Last fall in Memphis, Fredonia’s Doug Lynden experienced the greatest win light that he never got to see. Despite the electronic glitch, Lynden emerged as the International Hot Rod Association’s (IHRA) Super Rod class World Champion during the drama filled weekend that concluded with a pressure packed triumph in the final round of eliminations.
Lynden is a veteran area drag racer who competes locally at both Lancaster National Speedway and Dragway as well as Empire Dragway in nearby Leicester when he is not on the road pursuing his drag racing dreams.
Last October, IHRA held its Summit World Finals at Memphis International Raceway. The event is the concluding race of the season-long Summit Pro-Am Tour, which features competition within the nine regional divisions of IHRA. Drivers compete throughout the season in as many Pro-Am races as they wish with their five best results counting toward their divisional championship. The nine division champions then advance to race at Memphis for the IHRA world championship honors of their respective classes.
In 2015, Lynden, buoyed by a win and a semifinal finish in twin races at Empire along with another semifinal result in Pittsburgh, emerged as the Division I champion, which punched his entry ticket to the Summit World Finals. He ran eight Division I and two Division 2 Pro Am events to determine his five best results.
He remembers his Summit World Finals final round victory well.
“I was racing Nick Akoury out of Cleveland in the final at Memphis and he is a good racer,” said Lynden, who drives a 1927 Ford Roadster. “We both got down the track in a close race and when we crossed the finish line, I looked further down track at the scoreboard to see which lane win light came on and much to my surprise neither lane’s win light came on. It turned out to be an electronics problem, I guess.
“So as I slowed the car down and came to a stop, I had no idea of whether I won or not until an official came up to my car instead of Nick’s and congratulated me.”
The win light problem was not the biggest problem Lynden encountered at Memphis. Early mechanical setbacks plagued his test and qualifying runs. Ironically, rain saved the weekend for Lynden.
“After taking 16 hours to drive to Memphis, I made a couple of test passes on Thursday of the event and the car was not doing what it was supposed to be doing at all,” said Lynden, who is sponsored by Jan-Cen Racing Engines and Whichcraft Creations. “I checked out the problem and found out I had vacuum pump problems. That is a longer repair job. On Friday, I made a qualifying pass and it was no better. Than the rains came, which saw all the on-track stuff stopped and it gave me the time I needed.
“I was able to track down a racer who had a pump that I needed and I bought it from him and had the time to put it in. After that, the car ran great.”
For good measure, Lynden defeated Steve Furr, one of the greatest IHRA racers nationally, in the semifinal at Memphis.
Lynden, 44, began drag racing while in high school and has had an on-and-off again driving career. He has been back in the sport the last six years or so. He finished second in Lancaster’s Top ET class weekly season points battle a couple of years ago. He plans to travel more in 2016 including some NHRA events but will still make driving appearances at Lancaster and Empire when time allows.
Lancaster’s 2016 IHRA weekly drag racing point season opener is set for Friday at 7 p.m.
For 50 years, until his retirement in 2011, Ron Williams campaigned his “Evil 1” numbered stock cars throughout the Western New York area. By his own account, he is an eight-time Wyoming County International Speedway champion as well as a two-time champion at Holland Motorsports Complex.
His name and face are easily recognizable to veteran local auto racing fans. Williams suffered a recent stroke and is recovering at Buffalo General Medical Center. He is currently undergoing rehab which will continue after his expected release from the hospital later this week.
“I’m getting better and I should be getting out of this hospital soon,” said Williams of Lancaster. “It’s improving every day. I sure appreciate all the people who have visited me, made phone calls to me or sent cards. I will have some more rehab to go through but I hope to get back to watching the races and seeing everyone real soon.”
Williams also currently serves as a trustee with the Friends of Auto Racing (FOAR Score) Fan Club.
Holland sets format
Holland Speedway announced this past offseason it was dropping the NASCAR Pro Modifieds as its premier NASCAR weekly division and named the replacement premier NASCAR class there for 2016 as the NASCAR Pro Chargers. This past week, Holland released more information on the NASCAR Pro Charger 2016 schedule.
The NASCAR Pro Chargers will run six 25-lap “Twin Race” nights for the class at Holland with the remaining seven events being single feature race nights. Additionally, the NASCAR Pro Chargers will run a 50-lap segment of the Busch 100 on Sept. 3. The other 50-lap segment of the Busch 100 will feature competition from the Hornet class.
“We will continue to evaluate the success of the six ‘Twin Race’ nights throughout the course of the season, and increase or decrease the number based on driver and fan feedback,” said Holland General Manager Tim Bennett.
Holland opens its 57th season with a “Twin Race” May 28.
Ransomville Speedway will open its dirt track stock car campaign Friday, under the new Atwal family ownership. Numerous improvements have been made in recent months, including new merchandise stands, additional VIP suites, a media booth, a new track surface, an improved parking lot driveway and a new track office.