Instant Replay: 18th Annual Belleville Midget Nationals - 1995 by Paul Haase BELLEVILLE, Kan. (July 27, 2001) - Sometimes it seems Mother Nature has a different idea about racing. This year she thought the 18th Annual Belleville Midget Nationals...
Instant Replay: 18th Annual Belleville Midget Nationals - 1995
by Paul Haase
BELLEVILLE, Kan. (July 27, 2001) - Sometimes it seems Mother Nature has a different idea about racing. This year she thought the 18th Annual Belleville Midget Nationals should be run in the sun. That was okay. But she got the beach atmosphere mixed into the thought. At least on Saturday she did because the only thing you could keep on the track that night was a boat.
This year's event didn't get off on a very good start from the beginning. Earlier in the summer it was found out that a Wisconsin group was going to run a triple points show against Belleville. That ended up costing in the car count area.
Maybe the count was down but it became obvious right from the start that the ones that counted were here. Wally Pankratz assured that when he qualified just a hair under the track record.
With the track in near-perfect shape the racing was fast and tight. Three-abreast racing was the rule for most of the night. Despite the close racing there was only one little mishap when Jack Hewitt got into the fence after thinking the race was starting on a parade lap during one of the heats.
Keith Rauch, Steve Knepper, Randy Roberts and Australian Mike Figliomeni won the heats with defending champion Keven Doty taking the semi.
Dave Strickland Jr. took the preliminary feature with Richard Griffin, Cory Kruseman and Robby Flock trying their hardest to take it from him, without success.
On Friday Donnie Beechler and Danny Drinan arrived along with last year's midget sensation Billy Boat.
Boat decided that he needed to show everyone that he was for real and could run anywhere. He started off by breaking the track record on his first qualifying attempt and then just to make sure he had it, lowered it even more on his second go. To add to his sensation role he started dead last in his heat and won.
Heat winners for Friday night were Boat, Roberts, Doty and Ron 'Sleepy' Tripp. Flock had problems during the heats but got the problem repaired and took the semi.
In the main it looked like long-time Belleville veteran Roberts was going to show everyone that this track is his. He jumped out in the lead and took a comfortable lead. But Boat had a different idea. Boat started out in the sixth position and slowly started taking positions until the white flag had him right on Roberts tail. Coming into corner four looking at the checkered flag, Roberts went high around a slower car and Boat took the low road and edged him out at the stripe.
Saturday started out with people questioning if Boat could keep up his winning style or will Roberts be able to take the low side this time and keep him from it? Will some of the other drivers get everything together for the big one? Mother nature was talking another tune though and showed who's really the boss.
With a large majority of the cars and crews in the track, the skies opened up and before everyone was able to get out, the only thing you could take around the track was a boat.
The track crew was faced with a problem few tracks are faced with. The bottom of the track had standing water but they knew the top would dry out in no time when the sun came up in the morning. They worked all night trying to get the water from the bottom while trying to keep water on the top.
The championship would be run during the daytime and crews now had to adjust their styles for a day race instead of a night race. The fears of the track crew was coming to light as the sun quickly dried the track. The scramble was on for hard compound tires. Due to the hard surface and a daytime race the main was dropped to 35 laps instead of the 40. A special rule was also added where a caution flag would be thrown for blown tires and the car able to restart at the back of the pack.
The championship saw many yellow flags for blown tires. This also caused many challengers to see the back of the pack after being up front.
For Griffin, it was these yellows that caused him the most problem. He still had tires when he was sitting in second right behind Boat but ran out of gas. This put Roberts into the second position. Roberts was gaining on Boat until with two laps to go popped a tire himself.
During the yellow flag, Boat was being followed around by John Heydenreich. Heydenreich drove up and took a look a Boats tires and signaled to Boat that they were okay. Boat returned the favor and they knew the dash was now on when the green would drop. Boat ended up winning the dash to the checkered followed by Heydenreich, Strickland and Flock.
The fact that Heydenreich was the final challenger to Boat was amazing considering that he went from last to second in the semi and started in the 22nd starting position for the championship.
Boat didn't disappoint any of his fan following as he not only broke the track record but won every event he was in, including the trophy dash, heat race, qualifying main and the championship.
18th Annual Belleville Midget Nationals - 1995 Top 5 finishersr:
1. Billy Boat
2. John Heydenreich
3. Dave Strickland Jr.
4. Robby Flock
5. Cory Kruseman
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 email@example.com. 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.