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Heartland Vintage Racing Announces Late Summer and Fall Events

Posted Jul-01-20 at 8:32 PM By celac

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Heartland Vintage Racing
May 30-31 – Heartland Motorsports Park – Topeka, KS
Story: Jim Macaulay

After a long winter of epic Midwest snow and pandemic lock-down, the HVR gang emerged for the season opening “Start Your Engines” Races at Heartland Motorsports Park, Topeka, Kansas in conjunction with their good friends at NASA Central Region. While the “Social Distancing” protocols were enforced in the paddock, the track was a different story, with four vintage races that featured continuous door-to-door action, and victory margins measured in tenths of seconds.

Off-season breeding resulted in two new Corvette members joining the HVR big-bore group, with Cliff Koehler bringing his beautiful ’89 C4 # 56 and Pete Bell resurrecting his storied C3 #44 to track duty. Chase Barnett, progeny of Kenny Barnett, culminated his off-season schooling and novice training with his first race event in his meticulously prepared #12 1970 Mustang.

After a big Friday night of trackside smack-talking from six feet apart, racing started in earnest under a spectacular Midwest sun.  Race #1 featured a three-lap door-handle battle up front between Ronnie Killion’s #28 1970 Boss 302, and Kenny Barnett’s #21 Gulf-blue Mustang. With the rest of the field watching from a few car lengths back, the #28 broke a distributor gear pin and allowed Jim Macaulay and his #23 Corvette and Dan Riley’s #36 1965 GT-350 to close in on the Barnett Mustang.  Evidently, too much time watching his mirror instead of the dirt debris at the bus-stop turn 8, resulted in the #21 spinning and the Corvette and GT-350 able to pass on the last lap.  With a good launch out of the final turn to the finish line, Riley’s #36 closed the gap to 2/10ths, but Macaulay and the #23 Corvette took the checkers for the first race.  

The Saturday afternoon race #2 began after minor wrenching for most, but the unfortunate discovery of water and oil union in Bell’s Corvette led to retirement in hopes to live another day.  Dan Riley and the #36 GT-350 took the lead with a great green flag start and never relinquished it, hitting all his marks with a flawless drive.  A hard charging Brian Van Arman and his #169 Mustang closed continuously, but didn’t have enough laps and ended 7/10 of a second short at the checkers.  Mark Sellers and his beautiful #15 1966 Mustang slalomed his way through the field, picking up 5 positions, finishing 4th behind Kenny Barnett’s #21.

With all HVR members lending a hand and a wrench, the answer to the age-old question of “how many racers does it take to change a Mustang distributor?” was determined to be 11 on the #28 Boss 302.  Food, beverages and excuses flowed effusively Saturday night, with a bonus showing of the Ford vs Ferrari movie on the side of a hauler, causing even the Bowtie faithful to cheer for the Fords.  Seeking inspiration from Carroll Shelby, the HVR Mustang herd plotted their strategy for the next day’s races.

Race #3 Sunday morning started with an inverted field that resulted in spectacular side by side racing for over 5 laps.  Cliff Koehler’s #56 Corvette and Chase Barnett’s #12 Mustang dueled up front for multiple laps, proving formidable solid racers, and laying down their best lap times.  Dennis Paul had his #44 Blue/White 1969 Mustang dialed in and drove an impressive race to 5th place.  But the Barnett/Killion Mustang duo weaved its way to the front, with the #23 Corvette of Macaulay in pursuit.  Kenny Barnett and the #21 Gulf Mustang took the checkers with Killion #28 and Macaulay #23 finishing a car length behind, 2-3.  The extended close quarters racing produced great stories and motivation for the entire field.

The final race Sunday followed after long haul travel time and “save the car to fight another day” attrition reduced the field.  Chase Barnett and the #12 Mustang started on the pole, but was pressed for two laps by Cliff Koehler’s #96 Corvette until the Vette’s engine let go at max grunt down the front stretch, creating a remarkable smoke screen, navigated skillfully by a closely trailing Dennis Paul in his #46 Mustang.  The restart following caution, allowed the #23 Corvette to make a pass in turn 3 and keep the lead until the final lap. Closing fast, Barnett’s #12 took an aggressive inside line in turn 9, and completed the pass with a spectacular sideways save exiting the turn.  Chase Barnett and the #12 Mustang took the final checker for his first win, by a margin of 3/10ths of a second over the #23 Corvette.

 It will be hard to top the great racing and friendships revived after a challenging off-season, but the HVR crew is up to the task, with a full slate of racing and historic events for the rest of the year in our nation’s heartland.      

ENTRY LIST

DRIVER NAME

CAR #

YEAR

MAKE

MODEL

Brian Van Arman

169

1969

Ford

Mustang

Mark Sellers

15

1966

Ford

Mustang

Dan Riley

36

1965

Shelby

GT350R Tribute

Dennis Paul

44

1969

Ford

Mustang Boss 302

James Macauley

23

1973

Chevrolet

Corvette

Cliff Koehler

56

1989

Chevrolet

Corvette

Ronnie Killion

28

1970

Ford

Mustang Boss 302

Pete Bell

44

1976

Chevrolet

Corvette

Chase Barnett

12

1970

Ford

Mustang

Kenny Barnett

21

1965

Ford

Mustang

 

 

 

 

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