All Star Weight Rule Proving Very Successful By Scott Hall PONCE INLET, FL - When Bert Emick, president of the All Star Circuit of Champions sprint car series, announced his 1,200 pound minimum sprint car weight rule, critics were quick to ...
All Star Weight Rule Proving Very Successful
By Scott Hall
PONCE INLET, FL - When Bert Emick, president of the All Star Circuit of Champions sprint car series, announced his 1,200 pound minimum sprint car weight rule, critics were quick to question his decision. Now that the All Star season is well underway, the rule has been highly successful and accepted by car owners and drivers alike. Emick's intention was to lower the overall cost of owning a sprint car by eliminating very expensive lightweight parts and lightweight engine blocks on sprint cars, and the rule is starting to have that effect. As a bonus, eliminating the weight difference among cars increases the competitiveness of the series, too. Jerrod Hull, 24 year old driver on the tour, cites the closer competition on the series as an advantage of the weight rule. "Look at the qualifying times this year," Hull said. "They're a lot closer. The weight rule makes it more equal for everyone." Rodney Duncan, the current All Star points leader, echos Hull's observation. "There's less of a gap in qualifying times," Duncan concluded. "You don't see any more half-second gaps between first and second in qualifying." Todd Gracey, a former Central Pennsylvania racer, has been making the long road trips out of his Pa. base to run exclusively with the All Star tour, due to the weight rule. Gracey has been handicapped in the past because his Ford engine was 50 pounds heavier than the standard Chevrolet sprint car engine. "We're more competitive this season with the weight rule," Gracey stated. "We have a lighter car and our heavier motor which equals and All Star car. Every form of racing has a weight rule except sprint cars. Us smaller budget guys support the weight rule. That's the only way we can beat the big budget guys." Greg Wilson is another Ford driver on the All Star tour. "Last year we were about 100 pounds heavier than the other guys," Wilson said of his engine. "We worked real hard over the winter and now our engine is only about 25 pounds heavier. But the weight rule makes it equal for all." Jerry Kinser, owner of Kelly Kinser's No. 4k, says "The weight rule was needed about four years ago to help us all save money. I support Bert and the All Stars 100% on the weight rule. Even now, it's hard to find non-lightweight parts. Most of the suppliers are stocking the lightweight stuff. It will take a while for us to see the full effect of the weight rule." Duncan concurred with Kinser. "The owners probably won't notice much dollar savings this season, but in about three years costs should go down as we weed out the lightweight stuff." Defending two-time All Star champion Kenny Jacobs stated, "The weight rule is going to save money in the future, but not this year." He then posed an interesting question. "Are the builders going to drop prices if they go back to making parts heavier?" He then added, "but there would be a savings in durability and not replacing parts as often." Jacobs, for one, is in favor of weighing engines as some in the sport have suggested. "We've spent a lot of money on motors the past two seasons. Again, going with heavier motors will save money in the future, but not today." Four-time All Star champion Frankie Kerr supports the weight rule and does not see a problem with cars making the minimum weight requirement. "We run the same car as always, with some minor bolt-on changes like heavier panels to make weight. But Kerr adds that true cost savings and equaling the competition still has a ways to go. "If you want to make the competition even, weigh cars with the driver," Kerr suggests. "And the real way to cut costs is a minimum thickness on rear axles, no composites and no titanium parts." Hull calculated the weight rule saved his team over a grand this past winter. "We eliminated the titanium brake petal and throttle and other lightweight parts. That’s about $1,500 we didn't have to spend." And the process of weighing sprint cars after time trials and each event does not slow the program down for the fans either. "That was the only negative I thought about when the rule was announced," says Hull. "Was slowing down the program. The rule seems to be working real good and the weighing is going smoothly, it doesn't slow the show down at all." Emick summarized his feelings. "I felt it was important to take this step now, before we lose any more 410 sprint car teams. The weight rule has been well accepted, and it's easy to police. We continue to learn more about the subject of weight as we go along. At the end of this season we'll review everything and make any adjustments necessary to improve the weight rule for 2001."