By: Spartan correspondent, Michelle Sprague
Friday, July 30th, was the night that race fans had marked on their calendars as soon as the 2010 schedule of events was finalized. The fans love to watch competitors wreck stuff, on purpose! Spartan Speedway hosted its biggest “night of destruction” yet, and the capacity crowd on hand was not disappointed. From the first event of the evening to the last, carnage and mayhem ruled.
First on the docket were the Pony Stock 20-lap features, go-for-broke, all-out, money runs, with cars running three- and four-wide through the corners. Twenty-three pony stocks timed in, with 10 lining up for the B-Feature. Brittany Toth and Scott Spahr brought the field to green, with Spahr as the lap one leader. Wayne Parkhurst II took the lead on lap two, but Ken Dollarhite made a bonsai move to the inside to take the spot away. Joe Bates and Rich Roberts began their march to the front and Roberts took the lead on lap twelve, with Bates moving into second one lap later. Roberts opened up a pretty good lead and Bates was able to reel Roberts in, but at the line, it was Roberts, Bates, Dollarhite, Mike Westphal, and Parkhurst II.
The A-Feature saw Darrell Taylor take a commanding lead, at the green, with Darren Wright holding down second. The hounds were barking at his heels though. Edson Rowley III took the long way around and drove into the second position leaving Wright to fend off Todd Metz Sr., Patrick Denison and Wayne Beckner Jr. Rowley clicked off the laps as he began to cut the gap between himself and Taylor. Rowley had closed on Taylor’s bumper, when Beckner Jr. made a run at Rowley to take away the second position. Beckner set his sights on Taylor, from the high side, and took the lead on lap 16. At the stripe, it was Beckner, Taylor, Metz Jr., Denison and Rowley. Heat winners for the evening were Parkhurst II, Rich Roberts, and Metz Jr.
With regular division racing out of the way, let the carnage begin! First up was the Flagpole race for 6- and 8-cylinder competitors. Three large tractor tire “flagpoles” were placed strategically about the ¼-mile race track. The drivers started from a dead-stop on the front stretch, circled around to the back stretch, maneuvered around the outside of the first “pole” and cut through the infield via the Figure 8 track. A sharp right was made at the intersection and drivers had to circle the second “pole” in turn three, at the end of the Figure 8 straightaway, in a counter-clockwise direction, with either the circler, or merging traffic, having to yield. Then it was back to the front stretch to circle the “pole” placed on the start finish line. The first driver to complete six laps was declared the winner. Sounds easy enough, but try this feat with six full- to mid-size race cars! The green flag waved and Ron Haynes, of Vassar, who apparently had competed in a couple of these before, dominated after a lap or two, and went on to win the event Jim Gokee and Trent Jenson came home second and third, respectively.
The Pony Stock segment of the Flagpole race saw Scott Sparagowski, of MI Center, take the win. Nine ponies lined up to go in tight little circles, and when the green flag waved, mayhem ensued. No one could remember for certain which way to go after circling the “poles, so Jim Leasure, and race director, Bill Lackey, took the ponies on an impromptu game of follow-the-leader, just to remind them how the “flow” of flag pole racing went (personally, I think they just wanted to drive the course themselves…in the lead no less!) Once the green flag waved again, Ken Dollarhite took the lead but Scott Sparagowski ducked under Dollarhite, hugging the front stretch tire, and took the lead from a dominant Dollarhite. Sparagowski went on to stretch his lead out by executing tight circles around the “flagpoles,” where timing is everything. Dollarhite had to settle for second, followed by Patrick Denison in third.
Thirteen Pony Stock drivers put their race cars on the line and tested their mettle by running the 12-lap Pony Stock Figure 8. Rich Roberts led wire-to-wire, in spite of a red flag, for a collision at the intersection between Pony Figure 8 specialist, Edson Rowley III and Pony Stock regular, Misty Allen, thus adding to the carnage portion of the evening’s events. George Garza was able to keep pace with Roberts, when the green waved again, but ran out of laps. At the checkered, it was Roberts, Garza, Joe Bates, Ken Dollarhite and Wayne Parkhurst II.
The ultimate example of door-handle to door-handle racing is the School Bus Figure 8, and the eight drivers did not hold anything back during competition. The track was littered with bus parts by the time the checkered waved. One red flag for a collision at the intersection for Kitsmiller RV driver, “The Disturbed One” Dane Long, and Valvoline Instant Oil Change driver, Bob “White Bread” Cantine, resulted in a race delay, checking on the condition of both of the drivers, as well as the condition of the backstretch wall and the busses. Long was able to continue and Cantine retired for the evening. With plenty of beating and banging going on, Chris Taylor in the Liquid Web bus clawed his way into the lead. Culligan’s “Hey Culligan Man” Chris Hoffman issued a last ditch effort to take that lead away, but Taylor was able to hang on for the win. Long worked his way up from the back of the pack to finish third. Other competitors included Deb Loughan in the Beacon Sales “Gurple” bus, Jim Custer driving the Beekman Bobcats bus (which also won the best looking bus contest) and two Spartan Speedway sponsored busses driven by Trevor Leasure and Ken Dollarhite.
Trailers and tow vehicles on the Figure 8 was a sure way of ending the evening at Spartan with a bang. Ten brave souls risked the “specialty” trailers they had towed to the track, specifically for this event, and the trailers ranged from the ordinary boat trailers with boats (or a bike) to a yellow submarine, a sub hunter (complete with pyrotechnics) and a UFO. One red flag was flown as Joe Bates smashed into the back of a speedboat that was “dead in the water” and lying near the Figure 8 intersection. When all was said and done, the track littered with trailer parts and their “accessories,” the win was to be decided by Trent Jenson with his “hunting boat” and Dave Thorburn and his UFO. Thorburn came home the winner, sans UFO, which got knocked off and dragged around the track under Edson Rowley’s tow vehicle earlier in the competition, leaving the little alien rider in the bed of Dave’s truck without a ride home!
Congratulations to all of the winners and thank you to all of the drivers who competed. The Friday, August 6th racing program will be sponsored by Sawyers Chevrolet Superstore, featuring the Sawyers Wingless Sprints, a MOD 50 for Valvoline Instant Oil Change Modifieds, the Pure Stocks and Boss Snow Equipment Pony Stocks. A special Sunday show is slated for Sunday, August 8th. This show will feature a Super Late Model 75 and Slugfest #4 for Pure and Pony Stocks. Pures and Ponies will also run on the Figure 8. Racing will begin at 6 PM. Check out the Spartan Speedway website, www.spartanspeedway.com, for more information and upcoming events as the 2010 season winds down, and as always, we’ll see you at the races!