Belleville: Pre-event notes, schedule

WHAT: 24th Annual Belleville Midget Nationals presented by WhoWon.com. WHERE: Bellville High Banks, Belleville, Kan., 1/2-mile high-banked clay oval. WHEN: Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 7-9, 2003 (Raindate: Sunday, Aug. 10). BELLEVILLE SPEEDWEEK ...

WHAT: 24th Annual Belleville Midget Nationals presented by WhoWon.com.
WHERE: Bellville High Banks, Belleville, Kan., 1/2-mile high-banked clay oval.
WHEN: Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 7-9, 2003 (Raindate: Sunday, Aug. 10).

BELLEVILLE SPEEDWEEK SCHEDULE (all times local):
High Banks Hall of Fame & National Midget Auto Racing Museum open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. <pre> TUES., AUG. 5 -- NCRA 360 SPRINT SERIES & CNCTA LATE MODEL CHALLENGE SERIES 5 p.m. Gates open. 6:30 p.m. Hot laps. 7:30 p.m. Heats and feature races.

WED., AUG. 6 -- HALL OF FAME/AUTOGRAPH DAY 10 a.m. High Banks Hall of Fame Induction (at Belleville High School). Social Hour begins at 11 a.m., dinner at noon, induction ceremony at 1 p.m. 6:30 p.m. Drivers vs. USAC Officials Softball Game (City Park, west of the track). 8 p.m. Driver/Fan Autograph Party (City Park, west of the track).

THURS., AUG. 7 -- MIDGET NATIONALS PRELIMINARIES 11 a.m. Lunch on the Courthouse Square (downtown). 12 noon Pill draw on the Courthouse Square to determine qualifying order. Midgets on display. 1 p.m. Infield open for unloading of cars and equipment. 3 p.m. North gate opens. 4:30 p.m. Infield closed - all personnel removed from pits. 5 p.m. Main gate opens. 5:30 p.m. Pit gate opens. 6:30 p.m. Hot laps. 7:30 p.m. Qualifications, heats and feature races. 11 p.m. Track secured.

FRI., AUG. 8 -- MIDGET NATIONALS PRELIMINARIES 11 a.m. Auction at High Banks Hall of Fame new building. Viewing begins at 10 a.m. 1 p.m. Infield open for unloading of cars and equipment. 3 p.m. North gate opens. 4:30 p.m. Infield closed - all personnel removed from pits. 5 p.m. Main gate opens. 5:30 p.m. Pit gate opens. 6:30 p.m. Hot laps. 7:30 p.m. Qualifications, heats and feature races. 11 p.m. Track secured.

SAT., AUG. 9 -- MIDGET NATIONALS CHAMPIONSHIP 1 p.m. Infield open for unloading of cars and equipment. 3 p.m. North gate opens. 4:30 p.m. Infield closed - all personnel removed from pits. 5 p.m. Main gate opens. 5:30 p.m. Pit gate opens. 6:30 p.m. Hot laps. 7:30 p.m. Heats and championship finals for 26th Annual Belleville Midget Nationals presented by WhoWon.com. 11 p.m. Track secured. </pre> THE TRACK: 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 transformed into a racing Mecca of more than 40,000 people each August.

CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: 24 cars, 40 laps (20 miles), $12,500 to win; The first eight starting positions will be awarded to the top four finishers from each main event on Thursday and Friday. An eight-lap race on Saturday among the these eight qualifiers will determine the first four rows for Saturday's Championship Race, with the winner starting on the pole and the eighth-place finisher starting on the outside of the fourth row. Starting spots 9-20 in the Championship Race will be determined by four qualifying heat races on Saturday, with the top three finishers from each starting heads-up in the Championship Race. A 15-lap semi-main on Saturday will determine the final four starting spots in Saturday's Championship Race.

2002 CHAMPIONSHIP RACE WINNER: Dave Darland, Lincoln, Ind., Wynn's/Ford/Performance Racing Industry Beast; Owner: Steve Lewis.

