TRAVELING DRIVERS TAKECASH IN THUNDER HILL OPENER
Since returning to IMCA sanction in 2010, Thunder Hill Speedway has gained the reputation of being one of the hot spots in the IMCA Central Region. The opening night of the Xtreme Motorsports Clash on the Hill reinforced this with two defending IMCA National Champions on hand, competitors from four states, strong fields in all classes, and close competition. Winning features and trophies sponsored by O'Reilly Auto Parts, were Jordan Grabouski (BSB Manufacturing IMCA Modifieds), Kyle Vanover(Heinen Repair Service IMCA Stock Cars), Dustin Crist (Kansas National Guard IMCA Northern Sportmods), Adam Armstrong (BuyRaceParts.com IMCA Hobby Stocks), and Rhonda Mewes (IMCA Sport Compacts).
Last year’s BSB IMCA Modified National Champion and Track Champion, Beatrice, NE’s Jordan Grabouski, was on hand for opening night and reminded the fans of his performance from last year. Grabouski started fifth, made it past Nic Bidinger on lap 7, and was not headed from there in winning his first Thunder Hill feature of the year. Bidinger gave chase but could not make up the deficit and finished second. Brendon Gemmill and Mike Petersilie entertained the fans with a close race for third, with Gemmill prevailing. At the flag, it was Grabouski, Bidinger, Gemmill, Petersilie, and Rigsby.
Last year’s track champion in Heinen Repair ServiceIMCA Stock Cars was Kyle Vanover, from Beatrice, NE, and he showed that he intends to defend his title. Vanover streaked out from his outside front row starting spot to a lead that he was to hold for the entire feature. Eric Rempel finished second after a race-long duel with Lance Borgman, who finished third. Mike Nichols finished fourth, with Greg Deters fifth. Making a return to the fendered ranks after several years in a Sportmod was Mike Taylor, who has gone back to his familiar blue-and-red colors and number 34. Taylor finished ninth.
St. Joseph, MO, is the hometown of Dustin Crist, and the location of the Kansas National Guard IMCA Northern Sport Mod opening night trophy sponsored by O'Reilly Auto Parts. Aaron Hilderman and Crist brought the field to the green. Hilderman led the first lap, then Crist slipped by on the the side. As Hilderman slipped back through the top five (he would eventually finish 8th), Bryan LaRiviere made an exciting move to pass about five cars on the high side of turns one and two. LaRiviere, the defending National Champion, eventually lost second place to Matthew Crowell. Crowell then pulled forward to challenge Crist for the lead. Crowell actually took a nose-length lead on the backstretch with a half-lap to go, but Crist fought back on the outside. At the finish, Crist took a well deserved win (by about half a car length) followed by Crowell, LaRiviere, Luke Stallbaumer, and Eddie Schwope Jr.
One of the announcements prior to the season was that Filley, Nebraska’s Adam Armstrong would be competing for the BuyRaceParts.com IMCA Hobby Stock title this year, and Armstrong announced his presence by taking the opening night feature. It wasn’t without excitement, though. Waylon Banks streaked out to the lead only to spin in turn four with a good advantage. Nobody hit him and the race continued with Armstrong leading but under fire by Dominic Thyfault. Though Thyfault could get to within a few car lengths, he was unable to get past Armstrong. At the finish, the order was Armstrong, Thyfault, Jacob Crowell, Mallory Walters, and Jacob Harms. Banks recovered from his spin to finish sixth.
In the new-for-2012 IMCA Sport Compact Division, Ronda Mewes towed her Pontiac Grand Am down from Blue Springs, Nebraska. Starting in the fifth spot, she made the trip worthwhile by moving through the field to take the lead. She was unable to shake Scott Spellmeier, however, and had to fend off a determined challenge from Spellmeier who on the last lap was able to edge his Honda slightly ahead of Mewes in turn three. Mewes was able to useher momentum in the higher line to take the win by a couple of car lengths. Spellmeier settled for second, followed by Kaylee Diekman, Austin Charles, and Kelly Johnson.
The Xtreme Motorsports Clash on the Hill continues SaturdayNight, May 5. Gates open at 5:00 PM, driver’s meeting at 6:30, hotlapsand races to follow. Adult General Admission is $10.00, kids 6-12 are $5.00,kids 5 and under are free. Coolers are allowed (Canned beer only – noglass bottles) for a $10 charge. Pit passes are $25.00.
Thunder Hill Speedway is located at 11995 NW 142nd Road (2 miles West of US-75 on NW 142nd Road), in Mayetta, KS. For more information, please visit www.racethunderhillspeedway.com.