Instant Replay: 8th Annual Belleville Midget Nationals - 1985
by Paul Haase
BELLEVILLE, Kan. (July 17, 2001) - After finishing among the top-five finishers in four of the previous seven Belleville Midget Nationals -- but just never getting to the checkered flag first -- California's Ron 'Sleepy' Tripp finally got his well-deserved dues in 1985 at the Belleville High Banks.
For 19 laps it was 1983 Nationals Champion Johnny Parsons Jr., Tripp and two-time winner Stan Fox running just seconds apart from each other. On the 29th lap, however, Parsons got behind a slower car in the high groove and that's just what the veteran Tripp needed. Tripp pulled down low, took the lead and never looked back.
Parsons and Fox ended up second and third, followed by Colorado's Randy Roberts and Tommy White.
The Thursday preliminary was all Robby Flock. Flock took his heat race and went on to qualify for the finals by running away with the feature. Flock took the early lead in the championship race on Saturday and it looked like he would repeat his Thursday performance but he blew an engine on the ninth lap and did not finish.
Friday's feature race was a race filled with bad luck. For 10 laps, Billy Bower jumped out to a sizable lead until a drive line broke. Jon Johnson took over the lead for the next two laps until his engine shelled. Mark Passerrelli -- the defending Belleville Midget Nationals Champion -- finally took the lead and didn't give it up. Fox and White finished second and third.
The trophy dashes were won by Flock on Thursday and White on Friday.
The Nationals were marred by several incidents all through the week. Tim McVay took a wild end-over-end ride during a heat race on Thursday and was transported to a Kansas City hospital with two compressed vertebrae.
Saturday's races saw numerous accidents as well. The first happened in the first heat race as Randy Durbin struck the front rail going full-bore, swapping ends several times but not turning over. The second came in the second heat race as Marty Rosler, Terry Wente, Jack Deshon and Roger Rager were four-abreast coming into turn 2 when Mike Gennetten and Dean Erfurth tangled in front of them and started rolling. Deshon took the high side and tangled with Rager with Wente and Rosler somehow managed to get by them safely.
On the 15th lap of the finals, 'Squeakie' Rosler blew his engine coming down the front stretch. Casey Slocum came into turn 1 hard and was unable to avoid hitting Rosler in the back, breaking Rosler's fuel cell. Meanwhile, Jack Calabrase put his car into a hard left turn to avoid the fiasco but came into the infield where his Midget struck a youngster who was standing beside the track and was unable to get out of the way of the out-of-control car.
No one involved in any of the accidents required more than a check-up at the track by doctors or were treated and released at the hospital.
8th Annual Belleville Midget Nationals - 1985 Top 5 finishers:
1. Ron 'Sleepy' Tripp
2. Johnny Parsons Jr.
3. Stan Fox
4. Randy Roberts
5. Tommy White
The Belleville High Banks, located in Belleville, Kan., is managed by a volunteer racing committee that host 10-12 racing events annually. "The World's Fastest Half-Mile Dirt Track" allows drivers the rare opportunity to run "wide open" the entire track, and the sweeping oval is one of the most demanding test of endurance and skill for drivers. The track's mainstay is the annual Belleville Midget Nationals, held every year during the first weekend in August. As the nation's most prestigious midget car race of the year, the best equipment, owners and drivers flock to the small rural community of 3,500, which is transformed into a racing Mecca of more than 30,000 people each August.
For more information on the Belleville High Banks, write to: Belleville High Banks, P.O. Box 349, Belleville, KS 66935, or call (785) 527-6050. Sponsorship inquiries may call or fax (402) 761-3676 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information is also available on the World Wide Web by logging on to http://www.highbanks.org or http://www.whowon.com.
Reserved tickets for the 24th Annual Belleville Midget Nationals presented by WhoWon.com are available by calling (785) 527-5179, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, or by logging onto the Belleville High Banks Web site.