Big Block Modifieds

Big Block Modifieds

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Mason Zeigler: From Roaring Knob to The Outlaws


When Mason Zeigler first started racing a dirt late model at Roaring Knob in his first season he never imagined he'd be racing on a tour. But he knew after the first year that he had caught the racing bug. Now after a breakout 2014 season Zeigler will compete on the upcoming World of Outlaws tour where he will be a rookie of the year candidate.

Committing to a tour was an easy decision for Zeigler for this upcoming season due to getting show up money and belong to a points fund that help with travel costs after doing some traveling last year without those luxuries. It was also an easy decision to when it came to deciding on a series.

"We just felt like the Outlaws were the best fit for us to run our first tour," Zeigler said. "It has the around the same amount of races (as the Lucas Series), but there's a little less travel for us because there are more races closer to our area. I get along with all the officials and on a personal level they are a great group of guys."

Getting to this point Zeigler cut his teeth in racing at the Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex in Markleysburg, PA a short drive down US 40 from his home in Chalk Hill, PA. He didn't start in the four wheel variety. Dirt bikes were his first love. He raced bikes for around seven years, but due to the violent nature of motocross style racing his parents persuaded him to get out of it.

"I had a lot of fun and a lot of success with it, but the amount of people who make a very good living doing it are slim to none," Zeigler said. "My parents felt that it was a bad avenue to go down. At the time I fought them on it, but I am happy that they got me away from it."
His parents were behind him when it came to car racing though, so he started running a stock at Roaring Knob and eventually moved into the late model class. He had some help from racer Mel Minnick and Kenny Mitchell.  He is a first generation racer along with his brother Fred. His brother got out of driving race cars after starting a family. Zeigler won his first late model feature at "the Knob" at age 16 and has been hooked ever since.

"Ever since that first year I knew I would love to do it for the rest of my life," Zeigler said. "I would watch guys like Darrell Lanigan, Scott Bloomquist and Josh Richards and sorta envy those guys. I strived to compete with those guys and last year I was racing Lanigan door to door for the lead. It's hard to believe just a few years ago that I was watching them online and wishing I was racing with them."

After running with used cars and parts while racing weekly, Zeigler bought his first new car in 2013. Instead of watching from home he and his crew traveled to Florida. He found quick success setting fast time in time trials and getting a 9th place finish in an A-Main.

"We had Austin Hargrove helping us at that point and it was our first time with top of the line equipment," Zeigler said. "We won some heat races and made 90 percent of the shows down there. That got us going and it carried us all the way to now."

The pilot of the 25z Longhorn race car is coming off a three win season including back to back wins on the UMP Summernationals "Hell Tour" at Brushcreek and Attica. He also contended at several crown jewel events including the Prarie Dirt Classic in Fairbury, IL. Zeigler had the pole for the event and led the first 29 laps. He slipped back to 8th at one point but he regrouped to contend in what as a thrilling finish that saw Jimmy Owens, Tim McCreadie, Zeigler and Shannon Babb all in the mix.

"I thought Jimmy was going to put a slidejob on McCreadie and I was sitting thinking oh my gosh I might win this thing," Zeigler said. "But he ran him right and was nothing but a class act. I would've liked to have won it, but It was just an honor to be racing with those guys."

Zeigler said he needs to be better at conserving tires in the 100 lap events, but is making progress in that area.

Zeigler's crew consists of crew chief James "Buck" Buckley and Darrell Meyers. The 25z team has picked up some more backing for this season from companies such as Race Note, Arizona Sport Shirts, Percise Racing Products, VP Racing Fuels, Performance Bodies and FK Rod Ends to go along with continued support from Ohiopyle Vacation Rentals, ISI Insurance Services, Pro Power, Gotta Race and Old Mill Farms. 

They are anxious to leave the cold of Southwestern Pennsylvania for Georgia and Florida. The WoO Late Model season begins February 6th at Screven Motor Speedway and the first swing through the two states has seven scheduled races. Zeigler has a few goals in mind that he'd like to achieve for a successful start to the season.

"If we could leave Florida top five in World of Outlaws points that'd be awesome," Zeigler said. "We will work on win one and if we can get that we'll work on another one."

Friday, January 30, 2015

7 Wonders of the (DIRT) World: Part 2

Welcome back for the 2nd of three posts that will be counting down the top 20 racing events in the DIRT racing world.

In this segment we release the events that ranked 8-15 in our countdown. Determinants in our countdown range from historical significance, number of years ran, winner's purse, strength of field, fan atmosphere, and everything in between. So without further adieu, here are no. 8-15 in our unique TDN countdown.

