Monthly Archives: July 2013

What’s Old Is New Again At Eldora

If nothing else, what we’ve learned in Nostalgia drag racing is that at the sports core, fans and drivers alike, love the original feel of racing and along with the usual retro enjoyment that nostalgia brings, there’s a pureness and fun atmosphere not offered by the professional, prim-and-proper motorsports of today.  As the idiom goes, what’s old is new again.  NASCAR may have found that out.

Eldora

Eldora

In western Ohio near where the mighty Wabash River headwaters begin, sits Eldora Speedway, one of the more famed tracks of its kind.  On Wednesday July 24th, there began a stream of racing that may make history in the years to come and become as big as the Wabash.

One of the most anticipated racing events to come along in quite awhile was obviously as good as advertised.  And believe me, there was a lot of advertising.  The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series raced at Eldora – a mile outside New Weston, Ohio – which is a half-mile clay oval track owned by famed NASCAR multi-Cup champion, Tony ‘Smoke’ Stewart.  The facility is widely popular among dirt track fans and just may be the beginning of something much bigger.

2011 champ wins

Many of the regular Truck drivers were at the Mudsummer Classic, but in amongst them were dirt trackers from every walk of racing, trying to make history.  In the end, in front of 20,000 fans, a former Truck champion, Austin Dillon, held off all comers to win the historic race (source: NASCAR).  It was historic because for starters, in the 20 seasons that the Truck series has existed, they had never run on dirt before.  On a larger scale, it had been 43 years since NASCAR last raced on dirt – North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.  That was on the last day of September in 1970 and Richard Petty drove his #43 to victory at the half-mile dirt track.MudsummerClassic-Eldora_Facebook

This time around, after five heat races plus a last chance race, 30 drivers qualified for the main event and drove a total of 150 laps around the renowned track with its 24 degree banking.  Dillon held off young up-and-coming driver Kyle Larson and veteran Cup driver Ryan Newman in an exciting finish that saw Kyle repeatedly take a shot at Austin, only to be rebuffed each time.

Trucks didn’t disappoint

The big heavy trucks were a different beast than what dirt guys are used to driving and it showed at times.  Still, the action was great and there wasn’t anyone who was disappointed at the racing.  Even those who lost were excited and wanted to do it again.  Obviously, this kind of racing is what NASCAR should be seriously looking at.

Dirt track NASCAR racing was truly fun to watch from the slide jobs to short heat races.  This kind of action has to be a part of NASCAR in every form of their racing and needs to be added at the Nationwide level as well as Cup.

NASCAR has attempted, without much in the way of results, to create excitement at their events and attract new fans.  They need go no further than what everyone saw at Eldora as it was a perfect example of what dirt racing can offer.

Story developing

It’s obvious that what started back in the ‘50s at Eldora’s Ballroom and transformed into a racing facility can help NASCAR.  And just like the Wabash that starts off as a shallow river before gaining size and depth as it heads into Indiana, so too is the story unfolding in NASCAR with dirt racing.

This week is the Brickyard at Indianapolis.  What should be flowing through the minds of NASCAR officials there is how to take advantage of what obviously is something big and that is: going back to its roots of dirt racing – which just might be the answer to NASCAR’s issues with attendance and viewers.

The Mighty Wabash River

The Mighty Wabash River

The NHRA and drag racing have not taken advantage of the huge popularity of Nostalgia drag racing, but NASCAR need not make that same mistake.

The Wabash River heads south through Indiana where it eventually joins the Ohio, bringing it back full circle so-to-speak.  NASCAR dirt racing would bring it back full circle to where it all started.  What we learned at Eldora was obvious.

Additional source: State of Ohio

Daryle W. Hier

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Paul Candies: Piece Of History Passes Away

Candies & Hughes was one of the more successful teams in drag racing history.  When anyone thinks of famous race teams, certainly Candies & Hughes will always be mentioned.  Well, we lost a famous man as Paul Candies unexpectedly died over this past weekend from a heart attack at the age of 72 (source: St. Charles Herald-Guide).

How successful was Louisiana based Candies & Hughes’ team?  They were the first drag racing team to win a IHRA and NHRA championship in the same year.  They also were the first team to win a championship in both Top Fuel and Funny Car.

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Candies & Hughes Funny Car circa mid-’80s – driven by Mark Oswald

The modern version of Candies & Hughes’ Funny Car is being campaigned in the Nostalgia Funny Car circles by Jim Broome.  The car nicknamed the Cajun ‘Cuda has been driven by Mike Savage and  Mike Halstead in recent years.  However, famous names that have piloted the legendary car include: Mark Oswald, Leroy Goldstein and of course Leonard Hughes (up until the early ’70s).   

Candies & Hughes operated two cars when it was unheard of and early on, the infamous Roland Leong tuned the second car.  Richard Tharp came along in the mid-’70s to drive their new Woody Gilmore and Don Long built Top Fueler, which quickly became a world championship car.  Later, Oswald would pilot both their Top Fueler and then their Funny Car to huge wins in the ’80s.

Generally speaking, Hughes was the mechanic and Candies supplied the money.  Candies helped run a thriving marine transportation company that his father founded, Otto Candies, and that business acumen allowed Paul to add a significant business sense to the team.  Candies always kept the team not wanting – they constantly had all the best parts and pieces to go racing.  When Candies became President of the company he worked at in the early ’90s, the team soon dissolved.

As a young fan, I used to buy models of race cars such Candies & Hughes early Barracuda and was enamored by the Funny Cars during the ’70s.  It was certainly one of the iconic names in the history of drag racing.

Candies, who went to Southeastern Louisiana University and served in the Coast Guard, had additional passions other than drag racing.  He was a skilled sportsman that included fishing and hunting, especially in and around Grand Isle, Louisiana.  Candies lived in Des Allemands, which is just southwest of New Orleans.

He was a humble man known for his charitable ways and both his local community as well as the drag racing community have lost a significant icon.

Additional source: NHRA

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Is Motorsports Producing Women Racers or Purging Them?

Bo Doesn’t Know Drag Racing – $#%@!

Daryle W. Hier

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