28 cars made the tow for Springport’s third Top Speed race of the season. It was a tough day on engines, as 3 cars had to withdraw prior to the feature with engine woes. With the Top Speed format the key thing is timing in the top 16, to ensure that you don’t have to run a consolation race (like we did in the first event of the season). The second is making the pill draw. After time trials a number 8,10, or 12 is drawn out of a hat – and that determines how many cars “draw” for starting position. We put on our scuffed shoes for time trials and the car did not behave at all, and the tires did not come in. We luckily timed 8th, which ensured we would be picking our starting position. After our poor draw of 10th last time we were relieved to see the #2 this go-round. We lined up alongside Bobby Heyink for the start of the event. There was some concern about being freight-trained on the inside, which is the preferred groove. However we were able to slide into line in 3rd place at the start of the extra distance main. At that point it was time to ride and save the equipment. We pulled away a bit from the pack, and started to catch the rear of the field. Managed to make a move in traffic to take over 2nd place when the first yellow came. All the restarts for the day were going to be cone races, where you get to choose inside or outside. I chose inside (car was handling better there), but that meant would restart in 3rd, instead of the 2nd position I was in. Quickly took back 2nd on the restart, and was content to ride again. Heyink was a tad quicker – we could keep up but had nothing for him unless there was a grievous mistake. The lead group continued to pull away, and we were right in the middle of it. Two late restarts (starting on the inside again) enabled cars to “get us” and we fell back to 4th. We stayed there with the pack and that is where we ended up. The top 5 get to park on the frontstretch after the race, so it was nice to be there right by the fans and hear the winner interview. Naturally, I would prefer to be the one talking. All in all, it was a good night. I am typically unhappy when I “go backwards” from my starting spot, but given the circumstances I was pleased. We hung with the outsiders and let them know the track regulars were going to continue to make their lives difficult (last 2 won by track regulars Walt Obrinske and Bobby Heyink on this night). We are most looking forward to the last Top Speed race of the season at the track, during Michigan Cup weekend. Contentedly yours, -Michael
July 19th was the first Springport race in over a month, as the previous race got rained out. It also doubled as the 2nd “stand-alone” race of the season, without the Top Speed tour in attendance. 17 cars pulled through the gate. We managed to time trial 3rd, and were still fighting a bit of a push. The heat race was a good one, as we were able to comfortably settle into 2nd and were quicker than the leader. It was too early in the evening to take any chances, so we merely stayed close to his bumper (apparently too close judging by some of the hand gestures). We started the feature with some work to do, starting in the back half of the top 10. Dropped a position or two on the initial start, but settled into line and was being very patient in picking off cars. As the distance wound down, we started to catch lapped traffic. The two cars in front of me (4th and 5th) were struggling handling-wise, and the leaders were getting away. A lapped car hugged the infield, and the 5th place car went to the outside wall. I saw the opening and tried to fit in there. As turn 1 approached it was very apparent that the opening was going to disappear. Despite massive brake effort there was incidental contact, which caused the 5th place car to spin. The caution was attributed to me, and I was sent to the tail of the lead lap cars where we remained. The 12th place finish was disappointing given how the car was definitely a top 3 one… Still preaching patience, -Michael
It has been a few weeks since the last update, so it is time for one. 4 weeks ago was the 2nd stop of the Top Speed Modifieds at Springport. The team had high hopes coming in, since we had run real well the previous time out. The first time trial lap was abysmal, but we gained ground on the second and timed 4th. We were the highest of the track regulars, and were able to get into the re-draw. Unfortunately, Michael picked the number – and he drew 10th. It was the worst starting position we could have had for the race. We were patient in the early going, but were fast. They did not employ the cone race strategy for this race, so we were not able to be creative on restarts. We ran well but just not enough to complete too many passes. Ended up in 8th place, which was disappointing given how much potential the car had. If you told us before the season we would be disappointed with a top 10 against the Top Speed cars I think we would have laughed at you. Here is a picture of some chaotic action from the track photographer, Woody. http://racingwoodys.smugmug.com/SpringportMotorSpeedway/Springport-6-14/i-2dR4v2q/0/O/springport%206-14-126.jpg Another one of his choice shots will be used for autograph night on august 2 and given to any fans who stop by[shameless plug here]. 2 weeks later found Race Mom Darlene making her first foray to Michigan in 9 years. She jinxed it on Monday of the week saying the forecast was crappy. The forecast changed multiple times during the week, but was not looking great for race day. However that morning was beautiful out. She donned her new Kyle Larson t-shirt for luck and we traversed west. We made it halfway when it started getting darker. 