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Archive for August, 2006

ARCA RE/MAX Series Heads for Home Toledo Turf

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

Bill France Triple Crown

This year’s Hantz Group 200 marks the 60th appearance of the ARCA RE/MAX Series at Toledo Speedway since debuted there in 1963. It also kicks off the 2006 Bill France Triple Crown, a particularly grueling stretch that includes three very diverse tracks: the Toledo Speedway short-track (Sept 1), the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds mile-dirt (Sept 4) and the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway (Sept 9), all in the space of 9 days. Some past Bill France Triple Crown champions include Frank Kimmel, Tim Steele, Brent Sherman, Bob Keselowski, Tracy Leslie, Bill Venturini, Bobby Bowsher and Davey Allison.

Andersons ARCA Fan Fest

The action at Toledo Speedway kicks off Thursday with the Andersons ARCA Fan Fest presented by Wolverine Boots from 5 p.m . to 8 p.m. Dealer groups, in cooperation with Ford Racing, will display the “Ford Tech Tour” mobile marketing semi-tractor trailer as part of the fan fest, offering fans the opportunity to view several Ford Racing vehicles and interactive activities, plus the latest line of Ford Production Passenger vehicles. In addition to the Ford Tech Tour, several racecar simulators, show cars and activities for kids are scheduled, including rides in real ARCA/NASCAR style stock cars around the Toledo Speedway. An autograph session with up to 20 ARCA drivers from all divisions is scheduled from 7pm to 8pm. The National Pork Board will be on hand serving free pork, and admission to The Andersons Fan Fest presented by Wolverine Boots is free.

Competitive Field With International Flavor

Currently, 42 drivers from 17 states and three countries are entered for Toledo’s Hantz Group 200 competing for the 35 starting positions in the 200-lap main event. Seven-time series champion and current point leader Frank Kimmel leads the charge. Horgen Switzerland’s Hans-Peter Schappi is scheduled to make his career-first series attempt at Toledo in Andy Hillenburg’s #11 Chevy Monte Carlo. Amherstburg, Ontario’s Terry Jones, who already has 16 ARCA RE/MAX Series starts, is also entered.

King Kimmel at Toledo

Kimmel is the all-time winner at Toledo with nine victories. Toledo was also the site where Kimmel earned his career-first ARCA RE/MAX Series win in 1994. Since Kimmel’s first win at Toledo, only the late Blaise Alexander and Ken Schrader have been victorious (other than Kimmel) at Toledo. Kimmel’s victory march at Toledo also includes 5 consecutive from 2000-2004. Kimmel is also the defending Hantz Group 200 race winner, edging David Ragan at the final stripe by about two feet in last year’s short-track Toledo thriller.

Championship Points Battle

With six races left in 2006, Kimmel, chasing an unprecedented eighth series crown, leads the national championship points by 170 points over four-time Daytona ARCA 200 winner Bobby Gerhart headed to Toledo. While Kimmel lead in overall points, Gerhart, who opened the season with a big win at Daytona, leads in Superspeedway Challenge points, which is a separate point fund for superspeedways only.

Rookie of the Year Battle Tight

The ARCA RE/MAX Series Rookie of the Year chase is especially close with Tipp City, Ohio rookie Ryan Howard leading by just 10 points over Laurel, Arkansas driver Ryan Foster. Howard drives for Mark Gibson Racing while Foster is a teammate to Kimmel. Brett Rowe, the 2005 ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series champion, is currently third in Rookie points 20 points out of first with Isanti, Minnesota driver Blake Bjorklund trailing in fourth 40 points out. Bjorklund won the Pork Pole at the Milwaukee Mile last Sunday and led 35 laps in the race.

