On The Road Again !!

Welcome to the blog site of 6 time super-fan Ed Esser. The question people ask me isn't when is the next race, it's when is the next time I'll be home. Over 68,000 miles were logged on the '04 Dodge Caravan in 2011 in search of over 130 auto races. My blog site helps race fans know where and when to go to some of the best auto races around the country. I've got schedules for series all around the U.S.and results from the tracks and races I've attended. I'll tell you where I've been, where I'm heading and as always what races and tracks are worth going back to. See you at the races!!!

2011 In Review

"The 6 time super-fan winner went to 120 tracks this year in 26 different states. The '04 Caravan logged over 68,000 miles in search of 130 races. Over $1,750.00 was spent on race admissions and 78"new" tracks were visited this year in search of great auto racing. To say Ed Esser is a dedicated fan is an understatement, he's a Super-Fan!"

Now first overall in the USA trackchaser standings, Ed has over 1,423 tracks that he has visited. Check out the reviews and schedules of where he has been and where he is heading.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Race Report 16

More Fairs August 11 –14, 2011

Thursday I was back in Michigan for a stop at the Branch County 4-H Fair in Coldwater. This is a good size fair where I had seen figure eight races in the past but tonight was a 4 in 1 promotion by Unique Motorsports. Thanks to some heavy traffic around Chicago I arrived at 6:45PM for the 7:30PM start and the stands were nearly full. By starting time they were asking people to squeeze together as the 20 rows of bench seating and the three 10-row bleachers behind them were nearly full. There was also some grass area for lawn chairs. The track was in a very long area surrounded by concrete barriers and they had put big tires two high near each end and piled a big dirt ridge about 4 feet high down the middle and made one small jump on the straightaway. The tires were covered with dirt and then dirt put all around them to keep them in place and also providing a “ramp” for some who would want to cut the corner and roll over in an attempt to collect the $50 offered for the first and last roll over. They had some small lights and the speakers were off poles on the other side of the track which made hearing difficult. They drew light fields of 6 big cars, 13 compact cars, 3 lawnmowers and 8 demo cars. Racing started with one big car heat and then 3 small car heats and 3 small car semis. Matt Avery got the $50 for first roll in the first semi when he rolled ¾ times on the 4th lap. There was another roll in the same race too. Chris Crimley used his demo car for the big car off road feature win over Cameron Smith who had won the heat. Jack Fistler ran in the first two spots for the entire 13-laps of the small car off road feature in capturing another trophy. The race was stopped twice for rolls both by Kevin Hall (one on the last lap) as he captured the $50 for the last roll. They demoed the 3 lawnmowers between races and ended the night with the demo for cars. Friday I ventured further east for a stop at the Champaign County Fair in Urbana Ohio. I arrived before 5PM for the 7:30PM start of grandstand entertainment put on by Back to Back Promotions and found people waiting in line to buy tickets. I walked the fair and had some very good food from three of the local vendors then returned to the grandstand to see people already seated but no lines. The grandstand is a very big covered concrete and stone structure of 24 rows with individual chair seats and they have several sets of 5-row bleachers below the raised grandstand. There was also some room for lawn chairs and there was infield seating in bleachers and several flatbeds that had chairs on them. The track for tonight was constructed in the infield of the old half-mile horse track where they had a rectangular area surrounded by Jersey barriers with good lights. The crowd had filled most all of the seats and could hear the speakers fairly well. The clay in the arena was well watered for the show that started with a youth lawnmower demo for 7 machines. Two concrete slabs were placed toward the ends of the arena and 5 cars came out for the figure eight race. The 16-lap feature went non-stop with some spins but no big crashes as Kevin Stiltner took the win over Drew Schneider. The racing was done by 8PM and the concrete slabs removed as the demo portion of the program got into full swing. Eleven adult mowers had a demo before the 15 big cars were divided into two heats for demos. They had a demo for 4 trucks and Cody Johnson won the demo for 8 small cars that included one of the figure eight racers. I went back for more fair food during the break for repairing the demo cars for their semi and then watched the demo feature for 12 cars from the ground level. Josh Henry won the demo that was stopped once for a tip over. The grandstand action was over at 9:45PM and I made another pass of the food booths for some $1 chicken strips that were huge. Saturday I took my time heading back to