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    A Typical Weekend

    by Pat & Bruce Eckel

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Gas City, Fremont & Rain Highlight The Weekend

    Friday, May 4 - The weekend was once again upon us as we looked forward to taking in another full three days of racing on the first weekend in May. Racing would start out on Friday with our second appearance at the Gas City Speedway in the town of the same name. When your town is named Gas City we think it should be a requirement that you must have a race track and Jerry Gappens and his staff are trying to revitilize this joint on a weekly basis and if the start of the year is any indication then they are well on their way to making this a weekly outing for the many people in the area.

    Gappens has put together a variety of options on any given Friday night and tonight would be highlighted by the first ever visit by the Midwest Sprint Car Series (MSCS) at the 1/4 mile bullring of black clay in Grant County. The car count was only 20 but the combination of Limaland running wingless sprints and the Silver Crown series at Toledo hurt the car count by about a half dozen. The quality was there though with names like Bacon, Meseraull, Thomas, Leary and Cottle along with invaders Stockon, Carson Short, Ballou, Brackett and Aric Gentry made for a stout field. Things would kick off with group qualifying at 6:59 with three groups taking time and wrapping up at 7:08 with Chase Stockon fastest at 12.888 seconds. The three sprint car heats pushed off starting at 7:32 with Missouri's Clinton Boyles in the famous Hazen #57 claiming heat one over Shane Cottle, Thomas Meseraull in his own #00 and Joe Stornetta Jr. in the Pace #44 taking down the first four spots. Heat two would see Brady Bacon in his own #99 charging from fourth to nail down this one chased by Brandon Mattox, Tony DiMattia and Donny Brackett. The final heat would go to Kevin Thomas Jr. in the Dooling/Hayward #63 beating Isaac Chapple, Robert Ballou and Chase Stockon. The sprint car heat racing was completed in just 14 minutes with the two support divisions, the thunder cars (8) and the front wheel drive (10) spinning off their heats with all qualifying in the books by 7:59. At intermission a tarp was laid down on the homestretch and the youngsters were invited out for scramble for $200 worth of nickels in a fun time for the young ones.

    By 8:35 the green flag waved on the 25 lap MSCS sprint car feature with Brady Bacon jumping to the early lead from second. By lap five 7th starting Thomas Meseraull had hustled his way into the top five and looked like a challenger. Bacon encountered lap traffic by lap ten with Shane Cottle and Clinton Boyles duking it out for second on laps 11 and 12 before Cottle wrestled away the spot on lap 13. Kevin Thomas Jr. was getting racy first disposing of Boyles for third on lap 16 and went after Cottle for second. Thomas caught and passed Cottle in the third turn on lap 25 just before the only caution flag waved for a tangle between Stockon and Stornetta in turn four wiping out Bacon's almost five second lead. On the restart Bacon maintained the top spot but Thomas was all over him looking for a way by. Bacon was able to hold sway until three to go when he slid high to block Thomas entering turn one and Thomas diamonded off turn two to the inside to take the lead going down the backstretch. Thomas would go onto victory flashing under the checkered flag at 8:46 now $3000 richer winning over Bacon, Cottle, Boyles and Meseraull in a very good race run on a nicely manicured surface with no dust whatsoever. We decided to stay for the 15 lap thunder car feature and even with only eight cars it was a good race up front among the top three with D.J. Holt prevailing after a race long battle for the lead. Ervin Turner and Ron Flaugh chased him across the line at 9:03. Though we exited at this point the front wheel drive feature was over by 9:23 capping a fine early night of racing at Gas City. I purchased a t-shirt on the way out for a very reasonable $15 to support the cause and look forward to returning in the near future to support the efforts of the Gappens regime.

    Saturday, May 5 - The original plan for the day was to leave home around noon time and drive east on I-70 toward Crooksville, Ohio, the home of the Midway Speedway, which would be a new track for us. It was also along our route back to New Jersey where Pat was returning for some work duties which needed hands on attention and couldn't be accomplished remotely. I checked the weather for the Crooksville area on Friday afternoon where it was clear and zero percent chance of rain so we were off at noon. Upon reaching the southern side of Indianapolis Pat mentioned she was going to check the weather for Crooksville and wouldn't you know it it changed (thought this only happened in Indiana) from zero percent to between 50 and 70 percent for the hours of 6 PM to 11 PM. That led to a change of plans and after checking the forecast for Fremont, Ohio we pointed the Nissan Murano north up I-69 toward Rt. 24 and over into the Buckeye state via the northern route. By 5:30 we arrived in Fremont and worked our way over to the Sandusky County Fairgrounds where the 1/3 mile oval of the Fremont Speedway was located for the first time since May 23rd, 2009 in our only other appearance there after shaking the monkey off our shoulder after four previous rainouts.

    Already a good sized crowd had gathered for the Open Wheel Shootout which would feature three classes of sprint cars. The FAST (Fremont Attica Sprint Title) 410 winged sprints were on the card along with the wingless Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Series (BOSS) and FAST 360/305 Challenge. The car counts were as follows: 26 FAST winged sprints, 28 BOSS sprints and 35 FAST 305/360 sprints making for an almost 90 car count. The 410 winged sprints would kick off the night of racing with time trials starting at 6:25 with D.J. Foos claiming fast time of 11.979 seconds by 6:40. Warmups for all divisions followed and it didn't take long for someone to turn turtle as 305/360 driver Cody Bova went for a ride in turn two. With a lot of work and help from his fellow competitors Bova was able to return to race later. The winged 410 sprints were first up for heats contesting three events with Cap Henry wiring heat one winning over Jess Stiger, DJ Foos, Chris Andrews and Nate Dussel. Shawn Valenti, SOD Fort Wayne winner last year, aced heat two over DJ Netto, Craig Mintz, Tyler Gunn doing double duty tonight and Mike Terry Jr. Heat three saw Stuart Brubaker prevail over Tracy Hines, Byron Reed, Broc Martin and Brian Lay. The BOSS sprints would run four heats with Tyler Gunn pacing heat one over Carmen Perigo from PA, Bill Rose from 7th and Ted Hines. Heat two went to Waveland, IN's Thomas Meseraull besting Steve Little, Mike Miller and Matt Westfall from 7th. Russiaville IN's Dustin Smith bagged heat three over Trevor Kobylarz, Cole Ketchum and Kyle May who spun and flipped over the finish line to grab the last qualifying position in this heat!! Chase Briscoe who earlier in the day was racing for Ford at Mid-Ohio took heat four after starting sixth beating John Watson, Matt Cooley from seventh and Joe Liguori of Tampa, FL. Four heats were needed for the 360/305 challenge race with Steve Rando, Bobby Clark, Max Stambaugh and Brandon Moore notching wins. Three B mains were run with Rob Chaney winning the 410's, Cody Gardener the BOSS and Kyle Sauder the 360/305's.

    The track had held up well to this point turning a little slick for the feature events though. The 30 lap 410 sprint car feature would take the green flag at 9:56 with the veteran Byron Reed pouncing into the lead. Reed would lose it and spin in turn one on lap two in a rare mistake by this veteran who was relegated to the rear of the field. On the insuing restart Tyler Gunn took a nasty flip in turn three going over about six times before stopping. He was OK and would race in the BOSS feature next. Cap Henry was the new leader and he would hold the point until crossing the start/finish line to start lap nine Craig Mintz make his pass for the lead. The two diced it out for seveal laps side by side with Henry retaking the lead on the homestretch on lap twelve and started to pull away. Shortly thereafter DJ Foos hit the homestretch wall hard and broke his right rear tire off the axle to bring out the caution. On the restart Henry went back out front with 16th starter, Rob Chaney, moving into the top five on lap 15. A restart with six to go was Henry's undoing as Mintz charged back around the #4 and pulled away for the win. Stuart Brubaker would edge by Henry on the last lap to take second with Henry third, Californian DJ Netto fifth after starting eighth and Chaney rounding out the top five at 10:25. Kudos go out to Chase Briscoe who raced from 17th to 6th at the finish in a fine run.

    The 25 lap BOSS feature went green at 10:40 with Dustin Smith setting the early pace. Chase Briscoe was coming to the front quickly from his seventh starting spot to second by lap 3. Smith seemed to be in control until five to go when he bounced around on the backstretch in lap traffic allowing Briscoe and Thomas Meseraull to race by for the top two positions. Smith would race behind the new top two for the remainder of the distance while with three to go Meseraull raced by Briscoe for the lead but the caution waved negating the move. On the restart Briscoe got a good restart and went out front by several car lengths. Meseraull was not finished yet and harassed the leader by running the cushion and showing his nose to the leader. Meseraull was never quite able to mount another challenge and the checkered flag waved at 10:59 on Chase Briscoe for his first ever win at Fremont in his first ever appearance at the track. Meseraull would have to settle for second with Smith third, Matt Westfall making a fine march from 14th to fourth and Bill Rose rounding out the top five after moving by Trevor Kobylarz late. We really wanted to stay for the 360/305 challenge race but with an hour and a half drive to our hotel ahead of us and an early rise the next day to complete our drive to Pennsylvania we decided to call it an evening. Read that Bobby Clark in his 305 held off a late lap, last turn charge by Matt Foos to claim his 36th career win at Fremont. We really enjoyed the evening and will make sure that it is not almost nine years until we get back to Fremont.

    Sunday, May 6 - We arose early on Sunday morning to continue our journey back East but before leaving the hotel we already knew that our Sunday night destination, BAPS Motor Speedway (aka Susquehanna) had thrown in the towel early on this dismal day of rain. Since we were north of the rain still we decided to check out minor league baseball schedules in Ohio and Pennsylvania but for the most part struck out as they were either not playing yet or were not playing at home today. We did find an AA game in Altoona, PA but we would have arrived at least a half hour after starting time and unlike the majority of short tracks baseball games start on time. We like to get there at least an hour before game time to walk the park and check out points of interest. So after stopping for lunch and later dinner at OIP (Original Italian Pizza) in Port Royal we ventured to our hotel and relaxed in the room watching some TV before going to bed for the evening. We will catch the postponed Kevin Gobrecht Memorial next Sunday before starting our return trip back to Indiana.

    Check back next Tuesday or so to read about this event and in the meantime get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area of the country. Any comments or thoughts can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    All USAC Weekend At Bloomington, Haubstadt & Terre Haute

    Friday, April 27 - Tonight would be the start of an all USAC weekend. Bloomington Speedway was hosting the USAC National Sprint Car series on this evening and we made our way down Rt. 231 and Rt. 46 toward the track trying to avoid the road construction as much as possible. Finally by 5:45 we entered the Bloomington parking lot, found a spot to park and signed in at the pit shack before making our way up the hill to the homestretch where our buddy, Max Nieman, was waiting for us with space reserved for our lawn chairs. After warmups were spun off it was time for USAC time trials which kicked off at 6:49 for the 28 sprint cars on hand. By 7:04 it was Oklahoma's Tyler Thomas setting fast time with a lap of 10.954 seconds around the high banked red clay at Bloomington. After Racesaver 305 sprint car warmups it was time for the first of four heats for the USAC sprinters pushing off at 7:33. Robert Ballou would draw first blood on the evening taking heat one over a hard charging Brady Bacon in his own car with Dakota Jackson third and Chase Stockon securing the final qualifying position. Heat two would see Bloomington opening night winner, Kyle Cummins claim this one over Chad Boespflug, Kevin Thomas Jr. in the Hoffman #69 charging from sixth to third with Jerry Coons Jr. in the Krockenberger #21K taking the last qualifying spot. Heat three saw veteran Dave Darland in the Goodnight #36D coming off a win at Lincoln Park on the past Saturday wheeling to the heat victory over Nick Bilbee in the Epperson #2E, CJ Leary advancing from sixth to third with Jordan Kinser nailing down fourth. Justin Grant in the TOPP motorsports #4 suffered a flat tire in this heat and was relegated to the B main. The final heat saw a robust Tyler Courtney dominate in this one beating Lee Underwood, Isaac Chapple and Chris Windom who was just able to hold off the hard charging Logan Seavey in the Chase Briscoe #5B and Stevie Sussex in the Burton #04.


     

    The other two divisions on the evening's card were the 305 sprints and the super stocks which ran their heats after the sprint heats with three for the twenty 305's on hand and two for the ten super stocks in town. Next up was the sprint B main which went to fast timer, Tyler Thomas, holding off Napa, California's Joe Stornetta in the Pace #44, Jeff Bland Jr. in the Waltz #18W, Logan Seavey, Justin Grant and Stevie Sussex. First alternate Kody Swanson in the Hank Byrum #3R would use a provisional to tag the end of the starting field.


     

    By 8:58 it was show time with the 30 lap USAC sprint car feature taking the green flag with the front row of Chase Stockon and Dave Darland racing side by side for the lead over much of the first half of the race only interrupted once on lap 3 when Robert Ballou and Dakota Jackson tangled in turn three with Jackson flipping over. Darland was one of the few using the high side while Stockon was loyal to the bottom with Darland leading by just inches. Stockon surged ahead on lap 7 and would retain the top spot until Darland regained the top spot at the line to start lap 13. From there it was Darland's race to lose and he was not about to let his 60th career USAC National win get away in his 700 career start in this division. Meanwhile behind the top two action was heating up between Chris Windom, Chad Boespflug, CJ Leary and the California youngster, Logan Seavey, who was mythologically picked off competitors from his 15th starting position. Windom would work his way by Stockon late with Seavey and Boespflug in tow. Leary would also sneak by the fading Stockon near the end but no one had anything for the high flying Darland who flashed under the checkered flag to the approval of the good crowd on hand to notch his 60th career USAC National sprint car victory. Windom would take second with Seavey in an impressive run for third with Boespflug fourth and Leary rounding out the top five. Positions six through ten would be filled by Jeff Bland Jr., Chase Stockon slipping to seventh with Brady Bacon advancing from 13th to 8th with Joe Stornetta ninth and Tyler Courtney rounding out the top ten.


     

    We decided to stay for the 25 lap Racesaver 305 sprint car feature and it turned out to be a good one, maybe even better than the USAC feature. Luke Bland and John Paynter Jr. in a pair of #23 battled each other over the first half of the contest with Ryan Tusing in his #26 making great headway from his 12th starting position into the top five. Andy Bradley and Kendall Ruble were also dicing with Tusing and Damon Fortune in the family #39 painted up like the old Fortune #39 raced for many years by Ken Schrader and Ricky Hood and others. Bland continued to lead over Paynter but with five to go Tusing to second away. With four to go Tusing caught Bland and passed him for the lead and would go on to an impressive victory over Bland, Paynter, Bradly and Ruble with the checker falling at 9:58. That was good enough for us on this chilly evening as we joined the majority of the remainder of the crowd walking down the sidewalk hill toward the exit gate and heading to Bedford where we would spent the night before proceeding westward toward Haubstadt with a few antique store stops along the way for night two of USAC weekend.


     

    Saturday, April 28 - After spending the night in Bedford, Indiana we headed south so I could visit an antique store in Orleans before traveling the remainder of the way to our Saturday night destination at Tri-State Speedway (TSS) in Haubstadt, Indiana. Most refer to this track as simply Haubstadt and it is one of the best in the state. Unfortunately Haubstadt is not close to home and actually is one of the furthest we attend in Indiana at a little under 3 hours away. It is also in the Central Time Zone, which is good when going but not good when coming home. This was the second night of our USAC triple weekend and I was excited because my favorite driver is awesome at this track and I was looking forward to the event.


     

    We arrived earlier then we needed to because we misinterpreted the USAC twitter indicated show starts at 6:00, all times central. We arrived at 3:30 only to find out it was racing at 7:30. But that was ok as I took a nap so I would remain awake for the ride home. The day was in the low 60’s but it was very windy and you knew it was going to be another chilly one in the stands, so I waited until I heard the sprints hot lapping before heading into. Bruce went in and put down a blanket when we got there so we had good seats in the backstretch stands. Thirty one sprints took time and CJ Leary was fastest with a time of 13.252. USAC inverts the top 6 in time trials in the heats, making it a better show to see the guys push forward from further back in the pack. Leary started 6th in Heat 1 and moved to the front to win the event. It was a good competitive race and the perfect way to start the night. Heats 2 and 3 were good with Chase Stockon and Kevin Thomas Jr. from 6th winning the events. It was heat 4 that saw some action. Dave Darland won the event in fine fashion but it was the battle for the final qualifying spot that had the fans on their feet. Chet Williams and Tyler Thomas were battling for the final spot when on the last lap in turn 2 the two made contact. Or maybe I should say Thomas made a move that did not work and sent Williams flipping over. It was not a violent flip but one that should have never happen.


     

    The modifieds were also on the card mostly as a filler class. They ran three heats for the 23 cars before the sprint B main came out. There were 14 cars vying for 6 spots and we almost saw a repeat of heat 4. Once again it was Tyler Thomas racing for the final qualifying position and Johnny Petrozelle held it. Once again it was the final lap but this time the location was turns 3 and 4. Thomas got into Petrozelle and both cars spun with neither qualifying. It was really sad for Petrozelle who would spend the rest of the night in the stands. As for Thomas, he took a provisional but it sure moved him down a couple of notches on my list. Tonight Tyler Thomas was just out of control and he is a better driver than that. The 30 lap A main started at 9:19 and Kody Swanson jumped out to the early lead. A lap 7 red when Kyle Cummins did a Tommy Tip Over stopped the race and Swanson remained in the lead when racing restarted. However 6 laps later fast timer CJ Leary took over the top spot. Now I have been a Kevin Thomas Jr. fan since we moved to Indiana and this will be our fourth summer. So I did not jump on the band wagon last year when KT became a big winner. Thomas runs this track well and last year I saw him get nipped at the wire here at TSS. Tonight he did not look like he was going to be in the hunt but then the Mean Green Hoffman 69 shot into action. In the end it was Leary and KT battling for the win with KT making the pass for the lead on lap 27. Logan Seavey was third with Dave Darland and Justin Grant rounding out the top five. Chris Windom was sixth and Robert Ballou who started back in 20th came home seventh. Once again it was an exciting finish for the fans and Haubstadt showed why it is known as one of the best dirt tracks in the country.


     

    The checkered fell at 9:40 and although that seems early it was Central Time and 20 minutes up the road it would be 11:00 not 10:00. We decided to skip the modified feature and head north. It was a really good night of racing and so far a good weekend here in Indiana.

    Sunday, April 29 - Tonight would round out our USAC three race weekend as we weaved our way on the backroads of Indiana taking our time while making our way down to the Vigo Co. Fairgrounds, the home of the 1/2 mile Terre Haute Action Track, where the grand old dames of the USAC division, the Silver Crown series, would be racing on his nice sunny spring afternoon and evening. A good field of 29 Silver Crown cars would be joined by 22 UMP modifieds to partake in the Sumar Classic on the big half mile which is the only one in Indiana. Time trials would kick off at 5:13 minus two entrants as Chris Windom lost the motor in one of the Nolen entries and Kody Swanson also had an engine let go and the Hampshire crew went to work replacing it but were not able to make it out for the time trial session. Windom would borrow the Bill Rose #66 with seventeens attached to the bodywork in various spots to still earn points for the Nolen crew. At 5:43 Tyler Courtney driving the Hans Lein #97 out of Wisconsin was being interviewed after setting fast time with a lap of 22.990, the only driver to crack the 23 second line.


     

    By the end of time trials the track had already rubbered up and was real dusty. The UMP modifieds took to the track at 6:14 to contest their three heats with Will Krup, Tyler Nicely and Brian Shaw running away with their respective races. Next up was the 15 lap last chance qualifier which would take the green flag at 6:43 with 12 entrants partaking in the event with 8 to qualify and join the other 16 locked in by time. Kody Swanson was ready to go in the LCQ and lined up 12th and last to start the event. Swanson would end up second behind winner, David Byrne, at the checker with Kyle Robbins third, PA's Steve Buckwalter fourth, Florida's Joe Liguori fifth, Matt Goodnight sixth, Neil Shepherd seventh and Mike Haggenbottom, another PA driver making his first ever Silver Crown start finishing eighth and grabbing the final qualifying position in his beautiful #24. The battle for positions five through ten were hotly contested with several drivers swapping the eighth spot back and forth over the final five laps with Austin Nemire and road race driver, Chris Dyson from New York, coming up just short. Nemire would use a provisional to tag the end of the field for the Sumar Classic 100. The 15 lap UMP modified feature went green in a cloud of dust with this contest dragging for a half hour with six cautions slowing the racing. Will Krup would win over AJ Fike and a rim riding Ken Schrader throwing up a cloud of dust through turns three and four advancing from 14th to finish third.


     

    The Sumar Classic 100 would see the green cloth wave at 8:08 with Jerry Coons Jr. in the second Nolen entry taking the early lead but the caution appeared on lap one when Brady Bacon in the Klatt #6 spinning in turn two and retiring to the homestretch pit area. On the restart Tyler Courtney running in the top three got sideways and spun in turn two forcing the fast timer to restart at the tail of the field. Coons jumped out front on the restart with the top three running three wide on the homestretch for several laps before Coons pulled away. CJ Leary caught and passed Coons for the lead on lap 11 and pulled away from the field until lap 36 when Justin Grant in the Hemelgarn #91 caught Leary in lap traffic and ran side by side with him down the backstretch before Grant assumed the lead in turn three and went back to the cushion. Lap 46 saw Joss Moffatt catch the homestretch wall coming off turn four and tumbling over bringing out the red flag and it was several minutes before the wreckage and fuel spill was cleaned up and racing resumed. Grant was out front on the restart and led until lap 57 when a three car pileup among Steve Buckwalter, David Byrne and Travis Welpott caused the yellow to wave. By lap 60 the top five was Grant, Coons, Shane Cottle, Shane Cockrum and Crawfordsville's own Jacob Wilson turning in a fine ride. Wilson's night came to an end just five laps later when Wilson, Cockrum and Casey Shuman collided in turn one all racing inside the top ten with Wilson getting upside down. No one was injured in the mishap and Cockrum and Shuman were able to continue. The man on the move when action resumed was 18th starting Kody Swanson who dispatched Coons for third and started to reel in Cottle and Grant. Lap 77 was a turning point when Swanson made a brilliant move between turns three and four grabbing the lead as the top three exited turn four to power down the homestretch. Swanson is just amazing in the Silver Crown division as he sure has driving these cars down to a fine art. Cottle executed a pass of Grant for second on lap 80 but to no avail as the yellow waved as Neil Shepherd looped his mount in between turns three and four. Swanson scooted out front on the restart with Grant and Cottle in his tire tracks. Cottle tried to make a sweeping move entering turn three on lap 83 on the inside clearing Grant for second but the momentum carried him up into Swanson and the two banged wheels with the pair spinning around with Cottle sliding toward the wall and Swanson doing a 360 and continuing but with a left rear flat tire. Swanson was able to pit on the homestretch and replace the flat shoe as caution withfield in the rear and Cottle was done for the evening. Grant was the leader on the restart with Coons, Leary, Courtney from the rear earlier and Cockrum in tow. Leary squeezed by Coons for second on lap 84 and tried to reel in Grant. In the meantime Swanson was coming like gangbusters from the rear and making up real estate in big chunks. Coons was fading as brake problems caused him to burn his tires sliding through the turns using them to slow down. Another driver turning up the wick at this late stage was Chris Windom moving from seventh to fifth over the next ten laps. With seven to go Swanson caught Courtney for third and one lap later overtook Leary for second. Now the race was on for the top spot. Swanson cut into the lead from 3.5 seconds to around 1.5 seconds but just ran out of laps and time with Grant holding on for his second career Silver Crown victory with Swanson taking second with Courtney third, Windom fourth in a borrowed car and Leary rounding out the top five. Filling out the top ten were Cockrum and Coons the last drivers on the lead lap with Joe Liguori eighth, Johnny Petrozelle ninth and Neil Shepherd rounding out the top ten. Kudos go out to Silver Crown rookie, Mike Haggenbottom, in his first start garnering a fine 11th place finish for his new team.


     

    It was tough seeing the race in the first half because of the sun setting off turns three and four (can't imagine how difficult it must have been for the drivers) but the racing among the top five was good and the last 25 laps of the feature go were very good and exciting to watch. Thought the overall program took a little long to run with only two divisions but we still came away enjoying the event.

    Until next week where weekend plans are starting to fall into place check back soon to see where we end up on another typical weekend. In the meantime as the weather starts to warm get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Season Openers At Gas City & Lincoln Park

    Friday, April 20 - As we made our way back from Pennsylvania after checking in on Pat's dad and deeming him capable of caring for himself after his latest medical problem we debated between the season opener at Gas City and the big $10,000 to win No Way Out 40 at Brownstown. Even though we knew most of the bigger names would be at Brownstown chasing the big money we decided to throw our support toward Gas City which would be reopening as a weekly track in 2018 after several years of only running a very limited schedule under the O'Connors. Jerry Gappens decided to fill the void in 2018 and return from New Hampshire to his native Indiana to try to breath new life back into the 1/4 mile bullring and return it to a weekly venture. When we moved to Indiana almost five years ago one of the reasons was the view weekly racing at Gas City and when their schedule was vastly reduced it left a void in our move. Even though he have attended Bloomington mostly since that time we were sure happy to hear the news of Gas City's return to weekly racing as it has always been one of our favorite stops in the Hoosier state.

    We arrived early and secured our blanket a row below the camera stand in the grandstand after checking out the facility which was looking spruced up nicely. A visit to check the new shirts out in the souvenir building and ducking our heads into the concession area to check out the menu and the prices (very reasonable) was accomplished before heading back to the car to relax for a while. By the time we returned to the grandstand area the stands had filled in nicely and everyone was ready to kick off the grand reopening of Gas City. At 8:02 (a half hour off the published starting time - need to work on that in the future & will write it off to opening night glitches) the first of three heat races for the 22 non-winged sprint cars hit the track with five to qualify in each race. Kyle Robbins would hold off the advances of Brandon Morin (good to see him back strong after last year's garage fire) with Tyler Hewitt third, Dallas Hewitt (no relation to Tyler) in the Keen #18 and Brandon Mattox chasing. Heat two would see Shane Cottle take his new steed, the Daigh/Phillips #71P, to the front and win out over Missouri's Clinton Boyles, the new pilot of the legendary Paul Hazen #57, Ted Hines, Matt McDonald and Matt Cooley. The final heat would see Isaac Chapple score the win and looked strong winning over Jarett Andretti, Travis Hery, Garrett Abrams and Lee Underwood. Parker Fredrickson bicycled in turn three in the third heat and flipped and rolled into turn four before coming to a halt. He climbed quickly from his wrecked sprinter quickly to the relief of the crowd. The modifieds would follow quickly with their three heats for their 24 car field joined by two heats for the thundercars(9) and hornets(10). All heat racing was completed by 8:57 and only the UMP modifieds would need a B main on the evening. Also wanted to mention that all during the course of the evening trivia contests were going on with prizes to the people with the correct answers and things such as this help to keep the crowd interested and people always enjoy winning prizes. These things and other promotions will help to bring the casual fan back again and create interest for them hopefully along with the racing.

