We’re back at it again and I am pretty pumped about the idea of a sprint car division in Western Pa. maybe Eastern Ohio and West Virginia that runs under RaceSaver rules.
May 5, I went to PPMS and watched the Crate Late Models for the second time this season. Talking to some of the teams I understand there are up to 30 cars that may debut sometime this summer. The racing was really close; the winner’s car was raced by Donnie Moran a while ago. The car doesn’t play as big of a role as the driver and mechanic.
That is awesome and it’s all because they have costs under control. Hey, with gas prices going up, something has to be done in our sport to keep people racing and coming to the tracks. Local tracks need supported by all of us as much as possible.
That being said, I hope there is interest in a sprint car class with some control to it. The RaceSaver affiliated 305 series just might help the 410’s which have tailed off in numbers in our area.
Rod Ort, a former 410 racer in Central Pa. just couldn’t do the 410 deal anymore. Costs were raising and he had started a new business but still wanted to race a sprint car.
“I kind of got of it [410 sprints] because of the cost,” Ort said. “I spent some time help ARCA racer Norm Benning [Pittsburgh area racer] that was really cool for a while but I always like having my own car so I got back into it. I use to race with French [Grimes in 410’s] and I considered a number of different things but I did this mostly because not so much the cost, certainly that was a factor but fact that it was intended for recreational reasons.”
This class would serve a purpose in our area. Sharon Speedway has the former Green Flag Sprints now called Limited Sprints which run a smaller top wing, no nose wing and a crate motor. There isn’t a “discovery” class of sprint cars in the area and I don’t believe a 410 is a way to discover sprint car racing.
Ort went on to say that the class is what it is, a participant class.
“If someone is thinking about racing and can only do it on a part time basis, this is a good discovery class,” Ort said. It’s a good class to figure out if you have any interest or partial interest [in sprint car racing]. You don’t have to spend the big bucks to compete.
“Making it more than what it is would create more problems,” Ort said. “Structure is important, the 305 series needs to stay as a participant series that is fun to watch, affordable for promoters and a good class to have on a weekly basis. It’s not intended for anyone to get famous in, we’re not 410’s.”
We’ll continue Rod’s interview next week about the RaceSaver 305 Sprint Cars.
Sunday, the O’Reilly All Stars visited the Bedford Speedway for the first time in a few years. The car count was decent with 28 cars in the pits 10 of which were pretty much All Star regulars. Missing from the mix was Dale Blaney and the 2 car owned by George Fisher. The team had planned to run both Port Royal and Bedford but after the rainout on Saturday, Fisher loaded up and headed back to Ohio.
Kenny Jacobs set fast time in Barry Jackson’s 8J. Jacobs who will be inducted in the National Sprint Car Fall of Fame next month plans on racing both Pa. and Ohio Speedweeks. Jacobs will compete in the Bob Weikert Memorial which was rescheduled for June 14 at Port Royal as part of the All Stars return to Central Pa. Reportedly, Jacobs will drive a Weikert paint scheme and I believe the number will be 29.
Bill Rose won his first ever All Star feature as a driver when he took the checkered flags at Bedford. Jeff Sheppard subbed for Rose and won at I-96 a few years ago while Rose was competing at the Million for non-wing cars at Eldora.
At Lernerville on Friday I had another story related to me on how the racing family helps each other. Tom and Fran Chiappelli that own the 98 sprinter that Dan Shetler drives told me about their experience with Western Pa. kindness and generosity involving a competitor.
A few weeks ago Terry Bowser, the owner of the 59 and 10 Bowser Excavating cars mentioned to Tom and Fran that if they ever needed a shop to work in after Friday night’s racing and on their way to Sharon on Saturday, they could use his place.
Long story short, the clutch went out in the hauler [not important who was driving] after racing on a Friday so Tom called Gary Risch for Bowser’s number. Of course Gary offered his help also.
Terry Bowser offered the Chiappelli’s whatever they needed to get their rig back on the road. Brett Nuepert, a crewmember of Chiappelli’s who works at the local Fyda dealership made a few calls; the rig was on its way to the shop for repair.
I am sure it wasn’t a big deal for Terry Bowser but for the Chiappelli’s; it’s something they won’t soon forget.
NEWSNOTESWHATKNOT…Lindsay Enscore, 22, from North Washington, Butler County made her debut in a full-size sprint car Friday at Lernerville. Lindsay competed in the mirco-sprints for 7 years before at attending Smiley Smitton’s Sprint Car School Texas. Smitton also operates the Sprint Series of Texas (SST) a RaceSaver 305 Sprint Car series…If your team is still in need of t-shirts; give me a call at RaceWear, 800-775-8337 or e-mail at DJ@classicimp.com for more info…Until next week, stay safe and we’ll be back with more from the Commonwealth Clash. Drop me a line at DJ1360rpm@aol.com with your comments or questions.
Here we are again, time flies. April is gone and the summer is headed are way and hopefully it will be a dry one or at the very least drier than it has been.
Last week I wrapped up most of the French Grimes interview. I asked French about the regions that race under the RaceSaver banner and where do the regions differ?
â€œIf they run under the RaceSaver sanction and they have their Tech man trained then you can expect parity between the engines,â€ Grimes said. Like with everything else, it seems that it all boils down to trust when it comes down to the organizations racing each other.
â€œCross application of the seals is a matter where each region has to build confidence with the other,â€ Grimes said. â€œInterregional events fall under my jurisdiction, if itâ€™s a combination of regions running I coordinate with the people. We have had 8-305 Nationals. Before the Nationals all engines are checked prior to competition regardless of the seals they get re-tech. So, thatâ€™s how we maintain a crosscheck on different seals.â€ Even after checking the seals again each region still has a choice to except a seal or not.
â€œIts up to each region to decide whose seals they feel comfortable excepting without inspecting, but the fact the seals are there that came from a sealed region reduces their concern a great deal. Now to how much it reduces is up to each region,â€ Grimes explained.
The regions for the most part arenâ€™t close enough to run together all the time but some of them get together.
â€œTom Ort of the Pa305â€™s seals can come and run with our group (Va. Sprint Series) if they wish and vice-a-versa,â€ Grimes said. â€œEach group has to be comfortable with the other group. But theyâ€™re all running off the same set of rules and there are no engine variations allowed. If they are sealed engines, itâ€™s presumed they all meet the National rules.â€
Some of the regions have some rules that might be different but none deal with engines. For an example, Va. Sprint Series doesnâ€™t allow nose wings were the Pa305â€™s do run a nose wing.
Personally, I think a sprint car should like its 410 relative as we know it. When you make them look different then it is hard for the drive to move up because there is something else to learn besides just dealing with the horsepower difference.
As a clarification, National RaceSaver rules say no nose wing can be used anytime National rules are used. I mentioned that I do have additional interviews that will be used in future columns. I do want to address a few things that have come up recently.
Car counts in Western Pa. have been dangerously low so far this season. Even the car counts at Lernerville havenâ€™t been great; theyâ€™ve been the best in Western Pa. There seems to be more sprint car racerâ€™s from the area around Lernerville which helps Lernerville with their car counts.
Without a doubt there are many problems facing 410 Sprint Car racing and I am not 100 % sure that itâ€™s all about wings and tires. I think the problem lies under the hood that is where the most money is spent. That being said, it has to be easier to control top wing and tire usage and cost then try to control the cost of motors.
Sharon rained out and Mercer still only had 18 sprint cars. This isnâ€™t good. Now, I believe there are enough 410â€™s in the area, they just canâ€™t afford to race as much as they would like so they pick which ever night works out for them. Sunday evening at Tri-City, 9 sprint cars competed.
Newsnoteswhatknotandupcomingstuffâ€¦We have some pretty good racing coming up over the next few weekends. The Oâ€™Reilly All Stars will be at Attica next Friday and Eldora on Saturday. The touring series does Port Royal on Saturday, May 12th and returns to Bedford Speedway on Sunday the 13th which should be excellent with most of the Central Pa. big hitters in attendanceâ€¦The WoO hits the Commonwealth Bank Clash on Tuesday, May 15th at Lernerville then its on to Williams Grove for a Thursday and Friday tilt before heading to NYâ€¦Danny Holtgraver was a little sore on his way home Saturday night after his FIRST real flip in a sprint car on Saturday at Mercer. Holtgraver said on Sunday he was feeling much betterâ€¦I mentioned Chris Shuttleworth has a new T-shirt design and â€œCoolâ€ Kevin Schaefferâ€™s new design will be out as early as this weekendâ€¦Need a shirt for your team, give me a call at 800-775-8337 ext 107 or e mail me at DJ@classicimp.com...Stop by and check us out at Glick Fire Equipmentâ€™s Open House in Zelienople this Saturday from 10 am - 4 pmâ€¦Drop me a line
In last week's column I asked you to come back this week to read about Limited Sprints, which are the 305's 358's and 360's for the most part. After talking with a few people in the sport, I decided that I would address the 305's in this weekâ€™s column and address the other classes as the season goes on.
You might be asking why write about a class that only races at a handful of tracks and none in Western Pa.? Well, if you've read my column over the years you know that I am always concerned where the new sprint car drivers will come from with the fewer micro sprints and other open wheel support classes in our area.
Before I get into the differences between 305's in other areas, let me say that I am for and fully support the idea of racing a limited class of sprint cars that can cross over to other tracks, maybe even different states for racers who wish to compete in a full size sprint car.
I realize you're probably thinking great, another support class to keep me at the track all night. Believe me, I understand and agree with you. What I would like to see is several tracks have the 305's on their schedule throughout the season. The division could run at different cars and have 18-20 races. That would take an organization of dedicated people who believe in the sport and hope that maybe down the road, someone that once drove a 305 moves up to the 410's and does well because they gained real racing experience behind the wheel of a full size sprinter.
While I am a sprint car guy, no denying that, I think that itâ€™s not a good idea for someone to learn how to drive a full size sprint car while competing in the most powerful class of sprint cars. I feel some of the drivers that are competing in the class now would be better served if they got some experience before they jump into 410 sprint car competition.
When I was planning this column, I knew I needed to talk with someone who really had a handle on the 305's. I was lucky enough to talk with French Grimes, of the RaceSaver Series and Virginia Sprint Series.
French took time out of his busy Saturday morning at the Fork Mountain in Bassett, Va. Grimes decided to get in the track business after his Va. Sprint Series lost one of the tracks (to another sprint organization) on a weekly basis.
In 1996/1997, Bill Rice and Mike Williams approached French about running a limited sprint in VA. In the beginning the series used some of the same motor rules that were in effect in Ohio which started racing 305's in the late 1980's.
Grimes thought about it and they started out with a claim rule because everyone will stretch the rules, a little bit. After some time they realize there wasn't a standard set with cast iron heads and Grimes as asked again what he thought and he had an idea that would change things quite a bit.
French contacted some old friends at Brodix Cylinder Head Company. They built a cylinder head that had the necessary modifications that would work with the 305 block. The 305 block was chosen by default according to Grimes.
"The block was chosen not because I think it was the greatest block available, there were other seasons. After consulting a bunch of people in the junk business itâ€™s the engine thatâ€™s worth the least, there is no resale and there were more of them produced and anything else. That's why we went with the 305 engine," Grimes explained.
Grimes went further and it seems that because of his effort, the sport got a good deal.
"The cylinder head we use is a purpose built head for us; it is a very high quality piece. Itâ€™s the same quality that Brodix produces that cost twice as much but they've essentially underwritten the concept of a low dollar open wheel class using a specific head. They've helped us a great deal over the years to maintain the integrity of this head,â€ Grimes said.
There is a lot of work that goes in to tracking each head to make sure the head hasn't been tampered with. After being measured by Brodix, itâ€™s shipped to French where they do more measuring and catalogue the critical dimensions. They can tell if itâ€™s been altered and where the head was shipped and who owned the set of heads. Itâ€™s amazing what a painstaking process it is and the dedication that French shows towards it.
Each region is trained to do a procedure of a closed-engine tech that can determine if the engine is legal without taking it apart. The procedure takes about 45 minutes and the engine is then sealed and doesn't have to be messed with during the season. Any difficulties are taken care of and the engine is re-inspected and sealed again.
As far as power is concerned, the engine will produce around 425 horsepower and can be built with stock parts. Less injector and magneto, this engine can be built for as little as $2,000 or you can spend more.
I know this all sounds too good but French has proof. Over 100 engines were placed on the Dyno some were put together with the cost of the heads plus a junk block versus engines with over $15,000 in them and they Dyno within 10 to 12 horsepower.
"That is the reason why we have a tight specification on the engine. Itâ€™s not a crate engine, itâ€™s a spec engine, anyone can build it, the rules are there and a free choice of rules within the rules that exist on RaceSaver.com." French said. â€œThe only specified part is the cylinder head and the cylinder head cannot be molested. Thatâ€™s what maintains the integrity of the parity if you will between engines.â€
The longevity of the engine is a key component in keeping the price down over the long run.
French maintains you still can spend money if you want but it doesnâ€™t seem necessary.
â€œYou can spend any kind of money you want, the engine you can run with stock rods and a stock crank and they will live for 5 years at 25 races a year and require no maintenance, Grimes says. â€œWe have over 30 engines that were built stock rods; stock cranks and cast replacement pistons that have over 5 years on them, 5 racing seasons with no failures and no maintenance other than setting the valves.â€
Grimesâ€™ RaceSaver engines have made a difference and more areas are running a real looking full size sprint car with a spec engine and the number of competitors has risen.
Next week, Iâ€™ll have part 2 of this interview along with interviews with Brian Carter, Rod Ort and Gene Frankert.
Carter is the CFO of World Racing Group and is in his second year of racing the RaceSaver Regional series in with the Sprint Series of Texas. Ort, a former 410 racer in Mecca (Central Pa.) talks about why he races the series and Frankert on the history of the 305â€™s in Ohio.
Thank you for reading my column, stay safe and drop me a line at DJ1360rpm @aol.com. As always, if you are still looking for t-shirts for your race team, please give me a call at Racewear 800 775-8337 ext 107 or e mail DJ@classicimp.com. Look for Scottyâ€™s Neitzelâ€™s new shirt this weekend when the IRA opens itâ€™s season.
After not scheduling any races in 2006, Scott Benic and Joe Darmofal co-owners of the Mid American Sprint Series (MASS) have entered into negotiations to sell the two year old series to Guy Webb (owner of the All Star Circuit of Champions) according to Darmofal.
"We've reached a verbal agreement to sell it but we don't have any signed papers yet," Darmofal said.
It wasn't by choice that the decision was made to sell the series that averaged 31.8 cars per race for each of the two seasons. Both Benic and Darmofal are business men that enjoyed running MASS but the time had come to pass the baton after help to run the series never materialized.
"It takes more hours in a week, or a month or a year to develop this thing than either one of us has the time to do," Darmofal said. The concept is very sound.
Darmofal is proud of the non adversarial relationship he and Benic had with the race tracks. You can call any of the race tracks and you won't hear one bad comment, not one negative comment.
Darmofal said he was disappointed that they didn't have the time to devote to the series. "It was successful, what we did, we did well, we just didn't do enough of it. We found it was going to take a lot more time and effort to develop the concept with the tracks which requires a lot of contacts both in person and working the phone. We simply didn't have the time because of the pressure of our other businesses. What we need to do is find somebody that will be able to take this concept and spend the necessary time to develop it. We feel that it diffidently has potential."
MASS was founded to provide affordable ($2500 to-win, $300 to start) winged sprint car racing in area's where it was largely non-existent specifically Illinois and Indiana and some of the smaller tracks in Ohio and Michigan. It also helped tracks that ran sprint cars on a weekly basis hold a special sprint car event without taking the risk of a the high purse with drivers that aren't part of the tracks weekly racing.
Dan Shetler has never driven any race cars with fenders so why start now even if it was only at a driving experience.
Shetler, a Johnstown native was invited to Las Vegas for the World of Outlaw finale at the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway by Geoff and Missy Arnold, one of Shetler's long time sponsors.
Arnold had done a driving experience in a full-bodied stock car at LVMS last year so he was up for something different, Shetler was along for the ride, sort of speak. Both Arnold and Shetler thought they'd like to try the Mario Andretti Racing School which uses IRL type racing machines. After some classroom time, each student is paired with an instructor for the on track experience.
According to Shetler, it's all about following instructions. "They want you to stay four to six cars behind the instructor's car and follow the same line that they run," Shetler explained. "As long as you maintain the distance and follow the instructor, they'll keep increasing the speed, picking it up lap after lap."
After the first session and running laps around 150 miles per hour, Shetler said the eight lap session topped out at around 165 miles per hour. "By the time we got the second session in, I was real comfortable but I guess because of liability, they have to watch what they get you up to." "It was a neat experience, a learning experience, I'll stick to sprint cars, it's more up my alley," Shetler said.
I am sure I am not alone when I say I was never so happy to see the sun shine on Saturday at Sharon Speedway. To a driver, no one thought we were going to see a race, at least not there and not on Saturday.
You?ve got to hand it to everyone at Sharon for their efforts. From the helicopter owned by Kirila Contracting used to dry the track and the heavy equipment operated by Kirila Contracting used to basically redo the track, Sharon pulled out the stops to get it ready to race on. From what the WoO folks told me, the chopper got there shortly after VP of Media Relations Chris Dolack completed his interview with Hersch and me on KDKA?s Car Radio around 2 p.m. Just hovering a few feet above the ground the helicopter and was there until around 6. I have seen a lot of things but, that was the craziest thing I?d ever seen at a race track period.
The track needed a lot of work and everyone understood what had to happen and everyone was pretty patient I think. Hell, I was happy that I was going to see a race after 10 days of rain.
It was good to see 44 sprinters turn out along with a good crowd in the stands. The WoO brought the Mean 15, the locals were there and since Mercer Raceway Park was running Modified Madness several teams including Bob Flemlee, Arnie Kent, and Rod George made the trip along with Carl Bowser and Cory Good.
Others included Tyler Walker in Guy Forbrook?s number 5. It sounds as if there is trouble in Wirtgen paradise as Sammy Swindell was schedule to drive at Sharon but a few days before decided to go and watch his son Kevin race. Forbrook will have had someone in the car (it could be Sammy) when they raced at Charlotte on Wednesday. Tyler Walker was at the helm but had motor related problems and they were done for the night
Kyle Moffitt and Mike Kekich both flipped and had significant damage to their cars neither would return. Kekich walked to the ambulance and was checked while at the track. Terry McCarl had a good run but had mechanical problems on the last lap and was injured by a driveline failure which caused cause a fracture of the lower left leg. A replacement driver is being considered for Charlotte and maybe beyond or maybe not. Terry has wants to return as soon as possible which could be at the ?Grove on Friday. If there is a replacement, the drive might come from Ohio.
