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Saturday, July 2 - Today was Pat’s day to do some shopping in Ohio Amish country and we visited various antique shops and other businesses including Hershberger’s which had Amish handmade items, baked goods and various chesses. It also had a pet area filled with puppies, goats, rabbits and giant horses and Pat enjoyed seeing the animals especially the baby goats which she hopes to have some of after we retire. We ate lunch at Farmstead Restaurant in Berlin which was delicious with some fine tasting Amish food on the buffet tables. Several thunderstorms rolled through the area during the day but it did not hinder our shopping spree. Shortly after three it was time to head northwest toward our late afternoon visit to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington. Mid-Ohio is a beautiful road course that is kept very neat and clean but with its various elevation changes we don’t believe that there was anywhere around the course where you could see more than maybe a quarter of the course. The 2.258 mile configuration with 12 turns was host to the F1600 and F2000 series today with two races starting at 6:00 PM. We would witness the F2000 series race with a full field of 28 cars take the green at 6. The F2000 series is an open wheel, open cockpit Indy type car with a rear wing with various chassis used but all ran the same engine, a Zetec one.
Our initial vantage point for the 35 minute race was near turns eight and nine before they moved into a straight stretch of track. A full course yellow in the early stages of the event gave us the chance to visit other parts of the course traveling over the bridge into the infield where we found a neat area of trees which overlooked a section of the course below. We eventually made our way over to the final two turns near the entrance to the track where we watched the last five minutes of the 35 minute timed run so we could make a speedy exit to head over to our night time track. Kyle Connery started up front and was never seriously challenged the entire way and flashed under the checkered flag winning over Tim Minor, Brian Tomasi, Robert LaRocca and John LaRue.
An hour later we pulled into the parking lot of the Barberton Speedway, a 1/4 mile asphalt oval, located south of the city of Akron. The speedway itself was showing some wear and tear and sections of the wooden grandstand that extended the entire length of the homestretch were suspect if you get my drift. The outside walls consisted of Jersey barriers and the pits were located outside of turns three and four leaving a clear infield for good sight lines anywhere in the grandstand. The only division we saw heat racing in was the pure stock division which ran two heats for the largest car count (13) of any of the classes. Following these heats the track went to intermission which lasted a reasonable 20 minutes. Tonight was also the Mid-Season Championships for all classes and first up would be the top class, the late models. They would run 25 laps for their eight car field with only one caution slowing the racing action. Track management has a rule that if you spin from contact of another car you get your spot back and it seemed so did the offending car. The first caution appeared on lap 21 when second place runner, Roger Smith, made contact with leader, Jesse Adams, with Smith spinning to the infield. Smith was placed back behind the leader and they went green again to complete the last four laps. Adams held on for the win with Smith second and Jeff Taylor rounding out the top three with the entire race being completed in just ten minutes. Next up were the sportsman class for their 20 lap feature event with seven cars going to the post. The front row consisted of Tim Schmitt and Aaron Prater and the two duked it out from the start. Schmitt ran Prater high on the initial start into the backstretch wall and it went downhill from there. On the restart Prater dumped Schmitt in turn three with both returning to the front again. They ran cleanly until the final lap when Prater got a good run to the inside of Schmitt entering turn two with Schmitt promptly running the pair into the infield and spinning. The restart saw Prater run Schmitt into the backstretch wall off turn two and finally the officials had seen enough and sent the pair pitside. All this time third place runner, Keith Henline, had sat back with a bird’s eye view of the banging in front of him and inherited the lead when the two exited the speedway. He went on to the victory over Steve Nestor and Jeff Mundell. At this point there was a delay in the racing when the ambulance had to leave the track caused a 25 minute downtime. When racing resumed the seven car, twenty lap hobby stock feature was waved off with Adam Arrington winning the ten minute affair with only one caution over Rick Pereces and a driver with the monikor of the Undertaker. The 20 lap pure stock feature was a wild affair with four cautions before Jake Emerling prevailed. The fifth division of the night was the truck feature which turned out to be the best race of the evening going non-stop in seven minutes with Danny Burden winning after starting last (7th) which was the best display of passing the entire evening. Denny Wood and Chet Collmar Sr. came home second and third. The last race of the night would be the advertised skid plate race and the crowd remained to watch this novelty event. It consisted of six cars with their rear tires removed with the rims mounted on top of skid plates which acted like a ski effect for the rear end. They slid all around and spun entering the turns and were all over the place. After watching one lap of this race we decided this was a good time to head for the exits and beat the crowd out.
All in all even though the car counts were low the racing was entertaining and everyone in attendence seemed to enjoy themselves and that is what it is all about. Look for the next blog which details our final night in Ohio and our fourth new track of the trip.
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