Since his recent arrival on the Wabash Valley motorsports scene, Lincoln Park Speedway promoter Joe Spiker has certainly made his presence felt in Indiana sprint car circles.
His attempts to revive the once promising fortunes of the 5⁄16-mile dirt track in Putnamville have generated their share of success, drawing the praise of fans and competitors alike.
Along the way, the successful Greencastle businessman has garnered the reputation of not always following the same regulated path of his fellow promoters. To say he has on occasion ruffled a few feathers of the establishment would be an understatement.
The former racer is not afraid to speak his mind or go head-to-head with a fellow promoter over a same race date, or venture into a new project. He seems to revel in his newfound maverick reputation.
Those around him have become accustomed to his surprising moves. But even his most recent ploy has caught insiders off guard.
Spiker announced last week that he will buck the weekly short-track trend and go with a Thursday night card of non-wing sprint car racing – this in addition to his regular Saturday night program of sprint, modified and stock car racing.
Since the word of the announcement leaked early last week it has been the talk on the Hoosier state sprint circuit. Pro or con, it’s generating its share of attention.
“I’ve been told there was nearly 7,000 hits on different web sites shortly after the word got out. The interest is certainly out there for Thursday night racing,” related the obviously elated third-year LPS promoter.
Spiker will be the first to concede that the proposed venture could be a risky one, but one he and his wife Jill are prepared to try.
“It’s going to take a lot of work. We’re taking a big chance but I really feel it will be a big hit,” Spiker voiced with a note of guarded optimism.
“There’s alot of guys who want to run our track but can’t because of other commitments on Saturday night. They (USAC ) always give us Thursday night dates when we run with them and we draw well, so I said let’s go with Thursday. Besides, it never rains on Thursdays, only on Saturdays,” he jested.
If the move is going to be successful it will have to come on the strength of the back gate, especially in its formative stages. The worknight timing could prove to be a hard sale for the fans so the racers will have to carry the load in the early going.
To lure the racers to Putnamville, Spiker knows he will have to offer a reasonable purse, one that he hopes will attract a field of 25 to 30 cars each night.
“We’re going to structure the purse so it will be inviting to everyone,” he said. “So if you don’t make the race you still go home with a little money. It’s not going to be a huge purse but one worth coming for. It will probably be a little less than our Saturday night payout, something in the $1,400-to-win range.”
The initial response from the racers has been encouraging. Racers have always found a way to make it to the race track. Some worry, however, that the timing could put a strain on their equipment and finances but are still willing to give it a try.
“I think it’s a great idea. There’s a bunch of racers here in Indiana who want to race as much as they can. I don’t see why it won’t go,” offered frequent LPS feature winner Casey Shuman.
Young Dakota Jackson welcomes the opportunity to gain more track time even it adds to his already cramped schedule.
“The fans might not see the big names every night but they will see the guys who really want to go racing. It will be a great show. The fans will show,” predicted the talented newcomer.
Shawn Krockenberger shares the enthusiasm of his fellow racers for the proposed shows but has his reservations on whether the shows can survive the tight economy and awkward midweek timing.
“I wish the best for Joe (Spiker). He really wants to take his place to the next level, to make it grow. But I’m not sure if the fans will support two nights of racing,” cautions the veteran Terre Haute racer.
Brandon Mattox welcomes the opportunity to get more track time but says the purse will have to be realistic for small independently funded teams like his own.
“You can’t run for half the money. It costs as much to run these cars on a Thursday night as it does on Saturday. Joe (Spiker) has always been good at paying what he says he will. I see the shows as a great idea for the racers and fans,” offered Mattox.
The opening date for the Thursday nights cards has be set for May 31, a date Spiker is negotiating with USAC as a makeup for a show that was washed out at LPS earlier this spring.
“Right now we have a limited schedule,” he said. “We’re going to see how well it works out. We’re not going to have a support class so we should have the fans out of there at a reasonable hour.
