(The following will also appear in Sunday’s print edition of The Herald-Whig. We’ll also have more in “Stevie Dirt” in the coming days from Quincy Mall show.)
Hundreds of Quincy area dirt-track racing fans were able to get their first glimpse of the 2010 season Saturday.
Quincy Raceways’ annual stock car show drew such a huge turnout to the Quincy Mall that even long-time track official Jack Walbring was impressed.
“I think this was the busiest we have ever been on a Saturday morning,” said Walbring, whose affiliation with the track goes back more than 30 years.
The show continues Sunday during regular mall hours. Roughly 40 cars are on the hand, a nice mixture of late models, modifieds, stock cars and hobby stocks — all with sharp, new looks.
Many of the drivers were on hand, from 11-year-old Jake Griffin of Quincy to 60-ish Terry Gallaher of New London, Mo.
“It’s definitely been a long winter,” said Griffin, who will be driving both a modified and late model this season. “It feels like forever since I’ve raced.”
Griffin will be running a modified Sunday nights at Quincy, plus a late model on Friday evenings in Lincoln, Ill., and Saturday nights in Canton, Ill., which on the surface seems like a big load for such a little guy.
“I’m up for it,” Jake assured.
Gallaher, a four-time late model track champ, planned on retiring after 2009, a year that saw him involved in a violent, early season crash at Quincy that sidelined him much of the season.
“I sold all my stuff, everything I had, to Vance (Wilson, who for the first time at Quincy will be running a late model this year),” Gallaher said.
Gallaher said it was not too long after he sold his inventory he got the itch back, and with his family’s support, decided to change his mind about retirement.
“I knew (the retirement) wasn’t going to work,” he said. “My wife said, ‘Well then, we better get a (another) car!’”
When the season opens — weather permitting — April 4, many of the familiar color schemes will have changed for some of the track’s top talents. For instance:
• Modified driver Wyatt Lantz has gone to a purple theme for his No. 22 after wearing his familiar combinations of black, gray, white and red for so many years.
• Late model hotshoe Jason Frankel will be sporting a basic blue look after his recent back-in-black themes.
• Steven DeLonjay’s blue-and-orange approach is completely different from the red-and-white look he and his dad, 13-time track champ “Hank the Crank” DeLonjay, have used in the past for their No. 35 modified.
• Matt Bailey also has gone to an orange theme for his No. 52 late model.
• Mark Burgtorf also has stepped outside the familiar look for his No. 7 late model. Traditionally, Burgtorf had raced in a red or white ride, but in 2010 there is a distinct orange flavor and some neatly packaged trim that gives the car more of a NASCAR type of appeal.
• Trent Grotz will be sporting an entirely new blue look for his No. 2 and might offer a challenge to Tony Dunker for The Herald-Whig’s annual “ZZ Top Sharp Dressed Man Award” for the best-looking car among the modifieds. Dunker was not on hand at this year’s mall show because his 2010 entry is not yet finished.
Race fans will get their next look at some of the cars during four scheduled practice sessions on March 27, 28, 31 and April 2.