Past the Pit Gate
by Danny Rosencrans

January 14, 2013 -- Saturday night January 12 was the annual awards banquet for Quincy Raceways. While grandson Keagan and I were eager for some bench racing, the weatherman had a different idea. The snow was starting to fly a bit as we headed out, and the forecast did not sound good. Still we arrived at Turner Hall in Quincy ready for a fun filled evening. For an old timer like me, the best part of the night is the " social hour " before things officailly get started. That is when the truths, rumors, and lies are the best.

The biggest announcement of the night, as we found out shortly after arriving is that the $2,000 to win American Late Model Series race on Sunday April 21 has been expanded to also include sanctioning by both the Mars and Cornbelt Clash late model series. As aresult, the event will now pay $3,500 to win and $400 to start for the supeer late models, and the rules have been adjusted to accomodate all three series as well as the local hot shoes. This race could easily draw 40 plus late models with the early season date and the fact that 34 Raceway in West Burlington has a MARS/Cornbelt race the night prior. Now if the weatherman will just come on board.

Jake Griffin and his #08 team were pleased with thir showing in the Florida Governers Cup race in November, and before the QR season starts, the 14 year old will kick off his 2013 campaign with races in both Georgia and Florida. Jake will again be racing both late model and modified on both dirt and asphalt this season.

After a tough season, Rickey Frankel will bebut a new ride in 2013, while brother Jason has sold his machine and is unsure of his plans for this season. Jason is back to about 80% of normal following surgery to repair the three breaks in his wrist that ended his 2012 campaign. Meanwhile, Michael Long has a new home, and is busy building and selling modified chassis this off season. Michael will again pilot his own mod and the Jennings Racing late model at QR in 2013.

After an up and down season, Vance Wilson, who just celebrated another birthday - did someone say the big 4 0? - is set to return in a late model, while an as yet unconfirmed rumor has Jared Schlipman making the move from mods to late models, follwing in father Terrys footsteps.

With the hobby stocks being dropped from the program for this season at Lee County and 34 as well as QR, speculation has been rampant as to what those drivers might do. We learned on Saturday that barring a late snag, point champ Jake Powers will make the move up to IMCA stock cars. I have no doubt that Jake will be competitive right out of the chute.

Kimberly Abbott came up just short in her quest for the first IMCA sport compact crown at QR, finishing the season in one of Pat " Skip " Dunkers rides after a crash sidelined her # 71. So now, after five seasons in the same car, Kim will have a new ride in 2013. She does so with mixed emotions, having wheeled the same machine through most of her teenage years. Meanwhile the ever popular Dunker has two cars in his shop and is ready to hit the track again. Brother Tony has indicated he may miss a night or two this season as his son plays baseball, so the sport mod championship may be up for grabs. Of course, if ol' " Bone " has a year like 2012, he could miss a night or two and still take home the big iron!

Congratulations to Dustin Griffin, the UMP national late model rookie of the year, and to Dave Weitholder, the UMP modified western region champion. And also high fives to part time QR competitor Brian Shirley, who took home top honors - and over $40,000 as the UMP national and Summernational champion.

After some tasty vittles, the awards were being handwed out when we received a call that road conditions were poor, so we reluctantly checked out and slipped and slid back to Missouri. Congratulations to all the champions!

Next up for QR is the Quincy Mall car show on March 16 and 17. A couple of practice nights will follow, and the first race night will be Sunday, April 14, one week before the big late model blowout! For this fan, it can't come too soon!


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