It was quite unusual to see the Rockford 1/4 mile high banked track covered in dirt. Wednesday was the first of two days of the World of Outlaws racing. First up was the WOO Sprint Cars accompanied by the Badger Midgets.
The racing started pretty close to on time and continued through qualifying and the preliminary races.
The Badger Midgets started their 'A' Feature, but it didn't take long for the action to come to a halt as #13 Clint Woolbright of Fayetteville, Ar., got crossed up between turns one and two on the first lap and flipped. As soon as they re-started they got to the second lap, when coming out turn two #21R, Denny Smith of Mukwonago, Wi., hit the wall and collected four other cars. The cars of Lamont Critchett, Jordan Caskey and Scott Koemer in addition to Denny Smith were unable to continue. After the restart, the racing got hot and heavy and went to the finish without further incident. Taking the checkers was Sun Prairie, Wi., driver Brandon Waelti. This was Brandon's second win in a row. Following Brandon to the finish were Aaron Schuck, Joliet, Il #53 and Robbie Ray #3 from Davenport, Ia.
In the A-Main for the WOO Sprints it was Donnie Schatz taking the field to the green flag. The race was stopped twice with the first time involving Christopher Bell 77x having a problem on the front stretch and ending up on his side. On lap 18, the #14a Wayne Modjeski had an issue on the front stretch and had to retire from the race. It was Donny Schatz leading every lap and taking the victory followed by David Gravel #5 and Shane Stewart #2.
This was a special night for the Rockford Speedway and the fans must have felt so also for there was not a seat to be had because of the capacity crowd. Here are some more images of Wednesday night's action.
If you want to see more of the photos from all the action please click here.
A Day of Doubles and No Rain!
The day started with predictions of doom and gloom for a day of rain. The prognosticators were, thankfully, wrong, again. However because of the threat of rain it was decided to skip the normal two rounds of Bracket Race Qualifying and go with just one and that really sped up the program. I don't know which was hotter the weather or the racing. The good racing led to a triple double. First, Nate Kelley not only won the High School Division, but also the JDRL Modified Division.
In High School he defeated Tyler Lawson and in the Junior Modifieds he defeated Bobby Churchill. The second double today, was Braden Bowden winning his second consecutive Route 66 JDRL Sportsman Division race.
Braden defeated Brook Becker, however Brook had the consolation of runner-up and Best Reaction Time.
Zach Manaseri earned Best Reaction Time/Fastest Qualifier for the Modifieds
Braden's win led to the third double of the day. His Dad, Dominic (Dom) ,drives a dragster in the Super Pro Division. Over the last fifteen years, Dom has been the perpetual runner-up, never taking the victory. Today was different, with Dom running against John Woolwine in the final. Dom took the win light!
This a very popular win and led to one of the more fun Victory Lane celebrations.
In the other Divisions, it was Troy Bogner, in Pro ET, returning to Victory Lane with a victory over Ricky Pena. This was Ricky's second consecutive runner-up finish.
In Pro Bike, it was Jonathan Vickers over Frank Linders.
In Sportsman, it was another previous winner, Paul O'Keefe, taking the win light over John Holloway
In addition to the Rockett Brand Racing Fuel ET Bracket Series the Midwest Super Comp Series ran also and it was Brian Reimer defeating Jim Gerakaris in the final.
Here are some more images from today's action.
Race Your Ride-Celebrity Sighting
When you come to Route 66's O'Reilly Auto Parts Race Your Ride, you never know what you are going to get. Last night, Velocity Channel's Garage Squad lead mechanic Joe Zolper was testing his wife Jennie's new 72 Plymouth Duster.
Jennie is switching cars from a 1971 eleven second Plymouth Demon. She stated, " (the Demon)... was more like a show car." She is expecting to eventually run in the 9's with the new Duster.
While the car count wasn't the biggest number we have had this year, it wasn't the smallest, either. However, it did have a good variety. We had Top Sportsman:
There was a good contingent of bracket racers. They were testing for tomorrow's (Sunday) Rocket Brand Racing Fuel ET Bracket Race:
This year, Route 66 has added to the Race Your Ride, the Junior Drag Racing League cars:
Bobby Churchill was testing both of his cars and will be running the older car in tomorrow's JDRL bracket race.
There was also plenty of street cars and a few dragsters:
At the end of the day, it was a fun day of racing at Route 66. Sunday should be a super race day!
Time to Hand Out the Wally's!
Today's Rockett Brand Racing Fuel ET Bracket race wasn't just your standard bracket race, but included the NHRA Summit King of the Track Championship and the NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Challenge. Mike Murray (Super Pro), Jake Lucky (Junior Modified) and Braden Bowden (Junior Sportsman) all earned Wally's.
