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Hy-Miler History Book (Part 1 of 4)

Hy-Miler History Book

With the demise of the Ohio State 500 at the end of the 1977 racing season, there was no marquee event on the local supermodified calendar. Out of the ashes of the old Sandusky Classics and Ohio State 500 races emerged the Hy-Miler Nationals, the first of the supermodified triple crown. Here is a brief look back at the Hy-Miler over the years.

1978...Larry Boos took over as promoter of Sandusky Speedway and Dave Shullick took over as the dominant driver. The Shullick-Jim Bodnar association would be the dominant Supermodified team for the next three years. They kicked it off by winning the Sanduky 100 over Chuck Ciprich (the dominate New Yorker, in Ron Buckner's #36) and Gary Allbritain.

1979...Dave Shullick dominated every race in the Midwest, driving the Jim Bodnar S&W Blacktop Special, but it literally went up in smoke at the Supermodified Nationals. With just a handful of laps to go the gold #94 roadster erupted in smoke ending his quest for two in a row. Gary Allbritain captured the event in the "Flyin 5" roadster over Steve Gioia and Ed Bellinger.

1980...After the disappointment of the previous season, Shullick and Bodnar were out to redeem themselves in the 1980 thriller. Driving an all new S&W hot orange #94 Shullick showed the field the way around. He was not alone, as Warren Coniam and Jim Shampine were dogging his heels the entire distance. The Shullick and Bodnar team split at the conclusion of the season leaving a wide-open local scene for the following year.

1981...It was the year of the "Young One," as Doug Heveron dominated everywhere the Supers ran and Sandusky was no exception. Jamie Moore led early in the event before a tangle with a lapped car sent him violently into the turn two wall. From then on it was all Heveron in the event. Steve Gioia and Shampine trailed. This year marked the only time Jim Shampine carried a Checkered flag at Sandusky, as bad luck plagued his every visit. "The Pine" captured the Sprint\Roadster Showdown on Friday night for his only Sandusky win.

1982...In the Bible David slew Goliath. At Sandusky, Gus Olexson and Bruce Robey slew everybody. This year everybody played by Sandusky's rules, meaning the potent roadsters were running with smaller wings. It proved interesting right off the bat. On Friday night Bruce Robey passed Dave Shullick on the last lap of the Sprint\Roadster showdown and took the Clarence Miller Sprinter to victory lane. If this wasn't enough, the eternal underdog, Gus Olexson pushed the Leonard Ceiling #12 roadster to the front holding off the repeated challenges of Todd Gibson for one of the most popular wins ever at the Speedway.

1983...After running in New York all season Dave Shullick made a triumphant return home putting the J.K. Tobin Construction #21 in victory lane over Joe Gosek and Doug Saunier.

1984...This was the first of three dominant wins by Bentley Warren in the Bowley Flyin 5. Warren went on a reign of terror in the Supermodified division beating out Allbritain in the Tobin 21 and Steve Gioia.

1985...Todd Gibson, in one of his best efforts in a big Sandusky race lead most of the event before Warren slipped by. The veteran duo clicked off numerous laps under the track record in the 100 lap affair. Steve Gioia made another consistent appearance in the top three.

1986...Bentley gets the Hat Trick winning three in a row dominating the event. His win equals Dave Shullick's three. Tim Nelson and Jim Shirey trailed the veteran New Englander across the line.

1987...Over the past few years, young Gene Lee Gibson made a name for himself in the Supermodified world. In 1987 his name landed him a ride in the lucrative Graves Chassis house car. Gene Lee made it count as he captured the Mr. Supermodified race at Oswego and Came home to Sandusky to his fans and drove to the Nationals victory. Bentley Warren and now veteran, but still young, Gary Allbritain ran second and third.

1988...Gibson lost the Graves ride in '88 but he didn't let it slow him down. Gene Lee led all 100 laps to get the victory, with Doug Heveron, now in the Graves car, pushing his rear bumper the entire distance. Joe Gosek looked impressive coming up to a third place finish. To date Gibson is the only person to lead the race flag to flag.

1989...Gosek showed just why he belonged up front. "Double O Joe" Drove around Doug Saunier and Mike Ordway to get the win. Saunier lowered the track record to 15.22 that year, a mark that stood until 1993.

1990...A new decade came in and with it came a wild finish in the Nationals, with even a wilder winner. Doug Saunier dominated the event but spun with only a handful of laps remaining in the event handing the lead to Gary Morton. With just a couple of ticks remaining, Mort's wing mounts broke, giving it a ####eyed look. New Englander, Bobby Fitzpatrick ceased the opportunity to get by Morton and went on for the win. Bobby was the first Star Speedway (N.H.) regular runner to get the big Nationals win.