2/3 it started to rain. Near the track was dark, but not terrible. We got to the track and cars were out there but was dark in the distance. We bought our pit passes, and thunder clapped almost immediately. By the time we drove into the pits the heavens had opened. We procured race rubber anyway, drawing chuckles from the track employees, and had a ‘team huddle.’ Owosso Speedway was called, over an hour away. They were supposed to miss the rain – and we peeled out on our way there. We arrived at 440, with the last mod practise scheduled for 445. It was starting to sprinkle, but we headed in anyway. We got pretty much the last pit stall, immediately got the car fired and driver suited and headed out with about 5 minutes to spare. Having never seen a modified on the track before, my line was a wee bit…off. The rains came right as time trials were supposed to start. Mike S took me on a track walk, site of a win of his I might add, and explained how most people prefer the high side here. 24 cars were in the pits. We timed 14th, which I was pleased with given the minimal time gap to the top guys. This got us in the ‘first’ invert which got us a shot at a better starting position. That did not end up happening as I did not move forward in the heat race. Started 14th in the main. I got comfortable once we had some laps in the field strung out and I was able to run high or low. Got near the top 10, and the car started to go away. I began bottom-feeding and was getting surprising traction down there – apparently more than most. We ended up 10th, but were being held up near the end. It was a good enough performance that we are seriously considering heading back this year, especially once the Springport points die down. Tonight is the Sam Faur memorial race at Auto City Speedway. Claude Plante Jr. is wheeling the car tonight, before I take it over next Saturday. Until after that, -Michael
The first “locals only” race of the season was a success for the HBS Racing team. We were one of 18 to head through the gates, which was a pleasant surprise given that two tracks were running our division within a 90 mile radius. The car was hooked for qualifying, where we set fast time by over 0.1 seconds. A friendly invert of 3 meant a third place starting position, with the second fast and third fast timers ahead of us. In a stark (and welcome) contrast to the first race, this one went straight through and concluded in under 10 minutes. The top handful of cars could have been covered by a blanket, with many battles in and out of lapped traffic. Despite the action, and many comments of “what a race,” the top 5 finished exactly how they started. Here is how the Springport race results report summed it up, copied from the Springport website: The Drive Train Specialists Modifieds started their 30-lap feature 18 cars strong, with Six-time and Defending Track Champion Earl Miles starting things up front. Miles would not be able to escape the field, however with a surprisingly large amount of lapped traffic playing the role of block car, second place runner Walt Obrinske Jr. was not able to mount a serious challenge and was forced to settle for second. Mike Occhipinti was the third place finisher with Leroy Ellis and Greg Fullerton completing the top five. Mat Vainner, Gord Alblas and Brian Roes were the heat race winners. Occhipinti was the fastest qualifier, completing the 3/8s (.375) mile oval in 15.675 seconds. http://springportmotorspeedway.com/may-31-race-results This Saturday is the second of four “invasions” of the Top Speed Modified division. The car count is expected to again be healthy, placing a premium on timing into the top 16 (automatically qualifying for the feature). We really need to replicate that 15.675 lap, instead of the 15.9xx we did the first time around. It will be the third race in 8 days for the Top Speed crew; they are going to need a respite after that! Waiting patiently for the sands of time to pass, -Michael
One of the tough things about living in the upper Midwest is that the racing season is very short. It doesn’t start until May and concludes in September. It is very compact and intense. Racing at Springport breaks it up a bit, as the Modifieds typically run every other weekend. Our season commenced this past weekend. (more…)
This was an exciting week for the entire team, as a new sponsor has decided to join the ranks and grace the lightning bolt wearing panels of the 12x.
Techman Sales Inc., a Manufacturers Representatives group based out of Mansfield, OH, is the newest member of the team. Techman Sales, with offices in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, North Carolina, and Mexico, has 17 representatives that call on multiple industries and hundreds of customers. The group is well positioned within the automotive industry, and strives to bring maximum benefit to the principals it represents. Many of its current customer locations dovetail with where the Top Speed Modified Tour heads to – which we coincidentally will be competing on for the first time this year.
The group is looking forward to its sponsorship, and is intending to take in a race at the primary stomping grounds for the car this year – Springport Motor Speedway in Springport, MI. To entice the team, as if it needs it, Techman Sales has pledged a bonus for every checkered flag the team is able to nab. Given that the 12x crossed the line first once last year, it is eager to replicate the feat with the now extra incentive.
The engine is almost back from the shop, and other improvements are coming together with the first race less than a month away. Future updates and pictures of the new stickers on the hot rod will be found here prior to then.