Written by Katie Dugas of Pit Pass
August 21, 2019 (Braselton, GA) – In a joint effort, Lincoln Speedway, All Star Circuit of Champions, Wicked Cushion E-Sports, Dirt Racing Network, and numerous contributors, fans and drivers alike were able to show their support for the Speck family in what was truly an amazing night.
For those of you who may not know, Mr. Richard Speck Jr, of Mechanicsburg, PA, was killed in a tragic accident at Williams Grove Speedway in early August at the age of 67. Mr. Speck was a teacher in the Northern York County School district for over thirty five years, and an avid dirt racing fan. You’d most likely see him in the Push Truck for the PA Posse Sprint Car Drivers. From what I have personally read, his wife of forty six years, Rebekah, “more than anything, she will remember his kind, compassionate nature and his limitless love he had for his family and friends.”
Well, I hope we can return some of that compassion among the dirt community, as Team VLR presents the Speck Family Benefit Race at Lanier Speedway with the 360 winged sprints.
Twenty eight of some of the biggest names in dirt racing, like Cardwell, Roxberry, Seay, Tucker, and Heileman, will be joined by former champions to honor the late Mr. Speck.
After four heat races, and some exciting LCQs, twenty four drivers will take the grid.
(Heat race winners and transferring drivers can be found at the base of the article)
Your pole sitter tonight will be none other than Ernie Williams, alongside Josh Close, leading off Cole Neuhalfen, Adam Elby, Dylan Houser, Steven Kalivoda, Cody Batten, Hayden Cardwell, Dakota Kuhn and David Heileman in tenth. Starting in eleventh will be Rusty Kruger, next to John Battista, Britton Roxberry, Trey Long, Dylan Werkman, Austen Semmelmann, Justin Thomas, Kendal Tucker, Evan Seay, and Scott King in twentieth. Twenty first will be Chris Hockley, Randy Chenowth, Kevin Forcier and Timothy Bolander will round out your field.
Forty laps is tonight’s distance, and with the number 91 car leading us to the green flag, how long will he be able to hold off the number six of Josh Close? Not even one full lap around the famous Lanier Speedway, and we are three wide through the field. Think that’s exciting…we will be four wide by lap two! Williams will maintain the lead with a three way battle for third in his rear view, between Neuhalfen up top, Close on the bottom, and here comes Cardwell straight up the middle from his eighth place starting position.
On lap five, Kevin Forcier will pull the wrong kind of slide job, as he slides up the outside wall, while making contact with Roxberry who won the B main, and Adam Elby who won heat race number four. Lap seven, the green flag is back in the air, as Williams is running low, Cardwell on his outside, and Neuhalfen will sit in third. Semmelmann apparently has a connection issue and makes contact with the wall, and will be Bippity Boppity Gone. Dylan Houser will go for a detour spin, and drop back to the twenty second spot. Semmelman is now back up to eleventh, and race admin, KT King, will decide to bring us back to a single file restart.
It won’t take long, and we are two by two by two, leading off with the D1RT Racing Network’s own, Ernie Williams in first, alongside D1RT’s Hayden Cardwell, followed by the next pair, Neuhalfen and Close battling it out for third and fourth. Cardwell will drop it way down the track, trying to find a little more bite, and swipe the lead from Williams on lap sixteen, leaving Ernie in the Danger Zone, up at the top of the track for a slight wiggle. Neuhalfen will dip low as well, side by side with Williams for second, and prove to be successful, leaving Batten to attempt the same move beside Williams. Cardwell will be running a consistent, and dominating line, and the number eleven is doing everything he can to follow in his tire tracks.
Our leader will soon be getting into lap traffic, and look at this three wide battle we have going on here for fifth! David “Heilemaniac” Heileman, John Battista and Austen Semmelmann are probably an arm width apart in this attempt, only to bring in Josh Close making it a four wide battle! Now, just because you can go six wide at a track, it doesn’t mean that it’s a smart move…but let’s see who comes out victorious in this aggressive battle.
Heileman will drop it like it’s hot, bringing along Batten, showing us the bottom side of the track is now the fastest. Seems they may be late to that party, as our leader Hayden Cardwell figured that out nearly twenty laps ago, seeing that there is an extremely tight cushion, finer than frog hair split three ways. Neuhalfen is trying to make something happen around the top, as most of our track is now running high side and handsome. Thirty one laps in, Cardwell is facing more lap traffic, and goes up high to get around them quite smoothly. Let’s just say, he didn’t get his race experience from a Cracker Jack box.
Before we know it, the yellow flag is back out, as Semmelmann sets it on the spin cycle, bringing our top four back together, those being Cardwell, Neuhalfen and Williams. As we near single digit laps remaining, I wonder if these drivers are strategizing the line they will run to get to the checkered…The high side is tight, but does the risk outweigh the reward? The forty one of Cardwell is holding a half second lead while Neuhalfen is on fire, but Williams will drop low again in a last stitch effort for the pass.
As long as Cardwell is having to fight off the lap cars, the two guys in third may just have a chance to gain some ground. Five more times around, and I’d bet all of the Heilemaniacs are on their feet, seeing him now up to fourth behind Cardwell, Neuhalfen and Williams. I’d love to know who taught the number eleven to drive, after I see this move… with three to go, he will slide up to the wall, bounce off, SLIDE JOB SLIDE JOB, throwing Neuhalfen into the lead past Cardwell.
Side by side for the lead, White flag is out, and in the middle of turns three and four, Hayden Cardwell will slide back into the lead and take the checkered flag for the D1RT team with Neuhalfen right on his tailpipe in a thrilling finish. The hard charger of the night has to be the KensRacingSim, DRC Chassis, Wicked Cushion team of Cole Neuhalfen. Tonight’s pole sitter, the number ninety one of Ernie Williams will slide into third after some exciting side by side racing with some of the biggest names in Dirt.
All three of our podium finishers, wished their deepest thoughts and prayers to the Speck family.
Huge thank you to all of the sponsors who made this event possible, Tommy Rowe, and producer Joe White from OSR in the booth for an amazing broadcast, and all of the fans for coming out tonight.
To the Speck family, you will be in our prayers for the continuing months, weeks and years to come.
From all of us here at Pit Pass, Thank You and Goodnight.
Heat 1- 1.Williams 2. Houser 3.Kuhn
Heat 2- 1.Close 2. Kalivoda 3. Heileman
Heat 3- 1.Elby 2.Cardwell 3.Battista
B Main- 1. Roxberry 2. Long 3. Werkman 4. Semmelmann 5. Thomas 6. Tucker 7. Seay 8. King 9. Hockley 10. Chenowth 11. Forcier 12. Bolander