Murto: Local racing is in season

If you’re a race fan and you’re hunting excitement now that the weather is nice, local racing is in season.

If you don’t mind heading down the road a little bit, the annual Dana Dove Memorial — which celebrates the life of the mother of one of the area’s top motorsports photographers, Clifford Dove — will take place Saturday night at Natural Bridge Speedway. A tight little bullring that always provides exciting racing, it’s well worth the little bit of travel down Interstate 81. Bring your mother to the track and help celebrate in style.

Maryland’s Hagerstown Speedway is in action, and that’s where Pennsylvania racer Gregg Satterlee grabbed a Late Model feature win last Saturday night. One of the most famous dirt tracks on the East Coast that hosts a wide variety of top events, you can follow the speedway on Twitter and Facebook at Dirt Capitol LLC. The latest news, results, photos, schedule or rule changes can found be on the speedway’s website, www.hagerstownspeedway.com. Also check the website for any changes in weather conditions that may delay or cancel the program or contact the speedway office at (301) 582-0640.

Closer to home, Winchester Speedway always provides an entertaining evening for fans. Saturday night is round two of the Nininger’s Victory in the Valley Shoot-out Lee Stutz Memorial. The 35-lap Super Late Model event pays $3,000 to the winner. Also on tap will be the Crate Late Models, Pure Stocks, 4-Cylinders, U-Car double points special and the Mason-Dixon Micro Sprint Series. Visit winchestervaspeedway.com for information.

Dave Carter won his second career feature victory Saturday night at Shenandoah Speedway, against a good field of pavement Late Models. Hopefully the competitors will continue to support the track. Brian Lawson won the exciting Virginia Sprint Series (VSS) race. Be sure to go to Shenandoah-speedway.com for schedule information. The VSS will be there a few times this season and are always worth seeing. The track’s website also has information about the popular motocross events held on the property, so if two-wheeled action is your thing Shenandoah Speedway caters to your needs as well.

We recently featured the sports car racing at Summit Point, West Virginia. Many of the fans of the exotic cars that compete on road courses also enjoy driving top-end machinery themselves. Well, you may be able to acquire an exotic sports car rather inexpensively.

I ran across a website — winyournewcar.com — which offers a number of contests offering top-end sports cars as the prizes. According to the website, you pick the car you wish to win, pay an entry fee in the $25 to $35 range, submit a car-related photo and story and you’re entered. A panel of three judges will rank the photos based on a number of criteria, including creativity. For more details, visit the website; at the very least you’ll drool over the prizes.

There probably is no greater prize in American motorsports than NASCAR’s Sprint Cup. With his win at Talladega, Virginia’s own Denny Hamlin now has a shot in the Chase.

The Talladega race was exciting; the field never got strung out. All of the Cup races have been good this season, but amazingly NASCAR is talking about making changes for next year, such as cutting horsepower.

It boggles my mind that the auto racing sanction that once lived by the motto “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” continues to tinker with its product, even when it’s successful. Given the level of competition this season, now is the time to sit on the rules for a few years and allow the series some stability.

TV ratings may be down, but they will come back if the racing continues to be this good. At-the-track attendance appears to be stable. The only change that should be considered is moving the final race from Homestead to Las Vegas; after all, the new Chase rules make winning the championship nothing but luck, and Las Vegas Motor Speedway would more than likely provide better racing. Then the championship banquet can be held the next night, while teams are in town.

Hopefully NASCAR comes to its senses and scraps any notion it may have of changing the cars again. This is the best, most competitive season in a decade; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But no matter what NASCAR does, we always have our local racing, and now is the time for those of you hunting some excitement to set your sights on the local bullrings.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.