Breaking News: Rail Splitter Nationals This Saturday Night Sept 23rd
Kelly Kovski won his second straight Zane’s Auto Service UMP Modified Feature at Spoon River Speedway Saturday night, holding off Zac Oedewaldt and Allen Weisser in an exciting show of driving skill by all three racers.
From the drop of the green on a smooth, racey surface, fans knew they were in for a show, as cars moved to the inside, outside and middle grooves, all in an effort to find the fastest line. For the first 10 laps, it was as equal as can be, as Kovski on the low side and Oedewaldt up on the top stayed glued together in a battle for the lead, with Kovski controlling the scoreboard for the first six laps before Oedewaldt was able to nose ahead off of turn four for three straight laps. Weisser, who might have even been a tick faster than the leaders, darted back and forth between high, low and middle grooves looking for an opening as the three perfectly handling cars raced within inches of each other, but never touching.
On lap 15, Kovski started to stretch in out a little bit as the top groove finally lost a little grip, and he carried on for the win, besting Oedewaldt to the line by about a second, with Weisser settling for third just behind the Z1 of Oedewaldt.
Kelly Kovski and Todd Bates took similar paths to win their respective features last Saturday night at Spoon River Speedway, each using lapped traffic to overtake the leader and each going on to win at the 1st Gerald Denney Memorial Topless Races at The Spoon.
The Memorial event for one of the founders of Spoon River Speedway, Gerald Denney, who along with brother Morey built a track in the middle of a cornfield in Fulton County over 30 years, was attached to the annual “topless” races, where drivers and teams are encouraged to take the fabricated roofs off of their race cars to give fans an intimate look at the drivers in action.
The evening got off to an emotional start when Morey Denney spoke fondly over the PA system about his late brother, fighting tears to tell the story of how he approached Gerald with the idea to build a dirt track, to which Gerald responded, “brother, you’ve had a lot of dumd ideas…and this one is the dumbest”, and ending with “here we are, years later, still making a go of it, thanks to Gerald.”
Threatening skies and a lingering sprinkle had everyone in a hurry trying to “beat the weather” to get to see the post race fireworks show Saturday night at Spoon River Speedway, and no one turned out to be in a bigger hurry that UMP Modified driver Allen Weisser and UMP Pro Late Model driver and defending National Pro Late Champion Jose Parga, who both pulled off sweeps in their respective divisions.
Parga got the evening’s festivities going in fast fashion during Perkins Seed House Pro Late Model qualifying, destroying the previous Pro Late Model track record with a 14.11 second lap. Parga turned out to be one of three drivers to break the previous division record on a the lightning-fast track Saturday, as AJ May turned a 14.25 and Mavrick Piller a 14.33 in their qualifying efforts.
Weisser set fast time for the Zane’s Auto Service Modified division a few minutes later, and both drivers earned pole positions in the first heat for their respective classes, which they both then won.
Dennis Erb, Jr. of Carpentersville, IL is a quiet man of few words who prefers to let the powerplant of his #28 UMP Super Late Model do the talking.
And that it did Thursday night at Spoon River Speedway as Erb powered his way to a dominating “Hell Tour” Victory, making history and picking up a $10,000 first place check in the process in front of a huge and enthusiastic crowd filling the grandstands at the legendary high-banked oval.
“We don’t get to come here and run much,” Erb said in Victory Lane, “but it’s always fun to race here. The track was great and racey all over, and that helped once we got into lapped traffic, I could put the car anywhere I needed to and that helped keep the lead. Great to see a big crowd tonight, it was a good night.”
It was the first time Spoon River Speedway put a $10,000-to-win show on during the Summer Nationals, and the racing did not disappoint.
After an initial false start, the Late Models blazed 28 of their scheduled 50 laps before the first caution of the event came out, for a spin by former Spoon River winner Ryan Unzicker. Erb, from the pole, jumped out front and never relinquished the lead in those first 28 laps, but the caution allowed Batesville, Arkansas legend Billy Moyer to draw back up on the rear bumper of Erb’s car for the restart.
It was of no matter to Erb, who picked right up where he left off before the caution and once again built a comfortable lead to take the win. Moyer, a two-time winner already this year on the Tour to become the all-time victory leader in Summer Nationals history with 92 (ahead of Moweaqua’s Shannon Babb, with 90) finished second on the night. Both Moyer and Erb had earlier won heat races, along with Unzicker and Gibson City’s Kevin Weaver.
Weaver was part of a terrific three-car battle for third over the last 30 laps of the feature, as he dueled with impressive Tennessee driver Mike Marlar and Oakwood, Illinois phenom Bobby Pierce. The three swapped positions, used every groove the track, threw crossover moves at each other, and put on a thrilling show as they tried to stay with the leaders. Pierce was quite possibly the fastest car on the track over the last 10-15 laps of the event, eventually getting clear of Marlar and Weaver to finish 3rd, as he was gaining on Moyer when the laps ran out.
