While everyone in Ohio is reveling over the Ohio State Buckeyes football triumph over their rivals from the state to their north, anticipation for the second annual "Buckeyes vs. Hoosiers Driver's Challenge" on December 10 at Hollywood Dayton Raceway is steadily building.
The Hoosier team will be comprised of the five leading dash winners at Hoosier Park during their recently-completed 2016 season. That would include Captain Trace Tetrick, the winningest driver in Hoosier Park history, and teammates Sam Widger, Ricky Macomber, Tyler Smith and Andy Shetler (Shetler replaces John DeLong, who had a previous out-of-town engagement).
The Buckeyes squad will include the five leaders in the current meet dash derby after the Saturday, December 3 program. At this writing, that would include Captain Josh Sutton, Kayne Kauffman, Jeremy Smith and Dan Noble. Peter Wrenn currently has a one win edge over Chris Page for the final spot.
The contest will include six races on the Saturday night card with equal post positions assigned to each driver from both squads and the horses drawn randomly into those assigned drivers. Points will be earned in accordance with the official order of finish on a 30-24-18-14-11-9-7-5-3-1 basis. The team that accumulates the most points will be declared the winner.
The Challenge went down to the sixth and final race in its inaugural competition in 2015 and a similar spirited finish is expected the second time around.
The real winners, though, will be underprivileged children in Dayton and a lady named Crystal Wilson, as the centerpiece of the Buckeyes vs. Hoosiers Challenge is the holiday spirit of giving. Hollywood Dayton Raceway is encouraging all horsemen and patrons to donate a new toy to the Dayton Firefighters Local 136 campaign to assure that every child in its Dayton precinct has a new toy at Christmas. The Local 136 Christmas Toy Drive has been chaired by paramedic Crystal Wilson in recent years, a role she cannot fulfill this year due to an unfortunate fall from a ladder several months ago which has left her paralyzed from the waist down. During the first two years of harness racing at Hollywood Dayton, Crystal also served as an EMT in the required ambulance stationed trackside during all live performances.
Hollywood Dayton Raceway and the Ohio Harness Horsemens Association puts up $2,500 in prize money for the Buckeyes vs. Hoosiers Challenge. In Year One, the drivers from both squads voted unanimously to donate the entire prize pool to the Firefighter's Toy Drive. This year, they have agreed to promote toy donations from owners, drivers, trainers as well as patrons to the toy drive, and devote the entire prize money pool to Crystal Wilson, who was so very helpful and concerned over their safety over so many nights.
"It's our turn to repay Crystal with this donation to help with her rehabilitation costs," said OHHA Track Rep Brett Merkle—a sentiment echoed by all the members of both teams. (Hollywood Dayton)