Ocala, FL, April 24, 1999 – Twice in one month, Ocala Speedway drivers raced for a sold-out crowd! The weather was great and the night held the promise of excitement with the special features that were planned for the Eve of Destruction.
The Coca-Cola 4-Cylinder Bombers swarmed onto the track with a full field to start off this Eve of Destruction. Ashley Cassels (2) sat on the pole. Racing was furious as drivers tapped and bumped their way through the feature. When it was over, Dave Nieswiender (69) claimed the checkered flag. Pete Close took second and John Usher came in third. Matt Connelly and Earl Sikes filled out the top five.
The WTRS Pure Stocks stormed out the pits, filling the track. Peter Portera in the 25 car sat on the pole with John Cook in the 17 car on the outside. The green flag dropped and as they came through turn four, Portera took a nosedive into the barrier tire. The pack was able to drive around Portera so no caution flag was thrown. Cook (17) took the lead with Paul Fletcher (94) close behind. The pack stayed very tight and on lap two a couple of cars got sideways and into the infield between turns one and two. Again, everyone was able to get through unscathed so racing continued. The yellow flag finally came out just as lap three was about to be counted when car 27 went for a spin in turn four. The restart came quickly with Cook still in the lead. The pack shifted positions every lap and Chuck Stewart (8) took the lead for one lap before falling back. Jason Gamble (21) took the lead on lap six and opened up a sizable space. Pack positions were still being swapped to the very end as Jason Gamble took the checkered flag. John Betts came in second with Mark Mitchell close behind for third. Fourth and fifth was a photo finish between Chuck Stewart and Dave Dinehart.
The Dave’s Towing Hobby Stocks poured out of the pits in what seemed to be an endless stream of cars. Steve West in the 78 car had pole honors with Bob Masciarelli in the 72 car sitting on the outside. The start went bad before the field cleared turn four. Cars 71 and 3 found themselves sliding into the infield towards the flagpole. Neither could re-enter the track safely with the pack running and a yellow flag was thrown to restore the drivers to the double-up position for the restart. The second start was just as exciting as the first as the drivers were three wide and high down the front stretch, having shifted positions several times by the third lap. Eddie Kilbury (71) was leading when Glen Baum (23) got into his right rear bumper, and though they both held on, the yellow flag was dropped to check the cars and track for debris. Kilbury kept his lead and by lap four, Shane Nichols (65) had worked his way into second position with Keith Bud Roberts (96) close behind. Another yellow flag was thrown when car number 3 spun in turn four and was unable to continue due to a flat tire. The restart put Nichols and David Baxley (64) in good position to challenge Kilbury for the lead. But, another yellow stopped the action when number 89 took a spin and landed on the outside wall of turn four. The restart was quick and within a lap, Baxley had taken second from Nichols. A yellow flag flew again when car number 911 found the bad luck in turn four, spinning to the inside. Three laps to go and Kilbury was able to get a bit of a lead over Baxley. Baxley still had Nichols to contend with and they battled to the bitter end. Eddie Kilbury took the checkered flag. David Baxley took second with Shane Nichols holding Baxley’s doorhandle for third. Mike Wilson and Charles Kopach filled out the top five.
The Budweiser Modifieds roared out of the pits, filling the track. Len Owens in the 04 car sat on the pole with Bruce Davis in the 33x car on the outside. Owens started hard and kept his first position as Jordan quickly fell to the back of the pack. Rob Akoury (1A) settled into second with Joey Spivey (2) and then Red Vann (32) holding third. Ed Brown (1) took that turn four spin and brought out the first caution of the feature. After the restart and as the pack came through turn 4 near the end of the seventh lap, Owens got sideways. Several drivers got around him safely but cars were three wide at this point and had no where to go. Loren Thornton (n8) was the unlucky one and he got into Owens flank. Thornton was scraped by another car on his outside, and he had to be towed. A quick cleanup was required and Owens regained his spot in the lead. Akoury was sent to the rear. Vann was now in second position. The restart was bad because the race didn’t get started officially. Who starts the races at Ocala Speedway? Wild Child starts the races! Vann made his move and took the lead from Owens, but within three laps, he lost power and gave it back to Owens. Another yellow flag was thrown when Akoury took a spin in turn four, putting out a huge cloud of smoke. He was ok and racing got back underway, Owens in the lead. The field had thinned somewhat, but WOW, things were hot! One lap to go and the last yellow flag was thrown. Len Owens held off a very hard charge by Tate Pierce (8) and took the checkered flag for the first time this year as a rookie Modified driver. Tate Pierce came in a very close second. Chuck Burkhalter and Frank Polley brought in third and fourth. Bob Hughes came in fifth.
