Saturday afternoon the skies cleared enough for some racing and we headed to 34 Raceway in West Burlington, Iowa for some UMP late model racing. The social message boards indicated that the winner of the first UMP " regular " show at the track, Ray Guss Jr. would not be on hand, but that several " name " drivers would be, including Muscatine ace Brian Birkhofer. " Birky" is rare seen at any race paying less than $5,000 or so to win, but apparently wanted some seat time in his # 15B before next weekends late model Dream at Eldora Speedway. Sure enough, as we sat and watched pit road, Brian showed pulling an open trailer, reminiscent of days gone by.
When the pit gate closed, a total of 111 cars in six divisions signed in to do battle in front of what seemed like a decent gathering on a clod,cloudy night.
The late models got things started with time trials, with Birkhofer topping the field with a lap of 15.008 seconds. Only one of the 18 cars checked in did not make a qualifying run, as Bob Gardner from Germantown Hills, Il had issues early on.
The time trials were followed by 16 heat races, all in the books by 8:45. Following a rather lengthy intermission, the IMCA Sport Mods hit the track for their 15 lap finale. though most of the cast of characters was different, it seemed like we were back at Quincy Raceways, as Bobby Anders and Tony Dunker charged through the 16 car field to the front early on. The two waged an excellent side by side duel, with Anders holding off the # 3 for the win.
Next it was time for the 22 305 sprints to take center stage. By now the ten inches of rain the track has received recently created a few bumps in the racing surface, and a pair of the lightweight open wheel rides paid the price, as first Andy Baugh and then Jayson Ditsworth took tumbles. Several other stoppages made for a long race, but veteran John Schultz had the field covered, taking a big win. The official results behind Schultz look a bit different than the finishing order at the checkers, so there was apparently some post race issues.
The 15 car IMCA modified feature ran third, with Bill Roberts setting the early pace. Following a caution for Dean McGee, Jeff Mueller put his sharp looking # 77 out front. Jeff held on through another caution, but hard charging Quad City area racer Mitch Morris took the top spot on lap 18. As the pack came to the white flag, Mueller dropped a drive shaft on the front stretch, bringing out the caution. As he was being pushed to the pits, another car came charging out of the pits to rejoin the field and smashed into the disabled Mueller ride. Put that on the list of things I have not seen before! Racing resumed for a two lap dash to the finish, with Morris topping Dennis Laveine, Roberts, and Jeff Waterman.
It was then late model time, with the Simpson brothers setting on the front row for the 25 lap $1,200 to win finale. Chad, winner of the late model special at 34 five weeks prior, jumped to the early lead over brother Chris. Meanwhile, Dewayne Kiefer, who made the 300 mile or so tow from St Genevievem Mo. jumped from eighth to fourth behind Rickey Frankel. On lap four, Kiefer looped his # 0 on the backstretch and headed to the trailer. Following the restart, Frankel slowed in turn four ending his night, and Chad Simpson went pitside with a flat tire and did not return, handing the lead to brother Chris. At this point, fourth starting Mark Burgtorf moved to second, with fifth starting Birkhofer third. Those two staged a fierce battle off and on throughout the remainder of the race, with Burgtorf occasionally pulling ahead to pressure Chris Simpson. On lap 14, Chris went up in smoke with what appeared to be rear end or transmission problems. This turned the lead over to Burgtorf, who had to fend off a persistent Birkhofer to the checkers. As the leaders worked lapped traffic, BNirky actually moved ahead a couple times, but could not hold the spot. Jason Perry worked his way fron tenth to grab third, and fourth running Jay Johnson went pitside on lap 19. This put Slocum 50 winner Denny Eckrich in the position, and 11th starting Justin Reed claimed fifth. Clint Kirkham, Denny Woodworth, 18th starting Gardner, Ron Elbe, and rookie Jared Schlipman completed the top ten.
For Burgtorf, it was his third night out in his new Victory Circle chassis, and he looks like the Mark of old, with a second and a first with the new ride.
Though the clock was ticking to 11:00, we held on for the 22 car stock car feature, entertaining as always. Jeremy Pundt held the early advantage, John Richardson and Abe Huls dueling behind him. Soon John Oliver Jr found his way to the front, and as the laps clicked off, Jason Cook made his move. With three laps to go, John and Jason were side by side, and Cook held the top spot as they came under the flagstand with two to go. It the looked like a lapped car would spoil Olivers run, but he gave a nudge with his # 05, the slower car did a 360 spin and kept going and as the white flag waved, Oliver held the lead. He edged Cook at the checkers, with Huhls right there in third.
The 4 cylinder feature was in staging as we called it a night, congrats to Austen Becerra on his win.
Though we have also had over seven inches of rain in the area this week, Quincy Raceways officials have the track ready for Sunday night racing, and we will be heading that way shortly for another night of " Racin' Down the Road."