Last weekend, the Sammons family promotional team tried something new.
Over the past number of years, the family that produces the weekly trade newspaper, Area Auto Racing News, has been involved in promoting indoor races for the three-quarter midgets.
In those races, much effort went into building a race track on the cement floor of a large arena. It was usually a facility that is normally used for ice hockey games. In most cases, the track is set up around the outside of the hockey rink. The flat cement floor is used for the racing surface.
A special additive (in days gone by they used cola syrup, but there is now a special formula used) is sprayed onto the floor, and as the races go on, the track surface becomes very sticky. So sticky, in fact, that it will pull the shoes right off your feet. I have first-hand experience with that.
The sticky surface helps the cars to make the turns, but the one drawback is that the shortest way around is also the fastest, so all the cars try for the same lane, and passing is tricky.
One of the facilities that has been used is the Sun Bank Center in Trenton. The building is now known as the Cure Insurance Arena, but this time around the Sammons family went a different route.
They decided to try their “home” facility for a indoor dirt-track program — the East Coast Indoor Dirt Nationals. It's something that hasn’t been done on a large scale in the Northeast in quite some time. The cars they decided to put on the roster were the 600cc micro sprints.
Sixty — that's right, 60 — truck loads of clay were used to create a slightly banked dirt oval inside the building. Construction of the track began on Monday, and by Thursday evening a practice session was held.
One of the worries with building a temporary dirt track indoors is keeping the clay on the floor. The Sammons team got that right the first time. The practice night went off well, with no peeling of the surface. The surface was smooth and fast that first night, with no dust. It was, however, very slick.
As the weekend progressed, with racing on Friday and Saturday evenings, the track stayed smooth and dust free, and periodic work sessions on the track also made it very "racy."
Like any dirt surface, the track changed as the racing progressed. In one race, the fast way was around the very bottom of the track. In the next race, it might have been around the middle, and then the next time it was right up against the outside wall.
In fact, just like any good dirt track, the guy who guessed right was able to pass cars. In other words, the racing was good almost every time.
In the end, Whitey Kidd, a driver who races regularly in the micros, took the $5,000 win with a late-race pass of midget racing star Alex Bright. Bright finished second, with Brian Carber in third. Carber has raced micros regularly, but in recent years has alternated between 410 and 360 sprint cars. Tim Buckwalter, who races regularly with the micros, SpeedSTRs and 358 modifieds, finished fourth, and micro driver Austin Quick was fifth.
All in all it was a great show.
Local ties, in a way: Two of the top five drivers hail from here in York County, but neither is a native of the area.
Both have moved to the area to work at the Hyper Chassis shop. Hyper is one of the country’s top builders of micro-sprint race cars and is located in the Lewisberry area. It’s been a number of years now since longtime micro-sprint star Mike Dicely moved his chassis-building operation to this area. Now he’s bringing others into the area to work at his operation.
Carber, who finished third on Saturday, is the latest to move to the area. The younger brother of Michael Carber, who drove local sprint cars before moving on to work first for the Kasey Kahne Outlaws sprint team and now in a NASCAR shop, Brian Carber just recently moved to the Etters area near the Hyper shop. Carber is a native of the Pipersville area.
Quick came a much longer distance to work at the Hyper shop. Quick came from Arizona to do an internship at Hyper, and then moved to the same area to keep working there.
Indoor schedule: While the Sammons family plan to keep their 60 truck loads of clay for future races, don’t look for any more dirt races this winter. It will probably be next winter when the family tries it again. That’s because they have three indoor three-quarter midget races already planned.
The next race up is on Jan. 5-6 at the PPL Center in Allentown. After that is the Gambler’s Classic at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on the weekend of Jan. 26-27. The third indoor three-quarter race is at a new venue in Albany, New York. It will be held at the Times Union Center on Feb 9-10.
The Sammons family also promotes the very successful Motorsports race car and trade show Jan. 19-21 at Oaks in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.