Davis captures third Rea Memorial title
For a driver who hadn’t raced at the Emo Speedway in more than a year, Jamie Davis showed very little rust behind the wheel of his WISSOTA Modified over the weekend.
Davis used a second-place finish in the feature race Friday night, along with a win in the main event Saturday night, to capture the Rea Memorial Trophy points title for a record third time in his class as two nights of racing were held in conjunction with the annual Emo Fair.
“This is our third Emo Fair points title now, which I guess puts us ahead of Steve Arpin, and that his a huge honour in itself there,” he noted.
“And the Rea family have been incredibly helpful and supportive [of] us over the years, so it’s a huge honour, as well, to get that trophy for another year.”
After winning the opening heat of the night Saturday, Davis was far and way the class of the 20-car field in the feature.
He took the lead early from Justin Jones and never looked back as Jones and Joey Galloway followed him to the finish line.
“The key to the race was to just stay calm,” Davis remarked.
“It’s a unbelievably long race when you are just waiting for that white flag,” he added. “But I figured the line I was running must have been decent because I could hear them behind me and up beside of me, but I never saw their nose peek out in front.
“But if they came up to battle with me, we would have had to race for the win, which is fine by me,” Davis stressed.
Jones and Masen Big Eagle also won heats Saturday.
Friday’s Modified feature proved to a dramatic affair, with Aaron Holton passing Davis on the final lap to take the checkered flag.
Holton, who lives in Newfolden, Mn., led for most of the race. He had been holding off Davis and Galloway until Davis took over top spot with handful of laps to go.
But Holton slowly reeled Davis back in, setting the stage for his last-lap heroics.
“I don’t know what happened in [turns] 3 and 4, but our car started getting a bad push in the line that we had been running, and that was when both Jamie and Joey got by us,” Holton recalled.
“They were running the high line so I couldn’t really go there to try and get back by them,” he explained. “So I actually started to go a little bit slower in turns 1 and 2 and tried to come off of the corner harder, and then I moved up a lane in turns 3 and 4.
“It all seemed to work out for our benefit, I guess,” he reasoned.
Gavin Paull came away with a third-place finish in the feature after Galloway slowed with a mechanical issue near the finish line.
Holton, Paull, and Jones earned the heat wins Friday.
In the WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds, Brady Caul of Fort Frances was the most consistent runner over the two nights of competition, using a second-place finish Friday and a fifth-place result Saturday to capture his first fair crown.
“It was a great weekend in Emo and the car [was] good on both nights without any problems,” Caul said.
“We would have liked to have won a feature this weekend, but we have also struggled at Emo Fair before, so it all worked well for us,” he noted.
The Midwest Modified feature Friday night turned into a messy affair as 10 caution flags forced track officials to reduce the race from its original 20-lap distance.
The previous incidents, though, were topped by a bizarre finish during the last green-white-checkered attempt of the main event as the top two cars of Caul and Willie Thompson got together in turn 1, allowing John Hettinga to sneak around both drivers and cross the finish line in first.
But track officials went back to the previous lap before the wreck occurred when determining the final running order, which gave Thompson the win over Caul and Hettinga.
“Me and Brady rubbed together in turns 3 and 4, and I had the [car] coming to the finish line for the white flag before I got turned around in turn 1,” recalled Thompson, who lives in Hibbing, Mn.
“It was a very strange race as we didn’t get more than two laps in at a time it seemed, so it took quite a while for things to get done.
“I think my leg was starting to fall asleep in there at one point,” he joked.
Thompson, Caul, and Kevin Monteith each took heat wins Friday.
Saturday’s feature was the exact opposite of the one that took place a night earlier as the race ran caution-free for 20 laps, with Don Scholler of International Falls earning his first career feature victory in the class.
“I had won features before in a Pure Stock down in Hibbing and Bemidji, but this is the highlight of my career, so far,” enthused Scholler, in his first year behind the wheel of a Midwest Modified.
“I had been so close before only to lose at the end of the race, but we finally have the car hooking up here and I was able to drive it all the way until the end,” he added.
Having started the race in sixth place, Scholler worked his way through the field before making a nice pass on the inside of leader Jeff Davis with only two laps left.
“Jeff was a running an awesome race and I have to tip my hat to him,” Scholler said.
“I was just keeping patient behind him and watching what he was doing. And when he pushed up a little bit in turns 3 and 4, I decided to shoot down to the bottom.”
Davis, who had led nearly all of the race before being passed, held off Paul Veert for the runner-up spot.
Caul, Brody Strachan, and Matt DePiero each took the top spots in heats earlier that evening.
Rounding out the weekend’s action were the Street Stocks, where Dryden native Darryl Desserre captured his first Emo Fair crown after many years of trying.
“We weren’t even going to run this year, and we were just going to come down and watch,” Desserre admitted.
“But my nephew and my niece convinced me to come down and race, and I’m really glad that we came now,” he smiled.
Following a fourth-place finish in a heat won by Andrew Trimble, Desserre was the class of the field in the feature Saturday, pulling away from Garret Gamsby and Kyle Godin over the course of the 15-lap affair.
“I was starting up at the front for that race, but I wasn’t really sure what it as going to be like out there,” Desserre noted.
“So I watched the Midwest Modified feature before we ran, and I started to get an idea of where the cars were running in turns 1 and 2, and that was more or less where I decided to run,” he remarked.
Friday’s Street Stock feature, meanwhile, saw a fresh face in Victory Lane as Godin earned his first career main event win over Desserre and Jeff Wickstrom.
“I was just waiting for the white flag, and as soon as I saw that and the checkered flag a lap later, it felt really good,” smiled Godin, a 17-year-old rookie from Rainy River.
“The track was in nice shape and the car was running really good, and all I was trying to do was just hold my line out there.
“A couple of cautions helped me and we were able to get the win,” he added.
Desserre and Libby Wilson took home heat wins Friday.
Action at the Emo Speedway is slated to resume this Saturday (weather permitting), when the track will hold the annual Keith McNally Memorial and also crown the points champs in all three divisions.
Hot laps are slated for 7 p.m., with the first heat set to go at 7:30.