World 100 notes and quotes from Friday at Eldora
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com chief writer
ROSSBURG, Ohio — Notes and quotes from the 37th annual World 100 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio:
No better place for a debut
Eldora's biggest events usually pack the pits with veterans, but Donald Beyers of Pana, Ill., is a long way from a Late Model veteran. As a matter of fact, Beyers, the younger brother of Late Model driver Jeff Beyers, was competing in a Late Model for the first time. Was he intimidated to being his career at the legendary half-mile oval that has been known to get the best of even top-notch drivers.
"Yeah, I'm intimidated," Beyers admitted. "We'll see what happens. There's only one way to start learning."
Beyers, 27, had been racing a street stock until blowing an engine a few months ago, so he decided to give it a whirl in 30-year-old Jeff's machine.
"He's ready for it," one crew member chimed in. "Late Model 101," added another crew member, Jeff Broux.
Taylor nursing injured left hand
Health issues are keeping Steve Rushin of Poplar Bluff, Mo., out of action, so he tapped Arkansas driver Peyton Taylor to drive his car the rest of the season. But Taylor's nursing an injury, too, as he tackles rugged Eldora Speedway.
He caught his left hand in the steering wheel recently and suffered a hairline fracture that will take some time to heal.
"It works out good," Taylor joked, "because I don't have to work the grinder" to prepare tires.
Taylor didn't want to use a cast or a metal splint — he's afraid if he really had to crank the wheel in an emergency it might hamper him — so he's been wrapping in an Ace bandage. He doesn't seem to mind it too much while he's driving, but after last weekend's race in Lebanon, Mo., there was no question the injury was still hampering him.
When he got out of the car, "my arm was throbbing from here to here," Taylor said, pointing to his thumb and then elbow.
Ironically, one of Taylor's biggest victories — a $5,000 O'Reilly MLRA win in 2005 at Mid-America Speedway in South Coffeyville, Okla. — came while he was wearing a cast.
Maintaining a team for his son
John Hollifield of Terre Haute, Ind., entered a Late Model at Eldora on behalf of veteran Illinois driver Kevin Weaver, a long-time racing friend who has driven modifieds for Hollifield Racing in the past.
No doubt the 50-year-old redhead would rather his son John Robert be driving the car. His son, who just turned 25, is still in a long recovery from a horrifying highway accident with a semi that left him in a coma and left the doctors with no hope.
John Robert was 19 when doctors sent him home with severe brain injuries, telling his parents, John and Margie they didn't expect him to live six weeks. Instead, he's steadily improved over the years, amazing doctors who've encouraged the Hollifields to tell the story to other families to give them hope.
John Robert still has a long way to go, but he's able to come to the racetrack to watch the family car, and he's even taking a welding class at Indiana State University.
Hollifield was glad to have Weaver, the runner-up in the 1998 World 100, in the car at Eldora. He has a good reason to keep a Hollifield Racing car on the track.
"I keep doing it for him," John Hollifield said of his son.
Split doesn't leave any time off
Jerry Rice of Verona, Ky., and Harrod Brothers Racing of Frankfort, Ky., parted ways a few weeks back, but they both showed up at Eldora ready for action.
Rice climbed in the cockpit of the No. 118 normally driven by Devin Sebree of Burlington, Ohio, on Friday afternoon and made adjustments to the wheel and leg guards. He figured he'd be out of racing the rest of the season when Randy Sebree called and offered him a ride (Steve Landrum was driving a second Sebree car).
The Harrod team turned to a local driver, Jason Dunn, whose racing experience has come in go-karts and legends cars. His attempts to run asphalt Late Models with the CRA Super Series in 2007 was short-circuited, so the 22-year-old University of Kentucky student was available when Jeff Harrod called.
Dunn made his first start for the team Sept. 1 at Bluegrass Speedway in Bardstown, Ky., qualifying seventh among 17 cars and finishing second in a heat race before getting caught up in a first-lap crash in the feature.
Dunn was catching a few winks in the team hauler, but Harrod said he wasn't worried about coming to such a big race with only one Dirt Late Model racing under his belt.
"It was his choice," Harrod said. "He didn't know what to be scared of because he'd never been around it."
"No pressure," Harrod continued while grooving tires two hours before 6 p.m. hot laps. "We'll just relax and have a good time."