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2012 OCRS Season In Review “The Reclamation Of A Crown”

John Lemon

Tulsa Oklahoma (November 19, 2012)- To say 2011 was an off year for Rose Oklahoma’s sprint car ace Jamie Passmore, well… that would be an understatement. After winning his third straight title in the Oil Capital Racing Series in 2010 with eight victories, Passmore thought to try something new and different and he changed car brands to start the 2011 season. He also had an extremely key crewmember in New Zealand’s Kevin Fillingham unable to be stateside with the team for the new season as Filingham was called back to Kiwi land. The new car make didn’t have the success the previous Eagle chassis had produced and the car set-ups weren’t as precise in 2011 even after switching chassis makes back after a handful of races. The result was a 5th place points finish with but one feature victory and even that only came when the leader that night blew a tire heading for the finish line.

2012 OCRS/Goodyear Tire & Rubber champion Jamie Passmore
Mike Howard photo

The 2011 season was also the first year of a $25,000 points fund offered up by the Akron, Ohio based Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. with a cool $5,000 awarded to the OCRS champion. Former two time OCRS champion Sean McClelland (2002-03) returned to OCRS in 2011 and promptly took the Goodyear jackpot. McClelland would not defend his title in 2012 but that wasn’t an issue with Passmore. In fact, it was far from it. Passmore was set to return in 2012 with the G.A.P. Roofing backed Eagle chassis that had earned him so much previous success and he had Wesmar Racing Engines produce a power plant that would prove to be tough, stout and reliable. Passmore got Fillingham back for the new season to compliment loyal wrenchman Greg Boney. The result was eleven trips to victory lane in 20 events and landed Passmore’s fourth OCRS crown and first with the Goodyear jackpot waiting at the end of the rainbow.

Passmore’s championship is everything that he and the team stand for. Hard work with keen attention to detail makes this a winning team. Passmore’s driving style is to go hard, go fast but beyond else, go smooth and go smart. You rarely see the #4j placed in a predicament due to driver error. Passmore knows to finish first, you must first finish and DNF’s due to driving to hard or wild just doesn’t happen to Passmore. He is also a great sportsman helping his fellow competitor with parts off his own shelf if need be. If there is a rough edge to Passmore, he doesn’t show it.

Hail to the 2012 OCRS / Goodyear Tire & Rubber champion: Mr. Jamie Passmore.

New Sponsors – New Tracks – New Teams – Make Their Marks

New Playgrounds and Playgrounds Revisited

OCRS welcomed new partners and participants in 2012 and the addition of these entities assisted in having a very successful 11th season. Mark and Debbie Brill brought OCRS back to the Brill Motor Speedway in Meeker Oklahoma after a five-year hiatus where OCRS would kick off the season on April 27th. Passmore began his title run with an opening night victory and Joe Wood Jr. (who started scratch), was the star of the night as he stormed his way through the field for a runner-up position. The April date was the only scheduled date for BMS when the initial schedule was released by OCRS. Due to the success of the first show, BMS added two more dates. Passmore backed up his April win with a repeat trip to victory lane on July 13th and the season ending event for October was called due to weather. Early indications are that OCRS will return to BMS in 2013.

OCRS ventured into the “Show-Me State” (Missouri) for the first time since the closing of Joplin 66 Raceway Park a few years ago. This time the venue would be Randy Mooneyham’s Monett Speedway. Much like Brill Motor Speedway, Monett possesses thick, bright red clay, which typically makes for good racing. OCRS did not disappoint as the “Gasman”, Moore Oklahoma’s Whit Gastineau, showed the “Show-Me” fans how exciting an OCRS event can be with a last lap pass of Danny “The Caretaker” Smith for the win. With a solid fan count to go with the excitement the sprints produced, Mooneyham and his fans will have OCRS back in 2013.

Ron and Rhenda Whitworth had OCRS back to their Humboldt Speedway in eastern Kansas after weather forced an OCRS sprint car MIA status in 2011. “The Hummer” was race number two on the books and Passmore claimed it as well. Humboldt is always a favorable track of the OCRS teams. It was the first trip to the Hummer after the Whitworth’s made some track modifications since the last visit by OCRS and the teams gave a favorable review of the new layout.

