By NICK SCHWIEN
The annual event to wrap up the racing season at RPM Speedway in Hays continues to grow.
This year, Fall Nationals VII saw even more growth in drivers and fans during the three-day event Oct. 10 to 12 in Hays. Thousands of people passed through the ticket gate and pit gate to watch the action from five classes of IMCA racing.
Five champions were crowned, including Mitch Bolton of Grand Junction, Colo., in the sport compact class Oct. 10. Then it was on to the four larger classes -- hobby stocks, Northern sport mods, stocks and modifieds.
Each feature in those four classes showcased drivers competing for hefty payouts.
Ron Wehling of Russell took home $1,000 for winning the hobby stock feature Oct. 12, while Belleville's Tyler Frye was $2,000 richer after winning the sport mod feature.
The stock car winner once again hailed from Harlan, Iowa. Mike Nichols claimed the $3,000 check at the end of the night.
The biggest payout, $5,000, went to modified feature winner John Hansen of Brush Colo. He became the second Colorado driver to win the prestigious event. Will Brack won Fall Nationals in 2010.
Each of the seven years of Fall Nationals has resulted in a different driver taking home the top spot.
While the action on the track was hot and heavy, so too was action in the stands and pits.
A total of 237 drivers registered to compete at this year's event. That included competitors from 12 states -- even Alaska -- and Canada.
Concession stands were hopping. More than 1,600 hamburgers, 300 brats, 600 hot dogs, 120 baked potatoes and 15 gallons of chili were sold.