Mason, MI (Wednesday, July 28, 2021) - 21 of the open wheeled Modifieds would be on grounds for a Wednesday night special at the Corrigan Oil Speedway. The first time a mid week special had occurred at the ¼ mile oval in several decades. In addition to the Wednesday night special, the night was also a tribute to Charlie Ryan Jr., a long time competitor at the Corrigan Oil Speedway who was known for his Hard Charging ways. Because of this, all nine starters were offered the opportunity to give up their starting position to take the tail of the field for a potential $600 bonus, in addition to the $1500 already on the line for a victory. Three drivers would take the challenge, with a returning Tim Ryan, Bubba Brooks, and Jason Parish electing to take the challenge.
Albion, Michigan driver Walt Obrinske Jr., who leads the Howard Hanna Real Estate Executives Modifieds Challenge Series standings would start things off from the pole. Obrinske had already picked up several high profile checkered flags over the grind of the 2021 season picking up the Wild Child 75 at Corrigan as well as the Lloyd Gearhart Memorial 45 at nearby Springport Mid-Michigan Speedway.
Obrinske would set the pace in the early running, while 2017 Track Champion Aaron Taylor from Jackson, Michigan would give chase. But Taylor would soon have his hands full with one of the most successful drivers in Modified racing in the tri-state area, Brian Nester. The Hamilton, Indiana veteran would haunt Taylor for several laps, before finally overcoming the young driver. For his part, Taylor would suffer some issues and be forced to pull off under a caution, but would quickly return, leaving him to fight his way back from the back.
At this point, the two of the three drivers who took the Charlie Ryan Jr. Hard Charger Challenge were struggling. Jason Parish who leads the tracks weekly Modifieds division standings would suffer a broken spindle that would put him out of the race. While Tim Ryan would be marred in the back of the field caught up in several of the incidents that would put the field under the yellow flag.
Up front, it would remain Obrinske showing the way, while Nester lurked in his tracks. However, as the field finally got some green flag laps under their belt another challenger would emerge, 2016 Top Speed Modified Tour Northern Champion Mike Occhipinti would start showing some great pace, and would even briefly challenge Nester for the runner up position, before another rash of cautions would stymie the Dearborn, Michigan pilot.
Bubba Brooks, the remaining driver who took the Hard Charger challenge would end up starting 19th when all was sorted, drove his way from the back of the field up into the top five. Brooks would spend several laps racing incredibly hard with Occhipinti and a resilient Aaron Taylor in the rear portion of the top five in the closing stages of the race.
Meanwhile, a race had heated up for the lead between Nester and Obrinske, with the two crafty veterans both emptying their bag of tricks to try to be the one standing in victory lane at the end. Finally on lap 33 Nester would inch ahead of Obrinske, where he would remain for the rest of the race.
“I had to race [...] the wheels off of it to get by Walt,” An exhausted Nester said in victory lane.
For all his efforts, Obrinske would finish ahead of Brooks, who would be awarded the Hard Charger Bonus, advancing from 19th on the grid to finish a strong third. Occhipinti hung on to fourth over Taylor, who had driven from the back to the front after exiting the track at one point.
Heat race wins were claimed by Nester, Norm Taylor, and Occhipinti. The Modified division will be back in action at Corrigan Oil Speedway on Friday July 30.
Story - Chris Fobbe, Horsepower Happenings
Photo - Jim DenHamer