Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Closing Reflections on the 2012 Show and answers to the questions I was asked the most in Louisville!!

This will be my final reflection on the 2012 National Farm Machinery Show and all of the action that took place in Freedom Hall.  I have been trying to compose all of my thoughts and beliefs on the magic that is the NFMS.  Let me first say that I am typically one that is quite resistant to change and in my day to day life I don’t like to waver from what it is I know.  I have come up with a few topics that I wanted to highlight and then I have posted a list of questions that were the most commonly asked of me at the Farm Show. 
Full Pull’s
As a fan I would like to see the Farm Show reward competitors for hitting the sand pile by setting a full pull.  As I sat in the session on Saturday afternoon, I was disappointed that Mike Happe did not make the pulloff.  Happe was the first competitor to truly make it to the sand but a tractor later the full pull was set less than a foot beyond his distance and thus he was not in the pulloff.  Happe had already made two runs and of course the idea of running a third time may have put major strain on his equipment but in my humble opinion, he was worthy of being in that shoot out for the top three.  It did become pretty evident that from class to class the track had changed and thus getting an exact setting on the sled was a bit of a challenge right off the bat. 

Four years ago the committee and fair board chose to make a change in replacing Harold Walliser and hiring Dave Bennett.   I considered myself lucky to have had some work experience with Dave in 2006 and 2007 while traveling with the Outlaw’s.   As I was beginning my announcing career, two men other then my father were influential in educating me on announcing and they were Art Downs of Illinois fame and Dave Bennett.  For those of you who have not had a chance to travel west of the Mississippi, you should, to get a real feel of the prowess and knowledge Dave brings to his craft as the voice of the Outlaws.  Over the last few years Dave has found his feet as one of the announcers and has been diligently doing his homework on each of the competitors selected.  His research has not just been limited to the computer as Dave is working to develop relationships with the competitors he doesn’t see regularly over the summer.  Being around Broadbent Arena a fair amount this year I witnessed Dave holding court with many competitors throughout the afternoon hours.   I feel that Butch and Dave did a great job at the 2012 show and displayed a lot of chemistry which they have been working to develop over the last few years. 

On the Same Topic of Announcing
The message boards have been buzzing with the idea of a third announcer for the Farm Machinery Show.  The tasks of this announcer would be to bring new feature stories to the track and highlight some of the current events while Butch and Dave provide the commentary.  I agree firmly that the idea of an announcer being on the track to relay new features would be welcomed and could add more color to the event.  There are many great announcers out there who could fill this role should the Farm Show decide to go this route. 

Every year the competition gets better and the professionalism rises.  Folks take being accepted to this event as a great privilege and it becomes quite evident in the amount of time they spend in preparation for their fifteen seconds in front of the fans.  I want to commend the competitors on their friendliness and willingness to visit with fans and passersby while on display in Broadbent.  You never know who is watching and it is a great testament to our sport to see such wonderful ambassadors who are willing to stand by their respective vehicles for hours to answer questions and pose for photos.  Finally, I was amazed to see how much joy and excitement the selected competitors brought to the Wednesday Night Autograph session in Freedom Hall.  It was clear that the folks chosen to be a part of the panel of signers were very glad to be representing their class, vehicle and in some cases sponsors. 
Over the week in Louisville, I was asked many questions and I chose to answer several of those questions in this final reflection of Farm Machinery Show Topic.  

What do you think of the schedule? 
I truly enjoy the current format of the show and the way the committee has it laid out.  I am a fan of variety and though Diesel heads or Diehard tractor guys will disagree, I believe the noise classes actually provide a great addition to the show.  I loved the story line of this year where the older statesmen battled against Jacob Fuqua for the finals.  On the National circuit be it PPL or NTPA one of the toughest divisions year in and year out is the Twd Class and thus I hope they stay put.

What class would I like to see in Freedom Hall?
I am a big fan of Limited Pro or the 4.1 Turbo class.  I love the level of competition they bring to the table and the number of quality tractors that have developed in the few shorts years since the class’s inception.  Pro Stock has always been something I loved and the 4.1 class is actually the closest thing to the set up the Pro’s ran when I was younger.  Many Super Farm competitors have made the jump up to this class and I truly believe the direction of the Super Farm class as a whole may be leaning this way in the future.  Adding the class would be wonderful but the major question is:  who would it replace?  Right now I would say the Diesel Supers, but if Esdon Lehn and Brian Shramek can pulloff their revitalization in 2012 the Diesels will be back.  

Should Farm Show add a second Light Super Stock class? 
I don’t believe this would be a good choice as I think it would water down the quality of the single session.  There are truly fifteen to twenty solid running Light Super Stock tractors and adding more would take away from the show itself.  The one thing I would like to see is the Diesels and Alky’s running together in one class.  Esdon has proven over the last few summers that “Redline Lite” can fight with the best in the class on any given night. 

When am I going to be announcing with my dad in Louisville?
I didn’t really discuss this much in my critique of the announcing as I wanted to save it for this question.  Over the years this has been the question that I am asked the most and my answer has always been the same.  I want to be an announcer at the Farm Show and if I am ever called upon to do so, it will be because I have earned it.  I did not want to ride my father’s coat tails into Freedom Hall and thus for that very reason, I have never asked him to try to help me.  It has been my goal to hone my skills as an announcer, to learn from all of the great people with whom I have been able to work with over the years and develop my own style.  These folks have taught me a lot over the years and have inspired me to work harder in order to learn more about this sport: Leslie Mears, Stacey Butson, Art Downs, Dave Bennett, and of course Butch Krieger.  

No one is prouder of my father and all of his achievements than I, but when I started in 2003, it was my goal to do this on my own and without a lot of influence from him.  It is my hope to be on the floor of Freedom Hall someday but until then I will keep working to grow and learn.  

How do I come up with the topic of a specific blog?
Each individual story line has either been something that ran through my mind that I wanted to highlight or it was something that was suggested to me by someone reading the blog.  If you are reading this and have a question or idea for a story please send it to Milesbeyond300@gmail.com.   I have several stories in the works and will also be doing a few interviews this week for feature stories to be on the blog in March.  Thanks for reading!

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