Who says it never rains in Hawaii? The USAC visitors painfully learned the fallacy of that notion Saturday night as intermittent but substantial showers greeted the normally arid plains of Central Oahu. At 9:00 pm, shortly before the scheduled...
Who says it never rains in Hawaii?
The USAC visitors painfully learned the fallacy of that notion Saturday night as intermittent but substantial showers greeted the normally arid plains of Central Oahu. At 9:00 pm, shortly before the scheduled Trophy Dash, the skies opened up for the third and last time since the gates opened. With standing water flooding the track and much of the paid audience already fleeing for the parking lot, Hawaii Motor Speedway owner Jerry Apana announced a postponement of the $20,000 main event until Sunday morning.
The revised schedule calls for the track to open at 8:00 am and for the main to start no later than 10:00. The support mini-modified race would follow while the USAC crew begins cleaning and packing up their equipment for the cargo flight home. As of press time, no decision has been made regarding possibly shorting the 40-lap feature length; nor have contingency plans for those drivers scheduled for immediate departure been finalized.
At any rate, those who must hit the airport shortly will now rush through their packing and laundry overnight, while others must kiss their one free allocated day away from racing duties goodbye.
Neither the Southwest Sprint series nor the track's weekly series normally compete in the event of rain. Several among the USAC crowd strenuously argued in favor of continuing with the feature tonight as planned, but the track had to balance that with the guaranteed nonexistent audience that would have seen it.
So USAC's big Hawaiian debut will culminate with an unexpected daylight race, and drivers already express concern that the sun will quickly dry out the track surface and make for even more volatile conditions and potential for damage than seen during Friday's caution-filled card.
Earlier in the night, 2003 USAC champion Rick Ziehl set fastest time for the second night in a row and subsequently claimed an IRL/USAC crystal trophy for Friday's feat. Ziehl also received (in the more traditional Hawaiian sense) a Koa wood bowl as a Friday night Trophy Dash podium finisher. The top three from last night's main - Ronnie Clark, Brandon Lane (qualifying second tonight) and Mike Martin - also will bring koa bowls back home with them.
USAC driver Beau Binder, who bruised his ribs after a spill during Friday's third heat race, returned to the track Saturday but without a ride. His sprinter received frame damage too severe to repair with the limited equipment on hand. But should one of his comrades miss the main because of this rescheduling snafu, Binder could theoretically find himself suiting up as a substitute.
So will sun emerge and dry out the track? Or will we see more showers playing havoc with the event schedule even further? Current forecasts for Sunday indicate partially cloudy conditions for Oahu. Then again, so did Saturday's...