Stories

NICK SCHWIEN • Hays Daily News Tyler Frye wheels his Northern sport mod during a heat race Aug. 24 at RPM Speedway in Hays.

NICK SCHWIEN • Hays Daily News Mike Petersilie powers through turn one during a modified heat race July 30 during Mod Mania at RPM Speedway in Hays.

Racers ready to lay it all on the line in Iowa

By NICK SCHWIEN

nschwien@dailynews.net

The memories of 2010 still are fresh in the mind of Tyler Frye.

So, too, are the memories of 2011.

The Northern sport mod driver is hoping this year's trip to the 31st annual IMCA Super Nationals in Boone, Iowa, is similar to the trip three years ago -- not the one two years ago.

"We'd like to have a successful week," said Frye, a regular at RPM Speedway in Hays who lives in Belleville. "It all depends on the draw, though."

With hundreds of drivers competing during this week's six nights of racing, the draw for lineup positions in heat races will be crucial.

Frye had good luck with it in 2010, when he started at the front and qualified for the sport mod big show on opening day. Frye and perennial power Jesse Sobbing both started deep in that night's qualifying feature and made their way through the pack.

Sobbing eventually won the race, with Brett Meyer -- who won the 2010 Super Nationals sport mod title -- second and Frye third.

That qualified Frye for the big dance right away.

"It got really, really slick, and we drove by everybody," said Frye, who leads the sport mod standings at RPM Speedway in Hays with only one race remaining. "That was one of the best races of my life."

Frye went on to finish sixth in that weekend's sport mod feature, and he won the Race of Champions that season at Boone.

A year later, he struggled in Iowa, working his way into a transfer position for the main event before being involved in a wreck. It showed him the difference a year can make at the track.

"You don't just need one really good run at that place,"  Frye said. "You need five or 10 really."

Frye will be part of the annual races that draw nearly a thousand drivers in the different classes throughout the week. Hobby stocks and sport mods make up the majority of the races Monday and Tuesday, then wrap up qualifying Wednesday. Stock cars and modifieds begin Wednesday and have final qualifying events Saturday afternoon, prior to the main features in each of the four classes.

Late models compete Monday, and sport compacts race Tuesday.

"It's pretty much a whole week of racing,"  Frye said. "Sometimes it almost seems like it's too much racing for us. It's cool seeing something that can get that many race cars together at one time."

The week of racing is perhaps the biggest dirt-track event in the U.S. Drivers come from nearly every state and Canada to compete.

"It's our Daytona 500,"  sport mod driver Brenden Damon said. "Most of them are done racing. Points are all wrapped up. It's throw it out there and go. ... That's the mentality you have to go into every corner with."

Damon and the rest of Xtreme Motorsports will be on site all week, including having a vendor spot with a new 1st Class Chassis they produce.

"It's all about luck up there,"  Damon said. "And starting spot. Of course, it's a win if you just even make the feature on Saturday, I think. For myself, I consider it a victory to race on Wednesday by having just enough points. We go up there and look to have fun, not try to worry about winning. It will be a good week."

Modified driver Mike Petersilie will have to wait a few days to begin competing, but he's ready for the opportunity to compete against the nation's best.

"I'd love to make the show,"  Petersilie said. "That's all that matters -- just making the show. We'll be ready. It will be fun."