Babb Tops McDowell & Pierce In Memorable Prairie Dirt Classic Battle To Finish

by Kevin Kovac & Darlene Miller

Shannon Babb battled and battled and battled....and finally came out on top of a Prairie Dirt Classic A-Main for the ages on Saturday night at Fairbury American Legion Speedway.

The 39-year-old star from Moweaqua, Ill., thrilled his home-state crowd, outdueling Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., and Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., down the stretch to win a 100-lap race that was arguably the most dramatic of the 2013 World of Outlaws Late Model Series campaign.

For a driver who since 2008 has tried so hard – but continually fallen just short – to score a signature WoO LMS triumph in the Illini 100 at nearby Farmer City Raceway, mastering another bullring in his backyard to the tune of a $20,050 first-place check holds extra significance.

"This ranks right up there with the Illini 100 to me," said Babb, who previously won the Prairie Dirt Classic in 2002 and 2006. "Twenty-grand (to win a dirt Late Model race) right here in Illinois is unheard of, and I'm just tickled to death (to win it).

"Having this many people here, a 100-lapper at Fairbury, $20,000 to win and all the Outlaw guys here – it was cool. It's something that's hard to get."

Illinois Drivers Shine On Opening Night Of Prairie Dirt Classic Weekend

by Kevin Kovac & Darlene Miller

The Illinois boys came to play Friday night at Fairbury American Legion Speedway.

Defending their home-state turf in impressive fashion, drivers hailing from the Land of Lincoln kicked off the historic 24th annual Prairie Dirt Classic weekend by winning four of the six 15-lap heat races that highlighted a high-energy qualifying program.

Weaver Rallies, Dehm Takes an Emotional Win

by Rocky Ragusa

Prior to Saturday night’s “Alkota Keep It Clean” series race, the Fairbury American Legion Speedway family paused to remember Fairbury Fair-Speedway president, Jim Schahrer. Before the feature races all race cars came out onto the speedway and did a polish victory lap in honor of “Griz”.

Kevin Weaver overtook Derek Chandler on the 10th lap to win the 30-lap UMP Late Model feature. While working thru lapped traffic, Ryan Unzicker and Scott Bull challenged Weaver several times for the top position, but Weaver held on for his second win of the year. In victory lane Weaver commented, “I want to thank my crew. We have been working on our Bill West car and it’s getting better. The motor is a little weak but we will probably bring our Bob Pierce car next week. I have to thank Jay Morris and Jimmy Johns. We get a lot of support from them. Last week we ran the top and tonight I was on the bottom, except the last ten laps." Unzicker, Bull, Torin Mettille, Joe Harlan, Eric Smith, Mike Mullvain, Derek Chandler, Daren Friedman, and Mike Glasscock rounded out the top ten. Jay Morris finished 13th to win the race’s hard charger. Chandler bested 22 other drivers in qualifying with a 13.023. Chandler, Smith, and Mettille won heat races.

Friedman Holds off Challengers to Win Modified Special

by Darlene Morris

Special, big-money races tend to draw drivers coming from all over as they look to pick up that special payday. Such was the case this past weekend at Fairbury American Legion Speedway. Saturday night drew some top drivers from the Midwest for the $1,200-to-win modified special. Former UMP champs Rusty Griffaw of Festus, Mo., and Mike Harrison of Highland were on hand to try and capture the prize. But it was Saunemin’s Jeb Friedman who grabbed the victory from a field of more than 20 drivers.

Harrison and Friedman, known as “The Cobra,” led the starting field to the green flag and both put on a show of their driving talents. Neither was able to assume the upper hand. Harrison decided to take chances on the high side but that did him in eventually. He broke in a turn with 12 laps to go and his evening was done. But that did not give Friedman an easy run to the line. Immediately on his heels were current American Legion Speedway point’s leader Jeff Curl of Forrest and Pontiac’s Jay Ledford. A caution flag with 10 circuits to go bunched the field and another caution for debris in turn four with two laps remaining put the heat on Friedman. Friedman was able to hold on for the win with Curl chasing about three car lengths behind. It was Friedman’s first FALS victory of the season.

“We found something in our setup a few weeks ago and the track tonight was good. We were waiting for it to get slick,” said Friedman. Ledford was third with Lance Dehm of Chatsworth and Buffalo’s Jeff Leka completing the top five. Gardner’s Dave Porth, Griffaw, Steven Brooks, Jim Farris of Odell and Kevin Hastings made up the second five. Heat winners were Curl, Harrison and Friedman. Dwight’s Andrew Funk won the semi feature. The fast time was set by Forrest’s Cullen Breeden with a 14.024 second run.

Meiferdt’s Corvair Controls Street Stock Special

by Rocky Ragusa

In 1965, attorney and consumer advocate, Ralph Nader, wrote a book, “Unsafe At Any Speed”. The book details the unsafe handling characteristics of the Chevrolet Corvair and in 1969 Chevrolet stopped producing the car. When the Fairbury American Legion Speedway brought back the Street Stock class, A.J. Meiferdt, of Coal City debut an eye catching, 1967 Convair. Meiferdt has experienced his ups and downs in racing at Fairbury, but Saturday night proved to be a high mark as Meiferdt took the lead at the start and handled his Corvair to an upset win in the 20-lap UMP DIRTcar Street Stock feature.

As the field took the green flag Meiferdt took the lead with Lee Hall jumping to second. The red flag came out on the track before a lap could be completed as six cars piled up on the front stretch. Darrin Kohler and Reese Miller violently flipped their cars and both drivers were able to walk away. On the restart, Meiferdt jumped out into the lead as Brandon Eskew, Hall, and Don Hilleary trailed. Caution came out on the fifth lap when Alex Clubb and Darrell Dick made contact. The restart had Meiferdt glued to the bottom, with Hall racing side by side for second with Eskew. At the halfway mark Hall was able to break away from Eskew and Jordan Smith making his presence known. The next lap the red flag was thrown for Keith Millen rolling his car. Millen came out of his car unhurt. Also involved were Lukes Gash and Jason Maier. The restart had Smith overtaking Hall for second and closing on Meiferdt. After another caution on lap 15, Smith pulled up on the outside to take the lead, but Meiferdt held off the challenge. Meiferdt drove a smooth steady line the final laps and was able to take home the $800 first prize. In the winner’s circle, Meiferdt commented, “What a way to get my first win. I have to thank Rick Thomas for spinning a four. It gave me the invert of the heat and just set up my night. I want to thank Team 23 and Calvin Coleman Race Cars. Schlappi Motors built me some awesome horsepower.” The rest of the top ten were Smith, Hilleary, Andrew Funk, Hall, Rick Thomas, Nick Clubb, Jeff Semmens, Darrell Dick, and Alex Clubb.

Rick Thomas led 43 other drivers in time trials with a 15.757 and got a bonus of $100 donated by the Pit Stop Café in Pontiac. Taking heat race wins were Brandon Eskew, Meiferdt, Todd Smith, Lee Hall, and Andrew Funk. Two semi features were held as Lukes Gash and Darrell Dick winning. The hard charger of the race went to Nick Clubb.