A few weeks ago, the Bandits found themselves with back-to-back races on the same weekend, due to a postponement earlier in the season that needed to be made up, along with another event just two weeks after that. Needless to say, these Bandits were busy! When the dust settled – and there was a lot of dust – the Minimizer Bandit Big Rig Series did what it set out to do, which is entertain a legion of fans and leave them with a lifetime of memories. “If rubbing is racing, we definitely had some good racing going on these past weekends!” Bandit Race Director Brian Madsen said. “The boys are starting to feel a little chippy as the season winds down, and they aren’t cutting anyone any slack anymore.”
It all started at La Crosse Speedway in Wisconsin on July 28, where rookie Mike Ward (#16) drove like a man possessed. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been in victory lane,” Ward said. Ward led every lap of the feature race and stole the checkered flag, as well as a $10,000 check.
“Even though Ward led every lap, he had his hands full with his truck being on old tires,” Madsen said. “The last ten laps, the tires were done. There was no traction and I was just trying to save my right front (tire), but it worked out,” Ward said. Jon Lisenbee (#7) and Justin Ball (#17) finished second and third place, respectively, in La Crosse.
The very next day, the make-up race at Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Iowa was held, after severe weather back in June caused the event to be postponed when only halfway through. Ball was declared the winner after rain put an end to the feature mid-race. “It feels unbelievable,” Ball said, after capturing his second Bandit feature race in three events. “The last time we were here, the track felt like it was fast, and we just tried to keep that going.”
Ball has moved up in the standings, thanks to an impressive run that started with a feature win in Salem, Indiana last month. The man they call “Boost” is now in 4th place overall, while Ricky “Rude” Proffitt (#14) remained on top as the Bandits headed to Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina a couple weeks later, where Rude proved why he is at the top of the leader board by pulling off a perfect night!
It’s hard to have a better night than Ricky Rude. Scratch that. It’s impossible. Completing a perfect 3-for-3 night with wins in his heat, challenge and feature races, the Minimizer Bandit Series points leader stole yet another $10,000 check in front of some passionate fans at Hickory Motor Speedway in Newton, NC on Saturday, August 11th.
“That’s what I’m talking about!” the North Carolina native said. “We go up north and I’ve never been to those tracks, so these guys beat on me, but we bring them back here to our front yard and here we go. First place, baby.” A yellow caution flag on lap 20 bunched up the field, but Rude was able to hold them off at the World’s Most Famous Short Track. “Years ago, I used to worry about cautions, but now I know it’s just going to happen,” Rude said.
But even in his own backyard, Rude wasn’t the most popular Bandit during the Bandit Series meet-and-greet at Hickory. Susan Lisenbee made history as the first female Bandit and proved to be extremely popular with her fellow North Carolinians. “Her autograph line was one of the longest of the night,” Bandit General Manager Jason Johnson said. “Everyone wanted an autograph or picture with the first female Bandit.”
With the season winding down, you won’t want to miss one of their last few events. After the race at Elko Speedway in Minnesota on August 25, the Bandits head to Andersen Speedway in Williamston, SC on September 15, before finishing the season on September 29 at Myrtle Beach Speedway in Myrtle Beach, SC. Can Ricky Rude stay on top until the end? Time will tell!
EDITOR’S NOTE: As always, thanks to Robyn Kruckeberg of Robyn K Photos for providing the great pictures for this and other Bandit Race Reports!