Willow Springs International Raceway
Friday, August 24, 2012
Willow Springs Toyota Super Late Model Series Thrills Road Racing Fans
by Dave Grayson
ROSAMOND, Calif. -- The Toyota Super Late Model Series returned to action, August 18th, at the Willow Springs Raceway, the mammoth motorsports park located in Rosamond-California. The series ran a 50 mile main event around the Willow Springs' 2.5 mile, nine turn, road course much to the delight of the racing fans who were on hand to watch the exciting element of stock cars negotiating such a challenging road course.
After the checkers had fallen on the race, it was time for the top three finishers to proudly stand tall on the grand prix style podium stage. That stage was occupied by a young gun driver with a very bright future in the sport who was flanked by two genuine stock car icons. One of those icons was the young race winner's father.
This afternoon at the Willow Springs Raceway belonged to 20 year old Bear Rzesnowiecky. The Las Vegas-Nevada driver began his Saturday afternoon at Willow Springs by setting the fast time during qualifying. Then he learned that the official race starting order was going to be based on a full field invert. That didn't deter Rzesnowiecky. Once the race started it didn't take him very long to charge his way into the lead and open a gap between himself and the competition while on the way to collecting the winner's share of the $10,000 race purse.
Completing the top five in the 50 mile main event were Ron Esau, Steve Rzesnowiecky Jr, Dana Moore and Gail Chase. Positions five through ten were filled by drivers Tom Whitson, George Atkinson, Greg Austin, Andrew Porter and Dennis Furden.
It was the action going on behind the race winner that captivated the attention of the race fans. The final moments of this race featured two genuine racing icons: Ron Esau and Steve Rzesnowiecky Jr, fighting for second and the fans loved it.
From El Cajon-California, the 57 year old Esau has tasted success in his racing career at the local, regional and national motorsports' arenas that began in 1970. When advance word got out that this driver was entered in the Willow Springs race, there was a reported spike in ticket sales.
From Las Vegas-Nevada, Steve Rzesnowiecky Jr is also a well known name at western states racing arenas with a driving career that began back in 1953. He was a charter member of the original Toyota Stock Car Challenge Series at Willow Springs back in the 1990's. He was also a major player in bringing back this series to Willow Springs this year. This race track will always be special to this driver. In the fall of 1993 he set a road course record, 1.17.298/116 MPH, in a SCCA Toyota S Production car that still stands today.
The fact that the 62 year old Rzesnowiecky was in this race at all is quite a story. It was his first stint in the driver's seat in quite awhile. Plus, there was the fact that he is in the recovery process, following medical treatments, for a major illness. If there was any racing rust attached to this driver at all, it certainly didn't show on this afternoon at the Willow Springs Raceway. The father-son podium celebration in victory lane was a very emotionally charged sight.
The Toyota Super Late Model Racing Series returns to action for its final two dates of the season on September 15th and October 21st.
The series is powered by a group of race sponsors that includes: Toyota, the official vehicle of the Willow Springs Raceway, along with K&K Insurance, Dunn-Edwards Paints, VP Racing Fuels and Hoosier Racing Tire.