FELCH WINS BK4!!…

 

Salem, Or-   Speedway…”Slideways”…Salem Speedway Style……This years Les Schwab Tires/Knecht’s Auto Parts “Slideways Saturday” indoor Speedway season brought with it a lot of Buddha belly rubbing for Freeborn Racing Promotions owner Roger Freeborn as he took the helm of the 2011/2012 indoor speedway kart season. The first bit of luck for Northwest competitors was the return of Freeborn for his second season as promoter of “Slideways Saturday”. (Working in conjunction with master track builder and former world-renowned motorcycle ace Bob Leach) Freeborn took what appeared to be a “throw in the towel” first season and transformed year number two into something that has the makings of growing into something big, VERY BIG.

“After season one, I honestly wasn’t planning on being back here for year two” said a very serious Freeborn. “It was frustrating for us, frustrating for the racers, and just was not an environment I felt I wanted to endure for another indoor season. It’s only seven races but the planning, organization, time, and then trying to make the rent and still get a quality team on board is a very daunting and tough task. My hat is off to promoters everywhere. Promoting is nothing close to  being easy,”  Freeborn went on, “When I started thinking about how much I love the sport and how hard it is for racers to find a place to race here in northwest anymore, something inside me told me to ‘go with my gut’ and give it one more shot. That’s what I did, and this is what we got…I’m thrilled for not only my efforts, but the efforts of my small but quality staff, and for all the racers who ultimately won having one of the premier facilities anywhere in the US to race at…It was a “Win-Win” all the way around.”

Freeborn brings in the Unlimited All-Stars…

Freeborn Racing Promotions brought in the Unlimited All-Stars as a sanctioning body so the series had some semblance of order and it was what helped tie everything together to bring some fantastic racing to the Salem Speedway and it got better and better with each event. Chris “the Italian assassin” Passanante was the unit of measure as he dominated round one. Returning from a leave of absence was former national champion Eric Stansberry who showed everyone that just like riding a bike, you might get rusty, but you never forget how to turn the wheel as he won round 2. Inaugural BK1 Champ Renee Angel, dusted off her Sudam, rolled in and showed the boys how it’s done taking round 3, trust me guys this is one gal that flat gets it done. She is fast everywhere I don’t care where it is, so keep your comments to yourself…

Three Rounds, Three different winners…

That is what you like to see in a series… variety. Ohh but wait there is more…If you were to look up Unlimited All Star racer in the dictionary, round 4 winner Wayne Felch would be the definition. A soft-spoken, keep to himself kind of guy & at first glance often mistaken as being snobbish for lack of a better word, but nothing could be further from the truth. Truth is, he gives and gives a lot, Felch basically single handedly has built the SuperSport 200 Class into what it is today around here in the Northwest. He gets people involved, brings karts for people to drive, a true ambassador to the sport. Felch is a precision master craftsman and that is probably an understatement, he thinks and dinks, tries and test’s, believes, & works like a dog until its right…WAY right. The first three rounds of the UAS “Slideways Saturday” series would have had most racers throwing the machine (and maybe themselves) off a cliff with his “Mastermind Masterpiece” breaking & not running at every opportunity. In round four Felch finally got it to hold together & everyone caught a glimpse of the first rocket on wheels… 

Round five, the first of three repeat winners…

Round two winner, Eric Stansberry put together some solid performances in the final three events to take home the 2011/2012 Salem Speedway “Slideways Saturday” Indoor Championship… This is how the former National Speedway Champion got it done…2 wins, a 2nd, a 3rd, a 4th, and a 7th…Not bad for just coming back after a long layoff…a deserving title for a very hard working race team. Without a doubt, this will not be the last anybody hears of Eric Stansberry that is for sure. The “Ironman” Joe Stackman made his Slideways Saturday debut in round 5 following Stansberry across the stripe in the second spot…Showing why he is one of the best “Closers” in the biz, brand new chassis, new engine package, debut appearance, 2nd place finish. I have know idea how he does it, but Stackman where ever he goes seems to always find his way to the front…Never, ever count out the “Ironman”

Round 6.”The Prelude” to the BIG ONE. The BK4…

The surprise here was the number of racers NOT here for the final tune- up event before the 4th annual Buddha Kinzer Memorial…Five of top contenders WERE in attendance and the racing was fierce and competitive.  Under UAS rules competitors must be members of the UAS in good standing in order to receive win and place points and it was Angel Racing’s Renee Angel being the second of three to win more than one main event, Stansberry second continuing his strong year end run, Passanante who started out the season strong has had some of the worse racing luck you could have since his win in round 1 finishing third, and the “Rocket Ronnie Cox who surprisingly has not had an indoor win at all this season in the fourth position…Although in Cox’s defense he, much like Felch, has been working all season getting the bugs out on a completely new engine and chassis package and had some growing pains in the process, Cox will be…and you heard this here first, a force to be reckoned with when he gets his  BRC engine and his chassis figured out…count on it.

