By Danny Burton
Danny Burton’s Hoosier Race Report appears courtesy of OpenWheelRacers.com
Columbus, IN… We all too often dwell on the rainouts that racing fans and teams experience from time to time. This, of course, is true in our so-called real lives too. But we should also dwell on the near misses. You know, those times we dodge the rain that is forecast for the race track and it doesn’t rain.
This weekend we saw a youngster hold off a veteran to win on Friday. Shane Hollingsworth held off Kevin Briscoe at Bloomington. Saturday night at Lawrenceburg was special as it was a night long tribute to Dick Gaines, who was certainly one of the best who climbed into a sprint car. Perhaps it was fitting that Kevin Briscoe won the Dick Gaines Memorial. Kevin, who is from Mitchell, Indiana, (same as Dick was) and who looked up to Dick as a kid growing up, counted last night’s win as the one he will cherish for a very long time.
Bloomington, IN… The ever present clouds were all around me as I headed west to Bloomington. Turning back wasn’t an option. It was Bloomington’s last points paying sprint car race of the year and the feature was paying $2000 to win, a $700 increase.
25 cars were on hand, a bit of a disappointment, but lower car counts have been the norm lately. My own opinion is that gas prices are the proverbial straw that has caused this. Other factors include the high school football season, strained budgets for budget racers (and fans), and school starting with all those related activities.
There was a good bit of ride hopping in the pits. Kevin Briscoe was in the Fox Brothers’ 53, the latest hot shoe to climb into a fast car. Kerry Kinser was in Jack Farmer’s 11 and Tony Fox replaced his son Jared in his own 56 car, Tony’s first racin’ in about 25 years.
Track preparation was tricky what with the mixture of sun and clouds but Mike Miles managed quite well. 14 year old Brent Beauchamp was quickest in time trials with a lap at 12.290 seconds. Dave Peperak won the first heat as Travis Thompson, Billy Rose (in the J. Baker 34), and Mitch Cunningham all exited the race early. Josh Cunningham, Brad Sweet, Kevin Briscoe, and Brent Beauchamp trailed. Kenny Carmichael Jr. won the second heat over Kevin Chambers, Kenny Carmichael, Kevin Besecker, and Bobby Stine. Ty Deckard was the third heat winner, followed by last week’s winner Brady Short, Steve Rone, Shane Hollingsworth, and Jason Knoke.
Right after the sprint heats a brief bout of sprinkles delayed things for about 15 minutes. But the sprinkles went away after endless speculation between my buddy Jerry and me about the weather forecast.
Danny Holtsclaw took the consolation race over Kent Christian, Mitch Cunningham, Chris Babcock, and Tom Busch. Holtsclaw and Christian breathed a bit easier; Danny would now start fourth in the feature, Kent would begin second.
Hollingsworth and Christian had the front row, but behind them were Briscoe, Holtsclaw, Stine, Beauchamp, Sweet, Carmichael, Short, and M. Cunningham. Hollingsworth took the early lead with Briscoe passing Christian for second just past the halfway mark. Behind Christian were Stines, Carmichael, Short, Beauchamp, Besecker, Sweet, and M. Cunningham. It stayed pretty much this way until a lap 21 tangle involving Brady Short and Tom Busch. This would be Briscoe’s best chance at taking the top spot, but it didn’t happen. Hollingsworth took the win, his first in quite awhile. The 2005 Bloomington Speedway champ, Kevin Briscoe, was second. Kent Christian was third, followed by Kenny Carmichael and Bobby Stines. Kevin Besecker came from 11th to take sixth and he was trailed by Brent Beauchamp, Brad Sweet, Mitch Cunningham and Chris Babcock.
Gary Barrow started on the pole and won the modified feature. Ben Dubois did the same in the super stock main.
Bloomington takes the next two Fridays off and the sprint cars return for their last program of the year on September 16. Where does the time go?
Lawrenceburg, IN… I was somewhat afraid that I’d bring the rain to the ‘burg with me as I traveled east on Saturday evening. But the rain stopped even before I reached the county line. Never mind that I’d worked late and would miss the heat races; this was the night that the Lawrenceburg Speedway would be honoring the memory of Dick Gaines.