8. Kings Royal - Eldora Speedway
     Kicking things off at 8th on our countdown is the Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway. This year’s edition will be the 32nd annual running of the event. The history, the “crowning”, and the $50,000 payday all play a part in making this race special. The recently introduced special format also puts more of an emphasis on the heat races – raising the overall intensity of the program.

9. Prairie Dirt Classic - Fairbury American Legion Speedway
     Clocking in at 9th on the countdown is Fairbury American Legion Speedway’s Prairie Dirt Classic. The 26th Annual Dirt Classic this year will pay $26,000 to win and play host to an atmosphere that closely resembles a college sporting event. Nowhere else will you find the crowd as into as you will at FALS. Aside from all that, Fairbury is historically known for putting on some of the greatest late model races year after.

10. Four Crown Nationals - Eldora Speedway
     This history and tradition of the Four Crown Nationals at Eldora Speedway makes it one of the most-anticipated weekend of the year. This is the only event in the world that includes the 4 premier open-wheel divisions (410 Sprints, Nonwing, Silver Crown, and Midgets). Excitement surrounding the Four Crown has fallen in recent years, partly because it is overshadowed by Eldora’s other major events. Nonetheless, take a weekend getaway to this race if you haven’t already.

11. Dirt Track World Championship - Portsmouth Raceway Park
     11th on our list is the 35th Annual Dirt Track World Championship that will pay $100,000 this year for the first time in its history. After initially starting out at the now-defunct Pennsboro Speedway, the DTWC has progressed through a series of tracks and seems to have found its home at Portsmouth Raceway Park in southern Ohio. This event, which has seen only the best in dirt late model history find victory lane, provides a special fan experience that you won’t find anywhere else.

12. Turkey Night Grand Prix - Perris Auto Speedway
     The only midget race in our rankings falls in line 12th on the grid. The Turkey Night Grand Prix, which will be running its 75th edition this season, is the second oldest race in the country following only the Indy 500. Held on Thanksgiving most years since the inaugural event, the race sneaks into our countdown because it has been ran on asphalt as well as dirt. We’ll give it a pass, as the historic event has more than earned its right to run on whatever surface it wants.

13. North/South 100 - Florence Speedway
     Florence Speedway’s North/South 100 has long been revered as one of the most prestigious races in the Ohio valley. The $50,000 race also features an interesting format, including two sets of heat races and passing points, that is rare in major late model races. We at TDN cannot wait to see how this year’s event plays out!

14. The Dream - Eldora Speedway
     The 21st Annual Dirt Late Model Dream has traditionally been the highest paying dirt late model race in the world (this year matched by the DTWC), and 2nd highest in all of dirt motorsports. Going down as the 4th biggest event at Eldora Speedway hurts it slightly, but 14th on this countdown is nothing to shrug your shoulders at.

15. USA Nationals - Cedar Lake Speedway
     Rounding out the top 15 in the dirt world and finishing off Part 2 of our series is the always popular USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wisconsin. The 28th Annual event will pay the regular $50,000. The USA Nationals also produces a wild crowd and atmosphere much like the Prairie Dirt Classic at FALS. If you’re looking for a way to start August off with a bang, then this is the place to be.

If you missed 16-20 in our last post, you can read about them here

16. Show-Me 100 - Lucas Oil Speedway
17. Short Track Nationals - I-30 Speedway
18. Knoxville Late Model Nationals - Knoxville Raceway
19. Fall Brawl - I-80 Speedway
20. Mudsummer Classic - Eldora Speedway

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Countdown to the 7 Wonders of the (DIRT) World: 16-20

Here we begin the first of 3 separate posts that will ultimately lead up to the "7 Wonders of the (DIRT) World". Before we begin, I'd like all readers to feel free to comment at the bottom of the article on any thoughts, comments, or disagreements you might have.

Our goal is to rank the top 20 events of the dirt racing world and give them some sort of a ranking. It's almost wrong to say that one is any better than the other, because they are all such great events.

Determinants in our countdown range from historical significance, number of years ran, winner's purse, strength of field, fan atmosphere, and everything in between. So without further adieu, here are our no. 16-20 in our unique TDN countdown.

16. Show-Me 100 - Lucas Oil Speedway
     Finding itself at 16th on the grid is the first “crown-jewel” race of the season, which will again occur in late May as drivers shoot for the $30,000 payday. This year’s edition of the Show-Me will be the 23rd running and take place at Lucas Oil Speedway, a facility that is renowned for being state-of-the-art. The track has historically put on phenomenal racing from top to bottom as the surface slicks off and widens out, so don’t look for this year to be any different.