THE BIG ONE…THE BUDDHA KINSER MEMORIAL 4

In all honesty, the Les Schwab Tires/Knecht’s Auto Parts “Slideways Saturday” indoor speedway series was nothing more than 6 tune-up races for the event called the “Big one”… the Buddha Kinzer Memorial race. Four years ago when Northwest kart racer Jeff “Buddha” Benson passed away during a Cascade Karting Indoor Speedway Series event, best friend “Rocket” Ronnie Cox and a host of close friends of Benson’s promoted and put on a memorial event on his behalf. At that time, they had no idea that what they were doing was going to be end up being one of the most talked about, and planned on being to events in the Northwest.

From Memorial to Historical,The BK event makes its mark….

Year 1 was 150 entries from Quarter Midgets to lawn mowers, over 50 entries alone in the Open division with 500 to win and gobs of quality donated finish prizes. Like a complete race ready Yamaha engine, new Burris dirt tires, a new jackshaft assembly and list goes on. More importantly than ALL of that is the gathering and bonding of bunch of great Northwest Racers racing on behalf of a fallen comrade. Year 2 entries were up over the 160 mark. Year 3 marked the largest count over 170. Last years BK3 event due to the economy and a facility change dropped the numbers significantly. The quality was still there as Renee Angel (who by the way was the inaugural event winner in 2008) and Terry Lawrence battling for the lead in an epic event, which had Angel and Lawrence getting together in the late stages, handing the win to first timer and youngest BKM winner Garrett Thomas with a 100cc Yamaha!. “Rocket” Ronnie Cox won the BK2 with a late last lap pass for the win and an emotional Cox afterward that this honored announcer will never forget. That brings us to this years high touted and much anticipated…

Fourth Annual BUDDHA KINSER MEMORIAL or the BK4…

With the best speedway drivers from the Northwest and West Coast on hand at what has fast become the single biggest indoor speedway karting event in the west; nobody could have imagined the outcome of this BK4 event. With greats such as prior winners Renee Angel and “Rocket” Ronnie Cox, The “Ironman” Joe Stackman, the sleek and oh so quick Chris Gibb, karting legend Phil Pfau, former CKA indoor champ Doug Stensgard, and late model ace Joe Constance (owner of Joe’s Racing Products), Fosdick, Patterson, Singleton, Borden, Finch, and the list could go on and on. It’s highly unlikely that someone would…and I said would, NOT couldn’t come in here and dominate a field of this caliber.

A surprising, unexpected, jaw dropping performance….

Based on the first six series events, had you asked anyone whom they thought was going to win the BK4; I will say that nobody would have told you Wayne Felch. Watching Felch struggle with getting the bugs worked out of his Mastermind Masterpiece dual clone 4 cycle powered machine, which showed flashes of brilliance and usually right before it broke…that alone would have had most convinced that Felch had no shot…it just wasn’t proven…Even Felch had concerns about it living and going the distance. Friday practice would have again had most saying an outside chance…and thinking nothing more of it. For the record, I want to say that this is not a knocking of Wayne Felch and his abilities. It is a compliment and a showing that in racing you can go from zero to hero overnight, and as most of us know who have raced for any length of time its just as easy to go from hero to zero. All without turning a screw, changing a pound, or tightening anything. It is the damndest thing…a real head scratcher still to this day…at least for me.

QUALIFYING…

29 qualified for the 14 spot main event start, with many thinking that a high 9 second stop of the watch would take the pole…you would think that the quick qualifier would be in right?. Not so, qualifying was only to determine the starting spots of the two heat races of which determined the first 10 spots with a heat starting by qualifying time, and one on invert…the remaining 4 spots were determined by a combination of points… I think, don’t ask me, and honestly once the racing started it didn’t matter anyway… you forgot all about the procedure and just didn’t want the racing to stop it was that good.

