Fan Notes from Wayne County Pete Jacobs Memorial

Friday, September 10, 2021
Sammy SwindellSammy Swindell (Tom Myers) Orrville, Ohio 9/5/2021- The Pete Jacobs Memorial race keeps getting bigger, with this year’s race paying $15,000 to win. In addition to the purse, there were contingency prizes mixed in all evening. During the driver’s meeting, track officials stated that they want to offer $20,000 or more to win next year’s race! I’m for it, let’s go!

The weather was beautiful, with clear, sunny skies and moderate temperatures. The track was well watered and very tacky. There were 31 winged 410 sprint cars on hand to do battle. Among the competitors was Jac Haudenschild, who was driving the number 3 Bryon Grove sponsored entry. Jac will be retiring at the end of this season. Also retiring is local legend Dean Jacobs, who was driving the Harbaugh Electric sponsored number 9 car. It won’t be the same without the both of them racing. Both Dean and Jac have been racing sprint cars for as long as I can remember. I can’t count the times I have watched the both of them race a sprint car. I wish them the best in their future endeavors and I am sure they both will be involved with sprint car racing….in some capacity.

Two other legends were in the pits, Sammy Swindell and Tim Shaffer. Swindell was driving the Pete Grove blue number 70 and Shaffer was in another Bryan Grove number 28 car. Other notables on hand were last years winner, Cap Henry, who I believe has won this race 2 times, Spencer Bayston, Gio Scelzi, Aaron Ruetzel, Cale Conley, Max Dumsney, Lee Jacobs, Cole Macedo and many more.

The concession stand was already struggling to keep up with the long lines that were forming…before hot laps. The stands and parking lot were completely filled when time trials started. Cody Bova had a really nice looking car, with day glo yellow highlights. Reutzel had his orange jailbreak tour t-shirts for sale. Rookie Joe Adorjan, who is getting faster every week, had his girlfriend helping in the pits. She saw me looking over Joe’s car and she came up to me and starting chatting. I learned that she had purchased Joe a new chassis as a birthday gift! Wow, now she’s a keeper!! Ha, how awesome is that?
Dean JacobsDean Jacobs Hot laps were treacherous as Broc Martin and then T.J. Michaels flipped and destroyed their cars. The track was heavy and tacky in the turns and sometimes a right rear would grab too much and over they went…or the cars would hop and bounce through the turn. However, many navigated the turns with no problems, smooth and safe. Martin’s flip was especially violent as he got airborne and flew over the turn 2 banking and into the big tires that line the backstretch and pit entrance. Martin landed on the nose of his car and ended up wedged vertically in the tires that way, nose down, tail tank up. Both drivers were okay but they were done for the night.

Aaron Reutzel was the fastest timer and then the 410 heats were to run. The track crew had run in the turns a little more and the surface was smooth and tacky. The heats were 8 laps and would take the top 5 to the feature. The top 2 finishers would be in a dash draw. The heat 1 finish was Trey Jacobs, Dean Jacobs, Danny Mumaw, Lee Jacobs, and Jac Haudenschild. The 2nd heat finish was Cale Thomas, Henry Malcuit, Sammy Swindell, Marcus Dumesny, Cale Conley.

The heat 3 finish was Cole Macedo, Aaron Reutzel, Spencer Bayston, Andrew Palker, and R J Jacobs and the fast lane was up around the guardrails. The heat 4 finish was Cap Henry, Greg Wilson, Gio Scelzi, Tim Shaffer, and Cody Bova.

The dash finish was Cap Henry, Henry Malcuit, Cale Thomas, Aaron Reutzel, Cole Macedo, Dean Jacobs, Greg Wilson, Trey Jacobs, so this was the feature lineup for the 40 lapper coming up. With Henry on the pole, I thought that he was in a great position to win his 2nd straight Jacobs race. Cap runs well here and I put my money on him to win.
Tim Shaffer, Andrew Palker, Greg WilsonTim Shaffer, Andrew Palker, Greg Wilson After the Modified and 305 features, we finally got to see the 410 sprints push out. At the green, Henry grabbed the lead with Malcuit following closely. On lap 4 Trey Jacobs had a part break and he careened into the turn 3 guard rail and collected Swindell and Peterson. All 3 were done for the night. On the ensuing restart, Henry again lead the way and Malcuit followed closely but after only one green flag lap Dumnesy hit the turn 1 fence. He was done for the evening. As racing resumed, Henry and Malcuit battled hard and Henry ran into the turn 3 guard rail while Malcuit was down low in the turn trying to grab the lead. Malcuit hit an infield tire and broke his suspension, bringing out a caution and ending his night. When racing resumed, Reutzel, who was running third behind Malcuit, now had a clear shot at Henry and he didn’t take long to grab the lead. And off Aaron went, racing away from the field.

As the feature wore on, Henry faded and Tim Shaffer and Jac Haudenschild raced to the front. Shaffer and Haud both came from the 8th row or so, pretty far back. The cars here shoot down the backstretch like they are shot out of a cannon. On lap 30 there was a caution for Chris Myers and then the officials stopped the race for fuel. When racing resumed, Shaffer couldn’t keep up with Ruetzel and Haud was right on Tim’s bumper. On lap 32 Dean Jacobs, this year’s track champion, brought out the red with a roll over in turn 4 as he was fighting for the 5th spot. He was okay and when racing resumed, Reutzel just pulled away. Jac tried several moves to get past Shaffer but couldn’t make it stick and then Shaffer just put on a driving clinic as he made it impossible for Jac to get around him. Now that was some racing!

Reutzel won it and in victory lane, he was defiant and seemed to welcome the boos that came from the crowd. Aaron is a beast in a sprint car, there’s just no way around that. And he is determined too. In victory lane he said they were off to Port Royal for the Labor Day race and had a long drive ahead of them. That’s 4 races in 4 days!

Jac of course, received the most applause. It’s the end of an era. And Sammy will not be far behind I am sure. Those of us who grew up watching Steve, Sammy, Doug and Jac are about to lose another one of our heroes to retirement. And sprint car racing will never be the same again. New heroes will come and go, but Steve, Sammy, Doug and Jac transformed the sport and are responsible for the popularity winged sprint car racing now enjoys. These 4 are arguably the greatest sprint car racers ever, not only for their wins, but for the way they could draw the fans in and the show they put on.

Where did the time go?