With Saturday's storms hitting northern Illinois, there were a lot of questions as to Sunday's Rockett Brand Racing Fuels ET Bracket Series opening event. With the Route 66 staff monitoring the weather, a decision was made to make the attempt to have Opening Day. As the teams entered the gates, there were rumors abound about what the day was going to bring, from cancellation to one timed round with 1/8 mile runs. In the end, it was decided to have the full schedule of two timed runs and the full 1/4 mile. It was the right decision as witnessed by the above video with Troy Bogner in the green Camaro going wheelie-to wheelie with the gray Buick of Andy Brody! The competition was this tight all day. Here is some of the time trials action.
After completion of the time trials, it was time to start the round robin elimination rounds. Before the start of the racing, Track Announcer, Greg Nickleski, asked for a moment of silence in honor of Terry Stapleton who passed away on Saturday. Terry was the crew chief on Rocky Ausec's Nostalgia "Solid Rock" Mach One. Terry was a Marine Viet Nam veteran. Terry and I were in Viet Nam at the same time. Semper Fi!, Terry.
The competition was tough as the rounds began. The first class to be completed was High School with Samantha Senko defeating Randy Adler Jr. Sam ran a 12.214 on a 12.08 dial-in with a .155 response time and 92.02 mph.
The next class to complete it's competition, was Pro Bike. Tom Ewig was going up against Greg Darm. Greg had the better response time, however in his effort to catch Tom, he broke out by .017. Tom took the win win a 9.063 on a 9.01 dial-in, 136.08 mph.
Now it was Super Pro's turn to run their final. It was Kenny King versus Brandon Toma, both driving dragsters. Brandon was driving the slower car, it was up to Kenny to catch and pass him without breaking out. Kenny had the better light, .010 to Brandon's .043 and ran a 7.534 on a 7.50 dial-in at 172.06 mph to take the win.
After Super Pro, it was Pro ET's time to shine. The competition was fierce. In the end, it was John Coyle against Adam Needles. This was an extremely close race with John edging Adam at the finish to take the win light. John had a .036 response time and ran a 9.484 on a 9.48 dial-in at 141.37 mph to Adam's .042 response time, 11.524 on an 11.52 dial-in, 114.37 mph.
And the final class to compete was, the Sportsman Class. This race was 2018 Sportsman Champion, Paul O'Keefe against Stephen Mroz. In an effort to keep ahead of Paul, Stephen pushed it a little too hard and broke out. However, it might not have made a difference as Paul continued his dominance by running a 12.067 on a 12.06 dial-in, 110.26 mph.
In the first round of Pro ET competition, Troy Bogner, was racing against five-time Track Champion Herman Zehnder and made the Perfect Pass: .000 response time with a 9.360 on a 9.36 dial-in at 142.94 mph. Herman was no slouch in his ET by running 9.960 on a 9.96 dial-in and 133.20. However, Herman went red by -.010!
While walking the pits before the racing began, I struck up a conversation the soon-to-be-first-time Dad, Ryan Alley. His wife, Miranda (Lawson) is due soon. I inquired to any changes in the car and he pointed out the only change were the front wheels. I hadn't noticed, but upon closer inspection, they are some great looking wheels!
Speaking of the Lawson's, they have new drivers in the cars this year. Autumn (Audi) is driving the white Monte Carlo and Tyler is driving blue Nova.
While shooting the action, I spotted Nichole Medeisis spectating. Nichole was home from the University of Iowa to watch the racing. She is just completing her Junior year. I inquired about her car and learned the motor was out of the car to be freshened up and had just returned Wednesday. They should be installing it soon so she can get back to racing.
This was a great day at Route 66. The staff of Route 66 should be proud of the work it took to complete this event.
To see all the images from Sunday's action, please click here.
