Dear America, Please Stop Killing Our Local Tracks

Dear America, Please Stop Killing Our Local Tracks.

By: JT Lauderdale

Al Rapp (33r) works to fend off challenges from Brandon Hakala (80) and Andrew Hanson (20) during the “Pure Excitement” WISSOTA Pure Stock feature Saturday night at the ABC Raceway. Hanson, from Iron River, went on to win the feature, while Hakala finished third and Rapp sixth. (Norm Tesch photo)


With the beginning of another year, my fellow motorsports fans and I are excited for another season of racing. That being said, many local tracks across America are concerned if this year may be their last year open or, even worse, are struggling to even get the 2023 season off the ground.

Growing up in Spokane, I have never seen a large event like a NASCAR race. However, I have many childhood memories of going to one of my local oval tracks and watching some racing. There are two tracks near me: Spokane Country Raceway in Spokane, WA and Stateline Speedway in the Stateline and Post Falls area in Idaho. Spokane County Raceway has not had any racing on their oval track since 2018 and its future is up in the air with the complex being purchased by the Kalispel Tribe of Indians. Meanwhile Stateline speedway is still in operation, but with a large set of apartment complexes being built and rented out a little over a kilometer away, I feel myself growing concerned about the tracks future. In other areas of the US, the future does not look bright. Recently, it was announced Greenville Pickens Speedway may be sold to land developers. Greenville Pickens, a track that has significant ties to the history of NASCAR, may be gone soon.

The death of local tracks can be already be seen. Tracks like Myrtle Beach Speedway, USA International Speedway, and Concord Speedway are all gone and demolished. Concord is now basically a parking lot, USA is now an Amazon Warehouse, and Myrtle Beach is now a vacant lot awaiting development.

These tracks matter to a lot of people. Personally, I have many childhood memories from my local tracks. I can remember taking my wife on our first date out to Stateline Speedway to watch the annual running of the Idaho 200. I can also remember sitting in the pits at Spokane County Raceway watching my friend’s dad racing his Hobby Stock around the track. I am praying I can make more memories with my family and my future children out at our local tracks.

These tracks also help keep our roads safer. These tracks give people the opportunity to drive a car at speeds you wouldn’t want them to go on the city streets. These tracks offer people a safe place to drive as fast as they can. Without these tracks, the only place people are able to test the limits of their car is on the public roads, which I’m sure no one wants to happen.

So, to the people who are neutral or uninterested in the local tracks: I understand that oval racing is not everyone’s favorite sport. All I ask is that you don’t work to get these tracks closed. And hey, maybe go out to a race sometime. You will get to experience why so many people love racing.

To the city officials and land developers: I understand land value and real estate is a complex subject. But please, understand where you are building apartments and homes. When these tracks were built, they were placed in an area where noise complaints wouldn’t be a thing due to their distance from homes, apartments, and businesses. If you are developing land around the track, do not stab them in the back and complain about the noise on the weekend.

To the local track fans: These tracks need all the support they can get. I understand the economy isn’t the greatest right now and people are struggling to meet ends meet. If you can, spend a couple bucks and go watch some weekly races here and there out at your local track. If you own a business, offer to do some sponsorships or advertisements at the track to help them out.

To the ones who make the track special. To the track owners, promoters, drivers, and all of the staff that help make an event run smoothly: Thank you. Thank you for all the memories I have and helping me enjoy something I love in person instead of just on TV. I see how hard you guys work and I know that you sacrifice a lot just to entertain me and many others. Keep doing what you are doing and don’t give up. The sport of oval racing needs you.

Finally, to you the one who is reading this: I can’t see what your opinion is of racing. You may be one who drinks a gallon of racing fuel each morning, or maybe you are someone who has never been out to a race. I hope that, at the minimum, I got your attention directed to one of your local tracks. Go out to a race or two this year. The more people we can get out to the tracks, the longer these tracks can keep providing us with excellent races and memories.


Is the NFC East the New AFC East?

Has the NFC East really become the new AFC East from years past?

