June 28th, 2003
KIRKWOOD, NY…Seventeen year old Dan Vauter raced to his first career 358 Modified feature win in a big way as he won the 39th annual Irv Heath Memorial Saturday at Five Mile Point Speedway. James Cornell, Brad Shaffer and Shane Wolf were also victorious on a night filled with tremendous racing.
Ralph Mele jumped in front to start the 50 lap Irv Heath Memorial for 358 Modifieds. Mele was challenged at the outset by Dan Hineline and Dave Locke in a great three way battle. Hineline would lead briefly on lap six before Mele went back ahead.
Dave Doig and Don Hart, Jr. were on the move as was rookie Dan Vauter. Vauter, who started sixth, was running fifth on lap 13 and made a series of tremendous moves to power into the lead on lap 15. With Vauter in front, former leader Mele lost the handle in turn three, collecting Glenn Knapp in a hard crash. Both drivers were uninjured.
Vauter opened a commanding lead as laps 15 through 34 went caution free. The driver making the biggest move of the night was Mike Ricci, who had to come from 23rd after qualifying through the B-Main. Ricci moved into second on lap 33 and the caution flew on the next lap, erasing young Vauter’s straightaway lead.
While most of the big crowd assumed the veteran Ricci would make easy work of the rookie, Vauter had other ideas. Ricci tried every trick in the book to take the lead but Vauter was unflappable. He held his line on the bottom of the track and forced Ricci to use up his car.
One mistake would find Ricci in the lead, but Vauter was not to be denied on this night. The 17 year old ran a flawless race, looking as though he’d been doing it for 20 years, and added his name to the prestigious list of Irv Heath Memorial winners. Ricci had to settle for a hard fought second ahead of Hart, 1989 winner Doig and J.R. Crouse. Sixth through tenth went to Jim Crawn, Rich Keehle, Brian Malcolm, Bobby Puckett and Locke.
Rob Harder took command early in the Street Stock feature as the first 12 laps went caution free. James Cornell needed just three laps to vault from eighth to second and set his sights on Harder. Cornell pressured Harder for many laps but Harder was up to the challenge and continually held him off.
Cornell took advantage of the caution and raced past Harder for the lead on the restart. Harder stayed with him but was no match for Cornell who raced to his fifth win in six races. Harder was second ahead of Brian MacRabie, Jason Schlafer and Ken Sparks. Positions six through ten went to Tracy Gregory, Jerry Tonti, Dan Podwika, Byron Pitcher and Fred Christ.
The UMP Modified feature was a wild one. Rookie Ralph Shoemaker, Jr. raced to the early lead with Joe Price, Jr. right behind him. Price pressured Shoemaker every lap until things changed in a big way on lap 13.
Shoemaker blew a right rear tire entering turn three and went hard into the fourth turn wall, collecting Mike Stolarcyk III in the process. That gave the lead to Price for just one lap. Second running Jeff Cleveland spun with third place Joel Batzel unable to miss him.
During the caution, Price dropped out with motor troubles. That put former Late Model driver Brad Shaffer in front, in his first UMP Modified feature, ahead of Joe Cole and Joe Novak, who was making his first start of 2003. Shaffer held his line and Cole tried all routes around him.
Shaffer would claim the win in his first race in the class ahead of Cole, Novak, Cleveland and Batzel. Sixth through tenth went to Mike Stoddard, Gil Sharpsteen, Mike Stolarcyk, Price and Stolarcyk III.
The Pure Stock feature provided the most dramatic finish of the night. Brett Barrett took the lead from Dan Babcock on lap three and then fended off Mahlon Shoemaker for several laps. Charlie Gilbert went to the pits on lap five without losing a lap.
Gilbert would charge through the pack and join in the hunt for the win in the closing stages. Shoemaker took the lead from Barrett on lap 10. The final three laps were nothing short of tremendous. Barrett, Shoemaker and Gilbert swapped the lead on several occasions.
Barrett regained the lead on lap 18 of 20 and continued to lead on lap 19 as the three cars were side by side by side. While all of this was going on Shane Wolf sat back in fifth with no realistic chance of winning, or so he thought.
Gilbert would take the lead on the last lap only to blow a right rear tire. He continued on when Barrett and Shoemaker got together in turn two. Wolf slipped past Jim Ortiz and threaded his way past the other three cars to come out on top.
At the finish it was Wolf taking the win over Shoemaker, Ortiz, Bryan Lindsey and Mark Aldrich. Rounding out the top ten were Tom Garren, Gilbert, Dan Callan, Jeremy Shaw and Mark Andrus.
This Saturday is Doug’s Speed Shop Night highlighted by the first ever appearance of the Briggs and Stratton Slingshot Tour. They will join the full show of 358 Modifieds, Street Stocks, UMP Modifieds and Pure Stocks. Race time is 6:15 p.m.
COUNTER POINTS…It was Old Timers Night with many of the legends from the past on hand…The night was capped off with a beautiful fireworks display…UMP point leader Gary Dence had mechanical troubles in the heat and was unable to run the feature…A collection was taken for the family of R.J. Boose, Jr.. Boose, a crew member for Tom Gervasi, tragically drowned during the week while rescuing a friend. $772 was raised…Shaffer’s only previous win came in a Late Model special at the Point in 1997...The feature winners received silver bowls and additional money, courtesy of the Heath family…Another strong 33 car Modified field was on hand…The B&D Exhaust Pure Stock Challenge bonus is up to $200 if a driver can win his heat and feature in the same night.
39TH ANNUAL IRV HEATH MEMORIAL:
DAN VAUTER, Mike Ricci, Don Hart, Jr., Dave Doig, J.R. Crouse, Jim Crawn, Rich Keehle, Brian Malcolm, Bobby Puckett, Dave Locke, Dave Calaman, Dana Wagner, Jim Allen, Billy Thornton, Dan Hineline, Dick Sundgren, Tom Gervasi, Butch Klinger, Ralph Mele, Glenn Knapp, Ed Harris, Mike Decker, Dave Rumsey, Bob Hamm, Jr.
MODIFIED B-MAIN FINISH:
GLENN KNAPP, Brian Malcolm, Mike Ricci, Ed Harris, Matt Smith, Glen Wilcox, Dan Morden, Pete Lyon, Brian Corcoran, Jim Corcoran, Ray Menard, Tony Amato, James Christ.
STREET STOCK FEATURE FINISH:
JAMES CORNELL, Rob Harder, Brian MacRabie, Jason Schlafer, Ken Sparks, Tracy Gregory, Jerry Tonti, Dan Podwika, Byron Pitcher, Fred Christ, Dan Pompey, Randy Tyler, Ken Taugher, Brett Spoor, Lyle Williams, Jason Barsch.
UMP MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH:
BRAD SHAFFER, Joe Cole, Joe Novak, Jeff Cleveland, Joel Batzel, Mike Stoddard, Gil Sharpsteen, Mike Stolarcyk, Joe Price, Jr., Mike Stolarcyk III, Ralph Shoemaker, Dave Harbst, Kevin Cole. DNS: Gary Dence.
PURE STOCK FEATURE FINISH:
SHANE WOLF, Mahlon Shoemaker, Jim Ortiz, Bryan Lindsey, Mark Aldrich, Tom Garren, Charlie Gilbert, Dan Callan, Jeremy Shaw, Mark Andrus, Brett Barrett, Mike Lartz, Bob Tyriw, Roger Salai, Dan Babcock, Jerry Whitmarsh, Jason Bond, Toby Sparks, Randy Rolison, Dee Ramey, Corey Bond, Ted Baker, John Terrell. DNS: Shephard Blodgett.