Gunderson Slaughters Field in "The Nationals"!
By Ben Chandler
16 “Outlaw” Figure-8 cars started the 30th annual Nationals last Saturday night, one of the smaller fields in the history of this epic event. The first place prize was increased to an amazing $4000, and a change-up in the stock class tire rules created all kinds of excitement in the pits, when a couple of those cars actually qualified faster than many of the “Outlaw” cars did! I assume that the “better” tires were offered to the Stock guys so that they could keep up with the lighter, faster Outlaw cars. I actually thought it was the right call! There just aren’t enough Outlaw-type racecars out there anymore, without the stockers to fill the field. And if you can’t fill a field, the race would just go bye-bye! And by the way, the idea of just the fastest 10 drawing for a starting spot was… a brilliant idea! You need the really slower cars safely behind the faster pack, at least initially, not mixed in amongst them. Plus it motivates honest qualifying times.
Back when this race first was created, the top 10 qualifiers “were in”, the rest made it into the show through Heat race success, or a Promoter’s option. Not long ago, when we had several more cars than the proper 20 to 22 spots, they often just let everyone run, and it was like a Demo-derby for the first 30 minutes! So if now you only have a dozen Outlaw cars, you (as a Promoter) fill the field any way you can, then protect the slower cars (and the field) a bit, so that more guys are still putting on a good show for the fans - all night long! These seem like a couple of smart changes to me, but they created lots of yelling and whining about them at the pit meeting - except from Nick Gunderson.
Gunderson’s beautiful black and orange #33 was fast, as usual, and he appeared confident. He later drew the 5th starting spot, just ahead of his main competition, and 2014 “60-minute” winner, Ricky “the Kid” Deitz, and his #76 car. Drawing the front row spots were two tough veteran drivers, 6-time “big-race” winner (and 4-time FEAR Champ) Steve “Mr. Excitement” Cox in his lucky #7, and Quinton “One-armed Bandit” Borreson, the current “Stock” class point leader, driving David Brandenburg’s #17 car…to FAST TIME, just beating out Gunderson! Those 2 took turns leading in the early laps as the Gunderson car quickly worked its way to the front, followed by Deitz. Borreson blew up BIG, at the halfway mark.
The other fast “stocker” was the #30 “Battlewagon” Chevy, driven by Tom Gapp. The Steve Peters owned car had used “take-offs”, but still managed a top 5 Q-lap, and looked good for 11 laps, until blowing up a brake rotor. Several laps later the #75 of Mike Middleton spun out, and left the track, creating another restart. My notes show Gunderson taking the lead by lap 8, Deitz moved into 2nd a lap later, and that’s how they ran for about 58 more minutes! The #49 of “Slick” Don Eslick had started towards the back, but made it to 3rd by lap 23. Lapped by the leader at the 100 mark, Don pulled off at 135, and ended up in 7th, behind Cox who fought tire woes all night. Rounding out the top 5 was the #55 of Doug Wilkenson, who started in the 10th spot, and simply stayed out of trouble!
The “Full-field draw” put several other faster cars towards the back, including 2-time Champ Jake Repin, who ended up in 4th, and 4-time Champ John “the Cowboy” Carlson. Also starting towards the back was Mike Steltz, in his cool looking #67, and Chris Curtis, driving “Liberty”, who whined the most, but also passed the most cars, to a 3rd place finish!
Even with the small field, it was a fun race to watch. Although a third of the cars were out by the halfway mark, no big crashes, injuries or drama slowed the action, so it was just an hour long, which is about right. Both Gunderson and Deitz ended the night several laps ahead of everyone else, but seeing the leader almost get by 2nd place before the end, would have been unprecedented in the 30 year history of “The Nationals!” Speaking of history, few have won “the double”, both this race AND the 60-minutes of FEAR, so congrats to (’13 60-minute winner) Nick Gunderson for his first “Nationals” win, and for joining his (2-time Nat. winner) Dad, Brian, on the rare and EXCLUSIVE list of Father-Son “double” winners!
