"All right, let's make some noise," instructed Gene Chambers on Saturday night at Twin City Raceway.
Chambers served as announcer at the second stockcar race of the season. The action was fast and furious and Chambers did a masterful job of keeping the crowd enthused and informed.
Before the cars took the field, he introduced the race crew, including flagman Curtis Selby, who was perched high above the track in his flag tower. Chambers predicted Selby would "probably get knocked out before the night is through."
It was a rowdy evening and Chambers precognition was eerily accurate in the case of Kellie Baker and her green '84 Monte Carlo - 350. Baker's cautious performance in the time trials caused Chambers to reassure the crowd.
"She hasn't got totally crazy yet, but give her time. She will."
Sure enough, in the first heat, Baker was involved in the only crash. The collision occurred on the track's second bend, an area that abused the automobiles all evening. Driver Jerry Mitchell also survived the accident, but sadly his car, built in 1986, did not.
"We just met at the wrong place," Mitchell said.
While making the turn Mitchell broke his lower ball joint and lost control of his car. He attempted to ride things out on the inside, but the loose dirt in the bend grabbed Baker and caused the two to collide.
"Even strapped in it jostled me good," Baker said.
Mitchell agreed, "I haven't hit that hard before." His love of racing allowed him to dismiss the seriousness of the accident. "We can still go to work on Monday."
Mitchell's attitude and thirst for fun are shared by all the racers at Twin City. Winner of the A-Stock Division Main Event, a race 25 times around the track, was Bert Nelson. Nelson drives car No. 4, and according to the program distributed Saturday the four stands for "just 4 fun."
Nelson was a big presence all night and his victory didn't surprise everyone. His car is powered by a 351 Winsor engine. "She's a good old mule," Nelson said.
However, Nelson credits his success to taking the lead early. "You own it if you're in front. Driving in clean air you can see a lot better. You can pick your own line."
For many, racing at Twin City is a family affair. The Bakers, the Yancys, the Selbys, the Savelys; these men and women keep both the race cars and the racetrack operational.
Perhaps the proudest family man on Saturday night was Ken Young. Young's two sons, Mike and Sean, switched places behind the wheel of the family's newly assembled '78 Camaro in the A-Stock races.
The car was finished at 4 p.m. that afternoon and left all of its competitors sucking dust in the first heat. Sadly, a loose exhaust manifold prevented success in future laps and left the Camaro making loud popping sounds.
But Baker, whose Monte Carlo now suffers from radiator drain problems after rubbing against Mitchell, reminds everyone that these early races are supposed to be a time to work out all of the kinks.
"The season is just getting started. A lot of guys are getting their cars done," Baker said.
The cars in best form took the top three slots. At the end of the night, after considering points accumulated in all the heats, the results for A-Stock were: first place, No. 78 Butch Savely in his '80 Oldsmobile Cutlass; second place, No. 4 Nelson; and third place, No. 7 Debbie Yancy.
Richard McGahan, driving a '77 Camaro, smoked the other B-Stock drivers in Heat I, but was unable to come around in the Main Event. In the race, No. 64 Damon Cuppero held onto a sizable lead until a yellow flag violation forced him to the rear, where he remained, unable to pass any racers except No. 8 Bill Baker.
At the checkered flag, the two Buicks were the top dogs, with Tom Lackey in his '79 Buick Regal, followed by No. 2 Brent Hibbert in a car of the same model, only built in '78. McGahan drove in third.
Final standings for B-Stock consisted of the same three drivers, but Hibbert took home gold, Lackey second place and McGahan third.
At the races' conclusion, Chambers invited everyone to take the field.
"Hey Mr. Lackey. Can I sit in your car?" A boy too young to have a driver's license asked.
Lackey smiles and nods. "I'm having fun as usual," he said.
ALASKA CIRCLE TRACK ASSOCIATION
At Twin Cities Raceway
A STOCK DIVISION
Heat I: 1. Mike Young; 2. Debbie Yancy; 3. Dan Huntley; 4. Butch Savely; 5. Bert Nelson; 6. Monte Bentz; 7. Rex Savely; 8. Kellie Baker; 9. Jerry Mitchell.
Heat II: 1. Butch Savely; 2. Bert Nelson; 3. Dan Huntley; 4. Rex Savely; 5. Debbie Yancy; 6. Sean Young.
Main: 1. Bert Nelson; 2. Butch Savely; 3. Mike Young; 4. Monte Bentz; 5. Rex Savely; 6. Dan Huntley; 7. Debbie Yancy.
B STOCK DIVISION
Heat I: 1. Richard McGahan; 2. Brent Hibbert; 3. Tom Lackey; 4. Bill Baker; 5. Damon Cuppero.
Heat II: 1. Brent Hibbert; 2. Tom Lackey; 3. Richard McGahan; 4. Damon Cuppero; 5. Bill Baker.
Main: 1. Tom Lackey; 2. Brent Hibbert; 3. Richard McGahan; 4. Damon Cuppero; 5. Bill Baker.
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