Wednesday, June 10 - The venture actually started on Tuesday night and the original plan was to take in the late model show at Williams Grove and then head west. Of course I was not able to get out of work until 6:30 so scrap the Williams Grove show. By the time I got home at 7:30 and cleaned the cat litter box it was 8:00 and then it was too late to do anything other then drive. So we drove. But not very far, only out to Carlisle, PA and then we stayed over for the night. Wednesday morning we were on the road by 8:00 heading west on the PA Turnpike enroute to Indiana. The USAC Midgets are running their Indiana Speedweek and we enjoyed the racing so much last year we decided to return. We drove all day only stopping for gas and lunch in Columbus, OH. We pulled into Gas City I-69 Speedway at 4:40 in the afternoon under skies that looked like they wanted to let loose with rain, lightning and thunder at any minute. Warm-ups were not scheduled until 6:00 so only Bruce decided to pay the admission and enter to secure seats. We knew if they would get rained out we would not be around to use the raincheck. We met up with two other Pennsylvania travelers and Bruce planted our blanket next to Keith and Wendell.
If you have never been to Gas City it should be on your must see list. It is a fast 1/4 mile semi-banked oval that has a surface that you simply cannot find anywhere in the Northeast. They race wingless sprints every week and if I lived out here this would definitely be my Friday night home. Time trials are done in group sessions and I think this is great since I am not a fan of time trials. Nine cars went out on the track at the same time and ran under green for 5 laps. The fastest lap a driver turned in was considered his time. They ran four groups in all and what normally take close to 40 minutes took 17 minutes. In the end it was ARDC’s Steve Buckwalter that set the fast time of 12.975. Both Bruce and I have our new Buckwalter t-shirts along and plan to wear them later in the week.
Racing was scheduled to start at 7:30 but they moved things up a few minutes when a few raindrops started to fall. The first of four 8 lap midget heats took the green at 7:23 and they were run off with only two cautions. Immediately the wingless sprints took to the track for the first two of three heats they were to run. The sprint car count was only 20 but then how many cars do you need on a 1/4 track. After the first two sprint heats the B Main was run for the midgets and then the final sprint heat was completed. All qualifying was complete by 8:18, only 55 minutes after the first heat took the green. I do not know if they run the show this tight all the time or if the rain in the surrounding area had something to do with it. Whatever the case it was great.
The 30 lap main event for the midgets had a rocky start as the caution flew three times in the first two laps. The USAC officials also in my opinion are a bit quick with the caution flag. There were several times during the night when the caution was thrown and it was not needed. The racing was fierce with tires sometimes being off the track surface more then on it. The cars diced for positions and in the end it was the outside polesitter Jerry Coons Jr. that took the top prize followed by Brad Kuhn, Darren Hagen, Bryan Clauson and Ryan Kaplan from 13th.
After the midgets the sprints ran a 25 lap event and last year this event was the better of the two. In my opinion it was better this year also. Cole Whitt lead for the majority of the event but as Bruce said, “When Stanbrough got into second it was like a shark smelling blood". The hunt was on and Jon Stanbrough made a daring move on the inside in turn one to take the lead and never look back. This race had excellent racing on both ends of the track. Keith commented, “I did not know which end of the track to watch". Stanbrough won followed by Whitt, Shane Cottle, Jerry Coons Jr. and Matt Westfall. All was complete by 9:35.
The racing here is awesome. Seeing winglees sprints and midgets back home is not like seeing them here on the bullrings of Indiana. The dicing, bouncing and shear man against machine that you see is surely a sight to behold. I bet we will be back here next year.