Pierce, a three-time winner on the tour this year and the defending Summer Nationals Champion, added to his points lead with the victory. Marlar held off Weaver for fourth, with Weaver earning 5th on the night.
New Berlin’s Brandon Sheppard made up ground from his 10th starting spot to finish 6th, followed by Jason Feger of Bloomington, the 2014 Spoon River SN winner (2015 was rained out), Arkansas driver Timothy Culp, Babb, and Iowa hotshoe Chris Simpson to round out the top 10. Waukesha, Wisconsin’s Taylor Scheffler, making the Main event through the B-main qualifier, was the winner of the Hard Charger award as he drove from near the back of the field to a 12th place finish in the Main.
Ashland, Illinois youngster Kolby Vandenbergh won the Super Late Model B-main. Vandenbergh started his Late Model career at Spoon River Speedway in a Pro Late Model, as did several competitors in the event Thursday night, including Bobby Pierce. The C-main was won by Springfield’s Brian Diveley.
The UMP Summit Modified Nationals were the other half of the show Thursday, and Mooresville, North Carolina’s Nick Hoffman spanked the field to pick up the winner’s share of the purse, $1,000.
“We want to win this tour this year, and thought we had a good chance here tonight after last year,” Hoffman said. Hoffman was at Spoon River for the 2015 Modified Fall Nationals, and ran well.
“We were good here last fall, and then I had an altercation on the track with my teammate, of all people,” he laughed, “but the track was to our liking tonight…smooth, dry slick with a good surface top to bottom…I could drive it wherever I needed to.”
Hoffman picked up his third Summit Modified feature win out of four events on the tour thus far, padding his points lead in the process. Litchfield, Illinois veteran Brent Mullins came home second, holding off Peoria’s Allen Weisser in a classic Spoon River inside-outside duel, with Mullins down low and Weisser working the top most of the 25-lap event.
In keeping with what Spoon River fans have been seeing on almost a weekly basis this year, Weisser was followed across the line by Kelly Kovski and Ray Bollinger. Those three drivers have battled at the front of the regular Saturday night features the entire 2016 season, and had a great race again Thursday.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Mod feature were: Tyler Nicely of Owensboro, Kentucky, Creve Coeur’s Mike Chasteen, Jr., Chris Osborne, Jr. of East Peoria, Sheffield, IL driver Nathan Balensiefen, and Phil Dixon of Crosby, TX.
Heat race wins in the Mod division went to Weisser, Michael Long of Quincy, and Hoffman. Balensiefen won the Hard Charger award in the feature.
Spoon River Speedway will take this Saturday night off to prepare for the next show, coming up Saturday, July 2nd, which will include a famous post-race fireworks show from promoter Brad Denney.
The UMP Summer Nationals continue at tracks throughout the Midwest through the middle of July, go to www.dirtcar.com for complete schedule, updated points, photos and more.
Night June 23rd the UMP Summer Nationals Hell Tour will Invade Spoon
River Speedway and will be running for the Highest Payout in Spoon’s history.
The UMP Super Late Model 50 Lap Feature winner will walk away with a $10,000 check.
Some of the best dirt track specialist
are expected to try and tame the High Banked 3/8’s mile monster.
It was a night full of emotion at Spoon River Speedway Saturday, as the track hosted the 7th Annual Bill Anderson Memorial for E-Mods, honoring the longtime Spoon River regular who at one point had three sons racing at the Speedway. Along with that, the IMRA/USAC NuTech Seed Midgets came together to honor the late Aaron Hull of Monmouth, who lost his life in an accident while working on his race car last week.
Mark Anderson, the last active racer among Bill Anderson’s sons, earned the victory in the 30-lap main event while former racers and brothers Bill, Jr. and Kirk – and the rest of a large contingent of family and friends in specially made t-shirts - watched him work. Anderson was the third driver of the event to build a good sized lead, but the only one who eventually made it to the finish without mechanical issues.
Early leader Butch Weisser suffered a flat left front early, forcing him to the infield hot pits for a tire change and ultimately to the back of the pack for the ensuing restart. From that point, Pekin’s Kevin Morrow took charge, but handling issues cost him the lead when his car suddenly darted up the track in turn two and out of the racing groove. He drove off under the subsequent caution period, with a car that “just turns right when I least expect it!”
