Rik Gropp (left) and his crew...
Rik Gropp (left) and his crew stay hard at work on the engine. For the first time in 15 years of trying, Gropp made the Saturday main. He came home with a Top-10 run.
Dateline: Boone, IA
21st Annual IMCA Speedway Motors Super Nationals
Modifieds, Stock Cars, Hobby Stocks, Late Models, and Sprints
It's the closest thing to nonstop action you're going to find in short-track racing. The IMCA Super Nationals started on a Monday and ended on a Saturday night. Along the way, there were around 200 races. On Wednesday and Friday alone, there were 40 Modified heat races, eight B mains, and a pair of A mains. If you go to Boone, you get your money's worth.
You would think the 31/48-mile, high-banked dirt oval would be worn to nothing. It would be if there wasn't meticulous preparation and an unwavering plan to keep the surface in best possible condition. You never hear drivers complain that the track wasn't good for their race, no matter when that race took the green.
Late Model fans got their thrills early with the running of the Deery Brothers Summer Series event on Labor Day Monday. These teams could get their one-day show, then make preparations for the few remaining races in the '03 season. There were points on the line as this activity represented a traveling series, while the remaining divisions were in point battles that revolved around their weekly track action.
Contact is inevitable when...
Contact is inevitable when so many cars are trying for so few positions. Jon Thompson (75) and Doug Firgard (42) made contact during a Saturday night last-chance race. Note the flying spring by Firgard's door.
The winner's circle was occupied by a Late Model rookie as Darin Duffy scored his first series win. Duffy had run well at the track in a Modified and parlayed his experience to outlast Darrell DeFrance. Both drivers had won their heat races to earn prime starting spots.
The Tuesday program brought open-wheel fans out in force as the Sprints occupied center stage. Russ Fletcher handled the field of 17 starters to earn his place as the first former champion to successfully defend his Sprint crown. Fletcher joins Brett Stegenga as the only drivers to win the title twice. Minnesota racer Stegenga pulled off the feat in 1992 and again in 1997.
The second day of racing also kept the ball rolling for the Stock Cars and Hobby Stocks, who had started the qualifying process on Monday. There were 10 more starting spots determined for the Stock Cars, while the remaining half of the 24-car starting field for the Hobby Stocks became known. These drivers could rest on their laurels until the main event on Saturday night.
Modified winner John Logue...
Modified winner John Logue (left) with flagman Bill Olson. It was Logue's fifth victory in the IMCA Super Nationals.
Wednesday brought Modifieds to the track for the first time, and the pits were starting to bulge. This was the first opportunity to make the main for the Modified drivers, and the competition was intense. A total of 40 heat races were followed by eight B mains and a pair of qualifying A mains. Most of the field ended up having to do it over again on Thursday-and maybe even Friday-before the ordeal was over. Stock Cars finished up their qualifying for the Saturday show, and it was the last chance for anyone wishing to move on.
Thursday was all about the Modifieds. More starting spots were determined for the Saturday running of the Dirt Works Ron Efkamp Race of Champions. This elite competition is open to only champions or runners-up from IMCA member tracks. Only 12 cars get to go green on Saturday. Six of the qualifiers came from Thursday, while the remainder came from Friday night.
Friday represented the last chance for anyone wishing to make a Saturday race. Off-track activity included a golf tournament and a queen contest. On-track action saw the field set for the Modified 40-lapper and the Race of Champions.
Saturday brought the biggest crowd, as the grandstands were filling with paying customers who shelled out only $15 for the privilege. The 24-car field of Hobby Stocks, which had been set for some time, consisted of 22 drivers from Iowa and a pair of Kansas interlopers. Andy Boeckman of Wall Lake won it for Iowa, taking the lead on the third lap of the 20-lap main and running the rest of the distance with the point. It was Boeckman's first Hobby Stock main win. The class has been part of the IMCA Super Nationals since 1998.