Donny Schatz was given the opportunity for the $50,000 Challenge at Sharon. Since Lernerville was rained out, Dave Blaney and the WoO decided to give the winner of the most recent race, which was Grandview on Tuesday a shot at the Challenge. The N.D. driver was making his way up from the 24th position when he got together with Jason Martin on the back stretch and retired for the event.
Jac Haudenschild did a good job besting Brooke Tatnell in a pretty good 40-lap feature. It was Haud?s second win of the season in the Wright 35.
While the WoO makes it way to Charlotte for a Wednesday night race, I?ll be at Lincoln Speedway for the 54TH Anniversary race Wednesday night featuring 410 Sprints for 54 Laps paying $5,400-to-win. How cool is this, all paying positions end with 54 and the fast qualifier gets $200 for the quickest lap in time trials.
Fred Rahmer won feature number 146 at Lincoln on Saturday and leads Greg Hodnett by 30 points and Chad Layton by 150 points. I like Fred on Wednesday to win the anniversary race at Lincoln.
Thursday, Susquehanna Speedway Park will be back in action where Greg Hodnett leads Chad Layton and Fast Freddie by 9 points and Lance Dewease by 15. This will be my first visit to SSP this year and I am looking forward to a Thursday night of racing. The WoO returns to central Pa., but the first time to Williams Grove in 2006 for a 2-day event on Friday and Saturday. This should be another really competitive event like the Sharon race because of the number of cars which could top 40 cars.
Don?t forget the reschedule Commonwealth Clash on Wednesday, May 31 at Lernerville. It might not be part of the $50,000 Challenge but it should be a pretty good show regardless. Plus, with the possibility of a few central Pa. guys coming out for the mid-week tilt it could be another show with close to 40 sprints.
Scheduling sanction groups is always difficult but 2006 is tougher with the addition of the NST. The All Stars couldn?t get the dates they craved and settled for Saturday at Port Royal and the result was only 5 All Star regulars. But, you can?t blame it all on the schedule. Between the decline of 410 sprint cars, fuel prices and just too many tracks and races close to home, teams aren?t running with the All Stars.
Dale Blaney mentioned to me that there are 40 (WoO, NST & ASCoC) sprint races between Ohio and western Pa. so why does anyone need to travel too far?
I couldn?t agree more and I really think maybe central Pa. is on the far side of All Star territory and for the time being, the ASCoC?s should concentrate on Ohio and western Pa. besides the other states they travel like IL., MI., and Indiana.
Port Royal had 5 cars from the ASCoC?s in attendance and that isn?t enough when your total cost with the purse and insurance is $36,000. But according to published reports, that is based on a 40-car field. I think 40 cars will be are to attain for the ASCoC?s in 2006 when they are only bringing up to 8 cars.
I really like the young guys in western Pa. like 2nd year racers Carl Bowser and Cory Good along with rookie, Danny Holtgraver who finished 3rd behind Bob Felmlee and Rod George Sunday at Tri-City.
If you are unable to attend races on Friday and Saturday?s, check out www.racenitelive.com for race recaps and more and catch me there also.
I?ll be in central Pa., this week covering as much as I can from Sprint Car Mecca. Please keep Bill Bailey, Mike Wagner and Terry McCarl in your prayers and drop me a line DJ1360rpm@aol.com @ Racewear for all your racing apparel needs and more DJ@classicimp.com
As sprint car racing gets going full tilt with all the 410 sanction bodies having more and more races and with Tri-City Speedway in Franklin getting underway this Sunday, we see many familiar names in victory lane.
In central Pa. where the ?Big 3?, Rahmer, Dewease and Hodnett usually dominate, this trio has won less than half of the 16 races I found results for. And get you won?t believe which one of the B3 has only won 1 race? It?s Fast Freddy with only 1 Pa. win to his credit and that at the opener at Todd and Rhonda Fisher?s Susquehanna Speedway Park where he collected the highest weekly winnings in the state, $3,500.
My findings show Hodnett with 3 wins ?Williams Grove, Lincoln and Susky. Lance Dewease also has 3 wins which came at ? Williams Grove, Lincoln and Port Royal Speedways. Next on the list are Doug Esh with 2 wins at Lincoln Speedway and TJ Stutts with 2 ? 410 wins at the only 2 races in 2006 for the 410?s at Selinsgrove Speedway so far.
With 1 win each in CPA are Chad Layton (Lincoln), Todd Shaffer (Port Royal), Keith Kaufmann (Williams Grove), Josh Wells and Rick Lafferty both scoring wins at the Fabulous Lincoln Speedway.
Thursday Susquehanna Speedway Park will hold their 3rd race of the season and the next night, Williams Grove has double features scheduled including the Spring Championship. Weld racing wheels has put up and extra $10,000 bonus if the same driver can win both races. This race will be well worth the drive @ $3 a gallon. Also, look for a few non Williams Grove regulars to show up Friday and maybe even a few WoO/NST drivers.
This could be the first race this season that I can think of that could be reminiscent of days gone by when drivers were really Outlaws.
Since you?re already in central Pa., stick around for Saturday?s race at Lincoln Speedway with the 410?s and the PA305 Sprints featuring 71 year old Cowboy Jim Kennedy, he?s worth the price of admission.
In western Pa. and eastern Ohio, Ed Lynch Jr. was won 3 races, Lernerville?s only and the first 2 at the Sharon Speedway. With Lernerville adding 5 laps to their features, Jr. will have plenty of time to catch the leaders no matter where he starts, he?s just that strong.
And at Mercer Raceway Park which I refer to as sprint car racings melting pot as several weeks ago Mercer had sprint car drivers from 5 states. It?s not like in central Pa. where if Craig Keel comes down from NY and Justin Collett from Delaware, Jeff Sheppard comes from MD and one of several drivers come in from NJ, which seems a little easier to have representation from 5 states.
A few weeks ago at MRP, the 5 states represented were Pa., Ohio, NY., NJ and New Hampshire. Yes, I said New Hampshire. Riki Likowski hauled all the way from Hollis, New Hampshire which is a 610 mile trip, one way. And get this; @ $3 a gallon the Dodge Ram Hemi pickup only gets 6.6 mpg pulling the sprint car trailer. Oh, it gets better.
Rik doesn?t really doesn?t know anyone in the area so his friend Daryl meets him at Mercer. Now Darrell lives a little closer to Mercer than the 610 miles that Rik has to drive. Darrell?s drive from his Raleigh, North Carolina home is only 564 miles from Mercer. Is it me or have these guys hit there collective heads?
No, it?s the love of the sport and being good friends and having an understanding wife.
?You just gotta love racing to do it,? Rik said while leaning against the top wing on his blue number 7 Shaw chassis. ?When I was 13 years old I saw my first 410 race, I am 43 now and I said one day I was going to do it and this is my year to do it, 30 years later.?
One of the reasons for the traveling so far is there isn?t any 410 racing in the northeast.
?They don?t run 410?s up there so if you want to it and want to play with something like this, you got to run the miles, you have to tow down here,? Likowski explained. ?This is a great track; I met the owner (Vicki Emig) last time I was here. Since I pulled in last week everybody?s been real supportive, I?ve been getting a lot of help and I don?t have to tow the trailer home, there are some people that are taking care of the trailer for me so I just drive home without the trailer.?
Rik is quick to point out why he can do this. ?I am going to do this as long as I can, and as long as I can keep the 3rd wife and not have a 4th by traveling this far, I am having a ball. It?s a thirty year dream, I always wanted to run a 410 and I am doing it this year,? Rik said. Before coming down South to Mercer, Rik ran some 360 sprint car shows with SCONE (Sprint Cars of New England) and ESS.
His plan is to run his one motor all year and with the support from his fans and sponsors back in Hollis he?ll make it all year.
?I have a lot of support back home. I have a barber shop so, I have a captive audience only if they want to keep their ears,? Likowski said with a laugh. ? I get a little money here and there.? A great attitude and a sense of humor will make Rik at Mercer Raceway Park fan favorite and beyond.
Mercer Raceway Park has had 3 winners? in 4 races, which makes Mercer a very competitive venue. Bob Felmlee has 2 wins, Arnie Kent and Saturday?s winner, Skip Dougherty. Skip won his heat race which he told his son Vinny, he would try to win for his 14th birthday but he went one better.
Needless to say, Skip was excited about his 3rd career win and his 1st at MRP. Dougherty?s other wins came at Sportsmen?s and Challenger.
Keep former Sprint Car racer Bill Bailey in your thoughts and prayers as he was in a serious motorcycle accident on Sunday. At last word he was still in Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh recovering.
NEWSNOTESANDWHATNOT?Bob Bennett made it back to action last week at SSP following his nasty crash at Williams Grove?Check out the new t-shirts of Jimmy Siegel, Bob Bennett, Chris Shuttlesworth, Justin Collett, Josh Wells and Bob Felmlee. Please drop me a line @ DJ1360rpm@aol.com for more details on shirts by Racewear?We?ll we are out of time and space? See you after Dave?s return to the Slave driver editor?s chair in a few weeks
Jimmy Weller III leaves 410's to return to Big Block Mods....
