America’s Greatest Birthday Party (7/3/19)

July 3, 2019

Wednesday 7/3, marked a very fun event at the Rockford Speedway. The event was a Firework Extravaganza, in honor and celebration of America’s Independence Day.  After a great rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by local favorite Dr. T, it was off to the races and action!

      The first heat and division up was the magnificent “Winged Women On Wheels”.  The small number of cars and competitors, with only 3 total drivers competing with a 4th dropping out due to mechanic issues or something of the sort, didn’t stop the women from giving it their all. Winning their single heat of the night was local driver #66 Ashley Matts (Rockford, IL).  However, in their feature event, first place went to #63 Cassidy Frisch (Beloit, WI), with second going to Heat 1 winner #66 Ashley Matts, and third went to #18 Shonna Meyers (Beloit, WI).

      Next up were the RoadRunners.  From what I’ve witnessed, these drivers are loved by the fans and love to take chances and put on a show. During the first heat, #64 William Balmes was out to and maintaining a hefty lead, until sometime near the second or third lap when #22 Duane Lounsbury (Beloit, WI) made an excellent move to jump from 4th place to 2nd.  From here, #22 Lounsbury fought closely with the leader #64 Balmes for most of the remaining 10 lap heat. It even came down to a very close last lap finish between the two. In the end, #64 William Balmes narrowly took 1st place in Heat 1, with #22 Duane Lonsbury snagging an extremely close 2nd place. However, the featured event is what really counts, and in the featured RoadRunner event, #22 Duane Lounsbury put on another great performance, this time finishing 1st in the featured race.  Coming in 2nd place was #18r Robby Robinson (Orfordville, WI) and 3rd place went to #17 Ryan Ostenson (South Beloit, WI). This class is a lot of fun and is always extremely competitive.

      For the Original 6ers, it was also a loud, fun time for fans with alot of fast, tight turns, and risk taking.  After their 4 Heats of back breaking competition and tons of fun, it was on to their featured event of the night.  With 22 cars on the track, it made things even more hectic and exciting. Taking the well earned 1st place after a crazy event was #7f Jerry Fortson (Durand, IL), who utilized the lanes and turns to secure a victory.  Coming in 2nd place with an also solid & aggressive showing was local driver #05 Jerid Neal (Rockford, IL), and snagging 3rd place was #24 Zach Cichon (Poplar Grove, IL).  

      As is sometimes the case, fans were treated to a unique one-of-a-kind race challenge, this time performed by the Roadrunner class. The race this evening was a “FlagPole Race” in honor of the 4th of July, where drivers completed laps around the track, but around the finish line, had to circle around a flagpole appropriately flying an American flag at the top before resuming their next lap. For the first couple laps, #7c Adam Cartwright (Rockford,IL) competed nearly side by side with #52 Brent Garnhart (Machesney Park, IL), but that didn’t last long. Somewhere around lap 3, Cartwright broke away from the rest and won by what seemed to be 3 quarters of a lap.  Also an interesting note, winner Adam Cartwright also won an earlier Roadrunner challenge “The Hare and Hound” event earlier in the season in the same car! A “Specialty Challenge” Specialist possibly? You be the judge!

      The American short trackers also saw 2 intense and fun Heats, with #61 Franc Beldowski (Rockford, IL) taking first place in Heat 1, and #68 Steve Erickson Jr winning the second.  For the main featured event, there was plenty more fun in action! Bringing home first place after nicely driven 25-lap race was #98 Kelly Evink (Machesney Park, IL) and his display of driving was outstanding. Coming in second place was #9 Aaron Rude in his infamous red Ford Pinto, showing his veteran skills and smart driving. Taking third was #68 Steve Erickson Jr, the veteran who always drives extremely well. 

      After the races came to a close, fans were treated to an amazing display of fireworks to celebrate our country’s Independence. It was definitely a special day, per usual, and a fun night filled with excitement at the Rockford Speedway. A special Thanks goes out to our staff, sponsors, drivers, and the Coon Creek casters for the 50/50 raffle. Get your tickets now, as there is plenty of more fun and excitement of all kinds to be had at the Rockford Speedway for the remainder of the 2019 season!

Aaron Hildebrand

(Rockford Speedway Writer)