Just 9 cars started the Stinger-8 Main event Saturday, and it was a hard fought battle right to the end! Early leader Gary Rarden, in his #2 Toyota, was passed by eventual winner Jessica Gray’s #04 Acura, then by “rookie sensation” Toby Jenkins #11 Integra. The 3 of them battled to the very last corner when Rarden grabbed the 2nd place spot back, right at the checkered flag! In 4th place was (Bride-to-be) Joselyn LaFleur, followed by Matt Somerville in his #21 …and Jason Wilson in MY old car! Not sure how the points shake out with Gray’s winning again, but it should be a fun Championship battle to watch, with just a few races left. I’m sad to see the car count struggle in this division. When I first proposed us breaking away from the Hornets nearly 15 years ago, the cars were so simple and cheap to build. I had a chance to race the (fearracing.org sponsored) #10x Prelude the other night, and boy, it seemed so fancy! Thanks again Cody Hoopes, for the fun ride in your Hornet!
By starting that Stinger-8 heat race, I became the first driver in the 60-year history of Evergreen Speedway, to race in, or “touch” 6 different decades! Starting in my teens with Demo derbies, I raced Figure-8’s through my 20’s, when I won my only Championship, then through my 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. I retired from racing 2 years ago at 59, after 40 fun years. With the recent sale of my trusty old trailer, that heat race last Saturday should be my final racing appearance in my 60’s!
And sadly, we lost a couple of old friends, and long-time supporters of local Auto racing last week, Don Perry and Marie Young. Dancin’ Don Perry was the very first Flagman at Evergreen Speedway! He helped build the 3/8 track, was seriously hurt here, then spent 20 more years as a NASCAR official. Don was a special guest at our last FEAR reunion, looked great at the driver’s reunion earlier this summer, and was inducted into the Evergreen Speedway Hall of Fame the year before last. A memorial lap is planned for Don this Saturday night. See pictures and an interview I did last winter, in the current track program.
Marie Young was married to the late “Poppa” Joe Young, for over 55 years! A big supporter of FEAR, Marie was ever present at our meetings, and in the stands, in support of the family’s “Scrap-Iron” racing team. Their oldest son, Joe Young “Jr.” was the stock class Season Champ in 1980, and his sister Melanie was my club Secretary for many years. All of the Young kids raced silver and black cars with Poppa Joe, grandkids too. I lost my Mom several years ago, and know the feeling of losing my last parent. Godspeed, Marie. Say Hi to Poppa Joe for all of us here at FEAR and Evergreen Speedway.
See you at the FAIR, as we wind this season down! BC
60 MINUTES OF… RICKY!
By Ben Chandler
It was 20 years ago that Ricky “the Kid” Deitz won the very FIRST “60 Minutes of FEAR” race. He did it again 13 years later, in 2007, then for the 3rd time, in 2010. The defending (and final “Super-8”) Champ, forever known as “The Kid”, just won it for a 4th time, matching history this past Saturday night. Steve Cox HAD been the only 4-time winner! My old sponsor, KISW was the primary sponsor for this big event, and 17 (newly re-named) “Outlaws” took the green flag. Story to follow...
Much earlier in the evening, 12 Stinger-8 cars showed up for an exciting 30 lapper, and it was actually history making, at least in the end! Won by Jessica Gray in her #04 Acura, she first had to get by early leader J.J. Edwards, then hold off the seemingly faster Nicole Pollard. Rookie point leader, Toby Jenkins, somehow cut TWO tires down around lap 3, which may have affected his Championship dreams. And Matt Somerville wowed the fans with several close intersection charges in his #21 Integra. Gray held off the #89 of Pollard and the #06 of NEW point leader (by 4), Joselyn LaFleur, also in Integras - and for the first time ever in history… 3 “chicks” were on the podium at Evergreen Speedway!
