Going to a racetrack in the middle of winter is definitely not the norm, especially for Northern Ohio with “Lake Effect” weather.
The “Wild Bill” Hangover race at the Sandusky Speedway, on the shores of Lake Erie, breaks all the norms when it comes to racing, especially with it being on New Year’s Day.
The race is famed for running in whatever Mother Nature throws at the racers.
“Some years there is so much snow this time of year that we have to have snow plows going out on the track during cautions and before each race,” track promoter Kevin Jaycox told Speedt51.com powered by JEGS.
Although it was only 27 degrees during this year’s 35th edition events, there was no snow on the ground, something that is very uncommon for this time of year in the Midwest. Without any of the white stuff, fans at the track got creative and carted in buckets of their own snow. Ironically, that turned into a little bit of a snowball fight as fans tossed the snow at the cars as they sped down the front stretch of the track.
Other fans were focused on staying warm; they brought their own propane tanks with heaters on the top, as well as ice fishing huts set up in the stands. Only the most ingenious veterans and not the rookies would survive an event such as this.
Nevertheless, the racing was just as entertaining. Although it’s hard to chase down the records in the history books, some will tell you Sandusky’s Hangover is the longest running race on New Year’s Day.
Champagne Stock driver Ron Miller has seen a few in his day. In fact, after his triumph in this year’s event, he has now won 10 out of the last 11 in his class in the Hangover.
“We ran probably the fastest laps today that we have ever run during this race,” said Miller. “We won this several years ago and we felt like we needed to go back and defend our win. I was actually hoping that someone else would win so I could just go watch because it’s been so cold and snowy. I shouldn’t have won this year, Steve had a car that was way better than mine and I had nothing for him.”
Steve is Ron Miller’s son, who has never won a Hangover race. It appeared this year was going to change that until his engine let loose with five laps to go. After that his dad, Ron, was the only other car our of the nine in the field that was on the lead lap.
“When we went back to green, I don’t know what happened to the car, it just wouldn’t turn. I was glad I had a couple laps up on these guys., said Miller, who ran a brand new car at Sandusky. This will be the same car he races Saturday night’s this season at Oakshade Speedway, a small dirt track in Western Ohio.
The Champagne Stocks weren’t the only excitement on the track for the day; the Moonshine Stocks put on a great show as well as the Whiskey Stocks. Tires seemed to be an issue for these divisions throughout the whole day.
Moonshine Stocks winner Cory McCaughey cut a left rear tire but was determined to finish the race. He held on a squirrelly car and claimed the win . He was very surprised to find out how far gone the tire was when he climbed from the car. In fact, there was only a few shreds left on the rim of his truck. A tow truck needed to be called to take the winning truck back to the pits from Victory Lane.
Joe Oliver has only ever been a spectator of this event, that is, until this year. Oliver decided to get a Whiskey Stock and despite having a tire go down with nine laps to go, he drove to victory lane in his inaugural Hangover attempt.
The “Wild Bill” Hangover race is one for every race fan to experience. ESPN has even made an appearance with their cameras in the past to show just how crazy and how dedicated race fans are to their sport.
By Mikayla Kugler – Correspondent, Speed51.com – Twitter: @MikaylaKugler
Photo: Michael Wood & Speed51.com