Views & Notes: May 2015 Edition | Performance Racing Industry
Views & Notes: May 2015 Edition
By Dan Schechner on May 7, 2015

* Numbers Game: Some people just aren’t good at math. I include myself on that list. As the numbers get bigger and the calculations more complex, my mind usually wanders onto more enjoyable topics, like anything else.

But now, thanks to a dedicated group of motorsports professionals, parents and educators in Central Pennsylvania, there is hope yet for the numerically challenged.

Recently, a pair of programs kicked off at Monroe and South Mountain elementary schools in which students are rewarded for spending a little extra time on their multiplication tables. Under the Final Laps Math Fact Challenge, an additional 10 minutes of after-school arithmetic earns each student one lap. After completing 10 laps, the child receives a $10 gift certificate for the June 6 “School’s Out Night” event at Williams Grove Speedway, featuring Sportsman, 358 Late Models and Street Stocks.

So what prompted the initiative?

“It was a collective idea among our staff as we were discussing how to get new fans involved in the sport,” Williams Grove PR director Kevin Maloy told us. “If you can get them in the door, nine times out of 10 they’ll come back if they have a good time. So we looked at a similar program that was being run by a local baseball team, only they were doing it with reading. We decided to go down a slightly different path with math. So we got together with the Parent/Teacher Organization at Monroe and then South Mountain, and we just tailored it to their needs using slightly different websites for their programs. The reception has been outstanding so far—you saw some of the excitement already with the kickoff [last month].”

Indeed, local driver Nicole Bower was on hand at Monroe, along with her 410 Sprint Car, to help announce the program and interact with the kids. Another driver or two will distribute the certificates during each school’s fair in late spring.

In terms of expansion, Maloy said he’d like to get more students involved in the coming year. “With the resources we had available, two schools was a good way to start,” he added. “But we have the framework in place, so it’s just a matter of setting them up with the right websites and getting them going.”

* Finish Lines: Short track racing lost a true pioneer with the passage in late March of Eldora Speedway founder Earl Baltes. Born in 1921, Baltes was a well-known local bandleader and nightclub owner before turning his attention to racing in the mid-1950s, when he opened Eldora. Originally built to a quarter-mile, the track was soon expanded to three-eighths and then, in 1958, to the half-mile it is today.

Over the years it’s played host to a number of watershed moments, including the Eldora 500, the World 100 (whose inaugural purse in 1971 of $4000-to-win was unheard of at the time), and the Eldora Million in 2001. Baltes retired from race promotion in 2004 when Eldora was sold to Sprint Cup champ Tony Stewart, completing a remarkable 50-year run at the helm of one of racing’s iconic venues.

Earl Baltes, who was inducted into the National Sprint Car, National Dirt Late Model, and USAC Halls of Fame, among others, was 93.

Jim Beattie, who in the 1970s founded ATI Performance Products, was known as “a mechanical genius” with a deep-rooted love of cars. “There was nothing with wheels that Jim couldn’t make go faster,” said his wife Lynn. “Jim liked to go fast.” He also liked to build things, including the ATI Black Magic Funny Car that made history at the Summernationals in Englishtown, New Jersey, as well as a harmonic balancer that is used on NASCAR engines to this day.

In all, Beattie holds 11 patents, with more in the works. As for what he leaves behind, it should be evident by the scores of race cars sporting ATI decals on drag strips from coast to coast.

Jim Beattie, who also left us in late March, was 73.

About the Author
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Dan Schechner is the Editor of Performance Racing Industry Magazine.
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