Race Weekend Central

This Day in Dirt: Violent Brawl at Southern Raceway Overshadows Reutzel Win at East Bay

Dirt Racing’s Winning Moment: Aaron Reutzel came out on top of a thrilling back and forth with Danny Martin Jr. to win Friday night’s (Feb. 17) Winternationals A-main at East Bay Raceway Park after a lengthy rain delay.

Reutzel’s win came a night after many in the sprint car racing community celebrated his misfortune after he slammed the backstretch wall in Thursday’s feature racing with Mark Smith.

Dirt Racing’s Dramatic Moment: The highlight of Friday night’s racing program at Southern Raceway (the debut broadcast for the Hunt the Front TV streaming service) came off the track, with a scuffle between street stock drivers Mike Lane and Caden White erupting into a violent brawl that red-flagged the event.

Both Lane and White were disqualified from Friday’s event.

What Dirt Racing Fans’ll Be Group Chatting About This Morning

The Hunt the Front TV stream did not catch what led to the Lane/White fight breaking out Friday night, but regardless of the circumstances Caden White should be banned for a lengthy period from the track for proving to be the latest competitor gutless enough to attack a driver still strapped into the cockpit of a racecar. Attacking someone who is constrained is even more a cheap shot than a sucker punch and should not be tolerated.

Speaking of the debut of Hunt the Front TV, talk about a whirlwind. Not only did the first streamed event for the service feature easily the biggest fight motorsports has seen in 2023 after a week of fans venting anger over the service constituting a “cash grab” being priced at $29.99 a month, the reality is the first racing program streamed by the service was the epitome of what’s plaguing weekly tracks. Too many classes, too much downtime during programs and too many wreck-fests.

I will concede maybe starting with a smaller profile racing program was a deliberate choice by HTF TV. Starting with a program with a smaller audience does allow for any technical difficulties to be smoothed over, as I can attest from personal knowledge that the cell reception at Southern Raceway is less than desirable. Still, considering HTF’s service costs nearly as much as DirtVision without any of the star power or production values, this was not a home-run product to start with.

Thank God Volusia Speedway Park didn’t go to quite the extremes NASCAR did before canceling their Friday night racing program. Sometimes promoters just need to take a hint. Though I will acknowledge canceling races does sometimes hand competitors an advantage over others.

Volusia did get through some heat races Friday night before raining out, so a cool gesture by the track for the evening did at least get to happen. 

Southern dirt tracks are where I cut my racing teeth and I will die a late model supremacist. But good God almighty I cannot fathom why tracks insist on single-car qualifying in lieu of heat races for late models, especially for crate late models as Southern Raceway did Friday. To see the crate cars run hot laps, then run qualifying laps in the middle of heat races, THEN run more hot laps after the track rework intermission before going into a feature race was a mind-numbing exercise.

Dirt Racing’s Hero of the Day

Reutzel has gotten a ton of flack in recent years and much of it has been merited (there are very few competitors that have been caught cheating as brazenly as Reutzel did during his rookie World of Outlaws campaign in 2021). But not only did he win Friday’s feature at East Bay fair and square, he made a point in victory lane to address the incident in Thursday’s race that saw him get stuffed into the wall, dismissing it as a racing incident and completely absolving Smith from any wrongdoing in said incident. 

Reutzel has a reputation for playing rough that I’ve seen go both ways in my time covering sprint cars. Friday night he at least had the backbone to keep perspective on being raced the same way.

Dirt Racing’s Villain/Victim of the Night

I will concede the camera angle on the Flo Racing stream wasn’t entirely conclusive, but it sure looks like Brenham Crouch ran over Carson McCarl in the first sprint car B-main.

Numbers Game


Dirt tracks that ran (or started) oval track racing programs Friday night in the U.S.


Nation’s largest car count Friday night, the Icebreaker at Abilene Speedway in Texas.


The nation’s largest purse awarded Friday night, to the winner of the Winternationals sprint car feature at East Bay.

Up Next: Frontstretch will be back Monday morning (Feb. 18) with final coverage of the DIRTcar Nationals from Volusia Speedway Park, the 360 Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park and the Winter Dirt Games at Bubba Raceway Park. Streaming coverage can be found on DirtVision and Flo Racing, respectively.

About the author

Richmond, Virginia native. Wake Forest University class of 2008. Affiliated with Frontstretch since 2008, as of today the site's first dirt racing commentator. Emphasis on commentary. Big race fan, bigger First Amendment advocate.

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Tom B

Regarding the fight video.
The guy in the orange hoodie starts hitting someone on the ground with a shovel! He is lucky they didn’t beat him to death. This is stereo type late model red neck white trash action.

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