This years Summer Nationals Hell Tour on Thursday Night June 23rd, will be one for the record books at Spoon River Speedway as they will payout the biggest purse in Spoon River Speedways History as they play host to the 22nd running of this specticle on dirt at the fame 3/8's mile, high banked oval. A huge field of UMP Late Models are expect as they will do battle for the $10,000 grand prize. We also expect a large field of Summitt UMP Modifieds also. This is one race you won't want to miss, so make sure to mark it on your calendars and tell all your friends.
Every year about this time, as the UMP Summer Nationals draw near, the Zane’s Auto Service UMP Modified field gets dotted with big names from throughout the Midwest making a trip to Spoon River on a Saturday night to race with the regulars and “tune” for the big event in late June.
Veteran Modified hotshoe Brent Mullins of Mt. Olive, IL made the trip up from about an hour South of Springfield to get his 41M ready for June 23rd’s Summer Nationals event, and made it pay off when he held off hard-charging Kelly Kovski on the inside and Ray Bollinger on the outside to claim the win in the 20-lap Mod feature Saturday night.
“Yep, we did come here in part to get it ready for the Summer Nationals,” Mullins said in Perkins Seed House Victory lane, “but I try to make three or four trips up here every year because we just love the track. Smooth, fast, racy, wish I could get up here more, it’s always a good time.”
Mullins is also a Modified engine builder, and one of his engines, under the hood of Ray Bollinger’s #77, has also visited Victory Lane at Spoon River this year. On this night, Bollinger was able to get up to third behind Mullins and Kovski, but with the fastest lines being down low and being used by the two leaders, Bollinger made the best of the top side of the race track to make it close at the end.
The first time Levi Kissinger of Mt. Vernon, Indiana laid eyes on Spoon River Speedway was Sunday afternoon when he arrived to check his UMP Modified and crew into the pits. His first thought: “wow, what a hidden gem this is!”
A few hours later, in the late evening air, Kissinger proved to be the best of the 50 Modifieds on hand as he won the 3rd Annual Gary Cook, Jr. Memorial Race in a thrilling battle with Central Illinois stalwarts like Allen Weisser, Kelly Kovski, and Steven Brooks.
In Spoon River Speedway’s Perkins Seed House Victory Lane, he had a wave of emotions as he discussed the win. “I raced Gary Cook, Jr. a couple of times, everybody knew how good he was,” Kissinger said, “and it is just a tremendous honor to win a race named after him, and to think I was out there racing with his Dad and got to meet Gary, Sr. down here…it’s really an awesome thing.”
Cook, Sr. was the 31st starter in the huge feature field, driving the Cook, Jr. tribute car displaying the final wrap and sponsor scheme the younger Cook ran until passing away from cancer three years ago.
Kissinger gushed at the racing surface and the competition. “I was having so much fun,” he smiled, “I didn’t care if I won, ran second, third or wherever. These guys were fun to race against and they are fast…and so is the track. What a great place! We will make every effort to come back whenever we can.”
NEXT SUNDAY Night May 29th the Gary Cook Jr Memorial featuring the Zane Automotive Service UMP Modifieds running for $2064 to Win and $125 to start. Also on hand will be the UMP Super Late Models running for $1500 to Win and $150 to start, the Perkins Seed House UMP Pro Late Models for $500 to Win and the USAC/IMRA Speed 2 Midgets sponsored by NuTech Seed running for $500 to Win and $80 to start.
Modifieds and Supers will be only classes to TT. Midgets and Pro Lates draw for ...starting spot. All classes top 6 to 8 will redraw at intermission for feature spot
All classes will be on transponders. $10 rental plus driver's license, $15 for pouch or $250 to purchase Transponder, Charger and Pouch.
We have two $25 gas cards to give away along with merchandise from Hoosier and a few other prizes.
After a mix up on the boys bike last Saturday we will be doing the 20" bike give away again on Sunday. So boys 7 and up make sure to sign up.
Cooler size is 10x14x12 Tall (NO EXCEPTIONS) $5 everytime through the gate. (NO FOOD OR GLASS)
NO Large Purses and NO BACKPACKS ALLOWED
Everything is subject to search
Pit Gate opens at 12
Driver's Draw Starts at 3 and ENDS at 5:30
Driver's meeting 5:45
Hot Laps 6
Grandstands open at 5
Modified and Super L/M TT around 6:20
Racing to start around 7
General Admission $20
Kids 10 and Under are $5
All Pit Passes $35
New policy on Rain out, as long as you have your armband or ticket stub you may use it at any racing event in 2016 at Spoon plus any extra cost over the purchase price of that ticket or armband. This doesn't include coolers. Transponders must be turned back in night of race.
This is one race you won't want to miss, so make your plans now for Sunday Night May 29th to see some of the Best Driver's on Dirt do Battle on the High Banks of the Spoon!!