By Jeffrey Sachse
Wilmot, WI; August 18, 2012: Paul May made the long trip from Terre Haute, IN worthwhile as he captured perhaps the largest paycheck in his sprint car career. The Roger Iles tribute, named in honor of one of the IRA Sprint Car series former founding members and former sprint racer featured one of the largest payouts in the Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints series history. The added award money was due to the efforts of Carriage Auto Body and Ken Iles who was responsible for securing lap money. Each lap led during the 36 lap A-main would pay an addition $100. With a the potential to win a whopping $7,200 if a driver were to lead all the laps and win the race the show would be a crown jewel on the 2012 schedule.
May’s efforts in leading all 36 laps of the contest were commendable especially during the closing laps with Greg Wilson from Benton Ridge, Ohio and a regular on the All-Star Circuit of Champions doing everything in his power to wrestle away the lead. Over the final five laps Wilson was able to draw even with May on several occasions but he was unable to execute the pass needed to win the big prize.
The duel kept the standing room only crowd on its feet as the pair crossed the finish line with May holding the lead by less than a car length. The roar of approval for May from the crowd during the victory lane interview was icing on the cake for having captured this prestigious event.
The evening would begin with 30 drivers checking in for competition. Run under nearly ideal weather conditions and with the Kenosha County Fair taking place at the Wilmot Raceway grounds, the stands quickly filled to capacity during the preliminary events.
Four-time and defending Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint champion Bill Balog would turn in the fastest lap of the evening in qualifying topping the charts with a 13.124 second tour of the third-mile clay oval. Mike Kertscher who captured top honors during the 410 sprint program held at the track the night before laid down the second fastest lap of the evening with a 13.300 second effort. Mike Reinke and Wilson would turn in the third and fourth quick times respectively.
Heat race action would be hotly contested with victories captured by Wilson, Kertscher and local favorite “Wild Bill” Wirth who would later turn in a solid performance in the main event eventually finishing the contest in third.
The B-main would see several of the series top stars having to make the show through the contest. MOWA Series hotshoe Patrick Hayes would wind up with the victory in the event followed by IRA Series stars Phillip Mock, Kris Spitz, Raymond Hensley and Wayne Modjeski.
With the preliminary events complete a field of 22 drivers would accept the green flag for the highlight of the show. Wirth would sit on the pole for the 36 Lap “Roger Iles Tribute” with May to his outside as the pair came down to accept the green flag.
Wirth would get the jump on May heading into turn one at the drop of the green flag, but May would power ahead on the outside down the backstretch to officially lead the opening lap. For the next 35 laps everyone would be chasing May’s rear nerf bar but his lead was always in jeopardy.
Dave Uttech would settle into the third spot followed by Wilson who had reached fourth by the completion of the second circuit after having started in the seventh position.
May and Wirth would slowly pull away from the field, while Wilson began to work over Uttech for the third position. As the leaders began to approach lapped traffic, Wirth would dive to the bottom of the track in an effort to wrestle the top spot away from Wilson. On lap ten Wirth would draw event with May heading down the backstretch but Wilson was up to the challenge and again surged ahead without losing the top spot.
On the next lap Wilson was able to work past Uttech for the third spot and he began to close in on the lead pair of May and Wirth.
The scariest moment of the evening occurred on lap just before the halfway point of the contest when Raymond Hensley and Hayes locked wheels coming down the front stretch. Hensley did a series of end over end flips coming to rest upside down on the front stretch near turn one. Safety crews were quickly on hand and Hensley would emerge from his battered machine unhurt.
The resulting red flag bunched the field and after a brief delay to remove Hensley’s machine racing resumed.
May would shoot back into the lead, while Wirth and Wilson would toss the second spot back and forth. Uttech and Balog would follow in the top five.
Wilson would gain the upper hand on Wirth to secure the second spot, while Balog and Kertscher moved into fourth and fifth respectively. Kertscher however would have his efforts come to an abrupt halt a moment later when his ride suffered mechanical issues forcing him to stop on the track in turn four on lap 16.
The green flag returned with May coming under heavy pressure from Wilson. Wirth likewise had his hands full with Balog who was attempting to steal the third position.
