Need for speed
Elkton Mini Grand Prix brings racing downtown
ELKTON — The Mini Grand Prix was a fun day of racing in its third year, but not without some drama.
The annual event organized by Brandon Hollenbaugh, owner of Premier Auto & Tire, was in an early heat when the Jobeth Bowers Law-sponsored car driven by Tim Heaps, of Elkton, slammed into hay bales on the turn from Main Street to Bow Street. Heaps flew off and the go-kart came to a stop several feet away, minus a piece of its bumper.
“He was just coming around the corner. He went there and his car went there,” said Joan Hawkins, who witnessed the wreck. “I was standing on that outside wall and I said I’m probably safer on the inside.”
She moved with time to spare.
Heaps broke three vertebrae in his back, according to his wife, Amanda Heaps. However, other than being sore, doctors at Christiana Hospital told the Elkton couple that Tim’s injuries will heal.
“There’s nothing they can do,” Amanda said Tuesday of any possible treatment for the breaks in his L2, L3 and L4 vertebrae. “It’s definitely serious ... but he’s getting around.”
Heaps said her husband raced last year for the Jobeth Bowers team with no incidents. This year he collided with another driver on a turn.
“He tried to pass another guy and ran over his wheel by accident,” Amanda said. “It might have looked like he wasn’t in pain, but he was.”
Once the race resumed there were a few other mishaps, none as serious, in which drivers knocked hay bales askew or mismanaged the course and spun into the wrong direction.
“Premier has mandatory training,” said Paul Bauernschmidt, a volunteer assigned to the flag crew along the route.
He said most of the 30 drivers competing Saturday were locals, with gokarts sponsored by local businesses.
“Some drive their own car like Peter Kirsch. Steve Moon has one of his employees driving for him,” he said.
Kyle Fletcher admitted he came to see cars spin out, and has come all three years.
“I don’t like to see people get hurt,” he said of the wreck. “That was a bad crash.”
Kevin Marvel was looking for the car representing his insurance agent.
“This is pretty neat,” he said as the go-karts flew down Main Street. “I used to race these on a dirt track, so I’m kind of into it.”
Aaron McDonald called it “Ceciltucky at its finest.”
“We’ve got the demolition derby and we’ve got this,” McDonald said. “It’s entertaining.”
He figures it is a sport he may try himself.
“I’m very interested. I may want to do this next year,” he said.
So does Nate Kendro. But that’s still a few years away. The race fan from Upper Chichester, Pa., is just 5 years old.
“I think the No. 3 car is going to win,” Kendro said, adding he expects the grand prix cars to travel 200 mph.
Actually Bauernschmidt said the top speed — at least on the track in downtown Elkton — was about 30 mph.
Lucinda Hammond enjoyed watching the races but said her time to take that wheel has passed.
“I’m not that adventurous at 70,” Hammond said. “I did this when I was younger and I still ride on the back of a motorcycle.”
A go-kart driver flies down Main Street in a heat of the Mini Grand Prix held Saturday in Elkton.
Drivers in the Mini Grand Prix in downtown Elkton maneuver through the course along Main Street Saturday.
Spectators sat along the course to watch the Mini Grand Prix in Elkton Saturday.