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2008 MMRA Grand National Race - West
Mission Valley Speedway - Polson, Montana
September 13, 2008


Aerial Photo courtesy of Byington Airlines


MMRA's first trip to the state of Montana was a great experience.  The staff at Mission Valley Speedway was excited to have our cars visit their facility, and our racers enjoyed the unique tri-oval layout.  Several drivers remarked they had a new favorite track after their first round of practice.  The weather was perfect for racing, and the stage was set for a great finish to our 2008 season.

In qualifying fast times were as follows:

Future Stars - Brent Curran - 19.488
Jr. PRO - Cameron Hayley - 16.636
PRO - Troy Vandenbilche - 16.30

At the East Grand National race, many drivers stepped up to help out Tyler Luttrull in his recovery from cancer.  Not to be outdone, the Canadians came up with a unique challenge.  If Troy Vandenbilche would start at the tail of the field and still win the race, they would give Tyler the $958 they gathered from their drivers. They joined several racers who also donated their MMRA purse to Tyler.  In the race, Vandenbilche drove the wheels of the car, but came up short of a win.  With a big smile, the Canadians said - "Give Tyler the money anyway".  The total raised at the event then was $1798 - $840 in purse money, and $958 from the Canadian Baby Grand teams.

The Future Stars feature was a long 50 laps, and with only six cars it wasn't the most exciting - until the last lap.  Brent Curran had led from the green flag, with John Bowman slowly falling behind.  With about 5 laps to go, Brent came up behind a slower car and started following him - not realizing that John was coming.  Going down the backstretch on the white flag lap Brent went high, and John went low with the slower car in the middle.  They battled through the last turn side by side with John edging Brent by a nose.  It was an amazing finish that proves you should never give up.  John Bowman led only about one quarter of a lap, but it was the last quarter and that was all that mattered.  Best of all, running caution free, earned all the kids the DBV Caution Free bonus of $50.

The Junior PRO and PRO Divisions were run together on the track and it proved to be the best show of the night.  Sixteen cars took the green flag and it was door to door, fender banging action for 50 laps.  Although there were several minor spins, there were still 14 cars racing at the finish.  In the closing laps, the top three cars looked virtually equal with A.J. Butler from Washington leading, Jake Gomes from California running second, and Michael Kipp from Canada running third.  It was great to see these guys from totally different groups racing hard together with closely matched cars.  In the end, it was A.J. Butler holding on for his first major MMRA event win. 

In post race tech, one future star car did not have the correct carburetor and was disqualified.  Also, the pump gas available in Montana contained ethanol which showed readings on our fuel tester similar to race fuel, or fuel with additives.  As such, at future MMRA events, we will designate a specific gas station close to the track where all racers will be expected to purchase their fuel for the weekend.  Any fuel that does not match the fuel from that specific gas station will be considered illegal.  This is simply making mandatory the suggestion that has been in our rulebook which states:  "MMRA recommends that racers purchase fuel for each event at a local service station near that event to minimize the chance of having fuel that does not match samples taken by MMRA for reference."

With the points wrapped up, attention turns to the awards banquet and future plans.  The banquet is November 1 and all MMRA members are invited.  For more information about the banquet, click here.  If you have pictures from the 2008 season - both locally and at our major events, please e-mail them to mmra@MMRAracing.com so we can include them in a slide show which will be presented at the banquet.  Thank you for a great year and we hope to see everyone in November!

Click here for the full finishing order and purse info.