For the third consecutive year, Rick Wylie's name will be on the NASCAR Late Model championship trophy when Holland Speedway officials hold their annual awards banquet Nov. 14.
Art Clark is the only other driver to win three consecutive Holland Late Model crowns. Clark did it twice. Wylie drives the Fullone Trucking/Hamburg Overhead Door/McQuillen Racing Engines entry for owner Vince Fullone.
"Our whole team had a satisfying year," said Wylie, who owns six Holland Late Model titles in the last 10 years. "When you do something that only one other person has done before it becomes more special. Of course, Art has raced for about 45 years and me for only 20."
Wylie had to fight George Skora, Clark and Vern and Mark Bliss this year for the points title.
"The competition was tough this year," Wylie said. "We won the first race, but then had a couple of DNF's. We had to fight back and got the point lead back about midseason. We took it to the end.
"Our whole car was great, but once again our Carl McQuillen motor was strong. This was the third straight year we ran one of his engines and had no motor problems whatsoever."
Wylie also gave credit to his team's engine specialists, Denny and Dave Newell, as well as the entire Fullone team.
The car that Wylie won with is about nine years old and Wylie joked that he will pester Fullone this winter for a brand new car.
"I can hope for a new car, but if we bring back the old reliable car then that's fine too."
Wylie also won the U.S. Open NASCAR-type Late Model race at Lancaster Speedway for the fourth time last Sunday.
The Fullone team also fielded a NASCAR Pro-Truck at Holland this season. In his only time behind the wheel of the truck, Wylie won the race. Vince Fullone's 16-year-old son, Sam Fullone, was the regular driver and also won a race.
For the record, Clark won the Bud 100 at Holland on Labor Day weekend. The statement in Monday's WNY Auto Racing that Wylie won it was incorrect.
Freedom expands oval
For the third time since 1989, Freedom Raceway management has enlarged the size of its dirt track oval.
Co-promoters Dan Hoffmann and Larry Watson have the project nearly complete.
"We've enlarged the track from a small third-mile to a large third-mile oval," Hoffmann said. "The total track length has gone from 1,730 feet to 2,100. We've also widened the turns from 55 to 65 feet."
Freedom laid dormant until Hoffmann bought the Delavan facility in 1989 and expanded the size for the first time in 1991. He further expanded in 1993, the same year that Watson came aboard as co-promoter.
"We had a good year at Freedom," Hoffmann reports. "Our car count was only down by about five cars but we dropped a whole class from our lineup since last year. So that was fine."
Hoffmann said the track needs an increase in attendance from this year's 400-500 per show.
"We're full steam ahead planning for 1998," he said. "I think fans will like our bigger track layout."
Around the tracks
Team Lancaster Dragway traveled to the Sears Craftsman ET Bracket Championships last weekend in Reading, Pa., and finished 19th out of 20 teams. . . . Pat Vaughan placed third out of 20 motorcycles in the Bike Race of Champions at Reading. Dick Montgomery went five rounds in Super class eliminations there. . . . Lancaster hosts drag racing Friday at 7:30 p.m.