CLEVELAND, Texas (Aug. 19, 2023) — Regional oval master Shane Hebert, Texas stock car ace Kenny Montgomery and versatile racer Taylor Hunter all scored wins in their respective divisions, as officials presented the Living Legend 50th year of racing celebration Saturday at 105 Motor Speedway.
The night paid tribute to Dayton, Texas-based driver Howard Willis, who will celebrate 50 years in the sport on Labor Day weekend. Hebert powered to victory in the 30-lap A Main for Limited Modifieds; Montgomery won the Hobby Stock feature; while Hunter claimed a spirited tilt for IMCA Mod Lites.
Rob Slott (Street Stock) also scored a feature win on a beautiful night for racing in southeast Texas.
Hebert, of Scott, Louisiana, started on the pole of a 26-car Limited field and led all 30 laps in dominant fashion. Jared Maupin, who made the show by winning the second B Main, made a strong late-race charge and crossed the stripe in second, while Craig Oakes filled out the podium.
Ryan Harris (Crosby) and 66-year-old veteran Skeet Amason (New Boston) completed the top five. Hebert took home a cool $3,023 for his efforts.
“We've been here before several years ago for a USMTS race,” Hebert told veteran announcer Caleb McFarland in Victory Lane. “Now, with RaceOnTexas, you can scope a place out and make a game plan before you go compete there.
“We knew the track was probably going to be a little dry and tough to pass on with all the cars here. Luck was pretty much on our side all night long; drawing the first Heat race, being able to capitalize and win that was huge. Starting on the pole was big, I was just trying to pace myself in lapped traffic.”
Finishing sixth through 10th in the Limited Modified A Main were John Whittington, Johnny Torres, man of the evening Howard Willis, Tanner Whitmire and Bryce Reed. Five cautions slowed the pace (laps 17, 18, 20, 24, 24), all for minor spins. Hebert's margin of victory was a scant .965 of a second.
With a high rate of attrition, only 19 of the 26 starters were running at the completion of 30 laps. Hebert, Oakes, Amason, Willis, Tracy Denby Jr. and Cody Smith won their respective Heats earlier in the evening; Whittington and Maupin won the B Mains, while Whitmire and Justin Collins won the Cs.
Montgomery, of Huntsville, started second on a 20-car Hobby Stock grid and led all 16 laps (shortened from 20 due to time constraints) in convincing style. Colt Beaver drove all the way up from 11th to claim second, while Scott Barber wheeled up from 12th on the grid to fill out the podium.
Bernard Finney (Cleveland) and Ronnie Borden (Magnolia) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
“I need to thank these fans for staying late to hang out with us,” Montgomery said. “I also want to thank Brandon Hightower at ACE Engines for getting me hooked up with a new bullet. I'll give a shout out to Brittany and my boys watching at home; and my parents. But this night isn't about me.”
Finishing sixth through 10th in the Hobby Stock feature were Tamara Keeble, CW McCay, Calvin Tucker, Cody Wade and Keith Lee Jr. Six cautions slowed the pace (laps 0, 1, 6, 8, 8, 14), two for multi-car incidents. K-Mo's margin of victory over Beaver was a comfortable 1.484 seconds.
Hunter, of Deer Park, started third on a 19-car grid, inherited the lead at lap four when early leader Corey Babbit's machine broke and pulled steadily away to earn top honors. Ricky Henry crossed the line in second, while divisional stalwart Dawson Fisher filed out the podium with another solid performance.
Chris Townsend (La Porte) and Joe McIntyre (Cleveland) rounded out the top five.
“I don't know what happened to Corey's car, but I hated to see that,” Hunter said in Victory Lane. “It would have been a great race between us. I want to thank all of you fans for staying so late. The rubbered down track was expected, with no rain and all of this heat. I'm just glad we could pull it off.”
Finishing sixth through 10th in the IMCA Mod Lite A Main were Josh Sousa, Joe Butler Jr., Scott Jordan, Johnny Brown Jr and Blaine Estes. Two cautions slowed the pace, all for minor spins. Hunter's margin of victory over Henry was a whopping 4.333 seconds, as he had truly checked out on the field.
The Living Legend 50-year Tribute race for iconic Texas racer Howard Willis drew an impressive 123 entries spread across four divisions. Led by the Limited Modifieds (going after a rich purse) with 63 cars on hand, there was talent in every nook and cranny of the 105 pits on Saturday night.
Officials were delayed in getting the program started due to a medical incident that took the ambulance away from the facility for an hour and a half. Once it returned and Hot Laps were completed, the staff cranked out 13 Heats, two B Mains and two C Mains in a reasonable time frame.
The features delivered plenty of side-by-side racing, making the long wait for fans worthwhile.
You can replay all of the action from Saturday's show featuring the Living Legend 50-year Special at 105 Motor Speedway with a subscription at RaceOnTexas.com. With over 400 events on the Live steaming schedule this year, it's home to some of the best short track content available.
By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer