TWELVE MILE — Darren Ulerick recorded a Twelve Mile sweep on Saturday.
Ulerick, 23, of Peru, swept wins in the Briggs and Modified divisions of the Twelve Mile 500 at Plank Hill Park. He was the first driver to sweep since John Troyer in 2016.
A Fourth of July tradition, the Twelve Mile 500 is the oldest lawnmower race in the nation. Saturday was the 58th running.
“The sweep feels great. It was a good day for me I guess,” Ulerick said.
He started off his day with a win during a dirt-covered, black flag-filled Briggs race. He built a half-lap lead by the final lap and was able to coast to victory.
It was his first win at Twelve Mile since he won the Modified race as a 16-year-old in 2013.
Officials really wet down the track in between races for the Modified race. But the mud didn’t stop Ulerick from recording another win.
He made the winning pass just as the white flag flew for the final lap, passing Cullen Ulerick down the first-base line at Plank Hill Park. Darren Ulerick was able to hold on during the final lap for a close victory.
Cullen Ulerick, a distant cousin of Darren Ulerick, had to settle for second.
“I saw him looking back a couple laps to go, I think maybe 2-3 laps to go,” Darren Ulerick said. “I don’t know if he knew I was right there behind him. I knew I wanted to make a push on the last lap and try to get around him and catch him off the flipside.”
Darren Ulerick, who now has three wins at Twelve Mile overall, credited his father, Darrell, for having a fast mower in both races.
“My dad for sure building the engine and taking the time to do it. We’re basically a father-son combo, I don’t think it would have happened without both of us doing it together,” he said.
Darrell Ulerick is originally from Twelve Mile and first started racing at the 500 in the late 1970s. He drove to a win in 1991.
He said teamwork led to Saturday’s victories.
“We got together and he wanted it this way and I kind of thought, ‘yeah we need to make some changes.’ Last year he didn’t get to race and I raced and the motor blew up, so I had the engine redone and many changes,” he said.
The race was run in hot and sunny conditions with temperatures in the low 90s. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, qualifying was not held this year.
“I’m pretty bummed I didn’t qualify this year because I definitely think it’s a pole-sitter just with the improvements we’ve made over the last few months. It’s running good and it feels great,” Darren Ulerick said.
Black flags were a factor all day. Black flags are handed out for speeding or for an illegal pass. Organizers were looking to slow the race down a bit from recent years for safety concerns.
“They were watching it really good,” Ulerick said. “Those first couple laps they really set the tone. I think overall they had a pretty good eye out there, so it was a good race.”
Twelve Mile 500 results
Briggs Division: 1. Darren Ulerick, 2. Bud Sherman, 3. Chad Wimmer, 4. Zac Cowell, 5. Dennis Bodary, 6. Tyler Graf, 7. Jerome Emery, 8. Joe Troyer, 9. JT Hubenthal, 10. Zach Kesler, 11. Robert Hines, 12. Neil Schroder. DNF: Conner Martin, Zach Troyer, John Troyer, Kevin Hines, Chase Karnafel, Jayden Wilson, Tayt Cowell, Jason Hewitt.
Modified Division: 1. Darren Ulerick, 2. Cullen Ulerick, 3. Ethan Bowyer, 4. Zach Troyer, 5. Austin Strong, 6. John Troyer, 7. Dennis Bodary, 8. Josh Brown, 9. James Simpson, 10. Bradley Justice, 11. Chuck Warpenburg. DNF: Joe Troyer, Kyler Lowe, Michael DePoy, Conner Martin, Nick Overmyer.