Dennis Vandermeersch was tired and sore when the checkered flag hit the air and he crossed the line first on Saturday night in the Weddle Performance Engines Sportsman class at Macon Speedway. The track was fast and had some bumps to it that rocked the veteran racer on a night when the division took off the roof to their cars and raced topless. A special 40-lap feature for that class, 25 extra laps than they are used to running, showed some great racing action and dramatics right away.
As the green flag came out, six cars slammed into one another on the front stretch that caused damage and started to eliminate the 18-car field. After a 20-minute delay to untangle the mess, three cars dropped out and 15 Sportsman remained to begin the race. Metamora's Tommy Duncan, who has shared much success this season at Macon, got started with the lead from the bottom. Vandermeersch worked the top but couldn't get the lead away from Duncan. As the top side wasn't working, Vandermeersch went to the bottom and got underneath Duncan which allowed him to take over the lead on the backstretch of lap 10. Vandermeersch led on lap 11 and held on the rest of the way.
The other race of the night with some extra laps to it was the Ed Cain Trucking Hornet Challenge. The Hornets ran a 20-lap feature that began the two-day challenge between Macon Speedway and Lincoln Speedway and Clinton's Eric Vanapeldoorn outraced Kenneth Butterfield, Jeremy Reed and Allan Harris to score the win. Butterfield was the early leader but fell to third as he and Harris and Reed battled one another to get close to Vanapeldoorn. With consecutive green flag laps, the race took much excitement as all three drivers positioned themselves between second, third and fourth places in the racing order. Clinton's Vanapeldoorn came out ahead and finished off the first night of the Hornet Challenge. He also scored a bonus $60 from Monkey Wrench Garage in Decatur.
Guy Taylor of Springfield had a long night at the races. Competing in the BillingsleyRewards.com Modifieds, Pro Modifieds and the Archer's Alley Street Stocks classes, Taylor was on the track more than he was off it for this hot and muggy summer night. In his final race of the evening, Taylor enjoyed the taste of an ice cold water and a checkered flag in the BillingsleyRewards.com Modifieds division. Coming from eighth place to overtake Kyle Helmick, Taylor--who leads the division point standings--finished the night in the best way possible. Taylor's lead would come from the green flag lap with two to go as Helmick raced to the lead and held off Dakota Ewing and Alan Crowder early before Taylor used the top side to close in and take the lead away for the feature win.
Helmick would add another second place finish to his night with the runner-up spot in the Pro Modified feature event. Controlling the race from the beginning Helmick did what he has done all season, ran the bottom. Nick Justice took to the top and passed for the lead with five laps to go to pick up his third feature win of 2021 at Macon Speedway.
The Decatur Building Trades Pro Late Models feature showcased the slide job as well as some tight corner action. Jake Little was the leader and fought off Jose Parga at the beginning. A slide job in the fourth turn by Parga held for Little and then Little scored the lead right back in the first and second turn. But as the race tightened up between Little and Parga, the second turn ended the lead for Little as Parga closed up Little in a pinch by the turn two concrete wall which slowed Little and Parga dashed away to the lead for the rest of the 20-lap event.
The Archer's Alley Street Stocks feature event was loaded with top level talent and it showcased that talent as Jeremy Nichols, Darrell Dick, Bobby Beiler and Nick Macklin put together a 15-lapper that kept race fans wondering who would win. Many would consider the win to easily come from Beiler or Nichols as those two racers have dominated the division in recent weeks and years. Beiler did have a front row starting assignment with Nichols right behind him. Dick and Macklin were solidly in the race from the beginning but the race picked up with Beiler and Nichols running around the top side of the track. As the exchange for the lead and second place was happening, Macklin closed in and snatched second place away from Nichols who was slowed by a bump during his battle with Beiler. Beiler would go on for the checkered flag.
The Intermission excitement was there. For the first time since Opening Night, the Spectator Drags were back! On Opening Night, race fans saw the unexpected and unbelievable when a spectator would roll over his own 2003 Cadillac Escalade after taking second place in the drag races. That Escalade has been become lore and legend and the property of the track. The defending champion, Eric Nohren in his Chrysler 300, was back to once again reign supreme against the likes of a Mitsubishi Galant, a Chevrolet Malibu, a Cadillac Corvette XLR and a Chevrolet Silverado. However, it would be a Chevrolet Cavalier that would take the top honor in the tournament finals as Jim Eades of Clinton would close in on Nohren and slow him down in the fourth turn to take the trophy and the cheers from the fans.
The night was full of racing on the track. Off the track, the Chris Oberheim family was in attendance for a special memorial and their Peacemakers 703 Foundation was here to hold a silent auction and sell t-shirts, flags and other items. Chris Oberheim is a fallen Champaign police officer who was killed in the line of duty this summer. The widow was very impressed by the evening, speaking about how she knew about the importance of the police and blue line family but the racing community family is just as passionate and caring.
A Sunday Funday at Lincoln Speedway is tomorrow featuring the IMRA Speed2 Midgets along with Midwest Big Ten Series racing from the Pro Late Models and Street Stocks classes. The Modifieds and finale of the Ed Cain Trucking Hornet Challenge will also be part of the program on Sunday.
Macon Speedway is back to finish off July with the POWRi Midgets and Micro Sprints as well as the annual visit from the MOWA Sprint Cars. The Decatur Building Trades Pro Late Models and BillingsleyRewards.com Modifieds will also be on hand next Saturday night.
Macon Speedway PR