Steve Francis: “There’s too much gray area right now.”
Steve Francis is very frustrated with the current direction of the sport. He voiced some of his concerns in an interview below.
“The no groovin’, no sippin’ to me… Yeah it’s easier. It’s way easier, if you want to buy new tires every night. I think that’s one of the dumbest rules we’ve ever come up with,” Steve Francis told RacingNews.co from the pit lane.
“Then we’re doing 20’s and 40’s out here. At Eldora, we were three 20’s and a 40 right rear. Week before that, we were 1300 and 1425. Week before that we were 1300, 1350.”
All these people gotta get on the same page.
“All these people gotta get on the same page. All of our rule makers, have somehow gotta figure out how to enforce the same set of rules. Week in, week out.”
“Bob Memmer, we all argued with him. As racers, every one of us did. But he did have us, about nationwide on the same set of rules, that were enforced the same way. Back then, we had 36 inch deck heights. You know, not all these lips and all this stuff on these noses.”
Bob Memmer was the founder of UMP. From day one, Memmer had the goal of unifying dirt late model rules. He utilized tracks to achieve his goal, putting the local tracks on the same set of rules for weekly shows.
Today, it’s still a hard thing to accomplish, they’re trying. At the start of the 2017 season, more than ever, the effort is there. The sanctioning bodies got together and created the Dirt Late Model Council. This group puts all of the rule makers in the same room to steer the direction of the sport, as a whole.
Though, just because you can get them in the same room, doesn’t mean they’ll agree. Such as the case with the tire rules specifically. The ‘no grooving, no siping’ rule was suppose to go into effect nationwide. At least, that’s what the Dirt Late Model Council decided.
Related: Earl Pearson Jr talks tire rules
“The bodies on these cars right now… We used to have 36 foot enclosed trailers, two cars go in the top. Now, they’re 40 foot enclosures and you can’t get two cars in the top. The bodies have grown that much. You gotta take all the body braces off, just to get the car to go in the trailer.”
“That’s huge. The tops of the trailers have had to get so much higher to get the cars in.”
“There’s no way that shit’s right!”
That doesn’t mean every car in the pit area fails tech. Dirt late model tech lines are fairly minimal in examination.
These series and tracks don’t have the staff to confirm the every inch of the car is up to spec with every individual line of the rule book. This isn’t NASCAR, the series doesn’t have laser beams to tech the bodies. However, as the dirt late model bodies get more and more out of control, a laser beam machine doesn’t sound like such a horrible idea.
Each series or track picks a handful of things and specific area’s to strictly enforce. Sometimes, those are different things from series to series. Some races, the cars look uglier than others. Twisted noses, jacked right side skirts and large tub like dips in the deck. Year after year, those things aren’t getting any better.
“It’s all the same [for all of us] so it doesn’t matter. But it’s by the rules that were written. We used to be 36 inches high on the deck, now we’re 39 inches. What the hell happened to 36 inches?”
They were in there before and they made us a whole lot closer.
“The rulebook has gradually gotten things deleted out of it. They were in there before and they made us a whole lot closer. Eldora, they enforced a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Here, they’ll be stricter on two other things.”
“There’s pictures of cars at Eldora, you would have had to take both quarter panels off, to get it to go in the trailer. But, they ran the race that way. I credit the crews for getting by with it.”
“Sometimes, some of the tech guys have gotten lax on what we’re gunna enforce and what we’re not gunna enforce. It puts too much on the tech guys, instead of just having it black and white. There’s too much gray area right now.”
I just don’t know what happened to the rules we raced at 8 years ago.
“I think the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series does probably as good or better of a job than anybody in the country, of enforcing the rules. They do a good job of enforcing the rules we’re racing by now. I just don’t know what happened to the rules we raced at 8 years ago.”
Author: Shane Walters