Wilmot Wisconsin for some midget racing. As I approached Chicago the radio was giving storm warnings for the northern Chicago suburbs so I stopped at a rest area and waited to watch the weather. The clouds were very dark and the wind was getting strong. I called Wilmot and got a recording that races were canceled due to heavy rain. I immediately headed east to try and out run the storm. The winds were strong but no rain as I watched the storm on my tail the whole way to Jackson Michigan. I parked at the Jackson County Fair in Jackson Michigan as the PA was broadcasting the announcement that the area was under a severe storm warning for the next hour. I walked under the concrete grandstand for shelter and found Rick Schneider and Roger Ferrell hiding out there too. After a half hour of strong wind, hail and heavy rain the temperature dropped 25 degrees but the lightning lessened and the rain tapered off and we headed into the big old covered grandstand for the USA promoted enduro derby. They drew 30 small cars for racing and 12 big cars for the demo. Fortunately the temporary track was set up with cement blocks around the perimeter right on the surface of the horse track which was sandy and drained very well. They set up concrete barriers down the middle of half the rectangular area left some space and then placed 4 of the big concrete pieces together in a square near the other end so that the racers had to circle around and crossover to come back the other side of the barriers thus this configuration becomes a figure eight. They had a small jump on one side and called it an enduro or bump and run but as has been my experience with USA they are all figure eights. USA is very good about running even in the rain and started about on time just after 7PM. There were good lights and the sound system was fine after they moved Sonny from the infield to the first row of the grandstand with his microphone. The races went pretty fast with 5 12-lap heats sending the first two finishers to the feature and the others to their trailers. The 10 cars starting the 20-lap feature were good and the feature went quickly with one red flag for a disqualification for a driver’s door hit. David Lowell started 5th and raced hard with 2 other cars before gaining a half lap advantage and then stayed clear of the pushing and spins and took the win. Sunday night I was back to Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie Wisconsin for the BMARA show which drew 23 midgets and 10 micros to race tonight. The storm front that went through yesterday cooled down the temperature and left some mud in the infield and as I walked across the track I noticed it was somewhat soft too. The 1/3 mile clay track was very wet and dug up during practice but the push trucks rolled it before qualifying. Jerry Coons JR came out 10th and turned a very fast lap of 14.520 seconds for fast time in the midgets. Tonight was a special 6-lap dash for the six fastest Badger member’s that qualified tonight in the annual tribute to Dave Schulenburg. Daniel Robinson started outside the front row and held off Brad Kuhn by inches as the two finished side by side for the trophy and $500. Jake Reif won the micro heat and Hunter Imhoff tipped on his side at the conclusion of the heat but raced the rest of the night. Bubba Altig won the first midget heat from 4th using an outside groove above the rough center of the track where the cushion was forming. Robbie Ray got around Courtney Erfurth to lead the second heat then a yellow flew as David Budres and Cody Weisensel tangled. Weisensel was pushed off to restart and as he checked out the steering and accelerated to the third turn the car never turned and shot at full speed into the concrete wall careening along the wall in a nasty series of flips. Weisensel was helped out of the car and walked to the ambulance but was transferred to University Hospital in Madison for evaluation. After the delay Ray won the heat over Robinson and Erfurth. Brad Kuhn won the third heat from 6th over Zach Daum. Robbie Resch took the micro dash and then came back to capture the15-lap feature from 6th over pole sitter Cody Ledger. The micro feature was stopped on the 11th lap when Preston Benish hit the wall and tipped over. The 30-lap midget feature started 22 cars and was slowed on the third lap when Ledger (who was doing double duty) spun. On the restart Eric Johnson got sideways and flipped collecting 6 cars in the third turn. After the restart Altig returned to his high groove in the loose cushion where it was still smooth but a long way around the dirt oval. Coons came from 9th and soon found the same high groove and slowly caught Altig until the caution appeared with 8 laps left. Altig and Coons resumed their battle on the outside with Kuhn and Davey Ray right behind. Coons tried a low side pass with two laps left but hit the rough middle section of track and lost a couple of car lengths and had to settle for second at the checkers. Following Altig and Coons were Kuhn, Ray and Kody Swanson as the checkers flew at about 9:45PM to close out a busy weekend of rain and racing for me.

