Wednesday, June 12 – After spending the past three days doing yard work at our home in Indiana we were ready for some relaxation. The original plans were to drive over to Gas City and pick up the opening night of USAC Midget Week. However after keeping tabs on the weather all day we made a decision to change course. The forecast in Gas City was for an 80% chance of rain during the racing hours. In Southern Indiana, Brownstown Speedway was also running. It was the opening night of the UMP Summer Nationals for the late models. This series started in1988 with 6 events and today it has evolved into a series that starts on June 12 and ends on July 20 with 31 events. Yes that is 31 events in 39 days through the Midwest. Thus it is dubbed the Hell Tour and the chance of rain at Brownstown was only 10%. With both tracks being equal time distance from home, the decision was simple. We were off to Brownstown.
We arrived at Brownstown at 6:20 just in time to catch time trials. It was still in the 90’s and humid but the fans rotating full speed in the covered grandstands ceiling made it all tolerable. The car count was less than we expected with only 32 late models in the pits. Unfortunately there were five divisions participating in the program; late models, modifieds, super stocks, pure stocks and hornets. There were way too many divisions for a mid-week show. Management kept the show moving. As one heat pulled off the track the next pulled on to take the green but when you are running 19 qualifying events prior to reaching the first feature it takes a while and it takes its toll on the racing surface. The intermission was brief only 30 minutes from the time the last qualifier took the checkered to the drop on the green on the late model feature.
The big plus was the late model 40 lap feature paying $5,000 to win was first in the order of feature events. It started at 9:57 and in 18 minutes it was over. What amazes Bruce and I the most about this track, is that I do not believe we ever saw a really good race surface here. It is always dusty and turns black with rubber. On the other hand we have never seen a bad race here. As a matter of fact some of the most awesome racing we ever saw was at this track. Tonight the track had an asphalt like appearance with dust billowing but the races once again was awesome. There were times when the bulky late models ran 4 wide on the ¼ mile bullring. Twenty-one cars on a ¼ mile track and there were only 2 cautions and it was not because they ran single file. At the halfway point Dennis Erb Jr. was in 9th and 7 laps later when the second caution came out he was in 5th. Up front the racing was fierce as well as in other areas of the field. With 3 laps to go Erb moved into the lead and came home the winner of night 1 of 31. Jason Jameson was second with Shannon Babb third. Bobby Pierce and Mike Jewell rounded out the top five.
It was only 10:15 when the checkered fell but they still had a B main and 4 more features to run. We came to see the late models and saw a great race. We decided to quit while we were ahead and headed for the car. The ride back home is 2 hours, not really bad, but we were tired from all the physical yard work we had been doing. I am not used to getting my hands dirty. Turns out Gas City did get in and they had a great finish but we were happy with the decision we made. The streak continues, great racing at Brownstown.