After the last Bracket Race of the season two weeks ago and the Classic last weekend, I had no idea what to expect from this Friday night's Race Your Ride presented by O'Reilly Auto Parts. As I pulled into the parking lot, it was void of any cars (I was a little early), except this!
This was a name out of my past! I spoke with the owner, Troy Martin, and asked if there was any connection between this car and the original. He stated,"Not really, except the driver, Mike Minick, was the grandson of the original driver." I think that is a pretty good connection!!
As the gates opened, slowly, cars started to roll in. On a trailer, was a 1949 Chevrolet pick up truck owned by Rob Stewart and driven by Dave Stewart. This was the first time at the track for the truck and the first ever for slicks. It has a small block Chevy engine and has actually been used as a push truck for another dragster owned by the Stewart's.
As more trailers arrived and started unloading, the night's racing looked like it was going to be pretty good. Amongst the cars, there was the Beedy & Malloy dragster, Rock n Roll Express dragster, Rocky Ausec's Solid Rock Mustang Mach 1 funny car.
There was also a couple of junior dragsters. Cooper Hamelen was back testing his car after it broke down in the semi-finals of the last race of the season. There was also a new driver, Donna Betz, going for her license. The Betz' recently purchased the car from long time 66 racer family, the Stahnke's.
Cooper's car ran good, however Donna had a minor engine adjustment problem on her second run and was unable to complete the orientation before the night ended. She will be back!
Amongst the cars running tonight, there were street cars, some of our bracket racers, a few Top Sportsman cars, a motorcycle and front engine dragsters. Here are some images of the cars.
On top of a good racing night there was a good crowd for a Race Your Ride. The only downside to the night was that five minutes after the closing of the staging lanes, a persistent light rain shower shut down the racing for the night. Even with that, the night way exceeded my expectations.
To see the rest of the images from the night, please click here.
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The talk going into Saturday's D'Arcy Buick GMC Route 66 Classic was the weather. The day before, the forecasters were called for 90% chance of rain, some severe. As Friday wore on, the weather started looking better. The Track decided to start the event a couple hours later to allow the bad weather to clear before starting. Right at 4:00 the Run Tuff Eliminator cars hit the track for their one round of qualifications. With the qualifications nearing an end and the JDRL cars waiting in the tunnel, The sky opened with a sudden, but short, down pour.
As soon as the rain stopped, staff started drying the track and getting it prepped. Staff did an excellent job of getting the track dried in a relatively short period of time.
As soon as the track was ready, the cars hit the track again. They finished the qualifications for both Run Tuff and the JDRL. In the Juniors it was Braden Bowden taking the Best Reaction Time in Sportsman and Liz Manaseri in the Modifieds. This was Liz' second event in a row with Best Reaction Time.
Eliminations started as soon as Qualifications were completed. We then started preparing for the Classic show. Besides the cars, a racing grudge match between Will County and Grundy County was scheduled. D'Arcy Buick GMC represented by Terry D'Arcy provided the GMC and Chevrolet trucks to be used for the races. The following was the lineup:
Bob O'DeKirk, Joliet Mayor vs Richard Kopczick, Morris Mayor
Joe Formhals, Joliet Fire Chief vs Tracey Stefes, Morris Fire Chief
Mike Kelley, Will County Sheriff vs Keving Callahan, Grundy County Sheriff
James Glasgow, Will County States Attorney, vs Jason Helland, Grundy County States Attorney
Larry Walsh, Will County Executive vs David Allen Welter, Former Grundy County Board Chairman
Brian Benton, Joliet Police Chief vs Brent Dite, Morris Police Chief
The first Classic show started shortly after 7:pm with a beautiful rendition of our National Anthem by actress Cory Goodrich.
Ms. Goodrich is starring as Carol Brady in the play "The Bardy Bunch" at the Mercury Theater starting in September. And no, the title is not misspelled! The play is a situation comedy about the The Brady Bunch vs The Partridge Family.
The Classic show was led off by the nostalgic nitro funny cars, followed by the Great Lakes Nostalgia Funny Car Circuit. We also had nostalgic pro stock, super stock and the Midwest Super Stock Mafia racers.
While all this activity was happening on track, the Midway was hopping with a nostalgic car show, the Bug-a-Palooza car show and the band Arra Classic Rock performing. The TV show Garage Squad's Joe Zolper and Heather Storm were signing autographs and taking photographs with the fans. Jim Luckett with the Beat the Heat dragsters were also on display.
In between the Classic shows, The Grudge Match was run with Will County defeating Grundy County, 4-2.
Following the Grudge Match, the eliminations continued and the second part of the show started. We had Rick Ream's 1950 Studebaker Hot Rod Fire Truck Wheelstander. The last car in the Classic show was Barry Richter's jet funny car Hypersonic.
After the Classic show, we completed the JDRL season with winners and champions. In the earlier run Sportsman Class, it was Braden Bowden taking the win over Brooke Becker and claiming the Championship. Braden had 4 wins and a runner up this season. In the Modified Class it was a family affair with Liz Manaseri defeating her brother Zach. I was laughing as their crew chief grandfather, John Schober, ran between the two cars on the start line. John also drives a dragster in the Rockett Brand ET Bracket Series at Route 66. With Liz' win, the Modified Championship went to Allie Furman. Unfortunately, Allie lost in the first round today. Allie's images below are from her earlier season win.
In Run Tuff Eliminator, it was Jerry Hayes defeating Rick Brown to take the win. Jerry had dislocated his finger the week before and wasn't able to race. So what happens as he was getting ready to race again, he closes the door on his car and re-injures the finger. This time he raced.
I want to congratulate everyone on a great show and especially our winners and champions!
To see all the images from the Classic, please click here.
Sunday was one of the best race days of the season. First, Mother Nature really went out of her way to make up for the rain she dumped on us when this race was originally scheduled back in May. Second, because this was the last Rockett Brand Racing Fuel Bracket race of the season, the Championships were decided. Also, the final points were decided in all classes with the resulting team representing Route 66 for next month's Indy established. Third, it was the National Dragster Challenge with the Wally presented in the five classes.
Today, was a special birthday, his 21st, for Vince Capogniro. Vince's Dad, Mario was crew chiefing for his son today. Happy Birthday, Vince!
First up for the day, was the two rounds of qualifying for all classes, including the Junior Drag Racing League cars. During the qualifications, there were ten perfect .000 lights. There were two from the same family when Tori Trench (photo above) got one on her bye pass and brother TJ Trench, also got one. In Eliminations, TJ red lighted with a .002. I would say he was on it!
Here are some images from the early qualifications.
When eliminations began with championships and points on the line, the racing got real serious. There was some great racing with smoking burnouts, wheel stands and a few more perfect lights. The first final to be completed was Junior Sportsman. With the Best Reaction Time, Cooper Hamelen had the bye and Brooke Becker defeated Braden Bowden. In the final, Brooke Becker took the win light over Cooper.
High School was the next class to be completed and this ended up being another family affair, with Tyler Lawson defeated his brother Connor. Not only was Tyler the winner, but also High School Track Champion.
In Pro Bike, it was Greg Darm taking home the Wally. In order to ensure his son also made it to Indy, they used the strategy of his son, Jonathan (Vickers), withdrawing at the line and Greg rolling across the line to take the win.
In the Junior Modified Class it was Nick Cannon edging out Tori Trench for the win. With her perfect light earlier in the day, she took home the Best Reaction Time trophy. There is one more race left to determine the Championship for both Sportsman and Modified.
In the Sportsman Class, it was Tony Lyons over Steve Quickel. Three time winner Paul O'Keefe red lighted earlier for the first time all season.
In the Pro ET Class, it was Ricky Pena going to his fifth final in a row to pick up his second win of the season over Ryan Alley. I asked Ricky why he didn't sign up for points this year. He stated that early on he hadn't planned in racing at Route 66 as much as he did this year. He stated he had a great season and a lot of fun, so no regrets!
In Super Pro, it was Mike Rozin winning for the second time this season. If you recall, earlier in the year, Mike had won on his Dad's birthday. This time he takes home the Wally! In addition, with the win, he leapfrogged Dominic Bowden to take the Championship.
Here are some images from the Eliminations:
Our Track Champions in action:
Congratulations to all our winners and especially our Track Champions. At the end of the day and season, the only thing left was to sign up for Indy!
As I arrived at Route 66 for the Rockett Brand Racing Fuel ET Bracket Series race I noticed a lot of trailers and motorhomes. In addition to the Bracket Series, the NHRA Junior Drag Race League and the Midwest Top Sportsman Series were running. With a beautiful weather forecast for the day, the first round qualifying started at 9:30 a.m., followed by second round which continued into the early afternoon. The car count was 250+. There was also a couple of Pro Mods testing. Randy Adler was testing his 57 Chevrolet and Bobby 'D' D'Andrea was there with his 1963 Corvette Stingray. Both cars experienced trouble in almost every round, never getting a clear run.
When first round eliminations began, the racing got serious. This race was originally scheduled to be the final race of the season, but there was an early season rainout which was rescheduled to August 14th. Everyone was scrambling for round wins and points. The first final round to be contested was the JDRL Sportsman Division. This was won by Braden Bowden with Cooper Hamelen finishing second. Cooper also had the Best Reaction Time. This was Braden's third win!
Next up for a final race was High School with Nate Kelley pulling out the win over Conner Lawson.
For the most part, the day went very smoothly with only a few minor stoppages. There were no crashes or major fluid spills. The next class for a final was Pro bike, with Greg Darm pulling out the win.
It was at this point that the elimination rounds quickened. In quick succession, it was Allie Furman over Jesse Lasik in the JDRL Modified class. Elizabeth Manaseri had class Best Reaction Time.
This was followed by Matt Scmczak defeating Andre Harris in the Midwest Top Sportsman Series.
Paul O'Keefe garnered his third win of the season in the Sportsman Class.
In Pro ET, it was John Haut over Ricky Pena.. This was Ricky's 4th or 5th appearance in the finals. John Haut was Route 66' very first Super Pro Champion.
And finally in Super Pro, there was a very popular win when former JDRL racer Nichole Medeisis took the win light. This was Nichole's first win in the "big" car!
Here are some images from the rest of today's action.
At the end of a great day of racing there is nothing better than a super Route 66 sunset to end the day!