31 cars were in the house and Mark Hall won the first heat. Other heat winners were Brandon Petty, Bryan Clauson, and John Wolfe. Billy Rose, tonight in the 24 Hour Truckers’ 10T car, won the B Main, taking Brent Beauchamp, Kevin Besecker, and Tony Beaber with him to the 30 lap feature. I need to thank the ‘burgrat himself, Keith Wendel, for getting me caught up.
One of Dick Gaines’ fiercest competitors was Butch Wilkerson, who has had some hard knocks of his own over the years, retaining his good humor, his love of sprint car racing, and life, all the way. Tonight Butch would be driving the pace truck. As an added touch, it was arranged that Dick’s son Dickie would drive a sprint car also pacing the field for the parade lap. Mike Weber, who had failed to transfer to the A Main, was good enough to loan Dickie his car. The younger Gaines wasn’t able to race due to a hand injury he had suffered during his recent Plains states’ tour. A big thank you had to go to Lauren Besecker and Lawrenceburg promoter Tom Wieck, among others, for arranging the tribute to Dick Gaines.
Rodney Stone and Kevin Briscoe, still in the Fox Brothers’ 53, led ‘em to the green. Behind them was Shane Hollingsworth, fresh from his Bloomington win, Mark Hall, Broc Burton, John Wolfe, Bryan Clauson, Brandon Petty, Brad Sweet, and Eric Davis. Hollingsworth led the first lap as Briscoe and Wolfe quickly fell in behind the kid from Indy. But it wasn’t many laps later until Briscoe took the lead with Wolfe, Clauson, and Burton right behind. Just past halfway a caution flew for a Brad Sweet spin. Briscoe and Wolfe were trailed by Clauson, Burton, Hollingsworth, Petty, Ted Hines, Davis, Rose, and Matt Westfall. After this Petty began to charge and Wolfe began to fade before dropping out. Lap 23 saw Clauson jump the turn four cushion, bringing out another yellow. By now Burton was doing an outstanding Kevin Thomas imitation by using that bottom groove at the ‘burg. On the re-start he was on Briscoe’s bumper with Hollingsworth coming back for third. Ted Hines was another who was passing some good cars and he was fourth. Petty was fifth and Tony Beaber was also moving up and passing cars. All were hungry to win this race. Just as the flagman was ready to wave the checkered, he quickly switched to the yellow for a spin. Briscoe had to endure another re-start before getting his well-deserved win. The Mitchell, IN vet did it, with Burton an impressive second. Petty came on strong at the end to finish third. Hines started 13th and finished fourth. Hollingsworth hung on for fifth. Beaber came from last (20th!) to place sixth, followed by Davis, Westfall, Rose, and Clauson, (the 2004 winner of this race) who recovered from his spin.
Kevin Briscoe recounted that he practically idolized Dick Gaines as he was growing up in the same town as the late and great racer. Kevin’s dad Dick had Dick Gaines as a driver at one time. The Gaines and Briscoe families go back a good bit when it comes to racing in these parts. Both dads have brought forth sons who race themselves, and do a pretty good job of it.
J.D. Largent won the modified feature with Ricky Bolton winning the super stock main. Shawn McIntosh won the pure stock feature.
Lawrenceburg runs both Saturday and Sunday this coming week. Sprints will run on Saturday with the modifieds running the Bear Wieck Memorial on Saturday and the Big Dog 100 on Sunday.
INDIANA… Up at Gas City it was John Wolfe winning with 37 sprint cars present. Other winners were Rick Johns and James Headley. Rick Rinehart, Tony Dager, Mike Overholser, and Mike Murphy were winners at Angola. Lincoln Park was fogged out (yes, that does happen there); racing was stopped after the B Mains were run with fog making it tough to see, according to numerous reports. Dan Hamstra won at Crown Point. My man Jesse Bitterling won at Shadyhill in his modified. Brad DeYoung and Aaron Shidler were other Shadyhill winners. Randy Petro was the winner at Twin Cities.
Glad I’m not a bee in A.J.’s bonnet, I’m…
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