On Friday at Five Flags Speedway, Casey Roderick made an impassioned plea in an Instagram post for changes in Late Model asphalt racing. Roderick elaborated on his plea on “The Morning Bullring” during a lengthy conversation with hosts Bob Dillner and Casey LaJoie.
“Race day for Blizzard race #1,” the caption reads. “You know you have a problem on your hands when the infield looks like this one at the home racetrack of the #SnowballDerby. A lot of issues goin [sic] on in short track racing and it’s a shame. It’s time to act on this issue. Starts with being ruled to death and the new rules for 2019 suck.
“How about one day shows, lower cost on these terrible tires we’re on/different tires, less practice, and tech needs a lot of work as well,” the post also said. “These teams have been here since 10am and all we’ve accomplished is tech. Time for some serious cleanup.”
“I’m usually not outspoken like that and keep my thoughts to myself,” Roderick said. “I may have stirred some controversy between different people, but I just felt at the time I need to make a post like that because I think everyone’s aware of a problem.”
Roderick was adamant that he did not intend to bash Five Flags Speedway or any other race track, but was speaking to a larger issue in asphalt Late Model racing.
“It’s not just Five Flags. That’s not why I made the post. I’m sure a lot of people look at that and think I’m pointing fingers at Five Flags. That’s not it. All around us, the race tracks we go to are struggling. For fans in the stands, car counts, the whole nine yards. It’s struggling right now. There needs to be some change. That’s just how I felt. I felt like that post was real. I don’t see where it hurt anything, to be honest.”
One of Roderick’s chief complaints is the stringency of technical inspection. He feels a tight rule book has increased costs, particularly for the grassroots-level racer.
“We’re worried about a quarter-inch on a valence, people getting tossed out in tech for a quarter-inch on valence. I think that’s a little much. We’re not Cup racing here. The thing I see going on right now, the more we’re ruled to death, the less hobbyist racer we’re going to see. If you look at the pits, there are no average Joes racing anymore. They’re all showing up in big rigs, they all have money to do this.
“Every rule change costs money,” Roderick added. “When we had to meet a certain criteria through tech that’s really strict, it raises the cost of everything to make it perfect. If you look at people in the pits right now, a lot of them hire to have their work done. That costs a lot of money. I don’t think people realize how much it really does cost. We’ve got to look at that situation and get it where it’s not quite that bad. It’s going to be hard to do because it’s too far gone in the wrong direction, but I think it can be helped out.”
The weekend prior, Roderick stepped out of his element and competed in a Dirt Modified at Whynot Motorsports Park in the Battle of the States. He said the experience was much more enjoyable, thanks in part to the quicker pace of the show.
“We went dirt racing last weekend in Mississippi,” Roderick began. “I ran a dirt Modified at Whynot Speedway in Meridian, Missisippi. We got there on Saturday afternoon about 4:30 in the afternoon, we were late. Drivers’ meeting was supposed to be at 4:00. 4:30, the drivers’ meeting still hadn’t started yet. By 4:45, 5:00, drivers’ meeting was just getting started and it lasted about five minutes. We get done with drivers’ meeting; we start rolling the track immediately. Then hot laps, hot laps were combined with qualifying. I got three laps on the race track, qualified second. Once everybody got done hot lapping, we went straight into heat races. The show just kept clicking. It rolled on. There was no down time hardly.
“I had a lot of fun,” he continued. “A lot of that was that I didn’t have pressure on me, I was just there to have fun and do the best I could with what I had to work with. We didn’t spend hours on practice and hours on downtime at the track, and I think that’s a huge problem with today’s asphalt racing. We’re there for two or three days on these events, just practicing ourselves to death, and that costs money. Hotels, people, tires more than anything. There’s no reason we’re paying $700 for these Hoosier tires that aren’t worth $700 if you ask me. I really feel like from all angles, it needs to be cleaned up.”
Roderick also elaborated on his criticism of the Hoosier tires provided for asphalt Super Late Model racers, namely the F45 which is the standard tire of choice in most Southeastern Late Model events. He explained that the problem is exacerbated for teams running spool rear-ends.
“There’s no consistency,” Roderick claimed. “Right now, with the spool [rear end] – and the reason, it’s been a problem for a few years with this F45 tire we’re on down here in the southeast. They’re really inconsistent. The stagger tire, the 85 ¼ is 85 1/2 and all like this past weekend at Pensacola. They’re big, they’re too big to get the stagger you need for the spool. Some weeks they’re smaller, some weeks they’re bigger.
“Besides the sizes, we’re getting a lot of bad tires,” Roderick added. “We put a set on and go out. You could have two matched sets. You go out on one, you feel good about the car. You put another set on, the car’s completely different. I’ve run into this in longer races. The first segment, the car’s really good. You put on the second set of tires for the second segment, and the car is junk.
“It sucks to have that issue when you have a good car and that could be the determining factor in you winning the race or not. I just think, for what we pay for these tires, we shouldn’t have that problem.”
Ultimately, Roderick hopes that some changes can bring forth a brighter future for asphalt racing.
“I just want to let everybody know my post was not against any race track in this country,” Roderick said. “I think a lot of people took it the wrong way that came up to me at the track. I make my living racing at the short track level. If I don’t have anywhere to race, I don’t make any money. I care about this sport more than anything. This is all I’ve ever done. It’s been my thing to do since I was five years old.
“I’m not against any promoter in the country,” Roderick added. “I pour my heart and soul into this on what I do every day at the shop and on the weekends. I just want these tracks to succeed so we can still go race. That’s the ultimate goal here, to get people back in the infield and in the stands so we can put on a show on the weekends.
“I’m not bashing anybody, I’m not bashing tech, I’m not bashing the promoters at all. We just need to spend less time doing that sort of thing. We need to have tech, but we can clean it up and make it faster for everybody. Hopefully people understand that and don’t take it the wrong way. Let’s all come together, make this happen, and make it more fun.”
Fans who missed “The Morning Bullring” and wish to see the show and Rodericks interview in its entirety can click here for the on-demand replay of the broadcast. Fans can also visit the Speed 51 Five Star Bodies Facebook Feed to watch the replay of the broadcast. Be sure to like Speed 51 on Facebook and turn on notifications, so you can be alerted when “The Morning Bullring” comes on each Monday at 7:00 a.m. ET.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo