Sunday, October 28, 2012

Opening Night at Scotland County

Race number 46 of my 2012 season was race number one of the year at Scotland County Speedway in Memphis,Mo. The fall special at the 3/8 mile track has become something of a tradition, so even though the fairgrounds oval hosted no circle track action during the summer, the fairboard found a way to get October racing scheduled. Part time racer Mike Van Genderen was recruited to direct what became the third and final installment of what became known as the Fall Extravaganza. Van Genderen just completed his rookie season directing the action at the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, Iowa, concluding the season there with the Fall Extravaganza. He was subsequently hired on as the new race director at Lee County Speedway in Donnellson, Iowa, and last weekend hosted part two of the series. Originally scheduled as a two day show on Friday and Saturday with a Thursday practice day at Memphis, plans changed early last week due to the unfavorable forecast. Instead, Friday became the practice night, with Saturday and Sunday racing as two separate one day shows, with the purse broken down into two paydays, the Sunday portion paying more than Saturday. In addition, start times were moved up, with hot laps set for 2:30 and racing for 3:00. The changes proved to be the right move, as mid week rains would have wiped out any Thursday practice. And the forecast for cool temps was correct as well. As Fred and I rolled through Memphis about 2:20 on Saturday, the bank registered 42 degrees! 
 Six classes of cars were set to do battle, and hot laps clicked off on good time, wrapping up about 3:00, with a drivers meeting following before a somewhat sparse, but hearty crowd. By my count, 106 cars participated in the 14 heat races, led by 23 sport mods, 23 stock cars, and 22 modifieds, all using IMCA rules.
 Sportmod heat race number one saw Quincy Raceways regular Dave Weitholder, who was competing in two classes after converting one of his # 05 machines, start deep in the field and finish third while racing with a broken left front suspension.  In stock car heat two, Jason Cook came from eighth to pick up the win. The night ended quickly for Memphis native Eric Glass, who rolled his IMCA type hobby stock hard in turn four in the first heat for his class.
 During what became a lengthy intermission, the track crew worked to improve a hole in turn one. Indeed, the work continued throughout the features, and the condition of the turn did indeed get better. Ironically, the drivers had little trouble in that turn, with most of the problems elsewhere on the oval.
 The sport compact feature ran first, with Trent Orwig leading the first nine laps of the ten lap finale. On the final circuit, Keokuk, Iowa racer Mike Hornung Jr. charged past Orwig, taking his first feature win by inches.
  Next up came the outlaw hobby stocks, a weekly class in 2012 at Quincy and 34 Raceway in West Burlington. Within days of each other, both tracks announced they were dropping the class for 2012 due to low car counts. As if to drive the point home, only seven cars signed in to do battle, five from QR and two from 34. Based on the count, the feature was cut from twelve laps to ten, but that was still enough for Jake Wenig to overtake his father Dan to grab the win. Brandon Symmonds also eased by the senior Wenig late for second, with Brian Hoener recovering from a mid race flat to cross the line in fourth.
 The sport mods were up next for 18 laps. Curtis Vanderwal opened a big lead, but saw it disappear following an early caution, the only one of the race. On  the restart, Vanderwal again pulled away, catching slower traffic at the halfway point. But not even the lapped traffice could slow the # 1V, as he recorded the mose dominant win of the evening. Bill Gibson charged through to finish second, while Carter Vandenberg and Jim Gillenwater staged a great side by side duel for third, with Carter winning that battle. Derek St Clair came home fifth.
 The 20 lap stock car main event was up next. Jason Cook quickly moved to the top spot, before the red flag waved on lap nine. Howard Gordon Jr. made contact with the backstretch guard rail, rolling his # 409 machine. On the second attempt at a restart, second running Nathan Wood clipped the turn four tractor tire, sending him airborne. His # 52 snapped rolled about four times, somehow the field bearing down on him was able to avoid contact. Still the machine that announcer Tony Paris said had been purchased about four weeks ago received heavy damage. From that point the race stayed green, and Cook cruised to the win. Michael Jannett - hope I spelled that correctly! - ran second, while Jim Lynch came from deep in the field to nab third. Mike Harward and Todd Phillips also turned in top five runs.
 The IMCA type hobbys saw 15 of the 18 cars on hand take the green for twelve laps of action. Missouri hot shoe Tim Dawson drew the number five pill on the redraw, but numbers one and three both failed to make the call, giving Dawson the pole. As he held the lead, Dustin Griffiths powered his way to second, only to go pitside during a caution with a flat. With three laps to go, Mike Hughes put his badly beaten # 18 into the lead, and picked up the win. Dawson settled for second over AJ Johnson and Jason Gruebel.
 The final event on the card was the 20 lap modified main event. Lonnie Heap paced the first circuit before yielding the top spot to Josh Foster. Matt Gilbertson,  from Montevideo, Mn. made the tow last weekend to Lakeside, Kansas Speedway where we saw him race. On Saturday, he was hooked up at Memphis, and was running second with six laps to go. But Quincy point champ Steven Delonjay, who converted his UMP car to the IMCA specs moved to the runner up spot at that point. He then began to run down Foster, and the two ran the final laps side by side. In fact, Delonjay had the lead as the two took the white flag, but Foster had the better line through turns three and four, taking the checkersand the night one win. And so we found ourselves on our feet for what is likely our final lap of racing for 2012! Gilbertson held on to third, with Mike Schulte and Cayden Carter recording top five finishes. As we visited afterwards with Foster, he said he had no idea Delonjay had caught him until the # 35 pulled alongside.
 The final checkers waved around 8:00, about 30-60 minutes past the target time, but nonetheless a good effort considering the extra track prep. In fact the downtime gave us a chance to do some bench racing with old friends. Kudos also to flagman Ryan Burgerson who moved the show along quickly, wasting no time on the silly
" next lap we will start " concept, and giving competitors until the last second to get restarted following a spin before throwing the yellow. All in all, it was a very good show for what looks to be our final race of 2012. Usually at that point we spend the drive home discussing maybe looking for one more race, but the 36 degree reading on the bank left us more interested in a hot cup of coffee than another night of racing. At least for now...
  The silly season has already begun, and I think their will be enough off season fodder to keep this blog active, so check back often for news, notes, and a season recap to come later. If you can find another race or two, like my buddy Bob Litton,keep the fire burning. As for me, I anxiously await the 2013 schedules!

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