August 1, 2021 – Been so busy, I just haven’t had time to write for a while. Plus, when things go south in racing, they really go south and seem to hang on that way for a while. Bottom line was Thursday night was kind of rock bottom. Saw two things I have never seen before. Matthew went to start his car for the A-Feature and it wouldn’t turnover. Tried to push him to start it and turns out the motor had blown. Only seen one blow during a race on the track before so it must have let loose right when he pulled in from winning his heat race. Night started off great with that heat race win and then he couldn’t even start the A-feature. He stayed up all night pulling the motor and the boys pulled an old hobby stock motor from the back of the shed because that is all we have. They worked Friday and Saturday to make that old motor run. Friday night it wouldn’t turn over and the boys – Steve, Matthew, Jacob and Kevin – were trying to figure out why. Matthew was so tired by that point, he sounded like he was done and I have never seen him really that discouraged. But Saturday morning he found the part he needed and they dived in and got it running. Steve said it was a turd motor so we all knew it wasn’t going to be great, but it got him back on the track for Saturday’s race.
Matthew won his heat race, but in the feature, the turd motor just didn’t have enough go on the restarts. Matthew went backwards and ended up in 8th place. Jacob got spun out … again … in his heat race. Just watched the video and a different guy than last week but yes, exactly the same – drove through him and didn’t even lift. Well, to say Jacob was a little mad is an understatement. I thought him and Kevin might actually end up in a fight but Jacob cooled down. He had to start in the back for the A-Feature. First lap, first turn the car in the second row spun out. Matthew was right behind him and dove so high to miss him that he hit the wall. One other car hit the car spinning out but rest of the field made it through so out of 23 cars, only 2 were out. There were a few more cautions. At one point, Jacob restarted right behind Matthew. Jacob ended up 12th. There was a lot of 3-wide racing and overall, it was just a good race.
After the race, we were all so happy just for both boys to have finished the race and for the cars to be basically in one piece (Matt lost the bar that runs across the back of the car when he hit the wall) – anyway, we were just so happy to finish. Then Jacob said that was actually fun. Well, that was so good to hear.
I am so proud of how hard these boys worked and how they worked together. And then their hard work paid off with a descent night. You have to realize that what they do for racing is a very small piece of their lives and everything they learn as well as the tenacity to never give up then spills over into real life and the way they work and think. I have an amazing family and I could not be prouder.
May 1, 2021 – Twenty four cars make the weekly B-Mod show at 81 Speedway. The heat race is made up of the Crowell Brothers, the Wilson Family, Beard and the one car I didn’t know that drove over the top of Jacob. Jacob’s car literally raised up in the air, but he kept going. Guys worked on the cars while the girls hung out in the trailer, out of the wind, and just watching Atley enjoy her second time at the races. This time, she made it to the A-Main. Matthew led some laps before he was passed. He held on to second for half of the race and he had a good lead where he would have stayed in second. But there were too many cautions and eventually, he was passed but the guy never got away from Matthew. They were pretty even and on the last lap, Matthew was right there but just couldn’t get passed him. Atley watched the whole race and she is already very observant, just like her Dad.
While Matthew had a great night, Jacob did not. I don’t care how good of a driver you are, if the car is not setup right, it just won’t work for you. Boys will return to the shop and make some more adjustments before the next race. He’ll get there. Just takes time. And at least it is all in one piece. He finished 16th so just got some work to do to get into top ten.
April 24 at 81 Speedway – Atley Ann attends her first race. As her Grandma Jennifer posted on Facebook, “she was the star of the show.” She definitely was and she was born to be at the race track. The sounds were clearly familar to her and the only time she cried at all was when her Mom loaded her up to leave! Our pictures on Facebook actually show the story pretty well – the love of family and friends, together, getting it done.
This was a big show and 46 B-Mods showed up. For hot laps, they took the best time as qualifying to set the field for the heat races. Only top 4 cars from heat went to A-Feature. Jacob got 4th … whew … he made it! He said after he knew he was driving all over the track trying to keep anyone from passing him. Matthew wasn’t so lucky as he got 5th. He was in 3rd and a wreck happened right in front of him – I don’t know how he missed that one – and then they go back a lap on restart so he lost positions. On to the B-Feature where they took the top 3. Matthew got 2nd and wow! I feel like we just won. Both made it in the A-Feature out of some of the top cars in the nation. I am so proud. Now if we can finish the A with the cars in one piece!