The Steven A. Bagen Late Models brought a full field of cars to Ocala Speedway tonight. Chuck Burkhalter in the 30 car sat on the pole. Dave Westrich in the 38 car held the outside. Burkhalter jumped out front as the green flag flew. He proceeded to open up a lead in front of Brad Heath (28). The pack fought for positions and Rich Pratt (0) got by Heath and claimed the second spot. A yellow flag flew when Kevin Bryant (54) spun out in the front stretch to land in the crossroad of the infield. Bryant went pit-side. The restart was quick but it didn’t last long. The yellow flag came out again. Turn four claimed another victim as 76T spun to the outside. Racing restarted with fifteen laps to go and Burkhalter still leading the way. Burkhalter opened up a tiny bit of working space with Pratt holding second. Herb Neumann (98) was quietly eating up competitors and by lap twenty-one, he was solidly in third position. Chuck Burkhalter, last year’s Budweiser Modified champion at Ocala Speedway, took the checkered flag for his first win in Late Models. Rich Pratt came in second with Herb Neumann pushing close behind for third. Dave Westrich and Butch Dees filled out the top five.
The Pro Figure 8’s showed up tonight with a huge field of cars. Alan McCafferty had pole position. Racing started hot with the drop of the green flag. McCafferty took the early lead and held on to it through many laps and crossings. Len Owens was pushing him through all the bottlenecks and eventually Owens got by McCafferty. Excitement was high throughout the feature and even as cars dropped out and went to the backstretch, the crossroads was still the place to watch. Several times, cars got off the pavement around the turns into the infield and stirred up dust, making it hard for drivers to see. Len Owens took the checkered flag with Alan McCafferty coming in second. Keith Bud Roberts came in third with Shane Nichols and Jason Gamble in fourth and fifth.
The School Bus Figure 8’s put in their first appearance of the season at Ocala Speedway. Roger Damron in the 1 bus had the pole, and he jumped way out front for the early lead. The field raced hard, providing the promised excitement as they went two and sometimes three wide around the end turns. Fighting hard for position, the drivers used all their skills and great timing to get through the crossroad in the middle of the track. No one let up and the near misses were frequent. A few buses fell by the wayside as the engines let go, but yellow fever ran high. Roger Damron claimed the checkered flag, way ahead of the nearest competitor.
The Demolition Derby at Ocala Speedway, finished off the Eve of Destruction. A full field of cars pitted themselves against each other to see who would finish. The hits were hard and as the feature went on, the destruction was total. Drivers hung on as for all they had as bumpers, fenders, side panels and all manner of parts flew from their cars. The winner, John Schutt, number 69, drove his car into the one last moving car several times as Wild Child raced in to wave the checkered flag. Ted in car number 71 earned second with James Bentotto in car number 54 taking third.
Joe Brake, Ocala Speedway’s track photographer is selling videos of the special races of the Eve of Destruction. The Pro Figure 8’s, School Bus Figure 8’s and the Demolition Derby are available all on one VHS video tape. Call him at (352) 495-9359 for your copy.
Don’t miss any of the Ocala Speedway racing season. Next week, Ocala Speedway will feature all divisions including the Coca Cola 4 Cylinder Bombers, the WTRS Pure Stocks, Dave’s Towing Hobby Stocks, the Budweiser Modifieds and the Steven A. Bagen Late Models. Don’t miss a minute of the action.