    After an interesting intermission with people inside giant bouncing balls doing battle on the homestretch with the winner or the last person standing receiving a nice looking trophy it was time for the 25 lap sprint car feature. The green flag waved from the starter's stand by Brian Hotte with Kyle Robbins assuming the early lead. Shane Cottle did not waste much time charging from his fourth starting position grabbing the lead from Robbins exiting turn four on lap two. Jarett Andretti who started sixth moved into third on lap 3 and took up the chase of Cottle and Robbins. Landon Simon brought out the caution on lap 6 as he clipped the inside truck tire in turn two ending his night early. On the restart rookie Luke Harbison rolled his #40 over lightly in turn two bringing out the red. On the restart Cottle jumped back out front and steadily pulled away from Robbins and Andretti as the race progressed. Lap 12 saw the caution wave as Jamie Fredrickson spun between turns one and two with a little help from Andretti as he became frustrated with Fredrickson as he tried to track down Robbins. Cottle was cruising out front as Andretti continued to stalk Robbins for second. Finally with five to go Andretti got a good run off turn four and passed Robbins for the runnerup position. Andretti tried to track down Cottle but time ran out with Cottle flashing under the checkered flag at 9:56 with Andretti second, Robbins third, Chapple fourth and Brandon Morin nailing down fifth. Clinton Boyles slipped to sixth at the finish with Tyler Hewitt seventh, Brandon Mattox eighth, Ted Hines ninth and Garrett Abrams rounding out the top ten. Even though it was cold we decided to stay and watch the 20 lap UMP modified feature which Randy Lines won finishing at 10:24 before we decided to call it an evening. We hope that management will continue to run this format with the top classes running their features first as this gives the majority of the fans in attendance what they wanted to see in a timely manner. Also it gives them choices after that if they want to stay or call it an evening and head home.

    All in all a very good opening night at Gas City with a few glitches to be worked out but with hints of a bright future for the racy track in Northeastern Indiana. So if you are looking for something to do on an upcoming Friday night try checking out the happenings at Gas City Speedway as Jerry Gappens and his friendly staff try to bring back some good weekly entertainment for Grant County and the surrounding area.

    Saturday, April 21 - Let me start out by saying I have been to many different race tracks in my lifetime, 787 different tracks to be exact. Not many compared to some of my track chasing friends but way many compared to the average weekend race fan. If you were to come up to me and ask me, which track is your favorite to watch a race, I would tell you Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana. 85% of the fans sit in their folding chairs and there is plenty of room between the benches to set them. When I am there I am sitting in my comfy chair with my feet up and my cooler with cold drinks, a sandwich and snacks by my side. The bathrooms are new and very clean. It is like I am relaxing in my living room. I love this place. It does not hurt that there is some darn good racing here also. Now with all that being said, I must say I was very disappointed this past Saturday at my favorite track to see a race

    Bruce and I arrived at 5:30 to find a long line at the ticket line. It was chilly and breezy but the fans were hungry for racing as Mother Nature has won most of the Indiana shows this spring. Tonight they were also having fireworks which always brings out the casual fan to see the added attraction. Now the website said hot laps at 6:00 and racing at 7:00. I had ever reason to believe everything would be starting on time. Track prep was already complete and we were surprised when the cars did not start to stage for hot laps at 6:00. They did not stage for hot laps at 6:30 either. It was close to 7:00 before the first sprint car hit the track for hot laps. The pits were full, 100 plus cars in the 4 divisions and it looked like it would be a late night. It was not until 8:15 until the first of 5 sprint heats took the green. Now the daylight was fading and fans were starting to wrap blankets around themselves. It surely did not set a good precedence for the first time visitor or the occasional visitor. Yes, a couple of days later we read on Indiana Open Wheel that the delay was drivers having to sign paperwork and other formalities that need to be done at the first race. But if that is the case tell the fans sitting in the stands why there is nothing happening on the track when it should be. Explain that this is not normal and what is happening. Don’t just ignore that fact that you are starting racing over an hour late.

    In total there were 20 qualifying events plus fireworks. The fireworks as usual are some of the best you will ever see at a race track and they only delayed the show 15 minutes. It was the bomber division that took 50 minutes to run 4 heats and later ran a lengthy B main. By the time the first feature of the night would take the green many fans had exited the parking lot.


    The 25 lap sprint A main went live at 11:53. After a 4 car tangle on lap 1 the race would go green for the next 12 laps. Dave Darland took the lead early and "The People’s Champ" would hold it until the end. Shane Cockrum was the show coming from 17th to finish 2nd with hard riding Tyler Thomas coming home 3rd and 9th starter Kevin Thomas Jr. finished 4th and Kyle Cummins rounded out the top 5. There were 4 cautions and 1 red flag during the event. Tonight they were running a second sprint feature for the 14 sprints that did not make it into the A. Normally we would have stayed to watch this race as well as the modifieds and the super stocks but with the checkered flag on the first sprint feature falling at 12:22 we called it a night at this point.

    I left, my favorite track to watch a race, disappointed. I did not expect opening night to be perfect but I did expect to be informed as to why what was supposed to be happening was not. Just tell the fans why there is a delay and apologize if you are running later than usual. Your loyal fans need to hear this and will understand. The casual or first time fan needs to know that this is not the norm.

    That's it for this week and check back next week as we are shooting for an all USAC weekend with USAC sprints at Bloomington and Haubstadt and USAC Silver Crown at Terre Haute. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and have fun. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Two State, Two Race Weekend


    Friday, April 13 - It was race day for our first race in the Midwest since returning from Florida and we were chomping at the bit to see some good open wheel racing at our favorite track in Kokomo. The day was nice and warm but the never ceasing wind was a problem and made the evening somewhat uncomfortable. We arrived around 6, found a parking spot and headed to the front gate to plunk down our $20 to see night one of the Kokomo Grand Prix featuring the USAC National Midget Series and the non-winged sprint cars. Six drivers would be pulling double duty on the evening with Dave Darland, Chris Windom, Kevin Thomas Jr., Brady Bacon, Tyler Thomas and CJ Leary being those drivers. A good field of 34 midgets and 23 sprints were on hand to do battle on the evening with action starting at 6:58 with time trials for the USAC midgets. Justin Grant in one of the Clauson/Marshall entries came out late (28th) and knocked his teammate, Tyler Courtney, off the top of the scoring tower to register fast time of 13.154 seconds around the 1/4 mile bullring. Next up would be three heats for the sprinters with Kevin Thomas Jr. coming from fourth to the win behind the wheel of the Dooling/Hayward #63 (interesting development) over Jarett Andretti and Isaac Chapple. Chad Boespflug claimed heat two over Dave Darland in the Goodnight #36D and Pennsylvania bred and IUPUI student, Tony DiMattia. The last heat saw Chris Windom power the Baldwin Brothers #5 to the front and hold off Brady Bacon in his own #99 and Matt Westfall of Ohio in his new Marshall Racing steed.

    The USAC midgets would contest four heat races with Tucker Klaasmeyer in one of the Keith Kuntz stable cars taking heat one over Logan Seavey, Justin Grant who rebounded from an earlier crash and comeback from the rear to take third with Andrew Felker claiming the last qualifying position over Holly Shelton making her return from shoulder surgery. Heat two saw Jerry Coons Jr. pilot the Petry Motorsports #25 to the front with a great battle for the runnerup position with Kevin Thomas Jr. in the other Petry entry edging out Tyler Courtney and Kuntz driver, Tanner Carrick. Tyler Thomas steered his own mount to the heat three victory over Brady Bacon in the Manafort #76M, Ryan Robinson and Alex Schuett looking good in claiming the last qualifying spot. Thomas Messeraull wheeled the Dooling/Hayward midget to victory in heat four beating out Zeb Wise, Arizona's Chad Boat and defending USAC National Midget Champion, Spencer Bayston, in a stacked heat race. The B main would go to Holly Shelton over Dave Darland punching the keyboard of the second Tyler Thomas stable entry taking down second with PA's Alex Bright taking the show position. Kyle Craker, a 17 year old driver from Lewisberry, PA wheeled the second Manafort #76 into his first USAC National midget start with a fourth place finish with Chase Jones coming like gangbusters from 11th to 5th with Brayton Lynch nailing down the final qualifying position.


     

    The 25 lap wingless sprint car feature would be the first one called to the post taking the green flag at 9:04 under the beautiful MUSCO lighting recently installed which makes the track look like it is daytime. Kevin Thomas Jr. jumped to the early lead with Chris Windom in pursuit. Things were looking good for Thomas until Windom challenged on lap ten. What transpired at this point was a slide job city contest between the two leaders exchanging slide jobs and the lead at opposite ends of the speedway. Finally Windom was able to wrestle the lead away from Thomas on lap 15 and began to pull away. Adam Byrkett caught the inside tire off turn four and tumbled down the inside of the homestretch before coming to rest. He was OK after the wild ride. Windom was not challenged the remainder of the distance and scored the win over Thomas with Brady Bacon nipping Dave Darland at the line for third with Jarett Andretti rounding out the top five. This one was in the books by 9:18 as Windom parked it in BC victory lane and did the roll cage salute to the crowd.

    Now it was time for the 30 lap USAC midget Grand Prix feature with the green flag flying at 9:35. The first start was called back as officials felt that KTJ got a jump but on the second start Logan Seavey clearly had the advantage and it was not called back so I question why this was the case as I thought the pole man was the pace setter. Anyhow Seavey went to the point but the red waved as Matt Moore rolled on his side in turn four on lap one. On the restart it was Seavey out front again with Spencer Bayston applying an early challenge. Seavey held the point until a lap 9 red when Dave Darland and Jerry Coons Jr. got together with Darland performing a Tommy Tipover and was able to restart. The action heated up on the restart as Spencer Bayston did a slide job on Seavey in turn two causing the youngster to back off with Tyler Courtney diving low making it three wide down the backstretch. Seavey split the duo entering turn three and went to the cushion to re-assume the lead. Courtney hugged the bottom and had the lead on laps 10 and 11 at the line but Seavey remained loyal to the cushion and regained the lead once again. The next couple of laps were an exchange of sliders by the leaders in impressive style with Courtney taking first for good on lap 14. At the halfway point Courtney was extending his lead as Seavey tagged the homestretch wall allowing bottom running Chad Boat to steal second. Courtney was out front with five to go when Kyle Craker and Chase Jones collided on the backstretch with a scary moment as Jones shot across the track toward the infield almost collecting leader Courtney in his path. The near miss had to be an eye opener for Sunshine. With one to go Tyler Thomas pulled to a stop in turn four with motor woes necessitating a green, white, checker finish. Courtney had Boat on his heels on the restart but was up to the challenge and flashed under the checkered flag at 10:05 scoring his fourth career USAC midget win and first at Kokomo over Chad Boat (8th starter), Brady Bacon, Spencer Bayston and Justin Grant. The second five was led by 12th starting Zeb Wise with Logan Seavey fading to seventh with Thomas Meseraull (the hard charger) from 16th to 8th with Ryan Robinson ninth and Kevin Thomas Jr. rounding out the top ten in another entertaining race at the baddest bullring.


     

    Saturday, April 14 - Since Pat's dad has had some medical issues we decided we were going to go back East for a few days to check in on him and originally we were going to stay for Kokomo the second night also but reviewing the weather on Friday the decision was made to go east one day earlier and hopefully outrun the wet weather for a least one day. As we left our hotel in Gas City on Saturday morning it was raining and the temperature had dropped to 49 degrees. Chatting with Bob from Michigan in the lobby who had also been at Kokomo the night before he agreed that racing did not look good for Saturday in Indiana. As we drove across Western Ohio the rain increase in intensity and the temperatures dropped into the low 40's. Keeping an eye on social media the tracks of Indiana began to concede to the cold and rainy weather with Kokomo, Lincoln Park, Haubstadt, Lawrenceburg and Brownstown pulling the plug. It was a good decision as we drove further east we finally outran the rain in eastern Ohio and the temperature change was dramatic. The thermometer rose from the low 40's into the 70's in a matter of less than 30 minutes!! It continued to rise and as we drove through Pennsylvania it topped out at 88. We also were listening to the Cubs baseball game from Chicago where it was rainy and the temperature was 37 with the winder chill factor at 27. They trailed the Braves at one point by 10 to 2 but rallied in the eighth to pull it out by a score of 14-10.


     

    Our destination for the evening was the half mile located on the Juniata County Fairgrounds located in downtown Port Royal. In the last few years this track has undergone a tremendous overhaul and since the last time we had visited the improvements have been overwhelming. The inside fencing are now painted Jersey barriers and the fencing above the outside fencing has been added almost all the way around the track. The biggest improvement though is the addition of MUSCO lighting all around the half mile which illuminates the entire surface like it was sunny out. Speaking of sunny out it was so all day long and this along with the high temperatures produced a slick track as the night went along which was not a surprise. A large crowd was on hand for the All Star Circuit of Champions Keith Kauffman Classic and thanks to our friends, Cindy and Kerry Meitzler, we were able to secure seats in row 11 toward the first turn.

    Time trials would kick off the night of racing with the first of 47 sprinters taking the green flag at 6:26. By 7:00 it was the Texan, Aaron Reutzel, securing the fast time with a lap of 16.473 seconds around the big half mile. Seven heats would be contested by the All Stars with four qualifying from each. The first heat was aborted early when 60 year old Jac Haudenschild got sideways entering turn two and a pileup ensued with Brock Zerfoss going over slowly. He would return for the B main. Greg Hodnett would go on to victory in this one over Aaron Reutzel, Anthony Macri and Coleman Gulick. Heat two would see West Virginia's Cale Conley triumph over Ryan Taylor, Dave Blaney and Blaine Heimbach. Heat three went to Port Royal's own Dylan Cisney beating Steve Buckwalter, Danny Dietrich and Paul McMahan. Mike Wagner took heat four over Daryn Pittman, TJ Stutts and Carson Macado driving the Joe Gaerte #3g. The fifth and final heat was won by Washington state's Trey Starks holding off Lance Dewease, Tim Shaffer and Carl Bowser. The late models ran three heats for their 28 car field before the sprint C main took to the track. Cole Duncan getting the call to drive the Indiana based McGhee #11 subbing for the ill Max McGhee ran away in this one. The two dash races to determine the first six rows of the main event were next up with Steve Buckwalter and Anthony Macri scoring wins in these events and they would share the front row for the 30 lap main event. The B main would determine the last four starters with Logan Wagner wheeling the Zemco #1 to victory over Aaron Ott, Jac Haudenschild and Gerard McIntyre Jr. in the Coldren #07. All qualifying was in the books by 9:28.


     

    The four abreast lineup was in full display and then it was time to go racing with the green flag waving on the Keith Kauffman Classic at 9:58. Anthony Macri got the jump on Steve Buckwalter and took the lead entering turn one. A red would fly early when TJ Stutts and Dave Blaney tangled in turn three with Stutts rolling over. On the restart Macri went to the point again and led until Aaron Reutzel stormed by Macri entering turn one on lap 12. The red would appear on lap 15 for a fuel stop and this would give Davey Brown Sr. an opportunity to tweak the Kreitz #69K for Lance Dewease and that would be just what he needed. On the restart Dewease grabbed second from Buckwalter and took off after Reutzel. Dewease made his move coming down the homestretch to complete lap 21 and moved by Reutzel for the top spot. Over the final nine laps the two leaders raced through lap traffic with Reutzel trying to close on Dewease. It was no avail as Dewease would score his second All Star win in two nights and his fifth consecutive All Star win at Port Royal. It was also Dewease's 108th career win at Port Royal trailing only Keith Kauffman (129) for all time wins here. One last note is that this win was the 37th All Star victory for Dewease tying him on the all time list with three legendary drivers, Steve Kinser, Doug Wolfgang and Danny Lasoski. Reutzel finished up second with Macri third, Buckwalter fourth and Greg Hodnett fifth. Dewease started seventh this evening after starting 13th and winning the night before at Williams Grove. Finishing in postions six through ten were Mike Wagner, Dylan Cisney, Ryan Smith who started 20th, Daryn Pittman who came in from Haubstadt after the second weekend WOO rainout and Ryan Taylor.


     

    That's it for this week and check back next weekend to see where we end up going in Indiana if the weather cooperates. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and as always thanks for reading. Any comments, news or questions can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net.


     


     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Some New & Interesting Developments In Midwest Racing

    Thursday, March 29 - Sitting around on another rainy miserable day in Indiana and with the weather forecast looking iffy for the USAC sprint car midwest opener at Lawrenceburg Speedway on Saturday (since I started writing this Lawrenceburg has cancelled) I decided to be productive and bring people up to snuff on happenings in the area.

    First up was the exciting news from David Byrd on Tuesday about 2017 USAC National Sprint Car Champion, Chris Windom, getting the opportunity to run an Indy Light entry in the 2018 Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The entry will be field by Belardi Auto Racing in partnership with Jonathan Byrd Racing and Baldwin Brothers Racing, the owners of his USAC sprint car ride. The Belardi race team is a good one having won the 2014 Indy Lights championship along with being the 2017 Indy Lights team champions. This is a great opportunity for Windom and also a chance to open the door for other dirt open wheel drivers in the area to get this type of chance in the future.

    Next up on the news scene was information coming out of Peru, Indiana, the site of the $10,000 to win 600cc Non-Wing World Championship at Circus City Speedway on May 23-26. Beside the $10,000 to win top prize and total purse of over $40,000 Clauson-Marshall Development has announced a partnership with Circus City for this event. The winner of the Non-Wing World Championship will be given the opportunity to test a midget at Circus City (date to be determined) alongside the other Clauson/Marshall midget drivers that raced at the Chili Bowl. It's a great opportunity to watch, listen, learn and drive from a diverse lineup of drivers.

    In more of a shocking type of announcement last week Brady Bacon announced that his year long partnership with Dooling/Hayward Motorsports had ceased with Dooling/Hayward proclaiming that they will indefinitely halt the sprint car portion of its operation. In turn Bacon has decided to field his own USAC sprint car to run for the USAC National Sprint Car Championship. In addition to the USAC sprint car schedule Bacon will race in winged sprints, midgets and Silver Crown cars in a schedule that will be in excess of 100 races run.

    On Tuesday via their Facebook page the non-wing sprint car team of 4J Motorsports owned by the Ottinger family announced that veteran driver, Dave Darland known as the People's Champ, will driver their sprint car in selected events throughout the 2018 season starting with the No Way Out 40 at Brownstown Speedway next Friday, April 6th in a race now paying $10,000 to win instead of $7500. Darland will also wheel the Goodnight #36D on the entire USAC National Sprint Car Championship tour.

    Last but not least Kokomo Speedway has announced that they are in the finishing stages of installing MUSCO lighting on their fine bullring just in time for their opening weekend of USAC National Midget racing on Friday, April 13th and Saturday, April 14th. Just another great improvement after having added a beautiful aluminum backstretch grandstand late in the 2017 season. The MUSCO lighting will just make it easier to witness some of the best racing in the country.

    That's it until next time where Lawrenceburg is on the rader so get out there in your area and enjoy some early season good short tracking racing and keep warm. And as always thanks for reading our efforts and any news, comments or other information can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net.

     

     

    Two Nights At Bubba Raceway Park for USAC Sprints & A Night In Between for 360's At East Bay

    Thursday, February 15 - Finally after seeing winged sprints, late models, mini sprints, UMP modifieds and the POWRi midgets I got to see my favorite division, the USAC sprints. Race #15 was at Bubba’s Raceway Park and along with the USAC sprints were the mod-lites. We arrived early on a beautiful day and strolled the pits. I took pictures of all the sprints and purchased my new #69 Kevin Thomas Jr. t-shirt prior to exiting the pits and taking our seats with good friends, Dale O’Brien and Steven Perrotto in the stands. There were 31 sprints in the pits which made me very happy and 48 mod-lites, not so happy. For some unknown reason warm-ups started late and when they ran warm-up sessions for the mod-lites they ran 8 sets of 6 cars each. Did not understand that one because there were 8 cars each for the sprints and the cars are much larger. To me it was a waste of time when we already started late. The surface tonight took on rubber early and by the end of the warm-ups you could start to see the rubber forming in the groove. KTJ set fast time, 13.750, in his first outing in the Hoffman #69 and at 8:22 we were ready to start racing.

    There were 4 sprint heats. Heat one saw Chase Stockon get into Mario Clauser in turn one sending Clauser flipping over hard. It would end Clauser’s night. The remaining heats were run off with little to do and Tyler Courtney, Chad Boespflug, CJ Leary and Carson Short took home the top honors. I would say the heats were not bad but they were not good. The 48 mod-lites ran 4 eight lap heats for the 48 cars. It took 40 minutes to run these mod-lite events and in my opinion that is too long for the filler division, and let’s admit it this is what the lite mods were a filler division. Minor track work followed, with little to no effect and the sprint B main and two mod-lite B mains were up next and by 10:25 the qualifying was complete.

    Again, there was more track prep and the green finally dropped on the 30 lap feature at 10:50. Before the night began I had mentioned to Bruce that I thought the entire show might be over before 10:30. Guess I was wrong! Chase Stockon jumped into the early lead and he would go on to win the event. The track did turn black, slick and dusty and I made the comment that we were at the ice races. The caution waved 7 times in the running of the 30 lap event and that is too many times for a sprint car race. However, despite all of these things I did not think it was a bad race. There was passing and some competitive racing during the event. No, it was not a Kokomo surface but then we were not at Kokomo. Taking everything into consideration it was decent racing. Chase Stockon won, as mentioned previously, with Kevin Thomas Jr on his tail at the finish. Justin Grant was third and Robert Ballou and Kyle Cummins rounded out the top five. The race was over at 11:17 and we chose not to stay around to see the mod lite feature. I am sure Bubba will work on the surface and it will be better for the remaining two races.

    Friday, February 16 - It was our condo guests, Kerry and Cindy Meitzler's last night of racing before heading back to Pennsylvania and Kerry wanted to see another new track for him on his vacation. So we headed west on I-4 and south on I-75 to Gibsonton to the East Bay Raceway Park, the site of the King of the 360's action on the 1/4 mile dirt oval near Tampa. A solid field of 35 sprints and 27 mini sprints filled the pit area but the crowd sure was scarce on the evening. The action kicked off at 7:24 with three 600 mini sprint heats which were followed quickly by four 360 sprint car heats won by local A.J. Maddox, Canadian Dylan Westbrook and Pennsylvania drivers, Mark Smith and Tim Shaffer. All heat racing was completed in less than an hour. Then it was right into the 600 B main won by Jerry Peters and the two 360 B mains taken by Danny Martin Jr. and Seth Bergmann and all preliminary events were in the books by 8:57.

    The 600 mini sprints would be first up for their 25 lap feature event and with Florida 600 driver, Robby Hoffman, starting on the front row many people had concided the race to him already. It was a very competitive and hard fought race with many drivers making hard charges with the best being Delaware's own Luke Thomas, a Bridgeport Speedway regular, chasing after Hoffman and closing the gap in the late stages. A cluster of slower cars approached by Hoffman caused him to hesitate and that was all Thomas needed catching him off turn four and outdragging Hoffman to the finish line to steal the win with Tyler Walton taking the show position. The 25 lap 360 sprint feature would take the green flag at 9:51 with Scotland, Ontario's Dylan Westbrook taking the early lead over Johnny Gilbertson. The Canadian youngster looked like he had things well in hand until the latter stages of the event when Sunbury PA's, Mark Smith, began to reel in the leader. On the homestretch to start lap 17 Smith squeezed by Westbrook to assume the point for the remaining eight laps. A race long intense battle ensued between Thomas Kennedy, the Manitoba driver and Iowa's Terry McCarl before Kennedy was able to grab third at the end. Smith came from eighth to score his third win in Florida this winter. A. J. Maddox ran a strong race to round out the top five at the finish at 10:05. A very good run program and some very good racing witnessed on the evening.

    Saturday, February 17 - We would round out our Speedweeks series of races with a return visit to Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala for the final of the USAC sprints there. We met our good friends, Allan and Nancy Brown of National Speedway Directory fame, down the road from the track at Sam's St. John's Seafood House for a delicious meal before joining our Wisconsin buddy and seat saver, Dale O'Brien, for the night's festivities. Time trials kicked off at 6:30 for the 28 car field on hand with Alabama's Kevin Thomas Jr. in the Hoffman #69 claiming fast time of 13.900 seconds around the D shaped 3/8 mile oval. Four heats would be contested for the sprinters with Robert Ballou drawing first blood nailing down heat one with a good race behind him among Kevin Thomas Jr., Isaac Chapple and Dave Darland running with the engine out of his teammate, Matt Goodnight's car, for the evening. Heat two saw the new combo of Kody Swanson and Hank Byrum win over Kyle Cummins, Jarett Andretti and Chris Windom. Heat three saw USAC rookie, Tim Buckwalter from Pennsylvania, score his first USAC sprint heat win beating out Carson Short, Chase Stockon and Chad Boespflug. The final heat saw Tyler Courtney in the Clauson/Marshall/Newman #7BC take the win over Brady Bacon, C.J. Leary and Garrett Aitken. Justin Grant was one of the others to went to the B main costing him the first position in the feature lineup from the top six inversion in time trials but he won the B main to start eighth.

    The green flag waved for the 30 lap USAC sprint feature at 9:41 and off shot Tyler Courtney to never be seriously challenged the entire distance. Chris Windom charged from fifth to second on the opening lap but would never make a serious run at the leader. The battle for third was a barn burner and if you didn't like this battle then you don't like racing. Chad Boespflug, Dave Darland, C.J. Leary and Kevin Thomas Jr. race hard with each other and at one point Leary jumped the right rear of a lap car sending him sliding and Thomas ran up and over Leary dropping them both back a ways. The only yellow waved on lap 27 when Garrett Aitken rolled to a stop in turn two. Windom had one last shot at Courtney on the restart but Courtney powered away and flashed under the checkered flag at 9:51 winning his second straight race over Windom with Boespflug third with Thomas rallying back for fourth with Dave Darland rounding out the top five. It was a good race and a good ending to the three race series here in North Florida.

