- Tuesday 12 August, 2014
Anticipation for the 37th Annual Night Under Fire presented by Kelly Services had begun to build months ago, and by the time the event arrived at Summit Motorsports Park on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, fans were ready for its fast cars, flames and fireworks.
The day got into gear with sportsman racing followed by an on-track parade which highlighted AA/Gassers and their beautiful backup girls, Top Fuel Harley riders Tommy Grimes and Bob Malloy, Bob Motz and his jet engine-powered semi-truck, jet-dragster drivers Jill Canuso, Al Zukauskas, Scott Holdridge and Lou Pereira, Top Fuel drivers Antron Brown and Brittany Force and Funny Car drivers Ron Capps, Cruz Pedregon, Dale Creasy, Jr. and John Force, who was along for the ride – this time — in the side-car of a World War II-era motorcycle. Some of the drivers were accompanied by children of the mentoring program Reach Our Youth.
As Force exited the side-car to enthusiastic applause, he quipped to Summit Motorsports Park’s Bill Bader, Jr. and Bill Bader, Sr., who were providing colorful commentary throughout the event, that he “thought that thing was going to throw a rod." He then dove into banter with Brown, who playfully — yet still competitively — turned to fans and asked “Do you want to see Force and me go after it? Top Fuel versus Funny Car here at the Night Under Fire?” With that, the battle was set.
Bader, Jr. then introduced the event’s grand marshal, Brandon Rader, a child fighting a genetic disorder which requires chemotherapy, and commended his continued optimism. When invited to address fans, Rader said “Don’t let life get you down. Keep moving, and keep doing what you love.”
Rev. Dale Schaeffer delivered an invocation prior to the unfurling and waving of a large American flag carried onto the track by Mac Tools presenters; U.S. Army Color Guard took its place and the National Anthem was sung by Linda Hart, who was escorted to the starting line by Summit Motorsports Park chief starter DJ Lubinski. Immediately after, the evening’s first round of fireworks was ignited from each side of the track’s concrete barrier as pro drivers fired their engines.
Providing even more motorsports madness was Rick Ream, who managed a quarter-mile wheel-stand in his ’50 bullet-nosed Studebaker and the race between John Force and a fan who lined up in identically-equipped ’14 Ford Tauruses supplied by Sharpnack Ford, with Force earning the win after playfully tapping the brakes down-track.
At evening’s end, Bader, Jr. — who had promised that action would not be limited to the ground and delivered by arranging a flyover by a TBM Avenger, a World War II-era torpedo bomber — looked to fans in the stands and said “It all comes down to this: A truck, a sign and $100,000 in fireworks. Do you want to see Bob Motz burn the sign off the wall at the front of staging?” To their great applause, Bader, Jr. turned to the starting line and said “Bob, burn the damn sign.” And then, he did.
Immediately after, fireworks lit the sky as Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” and other patriotic songs played, and throngs of fans walked among the pro drivers and their cars on the track as the sign Motz had set aflame sat smoldering in the background.
Fan-feedback in the hours after the event has been positive, with many already inquiring about next year’s event, which is set for Aug. 8, 2015. For more information, please call 419-668-5555 or visit www.summitmotorsportspark.com. For sportsman and pro results, please click http://summitmotorsportspark.com/news/81-news/645-brown-force-winners-of-night-under-fire-presented-by-kelly-services