“We might lose a little at first till we get things started. We’ll evaluate where we are at entering Indiana Sprint Weeks and take it from there. We don’t quit easy around here. I really feel the whole thing will take off.”
Joe Buckles can be reached at jbuckles4
Since his recent arrival on the Wabash Valley motorsports scene, Lincoln Park Speedway promoter Joe Spiker has certainly made his presence felt in Indiana sprint car circles.
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Shooters compete to fight cancer
A team of employees at Taghleef, formally A.E.T, would like to give a personal invite for you to join in on a lot of fun while helping save lives.
Cindy and Mark Wilguess are the inspiration behind the Taghleef Team. Cindy herself fought this battle with cancer and won. Last year she led her team to be the No. 1 fundraisers in the Relay for Life.
TILL IT'S OVER: Terre Haute Triathlon's new race director seeks more events for his hometown
Today is the day for the Thunder in the Valley, and the Terre Haute Triathlon is under new leadership in 2013, the 28th year for the event at Hawthorn Park.
A former Terre Haute North track and cross country standout, Ethan Page is the race director as the race falls under the reign of Page’s new company, Crossroads Events.
TODD GOLDEN: Don't give up on ISU baseball just yet
If you had to pick one word that would describe the 2013 Indiana State baseball season, it would have to be frustration.
TRACKSIDE: Terre Haute's Carmichael enjoying strong spring in modifieds, stocks
It might have been cold and blustery at Charleston Speedway on Saturday night, but for Terre Haute driver Kenny Carmichael the evening couldn’t have been more pleasant.
From Terre Haute to the major leagues: Phegley's play could earn him promotion to Chicago
Josh Phegley's debut in the Major Leagues could be coming to a ballpark near you.
There's an expert at Parker's Archery
As I was driving the winding roadways of southern Indiana, a rustic building caught my attention and the sign on the front revealed it to be an archery shop called Parkers Archery.
TRACKSIDE: Rain still a pain for Wabash Valley racing organizers
Soggy weather conditions, which have rightfully drawn the ire of Wabash Valley race fans and crews in recent days, continue to plague promoters where it hurts the most — their pocketbooks.
RAMBLIN’ RECK: Pacers having a ‘Garden Party’
The Indiana Pacers are back in form and looking good.
KENNY BAYLESS: Sponsors sought for 'Ladies Only' event at Terre Haute Sporting Clays
Sponsors are being sought at the Ladies Only event at Terre Haute Sporting Clays on Saturday at 10 a.m. Sponsors should be willing to donate $1 or more for every broken bird. Each lady is allowed 25 shots. Flat donations are gladly accepted. Also, organizers are looking for more ladies to participate. Ammo, clay birds, and guns (if needed) will be furnished.
College Report: Lively earned collegiate upgrade with strong play
Hillary Lively signed to play Division II basketball at Maryville (Mo.) during her senior year at North Vermillion, but those plans changed and she would up at nearby Danville Area Community College — where she recently concluded an outstanding two-year career.
Lively was impressive enough to earn a Division I scholarship to Southeast Missouri State of the Ohio Valley Conference, and both her future and past college coaches think she will continue to succeed there.
“She fits what we need,” SEMO coach Ty Margenthaler said. “She has college experience, she is strong and physical and plays well around the basket and moves well.
“Her strength, rebounding and touch around the basket will be a big help. On the defensive end, she’ll be able to guard a true center.”
RAMBLIN' RECK: It’s May … a time for horses and horsepower
It’s the first day of May, a great month for sports.
It begins with the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. My Old Kentucky Home is played before the start of the race on which hundreds of bets will be placed by folks who ordinarily don’t bet on thoroughbred horse racing.
A week later, practice begins for the Indianapolis 500.
Terre Haute runner sets up race to help Boston
Having competed in the Boston Marathon once before in 2003, 35-year-old Majel Wells of Terre Haute thought she should give it another try in 2013.
