Quincy Raceways’ effort to get the season started was cut short late Sunday afternoon when one final burst of rain erased any chance of an opening day/night.
Considering the day-long threat of bad weather and all that goes with it, I think it was a tribute to both local race fans and drivers on the amount of both who showed up simply hoping for the best.
There were not more than 100 or so people in the stands milling around shortly before the first green flag was scheduled at 4 p.m. By the time that first green flag did fall at about 5 p.m. — track manager Ken Dobson pushed festivities back about an hour at 3 p.m. — there were at least 500 people in and around the stands. And that number might be a little low.
Think what blue skies and a perfect race day might have brought. There’s quite a bit of enthusiasm surrounding the start of this new era at the track. In a bizarre sort of way, I think Sunday showed that.
Slowly, but ever so surely, I think we will see the crowd counts rebuild to what they were not too many years ago. Race fans are not stupid. If they like what they see and hear they will be back — and they will tell their friends. Granted, I could not talk to everyone Sunday, but of the several dozen I did they all spoke of the positive things they are expecting in the future at 8000 Broadway — and I have to agree with them.
The drivers deserve credit, too. There were 52 cars signed in. and on a more traditional “opener” — 6 p.m. on a sunny spring night — that number would have been probably at least been in the 80s. There were a number of regulars not in attendance who opted not to make a long haul in the questionable (at best) weather conditions, plus a handful of hotshoes whose cars were not ready, or like Taco Larsen, were not ready physically. (Larsen’s surgically repaired shoulder is still healing, but he did win Sunday’s 50-50 raffle. He indicated it would not be too long until both he and his car will be back.)
Yeah, it was disappoint there was no racing, but I stil liked what I saw — and heard.
Originally, the Scottie 40 was on the track schedule for next Sunday, but it has been moved to May 18. The Scottie 40 is a memorial late model race to honor track founder Albert Scott and the first-year CILTRAK operations group want to make certain the event is special. With back-to-back rainouts, they want to make certain all the bugs are ironed out of their presentation.
This is an excellent call, because the Scottie 40 night should be, as Dobson said, “special.”
Although the racing was washed out, qualifying at least gave the fans a taste of what they had missing:
Late models: Clint Kirkham (74.694 mph) was the fastest, edging out Mark Burgtorf (74.258 mph) and Denny Woodworth (74.085 mph). Ironically, Kirkham had the fastest time (74.748) for the 2013 season opener.
Modifieds: Dave Wietholder’s 63.795 mph run bested Michael Long’s 63.415 mph effort. Wietholder is the track record holder for mod qualifying, hitting 70.365 mph last July 28.
One driver glad that Sunday night was rained out was Jared Schlipman, whose return to modifieds was cut short during qualifying. Schlipman’s sweet-looking new No. 42 died on the second qualifying lap and would have been a scracth for the night.
Schlipman, who raced last season in the late models, won the modified track title in 2010.
Late models: 9
Sport mods; 15
Stock cars; 6
Sport compacts: 7
The marquee event next week will be the $2,000-to-win late model feature featuring ALMS cars and local late model aces. If the weatherman cooperates, it should be a stellar field of cars.
The ALMS cars will be running the night before at 34 Raceway in Burlington, Iowa, as part of the Slocum 50 memorial race. That event pays more than $10,500 to win.
I know, I know. There was no racing — except for those four of five laps of a stock car heat race — but that doesn’t mean we can’t award the weekly stars.
10 stars: Track guru Tommy Casson, who with the help of his crew, had provided a grade-A racing surface.
9 stars: To the members of the Mendon Mafia who were among the first at the track, most notably Keith Pratt and his No. 33 Michigan modified.
8 stars: Justin Reed, who was like a little kid at Christmas with his new late model. He was not only happy to be back behind the wheel of that No. 1st, he was HAPPY.
7 stars: Darin Weisinger, who was a proud poppa watching his son, Darin Jr., officially take over the family ride. Young Darin will be wheeling the No. 11 sport compact.
6 stars: The concession stand workers. Although I didn’t have an opportunity to try everything, the first Kennyburger of the season was great. Too many times in recent years the concession food was lukewarm at best. The initial Kennyburger was hot — and good. I would have awarded more stars to the concession folks, but they’ve done away with the ice machines and I like ice cubes with my Mountain Dew. (But I’ll gladly settle for the plastic bottles of soda if those burgers and fried are hot!)
5 stars: The 500 or so fans who showed up. There were a lot of smiles on faces. They were either glad racing was back, or just glad to see me.
4 stars: Jack Walbring, the resident computer genius who had his equipment ready to go and was churning out information like it was midseason.
3 stars: The Rev. Dennis Thomas of Grandview Church, who comes out most Sunday nights to provide the invocation. He has no idea how many fans appreciate his presence and words.
2 stars: Dave Wietholder, who recorded the fastest modified qualifying time. He did so after receiving a second chance. Dave’s initial transponder failed to register, but following a switch in the infield he went back out to the track and reeled off the fastest run among the 15 mods.
1 star: Clint Kirkham, who had the fastest qualifying time in the late model series.