QUINCY -- Tony Neilson selected his words carefully. He wanted to leave a heartfelt message in Quincy.
"I hope Gus is happy," said Neilson late Sunday afternoon after the Davenport, Iowa, driver won the final event at the return of the Grand Prix of Karting to South Park.
Neilson was speaking about Grand Prix founder Gus Traeder, who died two years ago. Traeder built the Quincy race into one of the world's most famous karting events before ending it in 2001 after a 32 year-run.
When word got out in late 2017 that the Grand Prix would be returning and coordinated by Gus's son, Terry Traeder, the karting world responded.
There were 302 world-class karters on hand Saturday and Sunday, coming from 15 states and one foreign country (Bermuda). That number that is bound to grow in the years to come.
Just ask Neilson.
"This place is magic," he said.
Terry Traeder made the announcement Sunday that had been expected. The Grand Prix will officially return in 2019, with dates and times to be announced in the near future.
And when will the preparation begin for next year?
"Probably about Wednesday," Traeder said, only half-kidding.
Bolton makes two
The Quincy area produced three Grand Prix champions. Jeff Scott of Quincy won the 206 Heavy on Saturday, while on Sunday, Riley Scott of Quincy won the Briggs 206 Medium and Todd Bolton of Bowen won the Yamaha Heavy.
"It's hard to believe a 46-year-old guy could do this," Bowen said. "But this was fun."
The Yamaha Heavy was a power-packed, 17-car class that featured five-and six-car drafts, reminiscent of NASCAR and Indy Car.
Bolton said being part of the draft helped cut three to four seconds off lap times. He said he was sitting in third place late in the race "but took a chance" and maneuvered into the lead.
"And then I blocked like crazy in the backshoot," he said.
An exciting, wheel-to-wheel finish saw Bolton edge Michael Dittmer of Davenport, Iowa, and Bill McLaughlin of Mooresville, Ind.
Even track announcer Randy Kugler of Wadsworth, Ohio, got caught up in the excitement.
"This was Quincy in the Park at its best," Kugler told the estimated crowd of 10,000.
Here's a list of winners by state, not including exhibition races:
Iowa (5): Tony Neilson (Delmar) 3, Michael Dittmer (Davenport), Michael Welsh (Bettendorf).
Illinois (4): Jeff Scott (Quincy), Riley Scott (Quincy), Todd Bolton (Bowen), Jerry Miller (Carlinville).
Missouri (3): Pete Vetter (Arnold), Matt Krechel (Pacific), Colin Predith (Wildwood).
Indiana (2): Denin Smith-Hardman (Nashville), Joe Ruch (Fishers).
All winners received a specially designed "Gussie" trophy, modeled after Gus Traeder.
When it came to total podium finishes, Missouri drivers ruled. The final tally was Missouri (12), Iowa (10), Indiana (7), Illinois (6), Texas (5), Ohio (2).