Rain’s interference with race at Brandon Park mild

Saturday’s portion of the 17th annual Red Cross Susquehanna 500 Mini-Indy race at Brandon Park had to be moved up because of rain, but organizers managed to get all the practices and qualifying heats in before the heaviest rainfall moved in, said Joe Hutchinson, long-time race coordinator.

“We shortened the practice sessions from 20 minutes to 15 minutes and so far most of the cars haven’t had difficulty with that,” Hutchinson said Saturday morning. “We had to have qualifying runs earlier than normal,” he added.

By 1:30 p.m., the Saturday events were ahead of schedule, and Hutchinson said he anticipated being finished for the day by 3 p.m.

“It looks like we will run Sunday’s races Sunday,” he said. But a wet track could have an impact on speeds.

“With just a sprinkle during the morning practice runs, it caused cars on the wetter track surface to be eight to 10 seconds slower than those that raced on the dry track earlier in the day,” he said.

Hutchinson, who also is a member of the Blaise Alexander team, which had two cars in the stock class, saw one of his cars get into a wreck early in the practice rounds Saturday, but it was before the slight drizzle wet down the track.

Driver Roy Dixon said because the car just had new brakes put on it, he said going into a corner, he “tapped the brakes,” but probably stayed on them a bit too long and ended up sliding around the curve, which in turn flipped the No. 6 car completely over, breaking off the steering wheel, he said.

The car had to be pushed off the track, and Dixon walked away, but said he had “a bit of a roadrash,” and also noted that he probably wouldn’t really feel it until Sunday.

He also said the car would probably be fixed in time to race today.

Blaise Alexander’s other car had a “minor glitch” early on, Hutchinson said, with its steering linkage, but because the cars are “not super sophisticated” most teams are “fully prepared” to meet any challenges.

Red Cross North Central Pennsylvania Chapter Executive Thomas Szulanczyk said this is the first year he has been the race, which has been a major fundraiser for the Red Cross for 17 years.

“Although it is a fun event, it is put together each year by tons of volunteers who make this happen,” he said.

One of those volunteers is Bill Bradshaw, 89 of Mansfield, who has been helping out with officiating for 15 years.

Bradshaw said he and Mini-Indy founder George Fetzer were very close friends and Fetzer asked him if he wanted to volunteer about two years after it started. This is the second year the Staiman Recycling Corp. team has had a car in the event, said Theresa Hill, team member.

Hill said the sponsor pays the fee, and bought spare parts and equipment for the car, but the sponsor has to provide helmets and safety equipment purchase the car and make any modifications needed, but in order to be in the stock class, “the engines have to be unmodified.”

“The big thing is having the sponsorship,” Hill added.

The tentative schedule for today (Sunday) is to begin warm-ups at 8 a.m., with the three feature races of 20 laps each beginning at 9:30 a.m., two stock feature races and one modified feature race, a break for lunch at 11:30 a.m. and then the final races afterwards.

The consolation race is set to be run first at noon, followed by the modified championship, stock championship and hardship races, wrapping up with an awards ceremony at 2:30 p.m.