Bash? What does the word mean to you? Is it a noun that only describes an event with people? Is it a verb? The English language is fickle. Why is it that bashful means shy? Bash is an action, an action that couldn’t be questioned at Dillon Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon.
The New Years Bash yesterday, held the same year that the Hollywood movie “Mad Max” was set in, ended with many cars ended up mangled and it may have been one of the most destructive, disagreeable, and entertaining “bashes” that western civilization could have ever produced.
At 11am eastern standard time, warm sunlight shined on the competitors from all classes at Dillon Motor Speedway. Track owner/promoter Ron Barfield had some unique advice for the brave souls willing to strap into a racecar.
“Don’t strap your helmet too tight,” Barfield joked in the driver’s meeting. “Don’t cut off circulation to the brain.”
Barfield gave this advice in all good conscience to the Street Stock, Mini-Stock, Charger, & U-Car fields that were set to run during the first race of the 2021 season in the PeeDee region of South Carolina. By the end of the night, it was evident that the drivers either didn’t hear him or didn’t care.
The two 25-lap Street Stock B-mains transferred the top three drivers desperate for a shot into the show. Chaos and calamity would be the theme of the night. The yellow flag waved again and again. If the B mains were any indicator the leader of most of the first B-main Robert Philipiak was sent into the wall. Brandon Brown and many others crashed, Justine Somero had a heartbreaking crash in an attempt to make the show. Todd Anderson and Sonny Schoffen would win their respective B-main races.
The main event was pushed well into the night. Temperatures careened into the mid-30s calling the track to become slick and untamed. The race followed a gripping and equally destructive Mini Stock race won by Cody Leblanc followed by runner-up AJ Sanders, that left Sanders upset over a late-race move and Leblanc carrying the trophy back to Berlin, NH.
The wrecker was put to work over the course of the event almost as much as the flagman and so much so that the wrecker ran out of fuel late in the evening. Some drivers that were involved in crashes finished in the top 10 but nearly every driver had his share of “bash” worthy moments during the race.
Mark Swan raced his way in through the B-mains and took eighth in the feature, Josh Way, in a beautiful Tim Richmond throwback scheme, was a multi-caution offender. Under a yellow flag, he and Larry Isenhower played a game of burnout chicken. They made contact and were both parked by the officials.
The front runner of the “Mad Max” Bash was the unscathed and shiny bodywork of pole winner, Bobbie Tumbleston III. After the break on lap 63, the double ought (00) buckshot car could put a pretty decent gap on the field and was never really challenged for the win.
With three to go, a hard-charging Austin Somero got loose in turn three and took out multi-time defending New Years Bash champion, Gary Ledbetter Jr., in the throwback PEAK #32 car. The favorite and the hard charger were knocked out of the race but it was such a war of attrition, that they still finished in the top 15.
Behind Tumbleston at the finish was a pair of Locklair’s with Ricky, Jr. finishing second and Wayne third. AJ Hyatt, who brought a legion of supporters from around town as a Dillon, SC local finished ahead of 53 Street Stock competitors from all over the country. Multi-generational driver, Frankie Kimmel, son of 10-time ARCA Menards Series champion Frank Kimmel brought it home fifth.
The race was a fiasco, but Dillon Motor Speedway was the perfect venue for scores to be settled, for throwback cars and paint schemes congealed with modern technology. The Street Stock event was an epic showdown that won’t soon be forgotten.
Top Ten Finishers:
1 – #00 Bobbie Tumbleston III
2 – #12 Ricky Locklair, Jr.
3 – #56 Wayne Locklair
4 – #27 AJ Hyatt
5 – #32 Frankie Kimmel
6 – #6r Jimmy Renfrow
7 – #27 Jeff Sparks
8 – #85 Mark Swan
9 – #35 Alby Ovitt
10 – #50 Rick Locklair
Cover photo by Bridger Swinimer @bicubis