WHEELERSBURG, OHIO-From wild wrecks to incredible feats, in every racing season there are moments that happen that lead you to say, “I can’t believe what I just saw.” Southern Ohio Speedway is a track that has always been known to have a higher than average number of “I can’t believe what I just saw” moments, and the 2012 season certainly didn’t disappoint in that regard. So, without further delay, let’s take a look at the five biggest “I can’t believe what I just saw” moments from 2012!
#5. Eric Dennison’s Bad Luck Streak
2012 GCP Engines Sport Mod track champion had an incredible season in 2012. Dennison was the man to beat all season long, racking up more wins than any other driver in the class. But as the season began to wind down, Dennison ran into a bad luck streak that saw two of the most wicked crashes we’ve seen in the new-era of SOS. It all started on Friday, August 10th when Dennison experienced steering problems in the heat race, forcing him to retire from his heat. Unfortunately, the problems reoccured in the feature, causing Dennison to slam the inside guardrail on the frontstretch head on. The impact was so hard it destroyed the guardrail and caused Dennison’s car to burst into a huge fireball. Thankfully, Dennison walked away uninjured.
With a scheduled month long break, the Dennison team had time to put a new car together for the September 14th event. Dennison was fast once again in this event as he was involved in a close battle for the lead with George Caldwell. In the closing laps of the race, Caldwell hooked a rut, causing his car to spin into Dennison. The impact with Dennison’s car then caused Dennison to slam the turn four concrete wall head on in an absolutely vicious wreck. Thankfully, Dennison walked away uninjured again. The two hard wrecks in consecutive races led race fans to say “I can’t believe what I just saw!”
*Fast forward to the 10:25 mark of the above video to see Dennison’s second wreck.*
#4. Jimmy Stinson Sets Track Record
When the OVSCA 410 Sprint Cars rolled into town on Friday, August 10th, they were treated to an extremely tacky racing surface. This led to much anticipation in the hours prior to hot laps of what kind of lap times we might see. When time trials rolled out, the lap times just about knocked everybody out of their seats as Jimmy Stinson came out and set a new track record with a lap time of 14.125 at an average speed of over 125 mph. To put that into perspective, fast time for the 2011 OVSCA 410 Sprint Car show was in the mid 15 second range and the Late Model track record is the low 16 seond range. This led race fans to say “I can’t believe what I just saw!”
#3. Crazy Late Model Feature on September 14th
The craziest Late Model race in the new-era of SOS was no doubt on September 14th. The feature started with an incredible battle for the lead between 70 year old SOS Hall of Famer Delmas Conley and Jackie Boggs. It appeared the race would come down to these two drivers until with 10 laps to go a lap car made contact with Conley, causing enough damage to force Conley to pull off the track. When the race resumed, it appeared that Boggs had broken shock. This allowed Shannon Thornsberry to go by Boggs for the lead. Boggs didn’t give up though, and began to mount a challenge back on Thornsberry for the lead. With seven laps to go, contact was made while the two battled for the lead, resulting in Thornsberry taking a head on hit into the turn 4 concrete wall. Thornsberry thankfully walked away without serious injury.
When the race resumed, Rod Conley was able to pass Boggs, Boggs pulled off the track, and Conley came across the checkers to claim his first new-era SOS feature win. To add to the craziness, Paul Davis who had to to go to the tail in an early race caution, charged all the way back up to finish second. This race left fans walking to their vehicles after the races saying “I can’t believe what I just saw.”
#2. Shannon Thornsberry’s Incredible Save
Every race track has it’s “trouble spots” that gets drivers in trouble. At SOS, it’s the exit of turn 2. The cars running the high side get a huge shot out of the corner, causing drivers to occassionally go over the banking. Most of the time when that happens a driver has to roll completely out of the throttle or usually gets in big trouble. This happened to Shannon Thornsberry in the Late Model dash on September 14th when he went off the bank while battling with Greggie Oliver. As soon as Thornsberry went off the banking the car began to lift like it was going to barrel roll, but Thornsberry stayed in the gas and somehow made a miraculous save to stay in the dash and later lead laps in the feature event that night! This left race fans saying “I can’t believe what I just saw.”
*Fast forward to the 1:30 mark of the video above to see the incredible save.*
#1. Luke Jordan Launches Off The Banking
The number one “I can’t believe what I just saw” moment is something that will no doubt be talked about for many, many years around regional dirt tracks. It was one of those moments that will forever be etched into Southern Ohio Speedway lore. During Jordan Heating & Cooling UMP Modified hot laps on May 18th, 18 year old Luke Jordan experienced a racers worst fear, a stuck throttle as he entered turn one. This caused Jordan’s car to literally launch off the turn one banking, fly through trees (taking one of them down in the process), and into the neighboring field! It was a frightening crash, just like something out of a video game. Thankfully, Jordan walked away uninjured and returned to win a feature on September 29th and finish second in the point standings. This moment had race fans saying for a long time “I can’t believe what I just saw.”
2012 was an incredible season that was full of lots of exciting moments! A note of interest is that 4 of the 5 “I can’t believe what I just saw” moments came after the new track prep procedures were in place. With those track prep procedures the norm every week in 2013, there’s no doubt that 2013 will be a season full of even more exciting moments and great races!