Sheppard Scores First-Ever World of Outlaws Late Model Series Victory In ‘Photobilly 50’ At Belle-Clair Speedway
Fast-Rising Teenage Star Sweeps Program In Front Of Home-State Fans
By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
BELLEVILLE, IL – Sept. 14, 2012 – Brandon Sheppard earned his first-ever World of Outlaws Late Model Series A-Main victory with a picture-perfect performance on Friday night at Belle-Clair Speedway.
Racing in front of his home-state fans, the fast-rising 19-year-old star from New Berlin, Ill., emerged triumphant in the ‘Photobilly 50’ to complete a sweep of the national tour’s inaugural program at the one-fifth-mile fairgrounds bullring.
Sheppard established a new track record in time trials, led every lap of his heat race and paced the evening’s headliner from start-to-finish behind the wheel of Mark Richards’s high-profile Rocket Chassis house car. He even ‘won’ hot laps, turning the quickest circuit of the program’s practice session to signal his ultimate supremacy.
“This is just an amazing feeling,” said Sheppard, who pocketed $12,550 for the biggest win of his young career. “It’s a huge confidence booster for me to get my first (World of Outlaws) win off my back. We had a close one a couple weeks ago (on Aug. 18 at Merritt Raceway in Lake City, Mich.) when Josh (Richards) won and we ran second, so it feels really good to know that I can do it.”
Sheppard, who started from outside of the front row, outgunned polesitter Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., for the lead at the initial green flag and never looked back. But he had to survive five caution flags and a late-race threat from dirt Late Model legend Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., to preserve the victory.
Moyer, who turns 55 next month, moved his Victory Circle machine into the runner-up spot on lap 25 when Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., was penalized two positions, to fourth place, by WoO LMS officials for firing early on a restart. The three-time WoO LMS champion fought off a brief challenge from Babb following a lap-39 caution period and drew close to Sheppard on the final lap but settled for a second-place finish, 0.675 of a second behind the winner.
Babb, 38, faded after crunching the right-rear corner of his Victory Circle car against the outside wall on lap 42, leaving him over three seconds behind Moyer in third place at the checkered flag. He started the race on a roll – advancing from the sixth starting spot to second in just 11 laps – but never seriously challenged Sheppard before absorbing his mid-race penalty.
WoO LMS points leader Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., finished fourth in his Rocket mount, breaking into the top five late in the distance after starting 14th. Kyle Logue of Cisco, Ill., registered a career-best WoO LMS finish of fifth in his Pierce car after overtaking Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., on the last circuit.
Sheppard credited his success to his previous experience at the tricky Belle-Clair oval – specifically, his run to a third-place finish with the Rocket No. 1 in the track’s DIRTcar Summer Nationals event on June 25.
“I think a big advantage for us over these Outlaw guys was that we were able to come here for the Summer Nationals,” said Sheppard, noting that none of the WoO LMS regulars had ever raced a dirt Late Model at Belle-Clair before Friday night’s show. “We got a little bit of an idea (of how to set the car up). Especially for feature time, we had a pretty good idea of where we needed to be at.”
Sheppard ended up with a virtually flawless car that he was able to expertly steer around the track’s cushion. But he did have some anxious moments in the final laps when he found himself stuck in heavy lapped traffic, which allowed Moyer to close in.
“I knew there weren’t no slouches behind me,” said Sheppard, “so I knew every lap the lapped cars were holding me up, that was time I was losing. I was just thankful to see the white flag come out because I could hear (Moyer) getting on me.”
Sheppard became the 47th driver to win a WoO LMS A-Main since 2004. He’s the tour’s fourth first-time winner this season and the third-youngest driver in history to win on the circuit, behind Josh Richards (17 years old when he won his first race in 2005) and Austin Hubbard (age 18 in ’10).
In addition, Sheppard is the third driver to put Mark Richards’s blue dirt Late Model in Victory Lane on the WoO LMS, joining Bart Hartman and Richards’s son Josh. Sheppard was tapped in May to replace Josh in the seat of the championship-winning No. 1 after the younger Richards decided to leave the World of Outlaws trail to pursue a NASCAR career on the Nationwide Series.
With Sheppard’s triumph, the elder Richards had reason to feel good about his driver choice.
“Brandon’s a great kid,” said Mark Richards. “We couldn’t ask for a better guy to be in here driving for Josh while Josh is off doing what he wants to do with the Nationwide deal.
“We came out and ran the Summer Nationals with Brandon and came here for a race. We got to learn Brandon a little bit and he got to learn us a little bit, and it paid off tonight.”