If we take a look back in history, the AFC East was dominated by the New England Patriots. From 2000-2020, there was only four seasons in which the Patriots did not win the division. 2000, which was won by the Dolphins, 2002 won by the Jets, 2008 won by the Dolphins, and 2020 won by the Bills. This is the definition of pure dominance.

The NFC East however, has been quite the opposite. There hasn’t been a repeat division champion since the Eagles did it from 2001-2004 before the Giants won in 2005. Ever since that Eagles run, no NFC East team has won the division in back to back years. Last season saw Washington come away with the division, but this year it most likely will be Dallas. 

So with the being said, will Dallas become the new New England Patriots? I’m not saying that Dak will be Tom Brady and they will go to the Super Bowl every year, but will they have the talent to win the Division for years to come? Lets dive into it. 

Dak Prescott 

Regardless of what you think, Dak is becoming a top quarterback in the NFL. Dak was playing at a historic level, putting up nearly 2000 yards in five games before his season ended with a gruesome ankle injury. This year he hasn’t put up the same numbers, but he has the Cowboys sitting at a better record. Last year they were 2-3 through 5 games, this year they sit at 4-1, and very well could have been 5-0 if it wasn’t for Tom Brady.

Dak’s ability to throw and run with the ball makes him a dual threat quarterback, even though he isn’t at the level of Josh Allen, Kyler Murray, or Lamar Jackson. He doesn’t have to rely on his legs to make plays, its more to extend the play. 

Running Backs 

I would say that Ezekiel Elliot and Tony Pollard are the second-best running back duo in the league behind only Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. With Zeke getting older, Pollard is a fantastic change of pace back to compliment Zeke. He has even come out to say that he isn’t the same running back he was when he was 22 or 23.

“It’s nice to have some come in and give me a break and not have to worry about the offense slowing down”

Pollard, in my opinion, is a fantastic utility back, being able to run between the tackles, catching the ball out of the backfield, and even returning kicks. The run game as well as the backs catching out of the back field only helps Dak and this team become a greater offense.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends 

It’s no surprise that the Cowboys have one of the best skill position groups offensively. Two first round picks in Amari Cooper and Cee Dee Lamb, and a 3rd round pick in Michael Gallup. Now, Gallup is hurt this season, but should be coming back within the next week or two. Lamb and Cooper have both been enjoying a productive season, Lamb with 24 catches for 348 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Cooper with 25 for 318 and 4 touchdowns.

Then we have the tight ends, which ever since Jason Witten retired, hasn’t been a strong point for the cowboys. This season, however, has seen great production from the tight ends. Dalton Schultz has caught 26 passes for 280 yards and 3 touchdowns with Blake Jarwin throwing in 9 for 89 and a score. 


Dallas is second in the NFL in terms of turnovers, they sit behind only Buffalo in the category. They have ten interceptions, six of which are by Trevon Diggs, and two fumble recoveries. Buffalo has nine picks and six fumble recoveries.

Despite their success with takeaways, they are in the bottom half of the NFL in terms of sacks. Cowboys have nine, and the Chiefs sit at the bottom of the NFL with seven. They do have some defensive touchdowns, one pick six against the Eagles, and another against the Giants. Their defense has look better that it has in years past. Their secondary has given up the second most passing yards, but the team with the most is the Bucs, two of the best teams in the NFL. 

The Rest of the NFC East 

Philadelphia Eagles: 

The Eagles are an interesting team.

They have gotten a lot younger at skill positions, and they have bolstered the secondary. A team that used to be a top run stuffing defense has now become a top pass prevention team. They are 3rd in the NFL in terms of Passing yards given up. They sit behind the Bills and the Panthers. All 3 teams are the only teams in the NFL to give up less than 1000 passing yards.

This is also the same team that has played against Patrick Mahomes and Dak Prescott, 2 top 5 offenses in terms of total yards, and both being top in terms of passing, with the Chiefs at 5 and Cowboys being at 11.

In terms of rushing defense, the Eagles ranked 3rd as well… 3rd worst. They have given up just over 700 rushing yards this season, an average of 142 per game. The Eagles total offense sits at 14th in the NFL with 372 yards per game. They are 12th in passing and 13th in rushing. If the NFL was a game of “what ifs” they would be top 10. They have had 5 touchdowns called back, multiple being of 30 yards or more. Penalties have also played a huge part this season. This team went toe to toe with the Chiefs offense, and would have won if not for 3 touchdowns being called back due to penalties.

