Monday, February 23, 2009

Abilene, Texas Ice Breaker Recap / USMTS Opener Upcoming

This past weekend I traveled down to Abilene, Texas to attend the Ice Breaker. After seeing many Iowa modifieds attend last year's event, I was disappointed that none made the trip this year. However, there were 3 hobby stocks and 4 stock cars that did make the trip.

Mike VanGenderen (Newton, IA) had the best luck on Friday night winning the stock car feature. Tony Ritterbush (Dunlap, IA) garnered a 7th place finish. Jeremy Gettler (Adair, IA) and Kevin Opheim (Mason City, IA) were running 2nd and 3rd behind VanGenderen when the two made contact resulting in both drivers having flat tires, thus ending their great runs.
In the hobby stock ranks Todd Reitzler (Grinnell, IA) started his weekend off with a solid 3rd place finish Friday night, but nobody was able to catch Allen Montgomery from Texas. Iowans Nyle Godwin (Redfield) and Matt Drotz (Ankeny) also made the feature, posting 6th and 15th place finishes respectively. Also Friday night, perhaps a first occurence happened when a modified had his steering hampered and wound up going into the drainage hole in the middle of the infield. For those who haven't been to Abilene, the hole is several feet into the ground and does not have a barrier or fencing around it. Last year a friend of mine asked a local if anybody had gone into the hole and they said no, so this was perhaps the first time that has happened. The driver was okay and the hole did not cause any major damage.

While the wind was blowing Friday night, the temps weren't that bad. Unfortunately Mother Nature's mood changed for Saturday's show as the wind was calmer but the temps dipped below the freezing point. I believe I heard the temp was 22 degrees at one point Saturday, making it awfully hard on the fans as well as the drivers and crews to stay warm.

The Iowa hobby stocks put together good runs Saturday night as all 3 of them were in the top ten. Godwin finished 7th, Drotz 8th, and Reitzler 9th. Once again they were no match for Allen Montgomery as he picked up his second win in as many nights. The stock car guys struggled. Ritterbush would again have a seventh place finish. Gettler was solidly running in second and gave his best effort on the last lap, but wound up sliding up high out of the racing groove and lost several positions. He would finish with a disappointing 12th place finish. VanGenderen and Opheim would suffer flat tires and finished 14th and 17th respectively. Vince Ogle wound up winning the stock car feature. Ogle regularly pilots a modified and last year had a limited late model.

Sunday proved to be a much warmer day, as expected from an afternoon start time. With the sun shining, things got kicked off with few caution flags during the heat races. The stock cars were the second feature of the 4 and it made for an exciting race. Local Billy Wade would pull out the win. I briefly met Mr. Wade in the lobby of the hotel Friday when checking in. Glad to see him win. Ritterbush settled for second Sunday. VanGenderen was battling for that position until he suffered a left rear flat tire, although he stayed out and managed to still finish 6th. Opheim and Gettler had decent runs of 8th and 10th respectively.

Hobby stocks were next and I was anxious to see if Allen Montgomery could pull off the 3-peat. While his luck of the draw for starting position wasn't as good, he quickly made it towards the front of the field. Jeff Kinnaird would prove to be better on this day though as he won by three or four carlengths over Montgomery. Drotz had a great fourth place finish while Godwin came home sixth.

All in all it was a fun experience once again traveling to the Ice Breaker. One would think that traveling from Iowa to Texas that the weather would be warmer, but that wasn't the case (especially Saturday night!). The Iowa boys should be proud of their performances as they were all at the front of the field at some point throughout the weekend although their finishes didn't show it.

Up next for me is my annual trip to the Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Nebraska. Todd Staley and the USMTS Series kicks off their season in grand style on Friday and Saturday, March 6th and 7th. This event has drawn roughly 50-60 modifieds in years past and hopefully this year will be no different. Hopefully Mother Nature will be a little more cooperative and provide us with bearable temperatures.

- Racing may be a hobby, but it's DEFINITELY addictive

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