Jason Meyers at River Cities Speedway. (Mike Orness
Have you noticed how breezy it’s getting out there? Some guys are
Turns out that superhuman lap of 12.6
seconds on Volusia, Florida’s half-mile submitted by WoO driver Paul
McMahan during Speedweeks this winter (see
TEAROFF dated 3/08/11) was not completely random. How about the
way Johnny Benson electrified the railbirds at Quebec’s Autodrome
Chaudiere, turning the third-mile high-banked asphalt at 10.8 in a
big block winged ISMA super?
Johnny Benson looking proud of a new record supermodified
record in Canada.
(Jim Feeney Photo)
And on August 21, 2010,
veteran Jeff Bloom sizzled Slinger Super Speedway’s quarter-mile
pavement in Wisconsin aboard a 410 sprinter with a 9.908.
it was that same August 21 night but in 2009, that may have been
American short-track racing’s biggest-ever time-trial spectacular,
whether or not it was so intended.
It was out in Grand Forks,
North Dakota, at River Cities Speedway, at a WoO Sprint car show
promoted by old-time racing names Don and Linus Mack, Wayne
Anderson, and Darren Evavold. Since its opening in 1915, the storied
fairgrounds oval was always considered racy. And in 2005, that
reputation was really packed in with a deep, new, sticky surface of
Early on, no one thought there would even
be races that evening. The ground was soaked and the air heavy with
rain. But at about 5 p.m. there was a just a hint of brightening.
Out came the grader, first to carve a road through the hopelessly
flooded pit area to allow cars to even reach the track. Then hurried
preparation of the weighty raceway.
When it came time for
warm-ups, the world snapped to attention. Darren Evavold recalls
that “the whole thing looked cartoonish, the cars were going so
fast.” And when it came time for qualifying, the world was on the
edge of its seat.
Evavold continues, “Erin Crocker was the
first to go out and break the record. But then 17 others did the
same thing. I’ve never seen fans go so crazy about time trials. It
was amazing. Faster and faster. It looked like they could get down
around 9 seconds. Everyone was chanting and cheering. Then Jason
Meyers copped a 9.26, at 116.5 mph, an incredible feat. The drama
There can be no doubt that the lap was one of
the fastest in motorsports history. Jason Meyers sure remembers. “It
was lightning quick. The air was perfect, the track, those banks. So
fast it was dizzying. The car just never lost speed…. I remember
looking up at that scoreboard at the 9.2. Wow. Believe me, I felt
every inch of it.”
The question will be answered another day
as to whether it is actually possible to race side by side at those
speeds. Certainly there was concern even that night at River Cities.
Evavold says, “We were very concerned about the potential for
carnage. We talked with the drivers. We dropped the feature from 40
to 30 laps.”
Meyers admits he, like the others, was worried.
“We all discussed it. The deal wasn’t really to try to race, just to
survive out of trouble. If someone in front of you made a mistake,
there would just be no time to react.”
Jason’s concern was
well-founded. “I ended up flipping down the backstretch and
destroying a car. It was really tough because I was in a points
chase with Donnie Schatz. I ended up losing by 19 points. You can
bet I will never forget that night.
“I know one thing for
sure. It’s just not fun to run a track that totally fast.”
© 2011 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181