Even with 7 months of planning, Mother Nature was still able to throw a wrench into the works of the inaugural $10,000 bracket weekend at Union County Speedway in Liberty, IN. The race was scheduled for Friday & Saturday June 29th & 30th. Severe thunderstorms hit the facility on Thursday, and made parking for competitors arriving early a slippery experience. We all knew the track could hold water and the CIDRA crew had kept the track hard to shed rain so everybody felt confident Friday’s race could go off as planned. Once again, what wasn’t planned was another rain storm early Friday morning. Track owner Billy Daniels and the CIDRA crew worked hard Friday afternoon ripping the track, but it wasn’t meant to be in order to start the race program on time. So, it was decided to cancel Friday’s race and move it to Sunday. All of the competitors that had came in for the Friday race spent the rest of the evening bench racing and socializing.
On Saturday evening 96 racers were treated to one of the best clay tracks they had ever seen. The speedway bought some new equipment to treat the first 60’ of the track and it had some excellent hook. At CIDRA events there are two bracket classes and the time break is random to allow for an equal number of competitors in each bracket. On Saturday evening the break was set at 4.90. The events are ran as double elimination with the finals of the winner’s bracket deciding first and third place, while all losers return to compete for second and fourth place. Due to the ever improving track and atmospheric conditions there were several breakouts throughout the evening. The finals of the Fast Class saw Jim Rhodus take the win in his Big Block Chevy-Powered Jeep J10 with Josh Philpot in a Small Block Chevy-Powered CJ-5 taking third. Darrel Silvers was the Slow Class winner in his Small Block Chevy-Powered Pickup Truck and third place went to Duane Kleinheimer in another Small Block Chevy-Powered Truck. The Fast Class loser’s bracket finished up with Kathy Ellington taking second place with her Small Block Altered over Butch Cregar driving Jeff Dalton’s Small Block Chevy-powered Blazer. The Slow Class runner-up was Bob Houseman Jr. in his Ford Bronco over Tracy Hicks in a Chevy pickup.
By Sunday morning some racers had packed up and headed home as the speedway was left with 62 competitors. Things got underway early and it was pretty evident that some of the usual suspects from Saturday evening were on a roll. With four cars left in the fast class Jim Rhodus and Josh Philpot were still in. Everybody was wondering if that pair would have a repeat showing in the finals. They ended up facing each other so at least one would return to the finals for the second day in a row. With a -.009 redlight Jim handed the trip to the finals over to Josh. The other semi-final pair had Bobby Meyers taking the win over a redlighting Mike Ellington. Bobby went on to win the event giving Josh his second third place finish of the weekend. Second and fourth place went to Carrol Patterson and Kathy Ellington respectively. In the slow class it was Justin Ball over Charlie Bath for first and third place, while the finals in the loser’s bracket saw Lonnie Rees take second place over Scott Lykins.
In my opinion, this was one of the more professionally run events I have attended. Billy Daniels made sure that everything started according to schedule, and that was a huge benefit to racers as well as spectators. The show was kept moving and track work was handled quickly with no delays. This event will be repeated in 2008 with a higher payout and some potential sponsors coming on board. When more details are released I’ll be sure to keep you informed.
* Pictures below courtesy of Mike Ellington / www.sanddragcentral.com *
A view of the Liberty, IN track.
Tommy Bowers' "Tommy Turtle" Jeep.
Justin Dees' "Iron Maiden" Dragster.
Mike Ellington's "Politically Incorrect" Jeep.
Mooch Bowers' "Leftovers" Jeep.
Rodney Ritberger's Jeep.
Dave Lynch's Chevy Truck.