If ever there was an epitome of the 1989 movie Field of Dreams with the line, “Build it and they will come,” it must be what Will Carrell and his family had in mind after this past weekend’s Windmill Nationals bracket race event.
The Carrell family has been involved with Ardmore Dragway in Oklahoma for decades. In addition to that, there are so many Carrell relatives which race that they could have their own event all by themselves. For the past three years, they had what they term as the Windmill Nationals in May. Plans were underway at the beginning of this year with great anticipation. Then we had COVID-19.
With so many states and businesses closed down, this past weekend the track opened and hosted a three day race with Saturday being a $5,000-to-win race for both the Super Pro and No Electronics classes.
“We were still determined to have the event,” says track owner Will Carrell, “despite closures of other things in our country. But we did check with local authorities. We also placed signs just about everywhere we could speaking of social distancing and the like.
“We are in a very rural part of Oklahoma,” Carrell added. “Our county here consists of about 150,000 people and we only had one confirmed case of the virus. We do have about 300 acres of property if we had mowed it all, but we knew we still would have enough room. The most racers we ever had in past years were around 300 and we sort of expected that many.”
Boy were they ever wrong!
“We had a closed test & tune session on Thursday but by Thursday night, trailers were pulling in and we sort of had an idea it was going to be good,” Carrell says. “I’d have to say that at that point we expected around 400 cars. We don’t do any double entries, but you can run the same car in two different classes. Single entry lives matter and everyone should be supporting their local tracks.”
With the pent up frustration of not only racers, but many others in our country as well, having not run any events all year, along with the many public demonstrations of Americans wanting to open the country back up, it’s probably no surprise when the Windmill Nationals went over so well.
Friday’s event hosted over 350 cars, with one time trial for each followed by eliminations. Buybacks were cancelled because of the size of the field. “I try not to race past 2:00 AM,” says Carrell, “and on Friday we finished right around that time. On Saturday, we ran Jr. Dragsters in the morning, followed by a time trial for new entries after which we began eliminations.”
With a total of over 550 cars on Saturday, the final rounds weren’t run until 5:00 AM on Sunday. As is typical for many multi-day races, entries tend to drop off on the final day but Ardmore’s estimate of 300 cars held true as over 300 racers took part on Sunday.
“My staff did an amazing job and I’m so proud to be able to work with each one of them,” said Carrell. “We worked hard but thanks to people like our race director Ryan Gleghorn, Brandon and Crysti Ford, Bob Unkefer, Mike McLemore, Jake Havens, Chuck Arnold, Thomas Jones, Bobby Shelley, Dash Stanley, Mindy Gerard, Ryan Beckman, Wendy Bowman, Logan Hammett and Heather Arnold, my thanks goes out to each of them along with each of the racers and their families who made the weekend a success.”
Windmill Nationals Results
Hunter Patton over Jay Bunce
Semifinals - Blake Richardson and Darrell Gear
Austin Richardson over Kevin Martin
Semifinals - Daryl Patton
Hunter Patton over Dennis Thomas
Semifinals - Logan Diggs and Wyatt Wagner
Jimmy Klein over Wes Neely
Semifinals - Zack Klein and Max McGlothlin
Justin Baker over Robby White
Semifinals - Chad Morris
Ryan Richardson over Nathan Martin
Semifinals - Casey Swift
Jake Howard over Michael Bowen
Semifinals - Max McGlothlin
Matt Hall over Kenny Teer