PAST BELLEVILLE MIGET NATIONALS CHAMPIONS:
1978 - Eddie Jackson
1979 - Stan Fox
1980 - Stan Fox
1981 - Mike Gregg
1982 - Dave Manes
1983 - Johnny Parsons
1984 - Mark Passerrelli
1985 - Ron 'Sleepy' Tripp
1986 - Tommy White
1987 - Ron 'Sleepy' Tripp
1988 - Steve Knepper
1989 - Chuck Gurney
1990 - Jeff Gordon
1991 - Jack Hewitt
1992 - Lealand McSpadden
1993 - Page Jones
1994 - Kevin Doty
1995 - Billy Boat
1996 - Robby Flock
1997 - Jason Leffler
1998 - Steve Knepper
1999 - Dave Darland
2000 - Kasey Kahne
2001 - Kasey Kahne
2002 - Dave Darland

TRACK RECORDS (midget cars):
1 lap - :17.502, Jason Leffler, 7/30/98.
4 laps - 1:07.83, Jon Backlund, 8/6/88.
6 laps - 1:46.34, Ricky Shelton, 7/30/98.
8 laps - 2:22.22, A.J. Fike, 8/5/00.
10 laps - 2:59.52, Tracy Hines, 8/5/00.
12 laps - 3:40.80, Tony Elliott, 8/1/96.
15 laps - 5:11.55, Dean Erfurth, 8/8/87.
20 laps - 6:27.16, Billy Boat, 8/4/95.
25 laps - 7:42.55, Kasey Kahne, 8/4/00.

RESERVED TICKETS:
1309 18th St.
Belleville, KS 66935
Phone: 785-527-5179
FAX: 785-527-2876
Office hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday.

DID YOU KNOW?

BELLEVILLE MIDGET NATIONALS CHAMPIONS (by state):
California - 7 (1985-87, 89, 93, 96-97)
Arizona - 4 (1982, 84, 92, 95)
Indiana - 4 (1983, 90, 99, 2002)
Illinois - 3 (1988, 94, 98)
Wisconsin - 2 (1979-80)
Washington - 2 (2000-01)
Colorado - 2 (1978, 81)
Ohio - 1 (1991)

BELLEVILLE MIDGET NATIONALS CHAMPIONS (by engine manufacturer):
Volkswagen - 6 (1978-81, 84, 86)
Gaerte - 6 (1993-98)
Cosworth - 4 (1983, 85, 87-88)
Ed Pink Ford - 4 (1999-2002)
Fontana - 2 (1989, 1991)
Barnes - 1 (1992)
Dino - 1 (1982)
Pontiac - 1 (1990)

MOST TOP-5 FINISHES (3 or more):
Stan Fox - 8 (1979-82, 85, 90-92)
Robby Flock - 8 (1986-88, 92-93, 95-96, 2001)
Sleepy Tripp - 7 (1978, 81-82, 84-85, 87, 89)
Steve Knepper - 6 (1988-90, 94, 98-99)
Randy Roberts - 5 (1983, 85, 87-89)
John Heydenreich - 4 (1987, 90-91, 95)
Tony Stewart - 3 (1996-98)
Mike Gregg - 3 (1979, 81-82)
Kevin Doty - 3 (1993-94, 99)
Jason Leffler - 3 (1996-98)
Jerry Coons Jr. - 3 (1994, 98-99)
Dave Darland - 3 (1999, 2001-02)

CAR COUNTS BY YEAR (winner):
1978 - 41 (Eddie Jackson)
1979 - 48 (Stan Fox)
1980 - 61 (Stan Fox)
1981 - 65 (Mike Gregg)
1982 - 72 (Dave Manes)
1983 - 74 (Johnny Parsons Jr.)
1984 - 73 (Mark Passerrelli)
1985 - 84 (Ron "Sleepy" Tripp)
1986 - 73 (Tommy White)
1987 - 81 (Ron "Sleepy" Tripp)
1988 - 68 (Steve Knepper)
1989 - 65 (Chuck Gurney)
1990 - 82 (Jeff Gordon)
1991 - 65 (Jack Hewitt)
1992 - 58 (Lealand McSpadden)
1993 - 56 (Page Jones)
1994 - 36 (Kevin Doty)
1995 - 39 (Billy Boat)
1996 - 44 (Robby Flock)
1997 - 42 (Jason Leffler)
1998 - 38 (Steve Knepper)
1999 - 60 (Dave Darland)
2000 - 47 (Kasey Kahne)
2001 - 48 (Kasey Kahne)
2002 - 62 (Dave Darland)