Blind Racing and More August 17 – 21, 2011

Wednesday night I took a short trip to Jefferson Speedway in Jefferson Wisconsin where the Lions Club was presenting their special event. The track is a paved 1/3-mile oval that has banking in two turns and a flat track in the other two turns and produces some very good racing. The facility is very clean with paved walkways and 16 row bleachers on the straightaway. There is also hillside seating in the first turn but that was closed tonight as there was only a small crowd. The lights and speakers are very good and the program was started at 7PM with the race cars giving kids rides around the track. The Lions Clubs have raced for many years but their home track at Lake Geneva was closed a few years ago so they have had to travel to other tracks to have their events. The car counts were down from what they used to be with 6 sportsmen, 7 challenger, 8 little cars, 5 misfits and 4 BOLD cars. The local small car classes also raced features only tonight with 9 bandits, 6 4-cyl. Internationals and 5 road warriors. Jeremy Tess won the first race of the night from the back which was a make up 15-lap feature for the sportsmen class that had only one yellow. They ran some dashes and a couple of heats and moved into feature racing. The bandits ran on the inner track (1/4-mile paved) and ran 7 laps counter clockwise then stopped and ran the final 8 laps clockwise. Kyle Stark started 8th and won the only race on the small track. The International feature went non-stop with Devon Dixon taking the win from 6th. Bill Sweeney won the non-stop road warrior (six cylinder front wheel drive cars) feature from 3rd. The BOLD race was up next and is a very interesting event. The Lions support some eye banks and offer Blind Outdoor Leisure Development (BOLD) racing for the blind. The drivers of the 4 cars tonight are blind but the front seat passenger is sighted and shouts directions to the blind driver as they race for two laps. The Lions Club features were up next with the little stocks going 20 laps non-stop and Greg Choyce coming from 6th to take the win. The features are inverted by qualifying times and all the others were 15 laps long. Mike Robertson won the challenger feature from the front in a close non-stop race with Al Bassett. The misfits are a combination of cars that include rear engine outlaw rascals and mini modifieds (one with a wing). Vern Brown started last and worked over half the race to pass Jason Dull for the win. The sportsmen with some very nice late model cars wrapped up the night with their feature and again Jeremy Tess came from 6th to beat Chris Klein across the finish line. The racing was done at 9:45PM on a nice evening. Friday I headed out for another festival visit and after some lengthy delays getting through Chicago I arrived at the Monroeville Community Park in Monroeville Indiana at 7PM just in time for the start of the grandstand entertainment at the Monroeville Harvest Festival. The entertainment arena had a big area that could hold tractor pulls and tonight was set up for a tuff truck course. There were some small grandstands on the west side of the arena but the nice big 15-row stands were set facing the sun on the other side. They had good lights and good speakers for the big crowd here tonight. The tuff trucks were the first event and the course included many jumps and a small mud bog along with some tree timbers that they had to drive across. Ten vehicles (trucks, jeeps and a buggy) tried the course one at a time in timed runs to determine a winner. Then the “pit area” was cleared of the jumps and logs and leveled off by several bobcats and the surface watered for the races and demo. The race area was a rectangle surrounded by concrete block walls with dirt behind to keep them in place. The figure eight track was formed by bringing in two big tractor tires and then putting a 55-gallon drum full of concrete in the tire to keep it in place. The first race was a 3-lap race for 4 cars that was the blind man figure eight. The drivers were blindfolded and a passenger shouted instructions to the driver to navigate the course. Scott Zizelman won this race. Charles Bickford started in front and kept a steady pace to win the 15-lap small car figure race that was next. They drew 14 big cars for the figure eight races so they ran three heats with the top two transferring to the feature. The 6-car feature went non-stop for 15 laps with some of the faster cars getting spun and two getting stuck together. Ben Averesch was not the fastest but was steady and kept completing laps while others were having trouble and Averesch was the first to complete 15-laps and captured the win. They removed the tires and held a blind man demo (3 cars) and then ended the night with a small car demo. Saturday I drove to Ohio to find Martinville Raceway in Attica Ohio to see the Young Gun Series for champ karts. On the north side of Attica is a road leading back to a camping area and the Martinville Raceway sits at the woods edge within shouting distance of Attica Raceway Park. In fact at the drivers meeting at Martinville you couldn’t hear when a heat race started up at Attica Raceway. I arrived a couple of hours prior to the 7PM start and they were packing in the semi banked 1/10-mile clay oval. The track was wide with lots of run off area before the fencing that had tires placed in front of it. The inside was marked with a loose dirt berm and tires and the lights were off a big pole in the infield. The speakers were used for announcements only. They had two small 5-row bleachers for spectators and then 4 more sections of seats for the pit area off the third turn. The program for the Young Gun Series would be two sets of heats and then a feature for the 3 classes: Junior Sportsmen (9 karts), Junior Champs (10 karts) and Senior Champs (12 karts). There were also 27 flat karts in 4 classes with 15 in 360 clone racing for the big $500 tonight.