The Eagles are a decent but sloppy football team with spotty play calling from a first time head coach. A potential 3 top 10 first round draft picks would help the Eagles tremendously, but that relies on the Dolphins continuing to stink, and Carson Wentz staying healthy and keeping the Colts in games. 

New York Giants:

The Giants look bad. They are 1-4 but haven’t looked great at all. There have been some flashes, but as soon as something lights up, it shuts off quickly.

They are a top 10 passing team, but they have had injuries to almost all of their starting receivers. Toney, who was a first round draft pick this past draft, looked great against the Cowboys. Saquon had some bad luck with an ankle injury, but it doesn’t appear to be serious. They have the 12th most offensive yards in the NFL. Their defense has given up the 11th most passing yards and 6th most rushing yards.

They need a lot of work on defense, but their offense looks solid. If they weren’t dealing with injuries, they may even be 3-2. 

Washington Football Team:

Washington was supposed to be this feared defensive front 7 that would carry their secondary far. A lot of people had them being a repeat division champ.

That’s has not been the case.

They are 18th in rushing yards allowed and 27th against the pass. This defense is terrible, stats don’t lie. Well since their defense is bad maybe they have a good offense? WRONG. 20th ranked offense overall, 22nd in the passing game, and 16th in the rushing game.

This is with Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson as their start players. Curtis Samuel has been hurt this season, Ryan Fitzpatrick is hurt, This team is a QB and WR away from having a good offense, but their defense needs to step up. 


In Conclusion 

So will the NFC East be the new AFC East?

Its hard to say, but there is a good possibility.

The Giants and Washington are both a few years and a lot of talent away from contending. The Eagles may have the best shot at competing sooner since they have the second best quarterback in the division, a better offense then both of those teams, and a better defense.

However, they have some older players that they will need to replace, but they have 2-3 first round draft picks to use. They still need to see if Jalen Hurts is the guy, and if Nick Siranni is their coach moving forward.

I think that the Cowboys can dominate this division for the next few years, I don’t know about 20. The Cowboys are in the best position to win now, and very well could only be a piece or two away from a Super Bowl. 


Article by: @ThePassionPitPC

What’s going on in Pittsburgh?

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA – JANUARY 10: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks to the huddle during the second half of the AFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field on January 10, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

What’s going on in Pittsburgh: Big Ben’s final year? Offensive troubles and defensive injuries.

There is a lot going on in Pittsburgh. This is a team that has a lot of history. Bruising defense paired with a deadly offense. This is a team that hasn’t finished below .500 since the 2003 season. They rank 3rd in the NFL in terms of Hall of Fame members with 24, only trailing Green Bay with 26 and Chicago with 30. The were the 1st franchise to hit six Super Bowl wins, which they now share with the New England Patriots.

When we take a look back at this franchise, there are so many notable players and plays. The Immaculate reception where we saw Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw throw a pass over the middle to John Fuqua, only to be deflected off of Jack Tatum’s facemask. Then out of nowhere, you see Franco Harris running with the ball down the sidelines to score a game winning touchdown against the Raiders. What about Lynn Swann’s catch in Super Bowl 10? Nicknamed the “Levitating Leap”, even though some think the “Kangaroo Catch” was the better of the two nicknames.

Regardless of their history, lets take a look at what’s going on now. For the better part of the last 20 years, the AFC North has been controlled by mainly the Steelers, with the Baltimore Ravens hot on their trail. Since 2001, the Steelers have won the division 11 times and finished second six times. The other four years they finished third.

Right now, the division is looking tight. The Cleveland Browns are looking fantastic, the Ravens took down defending AFC Champs the Kansas City Chiefs, the Cincinnati Bengals are looking promising, and Pittsburgh is just running along side them. Lets breakdown what seems to be the problem with Pittsburgh.