I decided Atley was also our good luck charm. While both didn’t finish – Jacob’s A-arm broke with just a couple laps to go, so he did have to go on the wrecker ride, but at least the car was in one piece – and Matthew finished. A couple people were DQ’d in post-tech, so Matthew ended up in 13th place while Jacob took 16th. Again out of 46 cars so while our goal is top tens, our ultimate goal was achieved as we have cars that can race again! This picture really says it all – God’s Blessing shining down through that sunset on this beautiful family!
April 3 at 81 Speedway marks the first race of the year. My Dad and Uncle Rich drove down and Dad sit in the stands with Kevin and Amy. In the pits, Justin, Gage, Logan and Trevor joined us. It was great to have everyone together. The first heat race, Matthew was running great and a guy drove over him, cutting down his tire. Not a great start, but at least it is only a heat race. Plus Gage learned the sign for a flat tire. Jacob drove from the back up to 3rd place in the heat.
For the feature, the top drivers with the most passing points get to do a redraw for top positions. They are suppose to meet on the front stretch, but we don’t know how to figure out if Jacob qualified. Since he was trying to work on the car and get ready, I drove down to the infield. Turns out Jacob did make it! There wasn’t time for him to get there, so I drew the last frisbee and that put Jacob on the pole. Gave a quick interview, signed the frisbee and took me two times to get the thing over the fence! Jacob really should have went down there.
Feature time came and Jacob is at the front while Matthew was at the rear. I lost count of how many restarts they had due to cars that were spinning out. Jacob missed his setup so he faded back while Matthew moved forward. At one point, they were side by side which sure made it easier to watch them! But Candace and Macee were challenged as they cheered and hoped nothing happened. In the end, Matthew finished 8th while Jacob finished 11th. Matthew picked up a lot of passing points. Both cars were in one piece which is more than a lot of race teams could say. Overall, it was a strong start to our season. Both learned a lot and they can build on that.
Sunday afternoon, Steve is catching me up on everything I missed as I ran back and forth between my Dad and the pits. Wow – so much goes on in such a short time. I really enjoyed our talk. We also reflect on all the years of racing and family time. This year is the 20th year for Crowell Brothers Racing! So hard to believe that is even possible. Now the boys tell us what to do instead of the other way around! I am so proud of them and the ladies by their side. We are so lucky and blessed to do this as a family.
Warning – R-Rated Video due to explicit language. For the second time in a very short season, Matthew gets a bad call which takes away a top finish. It makes you question SO many things. Let me first say there will always be bad calls in any sport. Often it is pretty hard to judge in a split second. We recognize we are only watching our cars so in all the years we have raced, we know how to hang our head and walk away from a bad call chalking it up to bad luck. And then there is this – when it happens directly in front of an official (turn 2 corner worker) and it literally should be one of the easiest calls they ever make. Let me describe it for you.
Matthew is running 3rd pretty much the entire race. Early in the race, a car spins out and nearly takes out the entire field but luckily everyone makes it around him. The same guy plows through the field from the back hitting other cars along the way before he makes it to Matthew. He hits his rear bumper so hard that it locks up the bumpers. Matthew feels the hit and immediately floors it knowing he is about to get turned and normally can save it but not when the bumpers are locked together. Nothing Matthew can do at that point. On the sidelines, everyone heard the clank and could see the cars are locked up because it was right in front of turn 2. Matthew is put back … not in the rear of the field but basically the middle. WTF .. and I do mean WTF. He doesn’t get his spot back. WTF. If you can’t make that call, what call can you EVER make right?! WTF.
Jacob is also racing. On every caution he is placed behind a car that he has passed multiple times and has multiple laps being ahead of him so going back a lap is not what is happening, yet every caution he is placed behind the same guy. Now Jacob is learning and not a top 5 car yet, so while it is annoying, it isn’t a big deal either. Except when you look at the pattern of why we aren’t getting correct spots back consistently. Then you have to start to question what is happening. WTF.