    That's it for our Florida adventures and reports so it will be a while before we report on action from the Hoosier State and their season openers. Until next time plot out your race schedule and get ready for some good short track racing in your area and for you folks in Pennsylvania there is Lincoln Speedway on for their season opener next Saturday, February 24th. As always thanks for reading.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    POWRi & USCS at Bubba & WOO at Volusia

    Friday, February 9 - Race #10 fell on Friday night, February 9th at Bubba’s Raceway Park. It was a gorgeous Florida day with temperatures in the 80’s and a bit humid. There was a crew of us sitting together, Dale O’Brien, Bill Burns, Allan and Nancy Brown, David Ludwig and of course Bruce and I. We were looking forward to the first ever visit of the Lucas Oil POWRi Midgets not only to Bubba’s but to Florida. We were hoping for 20 midgets and got 19 but the USCS 360 sprints were also on hand and we were anticipating around 25 and there were 35 in the pits including such stand outs as Mark Smith and Tony Stewart. Warm-ups started and seemed to go on forever. There were 5 sessions of 7 cars each for the sprints as they ran 5 heats with 7 in each. I thought 4 would have been plenty as only 7 cars seem to really string out around the fast oval. The midgets only ran 2 warm up sessions but would also run 3 heats. Neither division runs time trials but until all of the hot lapping was completed the first of the 5 sprint heats did not start until 8:20.

    As anticipated the heats were fast and furious and for the most part not all that exciting. Albeit they were fast and caution free but I prefer side-by-side racing. I must give credit to Mark Smith who won heat 4 for the sprints as he put on some fine moves on his way to picking up the win. The midgets ran a bit closer and by 9:21 all of the heats were in the books. The two 12 lap B mains for the sprints followed and Tanner Thorson was removed from Danny Smith’s Christmas card list after Thorson removed Smith from a qualifying spot in turn four, causing him to have a "Tommy Tip Over".

    The midget 30 lap A main was first on the card and the green dropped at 10:17. Tanner Thorson started in the pole position but it was not long before Kevin Thomas Jr. would take over the top spot and not relinquish it. Thorson and KTJ had some real nice racing slide jobs before KTJ started to pull away from the field. There were only 3 caution in the event. The second on lap 21 saw third place Chad Boat exit and on lap 28 second place Thorson came to a halt in turn 2. Although the race was decent there were no WOW factors. KTJ won in his first run with the Petry Motorsports Team as a full time partnership. He was followed by Ryan Robinson, Tucker Klaasmeyer, Matt Moore and Zane Hendricks.

    The card ended with a 25 lap A main for the 360 sprints and it was a long one. It took nearly 40 minutes and there was 1 red and 5 cautions. Carson Short lead the first 7 or 8 laps before Mark Smith took over from his 6th starting position. Smith would never be challenged for the lead and Short would remain in second. Tyler Clem came home in third after starting 15th and Tanner Thorson, driving double duty came from 19th to finish fourth. Tony Stewart rounded out the top five after starting 20th.

    The show was complete at 11:31. I thought a little late for what they had to run. After moving to Indiana I noticed there is a big difference between a winged track surface and a non-winged track surface. Problem is when you run a winged and non-winged program one of the divisions will not have the surface they need to put on a great sow. Unfortunately that all too often is the non-winged division. Tonight for the winged 360’s the surface was excellent. For the POWRi midgets, well let’s just say it was no Macon Speedway. If you were there and were disappointed a bit, venture out to Illinois in the beginning of June for Illinois POWRi Midget Week and be prepared to be blown away.

    Saturday, February 10 - Another nice day in the 80's greeted us and friends Kerry and Cindy Meitzler joined us for the week with racing taking place again at Bubba Raceway Park. On the way up we stopped at the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing which is a must see even if you are not a drag racing fan. The displays are emaciate and each plaque gives a good history of the dragster you are standing in front of. The antique car museum is an added bonus and the stories behind each of the cars on display is just as interesting as the collection gathered. The lady in the souvenir store on premise was telling us about the 86 year old going on 60 Garlits who recently competed in a 50 mile bike race and plans in the next few weeks at making a run in a top fuel dragster to top the 200 mph mark at the age of 86. This place is a must see for all racing enthusiasts of any kind.

    Checking in at Bubba Raceway Park around 5 we encountered a fine field of 34 USCS sprinters and 18 POWRi midgets to contest in tonight's racing action. Five heats were first on the program for the sprint cars with Joe Swanson, Danny Martin Jr., Tony Agin, Terry Witherspoon and defending USCS point champion, Jordan Mallett, scoring heat wins. The POWRi midgets contested three heats with Zach Daum, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Joe B. Miller looking like the top candidates for the main event later in the evening. After intermission and some track prep two B mains for the USCS sprints were run with Wayne Johnson and Carson Short prevailing. By 9:25 all preliminary qualifying was completed and shortly thereafter it was feature time.

    The 30 lap POWRi midget main event would be the first one on the dance card and the green flag dropped on the front row of Kevin Thomas Jr. & Tanner Thorson (with a MOPAR under the hood replacing the expired Toyota from night one) at 9:35. The first yellow appeared quickly on lap one when the newest member of the Keith Kuntz stable, Sam Johnson, pounded the turn four wall hard and piororated around before landing upright on the track surface with the youngster climbing from the car quickly. On the restart KTJ powered to the lead with Thorson in hot pursuit. Thorson was able to keep pace but never challenged Thomas for the top spot as the laps clicked off. The second caution appeared on lap 20 when female racer, Presley Truedson in the second Zach Daum entry, rolled to a stop with mechanical woes. One lap later the other female in the field, Michelle Decker, stopped with front end damage in turn two. Thomas checked out on the restart and cruised to his second straight POWRi midget win and the third of his career beating out Thorson with Daum third, Chad Boat roping fourth and Ryan Robinson bringing another Keith Kuntz entry home fifth. It was a good way for the Petry/Thomas entry to start out their new partnership and next week I'm sure Thomas hopes this will extend to his new USAC sprint car partnership with Hoffman Racing. We will see.

    The USCS sprints in their 22nd season of operation would close out the evening with their 30 lap main event. It was actually the better of the two features this evening even though Mark Smith dominated the entire event. The racing behind him was intense from positions two through eight with much dicing occurring throughout the 30 lapper. Seth Bergman, the Washington state native, would 9:24from 14th to claim 3rd with Carson Short blasting from 16th to nail down 4th and Florida's own A.J. Mattox coming from 10th to 5th at the final checker at 10:42. A highly entertaining feature go with much passing throughout.

    Sunday, February 11 - After having a wonderful lunch with Allan and Nancy Brown and Benny and Jane Trask at the North Turn Restaurant in Ponce Inlet and doing some good bench racing it was off to the Volusia Speedway Park for our first night of racing there. Thirty one WOO sprints would join 27 UMP modifieds on tonight's card in a good doubleheader program. Sprint time trials got underway at 6:28 and 20 minutes later Paul McMahan was acknowledged as the fast timer with a lap of 13.058 seconds in the Tom Buch #13 around the half mile oval. By 7:34 the first of three WOO sprint heats were underway with Shane Stewart bringing the Larson #2 home first over McMahan, Rico Abreu and owner, Kyle Larson. Heat two saw Donny Schatz triumph over Brian Brown, Greg Hodnett and Joey Saldana. The third and final heat race saw Jason Johnson prevail over Parker Price-Miller, Tim Shaffer and Dave Blaney. The track was fast and passing was at a premium at this point but that would all change in the main event. Three UMP modified heats were next followed by the sprint dash won by Brian Brown and the Last Chance Showdown claimed by Trey Starks, a race in which Brent Marks turned turtle and knocked down the turn one traffic light.

    By 9:24 it was time to unleash the WOO 410 monsters for the 40th time at the Florida speed plant in Barberville. Brian Brown went to the point at the start but it was not long before Donny Schatz was challenging for the lead and took the lead at the start/finish line to complete lap 2. The only caution of the event waved on lap 6 when a car slowed on the track. On the restart Brown got the jump on Schatz and retook the lead in turn three. Schatz went back out front on lap 10 and pulled away. Sheldon Haudenschild was slicing through the field from his 13th starting position and executed a fourth to second move in turn two on lap 16 and took up the chase of Schatz. He closed in the middle stages of the race but Schatz was able to expertly work the lap traffic and maintain a safe lead. Little Haud began to fade somewhat with Brad Sweet sweeping by in turns three and four on lap 25 for second. Sweet began to cut into the Schatz lead but with only five laps to go Schatz had a healthy margin and flashed under the double checkers at 9:35 for his 251st WOO win followed by Sweet, Haudenschild, Jason Johnson and Chad Kemenah up from 15th ending a fine Florida campaign for the defending All Star point champion. Positions six through ten were filled by Shane Stewart, Brian Brown, Paul McMahan, David Gravel and Parker Price-Miller. We decided to stay for the UMP modified feature with Nick Hoffman taking the lead on lap 13 from his tenth starting position and scoring his third win of the week over teammate, Will Krup and Zeke McKenzie with the final checker flashing at 10:09. It was just in time as rain started to drop on the grounds and by the time we got to the car it was coming down in buckets. About three miles east of the track as we drove back it had never rained and that is Florida weather for sure!!!

    That's it for now as we plot to take in sprint car racing at both East Bay and Bubba this week as speedweeks continue. News or comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Four Nights Of Action At East Bay

    Monday, February 5 - I know. I know. This is a open wheel web site featuring sprint cars and midgets but work with me on this and if you just like plain good racing read on. We go to the dark side every year at East Bay Raceway Park when they host the Lucas Oil Late Model Series (LOLMS) for six straight nights of good late model racing on the perfect track for them.

    Today was the warmest it has been in the week we have been down in Florida with temperatures pushing the 80's. During the evening hours it would still be in the 60's allowing for a one sweatshirt type night of racing. First off LOLMS knows how to run a race program with time trials for the 39 cars on hand starting at 6:34 and the final checker of the evening waving at 9:06!! And it would have been even sooner if the infield was not saturated with 3 inches of rain from the previous day making the infield virtually useless and causing management to allow the group qualifying to exit the track each time out the turn one exit. Four heats were spun off in a half hour followed by two B mains and all were completed by 8:07. The 30 lap main event would take the green flag at 8:52 with only two minor yellows slowing the action. And speaking of action boy there was loads of it this evening. Devin Moran went out front on lap 2 and led until lap 13 when Josh Richards, the fast timer, went to the point. Richards, the winner of the previous two LOLMS races in Georgia, was now first and most everyone thought this one is over but no one mentioned this to Moran who retook the lead on lap 16. All of a sudden Jonathan Davenport arrived on the scene taking second from Richards and hounding Moran for the top spot. Also Earl Pearson Jr. and Brandon Sheppard from 9th were battling in the top five and Richards was shuffled back even more. The top five battled tooth and nail over the remainder of the distance with Moran holding sway over Sheppard and the others. On the last lap Moran encountered lap traffic in turn three and dove low to pass while Sheppard threw it up high and the two came to the checkered flag side by side with Sheppard stealing the win by mere feet at the line!! It was a damn good race!!! Pearson came home third with Davenport fourth and 18th starting Scott Bloomquist nipping Josh Richards at the finish for fifth. Did I mention that it was really good!!

    Tuesday, February 6 - Today was even warmer with temperatures in the mid 80's and an even larger field of 45 cars was in attendance. Racing was good in the heats and B mains but the feature would top the night. Jonathan Davenport would control the race from his second starting spot but a late race restart almost saw Brandon Overton steal the win like last night. The racing for the positions behind Davenport was fericous with Overton making the late challenge but coming up short. Davenport ran into lap traffic entering turn one with Overton diving low and sliding almost in front of him but he gave Davenport enough room to sweep back by on the outside and hold on for the win. Brandon Sheppard backed up his win last night with a third tonight with Josh Richards coming from 17th to 4th and Tyler Erb rounding out the top five in a program that ended just before 10 PM. Bobby Pierce made a great run from 24th to finish just outside the top five in sixth after cracking the top five several times during the event. Another good night of racing and we look forward to Wednesday's action.

    Wednesday, February 7 - Night three saw another increase in cars up to 50 and that could rise other the next couple of days with the cancellation of the WOO late model weekend at Screven in Georgia because of persistent rain in that area. Six heats and two B mains were needed tonight and you know it is a stout field when Monday's winner, Brandon Sheppard, has to win the Strawberry Dash to qualify for the 40 lapper. Jimmy Owens went to the early lead with Brandon Overton slipping from second to fourth. Josh Richards who started third quickly went after Owens and took the lead on lap 4 as the action unfolded behind the leaders. Gregg Satterlee took second from Owens and Overton worked his way into the top three. Overton then dispensed of Satterlee and took up the chase of Richards. On lap 26 Overton powered by Richards for the lead off turn four and he would not be challenged over the remaining 14 laps on his way to his first ever win at East Bay. Richards would claim second with Satterlee third, Jonathan Davenport fourth and Bobby Pierce taking fifth after starting tenth. Another good night of racing but not as good as the previous two but they will be tough to beat. Again the program was completed by a very reasonable 9:41 PM. LOLM sure knows how to run an efficient show!!

    Thursday, February 8 - Today we made a leisurely drive over to Gibsonton stopping at Parkesdale Farms to have one of their world famous and delicious strawberry shortcakes which are huge and go for only $4.00 with other variations between $4 and $5. From there we had to stop at Bass Pro Shops with a Christmas exchange and discovered a restrauant attached advertising all you can eat fried shrimp for $10.99 which we decided to partake of. It was a very nice restrauant inside and the shrimp were very good and plentiful. Then it was off to our last scheduled night at the Clay by the Bay for another round of Lucas Oil Late Model action on the bullring in Gibsonton. Tonight the surface was racy but produced gritty dirt from the outset and continued throughout the entire evening. It made viewing difficult and took away from some of the enjoyment of the evening of racing. Fifty three cars were signed in for the evening but only 49 took part in the heat qualifying process. The heat racing was intense and the two B mains were hotly contested with opening night winner, Brandon Sheppard, making a beautiful turn three move on the last lap of his B main to grab the second and final qualifying position and earn the 21st starting position in the feature. The green flag waved on the 40 lap main event at 9:36 with the yellow quickly appearing. In the previous three nights of racing all the features only had two yellows but tonight produced seven yellows before the race was completed. Second starting Kyle Bronson, a local from nearby Brandon, took the lead away from first starting Scott Bloomquist on lap 2. Lap 5 saw Tyler Erb power by on the backstretch to assume the lead with Brandon Sheppard marching through the field entering the top five on lap 14. Just seven laps later Sheppard would pounce into the lead with a turn two pass and become the leader from deep in the pack. The racing was also heating up behind the leader with Bloomquist moving back to second after falling back in the middle stages of the contest and now applying pressure to Sheppard. The Bloomer was all over Sheppard for many laps but could not seem to find a way around the leader. Sheppard would hold on to take his second win of the Winternationals over Bloomquist with Devin Moran advancing from 11th to 3rd with Josh Richards claiming fourth and Tyler Erb moving from ninth to fifth at the end with the final checker waving at 10:10.

    It was a competitive ending to our visit to East Bay for the LOLM's and once again the racing was superb and we always look forward to watching the late models run here on the west coast of Florida and will return next year for another visit to the dark side. Until the next report from Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala where the POWRi midgets and USCS sprints are scheduled to run for the next two nights take care and maybe take in the TQ midgets racing indoors if you are in the Albany, NY area this weekend. News or comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Saved The Best For Last At Bubba Raceway Park

    Saturday, February 3 - It was the third and final night for the All Star Circuit of Champions sprint cars at the 3/8 mile D-shaped Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala. After last night when the surface got black and slick tonight the track was again in good shape. During warmups the dirt balls or pellets flew into the grandstands reaching even the top rows and people were trying to take cover to no avail. I even spoke with a young lady in a Pilot afterwards who attended her first sprint car race which she enjoyed very much but she was surprised by the flying dirt. The track was in that good of shape!!

    Time trials commenced at 6:19 with 33 sprinters taking their turn with the track getting better as the night went on. In fact Kerry Madsen was last out and turned fast time of 11.581 seconds. Not as fast as the first night but the track held up better throughout the evening. I said it before but sometimes the track can be too good and passing is at a premium as everyone is fast and overtaking is a task. This is what happened in the heat racing action as passing was at a premium. Paul McMahan continues to impress in the Buch #13 nailing down heat one over Trevor Baker, Mark Smith, Chad Kemenah and Dave Blaney. St. Petersburg youngster, Tyler Clem, swept to the win in heat two over Sheldon Haudenschild, Rico Abreu, Carson Short and Max Stambaugh. Heat three saw Cale Conley also looking impressive in the early season winning over Danny Dietrich (48DD), Tony Stewart, Lucas Wolfe and Wayne Johnson. The fourth and final heat was won by Tim Shaffer (who always runs well here) beating Greg Hodnett, Kerry Madsen, Parker Price-Miller and Danny Smith in the most stacked heat of the evening. The Florida mini sprints took the wings off tonight and went topless running third heats for their 21 car field with Jaime Timkham, Kenny Brewer and Robby (apologize to him for misspelling in opening column) Hoffman. The two sprint dashes followed with Sheldon Haudenschild and Parker Price-Miller claiming the front row for the 30 lap feature to follow. The B main saw Coleman Gulick claim the win over Steve Buckwalter, Caleb Helms and John Garvin with Hunter Mackinson climbing the homestretch wall and flipping while in a qualifying position. Mackinson was uninjured in the incident.

    Now it was feature time with the Florida Mini Sprint Association (FMSA) the first ones up to contest their 20 lap main event. This one got off to a rocky start with two quick cautions with the one eliminating the winner of the first two nights, Robby Hoffman, from competition. Jaime Timkham jumped out front and looked strong early with Zak Gorski in pursuit. Soon young Trynt Lloyd had worked his way into contention taking over the third position from deep in the pack. On one restart near the halfway mark Gorski was able to stay with and eventually pass Timkham for the top spot. Once out front Gorski took off and left the field. When the checkered waved at 9:38 it was the sixth starting Zac Gorski flashing under the flagstand with a healthy lead with Timkham holding off Trynt Lloyd for second with Robbie Smith fourth and Kenny Brewer rounding out the top five. It was announced that Smith has secured a ride for next week's POWRi midget events and we wish the youngster success running with POWRi.

    All three All Star sprint feature events have started within five minutes of each other here at Bubba and our hats off to the All Star officials for tightening up their program to allow everyone to leave at a decent hour and not be out in the cold so long. The final took the green at 9:52 with Sheldon Haudenschild going to the point from his first starting position. Tyler Clem and Tim Shaffer took up pursuit of the leader as second starting Parker Price-Miller slipped backward to around seventh. The laps spun off quickly as the green remained out until lap 17 when the first caution flag flew with Haudenschild with a five second lead now wiped out. Many eyes had been on Chad Kemenah who started back in 16th and had cracked the top five right before the first caution. Kemenah has been on a tear here and was now in contention. Haudenschild surged back out front on the restart with Shaffer and Madsen now in tow. Kemenah moved into fourth just before the second caution waved on lap 22. Now Madsen was up to second and was looking to make a run at Haudenschild. Several times over the last eight laps Madsen pressured the young Haud who was up to the task. When the checkered waved at 10:04 it was Haudenschild in for his first Florida victory along with his first victory since becoming the driver of the Stenhouse/Marshall #17 and his 17th career All Star win. Kerry Madsen finished second with Chad Kemenah third, Tim Shaffer fourth and Parker Price-Miller rounding out the top five. Price-Miller went back and forth out of the top five and passed quite a few cars but they were the same ones several times!!! The second five was led by Paul McMahan with Tyler Clem scoring a good seventh with Greg Hodnett eighth, Mark Smith ninth and Danny Dietrich taking tenth.

    All in all a good night of racing with both of the feature events being competitive. Until next time with Lucas Oil late models and POWRi midgets and USCS sprints on the horizon take care and keep warm and dry. News and comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading.


     


     

     

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Night Two Of All Star Action At Bubba Raceway Park


    Friday, February 2 - It was race #4 of the year and the second night of the All Star

    Sprints at Bubba’s Raceway Park. I had to work during the day so Bruce and I did not

    arrive early enough to walk the pit area but we did have seats on the top row thanks to

    Zeke, our Clearwater, Florida racing friend. The first difference tonight I noticed was

    the weather which was a lot cooler and eventually seemed cold for even this northern

    girl. The second was the track was not as fast as the previous night and there were no new

    track records broken tonight. I briefly got to speak with the ASCoC flagger prior to the

    start of warm-ups and complemented him on how efficient I thought they ran the show

    the previous night but then added unfortunately when the feature started the drivers all

    got stupid. He just smiled and pretty much agreed. He did said they were spoken to.

    Warm-ups started at 6:50 followed by time trials at 7:15. As I mentioned no new track

    records tonight. After 35 cars timed Kerry Madsen had the fast time at 11.848. Warm-

    ups for the 21 mini sprints, an increase of 5 from the previous night, were next and real

    racing, I am not a time trial fan, began at 8:07, virtually the same time as the previous

    night. The four heats for the sprints were run off caution free with not a whole lot of

    action. Tyler Clem, Coleman Gulick, Tim Shaffer and Sheldon Haudenschild took the

    top honors. We moved directly into the mini sprint heats and tonight they were broken down

    into 3 heats due to the increased car count. A lot of the fans do not pay much attention

    to these cars but they really hightail it around the 3/8 mile D shaped track. It would be

    interesting to know the times they are turning when at full speed. Trust me that does

    not mean I want to see time trials for the mini sprints. I just wonder how fast they are

    turning the track.

    As the weather was getting a bit chilly, hats off to the ASCoC who decided to keep the

    show moving along. They scrapped the drivers coming out on the homestretch to pick

    for their starting positions in the dashes. This was done in the pits during the running of

    the mini sprint heats. The dashes followed the mini sprint heats immediately and

    within 10 minutes the first 5 rows of the main event could be penned in the book. The

    sprint B main followed and by 9:00 the fields were set and it was feature time for both

    divisions. There was a 30 minute intermission and the green dropped on the 20 lap mini

    sprint feature at 9:32. The event was run off with only 2 brief cautions and ended with a

    vegetable medley battling for the lead. There are 4 Todd’s Tomatoes and Wholesale

    Produce mini sprints and they are all very competitive and fast. It is like the Kuntz cars

    of mini sprints. In the end two of these colorfully decaled vegetable cars battled for the

    win. Robby Hoffman picked up the win for the second night in a row and Tyler Walton

    was second. Trynt Lloyd came home third.

    The start time of the feature was the exact same time as night one, 9:56. The previous

    night it took 1 hour and 10 minutes from initial green to checker. Tonight we were

    definitely hoping for a better result. They should have all had the first night jitters out of

    their system and get down to what they do best, race. First the track was different from​
    the previous night. Night one it was near perfect and I always say a perfect track does
    not necessarily produce the best racing. Tonight, night two, it got a little dusty and it
    slicked down and took on some rubber. However, I think night two was a better race.
    Yes, Tim Shaffer started from the outside pole and led all 30 laps on his way to picking
    up the $5,000 first prize but there was some good passing back in the pack. But best of
    all there were only two minor cautions for spins. Unfortunately the first happen on lap 8
    when lapped car John Garvin spun in turn four and collected second place running Tyler
    Clem and fourth place running Sheldon Haudenschild. It was a shame for both front
    runners as they both had very fast cars. The only other caution was on lap 20 when
    Carson Short spun the #21 in turn four. Shaffer looked dominant but in the end it was
    getting harder as his inability to get by a lap car almost cost him the race. With 5 to go I
    thought for sure that Kerry Madsen was going to take the win away. But in the end
    Shaffer hung on for the win followed by Kerry Madsen from 5th, Mark Smith, Coleman
    Gulick from 10th and Paul McMahan from 14th to round out the top 5. Chad Kemenah
    was 6th and Greg Hodnett finished 7th after starting 16th . Danny Dietrich, Tony Stewart
    and Parker Price Miller completed the top 10. The hard charger was Steve Buckwalter
    who moved up 10 positions. After starting 24th he came home in 14th. Not to mention
    the checkered fell tonight at 10:12. All in all it was not a bad race. For me it was
    definitely better than the first night. Looking forward to tonight even though it will be
    another chilly one. You know what they say, “The third times the charm”.
    It seemed some people on social media were complaining about the track conditions
    and the fact that the track did take on rubber and get slick. The previous night it did not
    take on rubber and they had 8 cautions and 2 reds. I am not taking sides and say it is
    okay for a track to blacken but if you go to enough races you know they all do from time
    to time. See you tonight at Bubba’s!

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Sprint Car Season Opener At Bubba Raceway Park

    Thursday, February 1 - After a long hiatus from this site we are back taking in our first sprint car race of 2018 Thursday night at the Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida. After a pleasant day in the middle 70's we ventured an hour and a half from our base in Celebration to take in the season opener for the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1. After the sun set the temperatures dropped into the low 60's, still making for a pleasant night to watch sprint car racing in Florida. A decent crowd turned out for the first of three consecutive nights of All Star racing and the surface could not have been any better. Smooth and tacky the well groomed track surface produced a time trial session where 17 of the 35 entrants on hand broke the former track record of 11.840 seconds set by Daryn Pittman at an All Star event on February 8th of 2013. Fast time went to Ian Madsen who destroyed the previous mark with a time of 11.392 seconds for the session.

