Never again will the sounds of crashing metal, the sight of steam-spouting, ripped-open radiators, the thud of slashed tires, along with the oohs and ahhs of a near capacity crowd be on display at Texas Thunder Speedway for Demolition Derby night.
With the track’s imminent closing on Aug. 31, TTS opened the gates Saturday night for six cars, which is a shame in itself, since the winner would receive $1,000, but the guys who built these tanks put on a great show.
Hats off to winner Michael Crandall in his 24K Lincoln Town Car, who outlasted Hutto driver Joe Bartolo’s No. 57. Bartolo got his share of crowd cheers, because every time it seemed he couldn’t go on, his car would start up again.
We need to give David Goode Jr. props for collecting the Hardest Hit award, since he pounded not one, but two opponents with crunching, rear end hits in his Cadillac limousine, before being put away.
A final award went to Josh Kuhnau, who was driving in honor of Killeen police officer Bobby Hornsby, for Best Looking Car, at least it was before the green flag waved, then all bets were off.
Thanks to each of these guys, few as there were, for giving the fans another few minutes of where grassroots, dirt-track racing came from and what it’s about.
Other than the Demo, there wasn’t much rending of metal during feature race action.
In the Twister classes, Jerry Kipp, racing the 1 car out of Nolanville, jumped to a big lead in the Outlaw division from the start and won going away with no trouble.
Killeen driver Rick Saupp’s No. 59 had the Texas Twister race lead for four laps before the 99 car of Harker Heights racer James Enyeart pulled off a left-side pass for the lead.
About that time, Saupp was black flagged for rough driving, which put Enyeart in position to hold off all hallengers and get the win.
Then, out came the Street Stocks, 22 strong, for a 20-lap main event, which got started with Salado driver Joey Craig’s 555 car out to a big lead right off the green. Caution flags, which are often seen in this class, started flying, including one to untangle David Dunn and James Cochran’s get together on the back straightaway.
The first and last lead change happened on lap 12, when the Temple-based 45 car of Chris Cockrell overtook Craig, moved ahead and went on to the winner’s circle.
In the IMCA Stock Car feature’s early going, the No. 20 of Trevor Sparkman and Anthony Otken’s 489 were running together up front, with Zach Riley a close third in his 110 car.
By lap seven, Sparkman had faded and Riley executed a left-side pass on Otken for the top spot and by the checkered flag, Riley had built his lead to a full straightaway. He patiently waited on the track apron until everybody else had cleared, then spun a few doughnuts to celebrate his win.
Zach wasn’t through yet. After his post-race interview, the youngster came into the stands and gave his trophy to a young fan.
That’s class, fans.
Another quick, three-car sprint to the front opened the IMCA Southern SportMod A main with G.W. Egbert IV, Sid Kiphen and Jarrett Roberts, who turned 16 on race day, all jockeying for position. Egbert’s Belton-based 70 car claimed the top spot five laps in with Kiphen’s No. 58 hot on his heels. In the end, it was Egbert, ranked No. 2 in the country, celebrating in the winner’s circle.
Except for a first-lap, head-on love tap in turn two between Vavette Blevins, who had spun out and Kenny Ware, who had no place to go, the IMCA Hobby Stock show was virtually drama free. Cody Frank, who races the 7 car out of Hewitt, led flag-to-flag and took the ride down victory lane.
Feature racing wrapped up with 22 IMCA Modifieds on the track and it looked like China Spring racer Justin Radcliff might have things all to himself in his 11J car, since he was out front for the first 17 circuits of a 20-lap run.
With three to go, the 1 car of defending national champion Keith White suddenly appeared out of a pack and took the reins, spurring his car to the winner’s circle.
And that’s how things went on the final July race night ... ever ... at venerable, 41-year old Texas Thunder Speedway.
We’re now down to our final five race nights before the bulldozers come in and do away with a real piece of racing history.
See ya at the track, soon ... I hope.