Jimmy Weller III never doubted that he would return to racing, it wasn?t a matter of when, he just didn?t know in which division. Barring any complications with a CAT scan taken late last week, Weller III will be strapping on his Hahn?s device and competing in the Ferrante Motor Cars Modifieds when Lernerville Speedway opens on March 31.
Well known orthopedic specialist Dr. Terry Trammel from Indianapolis advised the likeable 19-year old driver from Liberty, Ohio that he (Trammel) would prefer Weller not return to the winged sprint car because of the obvious dangers. Trammel did clear Weller to return to the sport as long as certain safety precautions were in place.
Weller?s injury occurred October 13, 2004 while competed with USAC in a non-wing sprint car event at the Dirt Track at Lowe?s Motor Speedway. While Weller doesn?t remember much after the incident, he did recall telling hospital personnel what was happening at the time of the incident.
?I don?t remember anything at all?, Weller said. ?When I was in rehab the lady asked me why I was here. I told her everything, we were leading, we fell back a spot and I was trying to get the spot back on the outside, caught a rut and hit the wall. The next day I didn?t remember a thing.
Weller?s return to the sport began late last summer with some practice laps in a Green Flag Sprint Car (a limited sprint car class at the Sharon Speedway).
?I practiced in August, which was the first time in a year that I felt normal again?, Weller related. ?I thought about being hurt when I was pulling up on to the track, being a little cautious about it but once I hit the track I never thought about it again. Without a doubt Weller?s life has changed. ?Actually, it made me grow up awfully quick?, Weller said. ?Before all this happen, I didn?t think about a whole lot of things. Now, it makes me think about things, I appreciate everyday I am here walking, you realize how quickly things can be gone. Until something happens that you could be gone any day. Weller paused and explained how he is going about his return from the accident.
?I have some restrictions now, not many but there are things I have to be careful of, they?re slowly going away. When I was practicing in the Green Flag car that was the only time I never really thought about anything. I had one thing at hand and that was all I was thinking about. I don?t think about it constantly, I can talk about it but not think about it. At times you realize what you went through. I just thank God everyday for what I still have and what I am able to do?. Returning to the Modifieds after a year of 410 Sprint Car racing was really the only option that Weller had after conferring with Trammel.
Since Trammel said he ?highly, highly? recommended that Weller didn?t return to the sprint car since they flip as much as they do. The big block Mod seemed to be the best way for Weller to return to racing. ?Since Dad (Jim Weller Jr.) has a second car, I am going to start at Lernerville then at Sharon Speedway when it opens, we?ll see maybe I?ll race at Tri-City as well,? Weller said. ?I really wanted to get back in a Modified.? Jimmy Weller?s dream of racing as a career hasn?t been extinguished just because he isn?t racing a sprint car anymore.
?I want to do this for a living; I enjoy racing more than anything else, that?s what I want to do for the rest of my life,? Weller explained. ?If I could have run with the sprint cars, if I would have run with the Outlaws I would have been happy as can be but, now since that option is out of the way I?ll go the other way,? said Weller. The ?other way? as Jimmy explains it is to spend some time this summer testing asphalt late models at nearby Lake Erie Speedway. ?Whenever we can get going I am going to attend a few driving schools on the asphalt and a few buddies run pavement late models in ASA and Hooters Cup and they?ve offered to let me make some laps.? Weller is grateful for his family and friends and all the support he got from the phone calls, cards and letters.
?You don?t realize how good people are until something like this happens, the side I saw of everyone was awesome,? Weller said. ?I read through every one of the over 800 cards and letters and I read through them everyone once in a while, it?s amazing.
DIRT MotorSports announced late last week that former western Pa. native Ben Geisler son of Dirt Late Model legend Lynn Geisler has joined the organization as Executive Vice President of Operations.
Ben Geisler, who has resided in Atlanta, Ga., while with Next Marketing Inc. said he was glad to be returning to dirt track racing and was looking forward to listening to everyone in an effort to make dirt track racing in general better. Geisler said he?ll be back in western Pa. for the April 7th WoO Dirt Late Model event at the Lernerville Speedway.
DIRT MotorSports will hold an open house at the Lernerville Speedway this Saturday from 1 to 5 PM. The top ten drivers in all four divisions will receive point fund checks along with plaques and trophies.
The Tuscarora 50 weekend at the Port Royal Speedway is always a pleasure to attend. Craig Rutherford and the PR staff go out of their way to make covering the event a piece of cake, or in my case, pie.
The ?50? and the Night before it are part of the Juniata County Fair and that spells great food. From the Lutheran Church turkey dinner, to the many deserts offered by everyone from school groups to the Port Royal Fire Department. This is good eatin? and a race happened to be in the middle of it.
Johnstown?s Dan Shetler spent his second weekend in the Fran and Tom Chiappelli?s number 98 J & J sprint car from Cairnbrook.
The Tuscarora 50 weekend, from the Night before to the 50 itself, it is really a super event. To witness the 39 cars on the Friday before, it was a great field and some of the best sprint car racers anywhere, were sent to the food lines as Friday?s feature started.
The Man from Mifflintown, hall of fame sprint car driver Keith Kaufmann and Greg Hodnett in the Hamilton 77 didn?t make the feature on Friday. For everyone?s information, it?s a pill draw format for the heat races so, everyone has to race their way in to the program. A driver that did race his way in through his heat was Dan Shetler, the new shoe of the number 98 Chiappelli Motor Sports J&J sprint car.
Shetler was all smiles when he exited the car after the heat race on Friday when he was locked in to Friday?s program. For the second week in a row, Shelter who has only raced the car for two weekends, made his third feature in a row.
?There we?re a few good cars that went home tonight, for sure,? said the likeable Johnstown native. ?I?d never been here in a 410 sprinter and it?s been 3 or 4 years since I was here in a 358. I am just real happy that we were able to make it into the feature.
He made it, but not without a little excitement. An oil leak caused a stir but it was tracked down to a vent tube so no problem there. Shetler looked more relax and had a decent showing finishing 16th in his feature in a 410 at the ?Port.
?This being the second weekend in the car, the third race (on Friday) and it really helps to make a show with so many good cars down here,? Shetler said. ?I have great owners with Tom and Fran. They dig right in there and help get the work done, its easier here than it was when I had my own car.
When asked about his effort to get where he is now, Shetler said, ?I worked very hard, my whole career looking for the opportunity to drive for someone else who had better equipment than I could afford. It?s close to home, about 20 miles from where I live so I can come home and head to the garage.?
On Saturday, Dan finished 20th on Saturday, Dan was happy to make another feature in a field of tough cars. With his season ended in the 7K a few weeks ago, Dan was grateful for the shot to drive the 98 and hopes it lasts for a long time.
With owners like Tom and Fran Chiappelli, a good work ethic and that smile, Dan and the 98 will make their share of big races and only time will stand between him and that checkered flag. Wins will come soon; the team has plans during the off season to be aggressive with their motor program Tom Chiappelli said.
To hear Fred Rahmer speak about Joe Harz, the owner of the 88h, it reminds me of the days of the car owners, well before the owner/driver era. Harz was working while his car was at the track and the boys were having fun. Harz is giving up the sprint car game but has decided to go out on top. Fred won races 27 and 28 last weekend at Port Royal. Joe?s team has won and Knoxville and damn near everyplace else they?ve gone this year.
He has one hell of a team with Rahmer and Tim Elwell. They will be remembered as one of the best ever to race in Central Pa. and everywhere else as far as that goes.
As far as news on the WoO goes, the promoters meeting at Eagle was cancelled by the WoO. Word has the drivers all but 4 drivers initially, agreeing to break off from the WoO but one of the 4 drivers changed his mind then another. From what I understand, 2 of the dissenting drivers are in the top 10. The new series reportedly already has 60 races scheduled in 2006. Conversely, DIRT has reportedly already has 30 races on their 2006 schedule. Stay tuned, this will be interesting, but not necessarily good for the sport.
It was great to see Duval and Cherri Dressler again. It has been several years and a few trips to the hospital for them both since I had the chance to hang out with the former gang leaders of KARS. What a great group of people and racers that made KARS a lot of fun to be around. Thanks for the brownies and the laughs. Good luck with your pilots license Duval.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Ford family, promoters of the Fremont Speedway. With Doug Ford still in the hospital and Randy recovering from his accident last summer, Jim Ford has decided to cancel the remaining of the season at Fremont and for very good reason. Get well wishes to both Doug and Randy Ford.
Don?t forget the upcoming Gold Crown races at Lernerville next weekend. A whole bunch of good racing will be going on with the MACS Late Models on Friday and the BRP Modifieds and the All Stars on Saturday.
Drop me a line at DJ1360RPM@aol.com
Rain, rain go away was the cry at the 45th Knoxville Nationals as several nights of the multi night program was affective by weather. It also seems that maybe if someone could have a second chance at running Thursday's night program from the point of where it rained out rather than to re-run the entire night again on Friday and to push Friday's program to Saturday afternoon which rained out also.
Knoxville Raceway wiped out the entire night on Thursday, with the 5th and last heat race underway, almost half-way through the rains came and that was that. Everything was wiped out including qualifying except a new track record set by Terry McCarl. Now, that's interesting. If qualifying was wiped out, how can 1 driver’s time count?
