BY: MIKE ELLINGTON
Midwestern sand dragging officially came to a close with its final event of the year with Last Blast, held at the IOK Four Wheelers race facility in Cleves, OH. The rain poured non-stop the week prior to the event, dumping up to six inches on the tri-state area. While the threat of rain kept some of the long distance travelers away, the locals showed up in full force. The rain held off and those in attendance were treated to a full array of off-road competition.
Friday night kicked off with the uphill drags. This event is side by side uphill bracket racing. If you think it’s tough to bracket race in three hundred feet, try doing it while racing uphill in only 100 feet. The split was a surprisingly fast 2.60, so the vehicles were all dialed pretty tightly together. The winners were Mike Ellington in the fast class, Rodney Peters in the slow class, and Chad Ohmer in the ATV class. Second place honors went to Matt Wilson in the fast class, Toby Kelly in the slow class and Al Varner in the ATV class.
Early Saturday morning the Rock Crawlers took the stage to compete in rock races which combine the new and ever expanding rock course with the twists, turns, and jumps of the IOK obstacle course. This event has only been going on for a year now, and has really grown by leaps and bounds. It’s bringing a lot of new faces to the track, both as spectators and competitors. Some competitors were pulling double duty with a vehicle in the rock crawl and a vehicle out on the drag strip. Spectators were able to watch the drags and the rock crawl all at the same time. For pictures and results from this event visit www.IOKrock.com.
The main event of the weekend is the bracket races on the sand drag track. There were over 100 vehicles competing in the brackets. During the drivers meeting 16 numbers were pulled from a hat to compete in a special race held every year sponsored by American Electric Power. There is $1000 up for grabs in this race. Rodney Peters is a racer that hadn’t been out to compete in few years. He hasn’t forgotten how to race. He’s been to the last few races this season and had not lost a round yet. At the conclusion of the AEP Dash for Cash he was still undefeated taking the win over Dave Snyder, driving Scott Gosser’s Jeep.
The regular brackets followed the Dash for Cash and the racing was pretty exciting to say the least. There were several extremely close races through the rounds of competition. The winner of the fast class was Mark Hembree in his VW-powered sand rail with Matt Wilson taking runner-up for the second night in a row. In the slow class Bill Huffman had to switch vehicles during competition but was still able to take the win over Brad Lynch in his Chevy truck. In the ATV class Kevin Persinger took the win on his Yamaha Banshee over long time truck racer Tom King.
Overall, the race went really smooth and the light troubles that have seemed to plague the hill drags for the last few years seem to be a thing of the past. Thanks to the IOK Four Wheelers for putting on a good event to wrap up the season.
Hill Drag Video from Last Blast at Cleves, OH