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Tahoe racers share sportsmanship, finishes

Steve Yingling

South Shore auto racers Jeff Tillman and Lee Sutton proved Saturday night that to compete you don’t have to be enemies.

Tillman tendered a tire to Sutton, helping the Tahoe Paradise driver to a seventh-place finish in a Nor Cal Bet of the West race at Silver State Speedway.

“It’s nice to race against people you know and still be friendly afterward,” said Tillman, who edged Sutton by half a car length to finish sixth. “That’s what racing is all about, helping each other out, then going out and racing hard against one another and laughing about it afterward.”



It was a nice gesture of Tillman, especially before “snookering” Sutton on a restart during the 60-lap main event. Depending on which racer you talk to, Tillman did or didn’t pass Sutton on a green light on the restart.

“We were having a good time. It’s one of those gray areas. I’ve been passed that way before. It’s one of those things you try, and sometimes you get away it,” Tillman said.



Added Sutton, “He caught me sleeping.”

Considering Tillman started at the rear of the 20-car field because a tire blew during his heat race, his performance was pleasing.

“We definitely passed more cars than anybody. I knew I had a better car than where I started. I figured I could get up toward the front,” Tillman said.

Despite his second consecutive seventh-place showing, Sutton kept the tour lead, although it shrank to five points over Jim Parnell of Orangevale.

What enjoyment Sutton got from competing with Tillman was ruined by an overanxious 16-year-old rookie driver. Sutton and his crew, who spent 20-plus hour repairing body damage from the previous stop in Ukiah, saw their efforts ruined on the first lap when Greg Anderson of the Sacramento area smashed into the Chevrolet Lumina.

“He drove his car way over his head and plowed into us. We got into a bit of an argument and we told him we’d let it go this time,” Sutton said.

Tillman plans on entering four or five more Nor Cal Series events and spending the remainder of his racing season competing in the Mega Power Series.

“Our car has been good all year, and I feel we’re going to pull through and win one down the road,” he said.

Sutton will defend his tour lead June 7 in Eureka, and hopes his luck will change.

“I seem to be the most popular guy to run into lately. The wrecks have been stuff done to us and not things done on our accord. Unfortunately these wrecks have pushed us back and put a dent into our point lead,” Sutton said.


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