Jay Drake is tied with Robby Flock with most consective starts in the Belleville Midget Nationals Championship feature: 9 years in a row. Flock did it from 1991 though 1999 while Drake did it from 1994 through 2002. If Drake, who is entered in 2003, makes it into Saturday night's 26th Annual Belleville Midget Nationals Championship feature it will be a record 10 straight years.

Lealand McSpadden is the only Belleville Midget Nationals Champion who ever raced at the Belleville High Banks track in a Sprint Car race. McSpadden raced in a Sprint Car race on the Belleville track in 1980, then later returned to Belleville to race at and win the prestigous Belleville Midget Nationals in 1992.

Other notables who have raced in the Bellevile Midget Nationals and raced Sprint Cars on the same track: Tommy Estes Jr., John Backlund, Ron Shuman, Randy Roberts, Rick England, Billy Shuman, Jerry Stone, John Johnson, Dave Strickland Jr. and Ricky Hood.

1996 Belleville Midget Nationals Champion Robby Flock is the only driver to receive the "Key to the City."

The average age of a Belleville Midget Nationals Champion is 30 years old.

The youngest to win was Jeff Gordon at 19 years of age (on his birthday). The oldest Champion was Eddie Jackson, who won at 47 years of age.

There have been two drivers to compete in both Stock Cars on the Belleville High Banks and compete in the Belleville Midget Nationals: Darrick Klima of Belleville and Dean Ward of Hastings, Neb. Ward finished 6th in the 1985 Belleville Midget Nationals Championship feature, and is still active as crew chief for the Terry Klatt/Durst Team.

Over the past five years, the driver with the best average finish in the Belleville Midget Nationals Championship feature is California's Steve Paden. Paden has compiled a 7.6 average finishing position over the last five events. He finished 3rd, 18th, 4th, 6th and 7th in his last five attempts.

Only three other drivers have been able to qualify for Saturday's Championship during each of the last five years: Scott Hatton (8.0 average finish), Dave Darland (9.4 average finish) and Jay Drake (15.6 average finish).

Current NASCAR drivers' best finish at the Belleville Midget Nationals:
Ken Schrader - 3rd place in 1983
Jeff Gordon - 1st place in 1990
Ryan Newman - 18th place in 1996
Tony Stewart - 2nd place in 1997
Jason Leffler - 1st place in 1997
Kasey Kahne - 1st place in 2000 and 2001

There have been 9 different father-and-son combinations that have competed at the Belleville Midget Nationals:
Jack & J.J Yeley
Dave & Dave (Jr.) Strickland
Gene & Steve Gennetten
Bob & Terry and Bob (Jr.) Wente
Mike & Chad and Steve Farmer
J.D. & Jeff Jackson
Tim & Jim McVey
Sammy & Scott Sauer
Jack & Chris DeShon

Arizona Midget Champion Dave Manes was the first driver ever to win the Belleville Midget Nationals in his very first trip to Belleville in 1982.

-www.highbanks.com-

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About this article
Series USAC
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Jason Leffler , Ken Schrader , Ryan Newman , Billy Boat , Kasey Kahne , Dave Darland , Tracy Hines , Jack Hewitt , Tony Elliott , Jay Drake , John Heydenreich , A.J. Fike , Johnny Parsons , Steve Paden , Robby Flock , Steve Knepper , John Johnson , Scott Hatton , Ricky Shelton , Jerry Coons Jr.