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Encore Presentation: CNN PRESENTS: Dirt Track Warriors
Aired July 2, 2006 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Great stories make great television.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get down on the ground!
ANNOUNCER: CNN PRESENTS, winner, 2005 Peabody Award and the IDA's Best Documentary Series.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The legend.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't like to race. I just like to win.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You either love it or you hate it.
O'BRIEN: The champ.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they race me clean I race them clean. If they race me dirty, I race them dirty.
O'BRIEN: The rookie.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't believe I'm going that fast sometimes.
O'BRIEN: Three men locked in a showdown; 30 million fans.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eldora! 100!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the biggest race of the year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 35th Annual World 100 Eldora Speedway takes the green.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dirt track warriors, the battle for the big prize.
O'BRIEN: Before NASCAR, they raced on dirt. They still do. On 800 tracks in 49 states; 30 million fans every year; an estimated billion-dollar a year business. Dirt track racing is the biggest sport you've never heard of.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a lot action all the time.
So close, any seat in the house, you're right on top of the action; the dirt flying in the air. There's dirt in your beer, dirt in your hamburger. Some of it's in your face. Literally, the dirt's in your face when you leave.
SCOTT BLOOMQUIST, DIRT TRACK RACER: You're running sideways and you're on the gas and you're throwing dirt over the fence.
JOSH RICHARDS, DIRT TRACK RACER: I can't believe we're going that fast sometimes.
BLOOMQUIST: And the noise and violence at contact.
CHUB FRANK, DIRT TRACK RACE: Whew, exciting.
O'BRIEN: Among the fan favorite, legendary bad boy Scott Bloomquist.
DOC LEHMAN, RADIO SHOW CO-HOST: Some people call him the man, the myth, the mystery.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will be Scott Bloomquist going to victory lane.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People say that Scott Bloomquist is the greatest dirt late model rider, ever.
O'BRIEN: Chubzilla, Chub Frank.
LEHMAN: He's the rags to riches story.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: $20,000 feature.
LEHMAN: He's a family man; he's a grandfather, and if he doesn't win they don't buy groceries. They don't pay the rent.
O'BRIEN: And the kid, 17-year-old Josh Richards.
LEHMAN: He's an up and coming superstar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here he is, Kid Rocket!
LEHMAN: This is one kid that has the natural born, God-given talent.
O'BRIEN: But anybody can race on dirt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here at Wayne County Speedway, the first of three nights of racing, we sure do appreciate you coming out.
LEHMAN: Dirt track racing is Americana. It's grassroots, it's blue collar and all across the United States.
O'BRIEN: Doc Lehman has been involved with dirt track racing for more than 40 years. He co-hosts an Internet radio show on the sport.
LEHMAN: Dirt racing is for anybody and everybody that can build a race a car and get out there and compete. TIM LEE, EDITOR, "DIRT LATE-MODEL": Short track Saturday night, dirt track racing is like the summertime equivalent of Friday night football.
O'BRIEN: Tim Lee is editor of "Dirt Late-Model" magazine.
LEE: In smaller towns, it's a center of community, where people gather and for local racing they go watch their cousin, or brother, or mechanic out there doing their thing. And when the big races come to town, they go to see heroes, like your Scott Bloomquist, Chub Franks, and whoever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Race fans, how about a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Speedway welcome for Tony Stewart!
O'BRIEN: The now NASCAR driver Tony Stewart tips his hat to the skill of dirt drivers. After all, he got his start on dirt, and now owns one of the most celebrated dirt tracks in the country. Eldora Speedway in Ohio.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Being on a dirt track, a lot of times is like being on a gravel road. If you go just a little bit too fast the car is going to slide. If you hit the gas too hard, it spins the tires and kicks the rocks up. If you try to stop too fast, you skid. You lock up the brakes. That's what makes driving on dirt more technical.
O'BRIEN: Technical, indeed. Stewart wiped out the night we saw him race at Eldora.
BLOOMQUIST: Me, personally, most of the NASCAR races, I'll turn them on, I'll be asleep after the first 20, and hope somebody wakes me up for the last 10.