Fierce Competition; 15 Different Winners in 17 Events

Phil Bozell’s victory at the Milwaukee Mile last Sunday made him the 15th different winner in 17 events in 2006. The victory tied a record set in 1992 for the most different winners in a single season. Bozell also became one of 10 first-time series winners in 2006, which is a record for a single season. Justin Allgaier, with his victory on the Springfield IL mile-dirt two weeks ago, is yet another first-time winner this year. Allgaier finished second twice at Toledo, once to Kimmel in ’04 and the other to Schrader in the spring of ’06. Allgaier also led the most laps at Milwaukee (64) and finished 4 th in the Milwaukee race. In fact, the last three ARS winners were first-time winners to include Brent Sherman’s thrilling victory at Michigan Int’l Speedway on August 18th. Sherman is entered for Toledo in his own Serta Mattress Ford with veteran crew chief Lee Leslie directing.

Hillenburg Enters McCumbee

Andy Hillenburg, the 1995 ARCA RE/MAX Series driving champion, has also entered a second car with NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Chad McCumbee at the helm. McCumbee finished fourth in RE/MAX Series points in 2005 driving for Hillenburg before moving on to the Craftsman Truck Series fulltime in 2006. Ashley Parlett, who finished 28 th in the May Toledo ARS race, will serve as McCumbee’s crew chief at Toledo.

Other Notable Entrants

Making his first series attempt at Toledo is Louisville, Kentucky driver Chuck Barnes, Jr. Barnes’ resume includes the 2004 CRA Super Series late model championship and a street stock championship at Salem Speedway in 2000. Also entered is Amber Cope, the niece of Daytona 500 champion Derrick Cope.

Kevin Swindell, son of 3-time national sprint car champion Sammy Swindell, is the youngest driver entered at 17, while James Hylton, who turned 72 on August 26 th, is the oldest. Hylton, currently 22nd in driver points, is in the final year of his driving career that includes three runner-up finishes in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series point standings. Hylton’s final driving season is his ‘White Flag Tour’.

Next-Generation ARCA Drivers Entered

Sons of former ARCA RE/MAX Series champions entered include Billy Leslie (Tracy Leslie 1988), Todd Bowsher (Jack Bowsher 1963, 64 & 65), Billy Venturini (Bill Venturini 1987 & 91) and Brian Keselowski (Bob Keselowski 1989). Both Venturini and Keselowski were first-time series winners in ’06. Clarkston, Michigan’s Michael Simko, in the Hantz Group Chevy, is yet another next-generation ARCA driver entered.

Past winners at Toledo through the years include Bobby Bowsher, Benny Parsons, Blaise Alexander, Iggy Katona, Ken Schrader, Bill Venturini, Ramo Stott, Andy Hampton and Bob Strait to name a few. Of the drivers entered, only Kimmel is a former RE/MAX Series race winner at Toledo. 16 winners have won from the Pork Pole at Toledo.

ARCA RE/MAX Series practice is from 2:00 – 3:30pm with Pork Pole Award Qualifying going off at 5:00. The Hantz Group 200 presented by Belle Tire is LIVE on SPEED at 9:00pm Eastern. The race also re-airs Monday, September 4 th at 12 noon ET.

MARS Preps For Triple Header

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

Bill Frye (Arkansas), who owns three series’ titles, is the current point’s leader and will be leading his fellow M.A.R.S. competitors into battle. Other drivers, who are expected for this weekend’s events include Terry Phillips (Missouri), Jeff Taylor (Arkansas), Steve Rushin (Missouri), Will Vaught (Missouri), Jordan Jones (Arkansas), Joey Mack (Missouri), Jeff Floyd (Arkansas), Justin Wells (Missouri), Brandon McCormick (Missouri), Dane Dacus (Tennessee), Billy James (Missouri) and many more.

Heading into this weekend’s event, Will Vaught from Crane, Missouri is the current Rookie of the Year point’s leader.

Night #1 of the triple header will see the M.A.R.S. competitors making their only 2006 appearance at Poplar Bluff Speedway in Poplar Bluff, Missouri for a $3,000 to win/ $500 to start event on Friday, September 1st. The pit gate opens at 4 pm with the grandstands opening at 5 pm. Hot laps will get underway at 7 pm with racing action at 5 pm. Adult grandstand admission is $15, kids 6-11 years of age are $8 and 5 & under are free. Pit admission is $35. For more information call 573-785-8989 or visit www.PoplarBluffSpeedway.com .

Night #2 of the triple header will see the Martians head invade Don and Billie Gibson’s speedplant in West Plains, Missouri on Saturday, September 2nd for the 16th Annual Fall Nationals paying $3,000 to win and $500 to start.. West Plains Motor Speedway is located 6 Miles South of West Plains, MO on US Highway 63. Gates will open at 5:00 with hot laps at 6:30 with racing at 7 pm. Adult admission is $15, kids 7-11 are $5, and 6 & under are free. Pit passes are $30. There will also be a full program for the weekly divisions. For more information and directions to West Plains Motor Speedway, visit www.westplains-speedway.com .

Night #3 of the triple header will find the M.A.R.S. competitors rolling into Monett, Missouri for the 35th Annual Four State Dirt Track Championships Monett Speedway on Sunday, September 3rd. Monett Speedway is located on Highway 60 North of the Wal-Mart Super Center . The 40 lap feature event will pay $3,000 to win and $500 to start. For more information and directions, please visit http://monettspeedway.tripod.com . Gates open at 5:00 with hotlaps at 7:00 and racing action at 7:30.

For more information on the series visit the official website of the Mid America Racing Series at www.midamericaracingseries.com.

Shoot-Out Provides Stage For Speedbowl’s Talent

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

Fox turned a 14.194 seconds lap in Saturday night’s feature, the fastest lap of the season. Fast laps in the other divisions were equally impressive.

“It’s perfect timing,” says General Manager Bill Roth looking ahead to Saturday’s unique “Double-Down, Shoot-Out. “The object is to show off our drivers in a show designed for the fans. Speed is what they do and what people come to see.”

Fox is also looking forward to the program that calls for double features for the SKs and Late Models (twin 25s for each) and Mini Stocks and Sportsman (twin 15s for each). “I’m a race driver,” explains Fox. “The more features I can run the better I like it.”

Qualifying will begin at 5 PM with features at 7. The second features will line up in reverse order of the cars on the same lap in the first race. Points will be awarded in the first race only. The cash payout will be based on combined finishes.

“The first feature will be handicapped and points will be awarded,” explains General Manager Bill Roth. “The second feature is going to be a full-fledged, pure-and-simple, old-fashioned shoot-out.”

Fox, a second-generation driver, likes the “old-fashioned” phase, pointing out “double features were once a common thing around here. They used to run as many features as they could and I believe that’s what made those guys so damn good back then.”

Others recording fast laps last week were Glenn Colvin (15.730 – 85.823 mph) and Tim Jordan (15.585 – 86.622) both en route to Late Model triumphs. Also among the quickest were Joe Godbout III (17.522 – 77.046) in the Mini Stocks and Dwayne Dorr (17.598 – 76.713) in the Sportsman.

“Those are impressive numbers,” says one-time Mini driver Jordan. He predicts Saturday night will be “a combination of head and foot.”

Dorr remains one away from a Sportsman division single-season record 10th victory and is part of the closest Speedbowl point battle. He and Richard Staskowski are currently tied for second just six points behind leader Joe Curioso III.

The Shoot-Out will begin the final drive toward the championships. Dennis Gada, after a record-tying sixth championship, leads Chris Pasteryak by 48 atop the SK standings. Mini Stock leader Danny Field has an identical bulge on Dave Sylvia. Jordan has the biggest advantage, 98 better than Glenn Colvin.

