By Bob Burbach
Marysville, CA – Paul and Kathy Hawes’ Marysville Raceway Park hosted Riebes Auto Parts’ KIDZ NITE at MRP. The 4 division show was run under extremely adverse weather conditions, but the night was filled with dramatic finishes and fun for all the kids who showed up in droves for this MRP annual event. MRP Winged Sprint Car star Mike Monahan completed an amazing comeback and grabbed 1st place honors in that class. Mitch Machado won a hotly contested MRP Super Stock thriller as Tim Maclaughlin easily won the Pro 4 feature. Terry Rothweiler claimed the honors in the 1st Jim Munroe Memorial Race for Dwarf Cars.
On April 3rd of this year, MRP’s very own “Madman” Mike Monahan cut off the 4 fingers of his right hand at the palm in an industrial accident. The horrendous injuries were addressed by surgeons and the fingers were reattached. The prognosis was depending on whom you listened to, that Monahan would never drive a sprint car again…or he’ll be 6 months to a year in rehab and the healing fingers would, one day, work again, maybe, but he’ll never drive a sprint car again. Or, he’ll be gone a year and maybe he’ll go back to work, but he’ll never drive a sprint car again. That last phrase “he’ll never drive a sprint car again” seemed to be the expressed, recurring sentiment.
Well, on May 26th Monahan showed up for MRP’s signature annual event, the Mel Hall Memorial Race, a California Sprint Car Civil War Series event. These guys were among the best sprint car drivers in northern California. He didn’t come to watch, but to race. What? No way.
Well, the determined former MRP sprint car champion had devised a way to glove the injured hand then Velcro the glove to the steering wheel. Monahan couldn’t transfer out of the “B” that night, but he had finished the race. His battered and beaten body had not regained its full capabilities as Monahan had to deal with his body refurbishing itself from the massive blood loss incurred during the accident. The next day Monahan hauled to another California Sprint Car Civil War Series event. This time he transferred and finished the feature. Last Saturday night at MRP he was among the top qualifiers and stayed competitive all night.
This week at MRP Monahan broke through and scored a wire to wire victory in a thrilling auto race that featured a torrid battle at the front that included defending champion Billy Wallace desperately trying to get by.
Monahan jumped to an early lead from his outside front row starting position and was never headed. That, however, does not remotely describe the intensity of this event. For Monahan it was a particular challenge as it went non-stop, no yellows. What it meant for Monahan was…no rest.
Lady star Reyna Krueger jumped into 2nd at the green flag as 6th starting Wallace looked for a way to the front. The consistent northerly winds had caused the track to change rapidly by the time the feature rolled out. Wallace went low, high and through middle trying to get to the front. No one was faster than Monahan, except Wallace…and Wallace was coming hard.
As the race came rapidly to a close Wallace finally clawed his way into 2nd past the persistent Krueger and started to close on Monahan. Lapped traffic was in the mix and Monahan was being held up. As the white banner flew Wallace was all over the blue Monahan 49. Wallace simply ran out of time as Monahan took away Wallace’s line on the last lap through 3 & 4.
Monahan came to the checkers as the MRP crowd went simply, well, nuts. It was one of the most emotional and popular victories in recent MRP history. Monahan seemed exhausted, but pleased as he climbed from the car to the cheers of the appreciative crowd.
Wallace was 2nd from 6th and Cort Dozier nipped Krueger for 3rd in the final few circuits after a tense, crowd pleasing battle. 5 time champ Korey Lovell cruised into an easy 5th. Brent Dothage and Jeremy Burt got heat race honors.
Once again a tip of this observer’s straw hat goes to Monahan for an amazing comeback in one of the world’s toughest sports, dirt track sprint car racing.
This Winged 360 Sprint Car show was a Contingency Connection event. Feature event bonus awards were presented to the winner. Winning racers in the Contingency Connection can average some $1500 in Contingency Connection bonuses weekly this year.
The MRP Super Stock closer was a real crowd pleaser as well. After a 5 week hiatus the Supers were in top form. The early laps of the feature were dominated by a superb struggle up front between point leader Brent Hall and well known stock car star Ryan McDaniel. As the race progressed it became obvious that bay area hot shoe Mitch Machado was the fastest hot rod in the race. Hall had a miscue in turn 1 that cost him some time and Machado jumped into 2nd by ½ way.
Bothered by lapped traffic, McDaniel gave up a lot of ground to Machado who seemed to hit traffic just right. Machado continued to close and with 5 to go Machado was there. The Machado/McDaniel duel was great, but it allowed fast closing Phillip Shelby an opportunity to reach the leaders.
Machado put together a near perfect lap using the high side in 1 and a perfect diamond off 2 to slip by McDaniel. McDaniel could not retaliate as Shelby and a resurgent Brent Hall challenged for 2nd.
In the end Machado kept the trio at bay and thundered under the checkers with another victory. McDaniel, Shelby and Hall stayed that way with Ray Trimble hanging on for 5th. Brent Hall and McDaniel won the heats.
Tim Maclaughlin easily outdistanced the Pro 4 feature field in a wire to wire win followed by Shaun Ternora and Misty Castleberry.
Some 40 dwarf cars clogged the pits for the 1st annual Jim Munroe Memorial Race. Terry Rothweiler scored a surprise victory in an extraordinary event. For more on this event go to dwarfworld.com. The 17th Annual West Coast Dwarf Car Nationals will invade MRP on Sept 28th and 29th.
Pre-race activities included a salute to 11 year old Hayden Elliott for his courageous fight against cancer that has cost this youngster a leg. A significant gift of cash went to the family on behalf of the MRP crowd and participants.
MRP offered a checkered flag farewell carried by Matt Shelton and Reyna Krueger to sprint car driver David Tarter who passed away Friday
MRP will be dark Saturday June 16th. Saturday night June 23rd MRP will once again turn on the lights. It will be Bully Dog Night. This event will feature all of the MRP Championship point classes. The MRP Winged Sprint Cars, MRP Super Stocks, the MRP Mini Stocks and another appearance of the MRP Hobby Stocks will be on the marquee. The Hobby Stock program will feature a bit of a twist as local notable Duke Griego will get behind the wheel of Paul Hawes’ Hobby #21 for an auto racing adventure. More on Bully Dog Night at the races later.