O'BRIEN: Bloomquist, Frank and The Kid, drive flimsy, high horsepower racing machines called dirt-late model.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's one of most exotic race cars on the planet. Cutting edge. It's innovative. With motor, they're about 2,200 pounds. They're light as a feather. They're that fast. They're faster Nextel Cup car.
O'BRIEN: The race every dirt-late model driver wants to win happens every September at Eldora.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone that races a dirt-late model, that's the Holy Grail with them is to win the World 100.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Racers from Georgia, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Illinois, all met in this one place. This old track in the middle of a cornfield in Ohio.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eldora! World 100! Yeah!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The World 100 is like a gathering of the tribes. People come from coast to coast, from North, South, East, West, and even out of the United States. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tony Stewart!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fans are like nothing I've seen anywhere.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eldora Speedway all the way!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These people, they live it.
MUSIC, SINGING: Love shack, baby
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I come up here for a race and the party. I love Eldora. I will not go to a NASCAR race if you paid to go to a NASCAR race.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All-night partying going on in the campgrounds.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good drinking, a lot of fun. Good racing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First time I was here, I came here, I got hit by a boulder. Hit my cheek. It was all swollen. It is a great time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's partying in the morning, the daytime, the evening.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it starts all over until the next day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whew!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you run in NASCAR you want to win Daytona. If you drive a dirt-late model you want to win the world 100 at Eldora.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't care what it pays, they want the trophy. It's bragging rights, it's a career maker.
O'BRIEN: Scott Bloomquist has won the World three times.
BLOOMQUIST: I feel confident wit car and I love racing here. So I'm looking forward to it.
O'BRIEN: Chub Frank is the defending champ.
FRANK: Definitely, if we could win two in a row that would be awesome.
O'BRIEN: Josh Richards hopes to qualify for the first time.
RICHARDS: Oh that would definitely be the race to win.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 28 charter members of the fraternal order of go fast, will take the green. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you win the World 100, you pretty much can put your name at the top of the list, as saying I was the best dirt-late model driver for that year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: History is about to be made at the 35th Annual World 100 at Eldora Speedway takes the green!
O'BRIEN: Far away from the noise and the dirt, the road to Eldora and the World 100 passes through heartland places like Mooresberg (ph), Tennessee. This is the family compound of Scott Bloomquist.
BLOOMQUIST: You know, I love coming home. I like to kick ass and win races but when it's over, I like go home.
This is kind of like the place to get away from it all, where no one even can find you. Kind of the contrast from racing.
O'BRIEN: A contrast, too, from his carefully crafted outlaw image.
BLOOMQUIST: This skull, the shackles and chains, the no weak links, it's a symbol of strength. You see a skull on something you pretty much know not to [ bleep ] with it. Right?
How's it going over there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's good.
O'BRIEN: Bloomquist will certainly go down in dirt racing history. 2005 marked his 25th year of racing. He has more than 400 first-place finishes. In one year, an astonishing 35 wins in 44 starts.
BLOOMQUIST: That will work. Let's go with it.
I bring an intensity to the racetrack that you're going have to race all day long, and if you outrun me, you'll have earned it.
O'BRIEN: Bloomquist grew up in southern California. Unlike most dirt drivers he was not born into the sport, but got hooked at age 16. More than 25 years later, Bloomquist is a living dirt track legend in the hills of east Tennessee. His father Ron, a retired airline pilot, moved the family there to give Scott a chance to grow as a racer. Surfer dude meets hillbilly.
BLOOMQUIST: I felt like an alien. I go down to the local swimming pool, and I got pink and light blue on my shorts, and obviously they're looking at you like what is this?
O'BRIEN: What began way $3,000 car has grown into a successful family business. Sponsorships, a paid crew,
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Illinois. O'BRIEN: Fan club.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kentucky.
O'BRIEN: And $200,000 worth of merchandise sales a year. Scott's mother, Georgie.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We didn't know it was ever going to get this big. Dirt wasn't this big back then. It was just a hob pip something fun to go do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Varoom, varoom!