Sheppard broke through for his first WoO LMS win in his 16th career A-Main start. He has started 11 A-Mains this season, including his last five in the Rocket Chassis house car.
Clint Smith was the race’s sixth-place finisher after climbing as high as fourth from the 12th starting spot. Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., placed seventh; Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., was eighth after using a provisional to start 24th; Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., salvaged a ninth-place finish after a turn-three tangle with Shirley on lap 10 – as they were battling for third – forced him to the rear of the field; and defending WoO LMS champion Rick Eckert of York, Pa., was 10th after relying on a provisional to start 23rd because a broken driveshaft knocked him from the lead in his heat race.
A banner field of 52 dirt Late Models were signed in for the ‘Photobilly 50,’ which was run in memory of late Belle-Clair Speedway photographer Charlie Haffer Jr. (aka ‘Photobilly’), who lost his life on Aug. 7 at the age of 44 in a tragic Iowa highway accident while traveling to a race.
Sheppard’s lap of 11.195 seconds in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials topped the previous track record held by Rodney Melvin of Logan, Ill. It was Sheppard’s first-ever fast-time honor on the WoO LMS.
Heat winners were Sheppard, Brent Kreke of O’Fallon, Ill., Clanton, Shirley, Babb and Moyer. The B-Mains were captured by Billy Moyer Jr. of Batesville, Ark., and Matt Taylor of Springfield, Ill.
The WoO LMS will complete its St. Louis-area doubleheader on Saturday night (Sept. 15) with the running of the 55-lap Pepsi Nationals at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo.
Results of WoO Late Model Series ‘Photobilly 50’ at Belle-Clair Speedway (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (2) Brandon Sheppard/50 $12,550
2. (3) Billy Moyer/50 $5,150
3. (6) Shannon Babb/50 $3,050
4. (14) Darrell Lanigan/50 $3,150
5. (7) Kyle Logue/50 $2,000
6. (12) Clint Smith/50 $2,250
7. (9) Tim Fuller/50 $1,950
8. (24) Tim McCreadie/50 $1,950
9. (5) Shane Clanton/50 $1,750
10. (23) Rick Eckert/50 $1,750
11. (11) Bub McCool/50 $1,900
12. (20) Matt Taylor/50 $1,000
13. (19) Billy Moyer Jr./50 $1,100
14. (15) Ryan Unzicker/50 $1,550
15. (18) Chub Frank/50 $1,550
16. (25) Vic Coffey/50 $550
17. (10) Dennis Erb Jr./50 $1,000
18. (8) Bobby Pierce/50 $1,050
19. (13) Brian Diveley/49 $1,000
20. (21) Mike Spatola/49 $1,000
21. (17) Mark Voigt/38 $1,000
22. (16) Ryan Little/38 $1,000
23. (1) Brian Shirley/24 $1,000
24. (22) Ed Dixon/24 $1,025
25. (4) Brent Kreke/9 $1,000
* Earnings include Winners Circle program and cash contingency award bonuses
Time of Race: 33 Mins., 43.538 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.675 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 5 (Laps 10, 10, 25, 25, 39)
Lap Leaders: Sheppard (1-50)
Provisional Starters: Eckert, McCreadie (WoO points); Coffey (WoO emergency)
Rookie of the Race: McCool ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Sheppard ($500)
‘Gut It Out Award’: Unzicker ($500)
Ohlins Shocks Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 1-Brandon Sheppard/New Berlin, IL 11.195 (NTR)
2. 32P-Bobby Pierce/Oakwood, IL 11.374
3. 24U-Ryan Unzicker/El Paso, IL 11.472
4. 25F-Jason Feger/Bloomington, IL 11.483
5. 18-Shannon Babb/Mowequa, IL 11.566
6. 21-Billy Moyer/Batesville, AR 11.576
7. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 11.578
8. 13-Brent Kreke/O’Fallon, IL 11.674
9. 25-Shane Clanton/Fayetteville, GA 11.703