Tyler Street
won both of his heats and then started the feature from the pole keeping the lead through three caution periods to win the junior sportsmen class. The senior champ feature had only one yellow as pole sitter Chad Orth held on for a close win over Josh Hanselman. Jaden Edwards won the junior champ feature from 5th in a race with two cautions. It was already about 10PM and I was listening to the Attica Raceway noise and figured they were running their 4th feature so I headed back down state road 4 past Attica. It is only a few miles south of Attica where state road 4 goes through Carrothers Ohio and there is a sign for Lil’ Indy Kart Racing. I saw this on the way to the Martinville Raceway this afternoon and stopped as there was a pit full of trailers. The nice young lady at the gate explained they run kids classes in the afternoon and run every other Saturday night for adult classes. I did not go in but heard the karts racing. It was now only 10:10PM and the lights were still on at Lil’ Indy so I pulled in for a look at the track. The track is a flat 1/10-mile clay oval with tires to mark the inside and lots of run-off area around the outside before corn fields and the fencing along the straightaway (pit area) and the fourth turn (spectator area). There was a small 7-row bleacher for the spectator area and good lights off the infield pole. A check of the lineup board showed 7 classes racing with 38 karts listed and 12 of the 360 clones the most in a class. There were 3 features left and I noticed a winged champ kart at the end of the pits. The last feature was for the open champs and started 6 karts in the feature. There were two regular senior champs and 4 karts with the wings. John Weaver started on the pole with a non-winged champ kart and led the entire non-stop race for the win but it was a close one. Mike Ernsberger started outside the first row and was glued to the rear bumper of Weaver and tried several passes with the finish seeing Ernsberger on the inside alongside Weaver but a few feet short of the win. I was very happy with my unexpected extra track for the night and headed back down State Route 4 to get a couple of hours of driving in yet tonight. Sunday I was back to Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie Wisconsin for a combined USAC and Badger show of midgets on the 1/3-mile clay oval. This was the weekend of the Annual Corn Festival so tonight’s feature was named the Cornfest 30 and drew 28 midgets and 7 of the 600cc micros. The day was cloudy but the skies cleared and it was sunny and windy but cooled off quickly after sunset. The track was not watered enough and after a dusty hot lap session saw several cars brush the concrete wall as there was no cushion at all I thought we were in for a miserable evening. To top it off the wind had all the dust blowing in the spectator’s faces. They qualified the cars with only 6 cars below the 16 second mark and the second car out, Jerry Coons JR with fast time of 15.391. (That is a full second off what we are used to here.) With the biggest crowd on hand in three years it was not a good idea to have lousy racing that few could even see so they took an hour break to dig up the track and brought the water truck back out for a heavy watering. It took a while to pack and the heat race for the micros was slow on the slimy track but there was no dust. They gave the first midget heat a few fast laps before they started racing and we had a smooth fast wide track that the cars could gat a hold of (even saw a couple of wheelies). The first heats were fast on the bottom but the track widened out and a cushion built up on the outside and soon there was three wide racing. Kyle Larson (from 5th), Brad Kuhn (from 6th), Darren Hagen (from 3rd) and Bryan Clauson (from 6th) won the midget heats. The top 4 from each heat transferred to the feature then the rest of the cars ran a 12-lap semi won by Tracy Hines. Robbie Resch won the early heat and the dash for the micros. Resch then started 5th in the micro feature and got hung up behind two cars on the first lap then had to slow when he got in the cushion a lap later. Chad Bogar pulled out to the micro lead and the race was cut to 7 laps as they were now hurrying to beat the 10PM curfew. As the white flag flew Resch dove inside of Bogar in the first turn and never let off completing the pass and stealing another victory. The midget 30-lap feature started 22 cars but was stopped on the first lap when Bubba Altig and David Budres both flipped without injury in the first turn. Caleb Armstrong led from the first row but Clauson started fourth and took over on the 3rd lap. Coons started 6th and had to battle Larson for second but soon got by and chased Clauson until the yellow came out for a stall on the 21st lap. Armstrong spun after the restart and then Mario Clouser spun into the tacky inside on the straightaway and rolled twice. After a quick check of the car Clouser restarted at the back on the 24th lap. The race went green and Clauson pulled out to a good lead that all but disappeared on the last lap when he drove into the cushion exiting the second turn. Clauson won over Coons but Larson did the same error on the last lap and Kuhn took third at the finish line.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Race Report 15