O'BRIEN: : Chub Frank run as much leaner operation in Bear Lake, Pennsylvania, near the New York border. He was driving on dirt before he was in school.
FRANK: I was born in to it I guess you could say, and I sat in my uncle's lap when I was four, but by the time I was five, I was driving by myself.
O'BRIEN: Mainly at the dirt track down the road, owned by his father, Jerry, Stateline Speedway.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I taught him everything he knows.
You know, really, he took to it. It didn't have much to do with me, other than we had the racetrack and I made a racing bum out of him, basically.
O'BRIEN: Barnstorming the region, he became known as the shoestring traveler. A man who did a lot with a little.
FRANK: When we were traveling in the early '90s and stuff, we doing it with an old Suburban and an open trailer. The Suburban had like 260,000 miles on it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it was terrible to drive in it.
O'BRIEN: And his wife Mary suffered along with him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The air conditioning didn't work and the engine overheated, and you couldn't put your feet on the floor, because your feet would burn up.
FRANK: We were racing with them guys and actually beating them with limited funds.
O'BRIEN: With success came a new nickname.
FRANK: Chubzilla, every body has a nickname, in racing, just about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, what is a Chubzilla?
FRANK: I guess he's kind of aggressive, but likable guy. How's that?
O'BRIEN: : There's still some shoestring traveler in him, though. Frank owns all his own equipment but with no big money sponsor, he must win races to survive. This year, there's added pressure to pay for a new garage. A fire the winter before destroyed the old one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's what our -- what our garage used to look like. He lost everything. All his trophies. All his checks, our fire. That face there tells all his emotions. It's a very disappointed face.
FRANK: We'd been trying to get caught back up with getting this new garage done and everything. And it's actually starting to show now a little bit. We're struggling a little bit, but we need to get back to just doing racing, and not worry about everything else. Then we can, you know, we can make some money and compete with them guys.
O'BRIEN: To do that frank relies on an unpaid volunteer crew headed by his cousin Boom, a landscape when he's not under the car. Scott Bloomquist doesn't have those problems.
JOSH RICHARDS, DIRT TRACK RACER: He's got Bob Miller as a backer. He really doesn't have any financial worries. I'd like to find a guy like that that just has an open checkbook I guess. It would make my life a lot easier.
What are you going to do? Huh?
O'BRIEN: Also born in to the racing life is 17-year-old Josh Richards, Kid Rocket. Named after his father, Mark's ultra-successful business, Rocket Chassie (ph), Shinston (ph), West Virginia.
RICHARDS: Feels like that's what I'm born to do. Just I'm here to race.
O'BRIEN: Josh learned to drive at the family owned track, Interstate 79 Speedway. His mother, Tina.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I knew they had to make adjustments. He sat on a pillow, they had to move the seat forward. You could barely see his head sticking up.
RICHARDS: Every week I'd get in trouble for going too fast. I was like seven years old, I'd always get in trouble for speeding.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He'd come by me going 70 miles an hour. I'd have to get out and have a talking with him a little bit.
RICHARDS: If I want something with wheels or it run, I want to have it wide open all the time. Four wheeler, golf cart, you name it. I don't know why. I just have to have it wide open all the time.
O'BRIEN: Josh is an honor student at Lincoln High School in Shinston (ph), but he'd rather be racing. RICHARDS: When I'm sitting there in school I'm just thinking about what else I can be doing, I could be racing or I could be at the shop working on the car. That's the only thing I knew, was just racing.
O'BRIEN: Josh's father, Mark, bank rolls his son's career $150,000 a year, just to stay on the road. Some question whether Josh would make it without his father's money.
BLOOMQUIST: The only way to know that is if his dad pulled the plug, and he had to do it all. If you pull the plug, you'll find out how bad somebody wants it.
O'BRIEN: With the best equipment dad can buy, Josh is known in some circles as the Silver Spoon driver.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I really wouldn't call him that, but he's worked for it. He was with me every summer. So you know, he kind of gave up a lot to be with his dad. So I'm going to do what I can do to help him.
O'BRIEN: Fathers and sons, an echo throughout this sport.