    Heat racing for the sprinters kicked off at 8:05 with four rounds with five advancing from each of the heats before a B main would add the other four starters to the 24 car field for the evening. Heat one saw the Illinois driver, Carson Short, attaching the foil for the evening as the guy who originally started out in non-winged action has run more winged events in the last year, mostly with MOWA and proved he is a quick learner capturing this one over Tim Shaffer, Caleb Helms and Greg Hodnett. Heat two saw Pennsylvania runner, Mark Smith, take top honors over Kerry Madsen, Rico Abreu and Danny Dietrich. Heat three saw West Virginia product, Cale Conley, prevail over Parker Price-Miller, Max Stambaugh and Dave Blaney, the new driver of the Groves #70. The last heat of the evening saw veteran Paul McMahan drive the Buch #13 to victory over series owner, Tony Stewart, Ian Madsen and Coleman Gulick, the youngster from Birmingham, New York who will race in winged and wingless action this winter at the Ocala speedplant. All heat racing was in the books by 8:31 with the Florida mini sprints being on the undercard and bringing a decent 16 cars to the dance ( a perfect filler division for the evening). Their first heat was run followed by the dash draw down on the track and then the second heat was run. Almost immediately the first of two dashes was brought to the speedway and the five lap event was run with Parker Price-Miller grabbing the win and the pole position for the main event. Dash two saw Tony Stewart triumph to earn the second starting position with the other eight participants lining up behind the top two starters. Only the B main remained and shortly thereafter Sheldon Haudenschild brought the Stenhouse/Marshall #17 home first over John Garvin, Hunter Mackinson and Bubba's boy, Tyler Clem. Danny Smith and Steve Buckwalter would be relegated to alternate status and fail to make the starting field.

    The 20 lap Florida mini sprint feature was next up and provided some good racing with one of the vegetable farm sponsored cars winning with Robbie Hoffman driving and the race ran with only one caution and took only nine minutes to spin off. The 30 lap All Star sprint car main event was green flagged at 9:56 and three yellow flags waved before one lap was completed. This was a prelude to what was going to happen the rest of the way and I would like to tell you it was a great race but I would be lying. Don't get me totally wrong as there were some good performances by various drivers but overall in a race marred with eight yellows and two more yellows which turned into open reds and fuel stops it was a stinker. After the initial string of yellows they ran until lap six when Coleman Gulick executed a series of end over end flips to bring out the first red and a fuel stop was executed at this time. Around lap 11 while battling for third Carson Short and Ian Madsen got together at the end of the homestretch with Madsen flipping over and landing by the pit gate. When racing resumed Price-Miller remained on the point with Tony Stewart and Rico Abreu in tow. In the meantime Chad Kemenah was making up big chunks of real estate advancing from 17th into the top five. The track was starting to take on some rubber and becoming slick as Kemenah used the inside to reel in the leaders. On lap 22 Kemenah passed Price-Miller for the lead on the homestretch and began to pull away. On lap 26 Wayne Johnson and Paul McMahan running just outside the top five tangled with Johnson clipping the front end of McMahan's machine collapsing the front end with McMahan crossing the turn and collecting Sheldon Haudenschild who had nowhere to go ending Mcmahan's evening early. On the restart Mark Smith who was running third spun on the backstretch collecting Rico Abreu in the process. It ruined good finishes for both drivers. After that the last four laps went off without incident with Kemenah winning handily over Stewart, Dave Blaney from 13th, Parker Price-Miller and Carson Short at 11:05. It was a long event and many people headed for the exits on the lap 26 fuel stop but that's the way it goes sometimes and you can't do nothing about drivers spinning and wrecking and so forth. You just hope that the next race is better than this. For Chad Kemenah, the six time and defending All Star point champion, it was a good way to start off the year scoring his first Florida win and his thirty four overall All Star victory.

    Check back in the next couple of days for night two and three of the All Star Sprints at Bubba Raceway Park and until next time sit down and start plotting your 2018 racing schedule if you have not made the trip down to the Sunshine state. Comments or questions can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading and be safe.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Outdoor Midwest Sprint Car Season Comes To A Close At Kokomo & Haubstadt

    Friday, October 20 - The season might be near the end but the warm temperatures in the air and the hot action on the track keep us yearning for more. Friday it was the final sprint race of the 2017 racing season at Kokomo Speedway and it left the fans wishing there were more. It was the 11th Annual Kokomo Klash and the weather was perfect. The high was in the upper 70’s with bright sunshine and for late October you cannot ask for more. We arrived at 6:30 and they were already more than halfway through group timing for the 4 divisions of sprints, midgets, 600 mini sprints and thundercars. There was a nice crowd on hand for night one of the two day event and we immediately entered to secure our seats. It was nice to see longtime friend, Benny Trask sitting near our usual spot and we took up seats with him.


     

    There were 36 sprints in the pits and the heats would be starting heads up from the timing. Kokomo made it known there was a lot to run and they were not going to mess around as the first sprint heats started at 7:28. Dave Darland immediately charged to a nice lead but the race we all witnessed for third, fourth and fifth was classic Kokomo. Tyler Courtney, Chad Boespflug and Shane Cottle battled three wide and had all the fans drooling by the time the checkered fell. Cottle was the driver not making the cut as only the top four advanced to the A main. Heat two was equally good with three and four lacking some of the excitement of the first two. But you had a sense it was going to be good.


     

    The midget field numbered 21 with three heats and the 600’s ran three heats for their field of 25. The thundercars came out in full force numbering 44 strong and ran off their four heats with next to no issues. In all 14 heats were run off in 1 hour and 35 minutes and two of the divisions had to be pushed off to start. Only two cars got on their cages. That of David Hair in the second sprint heat as he had some serious air time in turn three and the car caught fire when it came to rest on it's wheels. David popped out of the car almost immediately to the delight of all.


     

    After a brief break to hand out the track awards to the top 5 in points the program went right into the two B main events for the sprints with Shane Cottle picking up the first and Travis Hery the other. Dallas Hewitt turned turtle in one of the B's and was OK after exiting the car. Again the thundercars did not run badly in during their two B mains and before we knew it, it was feature time.


     

    Dave Darland was on the pole in the Hery #40 and you knew that was a perfect combination to pick up the win. But Chris Windom, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Kyle Cummins made up the remainder of the front two rows and you knew they all thought differently. Yet no one from those front two rows would come home the victor. I must admit when the green dropped and all cars went to the high side I was a bit disappointed. Where was the side by side racing I came to see? Then on lap 9 the caution came out when Ted Hines spun the #12 in turn 2. When racing resumed it was Kokomo at its best. They were everywhere. The low side was being used by some and then there was Tyler Courtney using a line like no one else diamonding turns three and four before motoring down the homestretch. Shane Cottle, the B main winner was in the mix as he charged from his 17th starting position to the front. KTJ as hot as any driver right now, went backward on the high side. Windom used the low side and the racing was wild and furious. It really looked like "The People’s Champ" Dave Darland was going to capture the event when lap traffic came into play. Courtney worked his way into second and no one was running the line he was. Darland on the other hand was high and in front of him were some slower cars that would break his momentum just enough to set up the last corner run for Courtney. Darland came charging out of turn four on the high side in traffic and Courtney diamonded off shooting down low where the track was clear. Courtney got by Darland’s front end right before they crossed line sending Courtney to BC victory lane. As our good friend and Grandview Speedway announcer back in Pennsylvania would say, it was a "Wow! Wow! Wow!" finish. Kokomo at its best. Darland had to settle for second with Shane Cottle coming home third from his seventeenth starting position. Chris Windom was fourth and Kevin Thomas Jr. fifth.


     

    The midget 25 lap even was next and although not as good as the sprints it did not lack excitement. Shane Cottle picked up the win followed by Gage Walker, who had a very nice run. Chris Windom was third, Landon Simon was fourth and Jerry Coons Jr. rounded out the top five. Although it was only 10:50 we chose to head toward the gates.


     

    It was an awesome night of racing. Three years ago Bruce and I picked up and moved to Indiana from Pennsylvania friends and family thought we were a little crazy. Even some of our race friends did not understand. I mean we had the mighty 410 winged sprints of Central PA, the PA Posse, in our backyard. Do not get me wrong, when it come to 410 winged sprints I still bleed PA Posse. But after seeing the wingless sprints at Kokomo Speedway 14 times in 2017, there is no place in this country that I would rather be then right here in Indiana. How many years do I have to live here before I can say I am a Hoosier?


     

    Saturday, October 21 - Today was another gorgeous fall day with temperatures topping out at 80. Today's destination was the Tri-State Speedway in southwest Indiana or simply called Haubstadt after the nearby town of the same name. Haubstadt was running their previously rained out Harvest Cup tonight was the MSCS sprints topping the card racing 30 laps for $5000 to win. A good field of 27 sprinters, 24 UMP modifieds and 25 MMSA mini sprints filled the turns one and two pit area as we settled in for the last night of sprint car racing in the Midwest. Group time trials were held for each division with a zero inversion pill picked by a youngster for the sprint cars meaning that the feature would start straight up from how they finished in the qualifying heats so hard racing would prevail in the heat action. Heat one saw near Fort Branch resident, Chase Stockon, grab the win over Kevin Thomas Jr., CJ Leary, Chase Briscoe in his own car and Nate McMillen. Heat two saw the racing get dicey as first Brandon Mattox spun up front in turn four and with no where to go Kent Schmidt slid into him and up and over taking a soft roll. Later in heat two Collin Ambrose got together with Ben Knight on the backstretch right in front of us battling for a qualifying spot with Ambrose pounding the wall head on and launching into a series of rolls before stopping further down the track. Ambrose took a while to exit the machine and didn't look too steady as he made his way to the ambulance. When racing resumed Kyle Cummins went to the point and stayed there winning over Chet Williams, Stephen Schnapf (a sprint car rookie coming out of the modified ranks & looking good in his rookie champaign), Ben Knight and Parker Frederickson. The final heat went to Carson Short who held off Donny Brackett, Robert Ballou, Aric Gentry and Jadon Rogers. The sprints took a long 45 minutes to complete their heat racing. The modified and mini sprint heat qualifying followed and next up was the sprint car B main. Tyler Thomas would bring the Dutcher #17GP across the line first in this one defeating Brady Short, the 2017 MSCS point champion for the third year in a row, Brian Wallace, Mitchell Davis and Brandon Mattox punching the last ticket to the big dance.


     

    The 30 lap MSCS sprint feature would take the green flag at 9:05 and the race would go non-stop in eight minutes. Chase Stockon jumped to the early lead and held the top spot until seventh starting CJ Leary shot out front like a rocket and from that point on it was watch and see if the lap traffic would slow the pace of the high flying Leary. It was actually difficult to follow the race as many of the sprinters have black in their color schemes and they all kind of blend together. It was a high speed contest and with the exception of Leary and fifth finishing Chase Briscoe who started tenth passing was at a premium. The track just might have been too perfect if you know what I am saying. Leary flashed under the checkered flag at 9:13 scoring his first ever MSCS triumph and taking home $5000 to boot. Stockon came home second with Kyle Cummins third, Kevin Thomas Jr. fourth and Chase Briscoe rounding out the top five. Fast qualifier, Chet Williams, brought it home sixth with Stephen Schnapf seventh, Robert Ballou eighth, Donny Brackett ninth and Brady Short claiming tenth. With the long (2 hour 45 minute) ride home and the hour time change we decided to call it a night and head northeast toward our Crawfordsville home.


     

    It was not the usual Haubstadt WOW factor but still a decent way to end our 2017 outdoor sprint car season. Until next time get out there and catch the remaining shows in your area and be safe. Winter will soon be upon us and we will long for another racing season to come quickly. As always notes or comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading and hope we provided some entertainment and facts and figures during the 2017 racing season.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Tony Hulman/Don Smith Classic At Terre Haute

    Tuesday, October 10 - Well we are back from our 14 day Norwegian Cruise Lines sail of the Baltic Sea visiting Taillon, Estonia, St. Petersburg, Russia, Stockholm, Sweden, Copenhagen, Denmark and Berlin, Germany in a grand tour with lots of good memories and lots of pictures to cherish. Our friends, Allan and Nancy Brown were along for the journey and it crossed out one of the bucket list items for Mr. Brown on his list. The only two things bad about the trip was the cold weather and the fact that Pat and I both got colds from the wet and damp weather. But the experiences that we enjoyed more than outweighed the lingering effects of a cold. Now the only thing is to knock off the five pounds I gained on the trip!!

    Saturday, October 14 - It was time to get back to our first passion of racing and on the docket for the evening was the rescheduled Tony Hulman/Don Smith Classic postponed from earlier in the year at the Terre Haute Action Track. On the dual card tonight were the USAC National Sprint Car series and UMP modifieds with 30 and 18 cars pitside respectively. Sprint time trials kicked off the action at 6:21 and twenty five minutes later Dave Darland had surprised the 30 car field setting fast time of 19.895 seconds around the big half mile driving the Goodnight #39G. Some short track maintenance later and the first USAC sprint car heat was summoned to the track at 7:19 with four cars to qualify. Darland showing that his first time was no fluke blasted from sixth to control heat one winning over fourth starting CJ Leary, five starting Chase Stockon and second starting Scotty Weir in the Gass #17. The second heat saw Brady Bacon move from third to the front where he stayed outrunning sixth starting Kevin Thomas Jr., fifth starting Jarett Andretti and Shane Cottle in the Dutcher #17GP. Heat three was won by Kyle Robbins who played the rabbit from first trailed by fifth starting Robert Ballou, fourth starting Kyle Cummins and sixth starting Justin Grant. The fourth and final heat went to fourth starting Tyler Courtney over sixth starting Chris Windom, Josh Hodges and Chad Boespflug. Yes, there was lots of passing in the heat races which made for very good viewing. The sprint semi would go to Michigan runner Joe Bares in a good run turning back Joss Moffatt, Jerry Coons Jr., Stevie Sussex in the Pollick #21x, Brandon Mattox and Dylan Shaw turning in a fine run after having engine problems and not being able to run in his heat sneaking by Isaac Chapple late in the event

    The 15 lap UMP modified feature would go first with the green waving at 8:42 with Kenny Schrader going to the point from first and never being headed in this one. It wasn't much of a race but the good sized crowd was very appreciative of Schrader in victory lane. By 9:10 it was time for the 30 lap USAC sprint car feature honoring Tony Hulman and Don Smith, two locals that shaped the happenings at the Action Track. Chase Stockon would grab the lead from Jarett Andretti on the start and lead the first seven laps until two time defending Hulman/Smith winner, Robert Ballou, slowed in turn three with mag box issues and would not return. Stockon went to the front on the restart and looked strong running the high side of the legendary half mile. He was looking to end a 15 month dry spell in USAC sprint racing winning for the last time at Terre Haute and tonight might be the night. Kevin Thomas Jr. made a wild move in turn two on Jarett Andretti forcing him high toward the turn two wall with both drivers retaining control and continuing with Andretti losing numerous spots. My opinion is that Thomas needs to learn to control some of his gung ho moves and harness his energy as he is too good of a driver to have to keep apologizing in victory lane several times a year. Tyler Courtney was coming from 11th, Brady Bacon from 13th and Jerry Coons Jr. from 14th toward the front. With ten to go Stockon was still in front with Thomas trailing in second with Dave Darland becoming quicker and quicker making up big chunks of real estate. The veteran Darland was beginning to look like the top contender to take the top spot. With seven to go Thomas attempted a move for the lead entering turn three and taking the lead entering turn four but catching and jumping the cushion returning the lead back to Stockon and also surrendering second to Darland. The entire complexion of the race changed on lap 25 when the leaders approached lap traffic in turns three and four with Dylan Shaw in his first USAC start trying to move high for the leaders but instead jumping the cushion and flipping over in turn four. The red appeared and the drivers were probably plotting their strategies. On the restart the battle began with Darland chasing Stockon high entering turn one with Thomas diving low sliding back Darland into second. Thomas fired his first salvo for the lead entering turn one on lap 27 sliding up in front of Stockon in turn two for the momentary lead but Stockon was able to counter the move off turn two and retake the lead. Entering turn three on the same lap Thomas made the same move that he used on lap 23 catching the cushion just right this time and wrestling the lead away from Stockon. Chris Windom who runs Terre Haute very well was able to pick off both Darland and Stockon in the last five laps to move to second but ran out of time to make a serious run at Thomas who flashed under the checkered flag at 9:36 with his third USAC victory in the last five races and fifth overall USAC triumph. A very excited Thomas in victory lane stated that "Winning the Hulman is such a great honor." "Not many people have one of those rifles (awarded every year to the Hulman winner). To be able to have one of those sitting up in your living room is pretty amazing. This is such a legendary track. It's tough to get around and tough to tame." From the disappointed third place finisher, Chase Stockon, came these words. "I knew we were going to have to get out front and I committed to run the top the whole race because, anytime you win here, it’s going to be on the top," Stockon explained. "We were able to pull away through the middle of the race, but I don’t if under that red flag, our tire pressure just went down too much or what the deal was. We couldn’t really get going after that restart. We won the ‘Don Smith Classic’ and the ‘Jim Hurtubise Classic,’ but it’s very, very disappointing after leading 27 of the 30 laps to not hang that (Hulman Classic) rifle on the wall."

    The top five was rounded out by Brady Bacon in fourth from 13th for the hard charger award and Dave Darland also dropping to a disappointing fifth at the finish. Positions six through ten were filled by Tyler Courtney, Justin Grant, CJ Leary, Kyle Cummins and Jerry Coons Jr. It was another good race at Terre Haute and Bob Sargent and his crew have done a good job grooming this surface to make racing here as good as we have seen it in over ten years during the past two years of regular attendance.

    Until next weekend where we have our last two open wheel races in the midwest planned for two of our favorite tracks, Kokomo and Haubstadt (TriState) keep going to your local short tracks before they close for the season and the winter sets in. Comments or news can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading.


     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Fall Sprint Car Double At Bloomington, Fall Nationals At Lincoln Park & Bill Waite Jr. Memorial At LaSalle Highlight Busy Racing Weekend

    Friday, September 22 - We were looking forward to the unique format for tonight's Fall Sprint Car Double at Bloomington Speedway. There would only be two classes of race cars, non-wing 410 sprint cars and RaceSaver 305 winged sprint cars, running in the program with each division contesting two features, one of 25 laps in distance and the other 30 laps in distance, with the 410 overall winner receiving $4000 and the 305 overall winner taking home $1200. The track tire rule was waived for the 410's for the evening. Each division would run group qualifying during hot laps with the fastest timer in each group receiving $100 and an automatic berth in the first feature. The timed qualifiers would draw for starting positions with the remainder of the fields running in 15 lap qualifying races to determine the 20 car starting fields. Points would be awarded for your finishing position in the features and the finishing order of the first feature would be completely inverted for the second feature with only the cars running at the end of the event being inverted. Anyone who drops out of the first race must start at the tail of the second race with everyone having to use the same right rear tire in both main events. Points would be calculated after the second feature and any ties would be broken by whoever finished higher in the second race. Pre-entered cars were eligible for a bonus of $1000 in the 410's if you won both races and $500 for the 305's.

    It sounded like a great idea with a good payout with $300 to start the 410 feature and $225 to start the 305 feature but for many reasons this event would only draw 16 non-wing sprints and 20 RaceSaver 305 sprints. Factors such as it being late in the year with some drivers already parked for the year, Lincoln Park also racing on this evening and Eldora running the USAC Four Crowns event on Saturday had to have played a role in the disappointing turnout of sprints. But still with some good money on the line we didn't understand while more 410's did not make the trip. Group qualifying/hot laps kicked off at 7:04 with the three non-wing fast timers being Braxton Cummings, Brady Short and Jeff Bland Jr. and Michael Koontz. On the 305 side of qualifying fast timers were Jeff Wimmenauer, Terry Arthus, Dakota Jackson and Ethan Barrow. They all would be locked into the first two rows of the feature lineups later in the evening. For some reason this evening there did not seem to be a sense of urgency on management's part with the first 15 lap qualifier for the non-wing sprints not taking the green until 8:01. Hunter O'Neal, one of two sons of late model racer, Don O'Neal, looked good in winning the qualifier over Lee Underwood and Bub Cummings. The 15 lap winged 305 qualifier was a hairy one with four flips executed in three separate tussles. Between the flips, the clean up and the transferring of people from one ambulence to another the shortened 305 qualifier (12 laps) was won by Andy Bradley. Almost 2 1/2 hours into a two division program the first 410 feature took the green flag with the caution followed by the red as Braxton Cummings pulled to a stop on the homestreach while Billy Cribbs took a flyer out over the turn two banking rolling several times. Jeff Bland Jr. went to the front on the restart from his second starting position with the Waltz #18W and would not be headed. Brady Short took up the chase and the lead increased and then descreased depending upon the point of catching lap traffic. But Bland was never really challenged in this one and flashed under the checkered at 9:47 winnng over Short with Hunter O'Neal running a strong third followed by Ethan Barrow from ninth and Stephen Schnapf, the modified driver turned sprint car driver advancing from eleventh to claim fifth on a very fast and tacky surface. The 25 lap 305 feature would see the green at 10:06 and the winged machines buzzed around the track in record time. Dakota Jackson started second and was in command until two to go when a backmarker refused to yield to the leader and when Jackson went high in turn three to pass him he ran over his right rear tire and slid off the turn and out of the lead. Ethan Barrow, doing double duty, inherited the lead and didn't pass on his golden opportunity and led the final two laps winning over Jeff Wimmenauer, Ryan Tusing, Andy Bradley and Jared Fox.

    The second non-winged feature was inverted with Short and Bland starting in row four and the green dropped at 10:35 with Travis Welpott taking the early lead with Short getting out ahead of Bland on the start. Short sliced his way toward the front catching and passing Welpott in turn four on lap eight for the lead with Bland close on his heels. The same as race one the lead wavered as the top two weaved their way through the lap traffic. When the checkered waved at 10:52 it was Brady Short across first with Jeff Bland Jr. second, Ethan Barrow third with Hunter O'Neal capping off a good evening with two top fives and Travis Welpott nailing down fifth. Bland and Short tied for the top spot but the tiebreaker was who finished higher in race two so the $4000 top prize went to Brady Short. With it being almost 11 and still no sense of urgency we headed for the exits along with many others. Reports filtered back to us that the final checker of the evening waved at 11:45, much too late for a two division program with only one qualifying race in each division. Alfred Galedrige won race two for the 305 sprints with Jeff Wimmenauer coming home third which was good enough to claim the $1200 grand prize. We came away from this one disappointed on the evening but you can't win them all.

    Saturday, September 23 - After a very busy morning and early afternoon we headed south to Lincoln Park Speedway. With unusually hot temperatures for the end of September, the mercury was up in the mid 90’s. We pulled onto the grounds at 5:45 and were not expecting a very big crowd as during the year we always tried to be here by 5:00. The crowd was not big and we were able to park in our normal area, up the embankment along the cemetery. Tonight LPS was adding two extra divisions with the UMRA TQ midgets and the MMSA mini sprints. At this time of the year the car counts start to decline as younger drivers might be returning to school and many teams are simply running out of the money to keep going. We also knew the sprint car count would be low because Eldora Speedway was running the Four Crowns and the USAC regulars will all be at the Ohio track. Also Twins Cities Speedway in North Vernon, Indiana was running a non-wing event. Only 3 of the 6 divisions would require three heats versus two and there would only be one B main before the features were to start. The sprints had 21 cars running three heats and the modifieds and bombers each had 22 cars running three heats. The other cars counts were; TQ’s 17, mini sprints 14 and super stocks 12. Racing started at 7:14 and everything was running along smoothly without a hitch. Eleven of the fifteen heats were in the books when the red came out for a fan needing medical assistance in the frontstretch stands. The fan needed to be transported to the hospital and there was a 25 minute break until racing resumed when the ambulance returned. During this time the track crew worked on the track, especially turns one and two where the cushion was just not developing as planned.

    At 8:45 racing resumed and the remaining super stock heat and the three bomber heats were run off followed by the only B main for the modifieds. The sprint feature was first of the six and it took the green at 9:24. Both Bruce and I picked Brent Beauchamp for the win as he was flying in his heat race. Beauchamp started 8th with our other pick, Jeff Bland starting directly in front of him in 6th. One of the other contenders found his night cut short when on lap 2 a change reaction found Shane Cockrum tangling with Kent Schmidt on the homestretch. Neither was able to continue. When racing resumed Bland charged to the lead and two laps later Beauchamp was in second. Bland had already build a substantial lead in those two laps but Beauchamp was catching him and around lap 12 he was directly behind the #18W of Bland. Just as the leaders were getting into lap traffic the second caution waved. Is it my imagination or does this always seem to happen? Right as it is going to get really good the caution comes out. Several laps later Brady Ottinger found himself up against the billboards in turn three and four and the caution waived for the third and final time. We were waiting for a shootout between Bland and Beauchamp but it neverhappened. One lap after racing resumed the #34 of Beauchamp came out of four and made a turn into the infield grass. Bland went on to pick up his first win of the year at Lincoln Park with Tim Creech, Kent Christian, Zack Hampton and Matt McDonald rounding out the top five.

    The 20 lap TQ feature was up next and probably the best of the night that we saw. It started out with an early red. After which there were only two minor cautions. We saw these guys race several times throughout the year and they always put on a good show. Jason Setser started out in 6th and in less than a lap was in the top spot. But he did not run away with the event. Matt Hedrick chased him down and with 3 laps remaining and he was right on the bumper of the #12s. As they raced the final lap side by side Hedrick passed Setser for the lead coming out of four, only to have Setser inch by him at the line for the win. It was a good race. Following Setser and Hedrick was Aaron Percell. Immedicately following was the mini sprint 20 lap feature which only saw the caution wave once. Ryan Barr picked up his first win ever in the MMSA mini sprints and it was a very happy victory lane. Scott Bradley and Jesse Vermillion followed Barr across the line. We decided to stay for one more feature as we always enjoy the modifieds here at LPS. This race which was 20 laps saw 5 cautions and RJ Pruitt picked up the win. We were in the car and heading home before 11:00. It was a very well run show and even with the ambulance delay the entire show would be over before midnight. Yes, the big name USAC boys were not there tonight but sometimes it is nice for the little guy to get those top 5 finishes. We still saw a good night of racing among all divisions. I must say my very favorite track to watch the races is Lincoln Park. You take in your folding chairs set them up in the stands and use the normal seats for a foot rest. Probably 85% or more of the fans use this approach to watch the races. It is like sitting at home in your easy chair it is so relaxing and there is nothing to block your view. You got your cooler by your side and just sit back and enjoy. Yes, this is my favorite track to watch a race. Now if they would only come up with a lap counter.

