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Winged Sprint race honors late Sunshine driver

© St. Petersburg Times
published April 3, 2002

Saturday night's Jimmy Haynes Memorial gave drivers of T.B.A.R.A. Winged Sprints the chance to pay homage to a racing great.

James Richard Haynes, a Tarpon Springs native, was an up-and-comer in the Sprint world in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The son of a race car driver, Haynes grew up in the sport. It was in his blood.

He is remembered as an upstanding person.

"Of course, I am his mother," Pat Haynes said, giggling, "but Jimmy was the best person. He didn't drink, didn't smoke, never smoked. ... He never got into trouble. Not really, anyway."

Starting in motorcycle racing, Haynes quickly traded his two wheels for a set of four, competing in his first Sprint feature at 17. Driving on dirt and pavement, Haynes posted numerous wins at Sunshine Speedway and abroad by his mid 20s. In February of 1985, a 25-year-old Haynes and car owner Charlie Ledford collaborated on a first-place performance in the new Cooper Classic in Phoenix.

Emboldened by the success, the team decided to match its No. 20 Sprint car against the more powerful Super Modifieds in a race on the one-mile Arizona oval. Haynes held his own much of the way but lost control and collided with the outside wall.

He suffered head injuries, and Haynes died a few days later.

The 18th annual memorial event at Sunshine progressed like most Sprint races -- fast and furious.

Winged Sprints are only 1,300 pounds but have an 800 horsepower engine. A lap on the quarter-mile track takes only about 10 seconds.

Defending champion Keith Butler started his No. 19 in the fifth-place spot Saturday, directly in front of his brother, Shane (No. 18).

They maintained those positions in the T.B.A.R.A. driver points race entering the night. When it was over, there was no shift in their control of the points.

The race began with Jimmy Aluis (No. 21) on the pole. Keith Butler's No. 19 slid into third by Lap 2, putting pressure on 2000 Memorial winner Sport Allan (No. 88).

By Lap 7, Allan had dropped from the competition, allowing Butler to move into second. His brother passed Bo Hartley (No. 3x) to occupy third.

Lap 10 found Keith Butler securely in the lead, where he stayed the rest of the way. Shane Butler (No. 18) was the runner-up, and Wayne Reutimann (No. 22) finished third.

Neither Shane nor Keith had met Haynes. But their father, Stan, a member of Shane's pit crew, raced against Haynes and was considered somewhat of a rival.

Jennifer Haynes, one of the late driver's two daughters, cheered for the Butler boys to win.

NOTES: The Modified's feature was reduced to 20 laps to allow time for the Sprints. John Gerstner posted a victory in his No. 77 car after starting on the pole. Darren Jackson secured second place in his No. 7, and No. 20 James Glover took third.

In Street Stocks, Oldsmar's Ricky Hoffman (No. 32) made a strong first-place showing. Jeff Lacey commanded his No. 02 to the runner-up position, and No. 20 Earl Bowman of Pinellas Park came in third.

Points leader Roger Welch (No. 98, St. Petersburg) finished fifth after starting last. He almost didn't make it into the race after not faring well enough in his heat event.

Welch beat out Gulfport's Jackie Ashley (No. 72) in the consignment race for the last opening. Ashley retaliated, winning $500-plus in the weekly 50/50 drawing.

Wayne Calkins (No. 7, St. Petersburg) won the Figure 8 feature, beating Pinellas Park's J.R. Meyer (No. 21) and Clearwater's Jack Boswell (No. 59). Scott Holley (No. 1, Dunedin) continued a run of high finishes in the Outlaw class, placing second behind Robert Crisp (No. 2, Clearwater). Rick Haugh (No. 77, St. Petersburg) was third.

Mike Crooks of St. Petersburg drove his No. 81 to the winner's circle in Enduros. Pinellas Park's Ashley Larson (No. 58) placed second, and Scott Mizener (No. 70, St. Petersburg) took third.

The Mini Stock and Hornet divisions had the night off.

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