BLOOMQUIST: We flew back here to race in a Log Cabin, in Virginia. I sat up on top of the hill with my dad. I'm 16 years old and already been racing some. He said, so you think you could run with these guys?
I said, in one of those cars, absolutely. He look at me and said [bleep ] and walked off.
O'BRIEN: On the road to Eldora -- a major stop, the USA Nationals, at Cedar Lake Speedway, Wisconsin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to miss the race!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing to do, huh? How you doing?
O'BRIEN: Scott Bloomquist is late. Chub Frank, Josh Richards and the other drivers are already prepping their cars. Bloomquist and his crew have to hustle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Already warmed up?
O'BRIEN: Just getting to a race is a grind.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be right back.
BLOOMQUIST: Always got to prepare two race cars. They've got to both be set up for where you're going. Right now we're changing engines; got the rear end out of the car. We'll assess all our other hard parts. Tire preparation. I'll have all of my shocks and springs are all off the car. I'll be re-doing those, I'll have different ones on. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's the part of the loft that's hard. Even when we're home, my husband is constantly working.
O'BRIEN: Bloomquist's wife Katrina is used to a life in which he barely sees her husband.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He practically sleeps under the car. If he doesn't go over his car with a fine-tooth comb, we're not going to win.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like one of the first helmets he ever wore.
O'BRIEN: Mary Frank, too, sees little of her husband.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I see him in the mornings. We have our coffee together and he comes up around 6 o'clock for dinner, for a half an hour. If it's a good night, I'll see him around 7:30, 8 o'clock. That's how it is all week long. It's a lot of work for him.
O'BRIEN: Not to mention the travel.
FRANK: This is our home away from home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yep.
FRANK: We got a dinette, we have couches, refrigerator. A lot of junk food in there. We just went on a swing out West, a little over 4,000 miles. Pretty much drove the whole thing by myself, plus go racing. Work on the cars. It can wear you out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was the first year I met him. He was in this car.
O'BRIEN: Mary Gramone (ph) did not know Chub Frank was a racer when they met at a Country Western bar 20 years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was introduced, and I thought, oh, big deal. Yeah, hi. We went out and danced, and he actually gave me this great big fat juicy kiss on the dance floor, and after that, I was just -- it was, I don't know, we had me hooked. We've been together about 20 years. Been married about three and a half, so it was kinds of hard getting him reeled in, but I did it.
BLOOMQUIST: How's your back?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's OK.
O'BRIEN: Twenty years for the Bloomquists, too. Not always together.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I was in college and Scott first moved to Tennessee, I was working at a tanning salon, and Scott came in. That's how we met. We dated for five and a half years, in our early -- our late teens, early 20s and were separated for 13 years. We just need to I guess, go our own ways, and probably hadn't sewed our wild oats yet. O'BRIEN: During that 13-year separation, Scott was winning a lot of races and dating a lot of women.
BLOOMQUIST: A lot of women, a lot of drinking. Just doing some things that weren't focused.
O'BRIEN: One failed marriage and an affair with a Knoxville stripper, and a misdemeanor cocaine possession conviction in 1994.
BLOOMQUIST: And you know, something, I think it took that to acknowledge the feelings that I had. I mean, sometimes I think people go through life and don't even know what love is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And got back together, in 2001, and got married. Been married four years. It's a dream come true for me. Really, it's a fairy tale story.
RICHARDS: Are you ready?
O'BRIEN: Josh Richards that zero interest in this kind of fairy tale.
RICHARDS: Right now I'm focused on racing. If I was focus and girls all the time it would hurt me racing, and my entire life basically, probably.
O'BRIEN: At least that's what he tells us. Mark Richards has a dream for his son.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Try it.
O'BRIEN: He believes dirt is too much work, for too little money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a tournament.
In dirt racing, he's in the top level. So what's the next thing? What would be the next goal? It would have to be pavement.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is NASCAR a dream?
RICHARDS: Yeah. That would be the ultimate goal. But wherever I end up is where I end up, and as long as I'm racing something, I'll be happy.
O'BRIEN: Now he, Scott Bloomquist, Chub Frank and all the others must get psyched for the heat at Cedar Lake.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody tucked in nice and tight, side by side when they hit that first turn, that's where they go!
