Miscellaneous stuff—just to update the blog!

Sadly, it has been a long time since this space was updated.  So, rather than focus on just one topic, this blog will ramble aimlessly…

  • I had a great time at the Sunoco Race of Champions at Oswego this past Friday night.  Dave “da dude” Buchanan and I teamed up to announce the races (thanks to Andy Harpell for the privilege of calling the races).  The SST feature was fabulous:  congrats goes out to T.J. Potrzebowski for the sweep of both the SST and Modified features!  That’s just awesome!  (Unfortunately, I had a schedule conflict which prevented me being there on Saturday as well.  The same thing will happen for the U.S. Open next week…conflict Saturday but I’ll be there Sunday). 
  • Following the races on Friday, the second annual raceny.com party was held at Lighthouse Lanes just down from the track at the bottom of the hill.  It was great to put faces to the names who regularly participate on the website!  Nice job to Sherry Whaley (modlover) who organized the event!
  • Speaking of the Sunoco Race of Champions Pavement Series, there are two individuals whose tireless dedication to the sport needs to be recognized.  I have had the privilege of knowing Don & Marilyn Toal since I announced at Spencer Speedway between the years 1988 and 1992.  Way before I met them, these two wonderful people made it their choice to solicit contributions for the ROC lap leaders.  This year alone, the amount raised was over $22,500 but that’s not all. There is an estimate floating around that suggests that the total amount of money raised for the ROC drivers by Marilyn and Don Toal over the years exceeds $275,000!  In the past few years, that hasn’t been easy-Marilyn had health issues which forced her to spend time in a wheelchair.  But that limitation didn’t slow her down-with husband Don pushing the wheelchair around the racetracks, the money was still raised.  The ROC pace car this year at Oswego had a tribute decal on the trunk in gratitude for the contributions these two have made to the event over the years.  Now is the time for someone to come forward and start working side-by-side with this couple over the next few seasons so the “baton can be passed”.  If you are a driver or a fan of modified racing in the Northeast, please find the time and opportunity to meet these wonderful folks and express your gratitude to them for their astounding efforts!
  • In NASCAR, The “Chase for the Nextel Cup” will come down to Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick–with RCR getting another title.  If that happens, Kevin will be the first driver in NASCAR history to get both a Cup and Busch Series title in the same year!  Mark it down:  Richard Childress Racing is back and better than they’ve ever been in their history.  Yes, that’s right, better than even the days when the late Dale Earnhardt raced for them.  They have 2 cars (Harvick and Jeff Burton) in the Chase with both of them running very well (and although Clint Bowyer isn’t in the Chase, his car has been running well, too!) There are other great storylines in the final 10 races-Mark Martin FINALLY getting that elusive title; Denny Hamlin would be the first rookie EVER to win a Cup title; Dale Earnhardt, Jr. joining his father as a Cup champion; Kasey Kahne getting the title as the only Dodge competitor in the Chase.
  • One of the great (and sometimes not-so-great) things about announcing around the country is the opportunity to travel to new places.  My schedule at the end of August had me going to Infineon Raceway in California for the first time ever for the inaugural Grand Am sports car race at that facility.  That meant I had to fly into San Francisco, pick up the rental car and drive north to the track-over the Golden Gate bridge.  It was also my first time in that part of the country and the scenery was great!  However, I must also say that the Napa wine valley has NOTHING over our great Finger Lakes wine region for natural beauty-especially in the fall!
  • Local racing has been hit hard this year by Mother Nature.  Rains here in the Northeast have severely limited track schedules and put track operators in precarious financial situations.  It’s hard to believe that some competitors and others would take “pot shots” at the individuals who need to run their facilities as businesses, not weekend hobby/club outlets.  Look, I know that track owners/promoters are not perfect and there are some whose questionable business practices in past years have made it tough for the sport in general.  And I also know it’s been very tough financially on the racers (some have cut back drastically in their programs, others have sat out completely this year).  But this is not the time for anyone to kick people when they’re down.  Even though gas prices are falling at the time of this update, they certainly have caused both promoters and racers to take a different outlook on their participation in the sport this year.  In talking with the promoters of local tracks I know or work for, business has been bad this year.  The sport CANNOT afford to lose any more local tracks.  Racers, you need a place to race and it would be better to try to work together with the track owner/promoter rather than using the “lynch mob” mentality I’ve seen on several local racing websites.  Remember, too, that decisions have to be made on ALL classes racing at the facility, not just the one you race.
  • Finally, for those who have asked in emails and on other sites, I thought I would take the time to explain where I work.  I am a living a dream-just a very fortunate individual who has the rare privilege of loving what he does for a living.  I handle track announcer duties for 6 NASCAR tracks:  Watkins Glen International, Daytona International Speedway, Richmond International Raceway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway and California Speedway.  In total, I get to announce for 10 races on the NASCAR Cup schedule plus their opening test sessions at Daytona.  In addition, I am the webcast announcer for Grand American Road Racing Association which adds another 10 or so sports car races to my yearly schedule.  I try to fit in as much local track stuff as I can-Wednesday night, I run the Compulink drag racing timing system at New York International Raceway Park and fill in at other races on their schedule;  I am a fill-in announcer for Holland Speedway when time permits;  Lancaster Raceway Park also uses me to fill-in whenever my and their schedule snyc up; I have announced the Sunoco ROC at Oswego the last 2 years and have done the Hemmings “Musclepalooza” at Lebanon Valley Dragway the last 3 years.  Please understand, I’m not bragging here but I am very proud of what I have done since I committed to doing this as a profession rather than a weekend hobby.  I never thought that I would be able to pay the bills JUST by doing what I love (I reached a mutual agreement with the radio station I used to work mornings-WDKX–just 2 years ago to leave a regular job that I had there for 17 years!)  It’s not a lavish lifestyle by any means but it is paying the bills—so far, anyway!  So if I seem to be boasting, please just understand that I love what I do and take it very seriously!  (As seriously as one can by having fun!)

That’s it for now…till next time!

Mike Paz, Motorsports Announcer