Saturday, October 17, 2009

RPM Speedway Hosts Fall Nationals

Night number one of the Fall Nationals at the RPM Speedway in Hays, Kansas got off to a slower start then anticipated. Upon arrival at the track, drivers were packing in the moisture laid on the track. After getting that worked in, a few hot lap sessions were run before Mother Nature reared her ugly head and dropped some more moisture on the track. Track crew immediately hit the track when the precipitation ended and drivers were called back to the track to help wheel pack.

Once things finally got under, nearly 200 cars would be in action in several heat races. Announcers mentioned that there were 69 modifieds and 56 stock cars. There were two heats of sport compacts, three heats of sportmods, and four heats of hobby stocks to go along with 6 heats of stock cars and seven heats of modifieds.

This event had a much different format than I am used to. Rather then running the traditional heat races, bmains, and features, the format would use passing points. The twist on this event was the fact that drivers who did not like their passing points total in the heats, were allowed to run another set of heat races. I've never been to an event that has run in this particular way, and with the weather delays to start the show, the first set of heat races got over well after the 11:00pm hour. At that point many of the fans opted to head for home. While it was on the colder side, there was a pretty good crowd on hand. The wind coming out of the northwest did not help things, but fortunately that wind did later lay and it almost felt as though it warmed up at that point.

Due to the delays and such, track officials decided to stop running after the second set of sportmod heat races and pick up with the stock cars and modified heat races early Saturday afternoon. Hot laps are now scheduled to get underway at 1:00 rather then the previously scheduled 3:00 racing. I'm unsure as to what the format will be after the heat races are run. I can only assume bmains will be run to fill out the field after the top so-many cars are locked in through passing points?!

There was a good contingent of Iowa drivers in attendance for this show. Rod Scheuermann and Chris Abelson pulled off wins in their heat race while Jay Noteboom finished second in his. Jeremy Mills wheeled his modified to a third place finish in his heat race. Other noteable modified drivers in attendance included David Murray, Scott Drake, Ricky Alvarado, Grant Junghans, Dave Hardesty, Ricky Stephan, Will and Matt Brack, Benji LaCrosse, Matt Gilbertson, Jason Schoenberger, and Jordan Grabouski.

Several stock car drivers made the trip including Travis Shipman, Mike Nichols, Jeff Joldersma, Mike Jergens, Tim Bengard, Elijah Zevenbergen, Rod Statts, Mike Mauer, and Randy Brands. It was also unique seeing Abe Huls from Illinois along with Missouri hotshoes Gene Stigall and Brad Whitney. Only Jesse Sobbing represented Iowa that I could tell. Sobbing was paired up with Tyler Frye in heat race #2 to set up a shootout between the top two in final IMCA national points, with Sobbing earning the championship. Three hobby stocks made the trip out that included Dylan Book, Chris Hupp, and a number #86J from Red Oak with whom I'm not familiar.

By my count, there were eleven states represented last night: Kansas, Iowa, Arizona, Missouri, New Mexico, Colorado, Illinois, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Minnesota. I think I may have heard that one of the drivers was from Texas, so that would possibly make it twelve states.

The RPM Speedway is a standout facility. The grandstand is all aluminum that reminded me of Junction Motor Speedway's stands, although not quite as tall. There was plenty of room for handicapped people in the front row of the raised grandstand. The PA system was state of the art with two speakers on each pole. The track itself is a 3/8-mile oval that only has a wall on the front stretch. There is a wall in turns three and four, but that is back away from the racing surface and is used to protect the pit area. At first glance, it appears as though there is quite a drop off from turns one and two as well as the backstretch. Several cars exited the track throughout the night but were able to make their way back to the track.

That puts a wrap on night one of the Fall Nationals. Check back later for a recap of night two.

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

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