OREN COVERT MEMORIAL SATURDAY NIGHT AT THUNDER HILL
By Troy Harrison
On Saturday night, for the 11th consecutive year, Thunder Hill Speedway will memorialize Oren Covert, a longtime area racer. The popular Covert campaigned his familiar #17 machines for nearly 40 years, starting in Jalopies, moving to Supermodifieds, then Sprint Cars, then Stock Cars, then Late Models, and finally ending in Modifieds before passing away at the too-young age of 61 years old in 2002.
This writer – me, Troy Harrison – is going to step away from the usual “editorial we.” I was proud to count Oren Covert as a friend. That didn’t exactly put me in exclusive company; I think everyone that Oren met ended up a friend in one way or another. Oren had a smile, a handshake, a laugh, and if needed, a word of advice or encouragement for anyone in whatever pit area he happened to be in at the moment.
Oren is quite properly thought of as a “legend.” Not for his feature wins – of which Oren won his share – but for the way he influenced everyone around him. Oren Covert knew what too many people these days have forgotten. That racing, at its root, is FUN. It’s about the experience, the fun, the friendships, and the relationships. Yes, he was a fine driver. But he was a better man, and a better example for others to follow. Me, when I think of Oren, I’ll remember that he was the last guy in this area to race an old-style T-bodied Supermodified against the Sprint cars. He did OK with it, too. But more than that, I’ll remember the smile on his face and the quick greeting for anyone he saw.
Oren’s influence can still be seen everywhere in this area. When Tim Lange rolls his #17 Stock car onto the race track, that’s a memorial to Oren. In fact, most #17’s on the track at Thunder Hill had a tie to Oren one way or another. On Saturday night, he may be remembered with a moment of silence. That’s appropriate, of course. But it would be just as appropriate to remember Oren Covert with a smile, a laugh, and a revving engine.
Extra money is in the purse for Saturday night for several classes. The BSB Manufacturing Modified feature will pay $600 to win plus a new tool cart for a trophy (provided by Matt Buzzard, Milestone Marketing, and Advance Auto Parts), the Kansas National Guard IMCA Northern SportMod feature will pay $400 to win, the Heinen Repair Service IMCA Stock Car feature will pay $275 to win ($475 if the winner is a new winner at Thunder Hill in 2012), and the BuyRaceParts.com IMCA Hobby Stock feature will pay $200 to win. The IMCA Sport Compacts will not be in action.
The Xtreme Motor Sports Clash on the Hill continues Saturday Night, July 21, with the Oren Covert Memorial. Gates open at 5:00 PM, driver’s meeting at 6:30, hotlaps and races to follow. Adult General Admission is $10.00, kids 12 and under are free. Coolers are allowed (Canned beer only – no glass bottles) for a $10 charge. Pit passes are $25.00.
Thunder Hill Speedway is located at 11995 NW 142nd Road (2 miles West of US-75 on NW 142nd Road), in Mayetta, KS. For more information, please visit www.racethunderhillspeedway.com.