GRESHAM COMES OUT OF LATE TANGLE AS SEMI-PRO WINNER by Matt Kentfield
Thriller Ends With Harsh Words Thrown Around
Stock car racing has had its fair share of feuds through the course of history. Allison and Yarborough. St. Amant and Eddy. Waltrip and Earnhardt. They all have dished out and received plenty of bumper taps and harsh words throughout their careers both on the track and off. The younger generation of racers grew up watching their heroes trade paint and verbal jabs with the popularity both of the sport as a whole and the network television coverage.
games with each other on restarts and were both hungry to become the National Champion of the Semi-Pros. Instead, a bold move by Max Gresham was the one that proved to be the winning one.
On a restart with just two laps ago, Wallace made a move beneath Rodenbeck for the lead. The two raced side-by-side, neither giving an inch. They moved into turn one on the final lap door-to-door and behind them third-place Max Gresham saw his opportunity to pounce. Wallace dove beneath Rodenbeck and completed the pass. Rodenbeck then made contact with Wallace’s car, sending Wallace up the racetrack off the second turn. Rodenbeck collected his car, but both he and Wallace had been passed by Gresham while the craziness was going on. While Wallace and Rodenbeck played bumper tag, Gresham had passed them both on the inside to take the lead and the National Championship.
“I was thinking I was going to take my Gresham Motorsports car and it was either going to stick or we were all going to get taken out,” said Gresham of his last-lap bid for the lead. “I just got a good break when things got crazy. I just picked a hole and hoped it stuck.”
It still happens today, from weekly short tracks all the way to the highest levels of NASCAR between drivers of all ages. It happens in Legends Cars, as well. The Legends ranks are where racers young and old get to hone or show off their talents, but as Legends Semi-Pro drivers Darrell Wallace and Paddy Rodenbeck have shown this season, there are feuds even between the next generation of young racing stars.
Wallace and Rodenbeck have had their share of run-ins in the past, whether it be in local Legends racing at tracks throughout the Southeast or during the Lowe’s Motor Speedway (NC) Summer Shootout Series. The two drivers have plenty of talent and have shown that they have big things on their horizons. They have also shown that they can rough it up with each other, as well. The simmering feud came to a full-tilt boil on Saturday night in the Semi-Pro division’s 40-lap A-Main during the 15th Annual RACEceiver Legends and Thunder Roadsters Asphalt Nationals at Lanier National Speedway in Georgia.
Rodenbeck and Wallace were the stars of the show throughout the race. They traded the lead, played mind
Max Gresham took the checkers thanks to the racing incident between two other drivers. (51 photo)
Paddy Rodenbeck (#129, top) and Darrell Wallace (#16, bottom) had a coming together in the Legends Semi-Pro Nationals. (Future Pros Photos)
And stick it did. Gresham pulled away in the final half-lap after the incident, leaving the fireworks behind him. On the cooldown lap, Gresham did donuts on the frontstretch as Wallace showed his displeasure for being knocked out of contention towards Rodenbeck by slamming the front end of his #16 machine into the rear of Rodenbeck’s #129 as the top-five finishers lined up on the frontstretch.
After the contact on the frontstretch, Wallace pulled his car up to his trailer as the two drivers he competed with for the win were celebrating their first and second-place finishes. After he had a few moments to cool down, Wallace pinned blame for his misfortunes on one driver alone – the same one that he had tangled with several times in the past.
“Paddy Rodenbeck, he’s always like that,” said Wallace. “He’s wrecked me and I’ve wrecked him back. I’m used to it now. Next time I see him, I don’t if it’s in practice or not, I’m going to wreck him – bad. He’s going to have to pull out his backup car. I’m tired of it. On that last lap, he cuts a guy off and gets behind me and wrecks me. I don’t know and I don’t care.”
The fans at Lanier knew that something big was going to happen throughout the race between the leaders, as whoever was in the lead, whether it was Rodenbeck or Wallace, brake checked and played games with the second-place driver on each restart. Turns out, it would be the third-place driver Gresham that would come out on top.
Gresham’s move to the inside made it three-wide through the corner on the final lap, and even though contact was made between Wallace and Rodenbeck, it should have been chocked up to hard racing between all three. But because of the history between all three drivers, in fact, controversy surrounded the finish.
“Me and him have been feuding all year,” said Rodenbeck of Wallace. “This just caps it off, but I guess I just came out on top. I don’t think he’s got anything to be mad about. I raced him pretty clean. If anyone should be mad it should be both him and me.”
Even the eventual winner reflected in past run-ins with one of his other challengers for the victory as a motivation to pull a daring last-lap move.
“Me and Darrell have had a thing for the last few years,” said Gresham. “He beat me last year in the Bandolero Nationals and I figured hey, this is my year. This feels awesome, I couldn’t have wished for anything more.”
In the end though, both Wallace and Rodenbeck were able to congratulate Gresham on a victory in different ways.
“I’m real happy for Max,” said Rodenbeck. “There’s no
There was a lot of hard racing and some hard crashing in the Semi-Pro Division. (Future Pros Photo)
one I’d rather see win it if I can’t win it than him. It was just a good overall race and a good ending of the season for us.”
“They both did good…well, except for Paddy,” said Wallace. “I hate his guts.”