Kansas City, KS – Lakeside Speedway owner Marc Olson has been concerned for the past 48 hours. Last season his track went under water and it took 9 months just to get it back into shape. Thursday, local forecasters started to talk about a bunch of severe weather forecasts. How could this be happening to him, again? Olson didn’t need to worry. Lakeside Speedway is Lakeside Speedway. Friday’s opening night brought in the 2nd largest opening night crowd since returning to dirt back in 2000, it saw more than a 100 cars come to race in 4 classes and the fans showed up in droves! All is right once in the world again. As things started to take shape, Olson began to look a little more relaxed. Olson and a ton of volunteers did exactly what they needed to do; they put Lakeside back on the map. It wasn’t like anybody at the track ever missed a beat. Just before the features were about to start, reports surfaced of a storm working through Topeka and heading east at a good clip. The crew of Lakeside rallied together and put on a good, tight race program. At 9:55 p.m. the final checkered flag was dropped in the Modified division. In a matter of 2 hours and 25 minutes, Lakeside ran several heats, 3 b features and 4 a mains. WOW!
Racers also did their part by providing excellent racing on the speedway. In the Modified division, John Allen and Joe Walker swapped spots at the front of the field. Walker would win the battle and began to run away from the rest of the competition. Walker continued to lead until Cody Agler caught up to the leader. Agler, the youngster from Emporia, looked as if he was going to walk away with the win. In simple terms he was flying around the track. That might seem like enough to win, but you have to finish a race to finish first. Agler was a little short of completing his race. Late in the race with a considerable lead built up, Agler’s motor expired as he went through turns 3 and 4. It was a huge. The complexion of the race changed drastically. Former track champion, Tim Karrick, would inherit the lead. He wasn’t real happy about the way his car was feeling, but he will take the win. “The first part of the race I knew I was in trouble,” said Karrick, “We had a couple of yellows, so I got a chance to regroup. Their (the competitors at the front) tires were going away and my car was just coming to me. We started to chase old Cody (Agler) down. My hats off to him he was good tonight, we got luck and I will take it.”
Jason Bodenhamer stared 19th in the feature and when the checkered flag came down, found himself in 2nd place. It was a long run, but it was an enjoyable race for both Bodenhamer and the fans. Mark Schafman finished 3rd, former track champion, John Allen, rolled to a 4th place finish and rounding out the top 5 was the early race leader, Joe Walker.
In the most exciting feature of the night, Joe Smith Jr. was your winner – Reed Bros. Racing Photos Joe Smith Jr. used his experience to put him at the front of the field in the Factory Stock A main. At the drop of the green flag Calleb Mcclellan stepped into the top spot. Nate Barnes and Justin Siefert were hot on his tail. It was close quarters racing all night long. A few yellow flags would be the only thing that could slow down this group of top notch drivers. As the battle went on up front, Smith Jr., worked his way into the 3rd position. Siefert, Mcclellan and Smith would stage a 3 way battle for the top spot. Siefert made the pass for the lead, but when he did Smith came with him to move into 2nd. The two went side by side, and even made contact at the flag stand, and Smith would get the best of Siefert as the laps wound down. Smith would go on to finish up front, Siefert finished in the runner-up spot, in 3rd was Jason Ryun, Mcclellan held on to a 4th place finish and Marshall Jewett started 14 and drove to a top 5 finish, coming home in 5th.
The B Mod division had 31 racers check in at the beginning of the night. In the end one of the hottest B Mod drivers in the area took home his 3rd straight feature win. B Mod Feature winner Mike Higley is all smiles – Reed Bros. Racing Photos Mike Higley had a good year in 2011, 2012 is starting off just where he left off last season. In the off-season he got a new Razor Chassis and since then all he has done is win 3 features at 3 different tracks! Tonight, Higley got a little help. Gene Claxton and Chad Clancy jumped out to the lead and began to swap the
top spot. As the two entered the middle of turn 2, Claxtons car developed a push and got into Clancy. Clancy would drop all the way back to 8th after the incident, but in the meantime it was Higley taking full advantage of the open door and moved into 1st place. “I saw the door open up, I will tell you that,” said Higley, “No, I kinda pushed up kinda high and those two around me and I am chasing them, I said this is a fast race track I am going to have to make something happen. Gene went to make a move and it got tight on him and when those two got together, I knew it was time to go.” At the front of this large pack it Higley wouldn’t be denied. Nic Newton made a charge, but it wasn’t close enough for Higley to feel any pressure. The driver, from Tecumseh, has been on a roll that he doesn’t want to see come to an end.
“I think I am ready to retire now,” said Higley, “Our goal in the beginning was to win a big race and win at every track we go to and I am ready to call it quits.” Bad news for the rest of the competition, Higley is not getting out anytime soon. The other competitors will have to figure out how to get their programs going in the same fashion as Mr. Higley’s. Newton went on to finish in the runner-up slot, Claxton crossed the stripe in 3rd, A Mod ace, Aaron Marrant raced his way to a 4th place finish and Nic Bennett had an impressive run coming in the 5th position. After an early battle, Gary Donaldson ran off with the Grand National feature – Reed Bros. Racing Photos
In the Grand National division, Jim Baker got the drop on the rest of the racers in the class. Baker’s car was handling flawlessly. Each lap he was gaining confidence and extending his lead. Unfortunately for Baker, Gary Donaldson was also picking up some confidence and he began to chip away at Baker’s lead. It was a strong power move that propelled Donaldson into the 1st place position. Donaldson, no stranger to victory lane at Lakeside Speedway, used an a solid set up and Yancy power to give him his first opening night feature win of his career.
Baker finished his admirable run in 2nd, it was Ben Kyle working his way past the competition to finish 3rd, 4th was Sam Schuler and Darren Kling claimed the 5th position. If you could use the work perfect on opening night, many people might want to go with that. Fans and racers were ecstatic to be back at their favorite race track. As both fans and racers milled around before the night got underway, it was almost a feeling of a reunion. Everyone has been gone so long and missed their Lakeside experience. This experience isn’t just important to the owner Marc Olson, it’s important to the fans, the racers, the sponsors and more.
Next Friday night Lakeside Speedway will spring back into action with Creative Concrete Night at the races. Gates will open up at 5 p.m., hot laps are at 7:00 p.m. and the first heat race begins promptly at 7:30 p.m.
For more information visit Lakeside Speedway on the world wide web at www.lakesidespeedway.net.