O'BRIEN: A surprise at the USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway, Wisconsin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at Josh Richards!
O'BRIEN: Seventeen-year-old Josh Richards finished first in his qualifying race, beating the likes of legendary Scott Bloomquist.
BLOOMQUIST: Tell you what, the biggest thing I learned is that I should have been here for practice.
O'BRIEN: The texture of the dirt is so different from his last race here, it's throwing Bloomquist for a loop.
BLOOMQUIST: I'm going to work on some tires tonight and I'll be ready tomorrow.
O'BRIEN: Chub Frank did so poorly in his heat, he to win a consolation race just to make it in to the final. He'll have to race wide open. Nothing new for Chubzilla.
CHUB FRANK, CAR RACER: We're going to be on the gas going to the front. Because when you start in 17th, you got no place to go, but forward.
O'BRIEN: Frank has always been an aggressive driver. Just ask Scott Bloomquist.
BLOOMQUIST: Chub Frank and I have had some problems in the past. He ended up running over me a couple of times and actually spun me out.
FRANK: It was an accident. I took him out and he thought I did it on purpose.
BLOOMQUIST: And then we had something go on a year ago. He was against the side of my car, and actually, you know, at one time I considered I owed him more than one.
FRANK: There's times that he doesn't remember, but when I was racing, and I was probably more of a no-name, he doored me and knocked me out of the way. But see, I remember all that stuff. So, I don't really think that he owes me. I might still owe him a couple.
O'BRIEN: Here at Cedar Lake, though, Frank may not be the number one thing on Bloomquist's mind. He disclosed some big news.
BLOOMQUIST: We've been wanting to have a child for a while, and almost had given up, and she's pregnant now. So she's almost four months along. So, now we -- we have something else really to live for that you know we're real excited about.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes! We're both excited. It was a surprise. We'd been trying. We'd given up for two years, and it -- after the dream, after winning the show made the dream, we found out we were pregnant, it was wonderful.
O'BRIEN: With a $40,000 first prize, the USA Nationals is a big race.
ANNOUNCER: Richards working on McCraney (ph)!
O'BRIEN: Josh Richards is holding his own with the big boys.
ANNOUNCER: Unbelievable! (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for Kid Rocket...
O'BRIEN: With an anxious father watching, he had battled his way into third place. With nine laps to go, it happened.
ANNOUNCER: Flat tire on the one machine of Josh Richards. Caution flag comes out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pick up the car!
O'BRIEN: A flat tire.
ANNOUNCER: Unbelievably bad break for Kid Rocket.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm telling you, we can't get a break.
O'BRIEN: Minutes later, the same fate for Scott Bloomquist.
ANNOUNCER: Left rear is down on the red zone. He'll go into the pit area to change a hoosier before he comes back out.
ANNOUNCER: White flag out, one left to go.
O'BRIEN: Bloomquist struggled to finish eighth. Richards, 12th. Chub Frank never got out of his end of the pack hole.
ANNOUNCER: Straight away, cruising in, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), it's Dale McDowell!
O'BRIEN: The trophy and the glory belong to Dale McDowell, MacDaddy, from Chickamauga, Georgia. A trophy of sorts for a Bloomquist fan, a flat tire from the race will be the centerpiece of his garage.
BLOOMQUIST: Thank you very much.
O'BRIEN: A month away from the World 100, a time of year when they need to be on top of their game...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who the (explicative deleted) spun out? (explicative deleted).
O'BRIEN: ... all three drivers are struggling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Greatest show in racing this weekend, right here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to the 34th Annual World 100.
O'BRIEN: Finally, the biggest prize in dirt late model racing. The World 100, Eldora Speedway, Ohio, 30,000 fans -- more than 200 drivers. Two days of bounce off the wall...
ANNOUNCER: We got trouble!
O'BRIEN: ... sparks flying racing.
ANNOUNCER: Trouble down the back stretch!
O'BRIEN: Speeds up to 140 miles an hour.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody who's anybody comes to this race.
ANNOUNCER: Kid Rocket.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's happening?
