The 2008 Duel in the Desert is in the books and David Murray Jr. has been crowned the champion for the second time in his career. I enjoyed the racing action in the feature event as the track had several grooves and a lightning-fast line around the top side. My experience at this year's event was far from usual. I found myself behind-the-scenes in the announcer's tower with race control and scoring in the next booth over. Most of the time I get in the car when it's my turn and go home when it's over, never giving much thought to the effort that goes into putting on the show.
The announcers are amazing and do a great job of keeping on top of car numbers, driver names, hometowns, sponsors, chassis types, and finishes. Computer keypads are clicking away on the announcing side while on the other side the pens and pencils are scribbling away keeping up with the scoring. Two-way radios carry the chatter of officials on and off the track as everyone communicates to keep the show moving. At times I found myself just sitting there listening, trying to take in all the organized chaos going on as the cars circled the track at high speed. Hats off to all the officials who worked so hard this weekend to help bring a great show to the fans and the racers.
Race fans certainly saw a racing variety show. Fifteen-year-old Nate Caruth and seventy-five-year-old Sherman Barnett won heat races in the modifieds. David Murray won the feature event riding the high line of the race track, Johnny Saathoff went through the middle groove to make his way to the runner-up spot and Reese Coffee hugged the bottom groove to make his way from the back to the front of the field. When the roar of the modifieds and full bodied stock cars subsided it was replaced by the bee-like buzz of the motorcycle powered Legend's cars. The final events of the night got you feeling a little nostalgic as the Bombers and Nevada Coupes took to the track for their feature events.
I really want to thank Chet, Chris, and Toby for putting up with a rookie in the booth, and LVMS for giving me the opportunity to see the other side of a race event. The experience will give me a greater perspective and has changed my attitude about racing in general. It was announced that the event will expand to four days of racing in 2009. I suggest you start planning, saving and preparing now. The racing action at this event is second to none. I cannot count how many times the announcers would say in unison, "WOW!" Don't believe me? Come see for yourself in 2009!
See you at the races, Dan Fitzgerald
Hello race fans!
I will be trading in my fire suit and seat belts at this season's Duel in the Desert for a microphone and a seat in the sky box. While I would much rather have the seat with the mud flying at my face shield, the change of perspective will be good for me. I have competed in the Duel since it first became an event in the late 1990's. However, I destroyed a car this summer and am currently in the process of completing a new ride for the 2009 season. This will be my first experience behind-the-scenes at the event and I'm excited.
Racers from all over the country converge on the half-mile of magic mud for the season-ending event for the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA). The list of past winners is a virtual ‘who's who' of the modified ranks. Close to 200 men and women are expected to fight for the 28 starting spots in the starting field for Saturday night's $5000 to win feature event. Just making the final field at this event will erase any bad memories racers may have of the 2008 race season. Be sure to keep an eye on racers Todd Shute, Christy Georges, Johnny Saathoff, David Murray, and Brad Pounds, just to name a few.
The track surface always provides great racing with several grooves to choose from. Many drivers prefer the low-line right around the tractor tires lining the infield, while those gutsier drivers take on the high-side running just inches off the outside retaining wall. The best (or craziest) racers shoot off the occasional shower of sparks as the tip of their rear bumper gently grazes the concrete barrier.
During the earlier events you will notice the speed of the cars, but as the track dries out you will notice ability of the drivers to finesse the car. The drying surface becomes really slick, like ice, and drivers have to keep the tires from spinning by easing onto the accelerator. Forward bite is something drivers will search for as the night wears on and the track wears out.
This year the IMCA Stock cars, Legends cars, and Bombers will also be hitting the track at the Duel. If you haven't seen the stock cars before, you will not be disappointed. While back in Iowa visiting friends, I have taken in some IMCA stock car races and they are amazing! The racing is always close, clean and entertaining. I'm hoping there is a large field in every class.
It will be nice not having the pressure of competing, however I think the pressure of announcing will be worse! Will I stumble over my words? Will I ramble on about nothing? Will I sound like a fool? YIKES! Keep those fingers crossed for me as I embark on a very new endeavor. I hope to check in with you all again before the weekend is up.
See you at the track!