The 2019 racing season concluded at Off Road Speedway Saturday night with the Bob Haase Memorial, featuring grand marshal Don Weyhrich.
Points champions also were finalized after last week’s Championship Night was rained out.
In the closest finish of the points competition, Norfolk’s Robert Osborne won the IMCA Late Models title by just two points over Ben Sukup, also of Norfolk. Pierce brothers Cameron and Ramsey Meyer both earned championships, with Cameron winning the IMCA SportMods division title ahead of Robbie Thome of Spalding and Ramsey winning the IMCA Sport Compacts title over Parker Vollbrecht of Stanton. Cameron Wilkinson of Neligh won the IMCA Hobby Stocks championship by the largest point margin, finishing 20 points ahead of runner-up Lance Mielke of Norfolk.
Weyhrich, a longtime racer from Norfolk and a 2014 inductee in the Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame, said his career began in drag racing, then moved to circle track racing in the late 1960s.
“I started drag racing in 1967 in a brand new Camaro. I had done some racing on the streets, and I only had one point remaining on my driver’s license,” Weyhrich said. “I got married that year and decided I better do my racing on a race track. That’s how it all started.”
Eventually, Weyhrich made his way into racing in the Norfolk area and surrounding tracks throughout the Midwest — making a name for himself and his car, No. $1.98.
He won season titles at Riviera Raceway in Norfolk in 1972 and 1975 and then won three straight championships at Mid-Continent Raceway in Doniphan.
“For 50 years at Riviera, for us to showcase what extraordinary things could be done with an automobile, without the fans this could have never happened,” Weyhrich said. “There wouldn’t have been a $1.98.”
Early on, various sponsors urged Weyhrich to consider changing the car’s number, but he decided the number was “so unique, I refused to change it.”
“I’ve gone from Texas to the northern United States, and east and west, and everybody seemed to know $1.98,” he said.
Weyhrich also raced with great success at the Huset’s Speedway in Brandon, South Dakota; Jackson (Minnesota) Speedway; and Collins Field in LeMars, Iowa.
“I loved the competition, but 90 percent of it is off the racetrack, finding weak spots in the process and bringing them up,” he said. “The car is set up in the garage, but as the track changes and the competition changes, you adjust that car to the conditions. That’s where the race is won.”
Although Weyhrich — who retired from racing in 1985 — said he hasn’t attended races frequently in recent years, he has satisfied his love of competition instead by designing golf equipment and playing the game as often as he can.
But on Saturday night, the sights, sounds and even the aromas of racing may have renewed a desire to spend more time at the racetrack.
“What’s not to love about the smell of hot gear lube and racing fuel. It’s just addictive,” Weyhrich said. “This showcase here tonight at this track is really, really neat.”
Winners in Saturday night’s final feature races of the season all took advantage of front row starting positions by taking immediate leads and holding them.
Those winners included Wilkinson, who went wire-to-wire for his ninth victory while finishing well ahead of the rest of the IMCA Hobby Stocks field. Jim Kimmel of Norfolk finished second, while Mark Arduser of Battle Creek took third place.
Wakefield’s Chad Bruns led all 20 laps of the IMCA Stock Cars feature to pick up his third Off Road Speedway win of the season, finishing ahead of Shawn Primrose and Tanner Primrose — both of Norfolk — who finished in second and third place, respectively.
Tyler Afrank of Norfolk led all the way while winning the IMCA SportMods race. Kyle Prauner, also of Norfolk, took second, with Cole Haddix of Elgin grabbing third place.
After overcoming numerous cautions that brought the field — especially Norfolk’s Tad Pospisil — to his rear bumper, Cory Dumpert of York was able to hold on for an IMCA Late Models victory. Dumpert, who also won this year’s national IMCA points title, received the biggest challenge late in the race when Pospisil made contact while attempting a pass on the inside as the cars entered the front stretch.
Although Dumpert brushed the wall, he was able to correct the car and immediately repass Pospisil as the pair navigated turns one and two, and by the time the drivers reached the back stretch, Dumpert had regained the lead and went on to finish first. Meanwhile, Pospisil crossed the line in second place ahead of Eric Vanosdall of Hoskins and Chase Osborne of Norfolk. Race officials had yet to make the results official in the race.
Parker Vollbrecht of Stanton won the IMCA Sport Compacts feature, with Norfolk drivers Bo Cleveland and Mark Benedict taking second and third, respectively.