* 500 Reasons To Appreciate Anderson: Here we were, walking across the track at Anderson Speedway an hour before the green flag was due to drop on the 66th running of the Pay Less Little 500. PRI Senior Sales & Marketing Manager Reed Morales and I had made the short trip from downtown Indianapolis to catch the sprint cars before heading back for Sunday’s big show at IMS. But first things first, I had to work out the logistics: five hundred laps; a quarter-mile, high-banked oval; a 33-car field; mandatory pit stops…. Time to buckle up! Indeed, over the past six-and-a-half decades this spectacle has earned its spot in the pantheon of short-track races that, year after year, truly matter. It quickly became clear why. Jim Hanks, the president of sanctioning body Must See Racing Xtreme Sprint Series and our host for the event, explained: “This is the race everyone in a paved sprint car points to—it’s top of the mountain. Big races have a personality, and this is just a tremendously fun race to be in, and to be a fan of. Plus, some huge names have won this race in the past, so in terms of history, the prestige of winning this is enormous.” And what a night it was—highly competitive throughout, as Jacob Wilson of Crawfordsville, Indiana, ultimately took the win over hard-charging rookie Jerry Coons Jr. to etch his name alongside past conquerors like Marlin “Red” Renner, Tom Cherry and Darl Harrison. Steeped in stature, tradition and triumph, the Little 500 proved once again why it stands firmly among the industry’s premier sprint car showcases. As Hanks suggested during one particularly intense late lap, “It becomes a part of you, doesn’t it?”
* Time With Team Donovan: There’s a pretty strong sense of racing history and culture pulsing through an engine block shop that dates back to the 1960s. And when that shop is the home of Donovan Engineering in Torrance, California, it feels a bit like hallowed ground. Countless photos, old newspaper clippings and other mementos from the past five decades line the walls of this esteemed facility, where Kathy Donovan, wife of the late and legendary Ed Donovan, and her highly skilled crew produce an average of one to two custom blocks daily. And they couldn’t have been more welcoming when we paid a visit one recent afternoon. According to Fred Seay, their bread-and-butter these days consists of engine blocks and gear drives for sprint car and big-block drag racing, all made-to-order. “That’s been our niche,” he said, and then elaborated, “I’ll tell you something else… What Kathy brought to this business years ago was really something incredible. It was the ‘Why not? Why can’t we do it?’ That willingness to take on such individualized work, it was like adding new toppings to a pizza. So what she did is she really forced the hand of companies that didn’t want to custom-build.” As for new business, Seay identified at least one trend responsible for an influx of current projects. “People say the economy is coming back, and I think it is,” he said, “but I also think a lot of race teams did rebuild after rebuild, and now their stuff is rather baggy, so the result is that we’re getting a lot of new orders.”
* Our Late Spring Classic: PRI’s annual Industry Reception at Red Rocks Café in Huntersville, North Carolina, was another huge success this year, and I wanted to take this space to personally thank everyone who helped make it such an enjoyable event. In addition to dozens of familiar faces and longtime friends of Performance Racing Industry, it was great to welcome a number of first-timers and out-of-town folks to what is fast becoming a Southern spring tradition. In case you missed it, here's a photo gallery from the event. We’re already looking forward to next year!