Instant Replay: 10th Annual Belleville Midget Nationals - 1987 by Paul Haase BELLEVILLE, Kan. (July 19, 2001) - In what turned out to be from one extreme to the other, the 1987 Belleville Midget Nationals finals were run on Sunday afternoon...
Instant Replay: 10th Annual Belleville Midget Nationals - 1987
by Paul Haase
BELLEVILLE, Kan. (July 19, 2001) - In what turned out to be from one extreme to the other, the 1987 Belleville Midget Nationals finals were run on Sunday afternoon after rain cut short or canceled the preliminary nights. On Sunday, the sun came out and turned the track into a hard surface, causing the finals to be more of an endurance race than one of driving skill.
Ron 'Sleepy' Tripp joined Stan Fox as being the only two-time title holders of the Belleville Midget Nationals championship. Tripp won his first title in 1985 with Fox winning his in 1979 and '80.
As the championship got underway, Fox jumped to a big lead. At times, an eight-car gap was separating Fox and Tripp for first and second. On the 14th lap, however, Fox touched the rail just a little too hard and blew his right rear tire, forcing him to watch the race from the pits.
Fox was unable to coast into the pits and brought a yellow flag out. On the re-start Tripp held on to the lead with veteran Belleville High Banks driver Jon Backlund on his tail all the way, but unable to get by.
Robby Flock finished in third spot for the second straight year, while John Heydenreich and Randy Roberts rounded out the first five across the finish line.
The big story of the 10th annual event was tires.
Throughout the finals, race cars were retiring when tires were unable to withstand the hard surface and either wore to the cores or blew. The life saver for many cars was the misfortune of past champion Mike Gregg. Gregg was slowly working his way up the pack but on the 29th lap he tangled with Scott Hatton, who was coming down the banking after blowing a tire. This brought out a red flag, and according to the rules you can change tires on the car on a red flag. This brought crews out to the track with fresh tires, and most of the remaining cars were able to finish the race.
Three records were broken with John Andretti taking the eight-lap record from Tommy White. Dan Boorse set the 10-lap record and Steve Lotshaw lost his four-year standing record for 15 laps to Dean Erfurth.
10th Annual Belleville Midget Nationals - 1987
Top 5 finishers:
1. Ron 'Sleepy' Tripp
2. Jon Backlund
3. Robby Flock
4. John Heydenreich
5. Randy Roberts
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.