For the newly renamed “Outlaw” division, this was an interesting tale of 2 different nights of racing. It seemed like EVERYONE had a bad night, either last Saturday, or this one! Except Steve Cox, who had both go wrong. A week earlier, as Evergreen Speedway celebrated its 60th season of racing with a fun “old drivers” reunion, 11 “Outlaws” lined up for a wild 50 lap “tune-up” race. After a quick Memorial lap for Dan Talbert, Mick Tomlin’s recently deceased mechanic (and former son-in-law), the green flag dropped. Mike Steltz and Doug Wilkinson jumped to the front and battled for the lead, nearly every lap. Doug took the checkered flag first in his #55, but was disqualified for softened tires. Steltz lead most of it in his #67, but after a late tangle with several lap-down cars, was beat to the line by Wilkinson, and the #33 of Nick Gunderson. Gunderson thus got the win, but had damaged his engine. Two of the quickest Outlaw drivers, Mike Middleton and his new #75, and former Champ, Jake Repin in “the Mistress” found a way to collide at the X, early in the tune-up race. Newly inducted into the “Top-60” drivers at Evergreen, John “the Cowboy” Carlson left the track early, and often, in the tune-up. Ricky Deitz, left even earlier, and for good, around lap 15.
What a difference a week made for all of those guys! In the 60-Minute race, Carlson was FAST! The only driver on the lead lap at the end of 173 laps with Deitz, “the Cowboy” led the race with his “blue light special”- until succumbing to the #76 of Deitz, around lap 40. With “fast-time” in the #45, after major reconstruction from the previous week’s calamity, Jake Repin also led early on, stayed in the top 3 for most of the race, had some mechanical problems, but finished in the top 10. Former 60-Minute winner Middleton, simply stayed out of trouble, after his week of repair, and ended up in 3rd, followed by Wilkinson’s #55 and Dave Brandenburg’s #17 “Stocker”- driven this week by Quentin Borreson, rounding out the top 5. Last week’s winner, Nick Gunderson, blew up again during practice. The crew replaced another motor, but never really got going, which was weird. Also weird was seeing two of my old friends “going after each other”- and seeing Steve Cox’s #7 falling apart, before a hard wreck finally ended his night…and then it started to rain with, like, 10 minutes to go!
So, congrats to Ricky for his 4th “60-minute” victory. It was truly a fun race to watch, for ALL 60 minutes!
If you want to learn more about Ricky Deitz, his brother Jaime and his famous dad, Vern, pick up the NEW 2014 Evergreen Speedway program under the grandstands. It’s chock full of cool pictures and stories about the Deitz, Sundholm, and Beadle families, in a special “family” section dedicated to the memory of Sean Peters. Plus, track Champs, history of FEAR, and the 2 latest Hall of Fame inductees, all written by me! And finally, I had a chance to hang out in the pits before the racing started Saturday, chatting with old friends and new. Surprised that so many newer Figure-8 drivers, in all 3 divisions, were unaware of their OWN official website & club, fearracing.org! I was happy to sign up a couple new members on Saturday; and have space for a few more! If you have any questions, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. So that’s just about it for the first half of the 2014 season. We used to make a big deal about “Mid-season” with trophies, extra points and a big FEAR PICNIC, before starting the point battle over… I kinda miss “mid-season” madness! Thanks for reading, and see you at the track! BC
MAY FEAR RECAP, JUNE TRACK REUNION!
By Ben Chandler
The second month of racing at Evergreen Speedway is behind us, and boy, was it a cold wet one! The weather is perfect today, June 2nd, let’s hope it holds for the track’s big 60th anniversary and drivers’ reunion this weekend! All former drivers, pit-crews, employees and car owners are invited to join in the festivities Saturday night. During the evening the newest group of 10 “top drivers” will be introduced, and I am so pleased that 4-time Champ Rob Holden, along with Brian Delfel and “the Cowboy” John Carlson, join the original “Top 50” drivers that were honored 10 years ago. My ballot had several more Figure-8 names on it because, well, we always were “the show.” But it will be a big fun night, and should end with some kind of party, just like we always did, back “in the day!” Sign up for free passes on the same EvergreenSpeedway.com website that dropped our link/logo last month. I will bring the FEAR banner and hang it towards the middle of the grandstand, so you Figure-8 guys can actually find each other, when not in the beer garden.
