The Ottumwa Courier

July 2, 2013

'Big Daddy' Don Garlits at Eddyville this weekend


---- — Hello race fans and welcome to The Pit Stop.

It’s hard to believe that the Fourth of July holiday is just a couple days away. With it brings a couple big racing events to the area.

Eddyville Raceway Park has been hosting the Musco Lighting “Night of Fire” for several years. This year, they bring in legend “Big Daddy.” Don Garlits as the big draw for the event.

The “Night of Fire” racing at ERP is a three-day event and it kicks off Friday night where it is open test and tuning for everyone. Then the actual “Night of Fire” takes place on Saturday and they have a lot of things going on.

They have several classes of racing and they welcome in four Nitro Funny Cars, a Nitro Altered versus Top Fueler match race, a jet-engine powered 1949 Ford Pick-up and, of course, a wheel-stander who goes down the entire eighth-mile on his back tires. But the big draw this year is Garlits and he brings his Swap Rat XII dragster.

Garlits, considered the number one drag racer of all time, will make his first ever appearance at Eddyville this weekend.

“This is more than a special opportunity for our race fans,” ERP Manager Gerald Kramer said. “It is a huge once in a lifetime chance for the race track,”

Another big name coming into the track for the weekend is former NHRA Announcer and NHRA Hall of Famer, Bob Frey. Frey is a 46-year veteran of the NHRA public address system who retired from announcing in November of 2012. In an unpredicted move, Frey agreed to announce at Eddyville for the “Night of Fire.”

“We couldn’t be more happy,” ERP co-owner Scott Gardner said. “Bob is a fantastic guy and extremely knowledgeable and he will be a big asset for this event and especially with his knowledge of Big Daddy.”

The Ozark Mountain Super Shifters bring their high-RPM, wheels-in-the-air action and there is a Nostalgia Pro Stock match race between the Warren Johnson Tribute Camaro and the Rod Shop Dodge as part of the festivities this weekend at ERP.

“These two cars will be really cool to watch and they are a throwback to how the Pro Stocks were in their hey-day,” said Kramer.

The street-legal, turbo-charged Hayabusa motorcycles will be in attendance at the track making passes down the eighth-mile drag strip at over 160 miles-per-hour. They will be racing all of their classes on Saturday with competitors invading the track from several states. A huge fireworks display always takes place after the pro show in the evening.

The weekend of racing concludes with more bracket racing on Sunday. This event is huge and is always one of the first ones I write down on my calendar to attend.

I’m looking forward to seeing Garlits and to be able to hear one of the most well-known voices in auto racing in Frey. I don’t know how they do it, but they make this event better and better each year. It is going to be tough to beat this year’s event.

The Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa kicks off the July 4th racing festivities tomorrow night with their 18th Annual Budweiser Stock Car Shootout. The event is being sponsored by Doll Distributing and Musco Lighting.

The Stock Cars will be gunning for a $1,500 top prize. The Hobby Stocks, Modifieds and Sport Modifieds have had an extra one-hundred dollars added to each of their top prizes while the Sport Compacts have had an extra fifty dollars added to the winning spot.

With the expected large turnout of extra cars, they will be starting an hour earlier than normal. Hot laps start at 6 p.m. and racing action will follow at around 6:30 p.m. It has been noted that the ever-popular Budweiser girls will be in attendance to hand out the trophies to the winners.

The Keokuk County Fairgrounds in What Cheer will be having Figure 8 races Thursday night and several local racers will be competing at the July 4th event.

The Bloomfield Speedway is taking this weekend off from racing action, but they have horsepower of another kind at the facility as the fairgrounds will be hosting the annual Fort Bloomfield Rodeo. Sorry for the pun there, folks.

The Eldon Raceway is back in action Saturday night with a good field of cars expected to invade the Home of the Super Half Mile. The 4-Cylinders, Hobby Stocks, Stock Cars, B-Modifieds and the A-Modifieds will be in competition. Due to a lot of fan and driver requests, the A-Mods were added to the racing schedule. With The Bloomfield Speedway not having races this weekend the car count should be good at Eldon. The Knoxville Raceway has the Town Crier 410 Twin Features night this Saturday night. It is also ‘Fill the Stands for Hospice’ night at the track where they will be raising money for Hospice.

As you can see, this is a big week of racing on the schedule. Hopefully mother nature will cooperate and all of the events will be able to be completed.

Thanks for reading and head on out to an event in the area. Thanks for reading. I’ll see you at the track. Gone racin’.