The Frontstretch: Potts' Shots: Agreeing To Disagree - To A Degree by John Potts -- Wednesday August 29, 2012

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Potts' Shots: Agreeing To Disagree - To A Degree

John Potts · Wednesday August 29, 2012


First off, a comment from Steven Sturm says I goofed on SCCA flag procedures last week, saying,

One mistake: with yellow flags, there is no passing until you pass the
incident, not the next flag station.

OK, Steven, I guess you’re speaking from experience and have some knowledge of the subject. However, I wasn’t sure about that when I wrote it, and I got my information from a video on one of the SCCA regions’ website. Maybe it differs by region. I ended that column with the note that we had a lot of fun in those days.

Sometimes it was jerking each other’s chains.

The late Johnny McGee of Indy Region, one of the best chief stewards the SCCA ever had, was a good friend and we enjoyed trying to one-up each other. During one of those Friday open practices when I was playing chief starter, John came up to me about 4:30 and asked when they were going to be able to inspect the track. I looked at my watch and told him that according to the rental agreement, it would be 5:00 p.m.

“Until then, it’s my track,” I said.

He came back with, “YOUR track, have you got the deed?”

“I’ve got the flags.”

Another time, after a particularly rainy Friday night, I was in the office on Saturday morning and he called me to come look at a problem outside of Turn 11 on the west side. When I got down there I found a deep sinkhole about 20 feet off the pavement, just about in line with where someone coming off that turn a little hot would be headed.

Johnny asked what we could do about it, and I don’t think he thought much of my answer.

“Well, it won’t be so bad after we fill it up with cars.”

Our hard-working grounds supervisor, Bill Gunn, solved the problem with some concrete barriers, with a tire wall in front of them. As it turned out, nobody even touched the tires. All kidding aside, Johnny was a good friend, and after he passed on, we named the meeting room in the base of the road course tower in his memory.

Dennis Chaffin wants to know if I recall an ASA Midwest 300 weekend at Salem when five different cars went over the wall in Turn 3 at almost the same spot. One in a practice session for late-arriving cars on Saturday.

I can’t say I recall that many Dennis, but we did have some wild weekends. This may have been the same weekend when Larry Cope went over during one of the 100-lappers, landed on his wheels, and pulled back up to the Turn 4 gate wanting to get back in.

Rex Robbins said it was the first time he’d seen me not go with a red flag when somebody went out of the park. I told him I saw Larry land right-side up and drive away, and I probably wouldn’t have had to go yellow if he hadn’t wanted back in.

Ed Clark writes,

Great to see an article by one of the finest gentlemen in racing in the Louisville area. My dad was a official at the old Fairgrounds Motor Speedway when you flagged there. I grew up around racing and still love going.

Boy, there’s another name from the past. Ed, I recall your father, Joe Clark, very fondly. He was always around, and almost always turned up at ARCA and ASA races when I really didn’t expect to see him. Thanks for writing.

Now we come down to last week’s action at Bristol. Two readers want to know if Bruton Smith accomplished what he wanted to with the changes.

I’d say he did, considering his goal was a return to one-groove racing. One commentator said he thought Bruton would be unhappy because he wanted the fast groove to be on the bottom, not up in the “second” lane where it seemed to be. I think this will turn out to be rather like the oval at IRP.

I saw Richard Childress and Kevin Harvick prove twice that if you could set up a car to handle down low on that track, you’d pass a lot of people. And, of course, there is the continuing debate over the Stewart-Kenseth incident.

Don’t know who was at fault, and don’t care. I saw it as a “racin’ deal.” Tony’s temper obviously got the best of him when it was over. He’s still my friend and (I hope) always will be. I do have some issues with some of the comments made however. Kenseth said he and Tony have raced for years and have “tons of respect” for each other.

If that’s true, I guess Tony’s respect for Matt has increased somewhat since February 28, 1998, at Rockingham, when Stewart was on his way to his first (and would have been only) win in the Busch Series and Kenseth did a bump-and-run on him coming off Turn 4 on the final lap.

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Kyle Eaton
08/31/2012 12:29 AM

John, it has been a crazy 3 weeks for me, so I’d fallen behind on your columns. I had to laugh when you spoke about yellow flags, because I recall an article in the Indy Region SCCA newletter about the REAL meanings of flags. Seems to me that yellow really means “Go faster” while a red flag meant “ chicane ahead”. And as a former F&C worker (which experience is what got me in to the control tower as race control for non-SCCA roadcourse events), Steven Sturm is right – it is past the incident, not the flag station. I recall some protests from drivers who claimed they were passed before they should have been and we corner workers had to write up our recollection of the situation and get the info to the stewards to address the protests. Thanks for bringing back those memories!