Cheaters Race: Relaxing the Rules Results in Wild Cars

Cheaters Race: Relaxing the Rules Results in Wild Cars

Last Saturday, Mountain View Raceway put on a Cheaters Race at the Spring City, Tennessee dirt oval. The result can be summed up in one word: wild.

Teams had to abide by all the regular rules in their classes, with three big exceptions. No body rules. No tire or wheel rules. No weight rules.

The most apparent result of this were the large, sometimes enormous, sail panels. For veteran racers such as Barry Goodman in the late models, it brought back many fond memories.

“It was about 20 years when I ran a full wing, at Wartburg [Speedway in Tennessee],” said Goodman, of Spring City, Tennessee. “We also ran them at Boyd’s [Speedway in Georgia], and we got to win a few of them. It felt like a go-kart.”

Barry Goodman.

You may be wondering how teams adjusted their setups. Open wheel modified driver Scott Shelton sought advice from a class that knows a thing or two about wings.

“I got a buddy who races sprint cars,” Shelton, of Sparta, Tennessee, said. “We spent a lot of time on the phone and set it up like a sprint car and made it turn off the back end.”

Scott Shelton.

The strategy seemed to have worked. Shelton won his division’s feature. The runner-up to Shelton, Kyle Shadden, detailed some of the changes he made.

“I took weight off [the car], put on sideboards and a large sideboard on the back and a spoiler on the nose,” said Shadden, of Dayton, Tennessee. “[To loosen the car up, I did] spring changes, some bar changes I normally wouldn’t do, and more stagger than I normally would run.”

Kelby Norwood won the late model class with a towering sideboard. After hot laps, he was out of breath.

“Unbelievably fast,” Norwood, of Athens, Tennessee, said. “The car would go anywhere you would want it, and you didn’t even have to let off. The faster I went, the better it wanted to go. I had to trust that it was really going to do what it was supposed to.”

The Cheaters Race stirred up conversation in the racing community. One of its biggest proponents, Kelby’s father, Shannon Norwood, felt that the relaxed rules are a good thing for the sport.

“This takes me back to the ’80s, when guys were creative, not cookie-cutter,” said Shannon. “A set of tires is over $1,000. An engine [is] $30,000-plus. We spent maybe $250 [on aero] and we can outrun big motors. The biggest thing, though, it gets people excited again about being at the track, because East Tennessee is lacking in excitement.”

Shannon Norwood.