10. 3s-Brian Shirley/Chatham, IL 11.704
11. 30-Mark Voigt/Marine, IL 11.726
12. 53-Nick Lyons/Centralia, IL 11.737
13. 21K-Kyle Logue/Cisco, IL 11.739
14. 89-Mike Spatola/Manhattan, IL 11.744
15. 21Jr-Billy Moyer Jr./Batesville, AR 11.746
16. 32c-Vic Coffety/Caledonia, NY 11.753
17. 50-Ed Dixon/Washington, MO 11.771
18. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 11.783
19. 6K-Michael Kloos/Trenton, IL 11.816
20. 1s-Jack Sullivan/Greenbrier, AR 11.827
21. 27-Rodney Melvin/Logan, IL 11.842
22. 28e-Dennis Erb Jr./Carpentersville, IL 11.843
23. 57J-Bub McCool/Vicksburg, MS 11.848
24. 7R-Kent Robinson/Bloomington, IL 11.866
25. 39-Tim McCreadie/Watertown, NY 11.867
26. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 11.869
27. 19-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 11.874
28. 38L-Ryan Little/Pleasant Plains, IL 11.883
29. 24T-Matt Taylor/Springfield, IL 11.893
30. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 11.916
31. 11d-Brian Diveley/Springfield, IL 11.938
32. 16-Rusty Griffaw/Festus, MO 11.944
33. 45-C.J. Simpson/O’Fallon, IL 12.042
34. 55-Duane Treadwell/LaGrange, GA 12.077
35. 28b-John Beck/Springfield, IL 12.078
36. 27M-Mike Schulte/Summerfield, IL 12.130
37. 84F-Corey Ford/Belleville, IL 12.191
38. 11-Pat Doar/New Richmond, WI 12.203
39. 10-Daryn Klein/Collinsville, IL 12.205
40. T4-Adam Tischhauser/Greenville, IL 12.242
41. 66-Jim Gibson/O’Fallon, IL 12.257
42. 28x-Rodney Standerfer/Germantown, IL 12.334
43. 16H-Mike Hammerle/St. Charles, MO 12.378
44. 2M-Scott Mueller/Hendersonville, TN 12.449
45. 12T-David Thornton/Trenton, IL 12.462
46. 9d7-Brian Heizer/Mascoutah, IL 12.470
47. 22-Jill George/Cedar Falls, IA 12.645
48. 7z-Matt Zimmerly/Desoto, MO 12.673
49. 8G-Bob Geaschel/Caseyville, IL 12.834
50. 32-Vince Grondzki/Belleville, IL 12.939
51. 4-Brian Dawson/Mascoutah, IL 13.221
52. 33-Wendell Wallace/Batesville, AR 12.030 (DQ)
Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Sheppard, Logue, Diveley, McCreadie, Hammerle, Ford, Geaschel, Kloos, Eckert
Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Kreke, Pierce, Lanigan, Spatola, Griffaw, Sullivan, Doar, Grondzki, Mueller
Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Clanton, Fuller, Unzicker, Klein, Moyer Jr., Simpson, Thornton, Dawson, Melvin
Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Shirley, Erb, Little, Wallace, Treadwell, Tischhauser, Feger, Coffey, Heizer
Heat No. 5 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Babb, McCool, Voigt, Dixon, Taylor, Beck, George, Gibson
Heat No. 6 (10 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Moyer, C. Smith, Frank, Standerfer, K. Robinson, Zimmerly, Schulte, Lyons
B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 2 Transfer): Moyer Jr., Spatola, McCreadie, Hammerle, Griffaw, Klein, Sullivan, Kloos, Ford, Thornton, Geaschel, Simpson, Mueller, Dawson, Doar, Eckert (DNS) Grondzki, Melvin
B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 2 Transfer): Taylor, Dixon, Feger, Schulte, Coffey, Zimmerly, George, Tischhauser, Beck, Heizder, Gibson, Standerfer, Robinson, Treadwell (DQ – light) Wallace (DNS) Lyons
World of Outlaws Late Model Series Contingency Award Winners:
Arizona Sport Shirts ($100 product certificate to 23rd-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Tim McCreadie
Armor All (one case of product to highest-finishing non-WoO team in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Billy Moyer
Cometic Gasket ($50 cash to 12th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Billy Moyer Jr.
