'We're Far From Done:' Scott Bloomquist Predicts His Comeback
'We're Far From Done:' Scott Bloomquist Predicts His Comeback
Scott Bloomquist isn't letting another major surgery, financial hardship and lost seat time determine the end of his legendary career.
It was the most popular topic of discussion during last week's World Finals at the Dirt Track at Charlotte: Is Scott Bloomquist back?
The 59-year-old legend rekindled feelings of nostalgia on Wednesday's qualifying night and showed he’s not just a field-filler by capturing quick-time honors for Friday’s program. In terms of on-track relevancy, yes, Bloomquist for two laps looked good as new.
On Friday, when he finished seventh and completed all the laps in a feature for the first time since last year’s World Finals, the Mooresburg, Tenn., native took another major step forward on his comeback trail. In some ways, yes, Bloomquist is indeed back: back at the wheel, back at the top of the qualifying charts, back in the top 10 among national touring fields.
Bloomquist, however, has yet to deem this week as his quote-unquote comeback. Akin to Tiger Woods, who’s forged through his share of injuries and hardships to go five years between victories — 2013 through '18 — and 14 years — 2005 through '19 — between Masters Tournament championships (golf’s World 100 equivalent), Bloomquist is self-prophesying that he’ll too rise from the ashes and eventually return to prominence before he calls it quits.
“Let’s just say this: there’s going to be another coming,” Bloomquist said through a wide smile. “How soon that is? It’s yet to be seen. But we’re far from done. We’re far from done. Hell, Tiger didn’t forget how to golf. And I sure in hell didn’t forget how to race.”
Bloomquist's story certainly has the makings to turn out like Woods's incredible comeback. Dirt Late Model racing's most compelling personality is now more than three years removed from his last victory September of 2020 at Pennsylvania's Thunder Mountain Speedway. Next year also marks the 10th year since he won his last of four World 100s.
It’s easy to blow Wednesday’s qualifying night out of proportion, but Friday’s seventh-place run where he had eventual winner Ricky Thornton Jr. in his crosshairs for a podium spot in the early stages really is a big deal for Bloomquist. He’s weathering a broken left foot suffered when he mishandled a heavy piece of machinery in the days before Oct. 20-22’s Dirt Track World Championship at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
WATCH: Scott Bloomquist explains to FloRacing's Derek Kessinger how he broke his left foot.
After Friday’s 35-lap feature at Charlotte, he immediately tended to his ailing foot, which bled through the white sock used during the night’s action, with lidocaine patches, an Ace bandage and a compression sock.
“The more laps, obviously, the more pain you have to endure,” Bloomquist said. “It wasn’t anything that really affected my racing as much. I made some changes for the feature that were good when we were at speed. But on the restart, when we took off kind of slow, I didn’t fire off. We have a little more adjusting to do and we have a car that can win the race.
“We ran quicker laps early in the race than Thornton. We were really good. They’ve had all year to tune and we’ve had two days. It’s pretty simple.”
Bloomquist’s medical records these days are thicker than his racing notebooks. Over the last year he’s battled treatable prostate cancer, on-and-off numbness in his right foot and leg, a decompressed L5 disk in his back, a bum shoulder that needs rotator cuff surgery imminently, and now a broken foot that causes Bloomquist to hobble his way through daily activities.
Despite that, plus being wracked with financial burdens — “Bills keep coming in, and obviously we’re behind on bills,” he said — Bloomquist has never lost his mental edge.
“Mentally has never been an issue,” Bloomquist said. “My body has just been so beat up with one thing or another. The mental part of it? I don’t ever see that leaving. I just have to be sure my body can follow through with what my mind is thinking.”
WATCH: FloRacing's Derek Kessinger and senior writer Kevin Kovac bring light to Scott Bloomquist's prostate cancer diagnosis.
There were a number of subplots in Bloomquist’s 35-lap journey on Friday, one being his first feature on Hoosier’s new National Late Model Tire. Nine laps into the main event, Bloomquist was fourth and part of a four-car breakaway at the front of the field with Chris Madden, Thornton and Dale McDowell. A lap-nine caution stymied Bloomquist’s pace and on the ensuing restart his tires never responded the same.
“That’s it. So many guys have told me they’re nothing like they were,” Bloomquist said. “I’ve experienced a couple things for the first time that I didn’t experience before racing. Again, downloading a whole lot of information in a short time trying to catch up to these guys who have been racing all year. They’ve been on the tires all year and been working on their cars all year. I think we’re making pretty good strides here.
“After that caution, it was odd,” he added. “That’s what I’m going to try and study here, and look at and see, do some dynoing and shocks and things. On the restart, it didn’t want to go. In the corner, it was a little bit free and then it pushed. And it was like, where did this come from? You know? We just had to deal with it the best we could. Thought we got going a little bit again when we got back by Mike Marlar there.”
Of course, another subplot for those active on social media is the brewing on-track duel between Bloomquist and Thornton. Earlier this year, Bloomquist acknowledged on a podcast that Thornton and his SSI Motorsports team have certainly had fast race cars, but not without saying that the Martinsville, Ind., driver “has a lot to learn.”
