May Daze Vintage Race Recap – Heartland Park Topeka

MAY 4-5-6, 2012
By Bill Rinke

‘Twas a dark and stormy night – Well, I arrived in Topeka on Thursday afternoon, May 3, and checked into the RV park. About 5 0’clock Friday morning I was rudely awakened by an extremely loud clap of thunder. Then lightning, more thunder and raindrops playing a tune on the roof of the camper. The rain was gone and the sun was shining when I began my day with a 5 minute drive to Heartland Park Topeka about 7 o’clock.

This is the first time I have visited this great 2 ½ mile road course in two years. I found the SCCA workers involved in the Crash/Fire and Rescue School which is required every two years for corner workers. I have attended that school about 10 times and this time I was pleased to again visit with many corner worker friends.

This weekend had a full schedule of activity including vintage races, SCCA regional and national races, Solo races in the south paddock, SCCA driver’s school, performance driving experience and Saturday night dirt track stock cars.

SCCA and vintage race drivers began filling the paddock with their race cars and support trailers. The vintage drivers all parked together and were quite close to where Kent Prather had his (very professional) trailer equipped to support the three cars that he brought to this event. Kent is a well- known builder of race engines and is a 7-time SCCA National Champion. He brought his championship MGA 1600, Bob Bramlage’s Ginetta G4 and Rick Fiske’s Elva Courier. Jesse Prather, Kent’s son and a 3-time SCCA National Champion himself, was signed up to drive the Elva.

Thirteen vintage race cars arrived during Friday and the camaraderie began with the usual jokes and tall tales. We all joined the SCCA folks for the Friday night social which included food and drinks. Really was good.

%%wppa%% %%photo=39%% %%size=600%%

The vintage race cars were divided into open wheel and closed wheel groups which were to run separately, however, only one open wheel car, a Formula V, was present so it was placed on the track with the closed wheel cars on Saturday.

The qualifying race for vintage cars began at 8 a.m. Saturday morning under a rapidly warming and very bright sun. Kent Prather posted the best time in his MGA at 1:56.182 followed by Jesse Prather in the bright red ’61 Elva. Tony Shores drove his ’70 Ford Boss 302 Mustang to third fastest, followed by Dave Williams Bugeye Sprite, Greg Reynolds Shelby Mustang, Harvey Kinnard’s TR-4, Jeff Nethery’s Mustang, Russ Noblett’s Sprite, Wayne Miles Bugeye Sprite, Klaus Selbert’s Porsche 911, Jeff Yergovich’s Mustang, Terry Davis’s Bugeye Sprite and Chuck Singletary’s Formula V.

During the very fast qualifying laps, Harvey Kinnard managed to spin a couple of times and Wayne Miles Sprite broke a throttle cable.

%%wppa%% %%photo=59%% %%size=600%%

The first vintage race began right after the National Anthem was played at 1:00 p.m.. Within seconds after the drop of the green flag, Tony Shores big, blue, Ford Boss 302 spun in the middle of the track. Huge clouds of white smoke billowed up from the tires as they searched for traction. The Boss disappeared in the smoke and could not be seen by drivers behind, and they all took evasive action. Bob Bramlage and Dave Williams found themselves fighting for control as they both were at speed in the grass. Everyone got around Tony and continued the race. Tony, however, discovered that his transmission had locked up in third gear which is what caused the spin.

A spirited dual between Jesse Prather in the Elva and Bob Bramlage in the Ginetta ended with Jesse coming home with the win. Close behind was Greg Reynolds and Kent Prather. The finishing order of each race determined the starting position for the following race.
%%wppa%% %%photo=44%% %%size=600%%
The SCCA, the Kansas Kaw Valley Race Group and the Kansas City Regions provided a catered BBQ dinner for all the drivers, their crew and all of the race workers on Saturday evening. While enjoying the BBQ we could hear the stock cars and modifieds warming up on the Heartland Park dirt track.

Sunday morning was very cloudy and the temperature was down to 70 degrees when the twelve lap vintage race began at 8 o’clock . Once again, Jesse Prather had the field covered in the very fast Elva Courier. He was followed by Greg Reynolds, Kent Prather, Jeff Neathery and Tony Shores in his quickly repaired Ford.

Dave Williams posted a 6th place finish in his very fast, silver Bugeye Sprite. He was followed byJeff Yergovich, Harvey Kinnard, Russ Noblett, Klaus Selbert, Terry Davis, Chuck Singletary and Wayne Miles. Wayne was doing all he could to catch & pass Terry Davis and was very close to doing so when he went a little bit wide coming out of turn 14, hit the marbles (rubber debris), spun and hit the wall (which luckily was covered with the new Safer Barrier). A piece of the barrier ended up lying on top of Wayne’s car. The corner workers allowed Wayne to sit there until the race ended just two laps later. Almost no damage to the car and Wayne was just fine.

The final May Daze vintage race began about 1:00 p.m. Sunday and was scheduled to run for 15 laps. This is a long time for these old cars to be put to the test, and they all managed to survive while giving a very competitive show.

Jesse Prather and Greg Reynolds exchanged leads during the first two laps of the race. As the race wore on and the Shelby GT350’s tires wore down, Jesse had the field behind him the rest of way to the checker. He was followed by Greg Reynolds, Kent Prather, Jeff Neathery and Dave Williams. Tony Shores managed a 6th place finish with a transmission that had all gears except the third one. Harvey Kinnard finished 7th and was followed by Jeff Yergovich, Klaus Selbert, Terry Davis, Chuck Singletary, Wayne Miles and Russ Noblett.

%%wppa%% %%photo=62%% %%size=600%%

A great time was had by all and most drivers are looking forward to doing it again at Hastings, Nebraska Motorsport Park on September 1 and 2. The May Daze event will be an annual event on our race calendar.

To see more event photos, visit the gallery page.