    Sunday, September 24 - Today was a longer road trip taking I-74 west into the Land of Lincoln. The unseasonably hot weather continued with temperatures in the 90's as we made the three hour trek over to LaSalle, Illinois and the LaSalle Speedway for our first visit to the 1/4 mile facility. Upon early arrival we found an already good crowd on hand and headed right in to secure our blanket high in the nice metal grandstand with wooden seats which stretched the entire length of the homestretch. The walls are concrete slabs with good fencing attached all the way around with the pit area located outside of turns three and four allowing for an unobstructive view of the entire race track. After returning to the car to relax and be out of the sun for a while we were amazed by some of the parking jobs done by some of the later arrivials. We were happy we decided to park along the grass edge of the parking lot allowing us to have a good chance of escaping after the races were over. On tap tonight at LaSalle was the 7th Annual Bill Waite Jr. Memorial, a triple header event featuring the IRA/MOWA winged sprints, late models and the Badger midgets. Good fields of 31, 28 and 26 respectively filled the pit area and provided the fans some good bang for their $25 admission. Two sets of time trials for the sprints and the late models kicked off the night of racing at 5:30 with Carson Macedo setting fast time of 11.77 seconds around the 1/4 mile in the Joe Gaerte #3G.

    The Badger midgets kicked off the heat racing action at 6:53 with Adam Taylor, 2017 Badger midget champion, Robbie Ray, and Scott Hatton scoring heat wins. The IRA/MOWA sprint heats were next up with four events providing some good racing action. IRA regular Ben Schmidt would take heat one holding off Bret Tripplett and Carson Macedo. Heat two saw MOWA racer Jimmy Moughan scoring the win over Brooke Tatnell and AJ Bruns in his Donny Schatz lookalike car. Scotty Thiel another IRA representative nailed down heat three over Bill Balog who came back after contact racing with Kris Spitz with Spitz taking a tumble and Kyle Marten. The final heat saw MOWA point leader, Brad Loyet, win outrunning Scott Neitzel and Chris Urish. Three late model heats were spun off then it was time for the midget and sprint B mains. All qualifying was completed by 8:29 and after some track prep it was feature time.

    The first feature would be the Badger midgets going 20 laps around the bullring. Kurt Mayhew soared into the lead at the drop of the green and led the first four laps until Scott Hatton moved to the front. Adam Taylor was using the high groove to power forward from seventh into second and began to track down Hatton. Taylor was able to get close but Hatton was up to the challenge and held him off until the checkered waved at 9:04 with Robby Ray taking third, Kevin Olson placing fourth after starting ninth and Zach Boden bringing the Hans Lein #2 from eighth to fifth. It was an entertaining race and enjoyable to watch the Badger midgets for the first time in quite a while. The 30 lap co-sanctioned IRA/MOWA sprint car feature was called to the post at 9:17 with a cool $5000 on the line. Brooke Tatnell jumped to the lead from his second starting position at the drop of the green flag. Tatnell set a torrid pace with fifth starting Brad Loyet and seventh starting Spencer Bayston in the Kevin Swindell #39 pulling off numerous sliders on their way to the front. The only stoppage occurred at the halfway point when Bret Tripplett and Bill Balog tangled in turn two with Tripplett flipping over in the mishap. He quickly climbed from the car and went to have a discussion with Balog. He was escorted back to his car and the incident was cleaned up. Before the restart Loyet was placed in front of Ben Schmidt even though he had no passed him. The auto scoring was down according to an IRA twitter the next day and manual scoring was being used and a mistake was made at that point which they acknowledged but it cost Schmidt a big position. Tatnell went to the point on the restart with Loyet in tow. Loyet stayed close but Tatnell was able to hold sway and flashed under the checkered flag at 9:36 with Loyet second, Bayston coming home third with Joe B. Miller placing fourth and fast timer, Carson Macedo, rounding out the top five. Another entertaining feature with one more to go but the fact that we were three hours from home and losing another hour crossing back into Indiana we decided to forgo the late model feature and hit the road happy with our visit to a new track and the good racing witnessed.

    We will be out of the loop for the next several weeks as an overseas cruise awaits us this coming week. Until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area as the racing season is winding down but there are still some good races out there to see. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and thanks for the kind words as we enjoy hearing from you all and it makes us feel good to hear that you enjoy what we are sending your way.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Busman's Holiday In New England

    Sunday, September 10 - After watching the legend cars on Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on our way to our vacation spot in Ashland, New Hampshire our destination today was across New Hampshire and into upper New York state to take in a race at the now dirt surfaced Airborne Park Speedway in Plattsburgh. We had not been to Airborne since May 5th of 1991 when it was an asphalt oval and looked forward to a return there to see the facility operate as a dirt oval. The 4/10 mile dirt oval was in good shape for tonight's action as no less than six divisions would take to the track for racing on this evening. The sportsman and pro stocks are the two main divisions that were racing here tonight but we were also interested in the Tobias SpeedSTR's that run weekly at Action Track USA in Kutztown, PA but they also have a contingent of Canadian SpeedSTR participants and 13 of them were on hand along with the Canadian slingshot contestants who brought eight to the dance along with 24 sportsman, 29 pro stocks, 10 renegades and 9 strictly stocks. Even though they started right on time at 5 PM the volume of cars in the pit area along with the sportsman and pro stocks running time trials in addition to heat racing would make for a long evening. Management ran a very efficient program with the next division coming trackside as the previous one pulled into the pit area off of turns one and two which kept things moving along nicely. All forms of qualifying were completed in a little less than two hours with Stephane Messier and female racer, Sabrina Blanchet, taking the two SpeedSTR heat races.

    Right after the last of the heat races they went right into the first feature event of the evening and spun them off in good order. The slingshot feature had some controversy when young Felix Roy spun out the leader but a good call by management sent the aggressive youngster to the tail of the field for the restart. Jim Pollard was able to hold off Roy over the remaining laps to score the win with Jim Gaines third overall and first in the junior slingshot division. Next up was the 25 lap SpeedSTR feature which featured some good, hard racing with only one caution slowing the action. Pierre Hebert would score the win in this one over a fast closing Sabrina Blanchet and her teammate, Codie Aubin,. The renegade feature was next before the championship pro stock 35 lapper would take to the track at 8:57. The pro stocks executed a fine display of driving with CD Beauchamp passing Rob Yetman late in the main event to score the win with Nick Stone crossing the line third, Jocelyn Roy fourth and Byron Wescott rounding out the top five with the checker waving at 9:26. We wanted to stay to watch the sportsman 50 lapper but with nearly a four hour tow back which included a ferry ride we pulled the plug and headed for the exit on the cool evening.

    Friday, September 15 - This would be our last weekend in New Hampshire and we really enjoyed our time here taking in the beautiful scenery and mingling with the friendly people. We viewed close to 20 covered bridges, took an hour and a half hike in the Franconia State Park to visit the Flume (a rocky area with gorgeous waterfalls and lush vegetation. Also we rode the cog railroad up the side of Mount Washington, the highest point in the east at 6288 feet, and gazed on the surrounding countryside on what our brakeman described as the nicest day of the year on top of the mountain. Speaking of mountains we visited the House in the Clouds, a beautiful mansion built high above the surrounding mountains and woods and also took a boat ride on Lake Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in New Hampshire and passed many impressive lakeside homes on our way to Wolfeboro, a quaint town on the eastern shore of the lake. It was an enjoyable trip and we are glad to took it. Now back to the racing.

    On Friday we decided to attend the closest track to our resort, the Legion Speedway in Wentworth, NH, only about a 30 minute drive from Ashland. The last time we had visited Legion it was called Norway Pines and sat in the woods with trees of the same name. That was in September 2nd of 1995, a long time ago. I noticed upon entering the grounds to place our blanket down that something was different. I talked with some of the locals and on the last time we were there the track was in a different location. Before when you entered the track the homestretch was right in front of you while this time when I entered the fourth turn was the first thing I encountered. The owners had turned the track what I would term sideways from where it was previously. Tonight's program would consist of five divisions with the USAC D2 midgets (14) making an appearance on this evening with former PA resident and current Indiana resident, John Heydenreich, among the 14 entrants. Late model sportsman (13), sportsman modifieds (6) and a new wingless sprint car club formed in 2016 by Dan Bowne would bring nine wingless 360 sprinters to the party and the mini stocks (15) with the biggest field rounded out the participating classes.. Action got underway at 7:10, just 10 minutes off the scheduled starting time and proceeded well the entire evening. The D2 midgets ran two heats for their group with Will Hull and Eric O'Hearn winning. The Wingless Auto Club ran a solo heat for their troops with Dillon Cook looking strong in this one.

    The feature order was the same as the heat order with the USAC D2 midgets taking the green flag at 8:22. About midway through Jim Mossman, a retired postal worker, caught the homestretch wall which threw him into a hard flip down the straightway. He climbed from the car uninjured but undoubtedly sore. Seth Carlson from Massachusetts who also races asphalt midgets with the NEMA club would advance from sixth to claim the win over seventh starting Derek O'Hearn and third starting Will Hull all in midgets owned by former supermodified owner, Skip Matczak, who looks like the Keith Kuntz of New England midget racing. The late model sportsman fumbled through their 20 lap feature which was cut to 15 due to five cautions and a time limit with Toby Stark winning. The 20 lap wingless sprint feature was next to the post with Dillon Cook walking away from the field but there was some good racing for positions three through five with Mark Cole taking second with Sam Comeau placing third at the finish in the eight minute feature with only one caution. The track had held up nice during the heat racing but the 25 minute break between the two took its toll on the surface with dust being stirred up in each of the features. It was not that bad and just a brief dusting off of the clothes when we got to the car was all that was needed. We decided to stay and watch the 20 lap sportsman modified feature and they ran good but with only six cars and Jason Sanville taking off at the beginning it was not all that entertaining. This one ended at 9:32 and we decided to skip the mini stocks and head back to the resort to pack and prepare to leave the next day.

    That's it for this time and until next week where we are looking to make it a triple weekend of sprint car racing at Bloomington, Lincoln Park and LaSalle take care and get out there and enjoy some short track racing in your area. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading our efforts.

    Also our condolences go out to the family of Ted Christopher, one of the top asphalt modified drivers of all time who perished in a plane crash on his way to the races on Long Island at Riverhead Raceway this past Saturday. You either loved him or hated him but you have to admit he was usually the show. Besides modifieds the versatile chauffeur drove supermodifieds, TQ midgets and stock cars all with success and he will be sorely missed by one and all. God's Speed, TC!!!!!

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Vince Osmun Memorial At Kokomo

    Sunday, September 3 - It was a tough call today as three good events were all taking place on the same day. I really wanted to go to DuQuoin for the Silver Crown cars on the mile but the 8 PM start on a Sunday night would cause us to have to spend another night in a hotel and after spending big bucks in the South Bend area on Friday night the thought of another hotel bill dimmed the enthusiasm for this event as the days of four hour drives are off the board for the most part. Tri-State was running a MSCS sprint car program but the three hour haul was less appealing than the one and one half hour tow over to Kokomo so the Vince Osmun Memorial won out. This was our 13th visit to the 1/4 mile bullring in 2017 and tonight the program would consist of four classes plus fireworks for a full night of racing. The sprint cars would kick off the qualifying with three heats for their good 28 car field considering that Haubstadt and DuQuoin had both drawn away some of the other normal entrants. Chances were high we would have a first time winner in the sprint cars as only Scotty Weir was a previous winner at Kokomo of the 28 entrants. AJ Hopkins made a statement early wheeling the Ottinger #4J to an impressive victory in heat one over Colten Cottle subbing in the Paul Hazen #57 tonight for his uncle who was steering the Silver Crown car on the Illinois mile at DuQuoin and Ted Hines in a strong run. Heat two saw Isaac Chapple shake the monkey off his back claiming this one over Mitch Wissmiller and Josh Spencer. The final heat saw Tyler Hewitt score the win over Scotty Weir, tonight in the Simon #22S out of Ohio and Landon Simon. The UMP modifieds were next up with four heats for their fine 32 car field with the midgets checking in with 23 cars and three heats with Kyle Schuett showing some speed in heat one, Chase Jones strong in heat two and Stevie Sussex, the driver out of Laveen, Arizona, sticking around after a Smackdown ride did not materialize and getting the call to drive the sprint and midget for the Balwin Brothers on the evening. Twenty two hornets wrapped up the heat qualifying. Ty Tilton did a nice job in winning the sprint car B main while Gary Loney won the midget B main. Track prep was next on the agenda with the sprint car feature the first to be called to the post.


     

    At 9:31 the green flag dropped on the 25 lap sprint car feature with Mitch Wissmiller grabbing the early lead. AJ Hopkins quickly found the high side to his liking and executed a turn four, lap four pass for the lead on Wissmiller. Another car on the move was 11th starting Stevie Sussex who is known as a gasser and went to the cushion at the drop of the green flag. By lap 10 Sussex used a wild homestretch move diving between two cars about midway down the straightway and taking second entering turn one. The only caution of the event would fly on lap 12 when Kyle Simon looped the #23 in between turns three and four to slow the action. On the restart the top two went up top and the race was on. Hopkins was having a wrestling match with the cushion beating it and jumping it on just about every lap. Hopkins managed to open up a good lead again but in the later stages of the event Sussex was coming strong closing the gap as he drove the Baldwin Brothers orange crate against the wall tagging the right rear on the wall for about ten straight laps. At 9:39 Hopkins brought the Ottinger #4J under Brian Hodde's checkered flag first for his first career win at Kokomo beating the invader, Sussex, who finished second with sixth starting Scotty Weir taking third with tenth starting Kyle Robbins claiming fourth and Ted Hines wrapping up a fine night by nailing down the fifth position. Isaac Chapple came home sixth with Josh Spencer taking seventh (needed to finish third or higher to claim the point championship) with Ty Tilton turning in an impressive performance coming from sixteenth to eighth. Garrett Abrams managed a ninth and Colten Cottle rounded out the top ten. The modified 20 lapper was next up with third starting Jamie Lomax scoring the win over Nick Allen, Randy Lines, Dillon Nusbaum and Devin Wright. The 20 lap midget feature would take the green flag at 10:15 with Stevie Sussex against the wall the entire way around scooting to the lead. Lap 7 would see contender, Justin Peck, slow on the homestretch while running third and rolling to a stop to bring out the first of five cautions. Sussex was not to be denied in this one as he flew around the outside lap after lap until the checkered waved at 10:33. Chase Jones would execute a turn four last lap pass of Zeb Wise for second with Kyle Schuett fourth and Mitchell Davis taking fifth. We decided to call it a night at this point satisfied with the program we had just witnessed.


     

    Until next time where a vacation in New Hampshire looms take care and get out there and see some good short track racing in your area as the season is starting to wind down and the engines will soon be silent. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Wild Finish On Final Night At Kokomo's Smackdown VI

    Saturday, August 27 - For the final day of Smackdown we were once again blessed with beautiful weather. After doing a little shopping at a local antique store and eating at the Half Moon Restaurant we pulled onto the parking lot at Kokomo Speedway at 3:15. Once again we were able to find a good parking spot behind the homestretch stands and just sit back and relax.

    We entered the stands when we heard the sprints coming out for wheel packing shortly after 6:00. There was an excitement in the stands as the racing the previous night was really good and tonight was the 40 lap finale. There were no time trials tonight, only four qualifying heats and the King of the Hill for the top 8 in points. Hot laps followed wheel packing and at 7:42 the green fell on the first heat. Heats were 10 laps with only 7 cars in each. However, only the top 2 would make it to the A main. The heats were run off quickly with Chad Boespflug, Jarett Andretti, Chris Windom and Justin Grant taking the top honors and it was on to the King of the Hill. It was noted that some of the drivers are not overly excited with this qualifying procedure but it can be fun for the fans. In King of the Hill two drivers are pitted against each other in a 3 lap dash with the winner moving on to the next round. The pairs, made up of the top 8 in points after the Thursday and Friday events, were Brady Bacon/CJ Leary, Kyle Cummins/Tyler Thomas, Hunter Schuerenberg/Robert Ballou and Kevin Thomas Jr./Tyler Courtney. After round one the pairs came down to Leary/T. Thomas, Schuerenberg/ K. Thomas and the final was definitely going to be won by a Thomas, as Tyler and Kevin took to the track for the final 3 lap event. Kevin Thomas Jr. won the dash and earned the top starting spot for the finale.

    Tonight the Three Quarter (TQ) Midgets of UMRA were on the card. They brought the highest number for the support divisions that ran during Smackdown. They were 20 strong and they ran two heats that were both very entertaining. The 15 lap B main for the sprints followed and the event definitely saw action. There were 19 cars vying for the final 6 qualifying positions. Mario Clouser was racing hard with British invader Tom Harris when they collided on the homestretch before entering turn one. Clouser continued on and would qualify, but Harris found the #5 flipping and ending his night. The race for the final spots was furious with Tyler Hewitt racing into fifth on the final lap to secure a spot in the main event on his birthday. The B Main ended and there was no delay in bringing out the TQ main event. There was some real competitive racing during the 20 lap event as several times the TQ’s ran three wide in the turns. The event also had a triple flip coming out of turn four on lap 7. All drivers were ok. In the end Jason Goff picked up the win followed by Aaron Percell and Brent Watson.

    Now the race we were all waiting for. The 40 lap main event paying $10,000 to the winner. The pageantry prior to this event is always a favorite. Each driver is announced and walks down in front of the homestretch stands as the crowd cheers them on. The green dropped at 10:34 and Tyler Thomas immediately jumped into the lead. For the first 15 laps everything seemed to be running fine. Then T. Thomas caught the tail end of the field and found it difficult to get by Isaac Chapple. KT was closing in and Thomas decided to slightly move Chapple so he could get by. Well slightly might not be the correct word. They did connect and Chapple launched into the turn two fence and flipped. When racing resumed Robert Ballou took over second and KT moved back to fourth. A couple of laps later Boespflug found himself involved in a turn four tangle. Racing now was becoming hot and heavy among the top 10 competitors. Brady Bacon and Josh Hodges, who started 18th, were battling for 6th when they connected on lap 26 giving both competitors a flat tire. Although Hodges made the contact with Bacon I believe it was just hard racing. Both restarted but two laps later Bacon would spin in turn 4 bringing out the 4th caution of the event.

    The remaining laps saw some real close and competitive racing with the exception of the leader. T. Thomas was in total command until the caution came out on lap 39. This caution would change the entire complexion of the race. By this time KT was back in second and it was green white and checkered. On the final lap in turn two Thomas hit the turn two wall with KT immediately behind him. KT also hit the wall and flipped hard. KT immediately emerged from the car unhurt. We were now back to green, white, checkered. Thomas now was being followed by Chris Windom and he was running well on the inside. I looked at Bruce and said I think he can pass him. The next couple laps which should have been the last two were so incredible I do not know how to describe them. Windom pulled a slide job on Thomas and took over the top spot and Thomas shot back underneath. They both appeared to be totally out of control but then they were running for $10,000. Going down the back stretch on lap 40 they collided and Thomas ran over the left front tire of Windom ending his bid for the win. Windom was furious and he threw his steering wheel at Thomas as he drove by the next time. Take three for the green, white and checkered. Thomas was in command but while the action was going on between Thomas and Windom, Tyler Courtney moved into second past Ballou and had something to say about the finish. Courtney would pass Thomas and go on to win for the second night in a row, picking up the $10,000 big check. Tyler Thomas who led nearly the entire race had to settle for second with Robert Ballou finishing third. Scotty Weir finished fourth in the Gass sprinter and Dave Darland from 15th finished fifth.

    The excitement did not stop with the three takes of the final laps. From our seats in Section B we could immediately see Chris Windom walking out of the pit gate toward the top three cars sitting on the homestretch. Of course Courtney was in the BC Victory Lane and you knew it was not Ballou he was going to see. You also knew he was not going to congratulate Thomas on his second place finish. I do not understand why the USAC officials allowed him to make the walk all the way down the track to the 17 of Thomas where be proceeded to throw punches at Thomas while he was still in the car. Thomas was smart and had not taken off his helmet. I am sure Courtney was confused as he heard boos from the crowd and did not realize they were for the actions on the track and not for him. USAC might want to rethink the green, white, checkered when the caution comes out on lap 40. Why not throw the green and white simultaneously. Tonight that extra lap caused a lot of damaged cars and flared tempers.

    No one could say they left Smackdown without seeing excellent and exciting racing. We already know we are going to renew our seats on the homestretch for Smackdown VII. As one of our PA friends said to us, "This is why you moved to Indiana." He is right!!!

    That's it for this weekend and check back next weekend for more racing notes and get out there and see some good short track racing in your area. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Action Packed Night Two of Kokomo Smackdown

    Friday, August 25 - The weather continues to be great with the temperatures cool and with the only thing heating up being the racing action. The two division show tonight would consist of USAC sprints (38) and Indiana Series midgets (11). In a pre-race interview Thomas Meseraull revealed to the fans that they were parked for the weekend as T-Mex had suffered a concussion from his time trial flip on Thursday. Sprint time trials would kick off a little earlier tonight at 6:33 with almost half the field getting just one lap to qualify as many were late for wheel packing earlier. Tyler Thomas, the new hot shoe for the Michael Dutcher #17GP, set fast time with a lap of 12.554 seconds around the 1/4 mile oval. Tyler Courtney set second fast time on his first time trial lap but jumped the cushion in turn four the second time around and flipped the TOPP Motorsports #23C doing some damage to his sprinter. His crew along with help from many others went to work to repair the battered car and by heat two the #23C reappeared but miss qualifying by one position. After sprint time trials the midgets ran hot laps/group qualifying and were completed quickly as by 7:20 the first of four sprint car heats were ready to rumble. Shane Cottle in the legendary Paul Hazen #57 would make no mistakes in his heat tonight scoring the win over fast timer, Tyler Thomas, with last night's winner, CJ Leary third and Tyler Hewitt qualifying for his first Smackdown race of the week. Heat two would see a big upset as England's Tom Harris would blast to the lead and hold off Kyle Cummins, Brady Short and Justin Grant to score his first ever USAC win of any kind. The fans gave him a fine round of applause  appreciating his effort against the best in the wingless world. Dave Darland, a three time Smackdown finale winner, garnered heat three in the Hery #40 winning over Chris Windom, Hunter Schuerenberg and Isaac Chapple back after last night's frightening flip in the B main. The last heat was taken by Chase Stockon on the last lap sliding by Brady Bacon off turn four for the win. Bacon had made an aggressive move low in turn three the previous lap routing Robert Ballou off the bottom to the chagrin of Ballou who showed his displeasure by pulling and slowing in front of Bacon down the backstretch and into turn three gesturing as he drove slowly in front of Bacon. Even Stockon mentioned in his victory lane interview that he benefited from Bacon's dirty move. Don't know what was up with that!! Ballou finished third in this one with Jarett Andretti snagging the last qualifying position. Two midget heats followed with Justin Peck and Colten Cottle taking the wins.


     

    Tonight a C main would be needed with four to advance to the B. Robert Bell took a roll in turn one after making contact with another competitor but was OK after the mishap. Matt Goodnight of Winchester, IN would go onto victory and advance to the back of the B. The B main was next up with some heavy hitters chomping at the bit to grab one of the six positions available to move onto the 30 lap main event. Kevin Thomas Jr. drove his own #9K to victory over Tyler Courtney, Kody Swanson, Aaron Farney, Scotty Weir and Josh Hodges as the last man in. Chad Boespflug would be forced to burn a provisional to join the field starting twenty third on the grid. While the teams prepared for the 30 lap feature the midgets ran their 20 lap feature with a good three car battle up front for the lead taken by Justin Peck in the Irwin #7K winning over the Clauson/Marshall entry of young Zeb Wise with Colten Cottle third, TQ midget grad Nick Speidel fourth and Kyle O'Gara, brother in law of Sarah Fisher, taking fifth. Chris Baue took a nasty flip in turn one on lap 13 and fortunately was OK after the hard tumble.


     

    Now it was time for the 30 lap USAC National Sprint Car feature and the green would wave at 9:14 on the 23 car field. CJ Leary who started fourth attacked the cushion on the start and blasted by everyone as they exited turn two to take the lead on lap one. As Leary charged into turn one on the start of the second lap he caught the berm wrong, pounded the wall and stood his car on its nose before returning to earth. What looked like a repeat win for Leary ended much too early. The rough start to the feature continued on lap two when Kody Swanson got sideways off turn four, hit the infield tire and launched into a series of flips ending his night much too early also. Hunter Schuerenberg assumed the lead on the restart with Justin Grant and Tyler Thomas in tow. Lap eight saw Thomas bid for the lead with a slider on Schuerenberg between turns one and two with contact between the two as they exited turn two. Tyler was sideways on the backstretch but retained control and continued. Tyler Courtney made his presence known catching Grant for third and Thomas for second on one fair swoop on the backstretch on lap nine. Courtney continued to work the bottom to perfection passing Schuerenberg for the lead on lap ten. Courtney paced the middle portion of the race but Schuerenberg inched closer to the leader as the bottom began to fade. Courtney moved to the middle with six to go and was able to repel the Schuerenberg march. Shane Cottle lost the handle on his racer on the homestretch shortly thereafter and brought out the yellow and bunched the field back up. While Courtney had held sway up front many noticed the advances of Kevin Thomas Jr. from ninth and Brady Bacon from eighteenth into the top five. On the restart bedlam brought out behind Courtney as Scheurenberg, Thomas Jr., Bacon and T. Thomas went to war for second. Tyler Thomas pulled an amazing move off turn four from the top groove to the bottom splitting KTJ and Bacon to snag second entering turn one. Coming off turn four on lap 27 T. Thomas was high with KTJ countering low with wheel contact between the two sending T. Thomas sliding back to fourth. Bacon took advantage of the tangle and blasted by the other two into second as the crowd roared. Bacon stuck his nose underneath Courtney entering turn three on the last lap but Courtney was able to stave off the challenge and flashed under the checkered flag at 9:40 for his fourth USAC sprint car win of the year and first ever at Kokomo. Brady Bacon would finish second with Kevin Thomas Jr. third, Tyler Thomas fourth and Hunter Schuerenberg taking fifth. Positions six through ten were filled by Robert Ballou, Kyle Cummins, Justin Grant, Scotty Weir and Chris Windom. What a fine night of racing was witnessed by one and all at Kokomo tonight and this sort of racing is what makes it the baddest bullring in Indiana!!!