Comp Cams ($50 cash to 10th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Bub McCool
Comp Cams ($50 product certificate to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Brandon Sheppard
Dominator ($50 cash to 6th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Tim McCreadie
Eibach Springs (one free spring to each B-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Mike Spatola/Wendell Wallace
Gravely ($50 cash to 7th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Bub McCool
JE Pistons ($50 cash to 16th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Vic Coffey
JE Pistons (one compete set of JE Pro Seal rings to 11th-place finisher or next highest w/decal – $285 value): Bub McCool
JE Pistons (one complete set of JE Pro Seal rings to 21st-place finisher or next highest w/decal – $285 value): Mark Voigt
Klotz Synthetic Lubricants ($50 cash to 17th-place finisher or next highest finisher): Bobby Pierce
MSD Ignition ($50 cash to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Brandon Sheppard
MSD Ignition ($25 cash to 24th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Ed Dixon
Ohlins Pole Award ($50 cash to fast qualifier or next highest w/decal): Shannon Babb
Quartermaster ($100 product certificate to A-Main winner or next highest w/decal): Clint Smith
Quartermaster ($50 product certificate to 5th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Tim Fuller
Quartermaster ($25 product certificate to 15th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Chub Frank
Roush-Yates Performance Products ($50 cash to 4th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Chub Frank
Roush-Yates Performance Products (carburetor repair kit to 18th-place finish in A-Main or next highest w/decal – $100 value): none
Roush-Yates Lap Leader Award (one pair of Wiley X Sunglasses to driver who leads most laps in A-Main): Brandon Sheppard
STP ($50 cash to 2nd-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Billy Moyer
SuperFlow ($50 cash to 14th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Ryan Unzicker
VP Racing Fuels ($50 cash to 9th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Shane Clanton
VP Racing Fuels ‘Nice Jugs Award’ (one VP 5-gallon container to fastest qualifier who misses A-Main or next highest with decal – $30 value): Nick Lyons
WIX Filters ($50 cash to 13th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Billy Moyer Jr.
Wrisco Aluminum (three sheets of aluminum to A-Main winner if decal displayed – $200 value): Brandon Sheppard
XS Power ($50 cash to 3rd-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Bub McCool
XS Power ($60 product certificate to 8th-place finisher in A-Main or next highest w/decal): Bub McCool
XS ‘Power Move of the Race’ ($60 product certificate): Tim McCreadie
2012 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of Sept. 14 – 34 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/points/deficit to leader):
1. Darrell Lanigan 4764
2. Rick Eckert 4580 (-184)
3. Shane Clanton 4384 (-380)
4. Tim McCreadie 4382 (-382)
5. Chub Frank 4314 (-450)
6. Bub McCool 4238 (-526)
7. Clint Smith 4230 (-534)
8. Vic Coffey 4116 (-648)
9. Tim Fuller 4008 (-756)
10. Pat Doar 3898 (-866)
11. Kent Robinson 3838 (-926)
12. Jack Sullivan 3350 (-1414)
13. John Lobb 2422 (-2342)
14. Jill George 2272 (-2492)
15. Mike Marlar 1966 (-2798)
LIVE UPDATES 9/14: World of Outlaws Late Model Series At Belle-Clair Speedway
BELLEVILLE, IL – Sept. 14, 2012 – The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is making its first-ever visit tonight to Belle-Clair Speedway, a one-fifth-mile fairgrounds bullring that is the smallest track ever to appear on the national tour’s schedule.
Tonight’s ‘Photobilly 50’ — a race run in memory of the track’s late photographer Charles Haffer Jr. (aka ‘Photobilly’), who lost his life on Aug. 7 at the age of 44 in a tragic Iowa highway accident — ranks as the richest race ever contested at Belle-Clair. A $12,000 top prize will be paid out from a total purse exceeding $50,000.
For live updates of all the news, pit notes and results from tonight’s action, click the ‘Full Story’ link below. Be sure to refresh your browser throughout the night to see the latest information.
11:55 p.m. CT – Nineteen-year-old Brandon Sheppard completed a dream night, leading the ‘Photobilly 50’ from flag-to-flag to score his first-ever WoO LMS A-Main victory before his homestate fans. He swept the program, setting fast time, winning a heat and taking the feature checkered flag.
Sheppard survived five cautions and a late-race bid from legendary veteran Billy Moyer to secure a $12,000 triumph that immediately ranks as the biggest of his young career. He became the third driver to win a WoO LMS event driving Mark Richards’s Rocket Chassis house car, joining Mark’s son, Josh Richards, and Bart Hartman.
A-Main Finish: 1. Brandon Sheppard, 2. Billy Moyer, 3. Shannon Babb, 4. Darrell Lanigan, 5. Kyle Logue, 6. Clint Smith, 7. Tim Fuller, 8. Tim McCreadie, 9. Shane Clanton, 10. Rick Eckert, 11. Bub McCool, 12. Matt Taylor, 13. Billy Moyer Jr., 14. Ryan Unzicker, 15. Chub Frank, 16. Vic Coffey 17. Dennis Erb Jr., 18. Bobby Pierce, 19. Brian Divelely, 20. Mike Spatola, 21. Mark Voigt, 22. Ryan Little, 23. Brian Shirley, 24. Ed Dixon, 25. Brent Kreke
Photobilly 50 next
10:48 p.m. CT – With the completion of two 12-lap B-Mains — Billy Moyer Jr. won the first over Mike Spatola, and Matt Taylor captured the second over Wendell Wallace — teams are now making final preparations for the ‘Photobilly 50.’ (Correction: Wendell Wallace finished second in the second B-Main, but he was disqualified for weighing in light and the transfer spot went to Ed Dixon.)
