Spartan Speedway Celebrates 50 Years

By Michelle Sprague

Spartan Speedway was festive Friday night, as the track celebrated its 50th year in operation. The grandstands were full and everyone was in the mood for some good, close racing.

The Andrews Chevrolet Super Late Models were first on the docket, with the 'Godfather' of the Ohio Posse, Stan Perry, setting fast time. At the drop of the green, Jimmy Gallagher led the charge into first, with John Ledwidge and Doug Finley close behind. Cautions marred the 40 lap feature, with the first coming on lap three. On the restart, Gallagher pulled away from the field, only to see the caution fly again on lap six. Gallagher once again mashed the gas to pull away from the field, as Finley made his way around Ledwidge into second. Caution on lap twelve, as the result of a four-car pile up, set up another restart, but this time, it was Gallagher with Finley, tacked on to his rear bumper, taking the green, as Jon McNett worked the high side around Ledwidge into third. Gallagher, Finley and McNett drove away from the rest of the lead pack, as caution flew again on lap nineteen. Dennis Craft was looking for a way around Ledwidge on the restart, as Jeff Brunt and Stan Perry tried to make their way into the top five. Perry made his way around Brunt and went after Craft, looking high and low for a way around him. With the leaders into slower traffic, caution flew once again, closing up the field behind Gallagher and Finley. Finley looked to the outside of Gallagher on lap 36, but Gallagher slammed the door. Caution waved again for an airborne Chris Place, who luckily landed on all fours in the infield, on lap 38. Craft got into Ledwidge on the restart, and it was back to yellow on lap 38. This set up a two-lap shootout and what a finish it was. Finley tried everything in his power to get around Gallagher, and on the last lap, going into four, pulled up on the outside of Gallagher, and it was a drag race to the stripe. At the line, it was Gallagher, Finley, McNett, Perry, and Ledwidge. Gallagher's margin of victory was 23/1000ths of a second. Heat races went to Tim Rugg and Finley.

Twenty two WMMQ Classic Rock 94.9 MI Modifieds timed in for their 35-lap feature, with Perry Davenport setting the bar high, on Beacon Sales and Bill Snethkamp Dodge Night. A hungry Dan Loughan jumped into the early lead on the start, hoping to follow in the footsteps of his father John, who turned many laps at the 'Track the Stars Call Home.' Mechanical problems for Loughan on lap five took away that opportunity, but he was able to return and remain on the lead lap. Nyle Weiler and Larry Wallace found themselves sitting one and two on the restart, with Tim Easey and Leroy Ellis within striking distance. Ellis used the outside groove to his advantage, and moved into the third position. Bud Perry, always a threat, was lurking in fifth, with fast qualifier, Perry Davenport right on his tail. As the top three pulled away from the field, Easey, Perry, and Davenport waged a battle of their own. Lap 19 saw the leaders in the rear of the field, giving Perry the opportunity to catch the top three, as Davenport worked to reel them in. Weiler, Wallace, and Ellis pulled away from Perry, as they cleared the lapped traffic, leaving Davenport to find a way around Perry. At the stripe, it was Weiler, Wallace, Ellis, Perry, and Davenport. Veterans of the division, Ken Buchner and Bill Butler, grabbed heat wins.

It was the Rouster and Rouster show for the MI Legends series, as Ben and Levi ran one and two after the drop of the green. Jerry Warden put up a good fight but couldn't quite catch the dynamic duo. Levi took over the top spot on lap three, and never looked back. Ryan Meldrum had to be satisfied coming home in the fourth position behind Warden, while young Barry Hartwell Jr. scored a top five finish. Meldrum and Billy Simmons scored heat wins.

Dane Long continues to be the fast qualifier, week after week, but Jack Koone Jr. is proving to be no slouch in his rookie season, and may just give Long a run for his money by season's end in the Performance Automotive NW Street Stock division. Chuck Ammerman and Rolly Olney started on the pole for the 25-lap feature, with C. Ammerman taking over the top spot, with Chuck Wilkinson in tow. Wilkinson muscled his way around C. Ammerman, as Corey Davis and Jamie Feguer jumped into the mix ahead of Olney. Wilkinson ran away to hide, as Feguer took care of C. Ammerman to sit in second by lap 15. Mike Ammerman, Ron Heeney, and Dane Long were working their way up to the leaders and eventually caught Feguer in a Ammerman and Long sandwich. Wilkinson captured his first checker of the season, followed by M. Ammerman, Dane Long, Jamie Feguer, and Ron Heeney. Wilkinson and Heeney won their heats.

It was feature time for the Holiday Powersports Pony Stock division, with Wayne Beckner Jr. and Tina Anderson starting on the pole. Beckner won the drag race to lead the first lap. Brent McCort was on the move, trying to reel in Beckner, and six laps later, he had to fend off Mark Garland's advances. Garland caught McCort and set his sights on Beckner. Once Beckner got into traffic, it was curtains, as Garland used the traffic to his advantage, and drove into first. John Ward slipped around Beckner into second, as Bryan Passick II moved up into third. John Conroy made his way around Beckner on lap 23 and, after 25-laps, it was Garland, Ward, Passick, Conroy, and Beckner.

Wayne Parkhurst Sr. took a Pure Stock win over Russ Potter III. It was the racing Dads taking over the driving duties from their sons for the evening. Will the sons race against each other tomorrow night at Springport? We'll have to wait and see!

Please join us Friday, July 28th, as Andrews Chevrolet presents the Super Late Models, MI Modifieds, Street Stocks, and Pony Stocks. Friday night, August 4th is a special show sponsored by Classic Rock 94.9 and Kitsmiller RV, featuring School Bus Figure 8's, Super Late Models, Street Stocks, Midgets, Pony Stocks, and Pony Stock Figure 8's. Special show gate prices will apply. We hope to see you at the races!

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