     

    The top eight in Smackdown points are locked into Saturday night's final with Brady Bacon on top of the points followed by Kevin Thomas Jr., Hunter Schuerenberg, Tyler Thomas, Kyle Cummins, Robert Ballou, Tyler Courtney and CJ Leary. Check back soon for the report on the final night of Smackdown VI from Kokomo Speedway. Enjoy the good short track racing in your area and be safe. Thanks for reading.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Smackdown VI Kicks Off At Kokomo

    Thursday, August 24 - It was a beautiful August day with temperatures in the 70's with lots of sunshine and a good breeze to boot. It was a fine way to kick off the official night one of Smackdown VI at the 1/4 mile Kokomo Speedway. Last night's track was a struggle after being over-watered but tonight the surface was in tip top shape for the night of racing. Thirty eight wingless sprint cars were joined by fourteen 600 winged micro sprints for the two division show with time trials opening the program at 6:50. Late in the session Thomas Meseraull in the Chase Briscoe #5B pitched it sideways on the high side entering turn one and caught the cushion wrong and went for a ride ending up midway through turn one in the fencing. The bent up race car was towed to the pit area and it was a very short night for T-Mez on this Thursday. By 7:23 Justin Grant had placed the McGhee #11 at the top of the heap in time trial action with a time of 12.685 seconds around the 1/4 mile bullring to become the fast timer on the evening.


     

    From there a short break for some track maintenance, 600 warmups and to give time to the sprint car teams to prepare for their upcoming heat races it was time to go heat racing at 7:54. The track was in excellent shape allowing many grooves to be explored during the running of the four heats and many drivers tested one or several of them in the course of their heat race. Aaron Farney grabbed the heat one victory outrunning Scotty Weir, Robert Ballou and Justin Grant in the process. Heat two saw a strong run from Jarett Andretti winning over Chase Stockon, Hunter Schuerenberg in one of two Reinbold entries out of Arizona and Chad Boespflug. Dave Darland put the Mark Hery #40 on the top to win heat three over Chris Windom, Kyle Cummins and CJ Leary catching a break to place in the top four qualifiers after veteran Shane Cottle made a rare mistake and spun by himself in turn four while running fourth. This would play out big for the feature. New Mexico's Josh Hodges making his first Smackdown start a good one by notching heat four beating out Tyler Courtney, Brady Bacon and Kevin Thomas Jr., Wednesday night's winner. The winged 600's ran two smooth heats with Kole Kirkman from Kokomo and Craig Ronk from Warsaw dominating. The 21 car sprint B main was next on the agenda with six more cars to move on to the big 30 lap feature event. Tyler Thomas brought the Michael Dutcher #17GP home first out-pacing Shane Cottle, Mario Clouser, Brady Short in the other Reinbold entry, Kody Swanson in the Epperson #2E and Brian Karracker. This race had a nasty ending as Logan Jarrett and Isaac Chapple were battling for a qualifying position as they entered turn four on the final lap with Chapple colliding with Jarrett causing both of them to take some wild flips before landing back on the track. There was a hush until everyone realized that both drivers were OK and a loud round of applause went out and a big sigh of relief. Some of the concern was due to the fact that Chapple had just returned from sitting out for a while after suffering injuries from another nasty ride at Terre Haute in hot laps before the rains came on that program.


     

    The 15 lap 600 micro sprint feature would report to the post and take the green flag at 9:08. The event almost went non-stop until second place runner, Devan Myers, slowed on the homestretch with one to go when mechanical woes hit the #75. In the meantime Craig Ronk had made shambles of the field lapping many of the 14 starters until the caution appeared. This gave Kole Kirkman one last shot to unseat Ronk but on the restart Kirkman's mount did not fire properly and he headed pit side handing second over to Cailin Hunt where she would finish in her pretty #1 with Jordan Welch bringing his #23J in for third behind the high flying Ronk.


     

    By virtue of his fourth place finish in heat three sixth quickest timer, CJ Leary, would bring the field to the green flag along with Hunter Schuerenberg with the front row running side by side for almost the entire first lap with Leary edging out front as they exited turn four. Kevin Thomas Jr. made some heady moves in the first lap charging from eighth to fifth by the end of the first circuit. Trouble occurred at the flagstand on lap 4 when Kevin Thomas Jr.'s left rear made contact with Justin Grant's right front causing Grant's steering to go awry with Grant sliding straight toward the turn one wall but able to brake before any impact was made and luckily no one else was involved in the tussle. Grant returned later but finished 22nd in the final rundown which was point costly to the current USAC National Sprint Car point leader. On the restart Brady Bacon found his way around Schuerenberg for second as Leary took off again. Lap traffic tightened things up as the leaders approached the backmarkers near the midway point of the event. No sooner did the leaders reach the back of the field the caution appeared as Shane Cottle spun backwards toward the turn three wall minus a front tire which bounded down into the infield. This was a big break for Leary as he would have a clear track on the restart on lap 23. Leary took to the top on the restart and pulled away from Bacon in the Dooling-Heyward #63. Leary flashed under Tom Hansing's checkered flag winning almost to the day of his first USAC National sprint car win here last year besting Bacon with Robert Ballou driving a good race from ninth to third with KTJ fourth and Schuerenberg holding on for fifth in a good run. Chad Boespflug tried his darnedest to pass Schuerenberg but had to settle for sixth with Kyle Cummins seventh, Kody Swanson from thirteenth to eighth in a very good run considering the night before he did not even make the starting grid. Chris Windom claimed ninth after starting fifteenth and Josh Hodges rounding out the top ten.

    It was a very good night of racing with multiple grooves and much side by side racing and good battles throughout the field which is what you come to expect when you visit Kokomo and tonight no one left disappointed. Come back soon to read about the final two nights of Smackdown VI where no fewer than six Hoseheads.com columnists were in town to provide flag to flag coverage of this prime time event for wingless sprint car racing. Until next time get out there this weekend and experience some good short track racing wherever you may be and above all be safe. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and thanks for reading our efforts as you all make it worthwhile.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    All Star Sprints At Susquehanna & #GYATK Night At Kokomo

    Sunday, August 20 - It was the last day of our eight day trip back East for some racing and to visit with friends and the racing part would take place at the same venue that the trip started at that being the Susquehanna Speedway near Newberrytown, PA where the All Star Circuit Of Champion Sprint Cars would be making their first appearance in 26 years!! After a nice breakfast at the B & B we headed out and spent a day of antiquing in Adamstown where there are numerous shops to tickle your fancy and we both did so picking up many treasures to add to our collections. Of special interest was the purchase of 20 vintage midget race car photos taken by various photographers including the late Bruce Craig of Phillipsburg, NJ, a good friend of mine before his passing several years ago. They will be displayed in one of our picture albums for years to come.

    We arrived at the track in late afternoon and already found a good sized crowd on hand. It was a much larger crowd that we expected and were thankful at our Pennsylvania friends had placed an extra blanket down for us and we were able to converse and just enjoy each other's company for one last time this visit. Time trials kicked off at 6:55 for the fine 36 car field on hand and when things were said and done it was Kunkletown's favorite son, Ryan Smith, setting fast time with a time of 15.317 seconds. After a short break it was right into heat racing for the All Stars with four in number advancing the top five to the main event. Lance Dewease wheeled the Donnie Kreitz #69K to victory in heat one over Tim Shaffer and Ryan Smith. Heat two saw Brock Zearfoss in the family owned #3Z claim the top spot beating Dale Blaney and Max Stambaugh. Eighteen year old Anthony Macri scored the heat three win over Mark Smith and Rico Abreu. The final heat went to Greg Hodnett in the Mike Heffner #27 over Lucas Wolfe and Danny Dietrich who had a race long battle for second. On the card with the All Stars were the PA Sprint Series 305's who brought a big field of 37 cars to the party. They ran their heats off in good fashion and by 8:53 all heat racing was completed. The two dash races for the All Stars with five in each race would determine the top ten starting positions in the feature with the first dash being the inside row starters and the second dash determining the outside row starters. Greg Hodnett took dash one with Anthony Macri notching dash two. The 410 sprint B main went to Sammy Swindell in town this weekend to driver the Coldren #07 in place of the injured Doug Esh. Two B mains for the 305's followed with all qualifying in the books by 9:37.

    The green would wave on the Justin Snyder's Salute To The Troops 30 lap All Star sprint feature at 10:09 with Greg Hodnett assuming command the lead. Turn two on lap two saw the first caution appeared as Cory Haas, Rico Abreu and Ryan Smith got together and spun. On the restart Lucas Wolfe passed Macri for second and took up the chase of Hodnett. Lap traffic came into play on lap 8 and Hodnett's lead shrunk as the slower cars were difficult to pass and Wolfe closed the two second gap. Hodnett was able to maneuver the traffic and open up his lead once again. The second and final caution appeared on lap 25 when Tyler Esh spun on the backstretch and slowly moved off force the stoppage and wiped out Hodnett's nearly four second lead. On the restart Hodnett went back to the bottom and took off again and at 10:27 flashed under the checkered flag again with nearly a two second lead to score his first All Star win in over two years beating Lucas Wolfe, Lance Dewease, Anthony Macri and Brock Zearfoss to the finish. Since we were driving two hours back toward Indiana this evening we decided to forgo the 305 main event and head for the exits and the PA Turnpike after bidding farewell to our PA friends. A good eight days of racing and visiting only suffering one rainout over the eight day period.

    Wednesday, August 23 - Tonight was #GYATK (or Get Your Ass To Kokomo) night at Kokomo Speedway, the free night of racing offered by the O'Connor family as part of their sixth running of the Smackdown events run Thursday through Saturday at the classic 1/4 mile bullring in The City Of Firsts named so because of innovations developed in Kokomo mainly in the automotive industry. The atmosphere was electric as it seemed every nook and cranny was filled by some sort of RV or car parked to witness this four nights of wingless racing Nirvana. The track was over watered but with the cooperation of the 44 car field on hand who came out and ran in the wet surface things were able to still kick off with hot laps/group time trials by heats at 7:32. By the start of the first heat at 8:18 it was still wet and difficult to pass on and basically one groove on the top. Scotty Weir in the Gass #17 drew first blood tonight taking heat one of six over Mario Clouser and Tyler Courtney with only three advancing to the main event. Heat two saw Jarett Andretti stave off Thomas Meseraull and Hunter Schuerenberg in one of two Reinbold #19's out of Arizona (the other being wheeled by Brady Short). This heat also had some controversy as first starting Justin Grant in the McGhee #11 looked as if he had some help spinning off turn four before the green flag waved. Many felt (including us) that it was unfair to relegate him to the rear as the green had never waved to start the event. If that is an USAC rule then maybe it should be reviewed on a case to case basis and if unassisted you go to the rear but if assisted you retain your starting position. Heat three saw Dave Darland bring the Hery #40 across first over Robert Ballou and Brandon Mattox. In heat four Clinton Boyles caught the fence in turn two and took a couple of nasty rolls before coming to a halt. Boyles was OK but done for the evening. Chris Windom in the Baldwin Brothers orange crate #5 won turning back CJ Leary (the night's overall fast timer) and Kyle Cummins in the Byram #3R. Alabama native, Kevin Thomas Jr., scored the win in heat five bringing his own #9K with new sponsorship from Jam-It-In Storage home first over Tyler Thomas and Josh Cunningham in a fine run to move onto the big dance in his Jesus Saves #3. Travis Welpott scored the biggest upset of the night cashing in his up front starting spot to win heat five over Aaron Farney and Brian Karracker.

    Next was suppose to be a C main but instead because of a few scratches it was decided to run a 22 car B main instead with just four to qualify. Believe me this one was packed and quite a few cars would load up early as there were no provisionals in this non-points USAC program and you had to race to get in. some notables not making tonight's field were Justin Grant, Brady Short, Kody Swanson, Isaac Chapple, Tyler Hewitt, Kyle Robbins, Logan Jarrett and 15 others had a short night. By the way Chad Boespflug brought the Hoffman #69 in the B main win over Brady Bacon, Colten Cottle and Chase Stockon the last man in. By 10:07 it was feature time with Chris Windom and Jarett Andretti pacing 20 other drivers to the green flag with Windom jumping to the point on the start. Kevin Thomas Jr. started fourth and worked on Jarett Andretti passing him for second with an inside pass in turn three on a lap four restart and went after Windom. Thomas looked inside and outside on the leader and Windom chose to protect low with Thomas blasting to the high side to take the lead on the backstretch right in front of us on lap eight. Windom inched back up alongside Thomas as they charged down the homestretch with Thomas in front at the line by inches. At this point Thomas started to check out and instead the battle was on for second between Windom and Dave Darland with Darland seizing the spot on lap 10. They ran this way until lap 19 when Windom found a second wind and passed Darland with a turn one slider on lap 19 which Darland countered as they raced side by side down the backstretch. Windom was able to hold off Darland in turn four and reclaim the second spot at that point. Thomas was long gone at this time and breezed under the checkered flags at 10:21 claiming this event for the second straight year winning over Windom, Robert Ballou who picked off Darland for third late in the contest with Darland fourth and Tyler Courtney snatching fifth on the last lap from CJ Leary. The second five was filled by Leary, Andretti, Cummins, Farney and Meseraull. It was a good race not great but good and was a real bargain for the price and hopefully brought out some local folks to check out what all the commotion is on the north side of town and the racing and atmosphere will bring them back in the future.

    Check back soon as we will try to bring you our views of Smackdown VI as it unfolds the next three days at Kokomo. Until then get out there and enjoy some midweek and weekend good short track racing in your area. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for commenting and letting us know you enjoy our efforts as it keeps us going.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    USAC Midgets Visit The Clyde & Linda's Along With Action At The Action Track

    Tuesday, August 15 - Some wet stuff dropped upon us in the morning but by afternoon things were bright and sunny. The USAC midgets had a return date to the Clyde Martin Speedway in the wilds of Brickerville, a tiny 1/8 mile dirt oval with good banking and even better racing. Tanner Thorson thrilled the capacity crowd last year as he spun early and returned from the rear to grab the victory after a last corner, last lap pass to win. Tonight would find 22 USAC midgets and a fine field of 47 600 micro sprints to do battle at the Clyde on this evening and again the crowd turned out in good numbers to pack the joint. Midget time trials started the program at 7:02 and by 7:18 Clauson/Marshall driver, Shane Golobic, had set fast time with a lap of 10.554 seconds around the 1/8 mile oval. The 600's would spin off four competitive heats with Heath Hehnly, Nash Ely, son of former 410 sprint car driver, Dave Ely, Jacob Severn and Alex Bright scoring victories. Three heats races would follow with Justin Grant winning heat one over Golobic and Spencer Bayston. Ryan Greth executed a snap roll in turn two in this one battling for the lead and would return later to run the feature. Heat two saw local Tim Buckwalter wheeling the Seymour Enterprises #29 with sponsorship from Bentley Warren's Saloon in Maine adnoring the hood triumph over Tanner Carrick and Tanner Thorson, teammates out of the Keith Kuntz stables. The third heat saw Alex Bright again score the win for the local contingent beating Adam Pierson from Vermont (looking impressive in his runs in the series) and his teammate, Andrew Layser. Then the turning point of the night occurred when the track grader came out to cut off the top of the cushion but by mistake cut the cushion completely down and returned the track back to the shape it was in prior to warmups, smooth and narrow. This took any chance away from someone being able to use the cushion to advance forward in the feature and made the track difficult to pass on.

    The green would fall on the 22 car starting field at 9:13 and quickly the red waved as the front row of Tyler Courtney and Justin Grant tangled in turn two with Grant launching over the right front tire of Courtney and flipping high into the air for the second straight night. Grant was OK after landing but the midget was not so good. On the restart Tanner Thorson moved to the outside of the front row and took the lead from Courtney and never looked back. Brady Bacon passed Spencer Bayston for second on lap four and took up the race long chase of Thorson for the remaining 36 laps to no avail. Passing was at a premium going forward slowed by two reds and four yellows. The last slowdown occurred on lap 21 when Kenny Miller III and Holly Shelton tangled with Shelton flipping multiple times before climbing unhurt from her bent machine. When the checker waved at 9:43 it was Thorson in for his second straight win at Clyde Martin winning over Bacon with Courtney third, Bayston fourth and Golobic rounding out the top five. Chad Boat slipped by Tim Buckwalter late to take sixth with Buckwalter following with Tanner Carrick eighth, Tony DiMattia ninth and Landon Simon tenth. It was a big letdown as the track never came around in the short period that they ran the feature and I'm sure almost everyone walked away disappointed especially if they were in attendance last year for the barnburner that took place at the Clyde. There was still a 30 lap 600 feature yet to run and the bulk of the crowd stuck around to watch these guys go at it. It was the better of the two features with fourth starting Tim Buckwalter taking top honors over Heath Hehnly, Jarid Kunkle, Bradley Brown from tenth and Ryan Groff with the final checker waving at 10:31. From there it was a short seven mile ride back to the Brownstone Bed and Breakfast in nearby Reinholds but it was made more difficult by fog that settled in on the country backroads on the trip back.

    Wednesday, August 16 - It was hot but it was also sunny. The day started with a very nice dinner at the home of Bill and Judy Burns in Mohrsville, PA. After a delicious meal Bruce and I set out for my dad’s house before heading to the Action Track at the Kutztown Fairgrounds. Bill was also heading to Kutztown along with Dale O’Brien, our Green Bay buddy now living in Florida. It would be my Dad’s first trip to the races this season and he was looking forward to going to Kutztown. He often talks about going to the Fairgrounds at Kutztown when he was a boy and seeing the cars run on the mile track that years ago sat in the same area as the now current 1/5 mile track. It was fair week so we were arriving early to get a place to park and seats in the stands. Kutztown draws a good crowd on a weekly basis and we thought with the fair it could draw even more people. It was also the final race of the year as college would be back in swing and this track only runs when the University of Kutztown is not in session giving them a short season compared to most tracks in the area. Strangely with all the rainy weather in the area this year, the track did not suffer a single rainout. But we had nothing to worry about because Dwight Bucks of Topton, PA was saving us seats for the event. If there is one thing that is very plentiful at Kutztown it is cars. The weekly show consists of the speedsters, 600 micro sprints and slingshots. Tonight the pits were packed. The slingshots ran earlier in the fair week and tonight they only ran a scramble, a B main and their A main. A scramble is a race for the cars that did not qualify the previous week for the A main. They run 10 laps and the winner automatically qualifies for the A main on that night. This will always give everyone a chance from the previous week. There were 27 slingshots that completed in these events. There were 72 600’s competing in 2 scrambles, 7 heat races, 2 D mains, 2 C mains, a B main and a 60 lap A main. The speedsters were 29 strong running 3 heats, a B main and a 30 lap A main. Yes, it was a lot of racing. There were cars that spun, cars that flipped and during the B main for the speedsters a car ripped down a huge section of the homestretch fence. Yet after starting at 6:15 and running 20 preliminary events, the first of the three A mains took the green at 9:29. The night belonged to Billy Pauch Jr. and Tim Buckwalter. In both the 600’s and the speedsters they were battling for the point championship. If you won the event you won the title. The crowd was divided between the two and everyone seemed to have their favorite. The speedsters did not disappoint. It was an epic battle for the win between the two right down to the end. They ran side by side and sometimes touched but never caused the other to spin. In the end it was Tim Buckwalter winning the race and the championship, from his 8th starting position. Billy Pauch Jr. settled for second after starting on the pole. Jeff Hartman, Matt Janisch and Matt Westfall rounded out the top five.

    Now for the 600’s and the same scenario for Buckwalter and Pauch. Tonight was an extra distance race of 60 laps and the cautions ran high. Ten times it waved. Unfortunately the race was cut short for Pauch when he tangled with Eric Bodine and he hit the wall. Buckwalter would finish second and go on to win the point championship. Kyle Spence won the event. Kyle Lick, Eric Bodine and Jesse Maurer rounded out the top five. The night ended with the slingshot feature and at 10:53 the final checkered of the evening fell. Not bad, 23 races in a 4 hours and 15 minutes and this included a 13 minute delay for fence repairs. We all enjoyed the events of the night and did not say good bye but see you tomorrow.

    Thursday, August 17 - The final night of the Eastern swing for the USAC midgets would take place at the Linda's Speedway, a 1/4 mile dirt oval near Jonestown, PA right off of I-78. It was the first visit for USAC at Linda's and a good crowd turned out for the night's events in though the All Star Sprints were also running tonight at Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville. Our whole gang sat together for one last time as we had some good conversations before action began at 7:03 with USAC midget time trials. Brady Bacon in the Fred Manafort #76M would cop the fast time award with a lap of 12.474 seconds around the 1/4 mile oval. Twenty two USAC midgets would run three heats with Adam Pierson taking heat one fending off Holly Shelton and Spencer Bayston. Tanner Carrick would score heat two triumphing over Tanner Thorson and Justin Grant back in the saddle after two previous horrible evenings of racing. Heat three saw Tyler Courtney win over Chad Boat and Tim Buckwalter. The 600 mini sprints brought a stout field of 50 cars to the dance with five heats needed to qualify their big field. Austin Quick scored heat win number one over 15 year old Indiana invader, Zeb Wise. Tim Buckwalter won heat two, Jimmy Glenn heat three, Kyle Lick heat four and Tyler Brehm notching heat win number five. In a nice gesture by track management since there was no B main needed for the midgets they decided to allow the USAC midgets to run their 30 lap feature before running the 600 C and B mains. This would allow the traveling teams to get about an hour and a half jump on the long tow back home with many of them headed to the Springfield mile on Saturday afternoon for an USAC Silver Crown race.

    Chad Boat and Shane Golobic would bring the 22 car field to the green flag at 8:48 with Boat going to the early lead. Boat found the middle groove to his liking as he pulled away from the field. Lap traffic encountered by lap 11 allowed Golobic and Courtney to close the gap as it was difficult for the leaders to pass the tail enders. Two quick cautions just before the halfway mark allowed the track to clear in front of Boat and he was home free from this point. Lap 22 saw Eric Heydenreich flip on the backstretch entering turn three. He walked away uninjured after the wild ride. Golobic was able to close on Boat in the last nine laps sticking his nose underneath Boat several times but Boat was able to hold off the late challenges and flashed under the checkered at 9:09 to score his second win in the four race series and further establish himself as Mr. August in the USAC midget ranks. Golobic finished second with Spencer Bayston claiming third, Tyler Courtney stepping in for fourth with Justin Grant salvaging a fifth out of the evening. We were disappointed again as the top five all started in the top five thus there was not much passing taking place. The 25 lap 600 feature went green at 10:15 with Ryan Groff going to the point and holding off all challengers to take the big win. Austin Quick would finish second with Jim Radney advancing from 12th to 3rd with Tim Buckwalter fourth and BJ Antonio taking fifth at 10:24 in a well run program.

    That's it for this installment and next column will cover our Sunday visit to Susquehanna Speedway for the All Star Sprints and then it is onto Kokomo Speedway for Smackdown and four nights of wingless racing on the baddest bullring in the country. Until next time get out there and see some good short track racing in your area and stay dry. And as always thanks for reading our efforts.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Long Night At Mansfield & USAC Midget Barnburner At Susquehanna & Path Valley

    Friday, August 11 - After spending a frustrating night last Friday at Shadyhill we decided to skip the MSCS show there and instead took in a Class A baseball game in Fort Wayne where the Tin Caps play to crowds over 7000 fans a night and rank in the top 2% of all minor league ballparks. Some of the reasons are that they start on time, provide good entertainment at a reasonable price ($10 for the best seats in the house), do many fan friendly promotions during the game, have a variety of food choices at reasonable prices and are family friendly. That's what brings out people to a venue to spend their hard earned money and that is where many of our race tracks in this country are falling far short of. The days of opening the gates and people will show up has pasted a long time ago. The game was very entertaining with the Tin Caps coming back from a 5-0 deficit and winning 8-7. To cap off the evening a very good fireworks display was shot off at the end and not very many people left before the final firecracker went off in the sky.


     

    Saturday, August 12 - We continued working our way East by traveling from Fort Wayne over to Mansfield, Ohio to attend the Great Lakes Dirt Nationals at the very nicely maintained Mansfield Motor Speedway, a 4/10 mile semi-banked dirt oval with ample seating for the large crowd that turned out for the evening and morning of racing. A very impressive three division open wheel contingent of sprint cars of all engine sizes turned out to take their shot at the big bucks on the line tonight. In the packed pit area were 63 winged 410 sprint cars, 36 BOSS wingless sprints and 40 winged 305 sprint cars. This was going to make for a long night of racing which was anticipated but not as long as it turned out to be. Each division would run hot laps/time trials which kicked off at 6:50 and wrapped up at 8:49. Phil Gressman in the winged 410's was the first one to get upside down during one of the sessions and his evening was shortened.

    Following the qualifying sessions the 25 lap makeup BOSS sprint car feature was called to the post with the green flag waving at 9:05. Dustin Smith from Russiaville, Indiana took his #77 to the front and ran a flawless race to score the $1500 win over Chad Wilson with Paul Dues advancing from 10th to claim the final podium position. Michael Fischesser and young Tyler Gunn rounded out the top five in this one. Next up were the six winged 410 sprint car heats and at this point it was where the train began to go off the tracks. A better system needs to be put into place for pushing off the heat races rather than what was currently used. Having every team with their four wheelers roll the sprinters onto the track and then have push vehicles push them off they should take advantage of the former asphalt pit road to line up the first three heats ahead of time with spacing so each push vehicle can come behind and push them off into turn one would save a lot of time and when you have this many cars (and how many more will they get for $100,000 to win in April of 2018) to push off in three divisions. Caleb Armstrong, Byron Reed, central PA's Brock Zearfoss, Jimmy Seger, Travis Philo and Dean Jacobs won their respective races. BOSS ran their four heats next with Shane Cottle, Tyler Gunn (doing double duty), Dustin Smith and Dallas Hewitt scoring wins. The 305's ran four heats next and then it was right into the B mains where every division needed two to complete the qualifying. We noticed during the course of the heats leading up to the B mains that the crowd started to thin as people headed for the exits without seeing the bulk of the features that they came to see. Promotion should take note and realize that the majority of those who left will not be returning and when people are leaving before things are completed that your program is too long. Some people would counter with that you should expect a long evening but in this day and age people are looking to be entertained in a timely manner (see Friday above) and leave with a good taste in their mouths so to speak. You would think that the promotional team would improve on their presentation of events as their previous attempts in Indianapolis and St. Louis turned into nine plus hour marathons and tonight was no exception!! The best performance of the evening occurred in the second winged 410 sprint B main when Port Royal's current point leader, Dylan Cisney, charged from ninth to claim second and the last qualifying position for the evening pounding the cushion all the way around the track. So what did management do before bringing out the wingless feature was knock down the cushion and take away any chance of someone using it to provide entertainment in the upcoming event.