Remembering Austin Christopherson

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

I met Austin earlier this month, after doctors informed his family that the disease was going to win. He was the Guest of Honor at Meridian Speedway with the Racing For Smiles (RFS) Program. Austin always dreamed of riding in a racecar. The folks at the Make-A-Wish foundation contacted Ron Hayes, the Idaho Coordinator for the Racing For Smiles program in early August and told him about Austin’s dream. Ron contacted Meridian Speedway Promoter Ken Hamilton and Austin’s Dream was set in motion.

I only spent a few hours with Austin that day but he impressed me. Although this boy, no young man, knew his fate not once did he complain. He was very thankful to those at the track for everything that was done for him. His day at the track went like this:

Austin arrived at the track about noon that Saturday with the biggest smile on his face, he knew his dream was about to come true. Austin endured the grueling task of having his parents help him into a fireproof racing suit complete with gloves and helmet, although the temperature was nearing 100 that smile never left his face. As his dad and Kirby from Pink Towing lifted him from his wheelchair and maneuvered him in to the back seat of the 2-seat sprint car his smile grew bigger, despite the fact that it was a small space and it took several minutes to get him positioned in the car. As Kirby tightened the belts all Austin could think about was how fast he was going to go.

Austin’s Mom and Dad had their camera’s out, Mom with the still and Dad with the video, as Austin was pushed on to the track. The car was push started and Ken Hamilton gave Austin 5 laps that nobody at the track that afternoon will ever forget. Despite the heat and the discomfort of getting in and out of that cramped space in the car, Austin was all smiles.

I don’t think there was a dry eye around that car as Austin was placed back in his wheel chair. Although this was not the fastest ride Ken Hamilton has given in that sprint car he remarked after the ride, “Of all the rides I given in this car, this one was the best ride of all.”

Austin spent the rest of the afternoon and evening enjoying the nights racing action and took part in the ceremony after the trophy dashes. I saw Austin several times during the evening looking like a normal boy enjoying a night at the track.

The Management and Staff of Meridian Speedway and Racing for Smiles send our condolences to Austin’s Family. We hope that your day at the track provided you with one of those great memories and that it lived up to Austin’s dream and he now Racing With The Angels.

This Labor Day the Muscular Dystrophy Association will be holding its 41st Annual Telethon. If you were thinking of donating to this organization I urge you to make your donation in the Memory of Austin Christopherson.

Cancer Society the Biggest Winner

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

“We are very proud of our drivers as they have chosen again to support the Belyeas and the Cancer Society. They have proven to us, yet again, that when they believe in something they will stand together and try to change something that has somehow affected each and very one of them and us. We appreciate that they work hard to raise these funds and that they are doing another great thing for the local community,” said Mark Rinaldi, Operations Manager. The goal for this season was $6500 which was met and exceeded by more than $1,000.

With a visit from the Mid State Vintage Stock Cars the Betty Bread complete race program was fast paced with exciting racing action that indicated to fans that the drivers were also in the mood to chase for a win. Coming out on top in repeat fashion from last week were Greg Peake (#9) in his Mister Signz Pure Stock and Ronnie Wadforth (#40) in his Brighton Automotive Pro Stock. Shawn Gregory revisited Victory Lane in his #1 Canadian Modified to take his fifth win of the season and Kevin Scott (#18) took his third win in the Bill’s Johns Comp 4 feature. Each of these four gentlemen are now leading their classes and heading for Division Championship honours, as long as they can continue to pick up the black and white for the remainder of the season.

The next race event is the Labour Day Classic Weekend which includes the Sobey’s Southern Ontario Sprints and regular class Complete Race Program on Saturday September 2nd. Sunday the 3rd will include the Kid’s Club Tailgate Party from 1 to 4pm and then a return of the Sobey’s Southern Ontario Sprints combined with Mini and Street Stock Invitationals and a Canadian Modified/IMCA Invitational. Saturday’s Green Flag flies at 7pm and Sunday it will drop at 6pm. Free Camping is available all weekend. For more information or to purchase advance tickets to avoid delays with admission contact Brighton Speedway at (613)475-1102 or visit the website at www.brightonspeedway.com.