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Wednesday, August 3 - Wait a minute here you say!! The ROC racing at Grandview was listed on the schedule as a one day event. Why do you have two nights of racing at Grandview? Well, read on and you will find the answer.
The Race of Champions (ROC) dirt tour was scheduled to invade the Grandview Speedway with a doubleheader of big block modifieds and sportsman. They did invade but the dismal forecast would eventually lead to the race being postponed to its raindate of Thursday night. I believe Thunder On The Hill promoter, Bob Miller, painted himself into a corner when he made a jab at Brett Deyo and his postponed Big Diamond ROC race which was postponed in the morning on a dismal forecast which did not hold up and it never rained. First off I believe Brett Deyo made the correct call considering the travel distance of many of the competitors and fans alike who would travel down to Big Diamond for the race. Bob Miller should have heeded the forecast of 60 per cent chance of scattered thunderstorms and postponed the race to the scheduled raindate of Thursday where the weather was predicted to be cloudy but only 10 per cent chance of rain. Instead he proceeded forward and after two modified heats run on a very heavy track surface where passing was nonexistent the rains finally reached Grandview in earnest at 7:40 and about 15 minutes later the plug was pulled on the night’s events. It poured all the way home and there was no chance they would have gotten this one in.
Thursday, August 4 - The first two modified heats would stand from last night and tonight would start out with the third of four modified heats for the 33 car field on hand. The track was still heavy and passing existed but it was still at a premium. Butch Tittle and Brett Hearn joined last night’s heat winners, Jeff Strunk and Ryan Watt, in the 12 car redraw of the top 3 finishers in each heat. The sportsman would run three heats for their 28 car field with Brad Brightbill, James Cornell and Joe Masiado. Two modified consies with Matt Sheppard and Billy Decker winning. All time win’s leader at Grandview, Craig VonDohren, failed to qualify but a provisional would solve that problem. Mike Mammana and Bob Lineman Jr. copped sportsman consie wins and the fields were set by 8:40.
A half hour intermission which included track prep followed and by 9:15 the 60 lap ROC Traffic Jam feature went green. Brett Hearn started first and took command from the wave of the green flag. Jeff Strunk who started third hounded him and finally passed him in lap traffic on lap 21 for the lead. Duane Howard who started fourth quickly followed Strunk by Hearn for second before the first yellow appeared on lap 24. On the homestretch on lap 29 a very scary and nasty flip occured when Scott Albert and Meme DeSantis tangled with DeSantis climbing the homestretch wall taking out a large section of the catch fence just past the starter’s stand heading toward turn one. DeSantis flipped over and landed on his side and everyone held their breath until they saw DeSantis scrambling out of his mangled machine. There was going to be no way that track personnel would be able to fix the gaping hole and the two bent support poles so everyone sitted in the homestretch grandstand were instructed to move toward turn four to relocate their seating. At this point Pete Knappenberger, who assists in trackside announcing, went into a verbal tirade on the microphone berating the people to move faster or they could not restart the race. His behavior was very unprofessional and uncalled for. Knappenberger and his New Egypt Speedway trackside counterpart, Nicky Leach, are two of the worst people to have an open microphone in hand with. They add nothing to the program and only portray the track they are working for in a bad light.
After a twenty minute delay the race was restarted but it lost some of its luster with five or six cars taken out in the vicious crash. A few laps after the restart both father (Jimmy Horton) and son (Jimmy Horton IV) rolled to stops with mechanical woes in turn four and the homestretch respectively. From that point forward (around lap 32) the remainder of the race went without caution. Jeff Strunk was able to fend off the challenges of Duane Howard to score the $8500 paycheck with Brett Hearn third, Danny Johnson fourth (up from 12th) and Doug Manmiller rounding out the top five. The checker flew at 9:58 and after victory lane ceremonies were completed the 40 lap sportsman feature was green flagged at 10:14. Even though this one had double the cautions (6 vs. 3) that the modified main had I felt that it was the more competitive race. This race started out bad with two cautions in the first two laps but once they settled down it was good racing especially in positions four through ten. Jared Umbenhauer marched from tenth to take the lead with an agressive move between two competitors on the homestretch coming for lap 18 and would lead it the rest of the way. Joe Masiado, the third heat winner, out for the first time this year ran a strong race actually closing on Umbenhauer in the late stages before his mount came up lame with only a few laps remaining. At this point 16 year old Sammy Piazza took up the chase but couldn’t mount a serious challenge in the remaining laps. Umbenhauer scored his second straight ROC sportsman win at Grandview over Piazza with Rocco Infante who had never raced here before catching Brad Brightbill late to steal away third with Brightbill fourth and Five Mile Point invader, James Cornell, rounding out the top five. Hats off go to sixth place finisher, Craig Whitmoyer, driving a borrowed car advancing from 15th. The final checkered waved at 10:40 (a well run program) and we stood around and chatted with my brother, Bob, and his friend, Mike Wenner before walking down near the fence and chatting with Jeff Alhum and his father, John.
It was a good evening of high speed racing and we went away satisfied with the racing action and a well run show.
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