By Tyler Hooks
The 2018 Tri State Series presented by WCM in association with Ken Leiker Motorsports, Holloway Vinyl Signs and Graphics, Barth Racing Concepts, and QSAC got off to a good start in the arms of near perfect weather at Machesney Park Raceway in Illinois this past Saturday, June 23, as 43 (forty three) cars filed registrations in the morning for the chance to prove their mettle in the afternoon on the high banks of the MPR oval.
MPR assured the pleasure and comfort of the combatants of this day by providing the ideal weather AND the delightful food of Deez’ Catering served up by Dewayne, Mary, and Robert E. Lee who sold out of the big, thick, onion smothered burgers they offered next to their hot dogs, brats, and Polish sausage.
Hundreds of dollars worth of goods and services contributed by the sponsors were awarded to the racers in the door prize drawing, and MPR also conducted a raffle for a new Zenoah motor bringing the total value of prizes given away to near $1,000! Between the food and prizes, everyone was a winner before any events were run. Oh yeah, there was racing too, let me tell ya a bit ‘bout that.
First up in the day’s order of events were the Sportsman cars with a field of 14 (fourteen) cars split into two groups for qualifying and heats. The top 3 (three) Sportsman qualifiers all came from the first group when Gabby Allshouse ran the fastest time with a lap of 6.011 seconds beating Chris Hogue who was in the same group and timed in at 6.050, and he third best qualifying time came was recorded by Dave Bradford with a lap of 6.122 seconds.
Sportsman heat races secured starting spots in the “A” main for Allshouse, Greg Hilber, Alex Livingston, J.R. Parsley, Dave Raber, and Todd Holloway while Chris Hogue, Matt Hilber, David Bradford, both John and Tony Wachter, Tim Sunde, Paul Haas, and Randy Brown were relegated to the “B” main to battle for 75 (seventy five) laps in determination of who would get the right to each of the 4 (four) transfer spots to the “A”. Four of the starters were retired by lap 66 leaving Chris, David, Matt and Tony to take the transfers to the “A”.
The Sportsman “A” main was contested for 200 laps and came down to three cars on the lead lap near the end which was Allshouse, Chris Hogue and Livingston. Greg Hilber took the early lead and paced the race until he dropped out after 32 laps and handed the front spot to Allshouse who would set the tempo until lap 103 when Hogue got by her as Livingston was caught up in an altercation and lost his 3rd place running spot and fell to the back of the pack. Forty laps later Allshouse got back in front of Hogue and led the last 57 laps to the victory in front of Hogue, Livingston, Bradford and Parsley. Interesting to note that Allshouse turned her best lap of the race on lap 196 when she had a half lap lead on second place.
Next up in the days order of events were the habitually interesting Winged Sprint cars. These cars really can fly, but the wing is there not to enable flight, rather to prevent flight as these little beasts try to take off on the track. Todd Holloway turned the best qualifying lap at a 6.004 and won both heat races to take the Top Qualifier spot in Sprints. Bradford stayed close in the preliminary events with a qualifying lap of 6.064 and second place finishes in both heat races. Larry Hopson had trouble in the second heat race and did not start the “A” main. Todd Gunder also faced his demons and lost the day before the main.
Holloway led the pack of beastly brutes to the green flag for the start of the 100 lap session of driver insanity and appeared to be on his way to another of those races where he never looks back, but there was trouble brewing as the laps wound down. It seems that the Winged Sprint Angels this day were to show favor to new comer Matt, fresh meat, Mennare who make the sacrifice of waking in the middle of the night after a full day of work to make the trip from Lansing Michigan knowing that he would have to leave and make the trip back after the races in order to fulfill family obligations meaning that he would be a full 24 hours without sleep just so that he could race the high banks of MPR.
Despite being several laps ahead near the end of the race Holloway would have to earn this one before he got to victory lane. Holloway suffered a mechanical problem with about 20 laps to go that slowed him considerably and allowed Fresh Meat Mennare to begin to make up some of the laps he was down to Holloway. Fresh Meat Mennare got close but Holloway was able to hobble his way to a full lap victory over Mennare, Ligon, and Bradford. On a personal note from me to Todd Holloway: Here’s your sign.
Third on the day was the Bussssssssssssssssssch (tip of the hat to Mr. Joe Brooks) Sportsman. This is the primarily for racers who are still very new to our amazing sport of quarter scale car racing. John Lashelle had the fastest qualifying lap of the day with a 6.609 but the Top Qualifier award went to Chuck Hoskins who won both of his heat races. Other Busch heat races were won by Dave Dygon and new kid on the oval, second generation driver with big shoes to fill, Jarrett Raber. Concerned that the youngster might be a bit intimidated by his first trip to a WCM Tri State event, I thought I would lend some encouragement and counsel so I stopped by to chat with Jarrett. He let me have my say and then winked at me saying “I got this” as his dad, Dave Raber looked on approvingly. (Of course I jest here. Young Jarrett is as gentle and humble as the stock he comes from. He wouldn’t say “tire soak” if he had a mouthful.) At the other end of the spectrum, Orrin Sunde, the Godfather of Tri State was a Busch entry but was plagued by problems of one sort or another all day and would scratch from the “A” main.