Nebraska Trip July 28-31, 2011

Thursday was the first of 4 midget shows on the plains but the weather was questionable and I got a late start so I gave up on trying for Solomon Valley Raceway in Beloit Kansas and instead made a stop at the Saline County Fair in Crete Nebraska.  The fair is at Tuxedo Park and racing tonight would be sanctioned by Nebraska Figure8N which drew 22 stock and 27 open class cars. I arrived after 6PM and people were already taking seats in the 10-row aluminum stands and the many small 5-row stands that were around two sides of the long rectangular racing area. The only walls are big dirt piles that surround the racing area. The track was formed by placing two tractor tires very far apart and filling them with dirt. Later after some of the races the dirt was getting rough and they moved the tires further apart so they could run on some smooth areas. The stands were packed and lawn chairs were on the grass in front and people were standing along side by the 7:30PM starting time. I picked a spot in the shade and the terrace that the stands were on allowed for good viewing even over the big dirt piles that surrounded the track. They had good lighting and excellent speakers. The first race had a red flag to reprimand a driver for a deliberate hit but after that the races went non-stop with the only delays to grade and repack the track after the open cars dug it up during their races. They ran 3 stock heats and 4 open heats taking the top two to the feature then came back with 7 semis taking the winner only to the feature. The 15-lap stock feature saw Terry Tritt come from 3rd to win over Mike Wize in the non-stop event. The Open cars ran 20 laps and all 12 finished the non-stop race with no incidents at the “X” and front row starter Chris Schweitzer the winner over Tyler Osmera from 8th.  The races were done by 10:20PM and I headed out for some sleep. (I later learned that the Kansas midget race was rained out before the features.) Friday night I was at Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction Nebraska for the first night of the Cornhusker Midget Challenge and after morning rain and afternoon clouds the skies cleared for the evening. There were 14 modifieds and 33 midgets for tonight’s races on the high banked 3/8-mile dirt oval. The track has a concrete wall on the outside with a big dirt berm around the inside and has excellent lighting and excellent speakers for the huge aluminum grandstand. C J Johnson, Jerry Coons JR, Steve Buckwalter and Brad Kuhn won the midget heats with Johnson winning from 6th to capture the pole for the feature using the passing point system. The third heat eliminated Scott Hatton for the week when Julee Jamison spin and Hatton turned to miss her car and rolled up the 4th turn banking and into the wall destroying the chassis on the Houston Solution machine. Another car did hit Jamison and she turned over too. The yellow appeared in the semi for a lost wheel then on the restart again a car lost a wheel and as the pack scrambled Kellen Conover was hit and sent into a series of rolls down the straightaway and into the wall severely damaging his car. There were no driver injuries in the flips. The modifieds ran a 20-lap feature with only 2 yellows. Front row starter Mark Leiting held off Robert Wilson as the two swapped paint in the 4th turn and then finished side by side in a good race. Austin Brown took off from the front in the 25-lap midget feature and had a big lead when the first of 4 yellows appeared on the 4th lap. Kuhn started 8th and took over the lead after the second yellow with Brown still running strong. Coons and Brad Loyet were battling for 5th when the yellow closed up the field on the 18th lap. The top 4 finishers would get the front spots in the Saturday night feature and what looked like feature seeds for Mario Clouser and Don Droud JR changed when the yellow flew on the 25th lap for a spin. On the restart Kuhn pulled away to take the win but Loyet drove to the outside and moved to second with Brown holding onto third and Coons stealing 4th at the finish. Saturday I was back to Junction Motor Speedway for the big money night of the Cornhusker Midget Nationals. Tonight 34 midgets were on hand with 19 late models and 14 B-Mods as the support classes on the high banked 3/8-mile dirt oval. The big prize tonight would be the $10,000 to win the midget feature and the top 4 finishers from last night will draw for the first four starting positions tonight. Racing started with heats for all classes and the midget