Bloomquist applauded Thornton for Friday’s victory — “Hats off to him. He’s a good runner,” he said — but not without reinforcing his comments from earlier this year.
“I got to watch him a little bit tonight, but again … he has a fast car,” Bloomquist said. “He’s taking advantage of it and following through and winning races. That’s all I can say.”
Bloomquist doesn’t make that assessment in a jealous or spiteful way as if Thornton lives rent-free in his head, so to speak. He’s eager to pit himself against the sport’s gold standard because he himself had been the gold standard for years on end.
WATCH: Scott Bloomquist joins FloRacing's Derek Kessinger on One Lap, One Beer.
“No doubt. No doubt. Because I haven’t been racing, it’s been hard for me to gauge really how good he’s running,” Bloomquist said. “You’re only as good as your competition is, a lot of times. We’ve always been pretty much (the ones to) set the bar for someone who you’ve needed to beat to consider if you’re running good. (Jonathan) Davenport appeared that way and now for some reason he’s struggling.
“We’ve won races for 40 years. And there’s been a whole lot of one-year, two-year, three-year wonders come along. They’ve ended up having fast cars and for some reason they don’t know why they are fast. It’s just … they were fast. And could they continue to put themselves there and stay fast? And be fast for 10 years, 20 years? Do you have the desire to even be there 20 years?
“You know, I’m not happy with the outcome of tonight. But I did learn a lot, did absorb some things, and we’ll study some things this evening and come back tomorrow, hopefully be able to give it a run for the win.”
Bloomquist says he and Shane McDowell have been logging extra hours brainstorming and coming up with ways to get ahead — and stay ahead — of the curve these last few months.
“This car world is very competitive,” Bloomquist said. “We have a lot of copycats out there that are trying to copy our stuff, even our older stuff. It’s a lot easier to trace than it is to draw. And there’s a lot of tracers out there. We’re into drawing. And we’ll keep drawing. Hopefully we’ll keep moving forward like we always have.”
Wednesday’s qualifying night where he went from 12th-quickest in the first session to overall fast time in the second session is, in a nutshell, Bloomquist’s way of showing the world that he can still keep up with Dirt Late Model racing’s ever-evolving and very competitive times.
“Absolutely, no doubt. It’s always been that way,” Bloomquist said. “We wouldn’t have a 70 percent win ratio our first visit to a racetrack if we didn’t adjust quick. We’ll just keep on adjusting."
WATCH: The state of Scott Bloomquist upon missing his first-ever Dream earlier this June.
Saturday's World Finals, where Bloomquist again qualified for the main event amid one of the stiffest 75-car fields of the year and finished 15th, could be his last race for another long while, too. Bloomquist needs right shoulder surgery badly and, once that happens, a four- to five-month recovery process awaits.
“The shoulder issue right now is the biggest thing,” Bloomquist said. “I’m not so sure right now I can endure it, but I might have to get (cortisone) shots quite regularly. Just going to look into it deeper next week and try to make a decision whether now is the time for that or if I should just mask it for a while and finish out my career.”
All things considered, Bloomquist’s shoulder “isn’t feeling too bad.” He’s just very limited in his range of motion and is at risk of doing more damage to his shoulder if the more the surgery is delayed. He’s also thankful that Charlotte is a smooth racing surface as opposed to something that’s rough-and-tumble.
“I definitely was told I need rotator cuff surgery on my right shoulder,” Bloomquist said. “They’ve masked it with a shot with whatever they shoot you with. That enabled me. Like, I couldn’t lift my arm up to that cabinet. Surprisingly now I don’t feel too bad.
“But tracks that are rough, I can’t take it. Like Eldora got too rough and there’s no way we can do that. But this place is smooth. I think we have a good shot at it. Whether I have to take another four or five months off with shoulder surgery, we’re still going to come back and we’re not done.”
WATCH: An interview with Scott Bloomquist preceding last year's World 100.
As far as a timeline goes for surgery, Bloomquist quipped, “I’d like to do it next week,” though appointments of that degree of course take time to schedule. Bloomquist’s already seen a doctor and now it’s up to him when he’d like the surgery.
Based on his outlook, that time may be right around the corner, especially with the Dream at Eldora as the next can’t-miss event on his calendar.
“With it being a good four or five months of recovery time, that would mean coming back in May … April or May, in time for the Dream, or maybe before and get some testing and laps," he said. "We’ll know something soon.”
Bloomquist has received pick-me-ups from all corners of the racing world recently, and he’s thankful for that. He wouldn’t have a ride if it weren’t for Richie Stephens, the Phenix City, Ala., racer who owns the car that Bloomquist raced over the weekend. There are countless backers on his familiar No. 0 machine that don't want to see Bloomquist's otherwordly career be put to rest just yet.
“We have some great support,” he added. “Again, we have some learning to do with no better person to test and learn than myself.”
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