SCRA Sprint Cars Manzantia Speedway - Sept. 15, 2001 Jones Wins Hall Of Fame Classic PHOENIX, AZ, September 15 -- Not since the inaugural Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA) event has the significance of a race being held seemed more...
SCRA Sprint Cars
Manzantia Speedway - Sept. 15, 2001
Jones Wins Hall Of Fame Classic
PHOENIX, AZ, September 15 -- Not since the inaugural Sprint Car Racing Association (SCRA) event has the significance of a race being held seemed more important than the final outcome, but that was exactly the case Saturday night at the Manzanita Speedway in light of the recent terrorist attacks against the United States.
Tony Jones won the 30 lap main event on a night that will likely be remembered more for the patriotism that was displayed than for Jones giving his car owner Mike Wall his first ever SCRA victory during the running of the Hall of Fame Classic. Fans and participants alike seemed eager to celebrate freedom, while providing donations to a relief fund that was established for the families of the victims. Before the evening's racing, every person the entire pit area stood on the front straight and joined the main grandstand in the singing of our National Anthem.
It was an emotional scene, but one that never would have been experienced had Manzanita Speedway promoter Keith Hall followed the wave of sports cancellations throughout the country. Ultimately, Hall felt that is was important to race and was rewarded with one of his largest crowds of the season.
"We decided to go ahead and continue racing because we are not going to let our enemies change our style of life," Hall adamantly stated. "About 90% of the people that called us wanted us to run tonight. It's been five days now, and I think people want to do more than just sit around and watch the tragedies that occurred in New York and Washington, so we elected to go ahead and race."
SCRA President Ron Shuman celebrated his 49th birthday and during intermission was formally inducted into the Arizona Motorsports Hall of Fame along with Hall and motorcycle great Bryron Boaz. During the week, Shuman wrestled with whether to follow other sanctioning bodies and postpone the event. Upon reflection, Shuman felt it was best to race as scheduled.
"One of the first things that I heard President Bush say was that we need to carry on with our daily duties because we would be giving in to what the terrorists want," Shuman said. "We were supposed to race here tonight, so we figured that we'd go on and do what we were supposed to do and not give into the terrorist ways and put a show on for the folks. I'm not much of a politician, but from what I've seen watching the news we're suppose to carry on like normal. This is what's normal to us and we're going to keep on going."
Through the years, Rip Williams has proven he know what it takes to keep going as well. Before the race, Williams proclaimed that he was here because "racing is part of the American way." Williams went on win his second JE Pistons Dash of the season giving the Sharon Jory / Vista Paint No. 3 Gambler the pole for the main event.
Outside front row starter Danny Sheridan ran second to Williams until he dropped out with a brake problem on the fifth lap. SCRA Champion Richard Griffin moved into the second position. In an earlier statement, Griffin encouraged "everyone to come together and go forward." As if by example, Griffin quickly moved forward and was in a position to challenge for the lead by the ninth lap despite being half a straight-away behind Williams at the time he gained the second spot. Unfortunately for Griffin, he would bring out the only yellow flag of the race three circuits later after a large clod of dirt apparently knocked his fuel line loose and he coasted to a stop.
The race restarted with the Harlan Willis / WorldGate Networks No. 45 TCR driven by Cory Kruseman in the runner-up spot. Jones, who had started eighth, now occupied the third position. Despite dropping a cylinder a few laps earlier, Jones pulled off a lap 21 slide job on Kruseman and instantly had the Mike Wall Trucking No. 37 Avenger within striking distance of Williams. One lap later, Jones executed a picture perfect turn three slide job to take the lead.
Once out front, Jones pulled away from the rest of the field and went on to win his third SCRA main event of the season. Remarkably, Jones's victory came in only his third start behind the wheel of the John Vermeer prepared machine.
"I usually dedicate all my wins to my son Kyle, but tonight I'd also like to include all the people and families affected by the tragedies this week. God bless every one of them back there and my prayers are definitely with them," Jones said in victory lane. "We came out here tonight to show everyone that we're not shutting down. We a had a big crowd here tonight and we all saluted the flag before the races and all I can say is that it was an honor for me to win tonight."
Williams and Kruseman joined Jones on the podium. Troy Rutherford, who ranks third in series points behind Kruseman and Griffin, drove the Jack Gardner Jr., No. 4 Sled to a fourth place finish ahead of the BRAT Racing / B&R Automotive entry driven by Bob Ream, Jr. With a miniature pair of American flags proudly waving from the back of his rollcage, Charles Davis, Jr. won his second straight Sander Engineering Fast Time Award in time trials. Jerry Coons, Jr. took a break from his midget schedule and won the TW Metals Hard Charger Award with his 17th to sixth place run in the main event.