By Doug Halberstadt
For the past 46 years, the Rockford Speedway has been the home of the National Short Track Championships (NSTC). The annual event draws competitors and fans from all across the country. This year, the three-day racing weekend will take place Sept. 28-30.
Starting as early as Monday of that week, the campers, motor homes and car haulers will begin arriving at the northwest corner of Route 173 and Forest Hills Road. They will immediately transform the empty grass lot into a makeshift campground. It’s not unusual to see inexpensive tents set up next to multi-thousand-dollar motor homes. It’s highly possible the two of them could be sharing the same campfire and swapping racing stories.
More than 12 different divisions are scheduled to compete on the historic, high-banked, quarter-mile oval over the three days. Friday night’s action will feature the Championship Round of the Gilley’s Cool Five Series. Saturday night, fans will be treated to a 108-lap feature showcasing the Big Eight Series.
Sunday’s action will serve as a fitting finale for the 47th annual NSTC. The National Short Track Super Late Models will highlight the Sunday afternoon event with the running of a 200-lap championship feature. The Mid-American Stock Cars will also run their feature during the Sunday show.
Because of a rain-out earlier in the season, another special event has been added to the schedule for Sunday. The top eight in final NASCAR Stanley Steemer Late Model points will go head-to-head in elimination brackets Sunday afternoon.
Rockford Speedway General Manager Gregg McKarns said: “I think it will be a real treat for everyone involved. Our weekly drivers will be showcased on Sunday of NSTC, while the fans will get to see something truly unique and entertaining. This is just another reason this weekend is so great.”
Brackets call for the following Round One match-ups in three-lap showdowns that move the winner into the next round and the loser packing:
1. Jerry Gille vs. 8. Matthew Clossey
2. Jon Reynolds Jr. vs. 7. Austin Nason
3. Matt Berger vs. John Beinlich
4. Wayne Freimund vs. Mitch Garfield
The lower seed has lane choice, and the Championship Round will be the best two out of three with the lane choice determined by a coin flip. For the first time in the history of this event, all drivers in the Showdown have at least one feature victory on the season. Former Showdown winners include Eddie May (2010) and Reynolds Jr. (2011).
Ticket and entry information can be found online at www.rockfordspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway Box Office at (815) 633-1500.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Sept. 26-Oct. 2, 2012, issue