Flat Rock, MI: Flat Rock Speedway set what is believed to be a record for the 61-year old speedway during the 2014 racing season, as “The Rock” ran 21 consecutive Saturday nights without a cancellation. A hearty crowd turned out on a very cool night for the final race of the year as Rick Bennett and Robb Remick were crowned co-champions of the 4-race Enduro Series at the track. Jeff Metdepenningen was the victor in the 300 lap championship event.
With the infield area very soaked from nearly 5 inches of rain that fell during the week, the competitors pretty much stayed out of the grassy areas and provided an action-packed final night of racing. The 300 lap Enduro championship event saw Robb Remick, Rayce Metdepenningen and Jeff Metdepenningen lead the race in the early stages. Jeff, a former Enduro champ, then took control and remained out front. By lap 100, only 6 cars were on the lead lap. Jeff kept a sizable lead over his son, Rayce, who won the August Enduro. Remick pitted for fuel at lap 180, dropping him back a bit in the running order. At lap 200, the top five were Jeff, Rayce, Rick Bennett, Troy Brehmer and Tadek Stadniczuk. Danny Bennett, who was also in the hunt for the championship, darted into the pits on lap 222 to take on fuel.
The race remained green all the way until lap 247 when the red appeared to get Jimmy Gullett out of the mud in turn 1. On the restart, Stadniczuk’s car stalled and while much of the field avoided his stalled car, Danny Bennett plowed into Tadek in a nasty hit, bringing out the red again on lap 248. Both drivers were ok. Jeff Metdepenningen now had pressure from his son Rayce as the lead narrowed. By lap 266, the father-son duo ran side by side. Jeff kept the point, but each time he would gain some ground on his son, Rayce would zip right back on his bumper.
With 5 to go, Rayce jumped to the outside lane and went after the win, but “Dad” had enough power to grab the checkered flag. Rayce was second, Brehmer third, Rick Bennett fourth and Derrick Sheppard fifth, followed by Matt Ringger, Remick, Dave Bennett, Gullett and Canadian Barry Watson. Rick Bennett and Remick ended up the night tied for the point lead, and both were crowned 2014 Enduro co-champions in the 7-Up Winner’s Circle.
The Michigan Legends, MCR Dwarf Cars and the Bandoleros were also in action Saturday night. Female driver Kim Hughes recorded her first-ever feature win, taking the 25 lap MCR Dwarf car contest over Stephen Bobek, Kevin Ayers, Ed LaRoe Jr., Morgan Baird, Joe McManman, Rick Ayers, Troy Hoffman, Dan Gregg, Mike McManman, Erick Hoffman and Tim Stuart. Troy Hoffman and Baird took the heat race wins, while Eric Hoffman posted fast time at 12:598.
Matt Todd wrapped up the Michigan Legends title by taking the win in their 25 lap race, making it 2 for 2 at Flat Rock in 2014. Tony Monge applied the pressure to Matt, looking high and low around the ¼ mile paved oval for an opening. Todd held on for the “W” over Monge, Levi Rouster, John Hilliker, Rick Kilbourn, Brandon Thurlby, Bobby Murany, Trevor Klaus and Gordon Brodeur. Thurlby won the heat and Todd took the 4-car dash win. Todd made it a complete sweep of the night by also setting quick time at 13:638.
The Bandoleros, for ages 8-14, made their first visit to Flat Rock and were an instant favorite with the fans. The 10 car field ran a 15 lap feature, with Nate Jenkins powering his way past Logan Haughton with 2 laps to go to take the win. Toby Tyler was third, Nathan Loughan fourth and Richele Mihalek fifth. Danika LaPoint, Mason Ludwin, Kylie Beckner, Camron Leasure and Trevor Chmielewski were next in line at the finish. The group just completed their initial season at their home track, Spartan (Lansing) MI Speedway, and made a special trip to compete at Flat Rock.
While Flat Rock’s racing season in now in the books, several non-racing events are still planned. Sunday, October 5 is the semi-annual Flat Rock Historical Society Flea Market from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the grounds is free. For booth rental information, please contact the Society at 734-782-5220.
Sunday, October 12 is the Cross-Course 5k run to benefit the Little Dresses of Africa charity. This will be the first time the speedway has hosted such an event.
The final event will be a Racer’s Flea Market and Swap Meet on Saturday, October 25 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the track pit area. Admission is free and space rental is $20, first-come, first-serve.