DOTY: A Crazy Speedweek

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Doty
Brad Doty

I was certain I wouldn’t be writing another column about rain, but with unrelenting rain still continuing to fall in many parts of the country, the racing world is being affected in a big way.

As of June 21, here in Ohio we have had only five days without any rain, which meant that in many cases, even if it didn’t rain on race day itself, chances were the track and the grounds were too saturated to race.

The Ollies Outlets All Star Circuit of Champions has had 16 of their first 31 scheduled races either rained out or postponed with, at one point, 10 straight races lost to rain.

Coming into their annual Cometic Gaskets Ohio Sprint Speedweek presented by Indy Metal Refinishing, which was to be nine straight nights of racing scheduled at eight different race tracks, things seemed to be looking up as they had completed five out of six races.

The first race of Speedweek was on a Friday night at Attica Raceway Park, which was completed on a beautiful sunny day and was won by Kyle Larson.

The next night was to be at Eldora Speedway, and it was washed out. Sunday was Muskingum County Speedway and it too was completed, with Dale Blaney getting the win.

Here is where things get really interesting, with some unprecedented rescheduling and track shuffling taking place. Wayne County Speedway had two Speedweek races scheduled, one on Monday and then the finale on Saturday.

When Wayne County Speedway’s Monday race rained out, promoters Jason and Kristen Flory announced that they would run on Tuesday night … if Sharon Speedway, which was scheduled for Tuesday, would happen to rain out.

When Tuesday rolled around the weather was not only bad at Sharon, which forced them to cancel, it was also still bad in the WCS area so their makeup plan didn’t work either.

Wednesday’s race was scheduled at Atomic Speedway in Chillicothe, Ohio, which is quite a ways south of most of the other tracks on the schedule, including Wayne County Speedway.

The forecast looked bad for Atomic on Wednesday, but the weather was looking a little better for the northern part of the state, so Wayne County Speedway made a bold and risky decision and announced that if Atomic couldn’t get their show in that they would run their originally-scheduled Monday race on Wednesday night.

I know, it’s a lot to keep up with.

Aaron Reutzel (87) leads Tim Shaffer during riday's Ollie's Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions feature at Wayne County Speedway. (Paul Arch Photo)
Aaron Reutzel (87) leads Tim Shaffer during Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions action at Wayne County Speedway. (Paul Arch photo)

Unfortunately for Atomic, early Wednesday morning they announced they had to cancel and so WCS only had about eight-to-10 hours to get the word out that they were racing that night. They also had to scramble to line up enough track employees, with most having other full-time jobs, to make sure they had the help they needed.

Social media lit up with the announcement that WCS was a definite go for Wednesday night. It was a real test to see if they could reach enough people, on such short notice, to get enough fans to make it financially viable.

They got it in and it was Aaron Reutzel who parked it in victory lane. The crowd was decent, especially under the circumstances. Jason Flory said they lost some money, but felt it was good for public relations and showed the fans and racers that they wanted to race.

Thursday’s race was to be contested at Mansfield Motor Speedway but, you guessed it, it rained out as well and Limaland Motorsports Park was scheduled for Friday night.

The same heavy rain that washed out Mansfield had also hit the Lima area earlier so Limaland was also forced to pull the plug on their event. But, they canceled early enough on Thursday that it gave Atomic the chance to follow WCS’s lead and Atomic promoter Brad McCown raised his hand and said they would run their Wednesday race on Friday night.

To add even more drama to the week, when Atomic’s sprint car race rained out on Wednesday they announced they would run a big $5,000-to-win late model race on Friday night. This was, of course, before they knew Limaland would rain out on Friday and they would have the opportunity to make up their Wednesday race.

So, now they had a big late model race, plus they also had the All Stars sprint cars.

Friday was a beautiful day and Atomic had a great crowd but, after an already very strange week of scrambling to get races in, a sprint car flipped through the fence in turn three and unfortunately hit a fan sitting in the grandstands. Fortunately, the driver wasn’t injured and the fan was not seriously injured, but was transferred to the hospital for further evaluation.

To add to the bizarre happenings of the week, officials had to make the call to cancel the sprint car portion of the event when it was discovered that the rain-saturated ground was so wet that the fence cable anchoring was pulled loose from the ground and it was deemed unsafe to continue the race.

The finale on Saturday at WCS paid $10,000 to win and the Florys were awarded with absolutely beautiful weather and fans packed the place.

Parker Price-Miller led 34 and a half laps of the 35-lap event, with 17-year-old Michael “Buddy” Kofoid hounding him all race long. But, late in the race Dale Blaney got around Kofoid and he even closed in on Price-Miller at one point.

Kofoid started banging the cushion and found enough speed to get back around Blaney with two laps to go, and quickly closed in on Price-Miller and was able to shoot by for the lead coming off turn two on the final lap for his first All Star win.

After one of the craziest weeks in Ohio Sprint Speedweek history, where only four of the nine scheduled races were completed, it was Dale Blaney who was the Speedweek champ for the sixth time in his career. He claimed the $4,000 check.

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