17. Short Track Nationals - I-30 Speedway
     The 17th position gets filled by the Short Track Nationals, which have been a staple in 360 sprint car racing for what will be 28 years this coming season. The event pays an impressive $15,000 to win and largely highlights the popular ASCS 360 sprint car schedule. In a day and age where drivers only race at tracks that are financially feasible, this field of 360’s will go largely unmatched aside of the Knoxville 360 Nationals and the rising Fall Brawl at I-80.

18. Knoxville Late Model Nationals - Knoxville Raceway
     Coming in at 18th on our countdown is the 12th Annual Knoxville Late Model Nationals which will be taking place this coming fall, and it has worked its way up to being a “can’t miss” event. The inauguration of this event was met with some scrutiny as Knoxville is associated with only two words: sprint cars. How would the Knoxville faithful feel about this event? Well 12 years later, I’d say it’s been a huge success. Top-notch fields of drivers pile in for a weekend of competition leading up to the $40,000 finale and it has produced some awesome racing and heart-wrenching moments (Birky’s last-lap rally in 2014).

19. Fall Brawl - I-80 Speedway
     Falling in line 19th on the grid may be disappointing for some, but there is no shame when the event has only ran for 2 years. The Fall Brawl at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, NE has provided the 360 sprint car of the country an opportunity of a lifetime. The $50,000 payday for the winner is more than a motive for giving it everything you’ve got…it is also a chance to beat the toughest competition you’ll ever find and notch up one of those “Career Achievements” that we love to talk about so often.

20. Mudsummer Classic - Eldora Speedway
     Coming in at 20th on our Dirt Track countdown is the recently formed Mudsummer Classic for the NASCAR trucks at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, OH. It is currently the only dirt track race for any of the top 3 NASCAR series (what a shame, isn’t it?). This year will be the 3rd edition of the innovative race and we’ve put it on the list for a number of reasons. First and foremost, getting NASCAR back to their grassroots for a couple hot summer nights just feels right – and way overdue. On top of that, the dirt world has received an incredible gift by having the cameras of National TV grace one of our premier dirt tracks in the country, undoubtedly driving up curiosity and interest from those less fortunate asphalt fans.

Monday, January 19, 2015

This Week In DIRT: Abreu Rises To The Occasion; Sandman Returns Home Happy; Eckert Announces Plans; ASCoC Not Dead Yet

Ah the preseason! It's the first glimpse of the new cars, new chassis, and a little preview of what may be to come in the new year. And you missed it! Actually, if you missed the Chili Bowl or Wild West Shootout, (you're in our hall of fame if you ordered at least one pay per view of each), shame on you.. 

But things come up. And they may have kept you from paying full attention. Whether it was a wedding, bah mitzvah, christening, old friend from out of town, old girlfriend from out of town that you don't want your wife to know about, or a night in the drunk tank, you needn't worry, we'll help you catch up on the week that was with This Week In DIRT...

Abreu Rises To The Occasion: 

We knew this day would come. The day Rico Abreu etched his name on the Golden Driller winners list, to be remembered forever as champion. But before the week started, many had Kyle Larson slotted to pick up his first trophy.  It looked primed to happen coming in to Saturday night's final feature too. 

Except Abreu had other plans, like making a bold pass of last year's champion, Bryan Clauson, and never looking back, dodging cautions and lapped traffic en route to the victory. Meanwhile, Larson spun twice and managed to stir drama post-race with elder statesman Sammy Swindell. Abreu earned $10,000 for the win, and so much more from the great pool of the "things that come with" such a prestigious title. 

But more than his driving ability, and behind what makes it such a popular win, is that he's revered by many as a driver's driver. He's pulled other drivers from burning cars, taken time to talk to school children about bullying and overcoming obstacles, and displayed a ton of heart and maturity.  Enjoy him while you can DIRT Nation, it's probably only a matter of time before he's etching his name on a Nascar win list. From us at TDN, Congrats Rico!! Well Deserved! 

To read all about the final night at the Chili Bowl, click here


Sandman Wins Wild West Shootout; Owens Shoots at Aliens from Roof of Car

Happy,Texas returned one of its happiest citizens today in the form of the sandman, Rodney Sanders. And with good reason, he took home two modified wins, a Super Late Model win and the overall late model championship during the annual Wild West Shootout in Tucson, AZ.

Aaron Clay Photo

The week also saw Jimmy Owens take home two late model wins, and over $15,000 in winnings. Following his $10,000 win on Saturday night, Owens inexplicably stood on the roof of his car and fired two six shooters into the air while shouting "Goddamned aliens, I know they're out there somewhere"  Owens and fellow Club 29 driver Darrell Lanigan each claimed two victories for the week. In fact, if you were driving anything but a Club 29 car, you had absolutely not chance of winning whatsoever as every late model feature was won in a Club 29 car.  Not winning anything this week were Billy Moyer, Billy Moyer Jr, Jimmy Mars, Terry Phillips, and Chris Simpson.