O'BRIEN: There's action day...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got a Matt Miller door panel.
O'BRIEN: ... and night.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eldora Speedway, all the way!
O'BRIEN: On and off the track.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just pay!
O'BRIEN: First order of business for these fans, a Chubzilla thong.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm getting one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the hottest item we have in the trailer right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the men buy them for the women! He signed a few. I know that. Off, not on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I help you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want a thong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want a thong?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want it autographed, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not a problem. There you go. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: Most drivers arrive on Thursday.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thursday night we just get here, you get your spot, and then the evening you spend relaxing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love Chub Frank! O'BRIEN: The next day the talk of the track was Scott Bloomquist's surprise. A new car to commemorate his 25th anniversary of racing.
BLOOMQUIST: Everybody really loves it and we've got our new chrome collectible out this weekend and I think they're going pretty good. I've signed a number of them.
O'BRIEN: Even Josh Richards had to listen to the talk while standing in line to get his pass.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bloomquist has got the silver edition out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Very sharp.
O'BRIEN: Josh arrived a day late while his dad worked on the car.
JOSH RICHARDS, CAR RACER: This line's not too bad.
I went to school. I got out like five minutes early and left to go on a plane and came here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.
O'BRIEN: And how is school?
RICHARDS: It sucks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sucks?
RICHARDS: Other than that, it's all right.
O'BRIEN: On Friday every driver takes two timed laps, 30 seconds of racing determines who advances, and who goes home. Scott Bloomquist gets ready to test the track.
BLOOMQUIST: I'm going to see if they just watered the track. I'll be right back.
Looks like it will be fast.
O'BRIEN: But one of the winningest racers in dirt track history could not foresee what would happen on his first practice lap in his brand new car.
BLOOMQUIST: The car felt great. The car felt so good in turns one and two. Three, I lost the ability to steer the car. I went to turn, front end fell to the ground and went to the right and that was it. Start getting out, and I thought, I'll just sit here a little longer. All of a sudden, wham!
We might have been able to fix the car. I'm sure we could have fixed the car, until that hit. That's the hit that took us out for the rest of the night.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's done. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) said, he can't take one off a trailer, and he doesn't have one. I mean, he's done. He's out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the bad part about it, because you know, we worked our (explicative deleted) off the last two weeks getting ready, and that's just part of it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty sad. A half a lap. I think it's pretty obvious how fast the car was, too.
BLOOMQUIST: Yes, that was a one-race car. Didn't even get to race.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sick. I feel like I'm about to throw up, and about to cry.
BLOOMQUIST: You guys been busy, I hear.
We'll just stay here and turn it into a vacation. What else?
I'm going get on my civilian clothes. That's about all that's left.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the car demolished?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were people clapping and booing. I swear I almost got in a fight with this girl and I'm pregnant.
BLOOMQUIST: It's been one of those weeks. I guess I can have me a few beers. What's that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bob Miller said put that son of a (explicative deleted) in the trailer, here's $200, you boys go and drink beer.
BLOOMQUIST: This comes with racing. This isn't something that happens (UNINTELLIGIBLE), but it just did. So you live with it.
O'BRIEN: Chub Frank has a new car, too. His practice laps put him on edge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The car was really good. The problem was that the motor wasn't running. You get this stuff changed and hope it's fixed. If it's not, we're in trouble.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's see if it looks like there's any water or anything in here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut that other one loose.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again. Again. Again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ran perfect the other night.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's just overly cautious right now. Maybe a little nervous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How bad's Scott's car? Was it bad?
O'BRIEN: Now it's for real. This lap will be timed.
ANNOUNCER: This is Chubzilla, Chub Frank!
O'BRIEN: If Frank's temperamental car does not perform, last year's winner will not be around to defend his title.
ANNOUNCER: The defending winner of this event out to try to improve on round number one. Sparks come off the wall, down in three and four. Good time, 15:879!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has a good time. And that means he'll have a good position tomorrow.
FRANK: Sparks were flying, weren't they?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, they were.
