Wild holiday racing at Emo Speedway

Lucas Punkari

A few drops of rain during hot laps couldn’t stop the action at the Emo Speedway on Canada Day as all three classes had very competitive races during the course of Friday night.
In the WISSOTA Modifieds, Gavin Paull made it four-for-four in feature races so far this season, holding off Jamie Davis and Glen Strachan to collect the checkered flag.
“It was a little bit tougher tonight as those guys gave me a really good run, for sure,” said Paull, who also was challenged by Ricky Roche during the 20-lap main event.
“I was actually a little bit worried going out in the feature, as I wanted to get out in front early to try and get the preferred line,” Paull added.
Starting the race in third position, the division points leader made his way to the inside line at the drop of the green flag and was able to get by the front row of Gary Wilson and Strachan to grab the lead.
“That is what my goal was from the start,” Paull explained.
“It was a little slicker down at the bottom, so I was just trying to shoot my car in and slide in front of Glen and take the line away.
“Once I did that, I wanted to get up towards the top of the track where it was a little bit more sticky and I was able to get some more bite as a result,” he added.
Friday’s victory was the first of three days of racing for Paull this past weekend. He also took part in the Chad Olson Memorial at the Greenbush Race Park on Saturday and Sunday, where he came away with a pair of second-place showings.
Paull also won the first heat of the night Friday, with Wilson taking the second heat after race leader Joey Galloway was involved in a freak incident in the late stages.
Galloway, who travelled all the way from Manor, Sask. to race at his home track on Canada Day, was well out in front when his car came to a complete stop at the high sides of turns one and two on the final lap.
A few seconds later, Dwayne Pelepetz came upon the stopped car of Galloway and was unable to slow down in time. As a result, he ran straight into the back of Galloway’s stalled vehicle.
“With two laps to go, I heard the motor starting to bog down and thought to myself, ‘Uh oh, this ain’t good,’” Galloway recalled.
“I took the white flag and the motor just locked up solid in turn one, and then out of nowhere a car just ran right into the back of me.
“I figured that he would have enough time to react, but I guess not,” Galloway sighed.
But Galloway’s wreck was tame compared to what happened near the midway point of the Midwest Modified feature Friday night, when a multi-car pileup occurred in turns three and four.
The wildest ride in the chain-reaction incident occurred to Tower, Mn. driver Jory Hughes, whose car turned over entering turn three and flipped twice in the air before landing on all four wheels.
“Two guys ahead of me got into each other and they just came to a stop,” noted Hughes, who walked away from the incident uninjured.
“I hit one of them and then someone hit me from behind, and I think that’s what ended up kicking me over.”
While the wreck was a violent one that saw the driveshaft ripped out of Hughes’ car, it wasn’t the first time that he’s gone head over heels.
“I once rolled over seven-and-a-half times at Superior,” he recalled.
“It all happens really fast, but once your adrenaline starts to kick in, everything kind of happens in slow motion,” Hughes explained.
Hughes’ wild ride overshadowed the rest of the carnage that took place in the multi-car incident, which left Matt DePiero’s car resting on top of Cody Ossachuk’s, Cody Drennan’s front end going right underneath the back of Kendall Gamsby’s machine, and the vehicles of Mike Wilson and Brady Caul being wedged together.
After the wreckage was cleaned up, Chuck Lambert found himself with the lead. And when the closing second-place car of John Hettinga went off-track with an apparent tire issue, the division points leader went on to capture his second feature win of the season.
“This one was a lot tougher, for sure, as I started at the back of the field instead of being right at the front,” said Lambert, who also won a heat earlier in the evening.
“I figured the best place to be was up close to the front, as there was a lot of young fellers that all wanted to be getting up there, and I was trying my damnedest to get there quickly,” he added.
Christopher Leek and Tylar Wilson rounded out the top three in the Midwest Modified feature, with Wilson winning the division’s other heat.
Rounding out the racing action were the Street Stocks, where 2009 division champ Scott Messner—making his first appearance of the season at the Emo Speedway—captured both a heat and the feature thanks, in large part, to his utilization of the high side of the track.
“I didn’t see anybody running the top groove, and once I decided to try it out, the car felt really good up there,” the Bemidji, Mn. native explained.
“This is a brand new car for this year, and we wanted to just see how this car ran compared to the old car before we come back for the fair,” added Messner, who has been “testing the waters” at a number of WISSOTA tracks this season.
Jeff Wickstrom and division points leader Don Bowman rounded out the top three in the feature while Lindsay Bourre won the other heat.
Racing action will return to Saturday night this weekend (weather permitting) as the seventh-annual Mid-Season Shootout will take place at the Speedway, along with the Amsoil Race of Champions qualifier races in the Midwest Modified and Modified divisions.
Hot laps start at 7 p.m., with the first race getting underway at 7:30.