There was certainly no shortage of excitement and drama as this racing season came to an end. Hilltop finished up in a huge way with their "Weekend On The Hill" event. The place was absolutely packed on both nights and the level of competition was taken to a whole new level on Saturday night in the Late Model division. When guys like Markham, Duncan, Lee, and Gentry are simply cars in the field that finished a lap or more down, it tells you that this was one hell of a show. This feature went caution free for the entire 35 laps and that allowed Fast Freddy Carpenter to "put a real ass whoopin' on them boys" as Dave Ledford put it. Folks, Carpenter has raced here often but during this feature he really put on a clinic for all others including Devon Moran on how to get around Hilltop while using every inch of the track surface while not touching another car. DAMN, that was something to see! Sadly we lost Dave Ledford not long after this show, but at least he was treated to one of the very best races I've ever seen and he truly enjoyed it.
On the asphalt side of things the drama really went into high gear as Mike Miller was looking to close out the season and possibly his career with yet another track championship. Leading the points for most of the season, it sure looked like that kind of year for him but the final weeks brought plenty of challenges. Engine failures would eat up nearly all of his points lead by championship night which was a double points night. A very controversial decision by the folks at Midvale would keep Mike from qualifying and from there it was clear that he wouldn't be allowed to win the championship no matter what he pulled off the rest of the night. For the second year in a row Miller would have a championship yanked out of his hands in the final race of the season. Last year it was at Barberton Speedway that the championship was stolen during the final feature event. At least he got even by winning their big show at the end of the year and took home all the cash after that heart breaker.
At least one Miller closed out the 2014 season on a very high note. Did you dirt folks ever wonder what ever happened to the fella that won the very first Late Model Season Championship at Wayne County Speedway way back in 1966? Well that fella is none other than Mike Miller's father, now known as Pappy Miller. This guy has one of those racing histories that most racers can only dream of, and raised a family of drivers with similar records. Pappy kicked off his racing career in 1952 at the Akron Rubber Bowl in a Hudson Hornet. He raced both asphalt and dirt before unofficially hanging up his helmet in 1990. Mostly known to drive Mopars this Miller also picked up several track championships and held many track records including WCS and Barberton in 1966. Most people find it hard to believe but the night before winning that first Late Model Season Championship at WCS, he also pick up the track championship at Barberton Speedway with the very same car. Going from that 1/4 mile asphalt bullring on one night, and onto WCS the next night to pull off that stunt should tell you a little something about the level of talent in this driver! How many drivers could pull that off nowadays? During Pappy's career he raced at roughly 14 different tracks, often running 2 tracks each week. More than once he had 20 or more wins in one season, and finished up with nearly 200 feature wins along with many special events. So,,,, what the hell ever happened to Pappy Miller you may ask. Well on September 13th he was invited to race in the staff race at Midvale Speedway and the old fella jumped at the chance. This wasn't your typical staff race as this time all of the cars were identical retired sheriff cruisers so it would be up to the drivers instead of the cars to make a difference. Other staff members may have raced in their past too, but none of the others were Millers. Pappy didn't seem to lose anything over the years as he showed those youngsters how to get around Midvale while picking up the win. Way to go "Old Timer"! When I got the chance to introduce Pappy to my granddaughter recently I explained that this very man in front of her had not only won the first track championship at WCS in 1966, but he had also just won another race just weeks ago. At first she thought "crazy old grampa" was pulling her leg, but once she was convinced it was true, you could really see the wheels in her head turning. She thought that was " the coolest racing story she's ever heard" and "now she's met a real racing legend". Grampa agrees without a doubt!
Now watch & learn youngsters. Pappy has his helmet dusted off and he's ready to give some lessons! ;-)