Unfortunately, the night began on a somber note as the extended racing family at Rattlesnake Raceway mourns the loss of one of their own.
Sometime last Sunday night, 21-year-old Stephanie Rose Benham passed away while sleeping. She worked the sign-in shack at the pit gate for the track where she helped greet all the racers and crews.
Her younger sister, Sarah Anderson, races in the Amsoil Outlaw Kart series and all the karts had ribbons honoring Benham.
Her stepfather, Bryan Anderson, expressed gratitude for the support given to he and his wife, Rosemary, as well as the family of Phil and Donna Benham.
Prior to the night’s racing, and after the National Anthem was sung, there was both a moment of silence and noise to honor Stephanie. This week the track will have a further ceremony, as most of the usual racers weren’t competing.
On Thursday, over 30 IMCA Modifieds signed in for a night of racing. While it couldn’t be called an artistic success, the 30-lap feature was a barnburner.
After the checkered flag waved, winner Dustin Hansen said, “It was a tight track at the bottom so there’s not a lot you can do. Jake Holland showed me his nose a couple of times, he’s a great racer and he did really great. The track was holding up pretty good, although, it was getting a little slick at the end but it’s dirt so it’s going to do it.”
Each night of the tour begins with a series of four 10-lap heat races where the top three transferred into the main. Following that, there are a pair of 15-lap B mains and the top six transfer to the main, which is 30 laps long.
The tone for the feature began in the first two turns when several cars tangled. One of them was track champion Shawn Natenstedt, whose night ended with rear suspension damage.
Things went downhill from there as it took 37 minutes and seven cautions before the field raced into the second lap. It seems that Turns 1 and 2 were the Danger Zone for many drivers.
Finally, the green waved and the field made it through the second lap. Hansen was on point with Jake Holland right behind him as they roared into the first turn.
Around lap 16, both leaders caught and were held up by lap traffic. Then they swapped the lead a few times but in the end, Hansen was able to hold on to the position.
At the finish behind Hansen and Holland were three other locals, Jay Sears, Robert Miller and Maylan Gonzalez so it was a good night for the homeboys.
“We ran good, I got underneath and got ahead of him (Hansen) with about 10 laps to go,” Holland said. “The car came in but it was way off at the beginning, however,r it dried up as we thought it was going to do. He raced the lappers and got me back.”
On Friday, at the driver’s meeting, series promoter Ken Hansen made his displeasure known at the previous night’s carnage.
When Friday’s feature began there were only two cautions for the first three laps. One casualty was Holland, who had to pit for a flat tire.
Thursday’s winner Dustin Hansen had the misfortune of not even making it into Friday’s main
Keeping his word, and after it took two attempts at starting the race, the field was set for a single file start.
This time Chase Hansen was on point with Aaron Spangler right behind him. Eventually Spangler was able to make a pass and take over the lead.
Five cautions, including having to stop the field twice to get sorted out, slowed the pace but they were well ahead of Thursday night
In the final third of the race, Hansen slipped back to third while Alex Stanford claimed second and put his sights on the leader. Lap after lap they tore around the track nose-to-tail but in the end Spangler held on for the victory followed by Stanford, Hansen and Mitch Murphy.
Holland, after starting at the back was able to work his way to eighth
At the end the dry-slick conditions were kicking up a lot of dust so being up front was the place to be.
“I thought the bottom would be good, but Chase railed me on top and he’s tough so it took me a long time to get back by him,” Spangler said after winning the race.”
Then second place Stanford said, “I was hoping the lap traffic was going to help me out a little bit. The car was a touch lose but I was doing what I could with it and a few more laps would have definitely helped.”
Supporting the show were the Amsoil Northern Nevada Outlaw Karts. They ran two of their four mains during the breaks between the Modified heat races and after the B Mains.
On Friday the Dairymen’s Association sponsored the Karts and each winner received a special trophy, an engraved bottle of milk.
Next stop on the tour was a Saturday-Sunday stop at the Lovelock Speedway.
The strong winds, that will dry almost any dirt track, proved to be a problem both when they were blowing and when it stopped.
Once again promoter Hansen gave a stern lecture to the competitors, as he didn’t want a repeat of what happened on Thursday.
When the green waved for the start of the feature one of the back markers spun before he even reached the starting cone. As a result the field was ordered to make a single file start.
On the green Perry Hoszarik briefly led until Richard Anderson took the point by the time they reached Turn 2. A long, strung out pack was chasing them.
The only caution came on lap 10 when six drivers tangled in Turn 4. After the mess was cleaned up the green waved again and racing resumed.
In the final laps Spangler managed to take second dropping Riley Simmons to third.
By now the track was completely dry and the Modifieds were raising a huge cloud of dust. Then the wind stopped and the dust so thick the flagger couldn’t even see the cars as they passed beneath her.
And the driver couldn’t see her as well.
Seeing this, and with five to go, Hansen called the race due to the blinding dust.
This time Jay Sears, who had bad luck he night before and Robert Miller, third followed Riley Simmons.
In the Victory ceremony winner Anderson said, “The track made it so it was only a one groove race so it was really important to get out front first and try to hold on to that. You can’t see behind you but you can sure feel if anyone’s there. It was bad enough that the officials made a super good call as you couldn’t see the flag stand to see if she was throwing a white, green or checkered.”
Then runner up Spangler said, “Unfortunately the race track just went away tonight and it just wasn’t really very racy. I bet these guys do a wonderful job and give us a better track tomorrow and we’ll put on a really good show. We’ve got a really good hot rod here and I think we’ve got a chance to win several of these things.”
