In the middle of northern Ohio’s serene farmland; Oakshade Raceway looks as unassuming as its name suggests. Looks are very deceiving though as the 3/8-mile semi-banked oval is a wicked-fast track where the Midwest’s best drivers come to play.
As the final stop on the 39-day, 33-race UMP Summer Nationals Hell Tour, Oakshade’s “Birthday Race” is a battleground for the top-contenders, not only is a $10,000 payout at stake for the winner, but with a $25,000 check awarded to the series champion, points in the final event take on a greater significance.
The 2014 season was an intense one. The tour began on June 11th with Mother Nature grabbing the kick-off event at Brownstown, Indiana. Although rain claimed an additional four nights of racing throughout June and July, 28 winners were crowned and $177,500 in winning checks were cut. The tour is a grueling one, testing consistency and stamina of drivers and crews. To win, you must be on top of your game, and compete against the top drivers in dirt late model racing. Billy Moyer (6-2014 Summer Nationals Wins), Shannon Babb (4-Summer Nationals Wins), Brian Shirley (3-Summer Nationals Wins)Brandon Sheppard (2-Summer Nationals Wins), Brian Birkhofer (2-Summer Nationals Wins), Mason Ziegler (2-Summer Nationals Wins), Jason Feger (2-Summer Nationals Wins), and Rick Eckert (2-Summer Nationals Wins) all picked up multiple tour victories; while Jason Jameson, Tyler Reddick, Bobby Pierce, Brady Smith put their names in the 2014 history books by each claiming one tour win.
As teams rolled in for the finale at the northern Ohio speedway, less than 100-points separated the top five points and with 46 contenders there were no guarantees outside of a great night of racing.
Fresh off of back-to-back wins, Mason Ziegler started on the pole in his blue no.25 with the no.55 of Jeep VanWormer alongside. Although Ziegler jumped to the lead early; hometown hero Matt Miller drove his Rick DeLong owned no.3 up to the front and overtook Ziegler as lapped traffic loomed in the 60-lap event.
With only one caution, the Summer Nationals finale was an action packed and exciting one, from the moment the lights went out for the birthday candle (glow stick) carrying 4-wide salute to the checkered flag, fans were on the edge of their seats. With former Oakshade track champion Matt Miller crossing the line first, and Ryan Unzicker in his special event wrap featuring the Turn3Gang and Thomas Childress Jr., a T3G original who recently passed away, the crowd was ecstatic to say the least. Miller who has been running a limited schedule in his Rick DeLong owned no.3 made his first Summer Nationals win of 2014 a big one.
Battling back for a third place finish was the no.18 of Shannon Babb. That podium finish solidified Babb as the Summer Nationals champion; always calm and consistent Babb has long been regarded as one of the top contenders in the tour.
With ticket prices for the 16th annual “Birthday Race” still at $12 for adults, the pit area open for all ages until 4pm for kids to be able to meet their favorite drivers, and kids games and prizes during intermission, Oakshade Raceway is an incredible place to bring the family and with spectacular Summer National racing, The Birthday Race will never disappoint anyone.