semi. Bryan Clauson, Cody Brewer, Kyle Larson and Jake Blackhurst won the midget heats with Caleb Armstrong capturing the semi. The second heat produced the only flip of the night as Tyler Thomas bounced a couple of times and then rolled twice as the yellow came out for a stalled car. Thomas was uninjured and came back for the semi where he earned a feature start with his 5th place finish. The B-Mods ran a 20-lap feature with 5 yellows as Anthony Roth took off from the pole and was never caught. Jeremy Leiting got around Kevin Betzen for a second place finish. The late models ran a 25-lap feature that was stopped on the 7th lap when Tyler Auten hit the first turn wall hard and climbed the concrete and rode the fence but came back to the speedway dirt where he needed a double wrecker tow to remove the car. Matt Buller started 8th and was in third when he spun to bring out a yellow on the 9th lap. There were two more yellows as pole sitter Justin Brandt ran in front but 9th starter Les Siebert made the move around Brandt and took the win. Brad Kuhn drew the pole to start the 35-lap midget feature and pulled out to a big lead over Jerry Coons JR. Thomas had a flat on the 10th lap to bring out a yellow. Kuhn ran strong along the cushion and led another 11 laps before a stall brought out the second yellow. Coons made several passing attempts after the restart but even a couple of slide jobs fell short and slowly Kuhn pulled ahead as the front runners had the cushion pushed back to within inches of the concrete wall. Kuhn took the big prize with Coons second, Clauson in third and Larson finishing fourth. Sunday night was another midget show to wrap up the swing before the Belleville Midget Nationals next weekend. Tonight the stop was at the U S 36 Raceway in Osborn Missouri, a slightly smaller high banked 3/8-mile dirt oval. Racing tonight were 22 midgets, 20 sport mods and 17 A-modifieds. A big crowd was already gathered on the big concrete step grandstand along the straightaway hillside on another hot evening. Bryan Clauson, Brad Loyet and Brad Kuhn won the midget heats and Caleb Armstrong took another semi. The sport mods had only 2 yellows in their feature as Vernon Claxton took the win from the third starting spot. Jacob Ebert came from 6th to finish second with pole sitter Brandon Williams hanging on for third at the finish. The A-mods ran a close race with a good 3-car battle for the runner up spot until the leader Steven Glenn tangled with a lapped car and spun off the banking with two laps left in the race. Dennis Elliott took command on the restart and won over P J Conger. Kyle Larson shot out from the pole to lead the early laps of the 30-lap midget feature then took off again after a yellow for a spin on the 6th lap. Larson held a comfortable lead on the 16th lap when Nick Knepper was launched off another’s tire and sent into a high series of end over end flips off the third turn banking and down into the dark beyond the track. Knepper walked back up the embankment to the track and the car was removed to the pits with serious damage to both ends. Larson took up where he left off and was leading when a spin brought out the yellow with 5 laps left. Again Larson raced to the top of the banking and ran strong against the cushion to claim a birthday win over Jerry Coons JR while Zach Daum got around Kuhn for third at the checkers.

Midget Nationals August 5 -8, 2011

Friday I was back to the Belleville High Banks in Belleville Kansas for the Midget Nationals. This is an annual stop and there is only one class racing tonight – the midgets. The area had received a morning rain and there were mud holes to dodge when walking but this made a very fast track. All 25 cars took time on the high banked half-mile dirt circle and Mario Clouser came away with a track record of 17.497 seconds. The drivers earn points for qualifying and heat race finishes that set the feature lineup. Brad Loyet (from 6th), Darren Hagen (from the pole), Kyle Larson (from 6th) and Jerry Coons JR (from 4th) won the very fast heats. Larson sped away from the pole to lead the 25-lap feature but was slowed by two early yellows as Coons moved to second place from 7th. Larson was fast and pulled away while Coons had mechanical trouble and dropped out as the yellow appeared for a stall on the 13th lap. Brad Kuhn took over second place but Larson maintained a good lead after the restart. Bryan Clauson moved from his 10th starting spot to challenge Kuhn and the yellow came out for another stopped car with 5 laps left to race. Larson held on to a good lead and won over Kuhn, Clauson and Loyet. That puts Larson and Kuhn to the Saturday night dash with Loyet and Clouser who were the top point earners outside of the top two finishers. Saturday we were back to the Belleville High Banks for the finals of the Midget Nationals. The track is a half-mile high-banked black dirt circle with no real straightaway. There