Rick Eckert (completed just two laps in the first B-Main) and Tim McCreadie (third in the B-Main) will use WoO LMS provisionals. Vic Coffey, Pat Doar and Kent Robinson are eligible to use WoO LMS emergency provisionals (forfeit last-place money) if they so chose.
The eight-minute horn to line up the A-Main has just been blown.
Row 1: Brian Shirley/Brandon Sheppard
Row 2: Billy Moyer/Brent Kreke
Row 3: Shane Clanton/Shannon Babb
Row 4: Kyle Logue/Bobby Pierce
Row 5: Tim Fuller/Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 6: Bub McCool/Clint Smith
Row 7: Brian Diveley/Darrell Lanigan
Row 8: Ryan Unzicker/Ryan Little
Row 9: Mark Voigt/Chub Frank
Row 10: Billy Moyer Jr./Matt Taylor
Row 11: Mike Spatola/Ed Dixon
Row 12: Rick Eckert/Tim McCreadie
Cheer for Fighting Illini
9:40 p.m. CT – Homestate drivers continued to shine in heat action, with four of the six prelim winners — Brandon Sheppard, Brent Kreke, Brian Shirley and Shannon Babb — hailing from the Land of Lincoln. WoO LMS regular Shane Clanton and former tour champion Billy Moyer captured the other two heats.
In all, 11 of the 18 heat-race transfers were Illini racers.
Misfortune struck several notable drivers during the heats:
* Defending WoO LMS champion Rick Eckert was knocked out of the lead midway through the first heat by a broken driveshaft.
* Belle-Clair standout Michael Kloos was running third late in the first heat when mechanical trouble forced him to retire.
* Former DIRTcar UMP Late Model national champion Rodney Melvin relinquished third place to mechanical woes on lap seven of the third heat.
* Jason Feger, who won June’s Summer Nationals event at Belle-Clair, was leading the fourth heat when an apparent driveline malfunction sent him to the pit area.
* Vic Coffey was second on a mid-race restart in the fourth heat when he went spinning on the homestretch. He was unable to restart.
* Kent Robinson experienced a nightmarish Heat 6, spinning twice (first while battling for second with Chub Frank) and slowing to bring out a third caution. He was able to finish fifth, however.
For full heat-race results, click here.
Racing coming up
8:05 p.m. CT – Following the completion of three UMP Modified heats, preliminary racing action will commence for the WoO LMS. Six 10-lap heats will be run with the top-three transferring to the A-Main and the winners redrawing for the top-six spots in the ‘Photobilly 50.’ Two 12-lap B-Mains qualifying the top-two finishers from each will come up later in the program.
Land of Lincoln stands out
7:45 p.m. CT – Brandon Sheppard, 19, was fast when it counted, clicking off a lap of 11.195 seconds in Ohlins Shocks Time Trials to establish a new track record and earn quick-time honors. It’s his first-ever fast-time on the WoO LMS.
Sheppard led a group of Illinois drivers who swept the top-five spots in qualifying. Teenager Bobby Pierce was second-fastest at 11.374 seconds, followed by Ryan Unzicker (11.472), Jason Feger (11.483) and Shannon Babb (11.566). Billy Moyer was sixth-quick at 11.576 seconds and Rick Eckert was the top WoO LMS regular in seventh place at 11.578 seconds.
For full results from time trials, click here.
7 p.m. CT – Brandon Sheppard was quickest in hot laps, turning a lap of 11.177 seconds that was under the track record. He was followed by Shane Clanton (11.199), Bobby Pierce (11.327), Jack Sullivan (11.354) and Brian Shirley (11.403). WoO LMS dominator Darrell Lanigan was sixth-fastest at 11.456 seconds.
Sheppard, of course, is from New Berlin, Ill., and has raced at Belle-Clair several times during his young career, including June of this year when he finished third in the track’s DIRTcar Summer Nationals A-Main just one month into his stint behind the wheel of the Rocket Chassis house car. He’s in the car again tonight.
