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This Week in DIRT; Birky’s Swan Song; Smith Makes History; Schatz Doubles; Lucas Late Models to Invade Pittsburgh in 2015

Welcome to another edition of TWID (This Week In DIRT) here at TDN. We flip the switch on this segment whenever the season starts winding down and keep it up until the tracks start opening back up in the spring.

Ever have one of those weeks where you may have been (select one) inebriated, incarcerated, at a family function all weekend, face down in a gutter, detained at work against your will, or otherwise, not at a dirt track and not near a computer or iPhone?

Don’t worry! We’ll catch you up on some of what you missed and even if you are tuned into to the current stories, we’ll have a bit that you may have overlooked from time to time to!

So, with that being said. here’s this weeks TWID.

Birky’s Swan Song:

Brian Birkhofer trumped Derek Jeter this weekend in the category of dramatic, end of career, fairy tale moments by winning the 11th annual Lucas Oil Late Model Nationals at Knoxville Raceway. 

Birkhofer passed Scott Bloomquist, who had just broken something on the car in the final set of turns on the final lap to claim his 2nd victory in the event, and the $40,000 that comes with it.  Derek Jeter….overrated! For our money, Birky’s story was far better. More of us can relate to him a lot closer than we can Jeter anyhow.

Birky might not be alone in wanting to hang it up though as Billy Moyer, Bloomquist and others seemed to indicate that there are real concerns over costs and sponsor support that they’ve all explained to the national touring series.  It was the buzz throughout the three days at Knoxville in the three day event, evidenced in press conferences as well.

But all that aside, we congratulate Mr. Birkhofer on an outstanding weekend, he also won Friday night’s preliminary night feature, and an outstanding career! You gave em hell Birky!

You can check out our Knoxville Nationals Recaps/Coverage here: Knoxville Late Model Nationals Central Page

Smith Makes History:

Stevie Smith bested a 52 car field at Lincoln Speedway (PA) Friday night in the inaugural Dirt Classic presented by Kasey Kahne.

Smith held off Lance Dewease and Shane Stewart through heavy lapped traffic to secure the 40 lap, $20,000 main event win, witnessed by a standing room only crowd at the legendary Central PA speedway.

Pat Miller Photo

Our own Pat Miller was on the scene and took some brilliant phototgraphs of the night which you can see here: Dirt Classic Album- Pat Miller

You can also catch the recap of the classic from Bill Meyer here: Classic Goes to Stevie Smith

Schatz Doubles:

Donny Schatz doubled on the weekend to bring his total World of Outlaws wins to 24. He picked up wins at Bloomington, IN on Friday, and a dirt covered Berlin Speedway in Marne, MI on Saturday.  This is getting fairly ridiculous now, his domination knows no bounds.

The highest win total in recent history for a season belongs to Steve Kinser who won 25 in 2003. Kinser also eclipsed the 30+ victory plateau in the early nineties and late eighties. Will Schatz ever be able to reach those gaudy numbers one of these seasons? 

He did prove he is human in a late model this weekend though as he put his self owned piece on the track at Knoxville, IA, Thursday night in an attempt to qualify for preliminary night one. He transferred from the C-Main, but could not move forward enough to qualify for the final.  Schatz has won smaller regional shows in his late model, but only additional seat time could make him more competitive on a national level, which we’re pretty sure he’d not really be interested in anyway. So not to worry late model fans, you’re safe…for now.

Lucas Late Models Set To Invade Pittsburgh in 2015:

The Pittsburgher will have a new lease on life in 2015! The Lucas Oil Late Model Series has released it’s schedule for the upcoming season. It’s pretty much business as usual too, except for August 28th and 29th when the Lucas boys will take on the regional heavy hitters at Pittsburgh Pennsylvania’s Motor Speedway.

The event, an annual late model special at PPMS, has undergone numerous incarnations over the years, going from a nationally sanctioned event, a regional one and even UMP or unsanctioned and has seen varied degrees of success from a car count standpoint.

It appeared to have been revived in 2013 when the now defunct NDRL leased the facility and hosted a two day show with a $25,000 to win final on Saturday. But with the recent announcement, it appears the two day Pittsburgher with nationally recognizable drivers in the field racing for a big payday is now in a much better set of circumstances.

And that’s it! Have a great week everyone and we’ll see you at the track this weekend! Lots of great events to follow, the National Open at the Grove, Outlaw 200 big block modified classic at Fulton, NY and the Lucas boys head down to Georgia for their two day swing at Dixie and Rome.

Stay DIRTY folks!



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