Brandon Ford Wheelman Series racers are hanging it all out on the line this weekend at Citrus County Speedway as they aim to win more than $2,500 and kiss a donkey in victory lane.
The first annual High Kick 99 has been billed as the big series finale for the Brandon Ford Wheelman Series by series owner Steve Dorer. Drawing nearly 30 cars in pre-registration, racers from all over the state of Florida are looking for the chance to pucker up in victory lane after three 33-lap segments on Saturday night.
“I think everybody’s looking for the donkey Saturday night. You work hard for that donkey,” said series regular Dillon Sivils. “This race is really exciting. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. This gets the team more involved with such a big race especially with 10 minutes out there on the track in between segments. Some might say that’s not a lot of time, but I think it is especially to make adjustments on a race car.”
With so much on the line on the track and in the pits, Plantation, Florida’s Chad Rutherford isn’t leaving much to chance. In fact, he’s committed to bringing a new car into Citrus County Saturday night.
“I’m pretty excited, we just finished the completion of the new car,” Rutherford said. “We just recently tested it at 4-17 (Southern Speedway) and the car was really good. So I’m pretty excited about it. I’m not sure how the whole segments of the race are going to go, but we’re really excited about it.
“To be honest with you, with this being three segments of 33 laps, and the certain inversions we’re going to do, I definitely think we have the car that as of now can definitely be competitive in each of the segments,” Rutherford continued. “Obviously cautions and staying clean through all the segments are going to have a lot to do with it. But we’re just hoping to qualify well, stay up front in the first segment, drive up through the field in the second, and then hopefully in the third we have enough points we can just kind of drive away with it.”
While it’s good to have a plan, Rutherford still has to compete with some of the series’ top dogs on Saturday including Jesse Henley, Rex Struble and championship points leader Patrick Thomas.
“These guys are so good,” Thomas said of Saturday’s competition. “I really underestimated how good the drivers, the cars, the equipment, the teams, and the series really was when I started at the beginning of the year. I really went into it going race by race, wasn’t going to do it for points, but we just had a great start. These guys have made me work way harder than I ever anticipated. They’ve made me really take my racing to another level to compete with these guys.”
With such strong competition, dedication to detail is important. So, Thomas made sure to get some practice smooches in as well.
“When they started talking about this race and they said they were doing that we went up to a friend’s house in Tennessee and across the street there was a donkey and a horse,” Thomas said. “So I lured the donkey over to the fence with a carrot and I already practiced. I’m good to go. I had a picture taken of it, sent it to Steve Dorer, sent it to some friends, and said, ‘Y’all can go ahead and cancel this one for now. I’m already good.’”
Thomas’ primary rival in the championship battle, Rex Struble, hopes that Thomas’ practice kissing a donkey is all for naught come Saturday night.
“I just hope we’re the ones kissing the donkey,” Struble said. “I think Patrick is going to be strong no matter what and we haven’t gotten a win this year, so we’re going to go for the win. My wife’s excited about the donkey because she loves animals, so we’re going to kiss the donkey.”
Race fans who want to witness this unique brand of racing but can’t make it down to Citrus County Speedway can witness all of the Brandon Ford Wheelman Series High Kick 99 live on the Speed51 Network. If you don’t have a premium subscription to Speed51, you can sign up here for $9.99 a month or $79.99 a year.
– Story by: Allick Jorgensen, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @AJorgensen24
– Photo credit: Patrick Thomas