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SPOTLIGHT
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Vintage racing, sprint cars headline Elmwood Park Speedway

Published on -9/7/2010, 10:50 AM

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By DARIN RACEK

Special to The Hays Daily News

(Norton, Kansas--September 4-5) It was pretty much a triple bill at Elmwood Park Speedway in Norton over the weekend. Nearly thirty vintage racers from around the tri-state area and beyond came to race on the park benches and out on the track. The 305 Sprint Cars and the SportMods also ran for an increased purse on both evenings. While there are no losers in vintage racing, Michael Anderson of Arvada, Colorado, Howard Van Dyke of Clay Center, Brian Conness of WaKeeney, and Dustin McClurg of Logan were definitely the winners in the other classes.

On Saturday night, the twenty-six cars that took to the ½ mile race track were separated into three groups: Midgets and Rail Cars, Sprint Cars, and Supermodifieds. The Jerry Wilson of Wichita had his Midget out in front of the field during the first feature. The Sprint car he owns, the famous red "Offy Killer", one of the first Chevrolet-powered Sprint cars of the area, built by his late father Chet in 1957, was kept ahead of the field by Robby Bryant. The Supermodifieds, the largest field of the night, appeared to take "exhibition racing" up one notch, as the top four raced hard for the eight laps, with Ken Tatro of Beloit sneaking by Larry Cottam of Salina, the Westminister, Colorado Joe Lehman car, and the Max Estes Supermodified late in the race to finish in first.

After staying up late on Saturday night, and enjoying a racer's luncheon in the afternoon, many drivers parted with their friends and headed back home. Seventeen cars remained to put on a show for the fans and have some more fun. The uncaged Sprint Cars ran with with the Midgets, and the caged Sprints ran with the Supermodifieds. It was the rail car of Roger and Troy Burnett of Dodge City that crossed the finish line ahead of the field in the first event. The Supermodifieds ruled the roost again in the second feature, with Dwane Wolf of Rose Hill and a car that was built in 1965 showing the way.

The IMCA 305 Sprint Cars had double digit counts for both nights. There was concern about the numbers for Sunday's show after Darren Berry of McCook and Cody Keiswetter of Hill City tangled on the opening lap of the first heat of the night. Both cars rolled over, with neither one being repairable for the feature, but both drivers seemed uninjured. Smokey Fairbank of Ransom would go on to win that heat race. Local driver Randy Bantam would win the second heat race that set the stage for the main event. The twenty-lap race went caution-free, paced early on by Chuck Lutters of Goodland. However, Michael Anderson found the track to his liking, took the lead from Lutters on lap seven, and would never look back en route to his first Sprint Car feature win. Fairbank came on strong late, but ran out of time. Lutters held on for third place. Bantam would sneak by Bill Hays of Edison in the last few laps to take the fourth spot.

Twelve 305's were in the pits for Sunday night. After the first heat race, it looked like Bill Hays would be the man, as he had a straightaway on the field in winning his heat event. Smokey Fairbank would win the second heat race, but Howard Van Dyke showed he had some muscle and nearly caught him at the end. Bill was hoping to put a haze on the field for the main event, but it ended up being the Howard Van Dyke show. Van Dyke started on row two, but jumped out into the lead on the opening lap. For the second straight night, the Sprints made the flagman keep his yellow flag in his holster, and as the race went on, Van Dyke moved out into a half lap lead on Smokey Fairbank. Howard's fast pace meant running up near the guard rail, and on more than one occasion, he nerfed it. After the race, and in the pits, Van Dyke found out his left rear lug nut was loose, and found some other parts broken. But, when it's your night, it's your night, and Sunday was Howard's night. Smokey ended up with his second-second place in two nights. Hays had an issue with losing power at times coming out of corner two, but held onto third place. Anderson and Lutters rounded out the top five.

The Saturday night IMCA SportMod count was not what anyone hoped for, but the drivers put on a good show. Troy Attwood of Gaylord set the pace at the beginning of the fifteen lap event, but the field was allowed to keep close via the caution flag. After three cautions in four laps, the field settled down, and Brian Conness made his charge by Attwood, taking the lead on lap seven. One more caution could not help Attwood regain the lead from Conness, the current track point leader. Wade Wagenblast of Deshler was in the process of passing heat winner Dustin McClurg for third place on the last lap, but looped the car, knocking him out of the top five. Tanner Portenier of Luray and Ted Kutsch of Kearney, Nebraska rounded out the top five.

The SportMod count went into double digits on Sunday, increasing the purse for the drivers. Newcomer Tyler Sutton of Beloit and Brian Conness obtained the heat race wins. The field was whittled down in the heat races, primarily with a fire that erupted in Ellis driver Kenny Schmidt's car. He was not hurt, but the fire burned under the hood long enough to cause extensive damage to the race car. The A Feature kind of started like it did the night before, with Troy Attwood showing the way. Fotunately, only one caution period occurred while Sutton spun running in third place on lap four. Attwood showed the way for one more lap than the night before. This time, it was Dustin McClurg who blasted on by and earned the big paycheck. Conness finished in third place. Sutton came back in the remaining laps to finish in fourth. Tanner Portenier earned fifth place.

There is one more race night this season at Elmwood Park Speedway. It will be Saturday night, September 18. The IMCA Modifieds, Stock Cars, and Hobby Stocks will join back up with the 305's and SportMods for the final night of points. The grandstand gates open at 5 p.m., and the racing starts at 7 p.m., Central Time.

Elmwood Park Speedway

September 4 results

IMCA Northern SportMod

Heat

21K-Dustin McClurg

21C-Brian Conness

97-Troy Attwood

A Feature

21C-Brian Conness

97-Troy Attwood

21K-Dustin McClurg

27-Tanner Portenier

1-Ted Kutsch

797-Wade Wagenblast

1R-Wayne McAfee (DNF)

IMCA 305 Sprint Cars

Heat 1

2-Smokey Fairbank

5-Michael Anderson

27B-Blake Bogenhagen

Heat 2

5R-Randy Bantam

2H-Bill Hays

54-Mike Spear

A Feature

5-Michael Anderson

2-Smokey Fairbank

55-Chuck Lutters

5R-Randy Bantam

2H-Bill Hays

27B-Blake Bogenhagen

74-Howard Van Dyke

54-Mike Spear

17-Chad Salem (DNF)

12-Darren Berry (DNS)

38-Cody Keiswetter (DNS)

September 5 results

IMCA Northern SportMod

Heat 1

3G-Tyler Sutton

21K-Dustin McClurg

97-Troy Attwood

Heat 2

21C-Brian Conness

27-Tanner Portenier

77W-Tyler Watts

A Feature

21K-Dustin McClurg

97-Troy Attwood

21C-Brian Conness

3G-Tyler Sutton

27-Tanner Portenier

1-Ted Kutsch

77W-Tyler Watts

19-John LaShelle

71-Kenny Schmidt (DNS)

23X-Cody Williams (DNS)

IMCA 305 Sprint Cars

Heat 1

2H-Bill Hays

55-Chuck Lutters

5-Michael Anderson

Heat 2

2-Smokey Fairbank

74-Howard Van Dyke

7-Shelby Stapel

A Feature

74-Howard Van Dyke

2-Smokey Fairbank

2H-Bill Hays

5-Michael Anderson

55-Chuck Lutters

54-Mike Spear

77W-Michael Williams

5R-Randy Bantam

27B-Blake Bogenhagen

7-Shelby Stapel

17-Chad Salem

74T-Todd Lutters

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