Engine excitement

Local drivers have big night in figure eight competition

BIG RAPIDS — Mud, smoke and crashes were in abundance on Wednesday in the figure 8 series races at the Mecosta County Agricultural Fair.

Plenty of local drivers took home prizes including Marion’s John Atkins in the Small Car Feature championship, while Chad Kwiatkowski was the champion in the Big Car Feature series. Big Rapids’ Gary Lutz won the Truck Tug of War championship, while Hersey’s Dale Toogood won the Truck Slick Track championship.

FUN IN THE MUD: Big Rapids resident Mike Jackson tears through the figure 8 course at the Mecosta County Agricultural Fair on Wednesday. (Pioneer photo/Martin Slagter)

Lutz came into the tug of war as a last-minute entry, but found a way to victory in his 1989 Chevy to the delight of the crowd.

“We just came to get into the pits,” he said. “The word through the pits was that they were looking for people to drag race. At the drivers meeting, they said there were only three trucks in the tug of war. I said if my truck survives the drag race, I’d be happy to enter the tug of war.”

Facing off against Big Rapids’ Mike Zuern in the final, Lutz was strategic in coming up with the championship.

“I’ve been around vehicles all my life as a licensed master mechanic and driven a lot of cars,” he said. “The key is when you’ve got them down, you’ve got to let them think they’ve got you. I let him believe that I had given up, and then I just hammered it again. It was just a really good American muscle win against the foreign competition. The crowd was going crazy when it was Chevy against Nissan.”

Big Rapids’ Mike Jackson, who was the Small Feature heat winner, said having a good set of tires allowed him to separate from the competition to come away with victory.

“It all has to do with your tires and getting traction on that mud,” he said. “If you get traction, you can pretty well get away from everybody. Everyone else was running stock, street tires and I had a little bit heavier tire.”

Kwiatkowski, who also finished first in the Big Car Heat race, said finding an opening on the muddy track was the key in coming away with the win.

“The biggest rush is when you open the car up and you’ve got some power,” he said. “You just trying to go out there and have a good time, find that opening and try to win.”

Engine action continues at the Mecosta County Agricultural Fair at 7 p.m. on Friday with the Michigan Truck and Tractor Pull.

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