Lanigan had the quote of the week when following a heat race earlier in the week, he gave the inference that Billy Moyer Jr would pretty much be a nobody without his legendary father Billy Moyer Sr.  Karma then swooped down on Lanigan causing him to break a thumb on Friday night during the main event during a tangle with cars on the backstretch.

To check out the week that was in Tucson, click here

Berry Lenhart Photo-Late Model

Eckert Announces Plans

Rick Eckert has now formally announced that he'll be teamed with Paul Crowl once again in 2015, driving a MBH (Masters Built by Huey) car powered by Cornett engines.  He'll take part on the World of Outlaw Late Model Tour once again in 2015, and will also travel to a good many crown jewels too. 

The announcement puts to end weeks of anticipation from a good many late model experts who seemed to know what Eckert's plans were before he did. 

To read the announcement, click here 

ASCoC Not Dead Yet

Despite the best efforts of Guy Webb to put the final nail in the coffin of the oldest sprint racing sanction in the eastern US, the All Star Circuit of Champions may have actually been sold, traded, or even transferred in some back alley in Akron, OH to a wino for an undisclosed amount of drinking money.

 Or maybe somebody with good intentions bought it! Either way, it looks like there'll be some kind of announcement this week, so stay tuned to see how the story ends....or begins!

That's it for this episode of TWID, have a great week everyone and Stay DIRTY!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Winter Heat Showdown - By The Numbers (Final)

By Tyler Beichner:

The inaugural five-race Winter Heat Showdown at Cocopah Speedway in Yuma, Ariz. has commenced. The experimental mini-series had its pros and cons, but I think across the board we can all agree that it was a success. So much so Greg Burgess, Director of Operations at Cocopah Speedway, announced the dates for next year's Showdown, with the opening night being held on New Year's Day.

Here's a little breakdown of the quirky stats that you don't always get to see. Here at TDN, we like to go beyond the wins, losses, points and so on.

1 trophy for inaugural Winter Heat Showdown champion Danny Lasoski, who won the tiebreaker over fellow veteran Stevie Smith.

2.2 average starting position of the five feature winners. Three winners came from the pole. Lasoski won from his 5th starting spot, the furthest back of the week-long miniseries.

2.5 average feature starting position for Texas native Aaron Reutzel, the best of the mini-series. Paul McMahan was the next closest with an average starting spot of 5.5

3 top 5's for Danny Lasoski, Joey Saldana and Paul McMahan

3.8 average finishing position for Paul McMahan, who led the points up until the final night when he failed to make the feature

5. The number of winners in as many races out in Arizona. The victory circle was compromised of the greatest of all time, a soon-to-be NASCAR star, a newcomer to the 410 ranks, a former World of Outlaws champion, and another competitor that has 23 career WoO series wins.

5 times that Canadian racer Skylar Gee failed to transfer into the A-Main

6.8 average finishing position for Stevie Smith, the best among drivers that raced their way into every feature. Behind him was point champion Danny Lasoski and Joey Saldana (both with 7.4)

12 drivers that qualified for all 5 feature events. The list is comprised of Stevie Smith, Lasoski, Saldana, Crockett, Christopher Bell, Kraig Kinser, Kahne, Gravel, Steve Kinser, Dollansky, Schuchart and Willie Croft

20 total cars passed by Brian Brown during feature action, the best +/- among the field of drivers. Following closely behind was Dusty Zomer (+18)

22.5 average starting spot for the youngster D.J. Netto, who was able to race his way into two main events

-49 the +/- ratio for Aaron Reutzel, who experienced hard luck very often. Craig Dollansky wound up with a -39 plus/minus, finishing 2nd in that category. Strangely enough, both Reutzel and Dollansky had an average feature finish of 14.8

880 total points for Danny Lasoski and Stevie Smith, tied for 1st place in Showdown points. Lasoski was awarded the championship as his feature victory won the tiebreaker.

Whitwell Claims NDRL Opener

Exactly one year ago on January 11th, 2014, R.C. Whitwell etched his name into the history books by winning the now-defunct National Dirt Racing League (NDRL) season opener at USA Raceway (formerly known as Tucson International Raceway).

R.C. Whitwell (no. 5) went on to claim the 2014 NDRL season opener in Tucson
Although the NDRL, after experiencing their demise last summer, is no longer with us, R.C. Whitwell has not gone anywhere as he's returned to Tucson again to compete in the Wild West Shootout. After failing to qualify for the main last evening, Whitwell will give it another go tonight as the 50+ car field will put on a show for $5,000.

For all the in depth coverage or to order live video of every Wild West Shootout event, visit