Very few times do we raise issues or talk to the officials and very, very few times do you see Matthew as mad as he was last night. Wrong is wrong and it was time to stand up for ourselves. And I guess this is why I am STILL mad this morning. Matthew was respectful and trying to raise the issues and he was being placated. He was NOT being listened to at all. All they wanted to do was shut down the situation and claim “we are still learning” and we are sorry, but they didn’t want to hear our side and try to learn from it to actually fix anything. That is what it felt like and that is why I am still mad this morning. Oh, that and the fact that when my sons do something that wrong, they go apologize to the other driver. Of course, the guy that took Matthew out did not and I just have no respect for that type of driver. I woke up playing it all through my head and yep, I am still mad!
Here are my questions:
Do the corner workers have any say in making a call? A flag man cannot watch the entire track so do the other officials all speak up? Most sports have more than one umpire for a reason!
Should Matthew have stopped on the front stretch and protested? Would it have made any difference?
What does it take to get black flagged?
Are the transponders working?
On the starts, why it is so hard to say if you are out of line I will put you to the back – and then do it – instead the flagman issues a warning one time and then lets them get away with it the second time! The starts are horrible and painful to watch.
I could go on but I’ll stop there. The inconsistency is just one of the things that drives me crazy. On the flip side, it sure highlights all the things that are right at the IMCA tracks and I sure do wish there were more of them closer to us.
We will return to 81 Speedway this Thursday and Saturday. All we can do is see if anything changes. I really hope so as we would like to run a full season there. But if we aren’t treated fairly, then we will definitely leave. I have written a lot more and deleted it. Hey I feel better now I guess. Hopefully Candace feels better this morning too. Atley really learned a lot of new words last night. I wish I had a video of that!
July 10, 2020 – I am a bit behind with my post because we had a BABY SHOWER to get ready for this last week! Yesterday we had a very special shower for a very special mother. Candace is doing great and so thankful for everyone that took the time to make her day special. I will miss the planning sessions with Macee, Jennifer and Katey. But next we have Pampers for Pizza so the parties do not end around here! Yes, get used to a lot of tangents because our baby girl will be here soon.
Ok, back to racing. There are only 4 tracks left in the state that Matthew has not raced at and Humbolt was one of them. So on a very hot Friday night, we take some very narrow, awful roads to get to the track. It is a very heavy, smaller track than 81 so he has a lot of work to do to figure out the setup. In hot laps, he was bottoming out and plowing the track!
Before he has a chance to really work through setup much, a guy hits him multiple times in the heat race – yes, in the heat race! Friends of ours that we used to race with back in the karting days race there and they said the guy does that to someone every single race. Well he broke a ton of stuff – A-arm, ball joint, bent front linkage…. I don’t know what all but the boys worked really hard, really fast to get to the feature. But they didn’t have it all fixed plus Matthew had no brakes. He has driven races with no brakes before, but that is when the car is setup better. He drove most of the race but with just a few laps to go, he pulled off. Ended up scoring 13th since other cars were out way before him.
So overall, it was a terrible night of racing. I think Matthew really wants to figure out the track and he really wants to go back. Steve would like to go on a Saturday night because Friday’s after work are very hard. And I believe Candace just wishes we would get the flaps installed in the trailer so she could sit under the air conditioning.
Next race is August 6 and 8th at 81 Speedway. I have no idea if Matthew has something planned before then, but Steve and I are going to try to do something – anything – for our 35th anniversary. We had five events pre-planned and paid for this year and every one of them was cancelled due to the pandemic. What a summer – between that and the heat – I am ready for Fall.
June 27 at 81 Speedway and I wasn’t sure how the night was going to go. Jacob did his hot laps and still had problems. Pretty tough to figure out when there is no way to practice. Matthew, Steve and him dove in and ended up changing out a brand new carbuerator with a very old one and that solved the problem!
Heat races didn’t matter as much in IMCA cause you could win a heat but still end up starting in the middle. Well, we learned in USRA, those heat races matter a whole lot more. Then even record passing points. Both boys finished 5th in their heat race so they started the A-Feature side-by-side!
Jacob finished his first race in 4 years! He really did an awesome job – especially when he has had absolutely no practice. He was just a little loose and made one mistake coming out of four and spun out. But he was lucky and could keep going. He had seveal really good saves and did a great job. Finished 9th place.
