FORT WAYNE – Twenty-four years ago, when he won at the old Memorial Coliseum and went on to capture the USAC national midget championship, Russ Gamester was a man on the move.
These days, the veteran from Peru, competes mostly for personal satisfaction, knowing his childhood dream of reaching the Indianapolis 500 will never happen.
Not that hes ever slowed down enough to complain.
Gamester, less than two weeks shy of his 49th birthday, overpowered the field in capturing the 50-lap midget feature Friday on the opening night of the 16th annual Rumble in Fort Wayne at the Memorial Coliseum Expo Center.
Charging from the seventh starting position on the tight, one-sixth-mile indoor track, he grabbed the lead from pole-sitter Joe Liguori on lap 16, then easily pulled away from Grant Galloway after a restart with two laps to go. Liguori settled for third, with Billy Wease and Matt Westfall completing the top five in a race that took just 11 minutes to complete.
I am up in my age, admitted Gamester, who broke Mike Fedorcaks record as the oldest Rumble in Fort Wayne winner by about 11 months. Im looking at (racing) a couple more years, probably. Thats about all for me, anyway.
That makes this real special.
East Coast drivers Erick Rudolph and Tom Fraschetta also posted impressive victories in 600-cubic-centimeter midgets.
Rudolph, from Ransomville, N.Y., claimed a winged outlaw modified midget feature for the second year in a row, while Fraschetta, from King of Prussia, Pa., won the new nonwinged dirt modified midget division in his Fort Wayne debut.
Preston Oberle, Zach Axlen, A.J. Geren, Kobe Allison, Gene Gregoric III, Ryan Moran and Dustin Lundgren all won kart features, while Zeb Wise won twice in quarter midgets. Also scoring quarter midgets wins were Bennett Lushin, Daylan Karnes, Jackson Lee, Koulten Herbert and Nicole Cannon.
Starter Tom Hansing escaped serious injury when Nick Hamiltons midget flew into the fencing near the flagmans stand at the start of the fifth midget heat race.
Hansing, also a starter for the IndyCar Series and United States Auto Club, suffered bruised ribs and was transported to Lutheran Hospital as a precaution, race organizer Tony Barhorst said. He was awake and alert when removed on a stretcher.