The program got under way Sunday afternoon with the scrambles which always seem to make or break someone's Nationals effort.
To make a long story short, Kraig Kinser and Brian Paulus made up row 1. The rest of the order for the 45th Knoxville Nationals Donny Schatz, Chad Kemenah, row 3 Shane Stewart, Danny Lasoski, row 4 Brooke Tatnell, Randy Hannigan, row 5 Billy Alley and Fast Fred Rahmer. Row 6 Jeremy Campbell and Joey Saldana, Lance Dewease, Craig Dollansky make up row 7. Row 8 Kerry Madsen, Stevie Smith, row 9 Steve Kinser and Terry McCarl and row 10 Skip Jackson and Wayne Johnson.
The D-main had some eastern notables like TJ Stutts, Mike Erdley and Bob Bennett. Unfortunately, none of them advanced to the C-main.
Ed Lynch Jr. won the C-scramble, finished 2nd in the C-main advancing to the tail of the B-main where he would end up blowing an engine ending his Nationals.
In the B-main, Ricky Logan got hit with a 15 pound piece of mud which pinned his foot against the frame rail. He would restart the B-main.
The B-main was starred studded with Jason Solwold and Tim Shaffer in row 1. Daryn Pittman started in row 2 but didn't waste any time getting passed the winner of the Don Martin Memorial for 2nd place.
Jac Haudenschild put a slide job on Tim Kaeding to finish 4th after starting 15th, making the transfer. This will be Jac’s 12th Knoxville Nationals A-main. Kenny Jacobs ended his Knoxville run in the B-main finishing 11th. Hats off to the Mouse, Kenny Jacobs.
Well, it probably wasn't the best Nationals feature ever but it was what it was, a classic. A 20-year old beat the veterans and beat them handily.
I know someone who wrote just last week about this young man and just how he might jump up and pull this one off, and he did just that.
Below is what I wrote last week, read it and weep, Gino.
That brings us to my Knoxville Nationals can't miss picks. With a new job and plenty of house remodeling being done, its not a good time to leave town. Oh well, there's always next year.
Like I do with my speedweek picks, anyone can pick the favorites. Sure, my first two picks would be Danny Lasoski and Steve Kinser but that's too easy.
I mentioned my dark horses to a friend the other day and he said he usually agrees with me but he thought I was way off this time and I might be but, what the hell.
Last year Chad Kemenah ran really well last year and was rewarded with a 2nd place finish. Can the 15 of Kemenah win Knoxville, why not?
The other driver whose chances I really like is Kraig Kinser. The heir apparent to the Kinser throne, Kraig has done a great job with 5 wins and currently sits 4th in WoO points. Kraig has competed at Knoxville enough to know how to get around the Mid West Mecca of Mud.
Don?t look now but it?s the month of May and you know what that means, time to start swapin? drivers.
News started to surface that Jac Haudenschild had enough and it was time to take his seat and move on. For the record, I think Jac Haudenschild and Jack Elden get along, I am not so sure about everyone else.
Several other drivers were reportedly offered the 22 car before Dale Blaney took the ride. Blaney had been driving George Fisher?s sprinter for the last few weeks before landing the 22 ride. It seems that the 22 car needs a wrench and only time will tell if they be able to reunited a very successful team, George Fisher and Dale Blaney.
In the meantime, Kevin Huntley will be the driver of Fisher?s 2b sprint car. It just seems that Haud deserved a better fate. At least we know that drivers do from time-to-time look out for each other. Haud plans to run the 29 Pullins Motorsports Maxim that was driven by Tony Elliott this Saturday at K-C Raceway for the Ohio Challenge, after that is anyone?s guess. The experiment with Tony Elliott didn?t work out according to car owner Ray Pullins. ?That was the agreement when we did it?, Pullins said. ?I can?t give you months to learn this. You tell me you know to do this so, let?s do it?. It just didn?t work out between Elliott, the non-wing driver and the Waverly, Ohio winged sprint car owner who is just getting back into the business. Pullins, bought a Charlie Fisher motor for the new Maxim chassis, he hopes to land a driver that has the experience that it takes to win races in the buckeye state.
Haud will have a good chance at K-C Raceway when the World of Outlaws will take on the All Stars in what will be points race for both groups. The All Star drivers will receive show money for their efforts and they will get to race against the best in the business.
Speaking of a team that has been changing drivers, the Wright 35 had Travis Rilat behind the wheel at the most recent WoO race. I am not sure why so many changes but maybe we?ll find out more when the WoO rolls into DIRT Motorsports Lernerville Speedway next week. About this time last year, Danny Wood, got the gig. It?s been downhill from there. Mark Kinser had a shot and he left, Peter Murphy was in the car recently. Anyone remember Jonathan Allard?
And speaking of Danny Wood, one of the sports all time good guys has landed a pretty good ride in the Phillips 66 Trop Artic of Cort Grandstaff. When one guy lands a ride, usually one driver loses one. This is the case with the Trop Artic 66 sprint car. Billy Alley, of Lincoln, NEB, got the ride after it was vacated by Brooke Tatnell. Alley, a former 360 Rookie of the Year, and Knoxville 360 Champion, had a chance and apparently just didn?t meet up with Grandstaff?s expectations.
You might have heard the news that Ohio Speedweek has a change in venue; Wayne County Speedway has been replaced by Muskingum County Speedway.
I?ll have my usual speedweek preview next month. The All Star race at Fremont last Saturday night was a good one with plenty of action. While All Star champ Chad Kemenah had tough go in the heat race, he came out holding a slim 2 point lead over Danny Smith. Smith had stopped on the track in the feature but came back thru the field and came home with a hard earned 5th place finish.
Don?t forget to pick up one of the many new Racewear t-shirt designs from sprint car teams this weekend including new designs from John Ivy and next weekend for former central Pa. now USCS regular Kenny Adams.
Give me a call at Classic Impressions or e mail me for more info on our Racewear designs if you are interested in getting race shirts for your team. Check out our website at www.classicimp.com and click on the Racewear page, e-mail me at DJ@classicimp.com or give me a call at 800-775-8337, mention you read it here and we?ll get you started.
Even before the 2005 western Pa. racing season got underway, I already committed my first error. In the last issue of this fine publication, I wrote that Brian Ellenberger would race the 1st JEI Chassis in western Pa. this season with Brian?s return to the sport.
Well, I was dead wrong as pointed out by one of Andy McKisson?s crew members. The McKisson camp took delivery of the 1st of 2 JEI?s just prior to the Knoxville National?s and Andy did race the mount for the remainder of the 2005 campaign. I apologize to the 0 team for the error.
The JEI Chassis is a proven piece, Barry Jackson?s creation has already won some races and it looks like the Carlisle, Pa. based company has a bright future. I am glad I introduced Andy McKisson to Barry Jackson at the Motorsports 2004 show and I hope Andy can give Jackson his first win for a team that is based in western Pa.
You may have read the rumor on a message board recently that Dr. John Crawford III was coming back sprint car racing in 2005. For the record, the CIII will not be back in 2005 or 2006 for that matter.
Now 2007, might be a different story. In an inclusive interview with ?Doc? Crawford, I?ve learned when ?Doc? heard of the rumors surrounding the rumor milling machine aka, a message board, he phoned Chad Hill to discuss the subject.
?Doc? said that before reading all that trash, he hadn?t thought about coming back but after Chad ?got the dirt stirring in his blood again? the thought of racing again has him interested in making a come back in a few years.
John and his wife Debbie are racers period. Debbie?s Uncle was Pete Swarmer and Doc?s car the CIII with ?Lightening? Lennny Thompson as the driver, won the Pete Swarmer Memorial at the Port Royal Speedway in 2003.
The Crawford?s have a few remodeling projects underway so there isn?t any time this year or even next year to make a return to 410 sprint car racing in western Pa. but before the CIII does return, ?Doc? would like to sell all of the remaining J&J cars and Kriner motors he has in his garage.
?Doc? has three (3) J&J?s available, 2 are 2001 models and 1 is a 2003 model. One of the chassis? available has won the Marsh Memorial and the Pete Swarmer Memorial; this ain?t any junk stuff folks. The motors are all Kriner?s from birth and updated. ?Doc? can provide you with more information on this stuff and on the Freightliner FL-70 truck that he still has.
?Doc? said if they come back it would probably be to run one night a week and the track would probably be the Lernerville Speedway. As far as a driver, it?s too early to tell who might be available then but you can bet that the CIII will have all the ?new? stuff for whoever is going to shoe the ride in a few years. But first ?Doc? wants to sell off what he has so that he can plan for the future. If you need more information on the available equipment that is available from the CIII team, contact Dr. John Crawford by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org or at his office 814-247-6583 and mention that it is about the sprint cars.
And now for the rest of the story to catch you up from where we left off since the last issue of RPM Racing News was published.
The weather was down right awful for the first few weeks of the 2005 season. The Lincoln Speedway finally got underway 2 weeks later than originally scheduled because of the weather and the March 12th opener was a good one. Fred Rahmer picked off the opener along with the next two weekly shows at Lincoln before a week off for rain and then finally Doug Esh stops Fast Freddy?s streak at three in a row. For the record, Rahmer did finish third behind Esh and Brian Montieth.
One of the neatest things I?ve seen in a long time since I started watching racing in 1967 was the 305 sprint car feature win at the Lincoln opener by 70 ? year-old ?Cowboy? Jim Kennedy.