Top qualifier Hoskins led the 100 lapper from flag to flag winning by only a half second over John Lashelle who bested Raber for the third spot. Dave Dygon was the last car on the lead lap finishing in fourth while Russ Collins and Mike Schultz came in two laps down. Thom Barth finished 80 laps before shutting down his power plant and seeking refreshment. Good job and congratulations to all the Busch racers who drove above expectations and impressed the rest of the racers.
I gotta say, that as much fun as it is to watch Jarrett Raber drive, the most fun comes from watching Jarrett’s mother watch Jarrett race. The Tri State has always enjoyed the participation and attendance of family (including pets) at our races, but I think we have in Mrs. Raber a new level that might allow ticket sales. Thanks to “Fresh Meat” Mennare for monitoring Mrs. Raber’s vital signs and putting a high velocity fan on her, she made it through the race.
Before we let the Limited Sportsman put the punctuation on the day, we let the East Coast Modifieds take their turn on the turns of the MPR oval. John Wachter had the best qualifying lap with a 6.301 tour of the corners but Tony Wachter and Todd Holloway each won a heat race and finished second in the other heat race creating a tie between Tony and Todd for the Top Qualifier award. The tie breaker went to Tony by virtue of his 6.341 qualifying lap being better than Todd’s 6.655.
The ECM “A” main was a 150 lap affair that began with Holloway seething in the third starting position, biting hard on the bit, and after a brief moment of moral reflection with Tony Wachter took command of the race and never looked back while he established solid leads between yellow flags to bring home the flag. Todd Gunder dropped out almost at the drop of the green and Steve Sunde was an early casualty completing only 16 laps before limping back to his pit. We salute guys like Todd and Steve who invest time and money to travel to race with us only to have a frustrating day. While there are no guarantees, there is appreciation for the effort and dedication and comraderies that such as them bring to the WCM Tri State Series. While Holloway had his way up front the Wachters, John (Dad) and Tony (Son) waged a war in a version of “Family Feud” that would have Richard Dawson refusing to kiss either of them. If not for this reporter’s knowledge of the high moral character of the Wachters I would have thought that they were causing all those yellows intentionally so that they could get back on Holloway’s bumper and have a shot at him on a restart. But they wouldn’t do that, no, they wouldn’t. Would they?
Tony ran second most all of the race while John gave chase and stayed close enough to reach out and touch Tony occasionally and generate a yellow to that Holloway could cool his tires.
The day closed out with the bad boys of the bad blood battling on the banks of MPR. Yes, the Limited Sportsman division with all of its candor and characters came to play. The ten Limited entries were split into two groups for qualifying and heat races. Home town hero and Banana Crème Pie Birthday boy, Jason Van Hise defended his home track’s honor putting down a 6.180 qualifying lap to best the field and won one of his heat races. Chris “Hollywood” Stump won a heat race, and Earl Clement won two heat races to put his name in the book as the Top Qualifier. Earl would lead the herd to the green flag to start 100 laps of raucous rambunction around the oval. E. C. made it look E. Z. as he withstood several challenges from “Hollywood” Stump and Robert Belogna all through the race. Earl may have made it look easy on the track but he mostly looked relieved in victory lane.
Scott Rance, leader of the Indy Invaders from Ingalls was the first exit the track but kept his head up and was still glad for the day. WCM magneto, Mark Hogue, driving what he described as the best handling car he has ever driven, was next to fall from competition after 29 laps. Mark had a solid day in qualifications and I don’t know, but I think that Mark was planning to wait until the last 20 laps to show his hand. Doug Murphy did not make the grid for the start of the “A” main after being a bit off the pace all day. Robert Belogna stepped aside onto pit road after 57 laps.
The remaining 6 cars would all complete the full 100 laps and Clement would be challenged by each of the other 5 over the course of the race. Tim Loos would be the last to give Clement a run for the trophy as he dogged Clement the last four laps and was within 0.311 seconds at the final flag. Van Hise came in third ahead of “Beast” Barth, Matt Graves ( a most impressive driver who is and will be much better than his 5th place finish showed), and “Hollywood” Stump who can be his own worst enemy at times, but hey, he made a move for the lead late in the race, who came fault him for that?
Such a great day of racing demands a most heart-felt thanks and gratitude from the WCM Tri State Series to the racers and their families, the sponsors: WCM, Ken Leiker Motorsports, Holloway Graphics, Barth Racing Concepts; the folks of MPR, esp. Joe Brooks acting as Race Director (and I do mean acting) and Dave Pirello, and all the others who were such wonderful hosts. MPR is gonna do great hosting the Nats in July, no doubt.