Race Weekend Central

This Day in Dirt: Jake Neuman Injury, Disastrous Effort by Flo Racing Sees High Limit Opener Roll Snake Eyes

Dirt Racing’s Winning Moment: Giovanni Scelzi managed to keep Austin McCarl and polesitter Tyler Courtney at bay to win the season opener for the High Limit Racing Series at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas Tuesday night (April 11), grabbing the largest sprint car purse of the 2023 season to date for his troubles.

Scelzi’s triumph was aided after race leader Rico Abreu cut down a tire with five laps to go.

Meanwhile, down in Tennessee, Chris Madden bested Dale McDowell with just over 10 laps to go to score a $10,000 payday with the XR Workin’ Man Series at Volunteer Speedway in Tennessee.

A strong field of 45 late models was on hand for Tuesday’s race, which served as a de facto test session as the XR Super Series prepares to compete for $100,000-to-win on the same Bulls Gap oval this weekend.

Dirt Racing’s Dramatic Moment(s): Sprint car racing as a whole again held its collective breath after Jake Neuman suffered a horrific crash during qualifying at Lakeside, running headfirst into the turn 3 wall and flipping while shedding the wing of his car. The wreck resulted in a more than 20-minute red flag, as rescue crews had to cut Neuman from his wounded racecar.

Prayers for Jake Neuman 🙏🏻#3N

Posted by Tyler Furrell on Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Fortunately, Neuman was found to be alert and was able to move his extremities as he was transported to a local hospital for observation. Neuman’s mother reported later in the evening that the driver was on the mend.

Neuman’s positive news was welcomed by all in the sprint car community after losing USAC racer Justin Owen in a qualifying crash at Lawrenceburg Speedway over the weekend.

See also
This Weekend in Dirt: Rico Abreu's Big Win Overshadowed by USAC Fatality

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

The debut of Flo Racing Night in America two seasons ago was an unbridled success. The debut of the first full season of the High Limits Racing Series was anything but. The fact that Jake Neuman didn’t die in his wreck was frankly the highlight of a bloated, low-energy and glitchy stream that was not worthy of the field of sprint cars assembled in Kansas this Tuesday night. The racing on-track was decent, but Flo’s coverage didn’t convey that.

We’ll start with the handling of Neuman’s accident. Flo Racing put on a masterclass of how to handle potential tragedy at the racetrack back in January when Ashton Torgerson had his near-death experience at the Chili Bowl. Tuesday was a polar opposite demonstration. The camera crew did cut away from the accident quickly, but after that viewers were left with nothing but silence and intermittent commercials for damn near 15 minutes before getting an actual update on the stream.

No, the booth should not speculate in situations like these. But total silence does nothing but send viewers scrambling to social media for information. A simple explanation that rescue workers were on scene and that updates would be provided as soon as they were available is all that needed to be said, but that was lacking despite having two seasoned announcers in the booth.

I will concede that veteran Flo Racing personality Blake Anderson made an astute observation about the silence from the Flo booth, which is provided below.

If nothing else, this should be a lesson learned for Flo that ensuring their commentators need to have a separate feed for the viewing audience moving forward. Events like these may not be “made for TV,” but the streaming audience definitely outnumbers those at the track. They need to be provided insight into what they’re not capable of seeing without being in the grandstand.

Now, as for the two seasoned reporters, if there is one single, solitary thing that Flo Racing and the High Limit team take away from this evening, it’s that the Welch family has no business doing the call for major-league sprint car racing. Vince and Dillon couldn’t hold a candle to the energy and expertise that USAC’s Chet Christner and the Outlaws’s Johnny Gibson routinely bring to this sport, making an already lengthy racing program even more sedate.

Even if there are fans out there willing to disagree with my assessment of their monotone performance, the fact remains that Tuesday’s booth included such gems as Donny Schatz being from Fargo, North Carolina and Bill Balog from North Pole, Arkansas. Part of the reason Flo Racing Night in America has worked as well as it has is because the team calling those races from DirtonDirt are the literal definition of late model experts. Sprint car racing demands sprint car announcers. The NASCAR guys got thrown a bone and they choked on it.

Yes, the extended red flag to care for Neuman played a part in this, but facts are facts, and the facts are that XR’s Workin’ Man Nationals program at Volunteer Speedway ran everything from hot laps to the checkered flag of the feature before the first High Limit heat race went green. The reality is XR did a far better job with their new series this Tuesday than the much-hyped High Limit tour did.