With 3 Figure-8 divisions now racing at Evergreen, and the car count in each struggling to fill a Main, my weekly reporting will instead be more likely a roundup of several weeks of races. Which is ok, as I’m kinda busy doing semi-retired guy stuff!
With that said, congrats to Jessica Gray for a “clean-sweep” a few weeks back. 12 cars started the 20-lap Stinger-8 Main Event. She started her #04 Acura in front, and held off Joselyn LaFleur, who seems like the leading contender to beat “rookie sensation” Toby Jenkins to the Championship this season. Right behind “Jawz” in her #06 Integra, was the FEARracing.org sponsored #10x Prelude of Cody Hoopes, staying out of trouble, and taking the 3rd place trophy home. That same night, 7 cars turned up to support the new super “stock” class. Again it was Quinton “the one-armed Bandit” Borreson driving David Brandenburg’s #17 car to victory, over the #30 of Steve “Battlewagon” Peters, the #6 of Steve Schoenfeldt and Doug Delfel in his re-bodied #01. Quinton also won the other night, this time over Delfel and Jessie Bertino’s #88. With 3 out of 4 wins to date, Borreson is clearly in the points lead for his first ever Championship.
Memorial Day weekend was dedicated to the memory of our friend Sean Peters, and the newly re-branded “Outlaw” division had a 50-lap event that started 10 cars. Great to see Mike Middleton back out in his new #75 Gunder-built car, but it was not quite as fast as Nick Gunderson’s own #33. Nick took the lead on lap 11 and never looked back. Former 2-time Champ Jake Repin slipped by Pat Clark driving the #74, to take over 2nd place, leaving “Liberty” in 3rd followed by Mike Steltz and defending Champ Ricky Dietz. Ricky is BARELY the points leader (+1) in that division, over Steltz and Repin (+3) going into this weekend’s race, and NEXT week’s huge “60-minutes of FEAR!”
13 Stingers celebrated Memorial Day by going 30 laps, and it looked like Matt Somerville in his #21 Integra might get his first win of the year. Alas, the #11 of rookie Toby Jenkins flew by around lap 18 and took the win, over “Jawz” LaFleur and Jessica Gray…my notes showed the current “points leader” lapped everyone else! Mark’s kid can DRIVE! If you are currently a Figure-8 driver or business owner, and want to join FEAR so that you can have your pictures and profile on our site, please give me a call @425 747 4736. Thanks! That’s it for May, I’ll see you in June, at the REUNION & 60th Anniversary Saturday - and at the 60-minutes of FEAR in 2 weeks! BC
“JAWZ” and “THE KID” WIN… IN THE RAIN!
By Ben Chandler
This racing season has started out as one of the wettest in history. I read that last weekend set all kinds of records as the wettest ever in the N.W., with lots of cities reporting 1” to 2” of the stuff. We have always raced in the rain at Evergreen, and are lucky to have grandstands for our fans, but after what, 3 weekends of it, I think the idea of “raining out” is starting to make sense! That said, it was actually a pretty good show, at least to watch, with 10 of the “Outlaw” figure-8’s joining the Stinger-8 cars for their big night, on a very damp, and rather cool Saturday.
Promoted as the Stinger-8 “Nationals”- with lots of extra laps and a generous payout, 15 cars took the green flag for the 75 lapper. “Rookie Sensation”, and current Stinger class point leader, Toby Jenkins, jumped into the early lead in his #11 Integra, with the #2 Toyota of Gary Rarden in hot pursuit, until a mishap knocked the MR-2 out, around lap 24. A few laps later Jenkins slowed a bit, as the #44 Honda driven by Melissa Repin tangled with newcomer, Mike Ridley’s #66 in the intersection, then was hit on the other side by the #50 of Jason Wilson! Wilson actually went on to finish 4th behind the #11 of Jenkins, who held on for 3rd. Joselyn “Jawz” LaFleur started near the front, finally got by Jenkin’s and missed all of the craziness! She drove a very smooth race after taking the lead in her #06 Integra, and was able to hold off the fast #89 Integra of Nicoll Pollard for the rest of the race, for the big win!