     

    At 1:25 AM the 30 lap, $5000 to win BOSS sprint car feature took the green flag with Shane Cottle going to the front from his second starting position. Cole Ketchum's flip in turn three on lap four brought out the only stoppage of this event with the driver OK. Cottle would control the contest from start to finish with Michael Fischesser making a late run but not being able to make a real serious challenge for the top spot. Dustin Smith finished third with CJ Leary coming from 12th to 4th with Cody Gardner rounding out the top five at 1:44 AM. The $15,000 to win winged 410 sprint feature was next and took the green flag at 2:03. Two quick reds in the opening lap, one for a pileup in turn two and the other for a triple flip in turn three, had management deciding to cut the number of laps from 30 to 20. To us this seemed unfair to the paying fan who spent seven hours up to this point waiting to see the 30 lap feature and now at 2:30 AM they decide that time is an issue and cut the laps from their featured race and also the following 305 sprint car feature by 10 laps. Should have thought about some time saving measures around four hours earlier!! Then during one of the restarts leader, Jimmy Seger, brought the field around slowly with several cars three or four rows back jumping on the restart with the call to place Seger (of all people) one spot back for bringing the field to the green too slowly!! What happen to the leader dictates the start of the race?? My feelings on this matter is you just took $15,000 out of the hand of Seger for doing nothing wrong as with the track conditions locked down at this point I question if anyone would have passed him for the lead otherwise. Caleb Armstrong was gifted the top spot at this point and pulled away to an easy victory over Adam Kekich who made a late race pass of Seger for second with Seger third, Mark Smith fourth and Brock Zearfoss fifth with four of the top five finishers all starting within the top five with only Zearfoss making any headway advancing from 12th to fifth at the finish at 2:54. As the bulk of the remaining crowd exited the grandstands the announcer commented that you should stay for one more race as what's one more race at this hour. Well, for the fan who had to travel a distance to return home that is the difference between leaving the track at 3 AM and not 4 AM when the 305 feature ended. If you want to build a loyal following of fans for the future the management must look into ways of shortening the length of the racing program as most people do not want to be at a race track for nine to ten hours as they will find something more entertaining at lesser hours to fill their need for enjoyable entertainment.


     

    Sunday, August 13 - There are good races, there are great races, there are awesome races and there is Susquehanna. Sunday night was the opening night of the USAC midgets Eastern swing and the opening race was at Susquehanna Speedway and it would be a time to visit with our racing friends from Pennsylvania and visit family while we also enjoy some good midget racing in the whole process. It was good again to see our friends such as Dwight, Gary, Marshall, Ed, Bill, Bruce, Doug and Stephanie, Bezz and Karen, Hoppel, Rouser, Wendell and Dale and to swap stories and compare notes from races visited during our times apart. It was also nice to return to some of our former haunts and marvel at the wonderful job that the Gobrecht family and general manager, Kolten Gouse, had done to bring this facility back to life. It went from a dump to a showplace with improvements continuing all the time. Really wish though that they would have constructed the large starter's stand out of another material that you could see through as the large structure obstructs your view of turn three from almost everywhere in the nice aluminum grandstands.


     

    It was a beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the low 80's, perfect weather for a good night of racing. One big thing which was a great improvement from our last visit was the track surface which was well groomed and virtually dust free the entire evening. Things kicked off at 7:06 with time trials for the 28 midgets on hand and were quickly spun off ending at 7:30 with Tyler Courtney setting fast time at 17.719 seconds. Two other divisions joined the midgets on the card with 600 cc micro sprints (10) and extreme stocks (12). Two perfect filler classes to allow the midgets time to prepare their cars between time trials, heats, B main and feature. The two 600 heats were up first and Tyler Walton and Dexter Strausser looked strong winning their respective races. The three USAC midget heats were next with Tyler Courtney running away with heat one though the racing from second through fifth was intense. Heat two saw Brady Bacon prevail in an excellent race coming from the rear after an early race tangle. Tanner Thorson passed Holly Shelton on the white flag lap to capture heat three before the extreme stocks polished off their two heats. It was then right into the midget B main where two time 2017 ARDC winner, Adam Pierson from Bradford, Vermont, earned the victory in a fine performance.


     

    Lined up and waved off at 9:14 was the 30 lap USAC midget feature with Tanner Thorson taking the initial lead. Brady Bacon caught and passed Thorson for the lead on the backstretch on lap five and dominated the middle portion of the event leading laps six to twenty two until Thorson retook the top position. Thorson looked like the man to beat at this point until the caution waved with just two laps to go when top five running Brady Bacon slowed to a stop on the backstretch with a broken u-joint. On the restart Thorson went to the point once again with Justin Grant who was fifth just a few laps earlier taking advantage of the tough breaks of others sitting in third. Grant took second from Bayston on the restart but a quick caution for the disabled Jim Radney placed Bayston back in second. On the second restart Bayston used a slider in turn one to take the lead with Thorson countering in turn two but not able to reclaim the lead as the pair raced to the white flag. On the final lap Thorson drew alongside Bayston down the backstretch with Grant also diving low to make it three wide for a brief instance. Entering turn three side by side the Kuntz teammates played chicken seeing which would lift first with both of them jumping the cushion in turn four with Grant seizing the opportunity turning hard left and driving by both of them as they fought to regain control and race back to the line. It was enough time for Grant to roar toward the finish line and hold off Thorson for the unlikely win with Bayston settling for third followed by Shane Golobic and Tanner Carrick moving from 17th to 5th at the wire earning the hard charger award in the process. Boy, did this finish have the crowd buzzing!!   WOW, WOW, WOW!!!  It was awesome and a great start to the USAC midget Eastern swing.


     

    Monday, August 14 - Last year rainy weather totally disrupted this Pennsylvania swing of the USAC midget series with only one date (Clyde Martin) being able to run their scheduled program. Tonight's weather looked questionable earlier in the week but improved as the day drew closer. The bad weather according to the radar was going to pass below us up in the hills near Spring Run, PA where the 1/4 mile bullring of the Path Valley Speedway Park is located. Action got underway slightly before 7 with time trials for the 24 car field with 23 actually being able to take time. When qualifying was finished at 7:12 Keith Kuntz Motorsports driver, Spencer Bayston, stood quickest with a time of 11.213 second around the 1/4 mile which was a new track record. The wingless super sportsman, a 358 engined car with self starters which raced for years at Silver Springs with wings, were the support class and brought 19 cars to the clash. One of their heats were run before the National Anthem was played (odd order of events) with Carmen Perigo winning. The other two heats were run after the three USAC midget heats were spun off with Bill Brian Jr. and John Wolfe scoring wins. Tyler Courtney won heat one of the midgets with Spencer Bayston blasting from fourth to second on the last lap with Ryan Greth taking third. Heat two saw Justin Grant score the second straight heat win for the Clauson/Marshall team with Brett Arndt second and Chad Boat third. The third heat saw new entrant, Tim Buckwalter, in the Seymour Enterprises car out of Massachusetts, taking top honors over a pressuring Tanner Thorson and his teammate, Holly Shelton.


     

    The skies began to cloud even more as the 30 lap USAC midget feature was called to the post with the green flag waving at 8:15. Brayton Lynch powered to the early lead and led the first nine laps before Tanner Thorson made a nifty move passing both Lynch and Brady Bacon down the backstretch to assume the lead. The leaders encountered lap traffic with 13 to go and that was when things got real interesting. On lap 20 Thorson dove low in turn four to clear Shawn Jackson while Bacon went high to pass Jackson entering turn one. Contact between the two saw Jackson spinning to bring out the first caution. On the restart Bacon and Thorson took turns throwing slide jobs at one another until five to go when Bacon dove low in turn three sliding across in front of Thorson who countered in turn four forcing Bacon over the cushion and into a half stall with fourth running Spencer Bayston having no where to go jumping Bacon's right rear and flipping over twice. Once back underway Thorson retained the lead but now Tyler Courtney was in hot pursuit. Coming for the checkered in turn three Courtney made his move diving low making contact with Thorson as he slid up the banking sending Thorson into a spin in turn four with his car standing on his tail in the process. The two had raced hard earlier with Courtney ending up above the cushion in four continuing but losing several positions and the move at the end might have been a payback for the earlier confrontation. Justin Grant running fourth at the time did not have the luck he did on Sunday slamming into the rear of third running Chad Boat and dumping his car end over end in the mishap. On the restart new leader, Courtney, stumbled on the cushion in turn one allowing second running Boat to easily pull off his slider exiting turn two. Courtney made one last attempt entering turn three coming for the checkered but wasn't close enough to make a serious run with Boat flashing under the checkered at 8:41 scoring the win over Courtney with PA runner, Ryan Greth, scoring his first national podium finish in third. Holly Shelton claimed fourth with Brayton Lynch holding on for fifth. The second five was led by Tim Buckwalter in the Seymour midget grabbing sixth in a good run with Tanner Carrick seventh, Brett Arndt eighth, Bacon coming back for ninth and Landon Simon rounding out the top ten. The win for Boat was his fifth career USAC National midget win with all his victories coming in the month of August. Well, Reggie Jackson of major league baseball was known as Mr. October then Chad Boat could be called Mr. August for his performances in this month. There was still a 30 lap wingless super sportsman feature to run as the sky started to spit some rain droplets. The green waved just ten minutes after the midget checker and even though there were six cautions in this one when they were racing the action was good in this one. Tony Jackson scored the win at 9:19 with veteran Carmen Perigo coming home second with Derek Sheaffer third, Craig Perigo fourth and Steve Wilbur fifth. We were fortunate on this evening with the rain as when we traveled east on the PA Turnpike toward Carlisle we noticed many areas of the highway and the shoulders where you could tell that rain had passed through these areas. Maybe Mother Nature owed us one after the miserable weather we all had last year for this week.


     

    Until the next installment where we continue on the Eastern swing of the USAC midgets here in Pennsylvania take care and get out there and catch some good short track racing in your area. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always we appreciate everyone reading our column.

     

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Racing or Lack Of It At Shadyhill & Action At Lincoln Park

    Friday, August 4 - With Bloomington having the next two Fridays off we looked for somewhere to go to get our racing fix. Shadyhill Speedway, a 1/4 mile dirt oval in Medaryville, an 1 1/2 straight north from us looked to be the one to fit our bill. They were offering free admission to their special Friday night show (they normally run UMP modifieds on Saturdays) that would consist of midgets and two classes of 600 cc mini sprints, one running with wings and the other without wings. We arrived plenty early at 4:30 to find about 20 other people milling about. According to their website hot laps were scheduled for 6 but only afterwards did we find on their Facebook page that warmups were scheduled for 7 this evening. Our thoughts are that more people will check a track's website before sifting through a track's Facebook page and tracks should keep their website up to date (unlike Shadyhill's website which was still advertising last week's races) so the majority of visitors can know what is going on. The weather out here took a turn for the colder with the temperature showing 64 degrees on the weather website with feels like temperature of 56 degrees. Also it was overcast with many ominous clouds passing over nearby but this did not seem to stir a sense of urgency in track management to move the program along at an increased pace. Hot laps commenced at 7:15 with the two midgets (didn't expect many with Belleville & Pevely both running but certainly expected more than two), and ten wingless mini sprints and ten winged mini sprints but four or five of those were doing double duty racing in both classes so the grand total was around 16 for three classes. After the first set of hot laps (Yes, I said first set) the announcer proclaimed that they would run a second set as the drivers had never driven on this track before. In the first hot lap session each division was given around eight laps which we feel was more than enough to dial their cars in for the heat races and the second session was needless. Nonetheless the second session was completed around 8 and the announcer proclaimed that the driver's meeting would now take place. What??? Why didn't they use the time between 6:30 and 7 to have the driver's meeting and not after hot laps. By 8:20 Justin Peck was driving his midget down the entrance ramp between turns three and four with the American flag in hand for the National Anthem. Well, wouldn't you know it, the rain came and stopped all on track activities. Pat went out to the car parked nearby and grabbed two big umbrellas but not before the rain had started to come down heavier. So now I was wet and cold as the wind picked up and it was about 8:35 when the rain stopped. The best thing of the evening occurred next (no they did not cancel) as a beautiful double rainbow appeared off the backstretch which was amazing!! Track drying began slightly before 9 and continued for at least the next 30 minutes. We don't know what time the racing began as we decided to cut our losses (only gas money and food at this point) and call it an evening as the final nail in the coffin were the two Saturday night regulars standing behind us talking. The one said to the other that she did not arrive home last Saturday until 2:30 Central Time while the other fellow who lived in Eastern Time announced that he arrived home at 3 AM. Sorry but being at the race track (no rain on that Saturday) that long is not my idea of fun and after seeing the lack of a sense of urgency by track management tonight we weren't about to find out how long this program was going to take before it was finally completed!! This coming Friday is a MSCS wingless sprint car show with one other division and we can only hope they run it better than this one. I know two people that will not be there this Friday!! Can you guess who?

    Saturday, August 5 - The original plan was to use our rainchecks from the BOSS sprint car rainout early in the year at Lawrenceburg tonight but the 2 1/2 hour drive wasn't appealing and we decided instead to make the short 40 minute drive south on US 231 to beautiful downtown Putnamville to visit the Lincoln Park Speedway. We understood going in that the sprint car field would be lean as not only Lincoln Park was running but also Lawrenceburg, Haubstadt with MSCS and Waynesfield with BOSS. Twenty one sprinters pulled into Lincoln Park with the biggest surprise being Mitch Wissmiller from Illinois bypassing Haubstadt to tow over to LPS. We also understood that the evening had the distinct possibility of being longer than usual as three makeup features from a partial rainout on July 22nd would start out the evening's action. The makeup super stock feature was the first action of the evening taking the green flag at 7:17. They cooperated and spun off their 20 lapper in only nine minutes with just two cautions. The first of two bomber features was next up and the first one went non-stop 15 laps in just four minutes. The second bomber feature took slightly longer at seven minutes with one caution but you can't complain when 45 laps of feature racing were spun off in 40 minutes with just three cautions total. At this point promoter, Joe Spiker, and his crew were not quite happy with the narrow racing surface and went to work to remedy the situation. A half hour later they were done and the first of three sprint car heats took Brian Hodde's green flag. Tim Creech looked strong in winning heat one over fast closing Jon Stanbrough in the Paul #24P this evening charging from seventh to claim the runnerup position with Travis Berryhill bringing the Wingo #77s home third. Heat two saw fourth starting Billy Cribbs hang it up on the cushion to grab the win over Mitch Wissmiller and AJ Hopkins in the Ottinger #4J. Heat three saw new Columbus, Ohio resident, Brent Beauchamp, dominate this one winning over veteran Kent Christian and Crawfordsville's own Chad Davenport. The UMP modifieds spun off three good, competitive heats before the super stocks and bombers ran their heat races. Only the modifieds needed a B main and by 9:53 it was time for the 25 lap sprint car feature.

    Brent Beauchamp wasted no time going to the point grabbing the lead from fourth on the opening lap and distancing himself from the rest of the field. Billy Cribbs brought out an early caution looping it in turn two on lap 6 with only one other caution slowing the action. Though a race for the lead never materialized the action further back more than made up for the domination by Beauchamp. Kent Christian, third starting Jon Stanbrough and eighth starting AJ Hopkins battled with each other throughout the entire main event with Hopkins making a nifty outside move in traffic late in the event to wrestle second from Stanbrough who was momentarily trapped down low. Beauchamp flashed under Hodde's checkered flag at 10:05 winning over Hopkins with Stanbrough claiming the show position. Nate McMillen came from tenth to secure fourth with Matt McDonald also making a strong run advancing from eleventh to fifth at the finish. We decide to stay for the 20 lap UMP modified feature next up with Cole Parker scoring the win over seventh starting Kenny Carmichael Jr. and Rob Brickert. The 20 lap super stock feature was next to the post with Steve Peeden, the UMP national points leader, dominating winning over makeup feature winner, Jonny Newgent. This one was over by 11 PM and a tip of the hat to the LPS staff in presenting a well run program on this evening. Other tracks (see above) could take some lessons from this full well executed show extremely well.

    Sunday, August 6 - At the beginning of the weekend the chances of seeing a race at Kokomo on Sunday looked slim. But that was Friday and it was now Sunday and the forecast changed about a hundred times in that three day period. By the time we left for Kokomo around 4 PM the rain prediction had dropped to 15% for the entire evening. Tonight was the Bob Darland Memorial held in honor of Dave Darland's father, a former racer himself and car owner for his son in his early career. In a class act Dave went around the pit area to each of the competitors racing tonight and thanked them for attending the races tonight to honor his father!! A field of 27 sprint cars, 21 midgets and 6 hornets were parked in the pit area ready to tackle the 3/8 mile of fine Indiana real estate. The three sprint car heats kicked off the show at 6:53 with Tyler Thomas becoming the third different driver in two weeks to buckle into the seat of the Dutcher #17GP promptly going out and winning heat one over Dave Darland and Robert Ballou. Heat two found Chris Windom in a new Baldwin Brothers #5 (after flipping the previous weekend at the USAC stop at Moberly) scoring the win over Kyle Cummins taking a ride in the Pollick #21X on the evening with Justin Grant bringing the McGhee #11 home third. Chad Boespflug drove the Cincinnati based Hoffman #69 home first in this one besting Nick Bilbee and Kyle Robbins. The midget heats were next up and were good ones with Ray Search from Wisconsin, Chris Windom and Justin Peck claiming victories. Ray Smith won the lone hornet heat. All qualifying was completed by 7:54 when the sprint car B main was checkered with home town driver, Shane Cottle, winning over Logan Jarrett, Scotty Weir in the Gass #17 tonight, Corey Smith and Travis Berryhill punching the last ticket to the big dance. After minimal track prep the sprint car feature was called to the grid.

    The busy Brian Hodde waved the green flag at 8:23 on the twenty car starting field. Chris Windom shot to the lead at the start and the race was on. Cummins, Boespflug, Darland, Thomas and Bilbee gave chase. From our vantage point on the top row of the new backstretch high rise grandstands we marveled at the racing through turns three and four where the field was three and four wide, two and three rows in tow. The first caution appeared on lap 12 when Logan Jarrett spun in turn four. Jarrett hit the wall in turn one on lap 19 to bring out the caution and bunch the field back up. One lap late Chad Boespflug caught and passed Windom for the lead with a slider in turn one and looked to be a strong candidate to win the $3000 on the line. Lap 26 saw Boespflug bobble and almost spin exiting turn four on the bottom with Dave Darland taking advantage and roaring around the outside for the lead. Lap 29 saw Jarret Andretti in his new Weld sponsored blue #1 catch the homestretch wall and slow before pulling into the infield. Darland was probably on edge on the restart but handled int smoothly motoring against the cushion and flying under the checkered flag at 8:37 winning his second Bob Darland Memorial. It was a very emotional win for the 50 year old driver who teamed with his father and won 100 features together in the family owned #36D. He exited the car to the applause of the crowd on hand and pumped his arms in the air celebrating a win that meant so much to him. Boespflug came home second with Robert Ballou coming from seventh to third, Chris Windom dropping to fourth and Tyler Thomas rounding out the top five. Justin Grant led the second five with Shane Cottle in a good run moving from 16th to 7th with Kyle Cummins eighth, Scotty Weir in an impressive run advancing from 18th to 9th and CJ Leary rounding out the top ten.

    We still had the 20 lap midget feature to go with Justin Peck going out front at the start. Kent Christian doing double duty also looped the #38 in turn two on lap 7 to bring out the first caution. Justin Dickerson turned over in turn two a few laps later bringing out the caution and he was OK after the hard tumble. Chris Windom nipped Peck at the start/finish line to end lap 10 for the lead and would survive three more cautions and one red for a hard flip by Jon Watson in turn two before holding off a late challenge by Chase Jones. Peck settled for third at the finish with Kyle O'Gara fourth and Aaron Leffel fifth overall and first in the D2 midget division which run with the regular midgets in the Indiana series between Kokomo and Montpelier. This one was done by 9:22 and we decided to head for the exits and the 1 1/2 hour ride back to Crawfordsville satisfied with another good and well run program at the baddest bullring in Indiana.

    Next column will find us working our way back East taking a baseball stop in Fort Wayne on Friday and a race stop in Mansfield, Ohio on Saturday before heading to night one of the USAC midget East swing into Pennsylvania where we are praying for much better weather than last year. Until next time take care, be safe and get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area or somewhere on the road. And as always thanks for reading.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Indiana Trifecta At Bloomington, Lincoln Park & Kokomo

    Friday, July 28 - It was off to the red clay hills of Bloomington for some racing action for the evening. We didn't expect a high number of wingless sprints as Rt. 44 was running a BOSS sprint show and the USAC boys were off to Kansas and Missouri for the weekend. They did manage to draw 16 sprints to go along with 16 super stocks, 15 hornets and 23 winged MMSA mini sprints. The action started early as Kendall Ruble went for a hairy ride flipping off turn one during warmups not quite getting the distance that AJ Hopkins did a few weeks ago but ending his evening very early. Racing began at 7:37 with only two sprint heats with Brady Short taking heat one over Casey Shuman at the controls of the Krockenberger #21K tonight after his WAR sprint group was flooded out early at Valley Speedway and Jordan Kinser. Heat two was exciting as Ethan Barrow edged Jeff Bland Jr. by inches to take the win with Thomas Meseraull bringing the Chase Briscoe #5 home third. Three heats were needed for the MMSA mini sprints and each was competitive with Bloomington North graduate, Cindy Chambers, winning heat one. Howard McCormick bagged heat two with Rod Henning scoring heat three. No B mains were needed and all qualifying was completed by 8:34.

    There was little down time with the 25 lap sprint car feature called to the post at 8:49. The track had built up quite a good cushion in the turns and as the green flag waved the entire field went up top and rode the cushion. Brady Short took full advantage of his second starting position and went to the lead after the initial false start when first starting Ethan Barrow jumped the start. Short would never be headed in this one with minimal passing throughout the field. Every track has this type of night once in a while and tonight it occurred here at Bloomington. Fourth starting Jeff Bland Jr. finished second with sixth starting Thomas Meseraull claiming third with Ethan Barrow finishing fourth and Casey Shuman rounding out the top five. Only a Lee Underwood spin in turn two on lap three slowed this contest which was completed in nine minutes. After the sprints the remaining features picked up in quality with Jamey Wilson winning over Steve Peeden and Aubrey Eagan in the super stocks. The hornet feature might have been the best race with many position changes and good battles with Donnie Modesty prevailing. The last feature of the evening with the mini sprints produced the best finish of the night when Rod Henning used a last lap, last turn pass of longtime leader, Justin Lewis, to steal this win with Drew Dorsett a close third with Jesse Vermillion fourth and Dave Dorsett rounding out the top five with the final checker waving at 10:14. Not a slew of cars in any division but an efficiently run show had people on the road at a good hour.

    Saturday, July 29 - In the late afternoon we decided to take in a Midwest Cross Country Racing (MWXC) event featuring the UTV's at Parkers Paradise near Crawfordsville, our home town. The one hour main event was scheduled to kick off at 5 but a medical emergency with one of the previous race's motocross riders necessitated a medivac helicopter to be brought in to remove the injured rider. This caused the race to be delayed an hour before starting. The nearly three mile course went through many wooded areas making it difficult to view. Twenty two UTV's split into three divisions made their land rush starts and off they went. Matt Rowell won the pro open division while Jayson Frazier won the heavy 900 cc division and Michael Plank claimed the lite 800 cc division.

    This caused us to arrive late at our Saturday night destination of the Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville missing the three sprint heats and two of the three modified heats before we settled in for the evening. We were glad we came as the sprint car feature turned out to be a classic. More on that later. The MMSA mini sprints running wingless tonight joined the normal four division program of wingless sprints, UMP modifieds, super stocks and bombers on this evening. Even though the mini sprints ran their heats last they had a quick turnaround of their 15 car field and were called to the post first for their 20 lap feature. It was a good run with only one caution and taking just 10 minutes before last night's runnerup, Justin Lewis, scored his second win of the year over Scott Bradley, Illinois invader, Mitchell Davis, Cody Trammell and Jesse Vermillion. Next up on the docket was the 30th running of the Putnamville Clash paying $3000 to win to the driver who crossed the line first. The green waved at 9:30 with first starting Dave Darland in the Michael Dutcher #17 tonight after the Hery #40 had engine woes the previous night and having him switch plans from Lawrenceburg to here to run. Tonight Lincoln Park built up the biggest cushion we have seen all year and the veteran Darland worked the cushion to perfection. Darland led the first nine laps until Jeff Bland Jr. in the Waltz #18W (usually ran as a 305 at Bloomington) working the low, low side to perfection passing Darland for the lead exiting turn four on lap 10. It didn't last long as Darland grabbed the lead back the next lap. Through the entire middle stages of the contest Darland and Bland went at it tooth and nail running side by side lap after lap even switching lines for a five lap stretch with Bland getting too close for comfort with Darland returning to the top. While this classic battle was unfolding fifth starting Thomas Meseraull was making up big chunks of real estate pounding the cushion and joining the battle which expanded to three cars now. Two late cautions on lap 21 and 27 stacked up things and put the pressure on Darland on the restarts. Meseraull worked his way past Bland for second around lap 25 and was all over Darland on the last restart. Meseraull attempted two sliders on Darland entering turns two and four in the last two laps but couldn't quite pull them off and backed out. Darland flashed under the checkered at 9:47 beating out Meseraull and Bland. Brent Beauchamp placed fourth and Dakota Jackson scored a top five. This race is a prime example of whey we moved to Indiana to watch wingless sprint racing. It was awesome!!! Darland was very excited in victory lane as the checkers are not as many for the 50 year old driver as in the past but he sure can still do it on any given night and the fans truly appreciated it. The story behind Darland running the Dutcher #17 was interesting as Dutcher was involved in an auto accident with his toter truck over a week ago and currently does not have a hauler to carry his sprinter in. Darland realized that the Hery car would not be ready for

    Lawrenceburg's BOSS show so he placed a call to Dutcher with the two teaming up for the evening with Darland lining up a trailer to haul the #17 in and the rest is history as they say.

