Rocky Ragusa's Speed Week column
Since the street stock class returned in 2008, four drivers that competed on a regular basis at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway carried the crown of UMP national champion. This past year, Coal City’s AJ Meiferdt became the fifth member of a prestigious group to take the title.
Meiferdt also won his second straight Fairbury track championship and added 17 feature wins. Prior to last season, Meiferdt, in his ninth year of racing, was only able to grab a handful of feature wins, all at Fairbury.
“Last year our goal was to get 20 wins, but we didn’t quite get there,” said Meiferdt. “It was pretty cool to go to some tracks that I never raced at before and get a feature win. Our goal was to win the national championship and repeat at Fairbury.
“Winning those titles made for a good year. We put together a new car and were able to come out and win at the start, which set the tone for the year.”
Following the year, Meiferdt put his car up for sale with hopes of moving up to a different class.
“I am OK with keeping the car,” said Meiferdt. “We are just going to go out and race and see what happens. After the year, I will try and sell it again.”
Meiferdt raced 32 times last year and has no set schedule for 2018.
“With all the races we ran, I was beginning to get burnt out,” Meiferdt said. “The plans are to be at Fairbury unless there is a bigger paying race somewhere. Depending on where we are in the national points at mid-season, I might look at it more serious. Right now, I am just going to race and have fun.”
Meiferdt is named after one of the greats of racing, A.J. Foyt. Foyt is a four-time winner of the Indy 500 and has won the Daytona 500, 24 Hours of LeMans and countless number of races in NASCAR, USAC and sports cars.
This year, Meiferdt honored his hero by having his helmet painted with a gold number #14, made famous by Foyt.
“A.J. Foyt was a racer that could drive any type of car and win,” Meiferdt said. “Sometimes I feel like I grew up in the wrong era. The racing back then was so much cooler. It was sort of an outlaw style. One day a driver would be racing a midget in California and the next night a sprint car in Ohio.
“I love to learn about the history of the sport. Anytime I can bench race with some of the old timers, I love for them to tell their stories.”
With 16 career feature wins in the street stock class, Meiferdt ranks sixth in the win total for that class at FALS. Although the competition is stellar in the class, Meiferdt is capable of going on a tear and moving into third by season’s end.
If his fortunes pan out, Meiferdt will look to move up to a modified or his dream ride, a sprint car for 2019.
A busy weekend of racing is planned throughout Central Illinois with many tracks planning special events. Please make plans to support your local track.
Farmer City Raceway
The AMS Modified series begins a weekend long tour starting at the Farmer City Raceway. Top modified drivers from far and near will seek the $2,000 first place money.
A full program of late models, pro late models and street stocks will take part in the night’s program. Hot laps start at 6:30 and racing at 7:30.
Last week’s winners include, Kevin Weaver (late model), AJ May (pro late model), Randy Lines (modified), Tim Hancock (B-mods) and Matt Maier (street stock).
Grundy County Speedway
Ladies will be admitted for half price with a full show of late models, Mid-Am, street stocks and pure stocks. Qualifying begins at 6:45 p.m. and racing at 8.
Eddie Hoffman was the feature winner last week in his late model.
Kankakee County Speedway
Part one of the Dick Potts Throw Down takes place with the street stock class in a 46-lap special. Pro late models, modified, I-mods and sport compacts will also be in action. Qualifying at 6:30 p.m. and racing at 7:30.
Torin Mettille (pro late model), Mike McKinney (modified) and Matt Hammond were among the drivers to take wins last week.
Fairbury American Legion Speedway
The AMS Modified Series makes its second stop of the weekend with a $2,000-to-win show. Point leader Trent Young of Kentucky will headline a strong field of drivers looking to take home the money.
Late model drivers will look to grab a $2,000 payday, while sportsman and street stocks compete for a $400-to-win show.
On Wednesday night, May 30, the “Greatest Show on Dirt” will make its inaugural appearance at the historic fairground oval as the track will welcome the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. Fans can expect to see record-breaking times set by some of the greatest sprint car drivers today.
Point leader, Donny Schatz, along with Brad Sweet, David Gravel, Jason Johnson, and Daryn Pittman will contend with drivers representing the MOWA, IRA and drivers from the Knoxville, Iowa, speed plant.
Also on the card will be the POWRi Lucas Oil War Wild Card Series. Gates for both days will open at 3 p.m., hot laps at 6, followed by time trials and racing.
Located on 3520 West Farmington Rd. in Peoria, the track will host the days of racing. The AMA Flat Track motorcycles tackle the quarter-mile, dirt oval on Friday. A regular six division program is planned for Saturday. Modified drivers will be featured in a $1,500-to-win special on Monday, along with a program of pro late models, hornets and crate modified. Hot laps at 5:30 p.m. and racing at 6 all three nights.
After being rained out last Friday, officials elected to have the Big 10 Super Late Model race this Saturday. Joining the program will be modified, B-mods, midgets and hornets. Hot laps start at 6 p.m.and racing at 7.
Bohmer’s Rt. 66 Raceway
The first race under the direction of Pontiac’s Robby Bohm will be held this Sunday afternoon. Kart racing will be held in as many as five classes. Gates open at 10 a.m., with racing beginning at noon. The track is located between Chenoa and Pontiac on old Rt. 66.
Spoon River Speedway
The fifth annual Gary Cook Jr. Memorial race for modified drivers is planned for Sunday night. A large field will be on hand to take home the $2,564 first-place money. The Big 10, super late models will go for a $2,000-to-win test and midgets hornets and E-mods will fill out the card. The speedway is located off Highway 24, seven miles west of Banner. Hot laps begin at 6:15 p.m., followed by qualifying and racing.
Will feature a 50-lap race for both the super late models and B-mods. Modified, street stocks, hornets and micros are also scheduled hot laps at 5 p.m. and racing at 6.