Saturday, August 18 - Saturday morning we were still uncertain of where we were heading for the night’s racing event. Friday night was an early rainout night and we knew by 4:30 the races at both Williams Grove and Big Diamond were rained out. By 1:00 in the afternoon we were still indecisive as we ate lunch at the local family restaurant. When the decision was made it turned out to be Port Royal Speedway to see the 410 sprints and the late models. The game plan was to leave home at 4:00 and arrive at the Port by 6:30. It was successful as we pulled on to the fairgrounds lot at exactly 6:30. The weather was perfect and it was the first time in a long time rain was not part of the equation when making a decision where to go. There actually was a chill in the air which was kind of nice after the hot weather we had experienced as of late.
We strolled through the pits prior to the start of warm-ups then watched warmups from our seats in the grandstands. Port Royal usually starts on time but tonight they were doing something special for the kids. They had a candy toss for three different age categories and the initial green did not fall until 8:08, 38 minutes after the 7:30 starting time.
First up were the late models, running three heats for the 27 car field. A first lap homestretch crash took out several cars and it was announced that it would not be necessary to run a consolation and all cars qualified. The sprints also ran three heats and it was the second heat that had the fans holding their breath for a few seconds. Trenton Schaeffer made a hard left hand turn right into the guardrail on the backstretch and the sprint came to a sudden abrupt stop. This kind of hit can be a lot worse than when one sees a car tumbling down the track. Two other cars were involved, with one of them getting upside down. However, it was the car stuck in the backstretch guardrail that everyone focused on. A loud round of applause rang out when it was announced that all drivers were okay. The guardrail was not and after further investigation it was concluded it could not be fixed. Fans in the infield had to move away from the area before races could resume. Two pro-stock heats were next and qualifying was complete at 9:25.
During intermission they gave race car rides to the kids and the line formed quickly and it was long. There had to be close to 100 kids in line and there were only two pro-stocks that came out to give the slow one lap trip around the track. The pace truck was going to take kids for a ride but the kids declined. They wanted to be in the race car and I can’t say that I blame them. It looked like it was going to take forever when several more cars came out to participate in the activity.
It was 10:14 when the 25 lap sprint feature began. Blane Heimbach started on the pole but Dylan Cisney jumped out to the early lead. He was pulling away from the field when he made contact with Keith Kauffman, running at the end of the pack after being involved in an earlier caution, coming out of turn two and looped the number 5 down the backstretch. This put an end to what looked like a sure win. Racing resumed and Heimbach was in the front and would never be challenged. Heimbach went on to pick up his second win of the year and third career win at Port Royal in the 410 sprints. Mike Erdley, who started 8th, finished second and stuck his front bumper under the 12 of Heimbach on a lap 13 restart but was not able to keep up with the number 12. Michael Ruttkamp was 3rd with Daryn Pittman coming home 4th after starting 18th. Rounding out the top five was Jimmy Seger. The sprint feature was over at 10:37.
Next up were the late models and they ran a 20 lap event. Twice during this race the red had to come out for accidents when debris littered the track. It was during these red flag delays that I realized how chilly it was. I had my hand inside my sweatshirt sleeves to keep them warm. What a difference a week makes. The race for the lead was much closer in the late models and Derek Byler managed to hold off Scott Haus for his first ever win in the division. Finishing three was Matt Parks who held off Mike Luper at the line.
It was now 11:30 and they still had the pro-stock feature and an enduro to run. However, we had plans for Sunday which had us getting up early and it is a 2 ½ hour ride home. We decided to throw in the towel and head home. The racing was good and the track surface held up very well tonight but the show ran too late.