CORONA, California – Greg Scheidecker, Bill Rozhon and Alan Brown have spent a lot of time lately talking about rough driving.
It’s not a new subject for the three men. They’ve been around auto racing most of their lives, they’ve heard every excuse ever uttered by one driver to explain why he or she ran into another during a race, and they’ve offered a few excuses themselves. They also understand that whenever two drivers are fighting for position the accidental “that’s racing” kind of contact can occur despite the best efforts to avoid it.
Their concern is with the increasing number of rough driving incidents that are occurring in the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart and the negative effects there could be on a series they conceived and nurtured into the best regional touring series in the country.
“We’ve got to watch it,” said Rozhon, who is both the series’ competition director and the promoter of Havasu 95 Speedway in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. “We’ve got a group of guys who have been really good with each other for a long time, but now it seems like a rash of drivers have showed up who think using the bumper is more important than racing.
“If we allow guys to start beating and banging on the other guy, that’s not racing. What I tell them is if you’ve got enough talent to run into somebody you’ve got enough talent to drive around them.
“We’ve got a good series. We don’t need cars getting torn up because one guy doesn’t have the talent or the brains to drive around somebody.”
The issue reached a flashpoint a month ago after several incidents during and immediately after a race at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In the aftermath series officials placed four drivers on probation, fined one for retaliation and announced a reciprocal agreement between the Lucas Oil Modified Series, its track promoters and the North State Modified Series to honor all disciplinary actions taken by any member of the group.
At the same time they applauded driver Scott Winters for taking some “very aggressive moves to avoid a major incident” and prevent a multi-car accident.
“We have to draw a line in the sand some place,” said Scheidecker, the series promoter. “We’ve had numerous drivers come to us and complain about different situations that have happened in races.
“Bill and Brownie (the technical director) and I have had numerous conversations about the pushing and shoving and why it’s happening. What’s causing it obviously is the tight qualifying times and the hard, competitive racing. It’s not always up front, either. If you’re running mid-pack you can be racing just as hard if not harder than the guys in front.
“We don’t want to sit on them so hard they can’t race, but we can’t let rough, aggressive driving get out of control and it has gradually become more and more of an issue.”
What all three men agree on is that while not all on-track incidents are the result of rough or aggressive driving, there’s no question about or room for retaliation. “That’s turning the car into a weapon,” Rozhon said, and both he and Scheidecker said if it happens it’s going to cost the race team some money.
K&N Filters sponsors the series Winners Circle and tow money programs. The Winners Circle pays $250 a race to the drivers who are first through 10 in the Hoosier Tire West point standings and those 11th through 20th get $200. However, those amounts will be doubled for the trip to LoanMart Madera (California) Speedway for the ProtectTheHarvest.com California Farmers 75 June 28 and tripled for the trip to Rocky Mountain Raceways in West Valley City, Utah, in late July.
“We work so hard to get these guys a good tow money package and we’re paying decent money,” Rozhon said, “so let’s get in their wallets a little bit. Let’s fine them.”
The Lucas Oil Modified Series rule book is available to everyone on the series web site (www.lucasoilmodifieds.com) and the section detailing Race Procedures includes a discussion of rough driving (No. 12, Page 18).
The race at Madera will be the fifth of 10 on this year’s schedule and Scheidecker said he’s “sure we’ll see some more drivers be put on probation. What I hope is that as people are put on probation the competitors recognize that we know we have an issue and we’re addressing it. We’re not just letting it slide.
“The drivers themselves are the ultimate fix to the situation.”
The Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart is supported by a potent marketing concept known as “Team Lucas” whose members include General Tire, GEICO, E3 Spark Plugs, Optima Batteries, Ole Smoky Moonshine, iON Cameras, Speedco Truck Lube and Tire, BILSTEIN Shocks, LoanMart and SuperClean.
Additional sponsorship is provided by Lucas Oil Products, Protect the Harvest, MAVTV American Real, Hoosier Tire West, Sunoco Race Fuels, K&N Filters, Aero Racing Wheels, ASI Racewear, Bosch, Five Star Race Car Bodies, Frank’s Radios, Racing Plus and DJ Safety.
Detailed information on the series is available at www.LucasOilModifieds.com.