Mars wins George Scheffler Memorial
By Bert Lehman
For the second year in a row Jimmy Mars won the George Scheffler Memorial race at Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway Friday, Aug. 26.
Forty one Late Models took to the track for competition for the night of racing that was sanctioned by the Corn Belt Racing Series. Dave Eckrich, Mike Mullen, Chris Simpson and Nick Anvelink won heat races.
“I’ve raced here one other time. It was a different race car and we were lost,” Eckrich said after his heat race.
He added that it was refreshing to have a good run, and he hoped the middle of the race track would be the place to be in the feature.
After his heat race, Simpson was feeling confident about the feature.
“I think we got a good shot. Our car felt pretty good in the heat on the bottom. I think that top will keep going away,” Simpson said.
Simpson, who finished in the top three at the track when the Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series raced at Oshkosh Speedzone in May, wasn’t using the same set-up he used in May.
“We kind of hit on something else and we came back here with the package we’ve been running the last couple weeks,” Simpson said. “We came out here and tested last night and that really helped us out.”
Eckrich and Simpson battled through much of the first part of the race.
“It felt like we had a good car and I was just going to bide my time and then we got into second right away,” Simpson said. “Then the 58 (Eckrich), who is my brother-in-law, he was running a good line but he’d slow me up a little bit entering the corner and ruin my entry. Finally I just kept it on the bottom and got a good enough run on him, I got alongside him and beat him off of four to take the lead.
Prior to the feature Simpson said he thought the bottom groove would be the fast groove. In the feature though, he said he had a difficult time keeping his car down by the tires.
“I just got myself too tight,” Simpson said. “I couldn’t run right around the tires, I had to arc it in. As the race went on I had to really bend the car to make it go around the bottom. Jimmy [Mars] had a good neutral car that he could get it up on the rear and rotate around the tires, and he had good traction. I wasted a lot of time in the center of the corner because I got too tight.”
Once Mars took the lead from Simpson, the two caught lapped traffic just before the halfway point of the race.
“You can’t slow down too much for lapped traffic but if you take too many chances it’s easy to get crashed. We had a couple issues, but we’re alright,” Mars said after the race.
“I got alongside of him (Mars) again but he was trying to lap those cars in the middle and the bottom was the best way to go. Overall he had a better car tonight,” Simpson said.
Mitch McGrath, grandson of George Scheffler, finished third. It’s another high finish for McGrath in this race, but a win in the race has eluded him.
“It seems like we’re always the bridesmaid and never the bride here,” McGrath said after the race. “It was good racing but the track could have been a little better. It wasn’t much of a groove on the high side and we were all just fighting around the bottom. I kind of thought we had a second place car but we just couldn’t make the pass.”
Prior to the feature, Mars had a slight scare with his motor. He said the motor wasn’t sounding right, but it was running good. It held up for the feature, as Mars won the $8,000-to-win event.
When asked what his secret is at Oshkosh Speedzone, Mars replied, “Just try to work on good setups, drive smooth and don’t do anything too dumb.”
Who the race was honoring wasn’t lost on Mars.
“It’s a pretty cool deal,” he said. “It’s in memory of a pretty cool guy. I’m pretty honored to win it.”