By: Betty Glynn
LaSalle, IL – The Bill Waite Jr., Memorial race Sunday night at La Salle Speedway was a true celebration of a local hero. Bill Waite Jr., a racing enthusiast, was killed in an accident while aiding a stranded motorist on Interstate 80 in 2008. The Cherry native shared his love of racing with friends and family alike when he was alive so it is only fitting that those same family and friends organize each year to honor him with a memorial of their champion.
The third annual event was the playground for 29 racers who were in attendance to show their support before a near capacity crowd. Greg Wilson soared around the ¼ mile clay oval to post an impressive 10.720 lap. Six other drivers qualified in under eleven seconds. The speed demons set the stage for the racing action that was yet to come. Fans in attendance were treated to light speed action when the Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints hit the gas. Some lucky fans won a ride with World of Outlaws legend Jack Hewitt as he piloted them around the track in a two seater sprint.
The first year the event was held the racing action didn’t make it too far when one racer found his ride dangling in the security fence early in the night. Last year’s event concluded with Billy Balog claiming the first Bill Waite Memorial. Wanting to defend his title this year started off on rocky ground as flames were seen coming from his machine during hot laps due to an oil fire. Pitside repairs by his crew enabled him to be race ready for qualifying.
Smith took the first heat checkers over Scott Neitzel, Greg Wilson, and Ian Madsen. Bill Warren finished first in front of Balog, Dave Uttech, and Scott Uttech at the end of heat two. Ben Wagoner beat Robbie Standridge for the heat three win.
Paul May won the B Main race over Jim Moughan, Robbie Pibnow, Jordan Goldsberry, and Bill Wirth.
Twenty two racers lined the starting grid with Bill Warren and Danny Smith atop the field. Smith shot off the stripe at rocket speeds outdistancing the competition but a caution in the third lap for Jim Moughan stopped his show. Before Moughan’s ride could be towed off he made his way down the track on foot to express his displeasure with a fellow competitor. Once back to racing action, Smith had no problem pulling away again leaving Warren to battle Australian racer Ian Madsen. Sixth place starter Balog had his sights set to the front and powered full throttle under the Aussie during the fourth lap. Several restarts brought the pack back to a nose to tail start and each time Smith charged forward at record speeds to set the pace.
By the fourteenth circuit, Balog looked as though he had found his comfort zone and was reeling in the leader. Lapped traffic down low kept the runner up at bay. During Lap 20, Balog tried the outside and then dove to the bottom to steal the lead in the turn four corner. Balog was simply the fastest ride on the track all the way to the end of the thirty lap main event to earn his $4,000 payday. Smith spent an impressive twenty laps as the leader and settled for the second place finish.
Mike Reinke seemed to be gaining momentum as he was making a charge up to third from his eighth place start. He gave Smith a run for second in the final laps but fell shy to end his night in third. Madsen crossed the line in fourth in front of Wagoner, Wilson, Neitzel, Standridge, May, Mock, Moughan and Warren.
Three cautions with minor causes slowed the action, two due to looped rides. Twenty two laps were without a yellow providing wheel to wheel action throughout the field of sprint stars. Some rides sporting wheelies down the straightaways. Balog was struggling to pass some back markers during the final laps but managed to defend his reign of the Bill Waite Jr., Memorial title and claim his twelfth victory of the season.
In addition to the Sprints, the UMP Open Wheel Modified’s competed for $1,000 in a twenty lap challenge. Ninteen contenders qualified one lap with Gary Cook Jr. claiming the fastest lap of 13.990.
Nick Allen beat Milo Veloz, Cook, Jamie Lomax and Collin Thirlby in their first heat. Brandon Maciejewski won the second heat ahead of Ray Bollinger, Tommy Duncan, Justin McCoy, and Steven Brooks.
Maciejewski took command from the outside of the front row carrying the field until losing his pace up in the rough marbles. Allen took over and was unstoppable leading the remainder of the event without challenge. Bollinger finished runner up ahead of Lomax, Cook, Nathan Balensiefen, Brooks, McCoy, Jamie Balensiefen, Maciejewski, Geno Hewitt, Tim Hamburg and Chris Zogg.
Allen Provenzano swept the UMP 4 Cylinder division claiming both the heat and feature victory over his brother Jon. At the finish of their fifteen lap feature the finish was Allen Provenzano, Jon Provenzano, Jerry Legner, Zack Bollinger, Jessica Summar, Crystal Provenzano Broyles, Kyle Carlson, #92, Mark Sutton, Dan Whittecomb, Paul Thorson, and Josh Miller.
The final night of racing is scheduled for this Saturday night at the speedway with a $5 general admission ticket price as the track champions are honored.
La Salle Speedway Results:
IRA Outlaw Sprints:
A-Main: 1.) Bill Balog, 2.) Danny Smith, 3.) Mike Reinke, 4.) Ian Madsen, 5.) Ben Wagoner, 6.) Greg Wilson, 7.) Scott Neitzel, 8.) Robbie Standridge, 9.) Paul May, 10.) Phillip Mock, 11.) Joey Moughan, 12.) Bill Warren, 13.) Dave Uttech, 14.) Scott Uttech, 15.) Robbie Pribnow, 16.) Kris Spitz, 17.) Bill Wirth, 18.) Wayne Modjeski, 19.) Brandon Thone, 20.) Russel Borland, 21.) Jordan Goldsberry, 22.) Jim Moughan
B-Main: 1.) May, 2.) Moughan, 3.) Pribnow, 4.) Goldsberry, 5.) Wirth, 6.) K. Spitz, 7.) Thone, 8.) Cody Hewitt, 9.) Dennis Spitz, 10.) Patrick Hayes
Heat 1: 1.) Smith, 2.) Neitzel, 3.) Wilson, 4.) Madsen
Heat 2: 1.) Warren, 2.) Balog, 3.) D. Uttech, 4.) S. Uttech
Heat 3: 1.) Wagoner, 2.) Standridge, 3.) Jim Moughan, 4.) Reinke
Qualifying: 1.) Wilson, 10.720, 2.) Joey Moughan, 10.835, 3.) Reinke, 10.882secs, 4.) Neitzel, 10.920, 5.) May, 10.948, 6.) Jim Moughan, 10.958, 7.) Goldsberry, 10.993, 8.) Balog, 11.038, 9.) Mock, 11.043, 10.) Madsen, 11.083.