I made my first-ever trip to Kemper Arena for the running of the Bull Ring Midget Nationals on Dec. 18-19. It was the second year for this event, and from the sounds of it things were dramatically improved from a year ago. Listening to what others had to say, the ventilation was much better this year as was the racing surface. Officials were able to keep a cushion on the top side so that the racers didn't have to "follow the leader" around the inside.
Along with midgets, dwarf cars/mod-lites and Lightning Winged Sprints were on the card. Four mod-lite drivers from Iowa made the trek to Kansas City to experience some fun. I don't recall off hand how Friday night turned out, but all four were up front in the Saturday feature. Johnny Murdock was running in second when the leader spun, handing him the reigns up front. He would get passed by the eventual winner, but as luck would have it he spun in turn four on the final lap and collected fellow Iowa driver Mike Kennedy. Randy Bryant finished in third while Dusty Masolini came home fifth.
Not only was this my first trip to Kemper Arena, but it was also the first race in which the midgets were the headlining class. I'm not much of a sprint car or midget fan, so therefore I was completely out of my comfort zone. I did recognize a few names, which helped me enjoy the show.
Bryan Clauson and Brad Loyet sat on the front row when the green flag waved on Friday night for the thirty-lap feature event. It would be Loyet grabbing the checkers and taking home the $5,000 payday.
Saturday night saw Danny Lasoski and Brad Loyet on the front row. Loyet got the early lead and maintained his lead ahead of the similarly looking Lasoski car. Over the forty lap race, Lasoski continued to put pressure on Loyet but couldn't make the pass stick as he tried to use the slingshot move in the corners. Loyet proved to be too strong as he took home the win again, this time bagging a cool $10,000 for his efforts.
This was also my first race indoors. I've watched go-kart races at Waterloo or last year at the Battle at the Barn in Des Moines, but nothing like what I saw over the weekend. It was a different, but fun atmosphere. I only had two complaints about the event. First off, I realize it was being held at Kemper Arena, but the concession stand prices were outrageous!! $4.00 for a bottle of water?!! I opted not to buy anything from there and stopped afterwards for something to eat. The other complaint was the amount of time between "sessions" of racing. I realize they wanted to air things out, but Friday night saw lapses of more then an hour between heats and features. I also realize they had scheduled times on the website and perhaps wanted to stick to it, but there isn't much to do other then talk in that amount of time, especially when you couldn't exit the building and re-enter.
Overall it was a fun and new experience. I think it also will bring a curtain down on a memorable 2009 race season for me. Stay tuned as I'll have a 2009 wrapup blog in the near future.
If I don't get that blog before Friday, I'd like to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!
- Racing may be a hobby, but it's DEFINITELY addictive!!