Clinton, Trump, Mickey Mouse. If you’re like me, you knew who you were voting for a while ago. No 15-second ad when you’re trying to watch race highlights on YouTube or phone call at dinner is going to change your mind. And for goodness sake, no amount of posting on social media is going to change it either.
With that being said, I thought it would be fun to create a hypothetical situation where we elected someone as a President of Short Track Racing. Heck, some of the guys probably would be good candidates to be on the ballot tomorrow. I decided to look for racers with quality personalities, winning histories, and good off-the-track records. They need to have a good amount of experience in the sport, as well. Sorry youngsters, your day will come.
So – without further, ado – here are my picks (in alphabetical order by last name) of short-track racers for President. Feel free to drop me a line (firstname.lastname@example.org or @MattPanure on Twitter) and let me know who you think some of the best candidates are. There are a lot of them.
Note: This is just for fun, so please, no smear campaigns. I’m not sure how many more times I can hear the term “wikileaks” without chuckling.
If you live the Upper Midwest, there is a good chance you’ve seen Lowell Bennett win a big race. Bennett followed in his father’s footsteps and is the second of nine racers from the Bennett family (his son Braison is the ninth).
What would make Lowell Bennett a good President? Experience – when Lowell Bennett talks, other racers listen. It’s kind of hard to ignore a guy who has won over 25 major Championships in his career. Also, Bennett is one of the last drivers in the state of Wisconsin to win a Championship on the dirt and asphalt with the same car. Some of his family members still race on dirt, as well. It will be important for a President to be able to bridge that gap between those who prefer asphalt and those who prefer dirt.
Now, there is no doubt that plenty of dirt Late Model drivers would be good candidates. So why Davenport? When all other candidates have equal talent behind the wheel, it comes down to a running mate. And it’s hard not to like what Kevin Rumley offers. You have to love someone who has an incredible engineering background and can make a race car do amazing things.
A Davenport/Rumley ticket would be wildly popular through all of the states where the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series pays a visit, as well as those that host big events. With so many stops throughout the country, it hasn’t been too difficult to make a case for his campaign. A good track record and good running mate would make for a nice candidacy.
If Garrett Evans is on the ballot, you might as well lock in wins for him in the states of the Pacific Northwest. The ace from Washington State, much like Bennett, has been winning for a long time and is still the man to beat.
Evans may be a quieter personality than some of the others on the ballot, but he’s forgotten more race car knowledge than many in the industry will ever know. If you’re looking for a sage veteran who has seen many situations in our sport, Evans is your guy.
Another aspect that helps Evans is his ability to do some traveling. Evans towed all the way from Washington to race in the Oxford 250 this season. A few seasons ago Evans took trips to Florida and Wisconsin. That’s a good grass-roots ground game that can garner some votes.
From Oklahoma to Minnesota, if you’re a fan of the United States Modified Touring Series, you’ve seen the prowess of Jason Hughes. Hughes swept the USMTS Championships this season and was a major threat to win every major Modified race he entered.
So why Hughes? He has no problem sharing knowledge. The sport is a lot better off with guys like Hughes who are there to help racers young and old with their setups and driving styles. It’s that kind of leadership that makes him a good candidate.
If you’re looking for a wildly popular younger candidate, Bubba is your guy. When scanning entry lists for major races throughout the country, your eyes tend to look for #26. He’s a hot commodity in the racing world, and a promoter’s dream – a candidate that is sure to put fans in the stands.
It would be no surprise to see Pollard sweep the Southern states. After all, he’s been doing that in his Super Late Model for quite a few years now. It would also be helpful that Pollard has been doing some winning on the dirt. Can you imagine the day Pollard starts banging fenders with the likes of Davenport, Bloomquist, Pearson, Pierce, and Richards? It may be coming soon. Domination on asphalt and a strong dirt game would make him an outstanding candidate.
Brad “JJ” Mueller
If you’re looking for the most charismatic of the bunch, look no further than Brad “JJ” Mueller. Much like Bennett, Mueller has the attention of those in the Upper Midwest and has for quite some time. Mueller attracts huge crowds of fans and other racers with his witty and warm personality. He’s not afraid to share knowledge either.
What’s more, Mueller can (and has) been able to back everything up with his on-track performance. After winning three Slinger Speedway Super Late Model Championships, Mueller moved to the world of dirt Late Model racing. He is one of the top threats in local events. It would be hard to find a candidate with knowledge of the asphalt and the dirt quite like Mueller. Don’t we want a President who can “reach across the aisle?”
Finally, when it comes to domination, there is no better candidate than Donny Schatz. In the highly competitive World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series, all he does is continue to win. Knoxville Nationals? He can win those too. From Florida to Washington to California to New York, Schatz wins everywhere. He even has some diplomatic experience with wins in Canada.
If you’re looking for a strong President, then Schatz is your candidate. We want our sport to be strong, so it’s important to pick a strong leader, right?