Mayetta, Kan. It took at lot of extra work, but track officials were determined not to let rain stop the first ever Oren Covert Memorial at Thunderhill Speedway. Nearly all of the 120 cars checked into the pit area took to the track to salute the Topeka Racing Legend with a four-wide parade lap.
Led by Oren's son Alan, son-in-law Brian Neiberger and friends John Boyce and Tim Lange, the cars were stopped on the front straightaway for a touching presentation.
Two 'Tough Shoes to Fill' awards were given out to racers and crew members that exhibited the kindness and unselfish attitude that was so often exhibited by the late Oren Covert. The recipients were driver Steve Hawks and crew member Ricky Abrams.
Thanks were then given by son Alan and daughter Brenda to all of the racing fans and drivers who came out in support. The final event may have been the most touching and surprising of all, as Thunderhill Speedway announced the official retirement of the number 17 (Oren's number) in the modified division in His honor. The number 17 is the only number to be retired at Thunderhill Speedway.
The Oren Covert Memorial will be held every year on the 17th day of a certain month during the racing season. Next year the memorial is scheduled for May 17th.
It was the Late Models that led the cars onto the track to begin the feature events. Mike Taylor was able to move into an early lead, but he was soon passed by Mike Conkwright. Conkwright, along with the other top cars ran the low side which seemed to be the line of choice.
With everyone on the inside, Kelly Brown was able to take advantage as he found his line on the high side and put together a surprising run. Moving past Dave Conkwright and Mike Taylor, he took over the second position. Brown then set his sights on Mike Conkwright who continued to run the low line.
Brown was able to take the lead momentarily, but a caution put Conkwright back in front. Seeing that the fast line was now on the high side, Conkwright moved up forcing Brown to follow in second. Hard contact was then made between Brown and third place Dave Conkwright bringing out the caution.
Brown would continue, but would finish eighth. Conkwright was not able to continue. With the second and third place cars out of the picture, Mike Conkwright took advantage and flew to the win.
In the modifieds, point leader Kerry Davis was able to take the win as he moved into the lead from his seventh row starting position. Davis was able to take advantage of timely cautions along with a few good moves as he quickly moved to the front.
After taking over second, Davis then looked towards current leader Travis Patch. Davis was able to gain the lead using a slingshot move off the corners and driving to the inside, but a caution put Patch back out front.
Trying to protect his lead, Patch moved a little lower on the track allowing Davis in his powerful Dirtworks modified to fly by on the high side. Davis would go unchallenged as he led the rest of the race for the win.
Devin Stock held off challenges from Brad Hill in the Pony Stocks to take the win, and Jim Still led wire to wire in the Cruisers for the victory. The Superstock and the Factory Stock features were rained out and will be made up before the races on August 24, when the TORA Late Models also visit Thunderhill. Gates will open at 5 p.m.; races start at 7:30.