At 11:22 p.m., under a full moon on Saturday night, the checker flag came down and the curtain dropped for the last time ever at Champion Speedway.
And what a show the 42nd annual Silver State Classic was!
Nick Green staged a late rally to get past Nick Rescino Jr. to win an exciting 100-lap California Asphalt Sprintcar Association (CASA) feature race before an overflow crowd of nearly 3,000 fans who turned out to see the final race at a high-banked quarter-mile paved track that opened in 1963.
There was never any lack for activity all through the night. ... Track promoter and announcer Les Kynett gave a good P.T. Barnum-like performance as he introduced drivers from the present as well as a salute to track champions from years past. ... Amanda Cole, a Sierra Vista Children's Academy preschool teacher and Hornet division driver, whose family has been part of the Carson City racing community for some 35 years, sang "Auld Lang Syne." ... Fox TV's "A Current Affair" was on hand to film a segment on women drivers featuring 18-year-old sprintcar driver Jessica Helberg, who later challenged for a win in the 100-lap feature race.
Even after the final race, more than 500 fans gathered in the pit area to talk with their favorite drivers and to collect autographs one last time.
"I'm sad to see it end. It's like losing an old friend," Kynett said. "I certainly think the track has served its purpose and served the community well all these years, and this was a great way to end - with a great crowd and great racing."
Other main event winners during the night included Denny Hadler, who won his second Legends race in as many weeks. Jason Flores survived a collision at the finish to win the "Tim Maloney, This Bud's For You Memorial" Hornet main event. In the final race, second generation Champion driver Vince Malone scored a sweep of the Late Model Sportsman trophy dash, heat and main event races.
Not surprisingly, the sprintcars put on race of the night. Rescino has won five of eight sprintcar main events at Champion over the last two years and leads the CASA points standings, but this wasn't to be his race.
Green, an 18-year-old rookie from San Jose who finished second behind Rescino in a 100-lapper at Champion on July 30, surged past Rescino to take the lead two laps from the finish for the victory in a race that saw Matt DeMartini, Helberg, Tony Iacobotti and Glenn Hopper finish on the lead lap.
"That was a great race, absolutely the best one we've had since sprintcars started running at this track," Kynett said.
Season points champions were crowned, too.
Al Goss finished third in the main event, more than enough to clinch his third straight Late Model Sportsman title and fourth in five years.
Even though Mackena Bell, 15, only made 28 laps and finished 12th, it was enough to finish as the Legends champion in her rookie season. Bell had it locked up after her closed challenger, Terry Madjeski, went to the pits on the fifth lap.
"It feels great to be the champ," Bell said afterward.
Main event: (100 laps) 1, Nick Green; 2, Nick Rescino Jr.; 3, Matt DeMartini; 4, Jessica Helberg; 5, Tony Iacobotti; 6, Glenn Hopper; 7, Ryan Baumgartner (99 laps); 8, Tom Haxall (98 laps); 9, Joe Hauck (97 laps); 10, Marvin Mitchell (88 laps); 11, Allen Beck (78 laps); 12, Amy Barnes (75 laps); 13, Earle Stanton (29 laps); 14, Eric Silsby (27 laps); 15, Scott Clough.
Mike McCreary Memorial Dash for Cash: 1, Rescino; 2, Silsby; 3, DeMartini; 4, Baumgartner.
Fast time: Green 12.65.
Main event: (30 laps) 1, Denny Hadler; 2, Todd Thompson; 3, Jack Randall; 4, Chris Handley; 5, Derek Copeland; 6, Michelle Argetsinger; 7, Jimmy Klopp; 8, Bob Cos; 9, Fred Handley; 10, Charlene Baron; 11, George Weeks (28 laps); 12, Mackena Bell; 13, Jason Anderline (6); 14, Terry Madjeski (5); 15, Lester Mitchell (4 laps).
Trophy dash: 1, Thompson; 2, Klopp; 3, Madjeski; 4, Copeland.
First heat race: 1, Thompson; 2, Bell; 3, Cos.
Second heat race: 1, Randall; 2, Hadler; 3, F. Handley.
Main event: (20 laps) 1, Jason Flores; 2, Andy McCool; 3, Tony Polestina; 4, Bill Holbert; 5, Shawn Chaufty; 6, Chris Walton; 7, Gregg Salacies ; 8, Tiffany Mans; 9, Amanda Cole (19 laps); 10, Mark Turner.
Trophy dash: 1, Flores; 2, Holbert; 3, Chaufty; 4, McCool.
Heat race: 1, Walton; 2, Polestina; 3, Chaufty; 4, McCool.
Late Model Sportsmen
Main event: (30 laps) 1, Vince Malone; 2, Joel Worley; 3, AL Goss; 4, Chet Danburg; 5, Kris Keller; 6, Ed Goss (29 laps); 7, Bill Gould (29); 8, Jim Everson (29); 9, Alan Hunter (29); 10, William Thompson.
Trophy dash: 1, Malone; 2, Danburg; 3, Goss; 4, Worley.
First heat race: 1, Malone; 2, Worley; 3, Danburg; 4, Thompson.
Second heat race: 1, A. Goss; 2, Keller; 3, E. Goss; 4, Hunter.