Interestingly, Sheppard is here with his car owner, Mark Richards, while Mark’s son, two-time WoO LMS champion Josh Richards, is racing another Rocket Chassis house car this weekend in the Pittsburgher at Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway. When Josh goes to the post at PPMS tomorrow night (the first night of the Pittsburgher was rained out tonight), he’ll drive his father’s familiar No. 1 for the first time in his career without his dear old dad accompanying him to the racetrack. Josh’s crew at PPMS will include Integra Shocks rep ‘Little Brian’ Daugherty and western Pennsylvania-area dirt Late Model racer John Volpe, who helped Chub Frank all summer and is now back studying at college in West Virginia.
Ohlins Shocks Time Trials are about to begin…
Thanks for coming
6:15 p.m. CT – Belle-Clair management certainly impressed the WoO LMS drivers by presenting the travelers special gifts of appreciation for entering tonight’s program. The Outlaws received backpacks filled with several goodies, including a Belle-Clair-branded flashlight, a Belle-Clair t-shirt and a six-pack of ‘Ski’ citrus soda produced locally in Breese, Ill. ‘Ski’ soda is supposedly a great remedy for a hangover, which is a good thing because the drivers were also given a wooden box filled with three bottles of Para Vida Tequila.
The Belle-Clair t-shirt in the backpack sported an especially interesting saying about racing at the track: “I lost my right-rear spoiler support. I got wood in my bumper. I had the most fun I ever had with my clothes on.”
The WoO LMS drivers were also treated to a catered afternoon ‘feed’ underneath a tent just outside the pit area.
What a field
6:05 p.m. CT – With the Drivers’ Meeting now underway, there are 52 cars signed in for competition. Some of the later additions to the field include defending DIRTcar UMP national champion Ryan Unzicker, former national titlist Rodney Melvin, Arkansas’s Jack Sullivan (his first WoO LMS start since dropping off the tour in mid-August), Missouri’s Ed Dixon, Illinois racer Mark Voigt and Mike Hammerle, the low-buck veteran who is a former Belle-Clair champion.
Rookie with an edge?
5:55 p.m. CT – Having a crew guy with deep knowledge of Belle-Clair Speedway isn’t the only plus for WoO LMS rookie Kent Robinson. He also happens to be the only tour regular who has ever competed at the track, albeit not in a dirt Late Model.
“I ran a UMP Modified here twice,” said Robinson. “I led laps and finished second one time and finished fourth the other time.”
Close to home
5:50 p.m. CT – Jason Quirin has spent most of the 2012 racing season on the road after taking a mechanic’s job with WoO LMS Rookie of the Year candidate Kent Robinson, but he’s sleeping in his own bed tonight. He lives in Belleville, Ill., just a couple miles from Belle-Clair Speedway.
Quirin certainly relishes the opportunity to spend a weekend on the homefront (tomorrow night’s WoO LMS at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo., is just 40 minutes frome Belleville); this is, after all, just the fourth time he’s been home since the season started. But there are also some drawbacks to racing at his hometrack.
“This is costing me a lot of money in pit passes,” joked Quirin. “My wife, my daughter, her boyfriend, my father-in-law…”
4:25 p.m. CT – Even beyond its small size, Belle-Clair is one of the most unique facilities on the WoO LMS.
For starters, there’s the quaint, down-home fairgrounds setting. There are wooden covered grandstands on both the front and backstretch of the track, with additionals bleachers sandwiching both. Part of the pit area is amidst the barns used for the annual St. Clair County Fair, with many local teams actually parking their haulers right under the open-air structures. The section of the pits occupied by the big haulers on hand for tonight’s action is behind the backstretch and actually separated from the grandstand by a dead-end street.
And there’s also that wooden fence — yes, an old-school wooden wall still rings the outside of the turns at each end of the track.
4:10 p.m. CT – A unmistakeable buzz is the air for tonight’s ‘Photobilly 50,’ which promises to attract the most talented field of dirt Late Model drivers Belle-Clair Speedway has ever seen. Already unloaded in the pits are over 30 machines, including the 11 WoO LMS regulars plus names like Billy Moyer and his son Billy Jr., Brandon Sheppard (in the Rocket Chassis house car), reigning DIRTcar Summer Nationals champ Brian Shirley, Jason Feger (winner of June’s Summer Nationals show at Belle-Clair), Shannon Babb, Michael Kloos, Wendell Wallace (driving the Tim Logan Racing No. 33) and Mike Spatola.