John Potts · Thursday September 8, 2011
Bob Merriman writes, “I have been reading your columns past and present for some time and really enjoy them. I’m a 50-something young guy from northwest Indiana and grew up going to races at the great Rensselaer Raceway since a lad in the late ’60s until its sad demise. If you’re familiar with the place, then you already know the question. Are you related to the great Dick Potts of racing fame at this and other area speedways of the time? I grew up in amazement of what that guy could do in a race car. As with Earnhardt and now Kyle Busch, you either loved or hated him, but regardless you had to respect him. I won’t divulge my opinions of him at the time, out of respect in case you are a relation! Any great stories to tell if in fact this is the case? Any stories in your book about this or other area tracks?”
Well, Bob, I am familiar with the track, but have to admit to only being there once. I flagged a TQ midget race there back in the early ’60s. As for Dick Potts, I’m sure we’re related somehow, because there can’t be too many of us running around that aren’t related. I’ve heard an old tale that the clan descended from two brothers who came over with the Hessians during the American Revolution, but I don’t know how true it is. I tried to join the Sons of the American Revolution once, but they wouldn’t let me in because the “ancestors” I listed fought on the wrong side. Picky, picky, picky.
I was privileged to meet Dick when I was race director at the Charlestown Motor Speedway in southern Indiana back when it was dirt in 1981, and we had a good talk. I liked the guy, but I seem to like all racers. He was still racing in the ’90s when my son flagged at a northwest Indiana dirt track and got to meet him.
I’m impressed with the fact that you recall your early days with such fondness. That’s what’s important to so many of us, and it’s what prompted me to start writing for Frontstretch.com and ultimately to the book. Sorry there’s not anything in there from Rennselaer, although there is a tale about Larry Cope, who was once a track champion there as I understand, going out of the ball park at Salem and driving back in the entrance gate under the yellow.
Through the boss, Tom Bowles, we got an e-mail from Tom Dalfonzo, who wants to submit what he thinks the 2012 Cup schedule should look like. I think it’s interesting, whether or not NASCAR agrees. But we do know that they indeed read what’s on this Web site. Tom even suggests sponsors and/or names for some races, and I have a feeling he would like to see some of the old tracks come back. For the Nashville race, he suggested the superspeedway, but with that no longer an option I believe he’d be just as happy to see that race at the old Fairgrounds. He also apparently wants the season to end earlier with only 29 races. That would solve the problem of competing with the NFL, for sure. And although there’s no off weeks, there’s a longer off-season. Warning to other possible schedule makers – we’re only gonna do this once.
Here we go:
Feb. 19: Daytona 500, Daytona.
Feb. 26: Dale Earnhardt 503, Rockingham.
Mar. 3: Bodog 400, Las Vegas.
Mar. 10: Coors Light 500, Phoenix.
Mar. 17: TGI Fridays 500, Irwindale.
Mar. 24: White Castle 500, Darlington.
Apr. 1: Richard Petty 443, North Wilkesboro.
Apr. 7: International Trucks 500, Bristol.
Apr. 14: Buffalo Wild Wings 400, Iowa.
Apr. 21: Jack Daniels 400, Nashville.
Apr. 28: Jamba Juice 400, Richmond.
May 5: Dickies 500, Texas.
May 13: Craftsman 500, Milwaukee.
May 19: Ford 400, Homestead.
May 27: World 600, Charlotte.
June 3: Valvoline 400, Pocono.
June 9: Subway 7-Eleven 400, Kansas.
June 17: Autozone 500, Martinsville.
June 24: Miller Lite 500, Talladega.
June 30: Firecracker 400, Daytona.
July 7: Cracker Barrel 500, Atlanta.
July 15: Chevy 500, Pikes Peak.
July 22: Samuel Adams 300, New Hampshire.
July 29: Allstate 400, Dover.
Aug. 5: Brickyard 400, Indianapolis.
Aug. 11: KFC 400, Kentucky.
Aug. 18: Harley-Davidson 500, Martinsville.
Aug. 24: Budweiser 500, Bristol.
Sept. 2: Southern 500, Darlington.
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