WALL TOWNSHIP – Modified stock car driver Ricky Collins and Sportsman driver Neil Rutt III have each experienced their share of sorrow in recent months.
Collins lost his father, mentor and car-owner Rick Collins to natural causes last off-season, while Rutt lost his mentor and car-owner Chris Kilbride to a household accident a few month ago.
In light of those life-changing events, both drivers were very emotional after winning feature races at Wall Stadium Speedway on Sept. 18, according to a press release.
In the Modified 40-lap race, Collins was in the thick of the lead battle from the start as he tussled with Jackson’s Blake Barney, Brick Township’s Eddie McCarthy, Jackson’s Steve Reed and points race leader Andrew Krause of Holmdel.
As the race wore on, Krause was able to slip into second between Barney and Collins, before Barney and Krause tangled on the backstretch with Krause and Reed slamming the third turn rail as a result.
Collins and Barney were side-by-side on the restart before Barney’s car slipped a bit and Collins throttled into the lead.
Collins then stretched an advantage to the finish as Tyler Truex of Little Egg Harbor advanced to second. Barney, Ron Frees of Lanoka Harbor and McCarthy wrapped up the top five.
“I know my dad is looking down on this right now and I hope he is proud,” Collins, a resident of Willow Grove, Pa., said in the winner’s circle. “He was my best friend. This win is a dream come true, but I wish he were here with the team.”
In the Sportsman 25-lap race, Rutt wasted little time in charging into contention. By lap 18, the Edison racer charged to the front while early leader Jeffrey Loesch of Neptune was spinning.
Rutt then fought off former champ Kevin Davison of Howell for the win. Brothers Carsten DiGiantomasso and Jarret DiGiantomasso, both of Jackson, were third and fourth, while Manahawkin’s Jake Nelke was fifth.
“Chris Kilbride gave me the chance I needed to drive a Sportsman stock car,” Rutt said through tears. “We worked together every evening in the shop and grew very close. I miss him so much. We all want to thank the Kilbride family for giving us this chance to race on in Chris’ memory.”
The Sportsman cars ran a second 25-lap feature, which was rain postponed from June 19, and Davison was the winner in this one; taking the lead with an outside lane pass on lap 15.
Points leader Carsten DiGiantomasso was second, followed by Howell’s Ryan Fisher, Jarret DiGiantomasso and Larry Thompson of Parlin.
Mike Lavery of Orangeburg, N.Y., took the lead on the second lap and raced on to win the 25-lap feature for the Fast 4 Cars.
Ian Ashford of Farmingdale, points leader Alonzo Morales of Burlington, Wall Township’s Alex Greatz and Richard Smith of Brick Township wrapped up the top five.
Howie Conk of Howell won a rain postponed 25-lap Limited Late Model feature over Manchester’s Shannon Mongeau, Ray Minieri of Miller Place, N.Y., Bayville’s Mike Tillett and Rick Giannino of Bayshore, N.Y.
Rutt then came back to win the regularly scheduled nightcap over Conk, Tillett, Jackson’s Greg Gastelu and Andy Gamble.
Regular season auto racing action will continue at Wall Stadium, Route 34, Wall Township, on Sept. 25. Main event action starts at 7 p.m.
Saturday night racing action will continue through Oct. 9’s Cliff Krause Memorial with schedule details available at wallspeedwayracing.com