The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Snow.2
    FIRST SNOW—Heavy, wet flakes piled deep on tree branches—and windshields—as the area received its first significant snowfall of the season. “Usually it begins with a dusting or two,” said George Isobar, Morenci’s observer for the National Weather Service, “but this time it came with a vengeance.” By the end of the day Saturday, a little over four inches of snow was on the ground. Now comes the thaw with temperatures in the 40s and 50s for three days.
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    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
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    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
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    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.
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Rob Price: Sixteen Years at Oakshade Raceway

Written by David Green.


Most guys would have walked away from auto racing if they had a start like Rob Price. They certainly wouldn't have driven away.

Rob was only 15 years old when he got the racing bug. He bought a ’76 Chevelle and  wanted to take it across the Ohio border to the Oakshade Raceway.

“I told my dad this is what I wanted to do and I was going to do it,” he said.

That’s not an idea his dad embraced. True, he was the one who got Rob interested in the race track, but after all, this was a 15-year-old kid who didn’t yet have a driver’s license. That fact doesn’t have any impact on whether or not a person can race on the track, but it did have an impact on Rob's dad.

Rob and a friend got busy tearing the Chevelle apart, but his father stepped in.

“Dad said I couldn’t do it until I was 16 and had some driving experience. I don’t regret it,” Rob says.

raced-boys That’s easy to say now, but he wasn’t that happy at the time. Furthermore, his father had one other demand. Rob wasn’t going to take the Chevelle onto the track for his first try. He would begin with an old street car and give that a go before sinking money into the creation of a racing vehicle.

“I was three laps into my first race and I hit the wall and totaled the car,” Rob said. “That was basically because I thought I knew it all.”

That was 16 years ago and Rob has come a long way since smacking into the wall.

“I’ve pretty much been in the top 10 in the last eight years,” he said, referring to Oakshade’s bomber class of racing.

Three seasons ago he finished in second place, then dropped to third in 2002. But this year he went all the way, posting the most points of anybody in his class. He’ll be honored as the bomber champion at the track’s annual banquet Saturday night.


Three classes compete at Oakshade Raceway. On the top is the late model class. These cars feature a racing chassis and are racing equipped. And they cost a lot of money to create and maintain.

One step down is the sportsman class. Tires are smaller and after-market bodies are allowed.

Drop on down to the bomber class and you're talking factory body and parts.

"A bomber is a street stock version of a race car," Rob explained. "It's a street legal car that's been modified. The suspension and rear end are stock. Everything else we can pretty much do."

And that's where the fun begins. For Rob, it's a tossup between what he likes best—building, maintaining and fine-tuning a car or actually racing it.

Since the season ended in September, Rob's car is now in the garage behind his house looking like anything but a race-ready vehicle.

"Everything that's bolted onto the car gets taken off," he said. "The chassis is looked over with a fine tooth comb looking for cracks. Every year the motor gets redone.”

During the season, there's weekly maintenance and checking the car over to see that everything's tight. Rob also spends time checking various weight alignments in hopes of making the car handle better.

He says that Skeet Reckner is the mastermind behind his car. Skeet was the original builder of the vehicle.

"When I have questions, I call Skeet and ask him why it was done that way."

Billy Williams played a role in much of the current incarnation of the vehicle and Danny Schaffer has helped keep things running.

"Danny's always been there when I needed him," Rob said, "like for late night repairs."

Chris Howard also races a bomber, when he has the time. Two years ago, when Rob blew a motor and Chris was busy with work, Chris gave Rob his motor to help him finish out the season and take second place.

At the track

Eighty to ninety bombers show up for a typical Saturday night at Oakshade and the stands are usually packed. The night starts off with the preliminary heat races to determine who advances on the main A show of the night. Rob made it into the A race all summer long, which means more cumulative points than the B or C races.

In the heats, drivers travel eight times around the 3/8 mile clay track. In the feature, 20 cars travel 15 laps. There's some luck of the draw over starting line placement, and it's hard to start at the tail and finish in front.

"There's lot of lead changes," Rob said, "and there's always an accident. It's like racing on ice for us with our tire size."

Rob can't remember seeing a serious injury in years. Drivers are protected by a fire suit, helmet, neck collar and five-point harness.

"We're protected pretty decent in there," he said, but added, "I have been knocked out a couple of times."

Anyone can win on any given night.

"My strategy is to get to the front as quick as I can before chaos happens," Rob said. "I try to anticipate what the others are going to do and go where they aren't."

Consistency plays a big part in earning points—Rob had only two first-place finishes last summer—and it's essential to get across the finish line and avoid the DNF (did not finish).

The payoff for winning a race is only $200, but nobody is in this for the money. With all the time and resources required, it's only for the love of racing, of course.

"My wife, Heather, backs me 100 percent. My parents back me 100 percent."

He'll need that next April when he heads back to Oakshade to defend his title.

It been a long time since Rob Price went to a race with his father and told him, "I'm going to do this some day, Dad. This is cool."

In must be in the genes. Rob is hearing that same line now from one of his sons.


-November 12, 2003 

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