On that note, I hope for their sake that XR was able to make money on Tuesday’s race. The feature’s battle between Madden and McDowell was very entertaining and the field of cars was very strong, but the grandstands looked cavernously empty, especially considering how jam-packed they were for the Kyle Larson Late Model Challenge less than a week ago.

I get the rationale behind the race, but maybe an example of going to the well one time too many?

One last note on the time of the evening’s race programs. Even before the Neuman wreck delayed proceedings at Lakeside, the XR program at Volunteer was well ahead of the High Limit program, blowing through hot laps and qualifying at a much quicker pace. The amount of time wasted at sprint car races on push starts could move the needle on improving this country’s GDP.

If I had one complaint about XR’s again, superior Tuesday night racing program, it’s the “dirt dominator” exercise that they employed to set the front of the field. Rather than running a traditional dash, XR opted to use a bracket to have one-on-one races between two cars do a survive and advance to set the first four rows. Stop overthinking here. If you’re going to run a dash, run a dash. A two-lap race isn’t going to do anything for late models, even if there’s just two cars on track. 

Dirt Racing’s Hero of the Day

The shoutout goes to Scelzi, if for no other reason than his decision on the final choose-cone restart of the night was ultimately what landed him a $50,000 paycheck. The choose cone was probably the one new wrinkle to the High Limit tour that actually worked as intended this Tuesday night.

Dirt Racing’s Victim of the Night

There’s no doubt it’s Abreu, who had the High Limits race in the bag until his flat tire with five laps to go. The power move he put on Courtney to take the lead in Tuesday’s feature was rocketship worthy.

Fortunately, Scelzi didn’t number among the victims. Had the asinine decision by race officials to throw the yellow flag for debris on track as the leader was literally on the frontstretch coming to take the checkered flag decided this race, it’d have been fitting, but still nauseating.

Numbers Game

2

Dirt tracks that ran oval-track racing programs in the U.S. Tuesday night (per MyRacePass, Race Monitor and Speedhive)

79

The nation’s largest car count Tuesday night, the Heartland of America Showdown at Lakeside.

$50,000

The nation’s largest purse Tuesday night, awarded to the Heartland of America Showdown winner at Lakeside (Scelzi).

Up Next: Frontstretch will be back Thursday morning (April 13) with coverage of the weekly Wednesday micro sprint race at Millbridge as well as the opening round of the RUSH late model Battle of the Bay in Delaware. 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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Ron

Regarding the streaming announcers also announcing via to PA to the fans in the stands — it shouldn’t be too tough to cut off the PA portion while continuing to provide audio to the streaming broadcast.

Duane

It is way past time to have announcers for streaming separate from the tracks. I have been to over 100 different sprint car tracks, from show places to well you know. And one thing I found with all tracks is that sitting in the stands during the race the announcers can’t be heard.
And between races all we need from the announcers is line ups, number of laps, how many will qualify, etc. Just K.I.S.S. Track announcers. Call the race for streaming but at the track all I need is a glorified Public Announcer. And can we read lineups before the cars are pushed off and get engine noise.

Mike Kalasnik

Since the writers of these articles never interact with the people who comment I’m mostly just talking to nobody but anyway…

Yes the Flo coverage of the High Limit Sprints wasnt the best. The video was choppy for the first hour or two. I’d imagine the cell service wasnt very good or the bandwidth was being eaten up by the capacity crowd so, changes had to be made there. It also took FOREVER to run. Not sure why they needed a last chance race to start, then a C and B main and a dash? I also couldnt find anything about the last chance race or a C main on the High Limits rules page. The announcers also never explained the format. I also dislike dash races as they are a waste of time IMO. As for the commentating, I didnt have much issue with it. Dylan is a dirt midget guy. he still races. His dad is a WELL seaoned commentator with A TON of TV experience. It helped the broadcast in ways. Why slam the guy for trying this out? Ive heard A LOT worse. I doubt the WOO would let their announcer do this either.

As far as Bulls Gap… not 100% sure why they did a Tues race when they JUST had one Sat, then have one Fri & Sat. My guess is they figured enough teams would be around the area, and that in case Fri or Sat have rain, fans can see more racing. Ill be there Fri/Sat and expect a capacity crowd. But you just asked people to probably take off work for a day last week for the Larson promoted race so, will they do it 2 weeks in a row? Probably not.

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