Cowboy picked up a previously raced Maxim over then winter and past cars on the Lincoln surface with the greatest of ease. Kennedy came from behind and passed Rod Ort and battled Dusty Shatzer for the win.
In victory lane Cowboy was greeted by cheers from the fans and some of the largest snow flakes I?d ever seen. The voice of the Lincoln Speedway Wayne Harper got Cowboy to perform his trademark yodel in victory lane among the snow flakes which was one for the ages. Without a doubt, one of the coolest races ever with no puns intended.
At the Williams Grove Speedway, Fred Rahmer made it two wins on opening weekend as Fred took the win at the ?Grove as well as at Lincoln.
Fred?s winning streak at the ?Grove stopped at one as week number two was won by Mr. Excitement Todd Shaffer. Week number three went to URC regular, Justin Collett. The college student took a surprise win in fine fashion over a hard charging Fred Rahmer and Kevin Nouse.
Last Friday Mark Smith took the win at Williams Grove and Chad Layton picked up win number 50 in the 358 sprint cars at Williams Grove. With four different winners in as many weeks, its shows that at Williams Grove, we may not have one dominating team in 2005. While it is still early, this trend could continue when you consider that drivers like Lance Dewease, Greg Hoddett, Jeff Shepard, Donnie Kreitz and a few others have haven?t won yet at the ?Grove so, it will be interesting for sure.
Barry Jackson?s JEI Chassis have two wins at Williams Grove in 2005 after only four races. Todd Shaffer and Justin Collett have switched to JEI?s and it has paid dividends for both the veteran Shaffer and the youngster Collett.
At the Port Royal Speedway, the third time to try the opener was the charm for Mark Smith as he picked up his second win of the weekend. Smith?s Zemco Maxim finished ahead of Kevin Nouse, Rick Lafferty, Todd Shaffer and Keith Kaufman.
On Friday night at the Lernerville Speedway opener, Ed Lynch Jr bided his time and waited for the moment while in lapped traffic on lap 13 to pass Jack Sodeman Jr. for the win. Rod George?s pass of Ed Lynch earlier in the feature was really impressive but he couldn?t hold off the reigning Lernerville champ. Look for Rod George who is running a Maxim Chassis on Hoosier tires to be in the hunt at Lernerville in 2005.
Jack Sodeman Jr. of Butler, Pa. made his season debut in the orange number 49 which is owned by Jeff & Bonnie Rudzik of Rudzik Excavating and Don Blackshear of Blackshear Engines and finished second in his first run of the season. This team could be in the mix as well to battle Ed Lynch Jr. for the 2005 track title.
After snow, rain, cold and more snow Mercer Raceway Park got their 2005 season underway with a four division show.
With the Sharon Speedway still suffering from last weeks snow fall and the Fremont Speedway in Ohio not opening for two more weeks, Mercer benefited with the likes of Ed Lynch Jr., Mike Linder and a few others.
Mike Shearer, a former winner at Mercer had the luck of the draw and assumed the pole position like he had 24-hours earlier at the Lernerville Speedway but this time he wasn?t going to make the same mistake. At Lernerville on Friday Mike spun out on the slick track and gave away a front row position.
Shearer ran a smart race and held off both Rod George and later Ed Lynch Jr. ?Mercer is a lot tighter than Lernerville, it?s a little more of a racy deal here, and I just don?t know how to explain it. You got to protect the bottom here and go up high if you have to where at Lernerville usually the high line is the preferred line and you have a heavy cushion most of the time. It?s tighter here, you?ve got to be on your toes here [Mercer]. Shear said after the win.
Arnie Kent hit the turn 4 wall upside down when he climbed the right rear tire of Ricky Ferkel. While Arnie was able to exit the Maxim Chassis under his own power, he was visibly shaken from the impact. Clearly, the Butler Built seat made a difference in Arnie?s injuries.
Arnie did go to the hospital after the race where it was diagnosed that he suffered a compression fracture of a vertebrae in the middle of his back according to his wife, Michelle. She said that he has a few abrasions and contusions. Arnie did ingest plenty of alcohol fumes when he was upside as alcohol was leaking into the cockpit area.
Michelle did say the Doctor?s said that Arnie should rest for a few weeks but we all know what a racer Arnie is but only time will tell how quick he recovers. Heal up quick Arnie; we all are pulling for you.
NEWSNOTESANDEVERYTHINGELSE: Byron Reed picked up where he left off as the 2004 Attica Speedway Park Champ picked up the Attica opener. Cameron Dodson was second with Mark Keegan, John Ivy and Brandon Martin rounding out the top 5?The All Stars will hold their Ohio opener at Attica Raceway Park next Friday and Saturday?Condolences go out to the All Star?s Scott Hall and family after the passing of Scott?s father Frank. Frank Hall was a regular at Mercer Raceway Park for many of years. He will be missed?Mercer Raceway Park?s concession Director, Jody Emig has done it again. Jody?s latest menu additions are baked potatoes, with two to choose from. These efforts are just another reason why Vicki Emig?s track is one of most fan friendly in the country. They never stop trying to please the fan?
Don?t forget to pick up one of the many new Racewear t-shirt designs from various sprint car teams when next weekend including new designs from Mike Erdley and Jason Martin. Keep your eyes open for new designs coming for Craig Mintz, John Ivy, Kenny Adams, Brian Smith and more.
Call me at Classic Impressions or e mail me for more info on our Racewear designs if you are interested in getting race shirts for your team. Check out our website at www.classicimp.com and click on the Racewear page, e-mail me at DJ@classicimp.com or give me a call at 800-775-8337, mention you read it here and we?ll get you started
At RPM Racing News we aren?t the only one?s that are singing ?Back in the saddle again.? I have learned that a couple of veterans are making a come back to the 410 sprint car ranks in western Pa.
Brian Ellenberger of Butler, Pa. is having a new JEI chassis built by Barry Jackson of Carlisle, Pa. Ellenberger?s mount will be the first JEI in western Pa. and I think this could be a significant move on Jackson?s part.
Ellenberger?s JEI will be powered by a Don Ott engine that Brian had lent to Dean Jacobs last year. The motor will be freshened and Ellenberger likes his new combination. While a number and car color have yet to be chosen, you can bet that Ellenberger will be competitive the two nights a week he plans on competing. A firm schedule has yet to be set.
It?s been since 1999 when we last saw the ?Flying One? from Franklin, Pa. Bob Felmlee compete in western Pa. in a sprint car. Felmlee was injured in a nasty crash at the Tri-City Speedway in 1999 which sidelined the popular Franklin driver.
Bob was declared ?healthy? enough to compete in motocross so after several seasons on a dirt-bike, he is ready to return to the sprint car ranks. Felmlee was approached in 2004 about driving for someone else, he went out and bought a new Butler Built seat, helmet and a Hahn?s device but the deal fell through.
So after having the personal safety equipment, Felmlee decided he would do it himself and contacted Chad Hill whose owner was selling all the equipment Chad used in 2004.
?I only have one motor right now, and Bob Kriner has that and that should be done in the next week or two. We have three chassis?, a Maxim and two J & J?s,? Felmlee said. ?The chassis? are getting painted by one of my old sponsors and I?ve made a deal with Steve Anderson to work on the car. We had been talking for a while and I had to make sure it was good with Ed (Lynch), I didn?t want any problems that way. Things are starting to fall together but we have a long ways to go. We haven?t worried about a schedule yet and we have a long way to go but I?d like to be ready around the first of April.?
Right now the 43 year old driver plans to run a white car with the familiar number 6 and we?re all looking forward to see the return of Felmlee and crew.
Since we last left you after the PRI show in December, many things have happened in the sprint car world. Let?s recap what we know so far.
There have been a few changes with a few of the sanction bodies as we knew them in 2004. Emmett Hahn?s 1 year old Sprint Bandits have abandoned the top wing in 2005 and will run a hand full of non-wing races in the Midwest. They are calling it the Tour ?N Topless which will take them through Nebraska, Oklahoma and Kansas on August 15-20, following the Knoxville Nationals. Keep those dates in mind, more on this later.
What might make this tour a really good deal is there might be more non-wing cars in the area with other races the week before. The ?TNT? swing will consist of five events over the course of six nights with the tour culminating with a $10,000-to-win finale.
The National Championship Racing Association or NCRA as most know it by has sanctioned 410 sprint car events in the Midwest for many years before President C. Ray Hall announced that NCRA would not sanction a 410 Outlaw Sprint Series in 2005 due to problems with scheduling and the inability to provide enough competitors for a quality show.
Earlier in the column I mentioned the dates August 15-20. For many years the NCRA and the All Stars ran the ?Thunder through the Plains? tour after the Knoxville Nationals. While the All Stars have scheduled the ?Thunder through the Plains? tour again in 2005, I just don?t think it will be the same with the NCRA being involved.
Now a little closer to home, Joe Darmofal of the Mid-American Sprint Series MASS told me that the 2005 MASS schedule should be finished by the end of the week. Look for more races than in their inaugural season but not in western Pa., unfortunately. The 2005 Mid-American Sprint Series schedule will be available on their website at www.midamericansprintseries.com for more information on a very competitive sprint car series.