Promoter Tim Adams has reclaimed Tri-State Speedway in Pocola Oklahoma and one of his first steps was brining OCRS back after the track was without a sprint car race in 2011 under former management. After the June event, won by Passmore, Adams knew immediately he wanted a second date. OCRS president Barry Grabel and Adams decided on a September date for the return visit. When the winged warriors returned, they put on a fantastic show with Gastineau taking victory laurels in a shootout with Passmore.

Several OCRS main stays held sanctioned events in 2012 including (feature winners):

Mid-America Speedway / South Coffeyville Okla. (Danny Smith)

Oklahoma Sports Park / Ada Okla. 3-times: (Passmore twice & Gastineau)

Southern Oklahoma Speedway / (Passmore & Smith)

Salina Highbanks Speedway / Salina Okla. 3-times: (Shayla Waddell, Passmore and Jeremy Allen)

Thunderbird Speedway / Muskogee Okla. 3-times: (Passmore twice and Gastineau)

Caney Valley Speedway / Caney Ks. Twice: (Gastineau and Passmore)

Jeremy Allen carries the left front at “The Hummer” / Phil Pace photo

~~ New Blood Brought Added Competitive Talent ~~

OCRS saw some new and very talented young drivers compete in at least 50% of the scheduled events in 2012. Broken Arrow’s Alex Sewell became the Brodix / PM-Pro Rookie of the Year with some solid finishes and a 5th place spot in the point standings. Sewell will be a force to reckon with sooner rather that later. His open wheel talent is years beyond his actual time in a sprint car.

The lovely Miss Harli White, a mini-sprint gunner, joined OCRS beginning with race #5 at the Thunderbird Speedway and she improved as the season rolled along in her first year in sprint car racing. White finished strong with third place finishes in her last two OCRS events. Look for this young lady to be a serious contender for her first sprint car feature win in 2013.

Tulsa’s Michael Bookout was a true rookie. Unlike all the other new comers, Bookout had raced nothing prior to climbing behind the wheel of a mud slinging sprint car. Nothing, zilch, nada, yet Bookout drove clean, smooth and with precision. With a top 15 finish in points this year, look for improvement in the young man’s sophomore season as he is learning the ropes well.

Layne Himebaugh (94L) & Michael Bookout (007) having a rookie meeting / Mike Spivey photo.

Collinsville Oklahoma’s Layne Himebaugh made exactly half the bookings and he showed well. Two heat race victories and a couple of top tens had OCRS officials notice the talent Himebaugh brought to the track. Competing at a high level is what Himebaugh is all about. His peers have already given their respect to the young driver as they cite his skill to handle a car at speed for such limited sprint car experience. Look for the Himebaugh name to surface more in the future.

With more laps made by 14 years of age than some see by their 21st birthday, Broken Arrow’s Colton Brewer started the season battling for Rookie of the Year honors. Mid season engines woes took its toll and the team was idle after 11 events. Brewer has a ton of talent and with better luck, he has the potential to make it as a solid driver in the series. He scored a top five finish and a couple of top tens in the events the team entered. Potential star in the making is Mr. Brewer.

~~ Sponsors Partner Up With OCRS ~~

2012 received backing from a list of sponsors that supported the race teams as well as the series during the course of the season. From financial funding to product awards, these sponsors are essential in making OCRS a viable series within the racing industry. From existing sponsors to those who joined the series in 2012, OCRS is appreciative to have been graced by such quality partners. These partners include:

Goodyear Tire & Rubber / Akron, Ohio: Primary Point Fund Sponsor

Carter-Maxwell / Bethany, Oklahoma: Oklahoma State Championship / Product Sponsor

AmeriFlex Hose & Accessories / Tulsa, Oklahoma: Hard Charger Award

The Oil Medics / Ft. Worth, Texas: Back Row Challenge Program

M&W Aluminum Products / Syracuse, New York: Heat Race #1

Bob Hurley Auto Family / Tulsa, Oklahoma: Heat Race #2 and Official Pace Truck

Drive Shafts Inc. / Tulsa, Oklahoma: Heat Race #3

Car & Fleet Auto Parts / Tulsa, Oklahoma: Heat Race #4

Wesmar Racing Engines / Bixby, Oklahoma: B-Feature and Contingency Sponsor

Brodix Cylinder Heads / Mena, Arkansas & PM-Pro / Okla. City, Oklahoma: Rookie of the Year

