Drivers glad to be back on track

After weeks of frowning, Zeus finally decided to smile on the Emo Speedway on Saturday night.
And good thing too, because most of the drivers were about to go crazy after having raced only once in the past five weeks.
“Let’s go racing,” enthused Ken Perry with a smile. “Let’s go racing.”
With the sun beating down, they did just that in front of an impatient crowd in the grandstand (impatient because they also hadn’t got their Emo Speedway fix for quite a while).
“We’ve been waiting all winter for this and we’ve only raced once of five weekends. You just get frustrated,” said Joey Galloway, who would win the second heat of the Mod-A class before finishing fifth in the 15-car feature.
“This has got to be one of the worst starts in WISSOTA history. I’m sure it is,” he added.
Emo Speedway veterans like Gary Wilson, who has been involved with stock car racing for about 35 years, is hard-pressed to recollect a start to a season as bad as this one.
“It’s been one of the worst starts I’ve ever seen before,” he said. “You didn’t have much to do if you’re a racer because that’s what you want to do, so I’m really glad to see the sunshine to get back into the groove.”
What Wilson wasn’t very glad to see was his car have motor problems after his heat in the Mod-A, where he placed second behind Galloway. He eventually had to load it onto his trailer rather than take it out for the feature.
Then there were drivers like Simon Crans who didn’t really mind the rain. “It wasn’t bad because nobody else was getting ahead of me,” he said.
Crans was joking, of course, and did so with a smile on his face even when he wasn’t able to have a good night on the track due to “set-up problems.
“But today is still great, and we’ve got a great crowd, which is the best thing,” he added.
Still others were able to feed their addiction by going elsewhere.
Jamie Davis admitted he “would be going nuts” if he hadn’t gone for a four-day racing trip with Steve Arpin on stops that included Superior, Cedar Lake, Cassin, and Deer Creek.
“I can’t handle it anymore,” Davis replied when asked how anxious he was to get on the track.
“This is awesome right now,” he added, looking up at the clear skies overhead. “This weather is perfect for racing.”
That’s what Perry has been itching to do probably more than any other driver at the track.
You see, Perry has been a long-time mini-sprint driver, but due to the lack of cars (they usually had only three cars per race last season), the Speedway decided to park the mini-sprints.
So Perry decided to buy a Midwest (Mod-B) car and said the lack of racing has prevented him from learning.
“It’s been pretty frustrating,” he remarked. “Anyone that is starting new in this bracket, and trying to get some seat time and trying to learn something, needs to be out there racing,” he reasoned.
“We’re heading into the latter part of June and we don’t know anything yet,” he added. “I’m still a greenhorn, and we have a month-and-a-half of a season to go.”
But if the lack of seat time discouraged Perry, his final placing didn’t reflect it. He was able to improve from his last-place finish in the heat to place third in the eight-car feature.
“We’re terrible in this class right now, but we’re going to get her,” Perry had said before the race.
Also adding to the night was the Emo Speedway welcoming a Truckers’ Special that had been well-advertised and well-delivered.
“I think it’s great,” Davis said when asked what he thought of the seven trucks that raced that night. “It’s something different for the fans.
“I’ve never seen them before, so I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
“They were promising 10 trucks, but they had problems,” noted Perry. “One guy blew his motor, and one guy broke, and one guy crashed.
“We’re not disappointed with seven,” he stressed. “We’ve done this kind of stuff before and you kind of expect [to have those problems].
“They’ve all come a long ways and they’re going to give a good show.”
Adding yet another layer to the evening was the presence of 21-year-old Steve Arpin, considered by many to be the best racer to have come out of the Emo Speedway.
“It’s always good to be racing with Steve,” said Davis. “He’s just like an older brother for me. He always puts on a good show, and we’ll do what we can, but it’ll be tough.”
“You have to keep an eye on him because he’ll just come out of nowhere and pass you,” noted Galloway. “It’s fun racing with him, and it’ll be a good night of racing and he’ll put a good show, that’s for sure.”
Too bad it wasn’t a show Arpin would’ve preferred as he had trouble with his car all night long. He failed to race in the heats and crashed during the feature, which just goes to show anything can happen to anyone at the track.
“The fans like to see a good racer and Steve is good personality, and he’s a heck of a good guy,” said Perry. “But at the same time, people come here and think he’s going to win right away.”
Then again, that’s better than having the races washed out week after week.