    Sunday, July 30 - It was a beautiful day for a race. The sky was bright blue, the temperatures were in the mid 80's and our favorite track was running. Kokomo Speedway was running the Kokomo Klassic that was rained out the previous week and we decided on the way over we were going to try the new grandstand on the backstretch. We arrived early at 4:00 and were able to get top row seats in the new stands. Wow! What a different view. First off you are up much higher and you can see the entire track from the inside berm to the stripes on the corner walls. No they are not painted stripes. They are stripes made by scrapping the clay nuggets off the walls so the drivers can tell where the track stops and the walls begin. Seeing the cars being pushed off was in the pits was something you never saw before. Aside from all of the track and pits views you never saw before there was one big item missing. The sun in your eyes. When on the homestretch the sun sets over turn two and the sun does not go down until after 9:00 in the summer so the sun is always a factor when watching a race at Kokomo, but not if you are sitting on the backstretch.

    USAC was running in Missouri so you knew the car count would be down, but keep in mind this race was not scheduled for this date. It was rained out last Sunday. There were 22 sprints, 14 midgets and 6 hornets. There was no need for any B mains. It would be heats and features with the sprints running three, midgets running two and only one for the hornets. I thought tonight they might not even need to turn on the track lights. The first heat was won by Thomas Meseraull in the Dutcher 17. Yes that is the same car that Dave Darland drove to victory Saturday night at Lincoln Park. Darland was back in the Hery #40. T-Mez won over Max McGhee and Logan Jarrett. Heat two went to Shane Cottle over Billy Cribbs and Josh Spencer with Dave Darland picking up heat three at the line over Colten Cottle and Travis Hery. Justin Peck and Justin Dickerson picked up the midget heat wins. The hornet heat followed and at 7:40 all that was left were the features. Intermission followed and for some reason tonight it seemed longer than usual. At 8:31 the green dropped on the 30 lap Kokomo Klassic and Max McGhee sprung to the lead. That was short lived when on lap 2 he jumped the cushion coming out of two and the car nearly stopped. The view of this from the backstretch was unbelievable. It almost looked like everyone was going to stop. For a moment the cars slowed, jumbled up and then Dave Darland shot through the middle of the scramble and into the lead. I am sure that move looked awesome from the seats on the homestretch but from the backstretch it was jaw dropping. Racing continued until Travis Hery did a Tommy Tip-over in turn 2 around lap 10. On the restart it was Darland, McGhee, T-Mez and S. Cottle. Once racing resumed the action among the top 4 was fast and furious. McGhee was all over Darland and slid pass him in two to take the lead down the backstretch. Darland would have no part of it as he slid him back in turn three and four. A few laps later McGhee, T-Mez and Cottle exited turn four running three wide. With only a handful of laps left McGhee’s bid for the win ended when his #17 came to a halt in turn 2. We would later learn that the #17 ran out of gas. When racing resumed there was a lapped car between Darland and T-Mez and Darland was able to motor to his second win in as many days. The People’s Champ once again found himself in victory lane. Two wins in two different cars in two days. No one was disappointed.

    The midget feature was next and it ran non-stop with Justin Peck handily picking up the win. He lapped all but position two, three and four. Even though it was only 9:10 we decided to leave and not watch the hornet race. Maybe a lot of the big names were not on hand tonight but those who were put on one hell of a feature. The crowd that I thought looked down, was on the homestretch, but up until a few weeks ago there were no backstretch seats. If you would have taken everyone from the backstretch and put them on the homestretch it would have been a decent crowd. I have a feeling as more fans try the new seats they too will migrate to the back. The racing turned out to be as good as the accompanying weather.

    Until next time where local races seem to be on the agenda for this weekend get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading.

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Outlaw Karts & Sprints In Indiana & Illinois

    Tuesday, July 18 - We are in the middle of a heat wave here in the Midwest and as hot it as we decided to go to the Hendricks County Fair and take in the sights and some outlaw kart racing at the arena at the fair. Indy Race Parts are trying hard to bring outlaw kart racing to Indiana and we appreciate their efforts. The outlaw karts are very big in California and also in North Carolina but not much else anywhere else in the country. They are fun to watch and must be fun to run when you have drivers like Tyler Courtney, Damion Gardner, Joey Saldana Brinton Marvel and Tanner Thorson show up on a hot Tuesday night to race at Hendricks County. For this venue to be successful in the midwest two things are needed, more cars racing and better organization from the Indy Outlaw Kart group. You have to remember you only have one chance to make a first impression and especially when you are running an event at a county fair you must run the program like a fine tuned watch. That means starting on time and running a quick paced program that will bring the curious in and get them back out in a timely manner to enjoy the fair after watching a good race. That did not happen on Tuesday and we think the organizers who are planning to run a bi-weekly show at Hendricks County starting next month missed a golden opportunity to bring in a new base of fans to watch their racing if the program was short and snappy. The scheduled starting time for the racing was 7 PM and it was not until 7:45 when the first green flew on the first open outlaw kart heat. And with only 9 open outlaw karts and 3 250cc outlaw karts along with 1 box stock there was no need to run two sets of heats for each class and not start the first feature until 9 PM. On this night only run one set of heats, do some track maintenance and get the features on the track quickly. If you start on time (7PM) and run one set of heats and two features the entire show could have been over by 9 PM with the fans returning to the fair having time to enjoy both activities. We noticed USAC race director, Levi Jones, and his family sitting in the stands and leaving after a while to return to the fair never witnessing the feature events. That might be a good indication that the show was too long. Believe me I am not trying to bash the Indy Kart organization but only trying to give some good, sound advice on how to attract fans, both new and old, to their future shows. We would love to see them become successful and bring a new form of racing to the area and attract new, young drivers to participate.

    To the show itself, Tanner Thorson and Damion Gardner took the two open outlaw kart heats while Carson and Caden Kvapil, 14 and 10 year old sons of NASCAR racer Travis, won the 250 cc heats. The 20 lap 250 cc outlaw kart feature took the green at 9 PM and had only one caution taking only four minutes to run. Carson Kvapil dominated winning over his brother, Caden, and Reece Saldana, older son of Joey Saldana. The open outlaw kart feature was not as cleanly run with five cautions slowing the action in this 20 lapper. Tanner Thorson ending up winning this one from third with teammate, Damion Gardner, second after starting fourth with Carson Kvapil doing double duty finishing third with Kenneth Cross fourth and Brinton Marvel rounding out the top five with the final checker waving at 9:34.

    Friday, July 21 - Tonight was a trip over into the Land of Lincoln to attend the Champaign County Fair where they were running a WAR East wingless sprint and POWRi D2 midget program on the 1/4 mile oval located at the fairgrounds. It was extremely hot when we arrived with the temperature reading 97 degrees and the heat index hitting 111 degrees!!! We had a little problem figuring out where to park for the races and finally were directed to a parking lot near the entrance of the fair. We walked part of the midway over to the large covered grandstand that ran the entire length of the homestretch and secured a seat with good viewing lines avoiding the poles holding up the roof and being able to clearly see the entire race track. The poles also had fans on them which helped with the oppressive heat. One level of concrete barriers were set up as walls in part of the turns and the entire homestretch and backstretch but an area of concern was no protection (no fencing of any kind separating the track from the pits) for the race teams pitted off of turns three and four. In fact during the sprint feature one car flipped off of turn four halfway distance to the parked rigs sitting there. That is a big area of concern that should be looked into before next year if they are going to have the event again.

    Action got underway at 7:06 with the first of four heats for the 26 car field of WAR East sprints on hand. Steve Thomas would take heat one over Korey Weyant and Bret Tripplett. Heat two saw Chris Windom in his second WAR start of the year winning over Justin Grant and Jerry Coons Jr. Heat three saw Landon Simon wow the fans with a run from fifth to win this one over Wade Seiler and Tommy Rockwell. Heat four saw "super" Mario Clouser take the win over Mitch Wissmiller and Terry Babb. The sprint heats were spun off in 21 minutes on a track that was somewhat dusty in turns one and two but fine everywhere else. The track crew worked hard on the surface and by feature time it was in good shape. A disappointing six car field was on hand for the D2 midgets with Jack Routson taking their only heat race. Some track maintenance was done and by 8 PM the sprint car B main was trackside. Cameron Knell would score the win and move to the feature event.

    The 15 lap D2 midget feature would be the first to the post with the green flying at 8:09. For six cars it was a competitive race with Jack Routson prevailing over a fast closing Brad Greenup and Wyatt Teare. All that was left was the 25 lap WAR East feature with the front row of Mitch Wissmiller and Mario Clouser bringing 18 of their friends to the green flag at 8:43. The race quickly went to red when Chris Parkinson dumper his sprinter in turn one on the initial start. He was OK and shortly thereafter it was back to green. Mario Clouser went to the front and would lead the first lap until Cameron Knell flipped into the pit area off turn four was no injuries incurred. Clouser went back to the lead on the restart as Mitch Wissmiller dropped out with mechanical woes at this point. Clouser looked strong and would lead until turn four on lap 14 when third starting Chris Windom passed him for the top spot. Windom began to stretch the lead as Clouser and Babb battled for second. Seventh starting Justin Grant was picked off cars in the latter stages of the race. As Clouser and Babb negotiated lap traffic Babb made contact with one of the lap cars leaving enough room for Grant to sneak by for third. As the checkered waved at 9:11 it was Windom in for his second win in two WAR appearances with Clouser second, Grant third, Terry Babb fourth and Landon Simon rounding out the top five. It was a decent night of racing and it was nice to see racing return to a venue which used to have racing there on a half mile oval which you could still see outside the 1/4 mile oval . We were glad we made the slightly over an hour drive to take in this event.

    Saturday, July 22 - Normally we arrive at Lincoln Park around 5:00 but today we were in no hurry to leave the house. With temperatures still in the 90's and a heat index at 100+ it was hot. As a matter of fact some tracks canceled due to the heat. Then there was that constant threat of thunderstorms and in Indiana that seems to be a daily occurrence. Today we would leave an hour later and we pulled onto the grounds at 6:00 and the crowd was sparse. I was surprised when we walked into the stands and there was next to no one there. Everyone must have felt as we did because by the time hot laps started the stands started to fill up and even though down from the norm it was good considering the weather.

    The sprint car count was down a bit with 17 sprints, 27 modifieds, 14 pro stocks and 31 bombers. In total they ran 12 qualifying heats and went right into the B mains, which were only needed for the modifieds and bombers. All this time the fans were not only watching the action on the track but also watching the black clouds and flashes of lightning to our south. If you wanted to see blue skies you needed to look north and here we were in the middle. Thankful to not have the baking sun on us but happy we did not need to take cover from the lightning. By 9:20 all qualifying was complete and management did not waste time calling out the sprints for their main event. It was amazing how the weather to our south looked a lot more threatening once the sun went down and darkness started to set in.

    The sprint feature took the green at 9:28 and I being a Kevin Thomas Jr. fan thought he would move quickly to the lead from his second row starting position. But KTJ dropped back to 5th while his second row partner, AJ Hopkins, jumped to the lead. KTJ was able to battle back to 2nd but had Jeff Bland Jr. to contend with. There was only one caution and that came out on lap 16 for a spin in turn four. This bunched up the front three but Hopkins was never really challenged as he went on to win the event. KTJ and Bland had a good race for second in the final circuits with KTJ coming out in second and Bland settling for third. Pole sitter Jerry Coons Jr. finished fourth and Brandon Mattox rounded out the top five. The race took less than 10 minutes to run.

    At this time we decided to stay for the modifieds but pack up the folding chairs in the event we had to make a fast exit as it started to feel like rain. The modified feature was quick. It went non-stop and was over in less than 6 minutes. It was also a very good race. Kenny Wallace made a visit to LPS and he started on the pole but he did not run away with the event. He worked for the win and the racing between Wallace, Josh Boller and Jacoby Hines was some of the best of the night. Wallace who is always an exciting interview sounded tired as he thanked the Indiana fans for coming out in the heat. We decided to watch the pro stock feature as it was only 10:00 when the green dropped but soon after the rain started to fall and we hightailed it toward the car. Both the pro stock and bomber features were rained out. But hats off to Joe Spiker and crew for taking a risk on a night when other tracks were canceling due to the heat or the rain. They took a chance and the fans took a chance on them by supporting the show. Although it was hot as Hades I was happy we went.

    Sunday, July 23 - After coming back from church we logged onto the Internet and found out that heavy rain had rolled through the Kokomo area in the morning forcing them to call their racing activities for the evening due to saturated grounds. Later in the afternoon while watching the Brickyard 400 on TV a weather alert came on with a tornado warning for the Kokomo area and eastward. At that point it really seemed like the correct call had been made on the night of racing. The Kokom Klash is rescheduled for this coming Sunday.

    That's it for another typical weekend of racing from us and we hope you enjoy reading these efforts as much as we enjoy writing them for you. So until next time get out there and enjoy some good short track racing in your area and be safe. This weekend will find reports from Bloomington, Lincoln Park, Kokomo and a new venue thrown into the mix. Comments can reach us at bruce.eckel@comcast.net and as always thanks for reading.

     

     

     

    A TYPICAL WEEKEND

    By Pat and Bruce Eckel

    Bloomington, Tri-State & Lincoln Park Wrap Up A Rough Indiana Sprint Week

    This year's Indiana Sprint Week did not come without a lot of problems for USAC, the drivers and crews and the fans. Rain plagued the seven nights of racing over two weekends starting with the opener being rained out last Friday at Gas City. Monday night's raindate for Gas City brought more iffy weather though they did get it in with some yeoman work from the promoters, USAC and the drivers and crews. Unfortunately for the O'Connors the weather and other factors kept the crowd way down from the original Friday night date and surely was a financial loser for them. Wednesday was another day lost to the torrential rains that engulfed the Vigo County Fairgrounds in Terre Haute accompanied by strong winds which knocked down branches, limbs and entire trees casting the south side of Terre Haute into darkness. The rain returned on Thursday ruining the night of promoter, Joe Spiker, at Lincoln Park. Finally the weekend looked clear for the final three at Bloomington, Tri-State and the rescheduled one at Lincoln Park on Sunday. Pat and I also suffered through some trying times during this week plus also with illness and plane delays playing prominent in our racing plans. Sit back and read what transpired over the final four days of the 30th Indiana Sprint Week for the USAC sprint cars and enjoy.

    Thursday, July 13 - The weather again was a factor tonight at Putnamville, the home of the Lincoln Park Speedway, the 5/16 mile dirt track located just north of I-70. The forecast looked good for most of the day until a large green and yellow blob appeared west of Putnamville with dead aim on the track around 5:30. Thunder soon was heard and shortly thereafter drops of rain hit our windshield. The drops turned to a steady downpour and the plug was pulled for the evening with the race being rescheduled as the final on Sunday evening. I dropped off Pat later at the Indianapolis Airport as she had to make a business related emergency flight back to New Jersey on Friday morning to sooth some ruffled feathers of one of their largest school accounts before returning in the same afternoon to be picked up and shuffled off to Bloomington for Friday's action.

    Friday, July 14 - I knew the day was not going to go well when I received a call in the late morning from Pat telling me that her afternoon flight out of Newark, New Jersey had been canceled due to the imminent arrival of President Trump into the same airport. Yes, you can say she was trumped by Trump!!! Since there was no alternate flights out of Newark on that day she diverted to Philadelphia where a connector flight would get her back from Chicago to Indianapolis at midnight. Scratch one of us for a Bloomington Friday night. I left the house at 3 and arrived at the 1/4 mile red clay oval at Bloomington at 5. A good parking space was secured and off it was to the pit shack to sign in and then take the hike up the steep hill to place my lawn chair high in turn one on the hill in front of the walkway. Then everyone had to clear the grandstand area so the front gate and ticket booth could be opened for business. I decided to take a stroll through the pit area taking in the sights and sounds that can only be experienced in that venue. Then it was back to the grandstand side and my seat and a cold water to enjoy the stories of Donald Davidson, Richie Murray and Pat Sullivan about Sheldon Kinser. About fifteen minutes later I developed a sharp pain in my lower stomach and headed for the restroom for relief. Upon entering the concrete pill box structure I was almost floored by the heat (must have been close to 100 inside) but when nature calls you must do what you must do. Close to a half hour later I was still in the bathroom drenched in sweat and not feeling particularly well. A nice man summoned the EMT's for me and they arrived giving me oxygen and cold compresses and loaded me into the ambulance for a ride to Indiana University Bloomington Hospital for a visit to the emergency room. After spending four hours on a hallway gurney and going through a battery of tests it was determined that I was suffering from dehydration. So a phone call to our buddy, Phil Meyer, at the track had him retrieving my chair, cooler and writing pad from turn one. Scratch person two from a Friday night at Bloomington Speedway. During the course of the evening I witnessed the arrival of AJ Hopkins who took a nasty ride during the B main over turns one and two and clearing the chain link fence along the roadway visiting a couple of pickup trucks parked on the other side. Hopkins was released the next day which was good news and I was released by 11 PM, just in time to grab a yellow cab and return to the emptying grounds to retrieve my car and scoot out to the airport to pick up Pat which I was able to do by 12:40. It sure was a bad day for us both as neither one of us was able to watch Kevin Thomas Jr. win at Bloomington on this evening.

    Saturday, July 15 - Both of us slept in on Saturday and arose to a sunny day which lifted our spirits and I was feeling much better than the night before. We prepared a cooler to take with us (with plenty of water in it) and set off down Rt. 231 South toward Haubstadt where the Helfrich family in their 60th year prepare the fine black dirt at the Tri-State Speedway twelve times a year for fast and furious racing action and tonight would be no exception. We have never seen a finer prepared track with more farm equipment than any other track in the country. It is almost never dusty and is so tacky and racy that we wish it was about two hours closer than what it is. We arrived early around 3 and were directed by the sheriff's deputies to park in the grassy area behind the backstretch grandstands where a game of corn hole was being played in front of us after we parked. It was somewhat shady as we relaxed after placing our blanket down in the stands. By 6:23 it was time for the USAC National sprints to begin their time trials. Thirty five cars later it was Justin Grant being interviewed in the infield after setting fast time around the 1/4 mile at 13.362 seconds. Tom Helfrich was not totally satisfied by his racing surface and the crew went to work to bring it to perfection. By 7:32 the first of four heats took the green flag with sixth starting Justin Grant looking strong powering to the lead and taking heat one over Carson Short, Brody Roa and Tyler Courtney. Heat two saw New Mexico youngster, Josh Hodges, claiming the win over Brady Short, Thomas Meseraull and Kyle Cummins taking the last qualifying spot on the last lap passing Critter Malone which would turn out to be a very important pass. Jarett Andretti continues to impress winning heat three over Robert Ballou, Chad Boespflug and Ryan Bernal. Heat four saw 15 year old Florida driver, Tyler Clem, get caught up in a chain reaction in turn two and flipping over several times. Clem was OK and returned to run the B main. Kevin Thomas Jr. went to the pit area during the red and returned starting seventh on the restart. Thomas promptly marched to the front and scored the win over Chase Stockon, Chris Windom and Dakota Jackson. The UMP modifieds ran two heats for their 19 car field before the sprints returned for their B main with six going to the big dance. Critter Malone powered to the early lead from his fifth starting position and looked real good until the car rolled to a halt entering turn one. Dave Darland inherited the lead on the restart and fought off Jon Stanbrough, Donny Brackett, two time ISW winner, CJ Leary, Brian Karracker and Stephen Schnapf making his first USAC event in his first attempt. Schnapf is a former modified competitor and has already won a sprint car race at Chandler in his rookie season.

    The 30 lap USAC sprint car feature was ready to go green at 9:19 with the front row of Ryan Bernal and Kyle Cummins bringing the field to the green flag. Remember Cummins grabbed the last qualifying spot in heat two and with the top six times inverted he was second on the start. If Cummins had not qualified in his heat race the best he could have started qualifying through the B main would have been eighth. So you can see how important this pass was. Kevin Thomas Jr. started third and went to the front as they approached the flagger to complete lap one. Thomas seemed to be in control outracing the field with the exception of Cummins who was his constant shadow. Meanwhile behind the top two a race long epic battle was taking place among Thomas Meseraull, Justin Grant and Tyler Courtney. They swapped slide jobs and positions constantly with Grant finally establishing himself in third in the latter stages of the contest. The race went green until lap 27 when Donny Brackett spun to the inside of turn four to bring out the caution. On the restart Cummins tested the outside with Thomas remaining faithful to the bottom. Cummins pressured Thomas but was unable to make the pass as they exited turn four to run to the checkered Dave Darland blew his motor in turn two and instead of the checkered being displayed the yellow was waved. We both felt that the checkered should have been waved at that point as Darland was running tenth and everyone cleared him on the backstretch as he continued to roll along finally stopping in turn four well out of harm's way of the leaders. This gave Cummins a second chance and with the new USAC format the race must end in a green, white, checker format. So it was back to lap 28 instead of the race being over. On the restart Cummins made a diamond move entering turn two diving underneath Thomas entering turn three. Thomas came down to block and held off Cummins as the front two took the white flag. Cummins got a big run off turn two on the outside and pulled alongside Thomas down the backstretch and entering turns three and four. Thomas got in a little hard and tried to slide in front of Cummins in the final two corners. Thomas washed up a little high exiting turn four allowing Cummins to dive to the bottom and the drag race was on to the finish line with the two banging wheels at the top of the homestretch. At the line it was Cummins stealing the win over Thomas by two lengths with Courtney also sneaking by Grant on the final lap to take the last podium spot with Grant fourth and Meseraull rounding out the top five at 9:31. A very happy winner danced on his roll cage almost falling and jumped to the ground spiking his steering wheel onto the track in pure elation. It was a classic finish and had the crowd in a tizzy as the local Cummins scored the big win back in the Hank Byram #3R with the engine supplied by Cummins. It doesn't get much better than that!!

    Sunday, July 16 - It would all come down to the race tonight that would decide the champion of Indiana Sprint Week 30 with just 23 points separating the top two in the point's race, Kevin Thomas Jr. and Robert Ballou. On a beautiful evening at one of our favorite spots to watch a race (it doesn't get better than sitting in your lawn chair in the concrete grandstands with a cool drink in one hand and some munchies in the other) Thomas drew first blood by scoring an extra six points by setting fast time of 12.594 seconds around the 5/16 mile oval of Lincoln Park Speedway in beautiful downtown Putnamville. The three sprint car heats for the lowest car count of sprint week at 24 kicked off at 7:08 with Chris Windom taking heat one from the first spot winning over Brady Short, Jerry Coons Jr. in the Krockenberger #21K, Chad Boespflug and Kevin Thomas Jr. just barely getting into the top five. Heat two saw Josh Hodges from outside of the front row triumph over Ryan Bernal in one Michael Dutcher #17 with Dave Darland jumping into the other Dutcher #17 after mechanical woes shelved the Phillips #71P with Tyler Courtney and Jarett Andretti joining them in the feature. Robert Ballou got back a few points winning heat three outdistancing CJ Leary with Thomas Meseraull taking third after hopping badly in turn two losing the early lead. Brent Beauchamp came home fourth with Aaron Farney taking the last qualifying spot. The UMP modifieds were the second division on the card and ran three heats for their 17 car field before the B main was called to the track. Seven would advance from this one with Chase Stockon who had a rough week this week winning the B over Kyle Cummins, Kody Swanson in the Epperson #2E, Justin Grant, Tyler Thomas, Jon Stanbrough in the Wingo #77 and Nate McMillen punching his ticket to the prom. Only Kyle Robbins and first time USAC runner, Joe B. Miller of Missouri, being the only two not to advance.

    The 20 lap UMP modified feature would go first taking the green at 8:13 with Kenny Carmichael Sr., a former sprint car campaigner, taking the win as he did last year over Jeff Deckard and Tyler Rockmiller. The point's gap was still 23 as the 30 lap sprint car feature was about to begin with Robert Ballou and Aaron Farney bringing the field to the green at 8:40. Chad Boespflug in the Hoffman #69 went to the cushion on the opening lap and blasted from fourth into the lap off turn two on the opening lap. Ballou stuck to the bottom and hopped in turn four and did a wheel stand coming off the corner chasing after Boespflug. Ballou went to the point taking the lead off turn four on lap 2 and was where he wanted to be. Meanwhile Thomas was having his troubles bouncing from the outside berm and then to the inside berm as the car looked like it was having some problems but afterwards it turned out in the homestretch interview that it was the driver who was overly nervous and missing his marks and causing him to drop back out of the top eight where he had to finish to retain the point lead. Thomas ran up over Kyle Cummin's right rear going down the backstretch and almost launched himself off the backstretch. It was rough early going for Thomas but he calmed down and started to move forward again. Meanwhile Ballou was cruising up front and had the race well in hand. He was doing all he could do to wrestle the title away from Thomas. The man on the move was Brady Short who marched from tenth to third by the halfway mark and looked to be the fastest man out there. Short picked off Boespflug for second and became to close on Ballou. Lap 21 saw Thomas rally to sixth and take some of the pressure off himself. Two laps later CJ Leary's night ended early while running seventh when he caught the cushion in turn three wrong and dumped the Leary #30 over and was finished for the evening. On the restart Ballou jumped back out front with Tyler Courtney making his presence felt passing Short for second on the restart. Ballou continued to lead as the laps wound down until Tyler Thomas looped it in turn two with two to go. Boespflug passed Short for third on the restart as Thomas was in a happy place sitting in fifth. The remaining two laps went off without incident and Ballou flashed under the double checkers first with Courtney second, Boespflug third, Short fourth and Thomas rounding out the top five. Justin Grant led the second five with Josh Hodges making a furious charge from the rear to grab seventh at the line with Farney dropping to eighth after running around the top five the entire race with Chris Windom ninth and Dave Darland advancing from 17th to 10th at the finish.

    Thomas claimed the ISW point title by 11 points over Ballou with Courtney claiming third. Thomas sat in victory lane with his custom Bristol rocking chair built by John Youngs and a big check for $5000 for winning the sprint week title while Ballou celebrated his win tonight at LPS. It wasn't a great feature but it was a solid feature with some good racing throughout. Any night of racing this week without the chance of rain was a welcomed change and we were glad the Spikers ran the raindate though again as at Gas City the crowd was down but in this case it still should have been a money maker.

    Until next time where weekend plans have us venturing into Illinois on Friday to a new track for WAR sprints and D2 midgets and then local for the rest of the weekend. take care and be safe. Also get out there and see some good short track racing in your area or take a road trip and get out that National Speedway Directory to find that new gem you want to visit.

     

     

       Contact Pat & Bruce at bruce.eckel@comcast.net

     


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