by Rocky Ragusa
The Fairbury American Legion Speedway played host to the 20th Annual “Pappy and Bob Allen Memorial" race on Saturday. The race honors the legacy of a father and son that shared the love of motorsports in Illinois through their parts business and owning race cars with a variety of drivers. Taking wins were Kevin Weaver, Mike McKinney, A.J. Meiferdt, Richard Craven, Graham Jackson, and Ryan Hamilton.
Weaver took the lead at the start of the 30-lap Late Model race with Mike Mataragas, Jay Morris, Mike Glasscock, and Derek Chandler following. On the restart after a caution on lap eight, Weaver, running the bottom, led while Mataragas, Morris, and Chandler raced side by side for second. Caution dropped on the field on lap 16. Weaver opened up his lead on the restart over Mataragas. Chandler tried to take over third from Morris but the treacherous Fairbury cushion caused Chandler to fall back several spots. Morris tried several times to take over second but was the victim of the cushion causing damage to his car and ending his night. With seven laps left, a red flag came out due to all emergency vehicles being called to a structure fire outside of Fairbury. There was a 25-minute delay as an ambulance was called in from Pontiac. When the cars went back to green, Weaver was able to go uncontested in recording his fourth Allen Memorial trophy. “It’s awesome to win this race. I knew Pappy and Bob when I first got into racing,” said Weaver. “After the delay, I was worried about how the tires would respond.” Mataragas was second, followed by Kolby Vandenbergh, Mike Glasscock, and Scott Bull (hard charger, started 13th). Weaver, Morris, and Mataragas took heat wins, while Bill Hough was the semi-feature winner. Weaver had the fastest time in qualifying at 12.997 seconds.
As announcer Mike Norris put it, there were more sliders than you get at White Castle in the Modified feature. Jay Ledford took the lead as Mike McKinney wrestled second from Nick Clubb. On the restart after two cautions came out on lap three, Ledford and McKinney went toe to toe exchanging slide jobs, bringing the race fans to their feet. Neither driver was able to get a clear cut advantage until McKinney seemed to shoot out of a cannon exiting turn four and pulled to a 10 car length lead with nine laps to go. McKinney was able to stretch his margin in the closing laps to secure the win. “I hope the fans got their money’s worth,” an exhausted McKinney spoke. “That was the most intense race that I have ever been in. I have a ton of respect for Jay and I hope that I earned his respect. It was a lot of fun racing with Jay.” Ledford, Jeff Curl, Steven Brooks, and Clubb completed the top five. Ledford was the night’s fast qualifier at 14.005 seconds and also won his heat race. Other heat winners were Clubb and McKinney.
The KidModz Series made its annual visit to FALS and found five drivers entered. Despite a caution flag with three laps remaining, Ryan Hamilton went uncontested to claim the 10-lap race for young drivers. Following Hamilton to the line were Dominic Mertzke, Michael Ledford, Blake Bailey, and Zach Sasser. Hamilton took the heat race win.
In the 12-lap Hobby Mod feature, front row starters Graham Jackson and Mike Petersen raced side by side for the first four laps before Jackson took over the lead. After a caution on lap six, Jackson led Petersen with Tim McGuire trying to hold off Mason Duncan and Jason Brandt. A caution fell two laps later. On the restart, Jackson held a five car length lead early, but Petersen and McGuire steadily pulled back on Jackson’s bumper. A caution with one lap to go gave Petersen and McGuire the opportunity to overtake Jackson. Jackson got a jump over the duo at the start and was able to hang on for an exciting win. Petersen, McGuire, Brandt, and Macy Vaughan completed the top five. Ten cars entered the Hobby Mod class as that class continues to grow. Jackson and Petersen won heat races.
It’s not over until it’s over proved to be true in the 15-lap Sportsman feature. Lake Nichoalds led the 14-car field to the green flag. Nichoalds took the lead with Richard Craven, Brian Albus, Steve Mattingly, and Amber Crouch in tow. When the field went back green after a lap four caution, Albus took over second from Craven but Craven came back three laps later to retake the position. A caution fell with two laps remaining had Nichoalds leading Craven and Albus. As the leaders were taking the white flag, Nichoalds got loose in turn four allowing Craven and Albus to get by. Craven was able to pick up his second win of the year. “Outside of the late cautions, it was a good race," said Craven. Albus, Nichoalds, Mattingly, and Anthony Craven comprised the top five. Nichoalds and Mattingly won heat races. Nichoalds took quick time honors with a 14.799 second lap.
A.J. Meiferdt and his team did some fine tuning on his motor and the chassis this week. It paid off as Meiferdt was rewarded with the win in the 15-lap Street Stock race. Andrew Funk pressured Meiferdt throughout the race until Meiferdt put some distance between himself and Funk. After a caution with two laps to go, Funk went to the top of the track but Meiferdt prevailed for the win. "I kept the car against the tires on the inside. Thanks to Calvin Coleman, we threw the kitchen sink at the car last night", said Meiferdt. “We put the car on the T1 chassis dyno and along with the motor, it worked out.” Funk was second, followed by Kyle Miner, Peter Odell, and Don Hilleary. Meiferdt and Funk won heat races. Shawn Ziemer was the fastest qualifier at 16.154 seconds.