By: Spartan correspondent, Michelle Sprague
Friday, September 11th, was the last hurrah for the 2009 racing season at the Spartan Speedway and “Fun Night” lived up to its name, as a near capacity crowd enjoyed an evening of racing sans rulebook and the fans weren’t disappointed. The evening was capped off with smashing and crashing as the School Bus Figure 8’s lumbered around the ¼-mile and were wheeled through the intersection. Exhibitions featuring Chain Races, Trailer Figure 8 and wingless Sprints proved to be crowd-pleasers as well. Fan response for possible appearances of the exhibition divisions in 2010 was a resounding yes!
The Boss Snow Equipment Pony Stocks saw Todd Metz Jr. and 2009 Pony Stock Champion, Wayne Beckner Jr., duke it out for the win during the last 12 laps of the 25-lap feature. Metz, whose car sported a huge wing, was able to hold off Beckner, while Misty Allen finished third after a stellar run with a unique sideboard and racing tires.
The Spartan Pure Stock division saw Lonnie Saumier continue his dominance in the division by taking the win, but Rob Patrick showed he’s still got it, finishing second, after jumping back behind the wheel of a race car after a short hiatus. Patrick was able to hold off Andrew Burton, who finished third.
Many of the Valvoline Instant Oil Change drivers pulled out all the stops, adding sideboards the size of a small billboards and racing slicks to enhance their driving experience. Rob Newman looked to be the man to beat as he led 22 of the 40-lap feature, but Wayne Haughton had other plans, taking the lead from Newman with nine laps to go for the win. Newman had to settle for second, while Jim Kennedy finished third, having led the first seven laps.
The Performance Automotive Sportsman division saw Ron Heeney and Ian Sprague battle for the top spot, with Sprague trying to find a way around Heeney. Darrell Taylor took the second spot away on lap 13 and dove under Heeney, spinning both. On the restart, Sprague went back to work on Heeney, but ignition trouble saw him retire to the pit, relinquishing the second spot to Matt Kirchen. Heeney took the win over Kirchen and Steve Allen.
The GLS Mini Cups paid their last visit of 2009 and the little powerhouses put on a whale of a show. Morgan Baird led 13 of the first 14 laps, but Tim Phillips made a daring move, shooting around Baird out of turn four to take the lead on lap 15. Phillips went on to take the win over Baird and Tyler Minnix.
A couple of drivers dusted off their wingless sprints and ran some exhibition laps in the hopes of possibly bringing them back to the Spartan Speedway in 2010. Jim Heeney and John Boy Hotchkiss brought their cars to the track and neither were strangers to the Spartan Speedway as each had turned many laps there in the past. It was great to see these cars and drivers back in action.
The moment everyone had been waiting for arrived as eight huge school busses made their way onto the track. Bob Cantine, in the Valvoline Instant Oil Change- sponsored bus, led the first two laps, but Chris Hoffman drove the Culligan H20 bus into the lead on lap three and never looked back. Action in the intersection heated up in a hurry, with Ron Heeney and Bob Cantine tangling coming out of turn three. Cantine escaped disaster (namely the turn three wall), but after meeting up with Heeney, the radiator sprung a leak, effectively ending his bid for the win. Leave it to the racing senior citizen, Ron Parish, to supply the fans with exactly what they came to see, an over-turned bus. Ron laid the big vehemoth over onto its side going through turn one and the crowd went wild and much to their pleasure, the bus re-fired after being righted on all six-wheels. After all the smashing, crashing and close calls in the intersection, Chris Hoffman, came home the victor with Bill Lackey finishing second.
Two teams of Chain Race competitors put on a bit of a show as a preview as to what may be in store for special shows in the upcoming season. Two cars were chained together with the front car being powered, while the rear car is just along for the ride. As the cars built up some speed, the rear car experienced a “crack the whip” effect. The winning team was the team that stayed chained together or crossed the finish line first. Beacon Sales/Team Dodge took the win.
The exhibition that brought the most hilarity was the Trailer Race, as three vehicles towing a variety of trailered items were on hand to run and things got messy. Joe Bates towed a speedboat with his Pony Stock, Edson Rowley III towed a trailer with garage door panels attached behind a pink Beacon Sales Dodge and Dave Thorburn drove a Chevy S-10 pickup pulling a sailboat, complete with sail, rudder, and a captain. The results were hysterical. Bates dumped his boat and trailer first thing coming out of turn two, ending his evening, but the debris remained in the center of the track. Rowley and Thorburn repeatedly smashed through the debris trying to catch each other. Rowley caught Thorburn and knocked the sailboat off the trailer, flipped the trailer, but it righted itself and Thorburn continued on in his quest to wreck Rowley’s stuff! The duo ran lap after lap until Thorburn slowed to negotiate a turn coming off the X and Rowley rammed the little trailer, ripping it off the hitch, ending the race in smashing fashion. The crowd absolutely loved it!!!
As the last race of the season has been run, we at the Spartan Speedway wish all of you a safe and happy off-season and as always, we’ll see you at the races in 2010!