Stock car racing: Infection, clot put Hearn on sidelines
Normally, when Brett Hearn makes news, it’s because of something he’s done on a race track.
But last weekend, what happened off the track pushed race results to the back burner.
Hearn spent four days in Saratoga Hospital after an infection resulted in a blood clot near his liver.
According to a source who is close to the Hearn family, Hearn had been “sick-in-bed sick” for most of the week, but still traveled from his home in Sussex, N.J., to Malta to race at Albany-Saratoga Speedway last Friday night.
The trip to the track made Hearn even sicker, and he finally decided to go to the hospital, where he was quickly admitted.
While he was in the hospital and tests were being taken, the blood clot was discovered and he was put on blood thinners, as well as antibiotics.
Hearn’s fever broke during the night Saturday, and he remained at the hospital until doctors were certain that the clot had dissipated.
“When the infection was gone, and the clot was gone, that was the end of it,” the source said. “They think the infection caused the blood clot, which is a better scenario than the blood clot causing the infection.”
Hearn didn’t respond to a request for an interview.
So, Hearn missed last weekend’s racing, as well as Super DIRT Series races at Merritville and I-96 Speedway on Lake Odessa, Mich., during the week.
The next question is, when will he return? The best guess is that he will be back behind the wheel in time for Thursday’s Mr. Dirt Track USA race at Lebanon Valley, which pays $17,500 to win.
It will be interesting to see how DIRTcar handles Hearn’s absences from the Supet DIRT Series races. Hearn was just one point behind Matt Sheppard before he became ill. The DIRT rule book has an ambiguously worded provision that states, “Any Platimun member driver unable to compete because of unforeseen circumstances may qualify for show-up points,” but there’s no further explanation.
A bad idea
When the talk turns to low car counts, the topic of conversation is usually The Ridge. But how about the numbers for Tuesday night’s Super DIRT Series race in Michigan?
First of all, who thought it was a good idea to run in Michigan? I-96 Speedway runs everything from UMP modifieds to AMA flat-track motorcycle races to mud bogs, but why bother to bring in dirt modifieds, which are based in the Northeast?
The show drew 16 cars, which really isn’t that outrageous, when you consider the trek. According to Yahoo, it’s 628 miles and just under 10 hours from downtown Schenectady to Lake Odessa, Mich., and the most direct route cuts through Canada, so remember to bring your passport or enhanced license.
Danny Johnson made history by winning the first-ever Super DIRT Series race in Michigan. He said that the track, which is a half-mile, reminded him of Rolling Wheels.
Big week ahead
Two major races are on the area schedule next week.
First up is the ROC Tour at The Ridge on Tuesday. The 60-lap race will pay $4,000 to win, and will be the last big show that co-promoters Mike Romano and Jake Spraker hold before “turning in the keys” to the facility at the end of the season.
The 602 sportsman will also be on the card, and admission will be $15.
According to Romano, the list of invading drivers expected include Ryan Godown, Jimmy Horton, all three Gypsum team drivers, Jimmy Phelps, Matt Sheppard and Stewart Friesen.
Then, Lebanon Valley will hold the Mr. Dirt Track USA race on Thursday. Mr. DIRT carries one of the biggest purses for a short-track race in the Northeast, all because promoter Howie Commander wanted to one-up the late Alex Friesen many years ago. When Friesen announced that he was going to pay $17,000 to win the Summer Nationals at Ramsomville, Commander upped Mr. Dirt to $17,500, and it’s been there ever since.
Here’s an interesting bit of trivia from Mr. Dirt. In 1999, Ken Tremont Jr. got the win, with Bobby Varin second and Tim Dwyer third. Varin was driving the Harrell Trucking 35, and Dwyer was behind the wheel of the Gable Motorsports No. 1.
Around the tracks
u More first-time winners at Albany-Saratoga last Friday, as Donnie Corellis won the modified feature, and Rocky Warner made a trip to victory lane after the budget sportsman feature.
If I’m not mistaken, the win was Corellis’ first at any track other than Lebanon Valley.
Warner became the 16th different winner in the budget sportsman division this year, and that number still could grow, because drivers like Mike Tholin, Scott Duell and Jack Gentile still haven’t won this season.
u Stewart Friesen notched his seventh win of the year last Saturday night at Fonda Speedway, and now has a 144-point lead over Ronnie Johnson in the race (if you can use that word) for the track championship. If Friesen finishes in the top 10 this weekend, he’ll sew up the title.
u The Empire Super Sprints are on the racing card tonight at Albany-Saratoga Speedway. The last time the ESS cars pulled in was in 2009, when Steve Poirier won the feature.
u Joe Williams of Scotia and Cody Sargen of Greenfield Center keep knocking on the door at Devil’s Bowl. In the Twin 20s last Friday, Williams finished fourth in the first feature and second in the other, while Sargen had back-to-back third-place finishes. Sargen has never won a race on the Vermont asphalt.