Grand Prix Auto / Tulsa, Oklahoma: Contingency Sponsor

Keizer Aluminum Wheels / Orange City, Iowa: Contingency Sponsor

Lightning Wings / Tulsa, Oklahoma: Contingency Sponsor

Dyno Services of Oklahoma / Porter, Oklahoma: Hard Luck Award

Schoenfeld Headers / Van Buren, Arkansas: Contingency Sponsor

Same Day Auto Repair / Tulsa, Oklahoma: Awards Banquet Sponsor

OCRS offers their gratitude to these partners and the series looks forward to building a long-term relationship with these groups and others that will join the series in the future.

OCRS say “Thank You” for supporting our series. We will see yhou again in 2013.

~~ First Time Winners & Last Lap Victories Highlighted Racing Action ~~

On the track, it was racing action at its absolute finest that left many in attendance thirsting for more sprint car racing, and getting it. This was evidenced by the previously mentioned “re-bookings” by the “Brill Motor Speedway” and the same held true for the “Tri-State Speedway” in Pocola, Oklahoma in the same calendar season. OCRS is honored to have 80% of the tracks on the schedule wanting multiple dates, which indicates how well OCRS provides a return to our track promoters.

“The Thriller In Pocola”: The added Tri-State Speedway race was so spectacular, it carries the name: “The Thriller In Pocola”. Jamie Passmore and Whit Gastineau started the main event on the front row and the epic battle that ensued was everything a ticket buyer wants to see. Lap after lap, these two warriors often raced around the speedway dead even to the approval of the roaring crowd. Gastineau would win this night in a race most will not soon forget, if ever.

“Five Is Enough Pal”: Passmore came into the August Southern Oklahoma Speedway event riding a five race win streak. One of Passmore’s best friends is Danny Smith. That is, until its time to hit the combat zone. Smith showed no mercy to the eventual champion as he passed Passmore on the last lap and the last turn for the win. The crowd cheered in euphoria for the wild and exciting ending. Smith has been a mainstay in the OCRS and he, along with teammate Kyle Clark will load the trailer for more of the same next year.

“I’ll Take Two Please”: Whit Gastineau scored another huge win when he became the first driver to win a second “Oklahoma State Championship” at George Welch’s Oklahoma State Park. A victor in 2010, Gastineau cashed in on extra cash as sponsored by Carter-Maxwell and collected the special acrylic trophy to add to his growing collection of winning hardware. It took a few weeks this year for the Gasman to get dialed in, but when he did, he was tough to beat.

“I’ll Take One and Like It!” The Salina Highbanks just had a knack of producing 1st time OCRS winners in 2012 as Jeremy Allen won his first OCRS event at the last race of the season in September. Earlier in the year, Allen took a bone-jarring ride at OSP that sent him and his team to the sidelines for a spell. His upset win at Salina helped any lingering pains subside. Allen has the talent to be a multi-time feature winner in a single season. What about 2013?

Shayla Waddell swept the field at the Salina Highbanks / Sprintcarsis photo.

“Putting The Boys In Their Place”: Shayla “The Princess” Waddell sent the boys home with the look of defeat upon their faces on a warm and gusty night in May at the Salina Highbanks Speedway. Waddell became the first female to win an OCRS feature and swept the program by winning her heat and the “Pole Dash” races as well. The crowd’s approval when Waddell climbed from her car in victory lane was the loudest heard all season. Fans often tell OCRS that they cheer for the “Princess”.

“A Foreigner Is Cast Upon Us”: Passmore can hang his hat on one last lap finish. Legendary pilot Mike Peters from Wichita, Kansas dropped in on OCRS at OSP in June and for a spell, it looked as the northern invader was going to make his trip worthwhile and take the win. However, coming down for the white flag, Passmore executed a last lap pass on Peters and took the win spoiling a great drive by the veteran Jayhawker. Peters has won in all forms of sprint car racing and truly deserves to have his place in the sprint car hall of fame.