Before we get into the what occurred today, there is a follow-up to Friday night's Race Your Ride. Late in the day we had a race stoppage. At the time, I wasn't sure what caused it. As the day started, I spoke with Joe Malfeo and learned that his Chevrolet Nova had blown its engine causing the problem.
Joe had recently qualified for the NHRA National event at Route 66 and with the short time until the Nationals it was unclear whether the car could be repaired in time. Through Joe's track contacts, a new engine block was located and it should be repaired in plenty of time!
Now onto the rest of the day and with the theme of engine issues, Andy Campbell had an engine problem for the second time this year. This was the burnout just prior to the run that caused the problem.
On the good side of the engine problems, Frank Krauss returned to the track after an engine rebuild and ran well.
As is the norm with bracket races, there was two rounds of qualifying followed by the start of the elimination rounds. Here some images from the day's action.
As we learned on Friday, the Lawson family was running four cars today. Miranda made it the semi-finals of Pro ET and brother Tyler lost in the finals of High School. Here is the family and their cars. Mike and Michelle can be proud of their children, Miranda, Autumn, Tyler and Conner
There was another celebration happening today and it was the Eleventh Annual Racer Ron Day hosted by driver Ron Cilek. Everyone was enjoying the great racing and good food!
In the end, its all about the racing and winning. Here are today's winners:
High School - Joe Kasch
Sportsman - Fred Trombley
Pro ET - Don Dumbie (with perfect .000 light in finals)
Pro Bike - Dan McCarten
Super Pro - Mike Murray and King of the Track
In the Juniors it was Jake Lucky winning Junior Modified, Braden Bowden winning Junior Sportsman and Brandon Loeschen with the Best Reaction Time of the day award.
Even though tonight's O'Reilly Auto Parts Race Your Ride was themed as a Western Night, you would have thought it was a Family Reunion Night as the Lawson Family had four siblings running. There was the sisters Miranda and Autumn with the brothers Connor and Tyler.
It was good to see Fred Trombley back at the track in his red Nova. The last time I saw the car, it had a serious axle problem and was parked along the wall.
In total, we had 131 cars and motorcycles running tonight. This included a good contingent of Junior Dragsters who were testing for the race tomorrow.
Bobby Churchill was testing his bracket War Wagon and then rolled out the new bigger War Wagon for testing, This new car will be driven in a different series from that which runs at Route 66. Also Tori Trench was testing her new car sporting a different paint scheme from her last car.
There was a good mixture of cars tonight and for the most part everything ran smoothly. Late in the day there was fluid dumped near the finish line when a car had a problem. After about a 1/2 hour delay we were back to racing and completed the day's event. Here are some more images from tonight.
At Rockford Speedway, Saturday night, not only was the weather hot and sticky, but the racing was very hot. The event featured the ARCA Midwest Tour Kar Korner All Star 100 with the Rockford NASCAR Late Model and the Roadrunner series' in support. Earlier in the day, Paul Shafer Jr. of Portage, In., set the fast time for the ARCA Midwest cars with a 12.976 second lap. In the Late Models, it was South Beloit's Ricky Bilderback with a 13.612 lap. After the Qualifying and Odd/Even Heats, the program started with the first of two Late Model 30 laps features. The racing was fast and furious with Jake Gille, Winnebago, Il., racing his way to the victory.
Immediately following Late Model #1, the Roadrunners hit the track for their first of two Features. It was another great race with 76 year old, Gene Marocco, Machesney Park, Il., going to Victory Lane. It was Gene's first win in a while!
At the conclusion of the Roadrunner Victory Lane, Jon Reynolds Jr. from Loves Park, Il., reigning Rockford National Short Track Champion and Seymour, Wi.'s, Ty Majeski, current and two time ARCA Midwest Tour Champion, squared off for a Match Race for a purse of $1,000, winner take all. The race consisted of three, 3-Lap dashes for all the cash. As Jon and Ty were preparing to get in their cars, Kar Korner doubled the purse to $2,000! Jon and Ty raced side by side with Ty edging Jon in the first dash. In the next two dashes, Jon reversed that and just edged Ty to take the cash.
After the Match Race, Jon Reynolds Jr. literally had to race back to the pits and jump in his late model for the second Late Model feature of the night. Jon's streak continued as he won the second feature. With his first and third places in both features he was the nights overall winner.
After the completion of the Late Model's second feature, it was time for the ARCA Midwest Tour Super Late Models to hit the track. During the warm up laps, #93 John Beinlich experienced a mechanical problem and started smoking badly and retired to the pits and did not start the race. It was Plainfield, Illinois' Ricky Baker taking the field to the green. There were some early cautions which kept the field bunched up. Ty Majeski worked his way up from his seventh starting position to take the lead on lap 25 and seemed to be cruising to another win, when as he entered turn three, he got together with the slower car of Chris Weinkauf #75. I don't know exactly what happened as I caught the initial action out of the corner of my eye, however both cars were unable to continue.
