posted August 23, 2001 07:19 AM
UDTRA COMPETITORS HEAD FOR THE NORTH-SOUTH 100 WITH HEAVY HEARTS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
WOODSTOCK, GA - Competitors of the United Dirt Track Racing Association
DirtCar Series will head for Florence Speedway in Union, KY this Saturday
night for the $15,000-to-win North-South 100. They will be ready to race,
but they will also have heavy hearts as they mourn the loss of point leading
crew chief Chris Francis.
Francis passed away unexpectedly on Monday morning. He was the crew chief
and brother of UDTRA Pro DirtCar Series point leader Steve Francis of
Florence Speedway was a happy place for the Francis brothers on August
Steve finished fourth in the Ironman 100 and took over the UDTRA point lead
from Rick Eckert of York, PA for the first time since February. They were
very much looking forward to returning this weekend for the North-South
and continuing to build on that point lead.
According to Steve Francis, that is still the plan. Steve Francis will
return to Florence Speedway this Saturday night for the North-South 100.
"I'm racing this weekend because I know that is what Chris would want me
do," Francis said. "During our whole racing career, Chris and I set goals
for ourselves, and we have met everyone of them. We won the STARS
Championship three years in a row. When we moved to UDTRA in 1999, we
wanted to finish in the top ten, and we finished fourth. In 2000, we wanted
to finish in the top five, and we finished second. This season we set a
goal to win the championship. In what turned out to be Chris' last race,
took over the point lead. I owe it to Chris to finish the job."
Steve Francis will go to the race track for the first time in his racing
career without Chris at his side. Although Steve will not be able to see
his brother, or hear his voice, Chris will be with Steve in spirit.
The spirit of Chris Francis will be all over Steve's race car, from the
of the front bumper cover to the back of the rear spoiler, from the top
the roof to the bottom of the oil pan. The spirit of Chris Francis will
riding with his brother in the race car Saturday night around Florence
Speedway to try and help Steve reach the goal they set at the beginning
Eckert trails Francis by seven points going into the North-South 100.
Eckert will be trying to regain some momentum that brought him five wins
earlier this season after a 16th-place finish at Florence Speedway in the
Ironman 100 on August 11.
The defending and four-time UDTRA Champion Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg,
TN is third in points and leads the UDTRA 2001 win list with nine victories.
The latest win for Bloomquist came at Florence Speedway on August 11 in
Ironman 100. Bloomquist showed his "Drive For Five" is alive, as he closed
to within 123 points of Francis.
Bloomquist is also the defending North-South 100 Champion, and the 1999
North-South winner Bob Pierce of Oakwood, IL served notice to Bloomquist
that he wants another one. Pierce chased down Bloomquist in the closing
laps of the Ironman 100 to make it a close race to the checkered flag.
The 1999 UDTRA Champion Dale McDowell of Rossville, GA is fourth in UDTRA
points with one win this season, but he has had some very impressive runs
this season, and he really showed some strength at Florence in the Ironman
100. McDowell started 23rd, and charged to a seventh-place finish.
Many of the STARS Series regulars are expected to compete in the North-South
100 on Saturday night. Chub Frank of Sugar Grove, PA has shown the UDTRA
regulars he is a threat to win any race he is in. Frank has posted four
UDTRA victories this season with 11 top five finishes in 15 UDTRA starts.
STARS regulars Mike Balzano of Parkersburg, WV, Matt Miller of Toledo, OH,
Steve Shaver of Parkersburg, WV, and Jackie Boggs of Grayson, KY have all
visited the UDTRA winner's circle this season.
Then there is the local contingent led by Darrell Lanigan of Union, KY.
Lanigan finished third in the Ironman 100. Jerry Rice of Verona, KY was
fast qualifier for the Ironman 100. Steve Landrum of Erlanger, KY is the
defending track champion, and Jesse James Lay of Walton, KY is ready to
his mark on the national scene.
Stir in local some regional favorites like John Gill of Mitchell, IN,
Ironman 100 polesitter Mike Jewell of Scottsburg, IN, and track record
holder **** Phillips of Scipio, IN, and then add some other UDTRA favorites
into the mix like Wendell Wallace of Batesville, AR, Dan Schlieper of
Pewaukee, WI, Ray Cook of Brasstown, NC, Jimmy Mars of Elk Mound, WI, 1996
UDTRA Champion Freddy Smith of Knoxville, TN, UDTRA Rookie of the Year point
leader Joe Izzo of Chicago, IL, Randy Korte of Highland, IL, 1997 UDTRA
Champion Billy Moyer of Batesville, AR, Steve Boley of West Liberty, IA,
Rick Aukland of Zanesville, OH, Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, IA, and
Shannon Babb of Decatur, IL.
Add all of these drivers together and what you have is a recipe for one
competitive night of racing this Saturday night at the North-South 100.
The festivities will begin at 6 p.m. with the first National Dirt Late Model
Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. The first 15 legendary figures of dirt
late model history will be honored. That will be followed by hot laps,
qualifying, Borla Performance Heat Races, the Renegade Transporters and
Polaris ATVs Consolation Races, and the North-South 100.
For ticket information call Florence Speedway at (859) 493-0034, or visit
the Florence Speedway web site at www.florencespeedway.com. Florence
Speedway is located 9 miles south of I-75 on U.S. Highway 42.
The Comfort Inn in Erlanger, KY will be the Official Host Hotel for the
UDTRA Pro DirtCar Series event at Florence Speedway. The Comfort Inn is
located off I-75 at exit 184, just minutes from Florence Speedway.
The Comfort Inn will be offering UDTRA fans and competitors a special
discount rate of $55 per night. The Comfort Inn features newly renovated
rooms, outdoor pool, complementary Continental Breakfast, and ample truck
parking. To make reservations call (859) 727-3400 and be sure to ask for
the special UDTRA discount rate.