Champions preserve despite setbacks and Hunter Lapp (pictured on his side) showed why he won the 2023 sportsman title at Accord Speedway in New York. He got caught up in three incidents over the course of the feature. Despite restarting in the rear every time, he managed to finish third in The Gobbler.
The first incident occurred on lap one.
“A car got sideways in front of me,” Lapp, of Accord, New York, said. “I avoided hitting him but got caught up in the tires.”
A tow truck took Lapp’s car off the tires and he returned to the rear of the field.
“My car had a bent front axle and bent radius rods,” said Lapp. “I restarted at the tail of the field and worked up to 20th position.”
At that point, on lap five, Lapp got hooked another car. He took the next green back in the rear.
“Four laps later, two cars collided in front of me — I slid into the mess,” Lapp said. “My car turned over onto its side, and then someone hit my car in the hood area and flipped it over.
“Fuel was running out of the carburetor when I was upside down, and that got me nervous. When they flipped the car over, I just started it up. I said to myself, ‘Screw it, I’m going to keep racing.’ Both sides of the car were bent, so what the hell.”
Lapp was prepared for more. He sat in a Kirkey full-containment seat, with a Crow Safety Gear five-point harness. Lapp wore an Impact helmet paired with a NecksGen head-and-neck restraint. He wore a Velocita fire suit, with gloves and shoes from Simpson.
Lapp restarted the race in 20th, with 19 laps to go in the 30-lap feature.
“Everything happened in the first 10 laps, so I had time to work my way back up to sixth,” said Lapp. “That’s when the leader, Joe Judge, slid into a lapped-car pileup. On the restart, I was fifth and then the third- and fourth-place cars got together. I finished third, wishing there were five more laps.”
The 2023 edition of The Gobbler will be one that Hunter Lapp will remember.
“The sportsman feature was one of the craziest races I have ever been a part of,” Lapp said. “Not too many drivers can top that comeback. I consider it a major accomplishment. It’s the highlight of my career outside of the two championships.”
The Outside Groove Director of Photography has written hundreds of stories since the website’s inception. This year marks his 54th year of covering auto racing. Adaskaveg got his start working for track photographer Lloyd Burnham at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway in 1970. Since then, he’s been a columnist, writer, and photographer, in racing and in mainstream media, for several outlets, including the Journal Inquirer, Boston Herald, Stock Car Racing, and Speedway Illustrated. Among Adaskaveg’s many awards are the 1992 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Ace Lane Photographer of the Year and the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) George Cunningham Writer of the Year.