is a double high Armco wall around the outside of the track and the inside is a reverse bank with some walls set way inside. The pits are in the infield where there is also a banked 1/5-mile dirt oval that ran cruisers on Thursday but was not used Friday or Saturday. Again the only class racing was the midgets and with one car missing from Friday’s field there were 24 cars to race tonight. A bigger crowd had assembled tonight but still only about 2/3 of what was usually a sellout in the big 17-row bleacher sections and the old stone covered grandstand. With 4 cars already qualified for the dash they held 3 heats to start the night with Dalton Armstrong (from 5th), Jerry Coons JR (from 3rd) and Josh Pelkey (from 3rd) the winners. Then points accumulated from tonight’s heats were added to the points from Friday and the 4 highest drivers were added to the dash. They drew for the 8 starting spots and Kyle Larson and Mario Clouser drew the last row. The dash ran 6 quick laps and Bobby East from the front row and Bryan Clauson from 3rd crossed the finish line side by side with the transponders reading East the winner. Clauson was second and Caleb Armstrong third with Larson up to 4th.  The finish of the dash set the first 4 rows of the 40-lap feature. The first attempted start had a spin then Clauson jumped from the front row and took the lead with Larson right behind. These two pulled away from the field until the race slowed with a stall on the 7th lap. On the restart Clauson was again able to pull away with Larson several car lengths back in second. As the leaders started to work through lapped traffic Larson was able to close the gap and try some passes. Larson finally got by on the 34th lap as Clauson rode in the cushion exiting the 4th turn. A stall on the 36th lap brought out the yellow with only 5 cars on the lead lap as Coons, Kuhn and East were the only others with a chance at the big prize. Larson pulled away but Coons got by Clauson and with the white flag waiving it looked like this was the ending. However 7th running C J Johnson had an axle break and he became a member of the elite  “over the wall club” at the High Banks as he rode the first turn wall and then tumbled several times down the banking in the dark grass as he headed toward the fair barns. Johnson was checked over and sent back to the pits uninjured. With a one lap dash to end the race Larson got another good jump and won with Coons holding on to second but an engine problem took out Clauson so Kuhn was third and East fourth with Clauson in 5th as he coasted across and completed 39 laps then pulled in the infield and no yellow was needed. Sunday on the way home after a stop at Lee’s new residence in Leavenworth Kansas I stopped at the famed Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville Iowa for a night of USAC non-winged sprint car racing. The track is a half-mile black dirt oval with huge Armco fencing on the outside and a big dirt berm for the inside wall. The pits are in the infield and they have bright Musco lighting and good speakers for the huge grandstands and suites. The stands were filling as I arrived at 6:30PM and a good crowd was in place for the 7:45PM qualifying. Brady Bacon topped the 31 USAC Sprints with a time of 18.639 in the time trials. There were also 25 of the winged 305 sprints on hand and Tasker Phillips was fast timer in their group qualifying sessions. The winged cars ran 3 heats and a feature. Bacon (from 6th), Levi Jones (from 3rd), Keith Bloom JR (from 4th) and Dustin Morgan (from 2nd) won the heats for USAC. The first two heats had red flags as Daron Clayton caught the cushion and rode out a series of flips in the first heat and Robert Ballou bicycled and recovered but came down against the wall and rolled twice in the second heat. Hunter Schuerenberg who almost became a flip victim in his heat recovered nicely and then won the semi. Pole sitter Chad Huston won the 12-lap winged feature over Jamie Ball and Casey Friedrichsen in an event that was slowed by only two yellows. The 26-lap USAC feature was stopped on the second lap when Dave Darland caught by the cushion in the first turn and hit the wall and flipped.  All the flips tonight were without injury. Jon Stanbrough led 7 laps before Bud Kaeding who started on the front row took over and was leading on the 12th lap when he hit the heavy cushion and spun for the only yellow of the race. Bacon started 6th and used the top of the track to work to the front and grab the lead. Chris Windom was using the bottom and catching the leader but some lapped cars in the final few laps slowed his progress. Still on the last lap Windom was only a car length behind Bacon as the pair exited the 4th turn and took the checkers with Bacon a winner over Windom, Jerry Coons JR, Stanbrough and Bryon Clauson (from 19th). Congratulations to Brady Bacon for a clean sweep at Knoxville with the fast time, heat and feature wins.