On the restart, it was Jeff Holtz jumping to the lead. There were several minor spins, but the worst occurred with 40 to go when Casey Johnson #5 and Trent Snyder #88 got together in turn 3, again, collecting Steve Rubeck #61 and Ricky Baker #52. Trent and Steve were not able to continue.
From that point, it was Jeff Holtz holding off all challengers and taking the win. Casey Johnson and Paul Shafer Jr. finished second and third, respectively.
The final race of the night was the second, 20 lap Roadrunner Feature. Bringing home the final checkered flag of the night was Rockford's own Chris McQualilty #4.
Here are some images from the entire day, including practice, qualifying and racing.
How do you follow Saturday night's exciting Route 66 Burndown at Sundown? You have a great finals day for the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Division 3! The racing started early and the racing was continuous. On the calendar, seventeen classes of dragsters numbering over 500 cars and motorcycles vying for the coveted "Wally". Under partly cloudy skies and a slight breeze, the eliminations were hot and heavy leading up to the Finals.
In the Finals, in Top Alcohol Dragster, Brandon Booher of Urbana, Il. defeated Jared Dreher of Clinton, Iowa. In Top Alcohol Funny Car, two California drivers faced off with Jay Payne of Claremont , Ca. defeating John Lombardo Jr. of Brea, Ca. In Pro Fuel Harley, it was Statesville, N.C.'s Janette Thornley defeating Dayton, Ohio's Dennis Fisher.
To see NHRA's complete list of winners in all classes please click here.
Here are some more images from Victory Lane.
And of course, no Route 66 Victory Lane would be complete without Digital Marketing Coordinator Brandon Brown getting his driver autographed selfies for Snapchat!
To see all the image of Sunday activities please click here.
After three days of fabulous racing and racetrack activities, there is only one thing left to do, turn off the lights and go home!
The story of the day was the weather. Much surprise to many, the skies parted and it turned out to be a beautiful day for racing. We had a short rain delay around 12:30, After the track was dried the racing continued unabated to the end. The racing started with the Lucas Oil Series continuing the qualifications.
TJ Zizzo made two test passes in his Rustoleum sponsored Top Fuel Dragster.
The Lucas Oil Series racing continued with the first part of the Burndown at Sundown.
Shortly after 7:00 p.m., Route 66 track announcer, Scott Phillips, took to the track, in front of the tower, to emcee the Opening Ceremonies and fire up the crowd for the second part of the Burndown at Sundown.
Scott then introduced Track President Scott Paddock for his welcoming remarks followed by recognition of the 2015 Track ET Bracket Champions represented by the Junior Sportsman Track Champion, Bobby Churchill Jr., driver of the War Wagon. Scott then introduced special guest, Lyndsey Marie of 97.9 The Loop. After the invocation by Chaplain Dave of Racers for Christ, the National Anthem was performed brilliantly by Makenna Hartlin. The Honorary Starter for the event was 2016 Firestarter Sweepstakes winner Brian Spain accompanied by his daughter, Jory. "RACERS! LIGHT THEM UP!"
At the conclusion of opening ceremonies, The Lucas Oil Series started with their top series followed by a full run by TJ Zizzo of under 4 seconds for the 1,000 feet!
At approximately 9:00 p.m., the final show of the night was run. There was the K.C Jones wheelstanding Crazy Train and his two jet dragsters, Chattanooga Choo Choo and Cannonball Express. There was Dave Modder with Dragon's Fyre. Then, the side by side Hypersonic and Hot Blade jets.
With the concluding fireworks display, the 2016 Burndown at Sundown was completed, AND WE BEAT THE RAIN! In my opinion this was the best Burndown in its 6 year history. To see more photos from all of Saturday, please click here.
Lucas Oil Series Friday
What a magnificent day for racing! The day started with comfortable temperatures and a slight breeze. Early on, NHRA announced an addition of a second round of qualifying for the top classes, to begin at 5:30 p.m. That may have been a lofty goal, but with the large car count it appeared that the day was going to go long.
Throughout the day there were minor stoppages, but nothing of major significance. The racing went very well. Around 4:00 p.m. the first round of qualifications for the top classes started and it was very clear at that point, the day was going to go long. Unfortunately, just as the Top Alcohol Funny Cars were lining up, I had to leave the event at 6:00 p.m. to pay my respects to long time AP photographer Warren Wimmer. Warren lost his long time fight with cancer this week. Warren has shot the NHRA Nationals at Route 66 for many years and over at the Chicagoland Speedway NASCAR events.
Here are some images from day of qualifying racing.