The season finale this past weekend at Elk River Motor Park saw the 1600 Buggy Championship come down to the final round of racing and when it was all said and done Bruce Fraley took the title back home to Las Vegas, but before the title was settled there was plenty of action and drama throughout the final three rounds of racing.
Maybe the oppressive heat had something to with tensions as many in the class were feeling the pressure at the start of Friday’s ten lap race. Only three points separated Tony Keepers and Bruce Fraley from the season championship. Maybe it was the pressure of racing three times during the weekend (Round 4 was postponed earlier in the year due to severe weather), whatever the case nobody could have predicted how the 1600 Buggy weekend would unfold.
Friday Round 4
The afternoon race had Fraley and Keepers starting side by side towards the back of the pack. When racing began Fraley had a slight advantage keeping one or two positions ahead of points leader Keepers. Then on lap six while running in the third spot, Fraley took a hard hit from a competitor, to the rear of the buggy braking the exhaust system and loosening one the cylinder heads on the engine. The incident allowed Keepers to slip by to finish the day in second place. Somehow the familiar yellow and silver buggy continued on to the checkered flag crossing the line in fourth place. Now Keepers had added a couple of points to his championship lead.
Saturday Round 13
The regularly scheduled race saw a great battle between the top two points leaders only to end with frustration and controversy in the class. Fraley was running second at the halfway mandatory yellow garnering a valuable point for the spot. Then on lap eight, as Fraley was leading Keepers out of the whoop section, the second place car made contact causing the leader to spin off the track and bringing out a full course caution. Then during the podium presentation Keepers was penalized for the incident and was given the last finishing spot on the lead lap. Incidentally that was one position behind Bruce Fraley. The Keepers team did not agree with the penalty, but the end result brought the points chase down to the final round.
Sunday Round 14
The final ten lap race of the season came down to another Fraley-Keepers battle once again. Fraley grabbed the extra bonus points for leading half way and then edged out Keepers for the win. The points figuring was so very close as the two finished tied with 198 points. Initially Keepers was announced as the class champion, but after further review, the first tie breaker would be the number of wins. Bruce Fraley had the advantage in that category and was awarded the 2017 TORC 1600 Buggy Championship.
“Tony and I battled all summer,” noted Bruce Fraley. “I know the tensions between us
were pretty extreme at times, hopefully the off-season will get us back to where we were at the beginning of the season. Last year I got the World Championship ring and my goal this year was to win the TORC Championship. It was a tough battle right to the final lap, but we got it done. I’ve always said if you want to be the best you need to race with the best and the TORC Series with the MORR racers are definitely the best 1600 Buggy competition in the country. I have to dedicate this season to my wife and family, Larry and Gloria Hammond, Shawn Morris and all my other sponsors EPI Powder Coating, Howe Performance, FAT Performance, Dave Folts Transmissions, Freeman Carpet Service, Kartek Off-Road and BFGoodrich Tire. I can’t forget to thank Quickcar Products for supporting our class championship as well. All their support got me to the track and kept me racing my best all season long.”
Bruce Fraley has marketing opportunities available for the upcoming 2018 race season. Interested parties can contact Bruce at email@example.com
– Mike Reusche, words & pics