1991...Joe Gosek picked up his second win the event as the East Coasters dominated the event. Bentley Warren and Russ Wood trailed Gosek to the finish.

1992...Young Pat Abold had found the right combination this year and was strong at every race he ran. Only Dave Shullick had anything for Abold as he led most of the race. However the 150 lap distance proved too long for Shullick (and everyone else!) as his motor gave out on lap 100 while leading. Abold got by and a lap later Shullick was pitside. Abold went unchallenged afterward to get the win. Once Again Bentley Warren proved his consistency in the event nabbing a second place. Another consistent runner, Joe Gosek was third.

1993...Doug Saunier has been close to winning the Hy-Miler Nationals more than once, and last year it appeared to be the one. Saunier and Dave Shullick dominated the weekly racing at Sandusky and were poised on the front of the 150 Hy-Miler grind. Saunier lead from the Outset, with Shullick in tow. "The Shoe" made a couple of bids for the lead but rode a comfortable distance behind in second. As the race wore on, it became evident these two Titans would battle for the win as they had all year. Late in the going it appeared that Saunier would not be denied, but a late race caution changed everything. Shullick made the decision to pit for new rubber and join the field at the tail. With Shullick on stickers and the field on worn out rubber, he quickly made mincemeat of the remaining cars to grab a fourth and unprecedented win. Saunier held on to second after seeing his eminent victory disappear. Once again Joe Gosek found himself on the podium at the races end. Mike Muldoon and Pat Abold closed out the top five.

1994...Jim Shirey had been campaigning supermodifieds for almost ten years and in 1994 he got his break. Teaming up with veteran builder/mechanic Jim Bodnar, Shirey captured the lucrative Hy Miler Nationals. Shirey passed Doug Saunier in the early going and drove away from the field. Gary Allbritain grabbed a ride with New England’s Witkum team and finished a distant second. Bentley Warren, Russ Wood and Dave Simard rounded out the top five.

1995...Up to 1995 nobody had ever won the Friday and Saturday Hy-Miler events in the same year. Pelham, New Hampshire’s Russ Wood would change all of the that as the young shoe driving for Paul Dunigan dominated the field all weekend long to notch his first Hy-Miler victory. Cliff Graves turned in his best ever Sandusky performance with a runner-up spot. Scott Martel, Jim Shirey and Brad Lichty finished in the top five.

1996...Russ Wood played the lay back and wait game for the second year in a row as he made a late race charge to grab his second Hy-Miler Nationals victory. Wood passed 1992 winner Pat Abold on lap 86 to speed away to victory. Bentley Warren turned in another fine Nationals performance driving from the back of the pack after a spin to second place. Abold held on to third. Joey Payne and Gary Allbritain closed out the top five.

1997...Things tend to go in streaks at big Sandusky races and the mid 1990s found that to be true. Russ Wood pulled a trifecta as he captured his third Hy-Miler win in a row.

1998...The "Jersey Jet" Joey Payne finally put an end to the Russ Wood domination of the Hy-Miler Nationals, but not by much. The two East Coast drivers covered the field with Doug Saunier coming home third. Russ Wood lit up the track in qualifying setting an alltime mark of 14.08 which stood until 2013.

1999...The 1999 edition turned out to be a family affair with Dave Shullick Jr and Sr. stealing the spotlight from the east coast invaders. The race was decided at the scales however as the younger Shullick came up light after the post-race inspection giving the win to the second place father, his fifth in the event. Elyria's Tim Jedrejezek finished second with Joe Gosek, Joey Payne and Dan Soule all in the top five.

2000...The story of this season was rain. The Friday night preliminary feature was run under threatening skies. Ohio drivers Jack Smith of Sandusky and Doug Saunier of Navarre were the story in the 40 lap warm up feature. Saunier got by Smith on a late race restart to grab the honors. Things went downhill from there as showers settled in for the weekend and rained out the Hy-Miler Nationals for the first time in its history. It marked only the sixth year in the track’s history that a championship level race was not held.

2001...For only the second time in the history of Sandusky’s big event, the trophy returned north of the border. Canadian Dave McKnight capitalized on a late race crash by leaders Gene Lee Gibson and Lou Cicconi to notch his first Hy-Miler victory. McKnight proved it was no fluke as he went on to win the ISMA title for longtime owner-driver Brad Lichty.


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