“My goal was just to finish and enjoy Boston,” she reflected this week. “I had an injury [runner’s knee] beforehand, so I wasn’t too worried about beating my time from 2003 [4 hours, 10.20 seconds].
“But nobody cares about what your time is at Boston anyway.”
From what I’ve heard over the years, she’s right. Unless you’re a super-serious runner, the Boston Marathon has been more about taking in the atmosphere and having fun than placing in the top 50, although Wells was pleased that she beat her previous time by finishing in 3:55.19 on April 15.
Obviously, her race time wasn’t the most vivid memory that Wells took away from her 2013 Boston experience.
Amey Takes Aim: NHL playoffs to put TVs to good use
If Jenny had known, she probably wouldn’t have bought that TV.
But four or five years ago, my Fathers Day present — for those unfamiliar with Amey family traditions, the Fathers Day one is “let’s get something we all really want and pretend it’s a gift for Dad” — was a 42-inch Vizio. It’s been used even more than the cell phone I never would have bought for myself, or the TomTom that disappeared since Jenny’s smartphone arrived.
And it came with high-def.
I’m not going to insult you by telling you how great high-def is, because to do so would be to imply that you are even farther behind the technological curve than I am. I’m guessing, however, that not all of you have yet discovered what it does for hockey.
Foot Notes: ISU track athletes looking to keep improving at Drake Relays
Indiana State’s track schedule has helped its men’s and women’s teams escape the glacial Wabash Valley weather and enjoy warm days in Auburn, Ala., and Knoxville, Tenn.
With the Sycamores’ track facility basically laid to rest for competition and construction on a new one planned near the Wabash River to begin in 2014, major kudos go to everyone involved for continuing to produce athletes that are NCAA contenders who race with some of the world’s best.
Some of ISU’s current athletes are hoping for season-best performances this weekend against strong competition in the Drake Relays.
Former Sycamore NCAA pole-vault champion Kylie Hutson, who competes professionally for Nike and trains in her hometown of Terre Haute, also has been in Des Moines, Iowa, to compete in the Pole Vault in the Mall on Wednesday night.
REDNECK QUAKER: Variety of birds to search for in turkey hunting
My father-in-law, Donnell Dunn of Jacksonville, Fla., is a retired engineer from J.I. Case and an avid reader and loves information on anything he takes interest in. He has five patents under his belt during his career.
Donnell took great interest in the Turkey World Slam display at Gander Mountain and thought each bird needed some info to help people understand more about them.
TRACKSIDE: USAC racing picking up, including Sunday's stop in Terre Haute
With a break in the weather, U.S. Auto Club-sanctioned racing will kick into high gear on the area motorsports scene this weekend with events scheduled at three Indiana ovals.
Ramblin’ Reck: Sato first Foyt winner since 2002
Takuma Sato made Izod IndyCar Series history Sunday when he won the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Former South players to play in Saylor benefit game
I had my first phone conversation with Mike Saylor since mid-February on Thursday and he sounded good.
The former Terre Haute South High School boys basketball coach, who’s been battling cancer this year, has been traveling back and forth to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for chemotherapy treatments.
COLLEGE REPORT: Valley prep athletes getting ready for next level
The NCAA “regular” signing period begins Wednesday for all sports except football, field hockey, soccer, track and field, cross country and men’s water polo.
RAMBLIN’ RECK: Pacers closing out a nice season
In case you hadn’t noticed, the final games of the regular season will be played this week in the National Basketball Association.
Amey Takes Aim: Can’t bottle the joy of Amey vacations
The first bad sign was the Gatorade bottle.
In the Bataan-Death-March drive to Orlando that got the Amey family spring break vacation off to a bad start, seeing it between lanes of I-24 — as we zipped along at a 100-miles-in-five-hours clip — filled with an ominous yellow liquid was a little bit scary. And although we didn't stop to check for sure, I'm fairly certain I knew about its contents.
