SPOTLIGHT ON SPEED: Bob Lash
Competing at Heartland Park Topeka for the first time this season on July 14th, the 77-year-old Lash won the Sportsman championship in HPT's E.T. Bracket Racing Series, defeating Kole Vogel in the final round. Lash clocked an elapsed time of 12.682 seconds at a speed of 104.72 miles per hour in his 1972 Chevrolet Nova.
"That surprised the heck out of me,'' Lash said of the win. "I had no expectations of doing that. I figured I'd be done second round and leave.''
Lash has been a staple at Heartland Park since the track, which opened in 1989, launched its bracket racing series in '90. But Lash had cut back on his HPT schedule of late.
"I made an attempt to run for the points in 2012 and it didn't work out very well,'' he said. "I had a problem with the car that I found later on that was causing it to run a little erratic.
"But I decided to come back and try it on the 14th -- nothing else to do.''
Lash's most recent victory added another chapter to a drag racing legacy that began in the fall of 1953.
"The first race us guys went to was down at Edna, Kansas,'' Lash said. "I took my mighty '38 Ford that was so slow it was unbelievable. But that's the way they ran back then.''
Lash has claimed a pair of Sportsman track championships at Heartland Park and his recent win was his 12th in 21 final-round appearances at the track.
"I have my trophies all lined up in order against my wall,'' said Lash, who lives outside of St. George on Highway 24.
Lash won his track championships in '97 and '03 and one of his biggest highlights came in 2000 when he won a Division V event at Bandimere Speedway in Denver and earned the right to compete in the NHRA Winternationals at Pomona, Calif.
"That was a big deal there, for just an ET racer like me, to be able to get some national recognition and race out at Pomona, California at a national event,'' Lash said.
But for Lash, last month's win at HPT also holds a special place in his heart because it gave him bragging rights over another longtime local drag racing stalwart, 76-year-old Topekan Dean Steward.
"He's a year younger than I am and he's been doing pretty good in the Pro class,'' Lash said of Steward. "I was worried that he'd take over as being the oldest guy to win an event out there, so I took care of two things. I won a race and now I'm a year or so ahead of him.''
And Lash has every intention of being back in action when the E.T. Bracket Racing Series returns to Heartland Park on Aug. 25th.
"For some reason I'm still pretty alert and have good eyesight, reaction and my muscles work fine,'' Lash said. "If the weather looks good I'm going to try my darndest to be there.''