- Ada, Oklahoma

July 10, 2013

Fans flock to watch enduro race

Jeff Cali Sports Editor

Oil Center —

I tried to get Oklahoma Sports Park Chief Executive Officer George Welch to tell me I was part of the biggest crowd in the history of the local dirt track during the June 29 enduro race that also featured a motocross performance by Oklahoma’s own Derek Cook.

But he was reluctant to go that far.

“It would rank in the top five for sure,” Welch said.

I don’t get to attend the races at the ever-improving OSP as much as I would like because of my work schedule. But I’d be willing to try and take a bite out of my Oklahoma City Thunder hat if Welch and company have squeezed more folks in the stands than there were two Saturdays ago.

I walked from one end of the stands to the other, and there were very few empty spaces big enough to fit even a medium-sized person into.

The place was rockin’ early in the enduro race and late during the motocross stunts by Cook and one of his colleagues. The two put on a show, despite one of their portable bank of lights going out just before showtime. Cook’s best effort was his complete backflip on his motorcycle as he went off the low ramp and landed on the higher one.

The 150-lap enduro race is a beast. The next longest race that the OSP hosts is the 50-lap Stock Car Nationals. Normal weekly feature races are just 20 laps. OSP videographer Coy Cypert admitted that his arms ached after filming the 90-minute-plus race with only one break.

The best action in the race came early. There were two memorable crashes. I got to witness the first up close and personal when the No. 7 car driven by James Wilson crashed hard into the wall directly in front of the concession stand while I was diving into my Frito pie.

A few laps later, Paul Owens' No. 25 car was obliterated near the flagstand. Usually during an enduro race, they don’t stop for anything. If a car gets stalled on the track, other racers have to maneuver around it. But this wreck was bad enough that OSP officials rushed to the scene to make sure Owens was OK. And he was.

 By lap 60, only 22 of the 40-plus enduro entrants were still standing ... er, driving ... and only 15 remained by lap 116.

The winner, driving car No. 29, was Jeremy Wilson. He was clearly the best of the bunch — and maybe the luckiest — on this day. When he pulled up to the flagstand to celebrate his victory, his car caught fire.

Rounding out the top five were Cody Cosby (2), James New (10), Daniel Wilson (5) and Bryan Schutte (19).

Welch said the enduro-motocross combo. along with a fantastic fireworks display to end the night, helped build the huge crowd.

“We had lots of people and lots of entertainment and lots of fun. It went real well. I’m just tickled to death. We’re going to have to do this again,” he said. “We might have to start bringing in something different more often.”

If he does, he might have to add even more seating.