The big news last week was the comments made by the ?King? Steve Kinser concerning DIRT Motorsports and survival of the World of Outlaw Sprint Cars. Kinser mentioned that the WoO drivers, the 15 or so have a back up plan and would split from DIRT and start their own deal if DIRT Motorsports would go out of business. The drivers and DIRT had a meeting this past Saturday and everything must have gone very well considering DIRT announced that fifteen drivers signed on again with DIRT or Boundless to become the ?Mean 15?.
On the out with the old and in with the new, Erin Crocker has signed on with Ray Evernham Motorsports and she will not be competing full-time on the dusty trail in 2005. Crocker will be replaced by Brandon Wimer who drives the 7TW for Tom Wimer who happens to be his Grandfather.
The All Stars kicked off their season at VSP in 2005 with plenty of good racing. Many WoO teams crossed over and ran with ?America?s Premier Sprint Car Series?.
Mike Lutz who joined the 98 Chiappelli Motorsports team late last season had commented that it was a ?good? trip because they brought the car back home in one piece. After you take away the drivers that will not be racing with the series once they reconvene at Attica Raceway Park in April, the 98 team are probably holding down about eighth place.
Of the four races that were held at VSP, the best finishing All Star regular would finish no higher than third which Chad Kemenah did twice. Kemenah, the series champion looks as if he?ll be the driver to beat in the series in 2005. Look elsewhere in this issue for results of the events at VSP.
The recent snow storms the last two weeks have taken the wind from the sails of many of the central Pa. regulars including the winner of last years Lincoln?s opener, Jim Siegel. At the end of that day in February 2005, you couldn?t knock the smile from Jimmy?s face with a chisel.
Siegel will back at Lincoln whenever they race to capture another opener after being ready to go. ?I enjoy the day races early in the season? Siegel said. ?You always want to win the first one, it was pretty cool.?
Another driver that is making a comeback of sorts is Fremont, Ohio?s Brian Smith. Smith, a former 410 competitor with the All Stars back in the ?90?s competed the last few seasons in the 305 sprints at Attica and Fremont on a weekly basis. Matter of, Brian ?Bad to the Bone? Smith won both track championships in 2004 and now he is making the move back to the 410?s.
The likeable driver said he ?learned to run hard again? while in the 305?s with as many as 12 drivers each night they could take the win. By landing a ride in the 55 of Larry Riehl, a local owner who drove a 305 a few years ago has given Smith a chance to go up against the likes of Mark Keegan, John Ivy, Byron Reed and a few others that can really step it up.
Riehl will field a 2004 J & J for Smith along with a 1996 J & J, with Kistler motors that will be freshened and maintained by Scott Gressman. The car will be white with florescent orange numbers. The double nickel will receive sponsorship help from several area businesses and groups.
?I am excited to be in the show again? Smith said. One thing for sure, Brian Smith will give it 100 per cent, just like he did while capturing two track championships.
Don?t forget to pick up one of the many new Racewear t-shirt designs from the central Pa. teams when next weekend. Check out the new designs from Chad Layton, Eric Stambaugh, Josh Wells, Jimmy Siegel and Brian Leppo. Also new are shirts from URC competitor Johnny Zimmerman, Ty Bartz of the IRA, Natalie Sather of ASCS, ESS Champion Lance Yonge, Kistler Racing Engines and the Southern Ontario Sprints.
Call Classic Impressions or e mail and ask for more info on our Racewear designs if you are interested in getting race shirts for your team. Check out our website at www.classicimp.com and click on the Racewear page, e-mail me at DJ@classicimp.com or give me a call at 800-775-8337 and mention you read it here and we?ll get you started.
Jamie ?Jet? Smith calls it quits after 19 seasons...
After nineteen seasons in a sprint car, Jamie Smith has decided not to compete for a 20th season in western Pa.
Smith had thoughts of retirement prior to the 2004 season but they were just thoughts as the 41-year old sprint car veteran had his best year in the seat while racing one night a week. After 4 wins in a 410 sprint car and a URC feature victory at Mercer Raceway Park, Smith captured yet another sprint car title at MRP.
It all started in 1985 at Don Martin?s Lernerville Speedway when Smith started racing in a former Ben Cook chassis driven by western Pa. legend Johnny Beaber. After two seasons Smith decided to part ways and went out on his own and purchased a car that Rod George used to capture a track championship at Lernerville. Smith was also assisted by another western Pa. legend, Lynn Geisler. Geisler had an engine shop back then where he helped Smith piece together a motor and remained his engine builder and big supporter for several seasons.
Smith?s first win at the Lernerville finally came in the 1989 season. Matter of fact that year at Don Martin?s Lernerville Speedway, the ?Jet? had two wins over a pretty good crop of sprint car drivers including Ed Lynch Jr. and Craig Rankin both had four wins and Dave Blaney, who had two wins that year at Lernerville.
While Jamie Smith isn?t western Pa. historian Walt Wimer when it comes to keeping track of how many wins he might have, Jamie does recall having many good nights at the old Sportsmans Speedway including several track championships there.
The Sportsmans Speedway wasn?t the place where Smith would win sprint car titles. Smith would take two titles at the Lernerville Speedway actually they were back to back titles, 1996 and 1997. The ?Jet? picked up a total of four championships and a total of twenty-eight feature wins at Mercer Raceway Park. The former Hickory Speedway was another track where Smith would win frequently.
Smith was happy with his 2004 season which may have been his last. ?We probably had one of the best seasons I ever had this past year? Smith said. ?As far as that many races, we probably ran only twenty races in past year but I won seven and finished first or second in close to two-thirds of the others.?
?I probably have the best equipment well; I know I had the best equipment that I?ve had in my whole career at this point and also the best sponsor backing. I?m also probably busting up one of the best sprint car teams western Pa. has ever seen here, but you got to draw the line somewhere, I can?t race forever? Smith explained.
The move to retirement is about freeing up time, nothing else really. Jamie has a 15 month old daughter, a 4-year old Harley with only 2,500 miles on it and a desire to go fishing and do whatever else he would like to do.
Smith says he?ll miss the competition but unless a quality ride is offered to the veteran driver, he?ll be content with being a former driver. We will always remember him as a Champion.
Jimmy Weller III is starting over again. This time it?s not in a different type of race car but in familiar surroundings, his own home.
The well liked, soft spoken young former Big Block Modified driver who decided to which to sprint cars a few seasons ago sustained head and neck injuries during an Oct. 13 USAC sprint car event at The Dirt Track @ Lowe?s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.
After a seven week stay at The Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., Weller recently returned home to Liberty, Ohio, to continue his recovery and rehabilitation.
Weller says he feels better every day and he hasn?t used his walker for some time now but there is always someone near by incase he happens to lose his balance. He is walking pretty well, progress is slow but sure.
After being unconscious for six days Weller says he doesn?t really remember anything for four of the weeks that he was in the hospital, he does recall things if someone reminds him of them.
The Doctors told Jimmy after the surgery he would be in rehab for several months. His determination had him out of rehab at the hospital and on his way home after only two weeks.
To hear his voice, his laugh, it doesn?t sound like a 19 year-old who had his world changed in a racing accident. If you?ve ever talked with Jimmy, you know how much he likes to race sprint cars and how determined he is to be the best he can be in the seat.
Well, that determination hasn?t changed. Weller knows that it will be a long road but he plans on making a come back to racing in 2006.
Jimmy?s determination has rubbed off on his family, friends and fans. A group headed up by Linda Barlow and Chad Wagner has put together a benefit fund raiser to help defray the medical costs.
Weller told me that he thinks he?ll be able to make an appearance at the event which will be held Jan. 9 from 1-5 p.m. at Tully?s Pub and Grille banquet hall in the Quaker Steak and Lube complex in Sharon, Pa.
Admission is $10 per person and includes the choice of select entr饠items. A 50/50 drawing and a silent auction will feature various items donated by local speedways, NASCAR drivers and Quaker Steak and Lube, including two tickets and pre-race pit passes to the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge at Lowe?s Motor Speedway May 21. Jimmy Weller benefit T-shirts and stickers also will be on sale. NASCAR driver Dave Blaney hopes to be able to make an appearance.
Please contact Linda Barlow at (724) 741-6282 or by e-mail at email@example.com with ticket orders or any additional questions.
Jimmy Weller III is a real competitor through and through. He has been counted out before but he has shown plenty of resilience, mental toughness and courage. Please come out and show Jimmy your support and how much you appreciate him as a person and a racer.
In 2004, 410 - sprint car driver Chad Hill was making his presence felt at several western Pa. and Ohio speedways. After a good first half of the 2004 season Hill had a few bad breaks, he was down but he wasn?t out by any means.
Hill?s main sponsor True Image Tattoo had signed on in 2003 for a two-year deal. While his performance on the track was outstanding, 17 top 3 finishes before July 1st. It didn?t matter that Hill finished second 9 times in those 17 races to Ed Lynch Jr., his sponsor could only stay on through 2004.
Hill?s car owner had some unfortunate circumstances occur in the fall of 2004. The flood from Hurricane Ivan and other circumstances beyond anyone?s control have found them unable to return to the sport. Even with a pretty successful season, they just aren?t able to furnish the kind of equipment that Chad was use running in the past and now everything is for up for sale.
Now, Chad Hill is a man with out a ride in 2005. If a team needs a driver on the rise, Hill is a good fit because of his personal situation with his business, he can travel to central Pa, Ohio or go on the road if a ride with the All Stars or MASS and bring something to the deal if someone would give him a chance.
