Pete Smith



Leaving Toledo in a mix of sleet and snow in the morning, I had no idea what to anticipate after the 3 hour drive to Anderson Speedway for the  13th running of the Glen Niebel Classic. The sun welcomed us to the speedway and the temperature has risen from 36 degree to a mild 55. The pits were full and a great day was in store 20 sprint cars and 10 Kenyon midgets were on hand for the event  and the quality of the field was a good indication was a good indication that USSA Sprint Car Challenge series presented by UAW was to be a healthy and well supported series.

Hotlaps saw very impressive times with Tony Hunt fastest at an 11.303 in the 56 EBAY motors sponsored machine. Hotlaps would go smoothly until the end in the end of the second session when the 65 Machine of Tom Bliss made hard contact with the wall coming out of turn two, he was okay but unfortunately his day would be done with heavy front end Damage.

In Qualifying the track seemed to get away from the drivers, as it was obvious that many were struggling with grip, and the times would actually slow from what was seen in hotlaps , Bobby East coming in Fastest at an 11.449 followed by Tony Hunt, Aaron Pierce , Jo Jo Helberg and Brian Gingras.

In the Heats action was intense , In the first heat , Chris Neuenschwander in the 10 car would charge to 3rd from a starting spot of 6th in the opening laps the top 6 cars stacking up behind leader Brian Gingras who would do an excellent job holding off the 5 car of Bobby East for the win, Aaron Pierce would get back by Neuenschwander for 3rd  Kyle Henry in a beautiful Angola motor speedway sponsored ride would finish 4th after dropping from the top starting position and Brandon Whithed would round out the top 5. In the Second Heat Travis Welpott in the 18 machine would hold on from the pole flag to flag followed closely and challenged throughout by Tony Hunt, Jo Jo Helberg would Finish 3rd , Joe Swanson would earn a hard fought 4th and Jim Sheets would come home 5th after battling side by side with 3 of Garrett Green and the 7 of Swanson the entire race.


The 100 lap feature was set from there with a 6 car inversion putting Joe Swanson on the pole. From the drop of the green flag the battle was up front in the top 5 spots, Joe Swanson jumped out to the early lead pressured heavily by the 7 of JoJo , the 1 of Brian Gingras starting dropping back several spots. On lap 16 Helberg Muscled by Swanson the 5 of Bobby East and the 26 of Aaron Pierce following him by and keeping pace with Helberg. On lap 22 Helberg in heavy lapped traffic got in to 3-4 to hot and ended up in the wall ending his day. On the restart , Bobby east leading took off with the 26 of Aaron pierce in close pursuit followed by Joe swanson , Brian Gingras and Tony Hunt. On lap 36 the 71 Machine of Jason Cox, who had bad luck all day spinning on cold tires coming to take the green for his qualifying run when he had been in the top 5 during hotlaps, made contact with another car and end up in the outside wall, clipping the 11 of Kyle Henry. This would end both there days, a shame for both because I expect both to be front runners this year anywhere they complete. Again on the restart East and Pierce stepped out on the field, Pierce hounding East at every turn. Around  lap 50 Pierce began to put even more pressure on east in Traffic, East sustaining the lead. On lap 70 East with Pierce applying pressure on the lowside East would get into the lapped machine of Travis Welpott as he came up the track , sending both hard into the wall in turn one, they would both be okay. The incident from my prospective was really neither drivers fault as East was trying to push stave off the challenges of pierce and Welpott, who had been running well all day more then likely had no idea East was there, just a racing deal but an unfortunate end for both drivers. As Welpott machine was being hauled off the track on a tow truck, the car swung and clipped two water barrels placed at the entrance to the pits causing them to roll down the banking spilling as they went, it was one of those weird occurrences that sometimes happens at the racetrack. This caused a red , the Anderson speedway crew worked quickly and a delay that I expected to last much longer , only postponed the race for 10 minutes. The track crew doing an excellent fast job of cleaning up. As the race restarted it would be clear that no one had anything for Pierce who drove away from Joe Swanson in second, The battle was for Third Brian Gingras and Tony Hunt. Hunt would eventually push his way through on the Final circuit to claim third, Gingras 4th and Jim sheets would round out the top five after an impressive run.

In victory Circle a tired Pierce emerged from his car elated to have his name added for the third time to the list of winners for the Glen Niebel 100, his performance easily putting him on my favorites list for the Little 500 at Anderson may It should be noted that Jeff Bloom returned to action for this event after suffering severe burns last year, engine woos kept him from starting the feature but it was great to see the perennial Little 500 Favorite back to attempt keep his streak of consecutive Little 500 starts

In Kenyon Midget Midget action , the 23 of Spencer Brayson, who is only 14, methodically worked his way from a 6th starting position to victory in the 30 lap feature, Jessica Bean came home second and Kent Kreigbaum rounded out the podium.

Seeing sprints cars at Anderson is a must for any racing fan, everyone I’ve every brought to the track is in awe of how those machine car race wheel to wheel in such a bullring speedway, everyone familiar with Dick Trickle famous analogy for NASCAR at Bristol “like flying jet fighters in a gymnasium” would say it applies equally well with sprint cars at Anderson. Action is everywhere, car rub every lap. Everyone should be very happy with the show USSA was able to put on and with the size and quality of the sprint car field, it was a great sign for the future of pavement sprint car racing and USSA earned my highest praise with there efforts to make their series possible. USSA announced the return of the sprint cars to Anderson for the Make Strides For Breast Cancer 50 October 4 and 5. They were also planning additional dates for their schedule check there website to see when additional date are added and please support this great series














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Revised: April 18, 2013