Two-race battle for Late Model title

For the previous six racing seasons at the Rockford Speedway, Ricky Bilderback has reigned supreme in the Late Model division. He is the six-time defending track champion in that featured division. Up until last Saturday night (Aug. 18), he had held the lead in the 2007 Late Model points race—something I’m sure he had grown quite accustomed to.

When Bilderback woke up Sunday morning, he found himself in a very unfamiliar place this late in the racing season—was no longer at the top of the standings. Thanks to his second feature win in a row and his fourth of the season, Jerry Gille moved to the top, and bumped Bilderback to second.

Bilderback is not far behind, though. Only 3 points separate the two drivers with two races remaining on the schedule. Gille has 865 points and Bilderback has 862. Jon Reynolds Jr. is the next closest with 764.

The Late Models will be on the schedule again this Saturday night (Aug. 26) during Kids’ Night at the Rockford Speedway. All kids 11 and younger are admitted free. In addition to the Late Models and just in time for back to school, the buses will be back on the track for the Stop Sign Slammin’ School Bus Figure 8 Race. The action begins at 7:07 p.m. Tickets can be reserved by calling the Rockford Speedway box office at (815) 633-1500.

Having had the opportunity to work at the Rockford Speedway for a couple of years, I was able to get to know both Bilderback and Gille. Both are fierce competitors and genuinely good guys. Fans can count on both drivers coming to the track totally prepared for the final two races and giving it their all. It should be a real treat to watch.

Regardless of whether Gille claims his first Late Model season championship or whether Bilderback reclaims the lead and wins his seventh straight title, when it is all said and done, the real winner will be the fans who came out this season to witness one of the closest points races for the championship in the race track’s 60-year history. Good luck to them both!

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at

from the Aug. 22-28, 2007, issue

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