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WNY Auto Racing by Larry Ott: DuClon Memorial rife with prestige

Wellsville native Bruce Miller realized a year ago the prestige of winning the annual Mike “Duke” DuClon Memorial 360 Late Model race at Little Valley Speedway. Liking what he felt that night last May, Miller returns to Little Valley Sunday seeking to defend his DuClon title as part of the Cattaraugus County Fairgrounds dirt track’s season opener.

“The DuClon Memorial is one of the more prestigious races in our class that you can win and the special feeling I felt last year in Victory Lane after I won it was something I won’t forget,” said the 41-year-old two-time Little Valley 360 Late Model champion. “I’d love to feel it again. What makes it special is having known so many people that knew Mike and so many of his friends he had, particularly Todd Hanson.”

Mike “Duke” DuClon, a former racer and car fabricator, is considered the “Father of the Super Stocks,” which race on dirt and in recent years have been renamed 360 Late Models. DuClon worked at Close Racing Supply from 2004 through 2008. In 2004, McKean County Raceway Limited Late Model rules changed and allowed the utilization of stock stubs in the front of a Late Model chassis.

DuClon was the first to cut off the front clip of a GRT Late Model frame and replace it with a Camaro front stub. DuClon’s design worked, and about 200 cars were built to that spec. Cars still are fitted to the concept that DuClon developed back in 2004.

DuClon died Aug. 28, 2013 after a long battle with cancer. His presence in the local racing community has been missed and his memory is being honored Sunday by family, friends and Little Valley Speedway officials for the third consecutive year.

DuClon was the son of longtime area race officials Gary and Sharon DuClon.

“When Mike used to work for Ed Carley working on the cars there I got to know him. And then after that when he got his full-time job at Close Racing, I kept up with him over there. The car I drive now I’m sure he had a hand in working on when he first got his job at Close.

“My car was first owned by the Edwards family and driven by Eric Edwards. Then my family got the car and my brother Andy drove it and later my father Dave drove it and now I drive it.”

Miller’s schedule for 2016 includes weekly racing at Woodhull Raceway and the specials at other tracks, including Little Valley.

“There’s not a lot of 360 Late Model racing left around here,” said Miller. “I think the class is being phased out by the Crate Late Models.

“Woodhull and Genesee Speedway in Batavia are the tracks that run the class weekly and they both run on Saturdays. The old BRP Can-Am series is gone. I’ve driven in this class since I first began race driving 17 years ago. I still enjoy it and for some reason even though I’ve had different cars, engines and other combinations I’ve always done well at Little Valley. It’s just one of those things.

“We’re running at Woodhull this coming Saturday and as long as we don’t get into any problems we will be at Little Valley Sunday and looking for another DuClon win.

The DuClon Memorial will pay $1,558 to the winner.

Holland triple crown

Holland Motorsports Complex officials announced last week the formation of the Sunoco Pro Modified Triple Crown that will commence during Holland’s 57th season opener Saturday. If any driver can win Saturday’s 50-lapper along with races on July 9 and the George Decker Memorial 75 on July 30, that driver will earn a bonus of $10,000. A prize of $5,000 awaits any competitor who can win two of the three events. The maximum bonus that any one driver can win in the three-race series is $10,000.

“This is an exciting promotion for both race teams and fans,” said Holland General Manager Tim Bennett. “We looked for something exciting to jump start the season and we feel this adds to the excitement that is building for our 57th annual opener.”

Quick Vic

Speeds on the new concrete drag strip at Lancaster National Speedway and Dragway continue to increase as teams gain better knowledge of the surface.

Last Friday, Quick 16 competitor Vic Puglia made the fastest pass on the new surface, covering the one-eighth mile in 4.22 seconds at 168 miles per hour.

WCIS to try again

After suffering an opening-day rainout last Saturday, Wyoming County International Speedway will attempt to throw the first green flag of the 2016 campaign with a $1,000-to-win, 40-lap SST Modified special on Saturday.

Priorities

Despite arriving at Lancaster late last Saturday and missing both practice and his qualifying heat, Kevin Bainbridge was able to charge from the rear of the 15-car 4-Cylinder field to record his third consecutive triumph of the season at the track. In Victory Lane, Bainbridge explained his tardy arrival.

“I had to attend my daughter’s dance recital so I got here late due to that,” he said. “You don’t miss something like that or I’d be haunted for the rest of my life!”

Rudolph wins

For the second consecutive year, Erick Rudolph won the Brian Stevens Memorial 100 Monday inn the 358 Modified Super DIRt.car Series Monday at Merrittville Speedway. Danny Johnson was second. Rudolph also claimed the weekly DIRT.car 358 Modified headliner last Friday at Ransomville Speedway.

email: lawrence_o_14075@yahoo.com