Past the Pit Gate
by Danny Rosencrans

January 22, 2012 -- Saturday night January 21 Quincy Raceways held their annual racing banquet at the K of C Hall in Quincy. There was a large crowd in attendance as six 2011 champions were crowned. Seith Woodruff captured his first Wild Things track title, and Joe Bliven took the top spot in the short season IMCA Northern Sport Mod division.Steve Carlin collected a class record fifth hobby stock title, and Aaron Brocksieck rode first half dominance into a championship in the IMCA stock cars. Steven Delonjay added his name to the list of UMP modified champs, while Justin Reed became the final IMCA late model title holder in his ninth year of racing.

  As has been previously documented, 2012 will be a season of much change at the .29 mile bullring, with that change starting at the top. The new ownership group consists of previous co owner Paul Holtschlag, and longtime track employee Bob Rhineburger. Introduced at the gathering as the new chief steward/race night director was Bushnell, Il area resident Jake Croxton. Jake has been a fixture at Tri State area race tracks for several years, serving as an announcer, flagman and in other capacities.Jake briefly served in a similar position at QR previously, and will be a solid addition to the management team.

  Of course the most visible changes to the fans will occur on the speedway, and a couple of those will have major consequences. For the first time ever over a full season, QR will feature six classes nightly, with the sport mods competing for a full season. As a result, track champion Bliven has relinquished his position on the tech inspection crew at the track to compete full time in the division with his Uppinghouse family owned # 20JB.

  And 2012 will see the introduction of the UMP late models as the premier class for the first time in the history of the 37 year old facility. Throughout the seasons, the " open " style late models have made more than a handful of visits, but always in a touring series, or as a one time show. The changes in rules and procedures will be nothing short of dramatic, but after conversations with several IMCA track regulars from last season, it looks as though we should have a solid returning base of drivers making the switch. In addition, there are lierally dozens of UMP late model racers within a 150 mile radius of Quincy, several of whom have indicated a desire to add the Sunday night track to their race week. With UMP, national points can be earned at any sanctioned track and combined to a drivers total towards a championship run. The top prize for the late models has been raised to $1,000 to win and feature race lineups will be handled on a passing points basis. While the system requires a bit of math, the basic premise means that no matter where you start your heat race, you can improve your feature starting spot depending on the number of cars you pass. Both of these changes have been well recieved by the competitors as one might expect. Another change that should be a positive is the requirement of raceivers for 2012. Basically this is a headset the drivers will untilize to recieve messages from the tower. This can include things such as warning of an accident ahead, as well as where the driver belongs in a restart lineup. It is a one way communications device.

 The next event for the speedway will be the Quincy Mall car show the weekend of March 10 and 11, with opening night just three weeks later on April 1. In between, there will be several practice nights, weather permitting.  The first special race will be a visit by the UMP Northern All Stars touring series on April 15. The event will pay $2,000 to win, and central Illinois driver Ryan Unzicker is the defending champion, barely outpointing third generation driver 18 year old Brandon Sheppard, from New Berlin,Il.

  There were lots of positive comments at the banquet, and I came away very excited about the upcoming season. Only ten weeks until opening night. Get those cars ready boys - and girls - and lets go racing!

 


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