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King of Kokomo

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On the very chilly Sunday night, my stepdad Dave and I decided to head out to Kokomo Speedway to watch the “King of Kokomo”. The King of Kokomo invites all sprint racers, midget sprint cars, and hornets, which are cars with a huge race car motor, all to Kokomo for a showdown. With multiple fans of anything racing around Kokomo, the drivers couldn’t get enough of us.

When we first pull up to the track, everywhere around you just electrifies. People are having open tailgates, multiple merchandise booths from different races, and my favorite, the old sprint cars. Last weekend was a memorial program for the old drivers that used to race on Kokomo Speedway. For their hard work and support of Kokomo, the speedway let them bring in their old sprint cars to show off to everyone. I walked up to all of the men who drove these amazing cars and just told them their cars are amazing. They, of course, said thank you and they were excited on how their race cars have made a legend at Kokomo Speedway. Some ranged from one of the oldest models, like GMP Vintage Sprint Car, to a little bit newer cars like a 1930 Hillegass Sprint Car. Looking at these cars and learn the stories behind them all made me more excited for the race to see my favorite sprint car driver Dave Darland.

Dave Darland was a Lewis Cass graduate from Lincoln, Indiana, and basically became a world legend when it came to racing. He has been the 1997 Silver Crown Champion, 1999 USAC National Sprint Car Driver, 2001 and 2002 USAC Midget Champion, and last year he was the 2017 National Sprint Car Hall of Fame inductee. He has not only spends his time on the track, but he also donates most of his awards he received to families in need or to a children hospital. Darland is called “The People’s Champ” all over the nation for what he does for other people around him. With him being my favorite and mostly everyone else’s favorite driver, everyone wore their Darland shirts and got prepared for what Darland could do that evening.

Not only did Darland came to race but 30 other sprint cars came along too for the Kokomo showdown. The grand total of race cars were 30 sprint cars, 20 midgets, and around 10 hornets that were from California, Pennsylvania, and their hometowns in Indiana. With the first race starting off, there were a total of three heats of ten laps to get into a good spot in the feature race which is the main race of the night. After the heats, my favorite event started: the sprints.

With luck, Dave Darland got to seated in 6th out of 30 to do the 30 lap race. Dave Darland is aging so being seated sixth is a pretty good start for the race. Once the race started, it all got intense. Darland stayed in sixth for three laps and as the race went on, Dave Darland  got right behind the 2017 USAC Budweiser Oval Nationals Winner Kevin Thomas Jr. They were neck to neck and when it was the last lap, Darland tried to keep up on the last turn but unfortunately Kevin Thomas Jr won by a hundredth of a second.

“I love racing in Kokomo whenever I get the chance, said Kevin Thomas Jr. Plus it is always fun racing with Dave and the other racers as well.”

Along with the sprint race, the midget race went on after with Chase McDermand out of Springfield, Illinois to get the win. My favorite car was the winner of the hornets. Josh Gamblin, another hometown folk of Kokomo, had a chrome like frame on his car and called it “The Unicorn.” As crazy as it sounds, he drove superfast and got his first career win at Kokomo Speedway.

“It was a fun experience and I can’t wait to keep coming back home,” said Kevin Thomas Jr.

Kokomo Speedway is always a family favorite to do on a weekend so go to the speedway and check out on what they have to offer you!

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Lewis Cass High School, Walton, Indiana,
King of Kokomo