Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rainout Number One

Although our plans were to start the 2012 season at Quincy Raceways on opening night April 1, the continued beautiful weather proved too nice to ignore. After reading the results of the Friday night opener at Bell Clair Speedway in Belleville,Il., we decided it was time to go racing. Saturday was to be night two of a double header combo, with the UMP late models moving down the road to Highland,Il. Each night featured a $ 1500 to win 40 lap main event with a $1000 bonus to sweep both shows. If no driver won both nights, the bonus would be split among the top three points finishers. Plus the UMP modifieds were running for $750 to win each night, and each track had two weekly support classes. Belleville had a healthy late model count of 29, with the mod count seemingly a bit low at 15. Veteran Kevin Weaver, defending UMP champion Ryan Unzicker and St Louis area hot shoe Michael Kloos topped the Shamrock 40, with many other big dogs in the field, enough to make the 170 plus mile trip to Highland look attractive. The forecast Saturday morning looked less than perfect, and as we prepared to leave, it was literally changing by the minute. The besr guess looked like we would drive through some showers, but it should all be out of the Highland area by 5:00PM. So if the showers were not too heavy...Sure enough, the rain began north of Troy,Mo, and was coming down in sheets as we drove through St Louis. A pair of calls to the speedway were answered with the good news that it was not raining and indeed had not. And we could see clear skies in their direction. By the time we arrived at the track - way too early, as usual,- the sky looked good. But as we scoured the pits from the hillside high above, the clouds began to build in the west. By 5:00PM, when the rain should have been coming to a close, it was obvious the track was going to get wet and the question became how soon and for how long. I'm not sure of the answer to either question, but I do know it was enough to force postponement of our first action of the 2012 season. Heavy rain and sharp lightning was still present as we started the drive home. For those who have never been to the Madison County track, both the pits and the track set in something of a canyon, and although there is a paved road up the hill from the pit area, it looks a bit challenging to get everyone out in those conditions. Even as the weather worsened, cars continued to roll in and I was able to identify a dozen late models including the top finishers from Friday night. Plus there were several big rigs who never bothered to unload, and I would guess the actual count was two or three higher when the rains came. It also looked as though the mod count would easily surpass that of Friday night. Although not totally unexpected, it was still a disappointing start to the season, especially in light of current fuel prices, which could very well curtail our traveling as the summer arrives. Indeed, the race has been rescheduled for next Saturday, March 24, and although we likely won't be able to return, it should be a good show for someone looking for a March race. One big name that probably won't return is Randy Korte, who will be taking some time off as he fights a blood disorder and some residual spinal issues, presumably from his back surgery a while back. " King Kong " anticipates a full recovery, but will not be behind the wheel of his # 00 for a period of time.
Although we were not able to see any action, we want to offer thanks to these tracks for taking a chance on March racing within reasonable driving distance, and we wish Highland success next week and throughout 2012.

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