(Wilmot, WI, Saturday, August 2, 2014)–Bristol’s Ronnie Mink flag to flag victory in the prestigious 35-lap street stock 4th Annual Tommy Homan Memorial Saturday, August 2 at Wilmot Raceway was not as easy as it sounds.
“I knew I had pressure, but just worked on keeping my line,” said Mink, who led wire to wire despite three cautions in the event. “I have to thank my grandpa, Don Collins, my dad, Ron Mink, and all of my sponsors, Don’s Garage, Kenosha Plumbing, Happy Turf and Thirsty Horse Bar & Grill. Thanks to the sponsors who contributed to make this race even more special.”
Rob Maule of Hebron, IL, driving the Tom Homan owned Homan Family Racing of Antioch Number 53 in memory of Tommy Homan, spun in turn two while moving into contention on lap 16 sending him to the pits for quick repairs.
Restarting at the rear of the field, while Mink had his hands full battling Jason Condrad of Burlington and Pat Rossman of Wadsworth, IL, Maule resembled his nickname “Hammer” as he sifted through the field.
Following the final caution on lap 26, Maule was in contention in the top five much to the excitement sentimentally partial crowd. Coming for the white flag final lap, Mink stuck to his line with Maule coming up just short out of turn four.
Tommy Homan passed away at age 43 in 2011 following a battle with cancer. The first memorial street stock special honoring his memory was held in June of that year. This year’s event netted Mink a Wilmot Raceway record $1,053 for the win thanks to the added sponsorship of Dairy Queen of Zion, Ostergaard Trucking of Antioch, Antioch Veteran’s Cab and Wilmot Raceway.
“One more lap and just maybe, but we’ll never know,” said Maule after congratulating Mink on the win. “Ronnie drove a great race and I congratulate him. I have to thank Tom(Homan), Brooke, my wife and crew chief, and my crew, all of our sponsors and everybody who put this event together. It‘s an honor to drive this car with Tommy‘s number on it.”
“This was a fun race,” said Condrad, who came across third, nipping a fast finishing Cody Erickson of Algonquin, IL. “Ronnie drove a great race and Rob came out of nowhere at the finish. They both did a super job. For us, this was a new car and my crew did an outstanding job getting it ready for me.”
Erickson ended up fourth with Rossman less than a car length behind in fifth.
Erickson’s improvement from 14th starting spot to fourth and Silver Lake’s Gerry Stollenwerk who improved from 16th to seventh eared co-hard charger awards. Erickson received a tire from Hoosier Tire Midwest’s Howie Gleason of East Troy. Stollenwerk picked up a bumper from Fran Prestay at Five Star Stock Car Bodies in Twin Lakes.
The 20-lap Wisconsin-Illinois Mini-Sprint feature set the tone for a night filled with last lap feature finish antics. Hubertus’ Kyle Daywalt appeared headed for the victory when, coming out of turn four for the checkered flag he hit a rough spot in the track momentarily losing control of the car, nearly spinning in front of the field. Nick Petska of Spring Grove, IL shot past Daywalt to score the surprise win. Daywalt, who had led every lap to that point including through yellow flags on laps four and 15, recovered for second. Adam Schroeder of Zion, IL was third, Tim Brannam of Holiday Hills, IL fourth and Doug Johnson of Coleraine, MN completed the top five.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Petska of Daywalt’s misfortune. “I hate to win one that way. I know how it feels because earlier in the year, I had the transmission break coming out of turn four for the checkered while leading and coasted across second.”
The modified 20-lap feature provided the closest finish of the night and possibly in the history of the one-third mile clay oval facility as Union Grove’s Chris Carlson nipped Genoa City’s Mike Simons by one-one thousandth of a second at the finish line for the win. Cameron Kuxhouse of Antioch was third, Bristol’s John Dost fourth and Antioch’s Scott Kuxhouse rounded out the top five.
“I knew it was close,” said Carlson, who one week earlier did not make the feature due to mechanical woes. “Traffic was playing into it, but I saw the hole.”
The first two laps of the modified feature were highly competitive with Milwaukee’s David Wirth heading the opening circuit and Dost powering in front on lap two. Carlson took command on a restart following a lap five caution. M. Simons sifted through the back markers finding the front briefly on the white flag lap down the backstretch setting up Carlson’s front straightaway winning move.
Not to be out done, the four-cylinder stock car 15-lap feature saw countless lead changes among at least four drivers in the non-stop run. Jason Johnson of North Chicago, IL led the first circuit with South Milwaukee’s Brian Hillringhouse taking top spot on lap two. Three and four wide battles ensued with a dead heat side by side battle between Streamwood’s Gary Mondus and Hillringhouse as they headed into the final circuit.
At the finish it was Mondus by less than one car length with Hillringhouse second, both Bandit Division cars. Erik Grosch of Arlington Heights, IL placed third overall and took the Pro-4 Division win. Carl Benn of Menomonee Falls was fourth with Joe Summers of Wonder Lake, IL fifth as the top five all crossed within one second.
“This win means a lot because I always have Tommy as my co-pilot,” said Mondus, who runs Number 53 in honor of his close friend. “Winning on Tommy Homan Memorial Night is special. I didn’t know if I’d get the car here because I just got it back from the frame shop this morning. Brian and everyone raced clean. This was fun.”
In a special pre-race ceremony honoring Tommy Homan’s memory, his daughter, Megan, and son, Ryan, , their mother, Laura Hilger; his fiancé Karen Costello, and Tommy‘s parents, Tom and Marlyce, joined by 50 additional family members on the front straightaway as Megan read a special message to the fans and drivers thanking them for continuing to keep her father’s memory and love for racing alive at Wilmot Raceway.
The Antioch VFW Post 4551 presented the colors while 4-year-old Pleasant Prairie Tiny Miss Brooklyn Jenkins sang the National Anthem a cappella without words as her fellow court members Miss Pleasant Prairie Megan Rynearson, Junior Miss Sydney Zelko and Little Miss Rachel Kenyon stood with her.
Wilmot Raceway on the Kenosha County Fairgrounds hosts Family Night Saturday, August 9 sponsored by Don’s Garage Service with Illinois Vintage Stock Cars, modifieds, street stocks, Badger Micro-Midgets and four-cylinder stock cars. Grandstand admission is $10.00 for adults with children ages 11 and under admitted free. Grandstands open at 5 p.m. with racing at 7. Trackside hotline is 262-862-2090 or check the web site www.wilmotraceway.com.