The “Outlaw” division slid around the wet track for their 50 lapper, the final race of the evening. 10 started, 8 actually finished, and it looked miserable out there! Defending Champion Jake Repin was the early leader in his #45 rocket, and he held that lead against first the #67 car of Mike Steltz, then the #76 of Ricky “the Kid” Dietz, right up to the halfway point. Ricky got by Repin to take the lead then, and soon Steltz had 2nd place well in hand. And that’s how they finished, with “Mr. Excitement” Steve Cox and Chris Curtis, in “Liberty” rounding out the top 5! And congrats to Quenton Borreson! He didn’t do much in this race, but he won last week’s Super-stock race in David Brandenburg’s #17, ahead of Steve Peters and Chuck Widdis. This cool, new division is scheduled to run again THIS week, along with the Stingers!
In fact SEVERAL big events are on the horizon for racers and fans alike, as the Outlaws return in a few weeks for the Sean Peters memorial night! Also, the track is celebrating its 60th anniversary in early June. ALL FORMER FEAR RACERS, and FSCRA members are invited to join in the fun and free festivities! The new program is just about ready, I’m proud to say. And Doug is about to announce one of the biggest prize funds for the 2014 Figure-8 Nationals, and for the upcoming “60-minutes of FEAR”! So lots of cool stuff is coming up, and the rain HAS to stop sometime! See you at the track! BC
2014 IS UNDERWAY!
April Figure-8 racing recap - By Ben Chandler
It finally seems like the racing season got going this past weekend, with great weather (finally) and the newly renamed “Outlaw” super-8 cars taking to the track, for “Family night” on Saturday…and what used to be a Stinger-8 race on the tiny track at the SpringFair in Puyallup, taking place the next day. “Slam-fest” lived up to its name, as former Figure-8 driver Mike “Mr. Dizzy” Buse did a big “100 ft. car-drop” stunt, then flagged the rest of the mayhem! Car counts seem to be a concern for 2014, with the Stingers averaging 9 cars in their first two outings at Evergreen Speedway. Sadly, even fewer than that showed up down South. The $300 winner was the #61 “got rice” Prelude, followed by “funnyman” Aaron Flett in his newly painted #65 Civic. As usual, there was one idiot trying to crash into everyone else, until he finally ran into a wall!
The “Outlaws” put on a pretty good 8-car show Saturday, with Nick Gunderson’s #33 taking the 50-lap Main event over “Slick” Don Eslick and Ricky “the Kid” Dietz. Gunderson, with fast-time, took just 12 laps to take over the lead, after starting near the rear, and was soon lapping the back half of the field. At least from 4th place on down. That is to say…only Nick, Slick and Rick went the full lick! They were followed by Chris Curtis, in “Liberty” and Mike Steltz.
The previous week, our also newly renamed “Super-stock” class for “older-style” Figure-8 cars raced hard for 30 laps in the rain and cold. Steve “Battlewagon” Peters jumped into the early lead, taking that new divisions opening night win, ahead of defending Champ Doug “the Grizz” Delfel, in his trusty old Buick, and Quentin “the One-armed Bandit” Borreson, driving the ailing #17 owned by David “Great Pumpkin” Brandenburg. That’s right, all of the cool guys have a “nick-name”!
For the first time in over 10 years (that I know of) the Stinger-8 division point leader, after 2 races, is a “rookie”! Toby Jenkins, in his #11 Integra, has avoided bad flagging, mechanical problems and just getting spun out to hold the top spot, with a 3rd place finish in week 2, and a WIN in week 1! Just a few points back is Joselyn LaFleur, who took one of those bad flags on opening night. Matt Somerville, Gary Rarden and Jessica Gray round out the top 5, in the 2014 Championship point’s battle. Congrats to former Stinger Champ Seth Funden for his week two win in the #89 Integra, and to his Dad Jerry, a longtime Figure-8 star, who raced it to a 3rd place finish in the Hornet class last week!
