The bright lights from the Emo Fair mixed with the dust kicking up on the track at the Emo Speedway, making for a memorable Friday night during the Rea Memorial races.
Friday featured a full night of racing which had some young talent—along with familiar names—taking home the checkered flags and making their way down to victory lane.
In the first feature of the evening, Raice Westover of Fort Frances added to his stellar season with his fourth win of the year in the Emo Street Stock division.
He also finished second during his following race in the weekend doubleheader making it ten top-three finishes on the season. Westover extending his overall points total over second-place Jesse Thompson (Emo) by 125 points as he enters the final race weekend of the year.
The Outlaw Mini Mods were back for the second weekend in a row and Justin Cutrer of International Falls, Mn. edged out a win over Steele Kelly (International Falls) who battled from the very back of the field to take second place.
Next up saw David Simpson of Thunder Bay hold on just long enough in the WISSOTA Midwest Mods to remain perfect at the Emo Speedway notching his second win of the season.
Simpson had his number 70JR car running far ahead of the rest of the pack and made it very difficult for his competitors to gain any ground once he had the lead.
Several caution flags kept Simpson from running away with the checkered flag and allowed other racers to inch closer to the top spot.
“I knew 85 (Jamie Davis, Fort Frances) every yellow I heard him move up about five or six positions. I was like I figured he was coming, he's the guy to beat around here but he had some laps close at the end—but we held him off which was really nice,” said Simpson.
“We won a memorial race about six weeks ago. Then we were talking on the way down it would be nice to get a fair race out of the way and finally got 'er done,” he added.
In between the heat and the feature, Simpson said his team did not change much in terms of strategy as his car was running well.
“We just put on a couple of new tires in the back and kind of went with it, we were hoping it would be good and went into the first corner and I knew we had something.”
He said he had some concerns with all the cautions kept giving the other racers a chance, but discover a new line which helped secure his victory.
“Halfway through the race with all the yellows, the tires kind of went away but they came back and we got traction around the bottom and went away with it.”
Simpson said as much as he'd like to stay he was headed off to Ashland Wisconsin where he sits 28 points out of first in the division and also to avoid the high percent chance of rain in Saturday's forecast.
In the final race, hometown youngster Blake Ferris of Emo took home the WISSOTA Modifieds title, ending what he called the “family curse.”
“It's just a dream come true. It feels surreal it took my dad so many years to win this and we kind of had a curse going on with the family name and It's just really hard to believe.”
Ferris, only 16 years old, made the move up to the WISSOTA Modifieds division earlier this year.
In just his fourth race in the division, he was able to end his family's drought since 2008 at the Emo Fair.
He admitted negative thoughts were running through his head during the race.
“You just start hearing noises when your winning and start seeing things that aren't there. It's just everything gets to your head—the pressure of just 20 cars or whatever that was behind me and just want to win worse, or just as bad as I do, and it's a lot of things to think about.”
Ferris said his father has been such a big part of his support and handing off his knowledge of working on the car and maneuvering around the race track to him.
He added what it looked like to watch his dad celebrate in victory lane during the fair.
“I do remember that and it was just a great moment to see my dad, excited as he was.”
Ferris was already looking ahead to the next race of the weekend double-header and was hoping he could repeat with another win.
Fans were hoping the rain would hold off on Saturday night but in the sixth heat, the race ended under a caution checkered finish when the thunderstorm passed over the Emo fairgrounds.
The action restarted Sunday afternoon as Tyler Wilson of Fort Frances claimed the win in the Emo Street Stocks division moving only three points behind Jesse Thompson (Emo) for second in the overall standings.
Colin Chaschuk of Neebing won for the first time in the WISSOTA Midwest Mods after three top five finishes this year.
Gavin Paull of Fort Frances held off runner-up Justin Jones (Bemidji, Mn.) and third-place driver Brody Strachan to win the WISSOTA Modifieds division race.
“Fan Appreciation Night” marks the last race of the season at the Emo Speedway this Saturday, with racing to start at 6:30 p.m. and a barbecue in the pits following the races, sponsored by Borderland Racing Association.