Ocala, FL, March 20, 1999 – Another great night of cool weather, 25-cent beer, car-packed features and happy fans turned out at Ocala Speedway.
The Coca-Cola 4-Cylinders pored out of the pits, filling the track. Pete Close in the 86 car had the pole and Matt Connelly in the 007 car sat on the outside. The green flag dropped and Close was off and running. He quickly pulled open a good lead and let the others fight for position behind him. Tim Ellis in the 12 car earned second position with Cliff White in the 18 car at his door handle. A caution flag dropped on lap 5 when Ashley Cassels spun in turn 4. Before the restart, the 66 car started smoking and pulled into the infield out of turn 1. There was some clean up needed, but it was done quickly and racing got back underway. The very next lap also came under yellow when Connelly spun in turn 4 and got sideways. He was sent to the rear along with Todd Jolley in the 55 car. The final restart went well and Pete Close took the checkered flag. Cliff White came in second with Tim Ellis in third. Terry Dunbar and Darlene Portera were fourth and fifth.
The WTRS Pure Stocks thundered out of the pits in full force. Steve Seymour in the 83 car held the pole with Paul Fletcher in the 94 car beside him. The top contenders in this feature were all back near the rear to start. Positions changed quickly and by the second lap, Paul Gladin in the 9 car found himself in the lead. A yellow flag flew during lap 3 as Peter Portera and Jason Gamble in the 21 car tangled in turn 1. Portera didn’t come to stop until he came into the infield where he spent several minutes twisting and pulling the left front fender off his car so he could return to racing. He did it successfully to the cheers of the fans. Racing resumed and Gladin was still in the lead, the favorites still near the rear. Seymour in the 83 car held on for second with Fletcher in the 94 car in third. Lap 7 again came under caution when two cars spun on the backstretch and had to go to the rear. On the restart with Richard McGlashan in the 113 car in third and Gamble in the 21 car in fourth, John Betts in the 81 car quickly took fifth place and Larry Bowden in the 71II car was sixth. Two of the favorites were finally making a showing near the front. Gladin looked very strong as did McGlashan, but Betts was making a move. Bowden car suddenly dropped back as if losing power, making way for Betts to up the ante. The last lap told the tale. Paul Gladin took a well-earned checkered flag with John Betts coming in for second. Richard McGlashan took home third and Jason Gamble earned fourth. Paul Fletcher brought in the top five.
The Dave’s Towing Hobby Stocks came out with a full field. David Baxley in the 64 car sat in the pole position. Eddie Kilbury in the 71 car was beside him. The leaders had barely crossed in front of the stands for the first lap when a wild turn of events on the backstretch brought out a red flag. Ted Novinger in the 102 car flipped over and his car erupted into a fireball. After the car slid on its roof for several yards, Novinger freed himself and rolled clear of the car. The infield crew quickly put out flames. Novinger was conscious, but with the possibility of injury, the ShandsCair helicopter was dispatched to the scene. Tiny and Sons Towing helped drag the burning car into the infield and cleanup quickly began on the track. Ted gave the fans a thumbs-up as he was put in the helicopter. With Novinger supported by good hands and many prayers, racing got back under way. Since the first lap was not officially completed, a double up restart put the pole sitters back where they were in the beginning. The air had taken a chill so the drivers were given the chance to warm their engines and tires. Again lap one came under caution as the 96 car spun in turn 4, but this time the restart was single file. Baxley still led with Kilbury right behind him. For the third time, a tangle in turn 4 between the 53 car and the 95 car stopped the race with a yellow flag. Finally everyone kept it together and the race ran clean for 12 laps. David Baxley held on for the checkered flag with Eddie Kilbury coming in second. Alan McCafferty took third. Mike Wilson and Tim Quick filled out the top five.
The Dwarf Cars returned to Ocala Speedway. Fred Bronson in the 99 car had the pole with Don Ness in the 64 car on the outside. When the Ocala Ford sponsored pace car ducked off the track, racing got off to a great start. These exciting little cars are powered by Kawasaki 1100cc engines, bored to a maximum 1250cc. As lap 1 was completed, cars 09, 52 and 67 spun on the front stretch bringing out a yellow flag. All three cars were towed. The restart came quickly and Bronson kept his lead. Bronson and Rick Lundeen in the 04 car in second stretched their lead out by a half-track from the pack. Third, fourth and fifth positions were being hotly contested by Ness, Dick Lawrence in the 8 car and Max Nowe in the 50 car. Racing was clean for the rest of the fifteen lap feature, although watching the leaders weave and work their way through the lapped traffic kept fans on the edges of their seats. Fred Bronson from Kissimmee took the checkered flag with Rick Lundeen not far behind for second. Don Ness and Max Nowe filled out the top five finishers.
The Steven A. Bagen Late Models were on tap with a full field tonight at Ocala Speedway. Rich Pratt in the 0 car had pole honors with Danny Pingston in the 99 car on the outside. Pingston came wide in turn four on the start and Pratt pulled out for a good lead. He held on for 5 laps, then Pingston made a power move and took the lead. Herb Neumann in the 98 car took advantage of an opening and moved into second. The only caution flag of the feature came during lap 8 as Pingston took turn 4 a bit wide and slid into the wall. With Pingston in the rear, Neumann found the track clear and put it to good use. Scotty Crockett in the 23 car kept Neumann on his toes by keeping close to his bumper throughout the feature. Herb Neumann of Inverness won the checkered flag. Scotty Crockett came in second with Harold Rankin of Ocala grabbing third. Kevin Bryant of Dade City and Duane Sheldon filled out the top five.
The Pro Figure Eights ran their first feature of the 1999 season at Ocala Speedway. Charles Kopach in the 53 car had pole position and Alan McCafferty in the 32 car sat on the outside. Figure eight racing is always a fan favorite and a full field held the promise of excitement. McCafferty quickly took command and raced off, leaving Kopach, Len Owens in the 8 car, Jason Gamble in the 21 car to battle each other. The center crossing was the place to watch as drivers fearlessly challenged each other for the right to pass through. By lap 6, four cars had slipped out of the race and either went pit-side or sat on the backstretch. Although the drivers seemed to be settled into their positions by lap 7, the excitement was still very high as bumpers and taillights were barely avoided through the cross road. On lap 12, Eddie Kilbury in the 71 car rejoined the racers from the backstretch. Alan McCafferty took the checkered flag and Len Owens pulled in for second. Jason Gamble, Charles Kopach and John Cook filled out the top five.
The 1999 racing season at Ocala Speedway is well underway. Next week, Ocala Speedway will feature all the regular divisions plus a 50 Lap Late Model feature and a Powder Puff race for the ladies.