Offensive Line

The Steelers lost 3 out of their 5 starting offensive linemen from last season. Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey retired during the offseason, and left tackle Alejandro Villanueva left for division rival Ravens. As if things couldn’t look any worse, the team decided to release one of the top guards in the game in David Decastro. Now with these moves, one would expect the Steelers to get younger and/or better. They signed Trai Turner, and paired him with Chukwuma Okorafor, Kevin Dotson, rookie Kenrick Green and Zach Banner.

This team invested a late first round pick on running back Najee Harris, but through 2 weeks he only has 83 rushing yards. Last year we saw Ben throw the ball 608 times. Bringing in Najee was a way to get the ball out of Ben’s hands that much and help him with a rushing attack. So far this year we haven’t seen too much of that attack. They rank 32nd, dead last, in terms of rushing yards per game with 57. The Ravens average 220 rushing yards per game, and the Eagles come in second with 162. They are not off to a great start.

Big Ben

Last year, Ben threw the ball 608 times, second most in his career. His career high is 675 in 2018. In 2020 he averaged 40.5 passes per game as he only played in 15 regular season games. He averaged 42 passes in 2018 playing in all 16 games.

Here’s where the stats differ. 2018 saw Ben complete 452/675 for a completion rate of 67%. He also threw for 5129 yards, 34 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Last year we saw him go 399/608 for a 65.8% completion rate, but it was for only 3803 yards. His touchdowns were at 33, and his picks were at 10. He was throwing an average of 320.6 yards pre game on 42 passes, while last year he was throwing for an average of 253.5 yards on 40.5 passes.

Ben is throwing almost the same amount, but isn’t seeing the same production. This year Ben is averaging 36 passes per game for 241.5 yards. Hopefully as the year goes on, the run game can progress and become better to give Ben a break.

Defensive Injuries

3 notable players on defense are listed as questionable. Starting Cornerback Joe Haden, starting Linebacker Devin Bush, and arguably the biggest name is freshly paid Linebacker/Edge Rusher T.J. Watt.

· T.J. Watt (groin)– Steelers fans have lucked out with this one. Watt’s injury is not considered to be serious, as he could be ready to go for their weekly matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals offensive line stopping T.J. Watt is going to be like a group of 3rd graders at recess going up against Bishop Sycamore.
· Devin Bush (Groin)- Devin Bush was absent on Sunday’s matchup against the Raiders. No word yet as he is still questionable of this upcoming Sunday.
· Joe Haden (Groin) – Another day, another groin injury. Along with Bush, Haden was also out for last Sunday’s game. Haden is working on making his return to the field but remains questionable for Sunday’s matchup.

There is not doubt in my mind that if Pittsburgh had the three players above out there for the full 60 minutes, the outcome of the game would’ve been different. T.J. Watt is a gamechanger, a true X-Factor. He has 2 strip sacks in a game and a half this season. Devin Bush can keep up with almost any running back, tight end, or wide receiver in the league with his 4.43 40 time, Saquon Barkley ran a 4.41 as a comparison. Joe Haden is past him prime, but past his prime is still better than most corner back prime years anyway.

Once they are all back and healthy, they will be able to pick up where they left off last year.

Final Thoughts

Big Ben has thrown for 60,831 in his career, he still has a little bit of juice left in him, but if they cant control games by running the ball, Ben wont win you games. You can’t expect him to be able to go throw 40 times a game and make the Super Bowl, it’s not realistic for him. Some fans are calling for his head, others remember what he has done for them over the years and still believe he can be that guy.

I think that this is a prove it year for Ben. Show the people what you can do, and if you can’t get it done, then you start to look for other options. Whether that be drafting his replacement in the 2022 draft, let Ben go, see what you have in Haskins who is only a couple years removed from being a first round draft pick, or keep him for one more year to mentor a young guy you bring in.

Whatever it is, the time to act is sooner rather than later, before you waste a couple of years on what is a top rated defense, and a deep selection of skill position players. Invest next offseason on a better offensive line as well to help whoever the signal caller is in Pittsburgh. Unless you are Mahomes and Reid in Kansas City, its going to be hard to win with a pass heavy offense. Balance is always the key


Article by Passion