Geoff Cowles/News Akron’s Al Varner Jr. gets some air at the end of his run in the Rough Truck competition Wednesday at the Knox County Fair. Varner won the event in his Chevy Silverado in a time of 34.19 seconds.

Geoff Cowles/Mount Vernon News

Akron’s Al Varner Jr. gets some air at the end of his run in the Rough Truck competition Wednesday at the Knox County Fair. Varner won the event in his Chevy Silverado in a time of 34.19 seconds. Request this photo

 

MOUNT VERNON — For those who were expecting the rough truck competition at the 2019 Knox County Fair to include Mount Vernon driver Adam Blankenhorn and his familiar silver-grey truck, Adamosity, roaring around the gritty, bone-jarring track in front of the grandstands, Wednesday’s competition was a surprise. Blankenhorn was there and so was his truck, but not together. When it was all over, however, Blankenhorn had passed the torch to a good friend of his and both of them took home a trophy.

Akron’s Al Varner Jr. drove his Chevy Silverado to victory in the rough truck category. In the meantime, Blankenhorn, who won the event four times in the last seven years, still thrilled the crowd, winning the side-by-side competition.

Adamosity was there, too, but it was under new ownership and with a new name. Michael Springston of Marengo had rechristened the 2004-ish Nissan-Chevy hybrid with the name, ‘All or Nothing.’ Even with the new name Blankenhorn’s old truck came in second, just like it did in last year’s Knox County Fair.

Even though Varner is the new rough truck champion, he is no stranger to Knox County and has been racing at the fair for several years. In his truck he calls “Bounty Hunter,” Varner ran the course in a time of 34.94 in the first round. In the final round, he was the last driver to make a pass. By the time it was his turn, all of the other drivers had failed to outrun Varner’s first round time.

“We were just trying to put a good, solid, fast pass down — especially in the first round,” said Varner.

Varner, with first place in his back pocket, took his final run with no pressure and managed to top his first round time, tearing through the course in a sizzling 34.19 seconds.

“My crew member, Ray Scoles said, ‘We have it sewn up,’ so I went out there and had fun,” Varner said. “We ended up going faster and that’s even better. The truck is running really, really well.”

Blankenhorn, who finished with a time of 35.03 in his side-by-side buggy, was the first competitor to run the track and had to watch as one driver after another attempted to best his time. In the end, Blankenhorn’s time stood all challengers. It was only the second time he raced his side-by-side in competition.

“It runs pretty well,” said Blankenhorn. “It’s all stock. there’s nothing special to it. My son talked me into bringing it out to race it and I thought, ‘Oh heck, why not. Let’s go and have some fun.’ So, that’s what we did tonight.”

Blankenhorn, who has been racing the rough truck circuit professionally for 15 years, has scaled back his life in recent months.

“In the last couple of years I’ve gotten busy,” said Blankenhorn. “My son is growing up and it’s just time for a little bit of time off. I’d say I’m on a sabbatical.”

Blankenhorn may actually be looking to take his racing career in a new direction after getting a chance to see Mexico’s famous Baja 1000 this year.
“I went there with some guys that I raced with in Missouri,” said Blankenhorn. “I enjoyed that. Hopefully, in the future, if the funding is right, we might do a little chasing out there. it was a really good time.”

Varner may be from Akron, but he’s been coming to the Knox County Fair for years and his friends and helpers read like a Who’s Who of local racing.

“I’ve got a lot of good people behind me — Ray Scoles, Adam Blankenhorn, (2018 Knox County Fair rough truck winner) Levi Lape and Dakota Griffith,” Varner said. “I get support from my dad. He helps me with the truck all the time. Also, my wife, Renee, who puts up with my crap, whether my truck breaks or we win. The guys at the shop did a really, good job. There’s a lot of people behind winning a race like this.”

Even with a new driver in the winner’s circle, the rough truck trophy will stay in the hands of the same racing family.

“Adam is a great guy,” Varner said. “He’s a great friend of mine. He has taught me so much. Between he, Ray and Levi, those are the guys that always win here and they basically passed the torch on to me.”

Geoff Cowles/News Seth Tucker of Centerburg found out just how hard the landing is in the final jump at the Rough Truck competition at the Knox County Fair. As he landed Wednesday, the air bag in his vehicle deployed.

Geoff Cowles/Mount Vernon News

Seth Tucker of Centerburg found out just how hard the landing is in the final jump at the Rough Truck competition at the Knox County Fair. As he landed Wednesday, the air bag in his vehicle deployed. Request this photo

 

 

Geoff Cowles: 740-397-5333 or gcowles@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @http://twitter.com/mountvernonnews

 

 

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