With our area Friday night tracks shut down due to some pretty nasty storms, Saturday would be our only chance for some racing action this week. Ugly skies and cold temperatures threatened to ruin the entire weekend but 2 tracks decided to give it a shot. Hilltop has simply been blessed with some awesome crowds and good car counts despite their early start on the season and the ugly weather we've had. This week would be no different. Since Midvale was forced to postpone their opening night I had a rare Saturday night off and decided to make good on my promise to get back down to Hilltop. Damn, I'm glad I did. Making a quick stop at WCS to drop off some vinyl and seeing the lack of cars and crowd there, I was wondering if I'd be making an hour long trip to Holmes County for a similar scene due to the ugly weather. Imagine my surprise when I had to park in the "back 40" section of the parking lot at Hilltop. Those are some seriously dedicated fans and racers! Those fans were treated to a full night of kickass 3 wide door to door racing that the place has always been known for. The Sprint and Late Model features were too close to call until the final laps with plenty of action throughout the entire fields. A damn good field of 4 bangers added to the action all night too. The Pure Stocks put on one hell of a show of their own although it brought the only ugly part of the night too. One driver stood out by making a complete ass of himself with a hissy fit in front of the flag stand. As if that wasn't ugly enough he avoided the tow truck by getting back in his car and flying into the pits the wrong way putting many people in danger. I've made a suggestion once before that I hope some day soon will be put into place. My thinking is that once a driver gets out of his car on the track, he's done anyway according to rules at most tracks. It would make much more sense to hook the car up to the tow truck immediately to take that "weapon" away from an already pissed off driver. Last night the tow truck got to the car very quickly after the driver got out but never hooked up. Ed and the rest of the staff handled an ugly situation quickly and smoothly, but taking that extra step would have prevented the danger to innocent people on and off the track. We've all seen what some pissed off idiot is capable of when they're allowed to drive off the track after an on track tantrum. Let's take that danger and added drama out of the equation. I certainly don't want to make too much of this one brief but ugly incident from an otherwise AWESOME night of racing though. It was made clear last night that this type of bullshit will NOT be tolerated and that's all any track can do. It's far more important to focus on the positive things and there's plenty to be optimistic about at Hilltop once again. A huge thanks goes out to the Wardells and all those diehard racers and fans for a great night of fun even in the bitter cold weather. I can't wait to get back down there in better weather. I'll sure as hell get there earlier though to make sure I get a parking spot! ;-)
Another bonus to getting to Hilltop this week was a chance to spend some time with the newest team to carry the Wengerd Enterprises Unlimited logo around the track. Car owner Jeff Hochstetler is no newcomer to dirt track racing. This guy was driving Late Models back in the days when they still looked like cars. I'm still not exactly sure what made him get into Sprints, but then I've always wondered why anybody gets into Sprints. ;-) The rookie pilot of the #36 Sprint is Brent Coffman. Brent turned his first laps just last Sunday at a practice at Hilltop. Eager to get his feet wet in real racing action the team made the trip to the first Sprint show at Hilltop this week. While nobody expected a win, it was pretty damn encouraging just seeing him pull off his first pass early in the feature. His fun would end early though due to some spins but it looks like this new driver has a good racing head on his shoulders. Even though they suffered from some mechanical demons they took the car home in one piece with a little on track experience under their belts. It's really been a pleasure getting to know these folks, and I look forward to spending some more time with them this summer. Good luck to the #36 Hochstetler Racing team!