And the person stuck in the same traffic jam with us, the one with the existential license plate YMIHR4, couldn’t have asked a more pertinent question.
But, after seeing a lot more of Oak Grove, Ky., than we’d planned, and after enduring more traffic slowdowns in Nashville, we were on our way. Even some rain in the dark in the Smokies didn’t slow us down much, so you would think our first-day troubles were over.
You would be wrong.
Redneck Quaker: Mascari gets thrills from turkey hunting
Annie Mascari is a beautiful, vibrant, 26-year-old lady that loves the outdoors.
She comes from a large family of four brothers and a sister and lives the teachings of good family values.
Olivia Rightly let me know that I “should talk to my teacher at St. Pats School, Ms. Mascari, because she’s taken a turkey.”
As I shook Annie’s hand, I could feel the energy she has for life. As proof, the first time she went up in an airplane, she jumped out of it!
She’s also quite the hunter. Mascari picked up a used PSE bow for $30, one for a left-hander because her left eye is dominate for shooting. The Page Arrows are her choice for broadheads.
RAMBLIN’ RECK: Louisville gets two shots at NCAA title
Louisville met Michigan in the championship game of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on Monday. Louisville faces Connecticut in the title tilt of the women’s tournament tonight.
REDNECK QUAKER: Learning to shoot clays a great experience
Tom Mitchell from Burnett is an all-around outdoor enthusiast. His passions are motorcycles, cars, and most of all, shooting sports. When he sights in on metal target shooting with a hand gun or rifle you will hear a lot of “clang” noises, he can shoot very quiet also, because he is licensed to own suppressers.
TRACKSIDE: Racing season picking up speed
With several tracks already open and others scheduled to get underway this weekend it’s a sure sign the area motorsports campaign has taken the green flag for the 2013 season.
RAMBLIN’ RECK: Out with the hoops, in with the bats
It’s a super week for sports fans — college basketball comes to a close and the first baseball games are played in the major leagues.
COLLEGE REPORT: Conferences honor Valley softball players
Several Wabash Valley area college softball players have been honored by their respective conferences for outstanding play this spring.
FROM THE PRESSBOX: Content McKenna has enjoyed seeing ISU's progress
It all happened so fast in June 2010.
One minute, Kevin McKenna was head coach of the Indiana State men’s basketball program. Then — poof! — he was gone.
McKenna resigned from his head coaching position at ISU on June 13, 2010 to take an assistant coach position on Dana Altman’s then-burgeoning University of Oregon staff.
FROM THE PRESSBOX: NCAA got it right with Louisville in Indianapolis
The worst decision and the best decisions made by the NCAA Tournament selection committee shared space on Lucas Oil Stadium’s hardwood Friday night.
The Midwest Regional’s opener pitted Louisville and Oregon, two teams that were on the opposite sides of the NCAA’s coin on Selection Sunday.
Oregon, winner of the Pac-12 Tournament and Pac-12 runner-up in the regular season, was shockingly seeded 12th in the Midwest Region.
ANDY AMEY: Farewell to basketball
I believe you’ve heard me say before — just about a year ago, perhaps — that a boys high school basketball season that ends with the Tribune-Star in Bankers Life Fieldhouse can’t be considered a bad one, which is why we have a little celebrating to do thanks to the Linton Miners.
Lover of irony that I am, I’ve also got to point out that this season was another branch sprouting from the Wabash Valley’s most legendary coaching tree, that of Joe Hart.
Joe never got much credit for his work at Dugger, but he took Brody Boyd, Clark Golish and the Bulldogs to a state championship game in 2000, and since then three of his former players — Joe Pigg, Clint Swan and now Joey Hart, his son — also have coached teams in the final game of the season.
Joe probably wishes he could take credit for Doc Nash, another down-home type who gave a banjo lesson earlier Saturday in leading Borden past a bigger, more athletic Triton team (banjo lesson is a Howard Sharpism, for you younger readers), but his lineage is still the best I can think of around here.
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