Thunder Mtn. drivers pay tribute to John Stephenson

The rain had gotten the best of Thunder Mountain Raceway earlier this summer, but it wasn’t going to last weekend.

Rain washed out Saturday night’s scheduled races and a tribute to former driver John Stephenson, but that merely meant waiting a day.

Most of the drivers came back and raced Sunday afternoon and paid tribute to Stephenson. The Grand Junction 47-year-old, who died July 28, was recognized during intermission. Stephenson had leukemia and skin cancer.

All 49 drivers were on the track in the missing-man formation with an empty pole position. Stephenson’s son, Tyler, was in the first car next to pole position on the outside.

For 60 seconds, all 49 cars revved their engines, then did a few parade laps. The public-address announcer read a statement about Stephenson that had many people in attendance in tears, track manager Robin Neuberger said.

Sunday’s races included a special stock car showdown event with Ron Watson of Montrose taking first place and taking home a $1,000 check. The race was sponsored by Certified Diesel Specialties.

Watson gained valuable points in the I-Stock series as well.

Race Fisher of Dove Creek was second, and Ron Merritt of Grand Junction placed third. I-Stock points leader Ed Brown of Montrose placed fourth.

Brody Spangler of Dove Creek won the competitive Modified class race with 19 drivers. Wyatt Howard of Price, Utah, took second, and Jeep Berry of Grand Junction placed third.

Dakota Kibel of Mancos won the Sports Modified class. Points leader Robert Gallegos took second, and John Young took third.

Deneen LeTurgez of Grand Junction took first place in the Light Sprints race. Rick Davis took second, and Gary Helken was third.

Nick DeVillbiss of Farmington, N.M., won the Dwarf race. Derek LeTurgez of Grand Junction took second, and Phil Dittmer placed third.

Riley Harris of Montrose won the go-kart (ages 8-10) race, and Sam Ross won the go-kart (ages 11-14) race.

There were five class races Friday night.

Zane DeVillbiss of Farmington, N.M., won the Modified class. Ricky Alverado of Delta placed second, and points leader Chase Ruble of Delta took third.

Young won the Sports Modified race and is in third place in the season points standings. Brian Carey of Aztec, N.M., was second, and Kibel took third.

Rick Davis won the Light Sprint race. Charlie Steinberg of Clifton placed second, and Troy Ullery was third.

Steinberg moved to first place in the season points standings and is one point ahead of Donald Johnson of Clifton. Davis is six points behind Steinberg in third.

Jim Ross of Delta won the Dwarf race. Doug Tiffany was second, and Alisha Steinberg placed third.


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