BY: TOM BRAY
A lot of great sand drag action and news has taken place since I last wrote my column here on NSDN. NSDN covered two great races in Mid-June. The first one was at Thunder Valley Sand Drags in Grain Valley, MO. The TVSD crew did a stellar job all weekend long & put on a first class event. It appears as though the Mid-America point series has been a big hit thus far, as there were nice turnouts at both the Atoka & Thunder Valley events. We are hoping the momentum continues on through the last two events coming up soon. From there, NSDN went on to Albuquerque, NM for the Nitro Nationals. Let me tell you this, the crew at the Dirt 300 did a phenomenal job for it being their first ever major scale sand drag event. They kept a well prepped track and ran a timely show, which in turn meant happy racers at the end of the weekend. Talking with Charlie Fegan, the head of the Dirt 300, he was very impressed with the sand drag racers and how friendly & cooperative we are. For those who don’t know, Fegan comes from putting on major drag boat events across the country. This group is the real deal, if you have the opportunity to hit a Dirt 300 event be sure to take it.
As we rolled on into July, it was nice for “The Editor” to finally get back in the driver’s seat. I was able to hit a couple events at West Michigan Sand Dragway. It was a productive weekend at the 4th of July weekend event as I ended up splitting the final round on Friday night, then ended up coming up just .017 short of the final round win on Saturday. The circus then came to town for WMSD’s “Nationals”. It was great to see so many of the sand drag family from as far away as Arizona, Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio make the trip to race with us. The week before the event was fun playing tour guide of the area with the Missouri crew in town for a little early vacation. On the race weekend, one of those tricky Missourians got by me in the Semi’s on Friday night, but I got some payback on Saturday as I took out their best bullet in the final round to take the win. It was fun and a big accomplishment to turn on the final round win light against such great competitors as were entered in the class, 27 in all on this night.
The euphoria was cut short, though, as not long after racing was completed Saturday night at WMSD, word began circulating that we had lost one of our own, as Steve DeLeeuw did not survive an accident at a Mud Race in Indiana. For anyone that knew Steve, or even conversed with him in passing, were aware of what a special individual he was. I went to the Visitation on Wednesday night, and the crowd there was enormous to pay their respects, but honestly knowing what type of guy he was I was not surprised. In true racing family fashion, we came out in great numbers to support Steve’s family through such a trying time. A few of our sand drag brethren along with several dignitaries from the Monster Truck & Mud Racing world were a big part of the Funeral Service on Thursday. Steve’s family knew what a big part of his life racing was for him, and they wanted to ensure that his race family was able to be a part of paying respect to such a great man. The sand drag community has lost one of the best in Steve, and we will never forget him.
Later on that week, the sand drag family came together again as we paid our respects and had fun as he would have wanted, at the Frankie Burgess Memorial Race. Frankie passed away earlier in 2012 in a tragic non-racing incident. His family and friends went through the massive undertaking of planning this Memorial Event at Green’s Dragstrip in Henderson, MI. When Frankie’s dad, Frank, invited us to come race there, we didn’t have to think twice about going to support this event. Everyone from Frank & Family to some of Frankie’s best friends, Frankie J & Jessica, along with the Mid-Michigan Trail Runners group did a fantastic job putting on a great event. Everyone had a great time, including the mass of spectator’s trackside. My day on the track didn’t go so well as my opponent threw down a Perfect RT (.000) against me in round one, but it didn’t dampen the day at all as I was able to take tons of photos for the Race Recap found in this month’s “Issue” of NSDN & in general have a great time. This was a great Memorial for Frankie, and hopefully this event can continue on down the road.
Until next month…