ANNOUNCER: Now out to qualifying, he's only 17 years of age. They call him Kid Rocket, in the number one car, this is Josh Richards from Shinnston, West Virginia. His lap time at 15:946. 1-5-9-4-6.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You did a good job.
RICHARDS: I stood up maybe a little bit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just a little.
O'BRIEN: Josh's time was 14th fastest out of 217 drivers.
RICHARDS: We waited around all day just for those two laps.
O'BRIEN: Both he and Chub are headed for more anxiety the next day.
FRANK: Oh, it's butterfly time. Getting a little nervous. This is about the only place, Eldora, I can get a little nervous.
O'BRIEN: Saturday at Eldora. The 120 drivers left will fight for only 28 places in the World 100. They'll run a series of heat to see who gets in.
TIM LEE, EDITOR, "DIRT LATE MODEL" MAGAZINE: Saturday afternoon, and everybody's filing in, and a lot of people are going around looking at souvenirs and finding drivers that will sign autographs.
O'BRIEN: Defending Champion Chub Frank had the seventh fastest time in yesterday's time trials.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good luck. You're sitting in a good spot.
FRANK: Oh, so far. We'll see how it goes.
ANNOUNCER: Kid Rocket, everybody give him a big hand.
O'BRIEN: 17-year-old Josh Richards is the youngest driver in the field.
ANNOUNCER: Give us a percentage of chances of winning this thing tonight.
RICHARDS: Oh, about 150 percent.
O'BRIEN: Interviews and autograph sessions aside, life on the road produces some must-do tasks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you doing?
FRANK: Taking out the garbage. Nobody else is doing it!
O'BRIEN: And last minute strategy sessions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I give him complete instructions, move by move.
FRANK: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) will be down in the infield. He'll give me hand signals. The guy's right on you. He'll put your hands together like this. If he'll go like this, that means you're pulling away. We've had radios before, and they're OK, but sometimes they're distracting.
O'BRIEN: Hanging over Frank, an incident the week before with the real deal. Don O'Neil.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's Don O'Neil.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes. Your name came up in a conversation we had with Chub Frank.
FRANK: It's not like I took him out intentionally. It was -- when you're taking somebody out intentionally, usually you hit them over here. When you hit them over here, that's usually just a racing deal.
O'BRIEN: Frank wanted to make amends before the first heat.
FRANK: I know, but I just want you to know that I didn't try to do that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I know.
But, you know, when you race hard. It happens once in a while. That's all there is to it.
FRANK: I don't like to see it happen.
O'BRIEN: The pressure is ratcheting up.
FRANK: Oh, I hate this first heat race.
O'BRIEN: Track conditions are a mystery, especially in the first heat, because practice laps are not allowed today. The stakes could not be higher. There are 20 cars in each heat. Only the top four are ensured a place in the final.
ANNOUNCER: We're just seconds from pulling out that first qualifying heat race!
They're lined up side by side, two abreast, out of turn four. Green flag waves them and we are under way! Chub Frank working the high side as he did earlier on, close quarters for Jerry Bowersock, nevertheless, works his way down the back shoot. Shovel time underneath the slide turn, number four it will pay off. Chubzilla goes to the World 100.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that's it? Oh! Yes!
O'BRIEN: With Scott Bloomquist turned spectator, Josh Richards takes the track in heat number two.
ANNOUNCER: They're under way! Darren Miller gets the early lead. Kid Rocket's at second, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and the wall driver's taking evasive action.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Way too close to that wall.
ANNOUNCER: Fields really running wild out of turn number four. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) going to take second? The checkered flag is going to wave this time. It goes to the thriller Darren Miller. Second will go to Kid Rocket, Josh Richards.
O'BRIEN: The teenager is going to his first World 100.
RICHARDS: Hey, I don't know. I'm still kind of out of breath. That was nervous -- 15 laps, I know that.
O'BRIEN: After a year of anticipation, the main event.
The man who created Eldora Speedway out of a cornfield, the man who dreamed up the World 100, the man who sold the track to NASCAR's Tony Stewart, Earl Baltes.
EARL BALTES, CREATED ELDORA SPEEDWAY: This will be the last time I'll ever start the engines for you or tell you to start them. I wish every one of you could win.
