The past couple of weeks has brought out several new drivers to the Columbus 151 Speedway, some are veterans coming out for the first time, while others have seen very limited, or in some cases, no track time ever here. Past two-time street stock champion Phil Denikas has made a return, immediately running strong in his first feature of the year, placing second to Scott Lawver. Phil will only get faster, as he usually can get his car hooked up in the tricky outside groove here, and I’d expect no less this year out of him. It’s good to see him back out after a miserable and trouble-plagued year last year. Rockford Roadrunner division racer Ryan Ostenson recently made the trip up to race, stating, “I’ve never run here before, but it’s always fun to try new things and new tracks, and I just want to do what I can and stay out of trouble.” He did just that, as attrition took a toll on several, with Ryan taking home a third place feature finish. The Roadrunner class cars are not allowed nearly the modifications that the Columbus/Jefferson hobby stocks are, so it was quite an accomplishment. The Roadrunner rules are meant to limit the sum of money one can throw into a car, and that is a good thing. Jefferson hobby stock racer Peter Shelley also was out recently, his first time racing in this division here. He won his heat race, before transmission troubles took him out of the feature while running up front. Russ Tetzlaff also raced Justin Kumbier’s car the last time out. In the street stock division, Alex Lee made his first appearance of the year as well, while Jeffrey Lefave Jr. also brought out his hobby stock. Veterans Andy Wendt and Russ Grossen also made appearances in the late model division. In the Bandit division, Art Blakely, Brian Beale and Bobby Ollerman made appearances. Beale won the feature right out of the box on his first night out. Chris Matz has also made a couple of appearances with his sharp looking Dodge Aspen/Plymouth Volare racer. Mike Taylor also made his first showing here of the year, saying, “This is actually my first time racing at all this year, I’ve turned the car over to these other guys this year to race, so I guess I am a car owner now, I get all the work and none of the fun,” He laughed. Mike was racing his street stock car piloted by his Brother Jim at Jefferson, while his son, Kyle, is racing the family late model. Mike has turned a lot of laps here in past years.We actually have a fourth generation driver running here, as Tory Adams’ Daughter, Mckayla, has started racing here in the Bandit division, learning the ropes and doing a fine job. One of the most impressive showings this year has been from late model rookie John Beale. Moving up directly from the Bandit division to late model, John won the feature recently on only his third night out in the new class. I know that he did some extensive practicing before the season started, which obviously helped, but it is an incredible thing to accomplish. He has been very impressive this year. On the night he won his feature, he first won his heat race to gain his first ever victory in a late model, with which he was obviously quite pleased, but then to top the night off with a feature win, well, that is a little icing on the cake! “Was it a win where I came from the back of the pack and passed everyone?” stated Beale, “No. Was it a feature win? Yes. I’ll take it. My radio wasn’t working well, so that didn’t help, and I kind of wished I didn’t have a mirror in the car, because I kept looking in it to see where everyone was, but it turned out okay.” He backed the win up with a strong finish the following week, where he DID have to come from the back of the pack. Just last Friday, it was great fun to watch Brady Liddle and Tory Adams swapping the lead with each other in the late model feature. Adams had engine troubles and spun, and sometimes it seems he can’t catch a break. “Every time we get in a position to win one, something seems to happen,” Said the crew afterwards. The pair had a great race going on, and the Adams crew complimented Brady on running them clean. Had a “tour” of a backup car, courtesy of Andy Ward. For those not in the know, this is a very unique division, that simply said, races in reverse. It is not known for sure, but this may be the only division of its kind in the country that races strictly in reverse gear. “We average 60 m.p.h. while racing,” Said Ward. “We get some people who say that it is no big deal, but I tell you what, they should try racing in reverse that fast. And we race each other, not try to wreck.” Andy has a very comfy seat out of a Lincoln in his car, turned at an extreme angle, in order to allow for ease of looking behind out the rear window, as well as a grab bar welded onto the roll cage to hold onto, while steering with one hand. The shifter is also relocated next to the driver’s door. Very unique and exciting division to watch race. The four cylinder Bandit division has provided some absolutely fantastic racing this season, as recently twentyone cars started an eighteen lap feature, which means the fastest cars have little time if they are going to try to get to the front. The whole group did this without a single caution. Fifteen of the twenty-one cars used black as their primary color, so I’d guess these drivers are expecting some tire marks on their cars? Or black paint is cheaper.
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