Freddy Smith, in the No.00 car, brought the field to the green, much to the delight of the
Since the inception of a fledgling event in 1993, West Plains Motor Speedway owners Don and Billie Gibson have sought to do only one thing-give dirt racing fans what they want.
They created the Show-Me 100 with thoughts toward not only bringing in the best of the best in the sport, but also structuring a purse that rewarded anyone who made their way into the event. They offered a hefty $25,000 winner's check as the top prize in that first edition of what has now become a "crown jewel" for all involved, but they also offered an unheard-of $2,500 to start the race. Since then, they have put their trust in their product 16 times and have yet to disappoint.
One might not expect to find an immaculate racing facility in the Ozark Mountains, but there is no denying that the sprawling 100-acre facility on US 63 is one of the showplaces of the sport. Match that fact with the obvious importance of a family atmosphere that purveys the entire facility and organization, and it's no wonder that each Memorial Day Weekend finds most of the nation's best DLM pilots and thousands of appreciative fans spending their holiday in the Show-Me State.
Bloomquist makes a move for second.
This year's event saw beautiful weather for the first two of three scheduled days of action with practice night going off without a hitch as well as qualifying and heat race night. The traditional "come one, come all" barbecue on Thursday set the tone for the typical downhome atmosphere that draws fans to the track in droves. The Gibson family goes well beyond the call of duty to assure that everyone who attends their facility feels like they're at their "home away from home." Unlike some promoters who are missing in action on race day, Billie maintains a constant presence among the spectators and she isn't satisfied unless everyone else is.
Amenities at a racing facility are wonderful, but that's not what puts fans in the stands. A large part of the allure of West Plains is the knowledge that the racing surface will be top-shelf, which that is Don's domain. He consistently, year in and year out, provides a surface conducive to at least three-wide racing, and in some cases four- and five-wide competition. A perfectionist by nature, Don has spent many hours perfecting his track preparation routine and arguably, no one does it better. All past winners of the Show-Me 100 have exited their cars and echoed the same sentiments for 16 seasons now.
"The racetrack was perfect and I could run anywhere I needed to," Scott Bloomquist has said many times in the past. "All you have to do is make this race and you will have a legitimate chance to win."
He emphatically proved his point this year coming from shotgun on the field to claim the Show-Me 100 for the fifth time.
Scott Bloomquist, center, celebrates his fifth win in the event.
Still A ThrillWest Plains has gained the reputation of being a finesse track. It's a given that, when the green drops on the Show-Me each year, drivers will be competing on a black, slicked-over surface from top to bottom that provides multiple grooves, but demands superior throttle control and consistency. Some have stated that racing at West Plains is like racing on ice, but few seem to mind as it puts the onus on the driver to perform. A hammer-down bonsai-style of driving at this venue usually ends up in an abrupt introduction to the concrete and a damaged racecar.
Despite a litany of gloom and doom from naysayers that the faltering economy, sky-rocketing fuel prices, and a geographically-challenged location would finally take its toll on this event, the contrary was evident. A plethora of campers and motor homes and a healthy car count of 79 proved the event was as popular as ever. There was an absolute buzz in the air lingering from the previous night's heat race action as many hailed it as the best racing in the history of the event. That's a bold claim, considering the thrilling action on the 3/8-mile oval for over a decade, but event announcer Ben Shelton echoed the sentiments. Shelton said they were the "best set of heats I have ever seen here."