~~ Experience: “Worth More Than It’s Weight In Gold” ~~

There were some impressive improvements from a few drivers in 2012 over last season. The one common denominator between these improving pilots? “Experience”. Nothing like getting your racing education night in and night out and these drivers are proof that practice makes perfect.

Fred Mattox: The Drumright Oklahoma shoe keeps kicking on the front door for that initial OCRS victory. It’s only a matter of time till the OSU college student kicks it all the way in. He finished second twice and ironically, one of those was the “Oklahoma State Championship” event at Oklahoma Sports Park. Its ironic in the sense Mattox just missed winning the same event in 2011. Mattox completed the season in fourth place, an improvement of nine spots from last season. Mattox garnered seven top five’s and 12 top tens compared to one and four respectively last year.

Casey Wills: The mighty Casey stepped up to the plate and took his cuts well this season. After one top five and one top ten last year, Wills learned well from last season when the team was just trying to figure out just how to set up a car. He started with double top fives in the first two events, claimed seven top tens enroot to an eighth place points finish vs. an 18th in 2011. Wills finished the year well with a runner-up placement to Jeremy Allen in the last event at the Salina Highbanks.

Johnny Kent: “Hotrod” started slowly but when he went to a different Eagle chassis midway into the season, he began to click. Like Mattox, Kent tallied two runner-up spots with one of those coming in the Harold Leep Jr. Memorial at OSP. When the final numbers were in, Kent was seventh in points (11th in 2011), and had five top fives to go with 13 top tens compared to 3 and 8 last year. Everyone has taken note as to how Hotrod has picked up his program.

Fred Mattox (26m) – Colton Brewer (77) – Casey Wills (31) go wheel to wheel. / Sprintcarsis photo.

Tim Kent: Cousin to “Hotrod”, TK was one spot better in points than last year (6th over 7th), but it was his performance that many gave notice to. There were five top fives and 12 top tens compared to two & eight last year. It was TK’s best showing since joining OCRS as a series regular. If one word could be placed for his improvements, that word would be ‘consistency’. The Maxim #79 saw its nose towards the front of the field more than it has in the past.

Tim Kent enjoying a moment with wife Sara.

Danny Smith: “The Caretaker” has plenty of racing experience (unlike the aforementioned racers). However, the improvement in 2012 over 2011 was still huge. Smith did miss a few shows due to injury last year which regulated him to a 12th place spot on the points chart. He was runner-up in championship points to Passmore this year with two victories, nine top fives and 18 top tens. To say Smith recovered from his “off-season” would be an understatement. He was also the only driver to accept the task of taking The Oil Medics “Back Row Challenge”, which he did twice. For that, the great folks at the Oil Medics awarded the $1,000 cash bonus that went unclaimed (for winning from the back) to Smith at the season ending OCRS Awards Banquet. It pays to play.

~~ Special Award Recipients ~~

There were multiple special award recipients that received acknowledgments for their achievements made or earned over the course of the season. Some of these special recognition awards were for off-track acknowledgments as well as on-track. The drivers and/or individuals that received such honors included:

Johnny Kent: AmeriFlex Hose and Accessories “Hard Charger of the Year”

Alex Sewell: Brodix / PM-PRO “OCRS Rookie of the Year”

Alex Sewell: D&P Escort “Best Looking Car Award”

Casey Wills: “OCRS Most Improved Driver”

Shayla Waddell: “OCRS Perseverance Award”

Jamie Passmore: “OCRS Sportsman of the Year Award”

Michael Bookout: “OCRS Spirit of the Year Award”

Greg Boney & “Co-Mechanics of the Year”

Kevin Fillingham

~~ Rest Quickly Today As Tomorrow Is A Tick Away ~~

The 2012 Oil Capital Racing Series season has come and gone. The dirt-slinging warriors of the night will rest until its time to wage battle once again. However, the rest will be short as deep within their souls, they have an inner burn to return to the battlegrounds where they are most at ease. They crave the challenge to be their best, to defeat all comers that dare to defeat them. They crave to have the warmth of adrenalin shoot up their veins when the vibration of shear horsepower shakes and jostles at their very nerves as they sit strapped and bound to their weapons of choice. Thus, rest must be quick, yet quantified for today, as tomorrow’s battles are just a tick away.