Auto Racing: Legends Division at Illiana Speedway down in numbers
By Tony Baranek email@example.com May 15, 2014 8:26PM
Stan Zolodz IV (33) has Paul Shafer Sr. on the outside and Ben Fidone (3) behind him during a Legends division race Saturday at Illiana Speedway. | Goodaker Photography/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 17, 2014 2:34PM
Ben Fidone gave what we can only hope is the right answer as to why there were just four Legends cars on hand Saturday at Illiana Speedway.
“I think everybody is not ready just yet,” the six-year veteran of the division said. “I’m not hearing anything (negative). This is only the second night. But last year we had more than this.”
Legends are 5/8-scale fiberglass copies of American cars from the 1930s and ’40s (coupes, sedans). They’re powered by motorcycle engines, and cost in the area of about $8,000. They run on the quarter-mile track at Illiana.
The neat thing about Legends cars, according to Fidone, is that they’re not only affordable to buy, they’re also affordable to run.
“Everything you run lasts all year,” he said. “We’re not buying tires every Saturday. You run the same set of tires all year.”
Legends were popular when they debuted at Illiana in 2008, with a steady increase in season car counts from 35 to 40 to 42. There were just 25, however, in 2013.
Saturday’s field consisted of 13-year-old Stan Zolodz IV, racing veteran Paul Shafer Sr., Fidone and late-model regular Jeff Cannon. Jacob Melvin was there for opening night but didn’t return Saturday.
Illiana promoter Mike Mikuly said he’d heard some drivers were at a Legends event in Wisconsin on Saturday. That still shouldn’t result in just four cars. Time for a pulse check.
One of the Legends Division veterans, three-time and defending champion Chris King, has moved up to the late-model division at Illiana, driving for Stan Zolodz.
Saturday, King celebrated his first checkered flag, holding off a challenge from Jeff Cannon in the fast heat.
“It felt great,” King, 34, said. “And to have Jeff Cannon right behind me, my best friend, was awesome.”
“Stan called me up at the end of last season and asked me if I wanted to drive a late-model for him,” King said. “I said, ‘Sure,’ and it’s worked out great. Jeff (Cannon) has helped me out a tremendous amount, along with the whole (Dave) Govert crew.
“It’s a blast. We’ve still got some work to do on the car, but we’re learning.”
Mike White seems to be dialed in early this season in the late-model class at Illiana. The five-time track champion finished third on opening night in his No. 00, and was third Saturday in the Ray Wroblewski-owned No. 14.
“The car was real good, we just didn’t know what it needed (early on),” White said. “It took me about 20 laps to figure out how to drive it. Then we were OK. It was a good first night for us in this car.
“Just like last week with the other car, we didn’t hot lap. It was the first time out for both of them. Both cars are good, but this one was good (Saturday). I just wish we could do it all over again and I’d make one small adjustment. But we got what we got.”
This ’n that: The rock-’em, sock-’em two-man turbo stox battle Saturday had winner Eddie Ligue smiling, but Chris Woodall not so much. All is quiet now on the rivalry front, though. “Basically just Eddie and I talked about it and both agreed it was a little too rough,” Woodall said. “At least we put on a good show for the fans.” ... Illiana turbo stox competitor Bobbie Jean Wall will be out eventually, but not full-time. “I love racing, but the drama is just too much,” she said. “I’m going to do some things (this summer) that I haven’t done, but I’ll definitely be at the track sometime.”