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Octoberfest a time for speed

October 31, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - It was a good thing Randy Mick went to the 17th annual Octoberfest 350 qualifying races at the Hagerstown Speedway on Saturday because he likes dirt as well as speed.

Sitting in the second row of the bleachers, Mick was sprayed by dirt occasionally as the late-model race cars sped around the track at speeds that could get up to 150 mph.

"I work in dirt all the time anyway," said Mick, a truck and heavy equipment mechanic from Fairmont, W.Va.

Mick, 56, was one of about 7,500 people at the speedway Saturday to watch qualifying races for late models, big block modifieds, small block modifieds and sprints, speedway General Manager Lisa Bragunier said.

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The feature races start today at noon.

Mick's son, Jon, 27, also got to see what he likes - speed and crashes.

There were a few crashes during the late-model qualifying heats.

Because he was standing on the top bench of the bleachers, James Goolsbee was able to see a crash on the opposite side of the racetrack that involved one of his favorite drivers.

"That was dirty, so dirty," said Goolsbee, 28, who lives in the Baltimore area.

Greencastle, Pa., driver Gary Sculer's No. 90 car was involved in a five-vehicle crash after a car came down and pinched off another race car, sending a car sideways and causing a chain-reaction crash, Goolsbee said.

Goolsbee thought Sculer was done, but Sculer came back from being in last place - twice, to finish third in the heat and qualify for today's race.

"That's what you call making it into the big show the hard way," Goolsbee said.

With the late-model qualifying heats done, Sue Schultz and friend Kitty Owens, both from Clearfield, Pa., had returned to their campsite in the speedway's parking lot to prepare supper.

Schultz's grandson, Cody Schultz in the No. 7 car, had finished last after experiencing car trouble, they said.

The two were helping to prepare hot sausage, meatballs, a green salad and lots of desserts, including fudge, for their group of about 20 people.

Family and friends were staying in three motorhomes and had a makeshift area set up with lawn chairs, camping chairs and rugs.

Bragunier said roughly 1,500 people were camping in the parking lot Saturday night.

During the day, the parking lot was packed with dozens of motorhomes and hundreds of other vehicles with tags from states such as Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Connecticut.

One camper bore a Bahamas license tag.

Goolsbee's family and friends were spending the night, some in a local hotel and others in a local motel.

They made the speedway's race season finale a family affair with a group of about 16 at the racetrack that included close friends the family had met from traveling, said Goolsbee's mom, Bonnie Richards.

"We just like coming up to Hagerstown. Everybody's so friendly and nice," Richards said.

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