Gentlemen, start your engines!
O'BRIEN: But before the race even started, during ceremonial laps around the track, there's trouble for Josh Richards.
Josh Richards had a flat tire on the right rear during the warm- up lap. There must be something because I sent Johnson out there, his tire was low.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, let's go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, Josh Richards has rejoined the field in his number eight starting spot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got something for a spare?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think somebody poked a hole in it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has a flat, we're screwed now.
ANNOUNCER: As the field makes their way around turn number two, the 28 charter members of the fraternal odor of go-fast, and history is about to be made at the 35th Annual World 100 at Eldora Speedway! Chub Frank running in the number five position. Josh Richards, six, Jimmy Owens running seventh.
RICHARDS: So I started at eight, then I was up six, and the car felt really good.
O'BRIEN: Josh's good feeling would not last.
ANNOUNCER: Number one pulls up at the top of turn one, now makes the ill-fated left-hand turn towards the pit area.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He needs a right rear! Get a drive shaft! Drive shaft! Hold the brake! Get off the brake!
RICHARDS: And I just -- working drive shaft, so when I came back in, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) went back out to get some laps.
O'BRIEN: Josh has no hope of winning, but Chub Frank does.
ANNOUNCER: Chubzilla smacks the wall and sparks fly and we continue on. We got trouble! Rick (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Brian (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
The green flag comes back out. The World 100 is back underway.
O'BRIEN: Frank's in the top five, but needs to make his move now.
ANNOUNCER: Chub Frank closes the gap. It's bad. McDowell -- my, my -- gets a good run on the turn. Fires on the afterburners and Shannon Babb, has taken the lead away from Dale McDowell.
O'BRIEN: Halfway through, Shannon Babb, the Monequa (ph) Missile, Monequa (ph), Illinois, zooms into first. By the late stages of the race, the leaders are lapping slower cars.
Frank's only hope of winning now, he navigates the traffic jam better than the drivers ahead of him.
FRANK: It's just like rush hour. I mean, you think that's how I got my all you got my -- for fourth.
ANNOUNCER: Coming out of turn number four, two laps to go signal. He's one mile away from winning the biggest race in history! Final corner! Final time! Winning the 35th Annual World 100, number one going to Shannon Baa (ph)! Second place will go to Dale McDowell, third to Darren Miller. Chub Frank, four.
O'BRIEN: Hold on...
ANNOUNCER: As the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) rolled up on the scale...
O'BRIEN: There's a controversy at the scales.
ANNOUNCER: The 18 car of Shannon Babb, at 10 pounds light at the scales.
O'BRIEN: Ten pounds light on a 2,300 pound car. Shannon Babb is disqualified. Dale McDowell bumps up to first. Chub Frank to third.
FRANK: He just lost $38,000, plus the globes. It's sad. I mean, I feel bad for him. He's probably over there puking right now. I guarantee it. That's why they have rules.
ANNOUNCER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for Dale McDowell!
MCDOWELL: We're seeing it through, I guess disqualification, but it's kind of a bittersweet, but like I said, I really hate to take it this way.
FRANK: It went good. We weren't very good, but we ended up third now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course, I wanted him to win, but you can't always win.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn't as good a car as we had last year for the world, but we'll take it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, thank you. Good race.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: Josh Richards finished 25th in a 28-car field, but for a 17-year-old, it was a major accomplishment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're proud of him. Real proud.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does Josh have to do on Monday?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He got to go to school. He's got go to school is what he's got to do.
RICHARDS: But I'm just glad to even make the race my first time. So, I guess I had a pretty good weekend.
FRANK: The races are over with.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go home!
O'BRIEN: $10,000 richer, not a bad payday, Chub is philosophical before heading out.
FRANK: Nobody wins as much as you lose. You always lose more than you win.
O'BRIEN: He and Mary will spend the night at a truck stop.
FRANK: There's been days that I probably would say that I just need to quit, but then you get to sleep on it and the next day you're ready to go again.
O'BRIEN: The kings of dirt are back on the road, heading for the next race.
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