Article from Jan 2012 issue of Dirt Late Model Magazine
“Champions Issue”

Walker Arthur - Steel Block Bandits

A second-place finish in the 2011 Steel Block Bandits Season finale earned Walker Arthur his second consecutive championship in the Mid-Atlantic-based series. Arthur, of Forest, Virginia, who was the first feature winner of the series two years ago, won only one main event in 2011 (at Allegany County Speedway/”The Rock” in Cumberland, Maryland), but had seven other top-five finishes in the 10-race season. He had only one effort out of the top-10, a 12th.

Going into the last race of 2011 (at the track where he had won earlier), the 27-year-old Arthur held a slim, six-point margin over Late Model veteran Booper Bare of Rockbridge Baths, Virginia. Bare was the only two-time winner for the Bandits this year, earning checkered flags at Virginia Motor Speedway in Jamaica, Virginia, and at Eastside Speedway in Waynesboro, Virginia. He also had three runner-up finishes. Mechanical problems, however, foiled Bare in two events, as he posted 24th- and 25th-place finishes. In the season finale, Bare’s car was underweight in preliminary-night action and he had to start deep in the field in the feature. Bare placed 10th in the finale, but maintained a second-place tally in the final points, 36 markers behind Arthur. “I really have liked this series,” Arthur said after clinching the title. “Everything seems to roll real smooth. All the people with the series are very friendly.” “The only little hiccup was the ‘boo-boo’ they had last night,” he said, referring to some disqualification over car-weight issues.  

Arthur’s green #87 is a 2007 rocket sponsored by Cecil B. Arthur Beef Farms and Bucking Bulls (his father’s business). CAMS Racing Engines is the engine supplier. Rick Singleton of Hesston, Pennsylvania, finished third in the season points, ahead of Kyle Merkel of Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania, and Matt Howsare of Clearville, Pennsylvania. Merkel garnered enough points to claim the 2011 Glory Days Grill Young Guns point championship – a separate point fund for Steel Block Bandits members 25 years old and younger. Merkel was a feature winner in 2011 at Thunder Valley Speedway in Central City, Pennsylvania.

Other feature winners on the season were Neal Sykes of Holly Springs, North Carolina; J.T. Spence of Winchester, Virginia; D.J. Troutman of Hyndman, Pennsylvania; J.R. Overstreet of Lynchburg, Virginia (a member of Arthur’s race team); Justin Williams of Shipman, Virginia; and David Williams, of Charlotte Hall, Maryland.

The series, based in Winchester, Virginia, has D&D Auto Recycling of Williamsport, Maryland, as the title sponsor.
In 2011, events were at tracks in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. The largest car count was at Hagerstown Speedway in Maryland with 52 entries.

Midway through the season, series founder and promoter Danny Wilson announced he would be leaving the Steel Block Bandits at the end of the year to pursue another venture. “The series has grown so much over the past three years,” Wilson was quoted on the series’ web site. “I have enjoyed working with everyone.” Two of Wilson’s top aides – Butch Mayo and Greg Keister – will take over the series in 2012. Mayo has been with the series since the beginning and Keister has been the tech inspector since 2010.  “Butch, Greg and I have been talking about this for the past five months,” Wilson said in a late August press release. “I know they will do an outstanding job. The series will grow even bigger with their new ideas and dedication.” “I am looking forward to the 2012 season,” Keister said. “Butch and I have done our homework. We will continue with the vision that Wilson set in 2009 by keeping this a local, economical and fun series.”

- By Wayne Kindness