Central Illinois, once such
a hot bed of 410 racing and sending grads to Indy and Daytona alike,
was down to just one weekly track. It had become simply too
expensive for teams to go on the road, and recent club rules only
seemed to lead to further fragmentation.
They decided to man
up and form MOWA and to attempt the enormous task of reinvigorating
the 410s – in their spare time. A sprint car racer’s spare time,
that is. Jeremy’s situation is a case in point. The 31- year-old,
who just completed college coursework on the side, is a full-time IT
specialist handling auction companies in 40 states. After work, it’s
right to the race garage each night until 11:00. Then it’s home to
do MOWA series work.
Somehow they’ve got ’er done so far,
assisted in a Herculean way by family members, volunteers, and
marketer par excellence Kenny Dobson. Kenny’s been busy. He’s
brought in Monster Energy as a marketing partner and he’s putting
together a sprinter for Indy driver Donnie Beechler. Beechler is
psyched big time. “This is sparking new energy in me. Local people
can race again and local people can see it. I can’t wait to get back
to where a steering wheel is used only for driving into the pits.”
MOWA is highly interactive, providing not only cars but pre-race
publicity as well. The group is big on advance car shows, radio and
TV appearances, and fan engagement. Joey and Jeremy, both of whom
race the circuit, are blunt about their expectations: “If drivers
just show up to race, that isn’t going to cut it. They must help
bring in the fans.”
what he preaches. (Jeremy Standridge Collection)
Amy Laue is enthusiastic too. “I was
shocked by the turnout at 34 Raceway. I’m having them back in
September. We’ve had WoO, IRA, but nothing like this. I got 39 cars,
but without some big sanctioning fee that would make me charge
people $30 to get in. Jeremy and Joey seem to have the right
personalities and credibility as racers. I think they can pull this
off. You know, they even ask questions. Can you imagine something
like that from a sanctioning body?!”
It sure will be
interesting to watch how all this unfolds. It is definitely not an
ego trip for Joey and Jeremy. Jeremy says, “We flipped a coin and I
lost, so I became President. Joey is VP.” They are now cautiously
looking around for long-term staff.
These guys are cool. So
are the folks at SCoNE and all others around the country making a
special effort to keep the green flags waving this year.
wouldn’t it amount to one huge, well-deserved checkered if Jeremy
and Joey could retire back to driving sprinters full time on a
thriving MOWA schedule right there in America’s Heartland?
President Joey on the hammer. (Tim’s Racing Photos)
© 2011 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181