All said and done, Gibb went a blazing quick 10.627, and Cox a couple ticks off at a 10.809. Angel who qualified on pole in last years BK3, went 11.109 which was blink off of Passanante’s 11.087…you could feel the anticipation and the fence was packed with crew members and watches as Felch’s twin in-line clone monster took its first breath…when Felch entered turn 3 on his warm up lap, it was prettyapparent he had quite a ride underneath him…Felch stopped the clickers at  10.521 to take the pole…Remember two races ago Felch finished 7th with the  reliability worries still on his mind & really was not all that good in Friday practice…What a difference a night makes…Felch on the pole for heat 1, Gibb on the pole for heat 2, Zach Schmitz on the point in heat 3…six ferocious & furious heats…with just enough time for fans to catch their breath in between….All this is with .787 seconds separating 4th quick through 20th and .287 difference between quick qualifier Felch & 3rd quick “Rocket’ Ronnie Cox. That’s not separation, that’s a blink!

THE DASH…..FOR CA$H!…

The trophy dash was Passanante, Cox, Gibb, and Felch….The win and a “Hunskie” ($100.00) went to “Rocket” Ronnie Cox….

THE FEATURE…

In the main, it was ALL and I do mean ALL the “Mastermind” Wayne Felch. In the drivers meeting, the drivers agreed on 45 laps so everyone could make the go on a tank fuel. When the green fell, it was14 of the quickest opens in the Northwest hightailing it into turn one with Felch leading the way and Gibb directly attached. About eight laps in Felch was starting to drive away from Gibb and the gap continued to grow until the first caution. Again, on the re-start Felch would get a slight jump on Gibb, who for about two or three laps had the fans on the edge of their seats as he poked around trying to find a way around the twin engine Frankenstein. The Mastermind had his monster picking em’ up and putting em’ down as his machine tried to pull up the entire race track on each drive off the corners. I have never seen anything get a hold of a racetrack like this kart did. Bolted is an understatement and the grunt and forward propulsion really was like a lift off form NASA grid #7. There is no such thing as a “perfect” race machine, but it was as close to anything that I have ever seen. It was impressive as Felch was as much as a straight away ahead of Gibb, and trust me to do that it takes a WHOLE bunch of right to get that done, and it wasn’t like Gibb wasn’t fast. He was a total rocket that is just how good Felch was. WOW!

THE “CLOSING STAGES”…

In the late stages, Doug Stensgard took a violent head on smack with the turn 2 wall. Enough of a whack that it took his Sudam right off the frame rails, while it wound to the moon before what sound like it ran out of fuel. Not a stick unbelievably, it just stopped as if it was out of fuel. Who builds HIS engines? Because that engine revved and sounded like it was going to explode. The rev’s got higher and higher until it finally choked itself out. Stensgard was ok, however the field had run several caution flag laps and Felch and his crew looked worried over the quantity of fuel left, looking concerned if they could go the distance. When asked if he could go the distance (4 laps) his was reply was “I don’t know, we’re gonna try”…

THE FINAL FOUR “NAIL BITERS”…

After his complete and total domination all day and after having led every lap, it is going to go down like this. Lose it because of fuel? That is potential reason for suicide right there. Everybody was on the edge as the green flag fell for the final 4 circuits, and Gibb who now was in hero or zero mode, really turned up the heat and worked Felch to death going bottom side. Gibb got up along side Felch off turn 2 with 2 to go, but just didn’t have enough to seal the deal. WOW! For a second it looked like Gibb might make it by, but is was not to be. Felch earned himself a well-deserved BK4 win. I don’t think that there was ANYBODY in attendance that didn’t agree that Felch was without a doubt the class of the field. A very classy Jason Gibb (one of finest speedway dirt drivers to sit behind the wheel) was the head tuner for Brother Chris, was the first one over congratulating Felch on the win. A perfect ending to the surprising and most dominated Buddha event yet. Wayne Felch and the UAS have opened up the laboratory for BK5, going to be interesting to see what creations will awaken a year from now…

Main: 1. Wayne Felch 2. Chris Gibb 3. Rocket Ronnie Cox  4. Renee Angel 5. Curtis Fosdick 6. Ironman Joe Stackman 7. Eric Stansberry 8. Shane Smith 9. Scott McDowell 10. Bad Boy Jerry Patterson 11. Doug Stensgard 12. Dylan Dunham 13.Stewart Hayward 14.Chris Passanante   

Fast time: Felch  10.521     Dash for Cash:Rocket Ronnie Cox                               

You can check out a feature article on the Monster the “Mastermind” built in an upcoming edition of the Unlimited All-Stars official Magazine publication…Check out the Unlimited All-Stars website for more information…Until next time…Safe and happy racing to you all!

* Thanks to Docs Photo’s.com official Photographer of the Salem Speedway*

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