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Determination pays off for Hayn in bus Figure 8

© St. Petersburg Times
published May 15, 2002

The life of a School Bus Figure 8 driver is one of drama and hazard, absurdity and accomplishment, and -- at times -- wealth.

On Saturday night at Sunshine Speedway, Brian Hayn, a feature winner and driver of No. 00, was sitting in the experiential driver's seat and getting first-hand knowledge of all that Tampa Bay School Bus racing has to offer -- especially the drama.

"It gets hairy out there sometimes, really," Hayn said.

Hayn, who has raced School Buses exclusively the past six years, could be called an authority. He has three victories and several second-place finishes.

Hayn occasionally competes at Bradenton's DeSoto Speedway, where he has been in the top three in each of his three events. Racing there, however, isn't comparable to Sunshine, he said.

"DeSoto is just a different story," Hayn said. "DeSoto is a three-eighths of a mile track, and the (Figure) 8 is almost a third.

"When you're pulling up to the intersection, man, you're just not sure where you're going to land," he said. "There's so much that can happen."

Couple the excess speed possible in the straightaways of a longer track with the 70-passenger capacity of an average School Bus, multiplied by the number of passes through the intersection in a 25-lap race, and you have more action than you can shake a yellow caution flag at.

Sunshine's lack of comparative girth, however, removes little of the pressure that naturally accompanies each of a driver's 50 passes through the intersection in a 25-lap event.

Hayn started Saturday's race five rows from the top in ninth place. He took only six laps to admit himself to the lead quintet. By Lap 12, he was in front.

Hayn kept a tight hold on his position through Lap 17, when Cameron Hill (No. 5) took advantage of a slowdown at the intersection and passed Hayn around the end of a bus that was blocking Hayn's path.

Hayn recaptured the lead in Lap 20 but collided with the No. 77x of Matt Musselman on a pass through the middle. Musselman's bus was sent tumbling.

The incident was not detrimental to Musselmam. His bus was righted, and the flip earned him a cash bonus for the best rollover. But Hayn's No. 00 suffered a punctured radiator.

In the time it took for Musselman's "Happy Mother's Day" inscribed former transport to be returned to its upright position and escorted from the line of fire, Hayn's radiator had emptied on the pavement.

Rather than concede defeat, Hayn ignored his lack of engine coolant and took his place on the point for the restart.

With five laps to go, the drama was in full effect, and Hayn was determined to finish the race.

Five laps after the restart, he crossed the finish line ahead of the rest. A threat came in the final lap from eventual runner-up Fran Matera (No. 96). Hill finished third.

Hayn was awarded $1,000 and a six-foot trophy adorned with a bright yellow bus. It had been more than a year since his last win.

NOTES: Pinellas Park's Chet Senokossoff (No. 6) took the win in the Open Wheel Modified race after starting 12th.

Pinellas Park's Mark McKnight (No. 90) finished second, and Jason Graham (No. 4) was third.

Street Stock driver Earl Bowman, No. 20 of Pinellas Park, won his feature off a first-row start, leading the entire length of the race.

Oldsmar's Ricky Hoffman drove his No. 32 to second, and the No. 7 guided by Troy Meredith of Clearwater crossed the line third.

Roger Welch, the 2001 points champion who squeaked into the race as an alternate, spun out going into Turn 4 in the 18th lap. His car caught fire as it slid into the infield, and safety personnel rushed to extinguish the flame. Welch was unhurt.

Robert Crisp, No. 2 of Clearwater, won his seventh feature race in a row in the Outlaw Late Model class.

His successes prompted the detainment of his car in the tech area for an extended period of time, but his machine was declared legal and awarded first place.

Scott Holly of Dunedin took second in his No. 1, and St. Petersburg's Rick McMehan finished third in his No. 15.

Charlie Meyer, No. 94 of St. Petersburg, drove to a Figure 8 victory.

Bob Hage, No. 78 of St. Petersburg, placed second. Pinellas Park's Joey Catarelli came away with third, driving No. 28, formerly steered by Shane Grigsby of Pinellas Park.

In the Mini Stock division, Tom Bennett of St. Petersburg posted a victory in his No. 82.

He was followed by Tampa's Dennis Valdez (No. 40) and Jay Zolciak (No. 61).

Enduro driver Steve Elder (No. 42) of St. Petersburg got the top spot in his feature.

Largo's Carl Guilefuss raced his No. 78 to second. St. Petersburg Mike Crooks (No. 81) was third.

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