Tony Rispin is a true blue Irishman, hailing from the village of Kildalkey, Meath, Ireland so to say he had the luck of the Irish when he won the 4/6-Cylinder Enduro at Evergreen Raceway on Sunday afternoon would be a bit of an understatement.
Be it the “green” in Evergreen, the leftover of St. Patrick’s Day, his crewman John Gilroy, who is also from Ireland or any of other kind of luck, the fact is he did a fantastic job of skillfully weaving through traffic after starting deep in the pack and coming away with his first win here in 11 years.
“It felt great today, lucky but still a great day, it was about time my luck turned around, it’s been over 10 years since I last won a race here at Evergreen,” said Rispin, who now resides in Tannersville.
“I was wondering there for a while when my luck would run out but as the race went on it just got easier and easier. You didn’t have to take as many big chances when you have to go through the middle on the straights as the field thinned out.”
Rispin, who is a past two-time Enduro champion at Evergreen, was slotted back in the 36th starting spot for the outset of the 100 lap grind. However, early on he was having transponder issues and was forced to pit and make a change, although it was under a track caution to do so and did not lose any laps in the process.
While Rispin was able to get his problems solved, the race was being handled at the front by Justin Carneavale who led the early going over Michael Klotz and Michael Mujsce III. By lap 19 Enduro/4-Cylinder Stock specialist Harry O’Neill, who started two spots behind Rispin in 40th, had maneuvered his way into the lead.
From that point he was looking tough as his No. 126 was having little trouble in getting around the heavy traffic that dotted all around the race track.
Unlike Rispin though, O’Neill wasn’t as lucky when on 37th circuit he got clipped by a car he was attempting to lap and crashed hard into the Turn 1 barriers. O’Neill, thankfully was unhurt but done for the day nonetheless.
When the field was sorted out Rispin was now the new leader over Paul Mercante and Rob Longo but truth be told there was no stopping him from that point on as he was far and away the class of the field.
“I started way back in the 12th row and in one of these events it gets very hard to know where you’re at as far as your position and you can have four or five cars that get out front early. Then I didn’t see Harry O’Neill and I knew he was still in the race and is obviously going to be running good,” said Rispin.
“But then when they took me in to replace the transponder and I knew I was doing well and was trying to watch the (score) board and I couldn’t see my number up there. But then when Harry (O’Neill) was knocked out they told me I was leading and luckily we held our own the rest of the way.”
Indeed he was not only lucky but good too. Rispin would continue to pull away from the pack, lapping cars with ease and steering clear of trouble, almost.
On lap 65 his luck almost ran out when he was making a move to get by a lapped car but contact was made and he suddenly went sideways. Rispin though made a tremendous save and got the car pointed back right without losing his spot.
“When you get by someone once and maybe twice then you know you can trust them no matter if you’re on the outside or inside but sometimes it doesn’t always work out that way,” said Rispin.
When he crossed the finish line he had lapped all but second, third and fourth. It was his first Evergreen win since June 3, 2012.
“I tried Street Stocks once and I just couldn’t afford it to be honest. But with the Enduro’s you get the adrenalin going with all these cars out here, cars spinning out in front of you, it’s a big rush for me this type of racing,” Rispin said.
Rispin, who still has a strong accent, began his was racing back in Ireland in fields and sandpits. He also won a pair of championships at his local raceway before coming to America in 1986.
While he was running away en route to the win the battle for second between Longo and Mercante was a hot one that waged up until the final lap. That pair had swapped back and forth and heading into the last two corners on the final lap Mercante was trying to make the pass on Longo but got pinched instead from behind and lost the spots to Jason Bentzoni. Rounding out the top five with a steady run was 2022 4-Cylinder Stock champion Mackenzie Adams.
In the Spectator Drags that started out the day, Charlie Guardino from Nassau, Long Island NY, was the winner.
Enduro feature finish (100 laps): 1. Tony Rispin, 2. Rob Longo, 3. Jason Bentzoni, 4. Paul Mercante, 5. Mackenzie Adams, 6. Mark Rittenhouse Jr., 7. Mike Mujsce III, 8. Justin Carneavale, 9. Tony Hilliard, 10. Stewart Smith, 11. Michael Klotz, 12. Jake Oswald, 13. Mariah Lawrence, 14. Jeremy Randy, 15. Destinee Arnold, 16. Jacob Shearer, 17. Jeremy Spanburg, 18. Larry Spencer III, 19. Victoria Burd, 20. Dan Boughton, 21. Evan Wood, 22. Travis Frantz, 23. TJ Kapish, 24. Kevin Behler, 25. Adam Kratzer, 26. Adam Kraus, 27. Kevin Brown, 28. Mitch Sharpe, 29. Jerry Daignault, 30. Harry O’Neill, 31. Cliff Jones, 32. David Duran, 33. Mike Green, 34. Mike Mujsce Jr., 35. Blake Snyder, 36. Jimmy Ayre, 37. Rachel Morgan, 38. Corey Koch, 39. Brian Kohut, 40. Brian Halecki, 41. Danny Cascioli
Evergreen Raceway PR