So we have Easter weekend off, as “Nissanfest” takes over the track, with drifting, drag racing and a Car show. See you the following Saturday, the 26th, as the Super-stocks return for their second appearance of the season, joining the Vintage Modifieds, and the recently rained out Supers, for Open Road RV night. The “Stinger-8 Nationals” sponsored by Buzz Inn, follows on May 3rd, which is always a hoot!
Good luck to all of you Figure-8 drivers this season, and if you can help get any more cars out supporting our show, and our track, it would be appreciated. Thanks, and see you next week! BC
60th RACING SEASON GETTING UNDERWAY!
2014 Fearnews - By Ben Chandler
Welcome to the 2014 racing season, getting underway soon at Evergreen Speedway! This 60th season celebration should be as exciting as the 50th was, with lots of different activities on the drawing board for this summer. What an exciting time of year this always is! Dakar is over, John Force just won the first big drag race of the season, and Daytona is coming up soon. The 2014 “Cup” season starting is great, of course, but will be hard-pressed to match the excitement of the Seahawks winning the latest Superbowl, at least for us fans “up here near Alaska”!
The joy of watching that big game was soon tempered by remembering the one year anniversary of Sean Peters’ tragic loss. I thought about Sean last month, as I was again announcing the Snowball Enduro, with Derek Hobbs. At that same race, a year earlier, Sean was dominating the event, at least the first couple hours of it, in his old Stinger-8 car. It was, sadly, his final race before the tragic, late-night accident took the talented, young racer from his loving family, his many friends and racing fans.
A great time was had by over 500 people at the NASCAR Awards Banquet last month, as we honored not only our 2013 Champions, but also the memory of Sean, Vern Foster, Mike Wilkinson and other racing friends lost in the past year. And I hope you kept your 2013 souvenir program from the banquet. Page 12 is where you will find the newly created Sean Peters “Memorial Legacy” section, profiling some of the great racing families at Evergreen Speedway. I plan on profiling a couple of different families each season, and am open to suggestions… and to bribes! Speaking of banquet honors, congrats to longtime push-truck and pace car driver, Daryl (D.W.) Wheeler, who was inducted into the prestigious Evergreen Speedway Hall of Fame. Congrats also to TV star/stuntman, Mike (Mr. Dizzy) Buse, who was honored as Evergreen’s “Entertainer of the Year” for 2013!
I look forward to writing the HoF profile on D.W. for the EvergreenSpeedway.com website, as well as for the 2014 program, along with the Champions’ profiles - that SHOULD be ready in April! This is the first time we actually have three Figure-8 Champions to honor in one season! Congrats to Todd, Ricky and Doug, whose pictures are finally posted at the top of our website. Another cool change here at FearRacing.org, will be the upgraded “photo gallery”, now located in a more prominent location, also near the top of this homepage. Historical photos will be posted there permanently, so if you have some cool pics from the “old days”, please forward them to me at: email@example.com.
I am so glad to report that Foster Press will again host our website in 2014. We lost our friend, and webmaster, Vern Foster suddenly last summer, but his Daughter Maria has graciously taken over, and is doing a great job for us! And remember… Foster Press does T-shirts, knickknacks for your business and trophies, as well as all sorts of printing at their full service shop near Lake Stevens!
And finally, if you want to join FearRacing.org… to be profiled as a “driver” or advertised as a “sponsor”- just give me a call at my home office: 425 747 4736. And I thank all who support this page!
I just watched the excellent Beatles 50-year anniversary tribute show on TV, and am excited that next year will mark the 50th year of Figure-8 racing at Evergreen Speedway. But THIS season marks the 60th year of racing at our favorite track, so let’s all get out there, support Evergreen Speedway where we can, and make it a GREAT ONE… And I will see you there! BC
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