Matthew does all the setup and has been working the problems on both cars because without the right setup, doesn’t matter how good of a driver you are. He had a top three car, but just when he was getting a good run and getting there, there was a caution (yeah, his brother’s caution). That brought a good laugh later in the pits. Matthew’s 3rd USRA race and he took 5th which got him in tech for the first time.
It was SO much fun to watch the boys working together and then racing together. And watching the girls support the boys and jump in to help no matter what is asked. My sons are so lucky to have Candace and Macee by their sides. It is does not go unnoticed by me at all. Everything you feel as a family is like intensified in a few hours at the race track. Working hard together and getting it done together. I can’t really describe it but it is all about family!
We won’t be back to 81 Speedway until August. In July, I have heard discussions about going to a couple new tracks. I am sure I will find out at least a day before we go! Happy 4th everyone!!
First race for Jacob in a long, long time and of course, it was 98 degrees as we headed to the track! Thankfully Justin had a pop up to give us some shade. Matthew summed up the night the best on Facebook:
“3c had his first run last night in several years he had some major setup issues we worked most of the night on and then he had electrical issues in feature. 2c is getting a lot closer was running top 5 when he decided to try and take out a tractor tire…. tractor tire won and ended our night. THANK YOU to the massive pit crew that came to help! Steve Crowell, Patty Crowell, Maceee Roemer, Jacob Crowell, Candace Crowell, Matthew Crowell, Gage Smoots, Justin Ray Giltner, Seth Beard, Ryan Wolf, Travis Elray, Katie Richardson and Tyler Huelsmann.”
Matthew was on the move and looked very likely to get 4th when the tie rod broke. Jacob really looked great given that he had zero practice. I was very proud of how well they worked together. They both have a lot to learn and Jacob just needs some seat time. Oh and wow, I had so forgotten how hard it is to watch both boys on the track. Seemed like whenever I looked at one, something happened with the other one.
Overall just a darn great night with family. Could not ask for more.
We travel all the way to 81 Speedway for a special series that is pitting the Northerns against the Southerns. Matthew took 3rd place, clocked in the second fastest lap time and got his biggest pay out ever in his racing career. The promoter told us that Matthew is the highest placing Northern since they started the series. Just a fine way to start the month!
Matthew really wanted to follow the series to Belleville, but we don’t have the motor to run there. It is the fastest dirt track in the entire nation and it eats motors. Did I mention it is the fastest? Seasonsed racers have went once and never returned. Maybe someday, Matthew will give it a run. Instead, we save our motor for Salina where Matthew ends up 5th. This time a shock blew out. Not sure if that was by itself or from the car that can’t seem to pass without hitting everything near it. Thought I was going to see Candace go punch a guy! She is too cute and has definitely developed an eye for what is happening on the track.
May 30 – 81 Speedway in Park City kicks off after the delay of COVID and they kicked off in a big way with the stands and the pits absolutely packed. CBR has moved to USRA this year for a long list of reasons. Due to COVID, we didn’t have a chance to practice and it is a different car. While it might look the same to you, Matthew said it drove completely differently.
In the heat races, the high side was the only place to get any traction. Eventually, that went away and the low side started to rubber up so by the feature, it was once again a one-lane track. But it was a pretty smooth track and quite different as the new owners put a concrete wall around the entire track and changed the banking I think.
Matthew took 7th place in the A-Feature and we were all very happy with that. New car, basically a new track, new sanctioning body, and new things to learn pretty much summarizes the night. Candace was a trouper given how very late the night went. We just need to remember to bring snacks!
Jacob and Macee had a wedding, so his first race will be on Thursday night. He has it even tougher than Matthew since Jacob hasn’t raced in a few years.
Felt great to be back at the track and to see so many friends. But wow, are we out of practice staying up that late! It was almost weird to leave the house and have an event to go to. Uncle Rich brought my Dad down and it was really great to see him and all of us to be together to kick off the season. We don’t plan to run a full season. We just want to focus on building a new USRA program to be ready for next year.
It is great to be able to run locally, so if you are in Wichita, come see us race at 81 Speedway in Park City. I have been told we will make it to Humbolt and maybe even Lakeside this year. I’m ready! Let’s GO!