Supporting the show were Sprint Cars, Dwarf Cars, B Mods and the Hobby Stocks. Sandy Clark probably made track history as the first woman to win a Hobby Stock feature.
Due to the series racing Sunday night those results weren’t know at the time this article was filed. However checking with Lovelock they have reconfigured the track and spent the day soaking it so the dust problem should be much less.
On Monday the series, a subset of the Wild West Modified Tour, moves east to Winnemucca for Monday and Tuesday races.
Then after a day off the next race is at Elko and the nine-race series ends at Ely on Friday and Saturday.
Those wishing to hear a live stream of the races, which begin around 6 or 7 p.m., can access this link: http://www.ezstream.com/broadcasts/index.cfm?fuseaction=upcoming&SelectedState=NV&ascope=ALL&Org=EZ&CFID=167129&CFTOKEN=72769958.
OTHER RACING NEWS
•This weekend racing begins in Quincy, Calif. as the American Valley Speedway hosts a two-day show. On Friday, beginning at 7 p.m. the cars will race then on Saturday, at the same time, the Civil War Sprint Car series takes over the track for their only appearance of the year.
Closer to home Rattlesnake Raceway stages another of its regular shows that will include another tribute honoring Stephanie Benham.
Two motorcycle series will also be in action as SMRA winds up its spring series at the motocross track in Hawthorne.
Desert racers in the MRANN series head north to the Honey Lake MX Park for two days of competition on this hilly, technical track.
Saturday’s action begins at 10 a.m. as the Pee Wees race followed by the Mini Bike, Women and Vintage/Bomber racers.
Then on Sunday the big bikes get their chance on a 4.5-mile course with the Amateur starting at 8:30 a.m., followed by the Experts at 11:15 and the Novice riders at 2:30 p.m.
•Only two of NASCAR’s Nevada quartet were in action this weekend. Brendan Gaughan was at Texas on Saturday where he started sixth and finished fourth in the Camping World Truck series event.
On Sunday Kyle Busch had engine problems at Pocono and ended up 30th after starting fourth.
•Rattlesnake Raceway - June 7
Iron Man Modified Tour:
Heat Winners - #1 Maylan Gonzalez, #2 Wade Lumsden, #3 Alex Stanford, $4 Larry Rogers
B Main Winners - #1 Shawn Natenstedt, #2 Ron Moser
Main (30 Laps) - 1. Dustin Hansen, 2. Jake Holland, 3. Jay Sears, 4. Robert Miller, 5. Maylan Gonzalez
Northern Nevada Outlaw Karts
Heat Winner - Dale Creiglow
Main - 1. Dale Creiglow, 2. Sarah Anderson, 3. McKenna Kirshol
Intermediate & Open Box Stock:
Heat Winners - #1 Alan Dias, #2 Caleb Gonzalez
Intrm. Main - 1. Caleb Gonzalez, 2. Cade Maestas, 3. Lee Ketten Jr., 4. Brynn Turner, 5. Steven Schroetlin
Open Box Stock - 1. Alan Dias, 2. Bradley Rogers, 3. Marissa Rogers, 4. Lee Ketten Jr., 5. Brynn Turner
Heat Winner - Zack Wilkinks
Main - 1. Zack Wilkinks, 2. Samantha Schultz, 3. Samantha Schultz, 4. Dominique Mace
Heat Winner - Nick Rogers
Main - 1. Nick Rogers, 2. Zack Wilkins, 3. Shaw Smith, Phil Hitchock
•Rattlesnake Raceway - June 8
Iron Man Modified Tour:
Heat Winners - #1 Aaron Spangler, #2 Dan Fitzgerald, #3 Chase Hansen, 4. Bert Beech
B Main Winners - #1 Jay Sears, #2 Robert Miller
Main (30 Laps) - 1. Aaron Spangler, 2. Alex Stanford, 3. Riley Simmons, 4. Wyatt Howard, 5. Dan Lee
Northern Nevada Outlaw Karts:
Beginner main - 1.Sarah Anderson, 2. Dale Ccreiglow, 3. McKenna Kirshol
Intermediate Box Main - 1. Caleb Gonzalez, 2. Steven Schroetlin, 3. Cade Maestas, 4. Will Evensen
Open Box Main - 1. Justin Wicks, 2. Alan Dias, 3. Bradley Rogers, 4. Lee Ketten Jr., 5. Cole Jones
250 Main* - 1. Joe Owen
50cc Main - 1. Nick Rogers, 2. Terry West, 3. Mark Dempsey, 4. Kyle Dargert, 5. Joe Owen
*— Final results pending scoring review
•Lovelock Speedway - June 9
Iron Man Modified Tour:
Heat Winners - #1 Randy Artz, #2 Aaron Spangler, #3 Cory Sample, 4. Dan Fitzgerald
B Main Winners - #1 Bill Smith, #2 Bert Beech
Main (30 Laps) - 1. Richard Anderson, 2. Aaron Spangler, 3. Riley Simmons, 4. Jay Sears, 5. Robert Miller
Hobby Stock Main (20 Laps) - 1. Sandy Clark, 2. Rick Ellison, 3. Kevin Libbee, 4. Audie Peterson, 5. Laurya Richardson
360 Sprint Car Main (15-Laps) - 1. Bob Cooney, 2. Robert Cooney, 3. Jeffrey Macedo, 4. Tony Taylor
B Mod Main (15 Laps) - 1. Chad Christiansen, 2. Loren Bianchi, 3. Dickie Souza, 4. Shirley Reeves
Dwarf Car Main (15 Laps) - 1. Rodney Sweet, 2. Frank Hinds, 3. Bobby Gibson, 4. Cody Gibson