Slips and spills during Speedway's eventful Saturday
By Mark Smith
The Madera Tribune
The Mountain Man 150-lap Enduro race at the LoanMart Madera Speedway Saturday night lived up to its name, as more than a dozen drivers showed true
grit while racing through multiple spills, skids, bumps and thumps.
Working almost like a demolition derby with a lap count, drivers battled for position while trying to keep control of their squirrely vehicles on a soaked track.
Within 11 laps, prominent Enduro driver Robert Reagan jumped into the lead over points leader David Etheridge with a skilled sweep move.
Police lights flashing away on the top of his 810 car, Reagan kept solid control of the lead through lap 75, even as Etheridge attempted to work back onto the
inside line and steal back the top spot.
Meanwhile, other drivers provided a host of sights for cheering fans, including the sight of the 49 car of Robert Smith and 11R of Rick Anderson get tangled up
and slide down the front-end straightaway almost into a wall.
After the race switched direction and restarted, Reagan continued to prove unstoppable until lap 103, when Etheridge again attempted to snatch the lead.
Both drivers zipped and slid around lap traffic, often going three-cars-wide into turns and straightaways as they gave fans arguably the best Enduro battle all
Back and forth the two drivers went: in lap 117, Etheridge took the lead; in lap 119 Reagan stole it back; in lap 131 Etheridge again had the top spot, but in lap
146 Reagan again took back his lead and held it the rest of the way for the checkered flag.
In the winner's circle - and his car spewing out steam in the background - Reagan said his path to victory meant he had to switch gears as his vehicle began to
"I changed gears in the car to try and cool it off," Reagan said. "I was running hot. He got around me, so I pulled it back down into second and did what I do."
Etheridge said he was disappointed in the loss but he hoped fans enjoyed the show.
"I wish I would have won," Etheridge laughed. "But I think that was the first time I've raced side by side with Robert and it was a heck of a lot of fun … even
though I'm disappointed I'm still super pumped up with this one."
Other winners on the night included: Jason Lawton in his first Toyota Sedans win ever; Stacy Evans in a decisive 4-Bangers victory; Sheldon Cooper in the
Open Hobby Stocks series; Thomas Magray in the 18-Second Bracket Race; and Kevin Thompson in the MST's.
Lawton beamed in the winner's circle as he talked about his first-ever sedans victory, which he won in a hard-fought race that saw several lead changes.
"It was a good run and a great race," Lawton said. "That's the best I've ever run out there. I'm really happy with the car and the win, everything's going good
In the MST's, Thompson increased his points lead after an incredible back-and-forth battle perhaps symbolic of the class itself, where top drivers have been
separated by as little as two points this season.
Thompson and his next closest competitor, Jason Bowersox, began the race side by side, each man hungry for the green starting flag and as many points as
After their engines roared to life, the rivals zipped around turns, practically rubbing the sides of their vehicles against each other as they struggled for first.
By lap 3 Thompson managed to move into the lead alone, but Bowersox had other plans as his father and last year's MST champion, John Bowersox,
attempted the infamous "Bowersox bump" seen the last time the class was at the track.
On straightaways, John moved up behind Jason and gave him a bump from behind for an extra speed boost, bringing cheers from the crowd.
However, race officials immediately signaled John Bowersox to stop the illegal maneuver, and when he - perhaps accidentally - did it again, he was given the
black disqualification flag and forced from the race.
It turned out Jason Bowersox didn't need the extra help, though, as he moved up on Thompson and took the inside line, putting up the fight of his life for first.
In lap 24, Bowersox managed to wrest a tiny lead from Thompson and held it until a lap later, when Thompson pulled what he later called "the best move of
As the two came out of turn four, Bowersox slid onto the outside line so Thompson slowed down slightly, moved back, then criss-crossed onto the inside
track and accelerated into the lead.
From then on, it was all Thompson's race as he cruised to the checkered flag and victory lane, where he had nothing but praise for his competitor.
"Jason ran really great tonight," Thompson said. "He made some great moves on me and gave me a real battle. This whole division is full of excellent drivers,
so I'm really happy to get this win and it was just incredible … that was the best race I've ever had in my life and the most fun I've ever had on a track."
The Speedway will go dark next week and return Saturday, Aug. 30 with a full racing docket.
Events scheduled for that night include: a 100-lap sixth round of the $1,000 to win LoanMart Open Late Model Series; the Open Hobby Stock series; MST's;
Toyota Sedans; 4-Bangers; Mini Cup; and the 18-second Bracket Race.
For information, call (559) 673-7223.
Mountain Man Enduro (150 laps)
Jason Sitton-(1 lap)
Steve Schermerchorn-(1 lap)
Loren Chitwood-(2 laps)
Rob Slagle-(2 laps)
Ryan Hart-(2 laps)
Rick Anderson-(5 laps)
Jacob Robert-(5 laps)
Robert Smith-(16 laps)
Marisa Odgers-(18 laps)
Richard Herzog-(19 laps)
James Cooke-(22 laps)
Michael Jarrell-(49 laps)
Toyota Sedans (30 laps)
MST's (30 laps)
John Benedict-(1 lap)
Elliott St. Jerne-(1 lap)
Open Hobby Stocks (20 laps)
Don Selsor-(4 laps)
Howard Holden-(12 laps)
4-Bangers (10 laps)
18-Second Bracket Race (30 laps)
Thomas Magray-18.201, winner
Elliott St. Jerne-17.904
Joe Humphries-1 lap
Elliot St. Jerne-18.864
Open Hobby Stocks
HEAT RACES (6 laps):
Toyota Sedans (Heat 1)
Toyota Sedans (Heat 2)
MST's (Heat 1)
Open Hobby Stocks (Heat 1)
Don Selsor-(1 lap)
4-Bangers (Heat 1)