Notes: U.S. drivers get victories Down Under
U.S. Dirt Late Model drivers frequently go Down Under for a little off-season dirt racing action. During this year's holiday season back in the States, three of them notched victories at dirt tracks in Australia and New Zealand.
Jeep Van Wormer of Pinconning, Mich., won two of three starts in Western Australia while West Virginia buddies Josh Richards and Jared Hawkins won one race apiece at Baypark Speedway in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand.
Richards, 22, the reigning World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion, made his first start on the continent and drove Maurice Cowling's Rocket Chassis is victory on the quarter-mile Baypark oval on Dec. 27.
After Richards wasn't allowed to run the Rocket in the Jan. 1 Super Saloon Car GP event, Hawkins climbed into a Russell Donavan-owned Chevy Impala and survived a wall-banging wreck in prelims to win the 20-lap main event.
Van Wormer, making his second trip to Western Australia to race with the Oldfield Racing team, opened his trip with a Dec. 18 victory at Perth Motorplex, then finished second to Brad Blake on Dec. 26 at Bunbury Speedway.
Van Wormer, who received crew help from Oldfield Racing team members during last year's UMP DIRTcar Summernationals, concluded his trip with a victory at Manjimup Speedway on Jan. 2. Van Wormer led 33 of 35 laps, outrunning Jamie Oldfield for the victory. Craig Vosbergen, an Australian who competed in several Summernationals events last year, finished fourth.
"I can't thank the Oldfields, Warren Bishop and everybody that I have met during my stay here in Australia enough for their generosity, support, and hospitality," Van Wormer said. "Our cars were fast all three nights down here and I am pumped to give these guys a couple of wins and a second-place finish. It was an honor and a privilege to race against the best Aussie drivers and I had a blast at all three tracks. Hopefully, my wife Angie and I get the opportunity to come back down here again in the near future, as we always enjoy visiting this part of the world." — From Bay of Plenty Times reports and Ryan Delph
FASTRAK NORTHEAST REGULAR KILLED: Gary Knollinger, a regular in Fastrak-sanctioned action for Crate Late Models, died Dec. 25 from injuries suffered as a pedestrian when he was struck by a car a week earlier on U.S. 40 in Triadelphia, W.Va. He was 39. "Words cannot express the deep sorrow that is felt throughout the FASTRAK community," series co-director Mike Leon said. "In just a short period of time, Gary became one of the Northeast's strongest and most competitive racers. We could always count on his presence no matter where we were racing." Knollinger was Fastrak's 2010 Mid-Ohio Valley champion and competed in all 20 Fastrak Northeast events, scoring 12 top-10 finishes. Knollinger worked at the Middle Creek Garage near the site of the accident. — From series reports
DEERY BROTHERS TOUR PLANS BONUS EVENTS: The 25th season on IMCA's Deery Brothers Summer Series for Late Models will include at least three bonus events. The Ironman Challenge will be part of 34 Raceway's Pepsi USA Nationals, a 25th Anniversary Race will be included in Farley Speedway's Yankee Dirt Track Classic and a Race of Champions is set for Quad City Speedway's season-ending event. “The list of drivers who have won Deery or national championships over the years is pretty distinguished. It’s impressive that a lot of them are still racing,” tour director Kevin Yoder said. “I expect to see a number of them take the green flag in all three of these special races.” — Bill Martin
TENNESSEE NATIONAL SETS MAJOR EVENTS: Tennessee National Raceway in Hohenwald, Tenn., now under the ownership of John Mosier, has scheduled several Super Late Model events for 2011, including three events on the Southern Regional Racing Series. The track is scheduled to open its season March 10-12 with the second annual Ice Breaker, a $3,000-to-win event for Super Late Models. The season-ending event is the Nov. 10-12 Shannon Hickerson Memorial, an SRRS event paying $5,000 to the winner. The quarter-mile oval closed last April under former owner Nathan Ottensmeyer. — From staff reports
ODDS AND ENDS: It appeared the 2011 Dirt Late Model trade show season might force vendors and visitors to pick between two major shows, but that's no longer the case. The International Motorsports Industry Show in Indianapolis, Ind., has shifted its dates to Dec. 8-10, a week later than the Performance Racing Industry Show in Orlando, Fla. ... While Columbus (Miss.) Speedway has cancelled its traditional Winter Classic, Boyd's Speedway in Ringgold, Ga., has scheduled its second annual Cabin Fever 50 for Jan. 22. The unsanctioned Super Late Model feature pays $3,000 to the winner. ... The Volunteer Racing Series and first-year Midwest Dirt Racing League have scheduled a Jan. 15 meeting to discuss rules and schedules. Call promoter Chris Tilley at (606) 219-1723 for more information. ... Tennessee drivers got their first crack at racing in 2011 on Jan. 2 at 411 Motor Speedway's Hangover 125. Brad Lowe won the Late Model feature after apparent winner Anthony White refused to tear down his engine at postrace inspection.