Balog would reach the third spot on lap 20 with a well executed slide job on Wirth and he began to reel in the lead duo of May and Wilson. As Balog began to pressure Wilson for second May began to extend his lead.
After several challenges for the second spot Balog suddenly began to lose speed allowing Wilson to scramble away and he soon found Wirth closing in on him to try and retake third.
It became apparent that Balog was having his right rear tire lose air pressure as Wirth closed to reclaim the third position.
Out front May would watch his lead slowly evaporate as Wilson began his final charge with the laps winding down.
The final caution of the contest would appear on lap 31 when defending track champion Sexton came to a stop on the backstretch. Under caution Balog was forced to leave the track and head to the work area to change a rapidly deflating right rear tire.
This left May, Wilson, Wirth and Scott Neitzel in the lead spots for the five lap dash to the checkered. The battle between May and Wilson would bring the crowd to it’s feet as the pair drew even several times down the backstretch.
Wilson did all he could to wrestle the top spot from May but May was not to be denied earning his first career Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint victory. Wilson would settle for second followed by Wirth who was able to fend off a last lap passing attempt by Neitzel. Mike Reinke would complete the top five.
Johnny Fahl would claim sixth for his best feature run of a limited 2012 schedule. Scott Uttech, Dave Uttech, Bill Warren and Russel Borland would complete the top ten finishers. 15 of the 22 starters were still on the track at the checkered flag.
As part of a double-header weekend the series now heads to LaSalle Speedway for it’s only Illinois appearance of the 2012 season. On Saturday Night, August 19th the Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints will join the Midwest Open Wheel Association for the running of the Bill Waite Jr, Memorial. The show should feature nearly 40 of the finest Winged 410 sprint drivers in the upper Midwest.
The program will see the grandstands open at 4:00pm, with Hot Laps at 6:00pm and racing set to take place at 7:00pm.
Adult admission tickets are $20 and in addition to the 410 sprints, UMP Modifieds and the tracks own Hornet division will be on hand with a full racing program.
The IRA Outlaw Sprint Series is proudly supported by Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts & Service Centers, Osborn & Son Trucking, Goodyear, TW Metals, Cummins Onan, DNA Energy Drink& Snacks, MPT Industries, UltraLube, Big Game Treestands, Carriage Auto Body, Otis Gun, Mother's Polishes and Waxes and Polaris DEFENSE. The office of the IRA Sprints can be reached at 815-759-9269 or by e-mail at [email protected]
Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints:
A-Main: 1.) Paul May; 2.) Greg Wilson; 3.) Bill Wirth; 4.) Scott Neitzel; 5.) Mike Reinke; 6.) Johnny Fahl; 7.) Scott Uttech; 8.) Dave Uttech; 9.) Bill Warren; 10.) Russel Borland; 11.) Bill Balog; 12.) Phillip Mock; 13.) Kris Spitz; 14.) Robbie Pribnow; 15.) Brandon Thone; 16.) Tommy Sexton; 17.) Todd Daun; 18.) Mike Kertscher; 19.) Matt Vandervere; 20.) Patrick Hayes; 21.) Raymond Hensley; 22.) Wayne Modjeski
B-Main (Top 10) : 1.) Hayes; 2.) Mock; 3.) K. Spitz; 4.) Hensley; 5.) Modjeski; 6.) Thone; 7.) Warren; 8.) Dennis Spitz; 9.) Darrell Dodd; 10.) Jereme Schroeder
Heat 1: 1.) Wilson; 2.) Daun; 3.) Balog; 4.) D. Uttech
Heat 2: 1.) Sexton; 2.) Borland; 3.) Neitzel; 4.) Kertscher
Heat 3: 1.) Wirth; 2.) May; 3.) Vandervere; 4.) Fahl
Qualifying: (Top 10) 1.) Balog, 12.230 Seconds; 2.) Kertscher, 13.426 Secs; 3.) Reinke, 13.521 secs; 4.) Wilson, 13.559; 5.) Neitzel, 13.743; 6.) Mock, 13.767; 7.) K. Spitz, 13.838; 8.) Sexton, 13.852; 9.) Fahl, 13.898; 10.) D. Uttech, 13.911