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After last week's inclimate weather cancelled the first Race Your Ride of the season, everyone was anxious to get started. The day began with blues skies, a little cool with a strong wind. That didn't douse anyone's spirit to hit the track! The first to cars to take a pass were Palos Hills' Michael Wasik in his 2011 Camaro and Shorewood's Danny Vasilopulos in a 1993 Mustang. Welcome to the 2019 season!
Michael had a little problem getting the Camaro to hook-up to the track, allowing Danny to take the first win light of the season!
The cars continued to roll through the tunnel and there there was everything from street cars to Top Sportsman cars.
The fun part of the day, was catching up with everyone's off-season.
The Trench family, Todd, Sandy, TJ and Tori had an interesting offseason. At the end of last season Tori was starting to transition from a Junior dragster to a full-size dragster. Todd and Sandy bought her a car. However, there was a motor problem with TJ's car. They took the motor from Tori's car and put it in TJ's so he could finish the Bracket season. Then that motor got hurt, causing both motors to have to be rebuilt. Then their trailer, while they were temporarily parked in front of their house, was hit by a passing car. Result: trailer totaled! So, for the first time both cars were going to be on the track. Tori had never driven her car. So it was decided TJ would make a couple of passes to shake it down.
As the time approached that Tori was going to make her first pass in the new car, they decided she should race against TJ for the first time since Juniors. Sandy was noticeably nervous for Tori. And what about Tori...not so much!
During a delay in the staging lanes, Tori used TJ's jacket and appears to be asleep!
Finally, it came time for their time on track. Tori didn't make a full run as she learned how to drive the new car. However, she did well for the first time in the car.
Former Pro ET Champion, Troy Bogner, decided to make an upgrade to his Camaro. He removed the front sheet metal and replaced it with a fiberglass front end. It lightened the car by 275#'s. The car looks great and looked to perform well!
Another Junior transitioning to a full size car, is Brandon Loeschen. It was decided to skip the High School class and go right to Sportsman driving a Mustang. His first four lights were .4, .3, .009 and a .1. Here is Brandon driving and Dad looking on! Good luck Brandon!
I saw 2018 Sportsman Champion, Paul O'Keefe, come to the line. Something was different, however I wasn't able to figure it out. During a break, I sought out Paul and learned he had the car repainted. A different green and now the racing stripes are white vs the previous tinted green. The car looks great!
Today was the opening day for the Rockford Speedway with the running of the WXRX 200 Lap
Enduro. This is the first of three Enduro's which make up the Iron Man Challenge. The event led off with the "Beauty Contest", with eight cars vying for the $50 prize.
And the winner was...The Clown Car!
The race invocation was given by recently retired Jimmy "A" (Ambruoso Sr.) Jimmy worked for Rockford Speedway for 59 years! It was good to see him back at the track!
This was followed by the National Anthem, sung by Courtney Gors. Courtney did a beautiful job.
Then it was the racers turn to take center stage. The field consisted of 72 four cylinder cars racing for two hundred laps. There are no caution laps, only red light stoppages for specific incidences. The race is started on the oval and at the half way break the track is converted to the Monza course with a kink in the back stretch. When the race started Ryan Lagestee, driving the 34 car, went to the lead, followed closely by South Elgin's Billy Rud in the 01 car. It stayed that way for about the first two-thirds of the race, until Billy took the lead. At Lap 95, the halfway break was taken with Billy leading.
At the restart on the Monza course, it was Billy in the lead followed by Ryan. Shortly thereafter, it was Ryan reassuming the lead. At this point, Billy got in trouble. He had a dust-up with another car coming out of turn two breaking the right front spindle. That ended his day and a good run. It was then, Jay Orr's turn to take a run at Ryan. He passed Ryan for the lead, however Ryan passed him back to take the lead, again.
From this point Ryan cruised home to the victory taking the checkered flag!
In his victory interview, Ryan dedicated the win to his friend, Matt Arvia, who had passed away. The number 34 was Matt's number and had the blessing of the family!
Second place was #18 Jay Orr and third place #3, Jason Kurth