?I am no where near retirement; I would like to race with the All Stars and the Outlaws more. The guys out east are so fast, I would like to race out east. There is so much more competition out east, we have one guy that dominates here, out east they have ten guys that are tough every night?, said Hill.
The face of western Pa. sprint racing is changing with these recent events along with the news of Jamie ?the Jet? Smith may sit out the upcoming season. I?ll have more news on Jamie Smith next week in AARN
Well, much has happened since the final checkered flag flew on the sprint car season. Silly season only pertained to cars and drivers until Boundless Motor Sports Inc., a.k.a. DIRT Motor Sports came along and has decided to buy up many tracks and racing organizations.
Don?t think for a minute that DIRT is only buying up Late Model organizations. They will acquire whichever group they feel will yield the best results for the bottom line down the road.
The whole situation reminds me of the 70?s rock band Bachman Turner Overdrive?s hit song ?You ain?t seen nothin? yet.?
DIRT is also buying up race track properties along with sanction bodies. Besides Rolling Wheels and Lernerville, look for at least two more tracks to be considered by DIRT.
I do like the idea about the newly proposed World of Outlaws Sprint Car Hall of Fame on the site of the Lernerville Speedway if for no other reason but to add to the speedways importance to the sport.
Speaking of Lernerville, this is my first opportunity to thank Helen, Patty and Donnie for all their years of support to our sport. They carried on the tradition that Don Martin established and they should be very proud of what they accomplished. I hope we get to see them at the races and that Donnie?s role of a consultant will be put to good use.
Speaking of Lernerville, Tom Roenigk was in attendance at the PRI show in Indianapolis, Indiana and both he and Barb Bartley signed an agreement on Saturday, December 10 for Lernerville Motor Sports Inc. to operate the speedway in 2005.
DIRT Motor Sports V.P. Craig Cormack handled on the site negotiations with Roenigk which will enable Barb and Tom to continue to run the Fab Four (Sprints, Late Models, Modifieds and Pure Stocks) weekly racing program.
The WoO sprint cars will appear at Lernerville on May 20, 21 again on July 19th for the Don Martin Memorial and for the final time on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2004
That was very good news to receive as the 2005 season grows closer every day and this news will allow teams to prepare for the upcoming season. It also forces message board users to dwell on other topics.
I was disappointed to hear that both Thunder Valley Raceway and the Gambler?s Speedway will not operate in 2005. TVR will reopen in 2006 under the same management according to Deanna Will. I haven?t heard much about Gambler?s to this point; I am sure more info will surface soon.
While it is true that Mercer Raceway Park is for sale, as of this writing there is no official word that the track had been sold. Rumors had surfaced last week that the track had been sold but that rumor wasn?t true. I am sure you?ll hear many rumors in the upcoming weeks. Vicki Emig will again operate that track in 2005 if the track isn?t sold and it will be business as usual minus a few special race events.
I know this is a sprint car column and Pennsylvania Motor Speedway hasn?t run sprints for a few years now but as an fyi, there hasn?t been much news recently on exactly who will operate the track, word is that we?ll know more after December 31, 2004. It would be great if PMS could entertain a 410 sprint car race next year if there is a management change of the speedway.
Central Pa. finished the 2004 with a change as Lance Dewease and Al Hamilton parted ways after the final race at the Lincoln Speedway. Al replaced Lance with Greg Hodnett not long after the announcement of the split. Lance Dewease did race at the finale at Hagerstown in Barry Jackson?s number 8 JEI Chassis and a Bob Kriner power plant.
While there was plenty of talk that Lance would run the number 8 in 2005 that chatter was put to rest for sure this past week when it was announced that Lance Dewease and Pete Postupack will unite as a team in 2005. Postupack?s number 25 was driven by several drivers over the past few seasons. Kevin Nouse was in the car in 2004.
Jeff Shepard was planning on being in the 8 JEI Chassis in 2005 when the number 12 Apple Motorsports Maxim driver seat was vacated by Hodnett. Lee Stauffer who is the head guy on the number 12 team took some time before naming Shepard to drive one of the slickest rides in the sport. This should be the most interesting of all the new combinations.
While at the PRI show, I spoke with several central Pa. drivers on their plans for 2005. Brook Weibley is planning on a return in 2005; however a schedule hasn?t been finalized. Mark Coldren is planning on running 50-60 competitive shows over 9 tracks in 2005 in his own 07 Maxim. Brandon Weibley will act as the crew chief for the 07 and will get a shot a driving the 07 for 6 to 10 races. The team plans on racing at weekly Williams Grove and will also compete at the Selinsgrove Speedway.
Other drivers that I spoke with included Jim and Steve Siegel. Jim will start the season in his 2004 car and then switch to a new J&J chassis. Johnny Zimmerman was a rookie in 2004 on the URC Tour and has plans to run more of the tour in 2005. Bob Bennett has run many dates with many different 410 groups over the years and 2005 might not be any difference. Depending on the work load at the family business, Acme Trailer Works, Bob could tour as much as in past seasons or they might not.
Jamie Martin who finished strong in 2004 while competing in a 360 sprint car plans on a full season in a 410 sprinter. Jamie is a strong competitor and should do well with some seat time in the 410. Jeff Banyas did a fine job in the 360 and 410 sprint car powered by Victory Engines.
Williams Grove Speedway was back in the news a few weeks back when it was announced Bob Jones was retiring and Alan Kreitzer was coming back to the ?Grove as a co-promoter if you will with the nephew of Bob Jones, Justin Loh.
Williams Grove opens its 66th season on Sunday, Feb. 27th. I am looking forward to the opener for sure.
I recently saw a few pictures of the ?NEW? Lincoln Tunnel at the Fabulous Lincoln Speedway. While its only four and a half feet wide, it?s all concrete. It will allow fans to enter the infield from the grandstands. Just think, Lincoln opens in just over two and a half months, on Feb 26, can?t wait. New seating was also added at the Lincoln Speedway. Maybe Lincoln will get one of the nine TBA?s on the WoO Sprint Car schedule. When they get a WoO race again, I pick Fred Rahmer to win.
Speaking of Fred, I was going to save this little rant of mine for later but I can?t help myself.
Fred Rahmer won 34 races in 2004 here in the U.S. and he didn?t win driver or team of the year as voted by the National 410 Sprint Car Poll panel.
Steve Kinser won both awards. I am not for a second saying that Steve didn?t deserve to win one award but it would have been fitting for the Joe Harz team to win the Team of the Year award at least.
I also feel that Cameron Dodson deserved to win the 410 Rookie of the Year. While Billy Alley the winner was honored by the award, he said to me after the awards in Indy that he didn?t have the best year but was happy to win the award.
Billy had some good finishes in a 410 but he didn?t win a race in the 410?s in the U.S. in 2004 that I am aware of. Billy?s most notable success in 2004 came at the 360 Nationals and that helped his name stay in front of the voters. Billy is a really nice young man and a good sprint car driver. He will do very well in the future.
Cameron Dodson on the other hand won 10-410 races and also captured the Mid-America Sprint Series points Championship. Sorry Cameron, you really did deserve to win the RoY.
The East Bay Winternationals is always a great time in Florida and it will start in on Wednesday, January, 26 with the 360 sprint cars. The 7th Annual King of the 360?s Ran Laney Memorial four night program will attract both 360 and 410 racers and as I witnessed last year, it was really competitive racing.
The 410 open competition portion of the 29th Annual Winternationals begins on Wednesday, February 2-5 with $10,000 to win on the final night and $3,000 to win the preliminary nights.
For more information call East Bay toll free at 877-457-5611. You?ll enjoy the food and the facility.
I spoke with Jeff McCall the crew chief for Jimmy Weller during the PRI show and Jeff informed me that Jimmy was back home and making progress. If you are available you?ll want to attend the benefit that has been organized to help with the medical costs on January 9th at Quaker Steak and Lube in Sharon, Pa. If you would like to help in anyway, please contact Linda Barlow by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
With the news of the passing of former sprint car owner Warren Johnson, I recall some great moments on the road with the All Stars in the mid-?90?s. With many great car owner?s like WJ, Stan Shoff, Tim Hughes, Dave Fisher, Denny Ashworth and many others, life on the road with the All Stars was a blast. It is sad that all of the name?s mentioned above are former car owners. While nothing lasts for ever, it?s the memories you take with you when your life is touched by outstanding people.
I didn?t mention Mike Smith, a former All Star car owner back in the ?90?s. Mike had his son Brian; both from Fremont drive his mount on the All Star tour. The Smith?s were the ultimate low buck sprint car team that made the tow up and down the road. After a few years out of racing, Brian came back to sprint car racing in a 305 sprint car at Attica and Fremont. In 2004 Brian had a huge year by winning both the Attica and Fremont point titles.
It was first thought that Brian and his 305 team would step up to the 410 ranks. As often happens, plans changed and the team decided not to make the move. Brian on the other hand still wanted to make the move so he went in search of a new team. While the plans aren?t complete, look for Brian Smith to race a 410 sprint car again. That?s great news for NW Ohio sprint car fans and bad news for the local competitors. Keep reading right here for more details when they are known.
Word has started to filter out that Kenny Jacobs will be back on the road again in 2005 with the All Stars after running in central Pa. in 2004. Jacob?s reportedly will take over the reins of the number 2H car of Rob Hunter. In 2004, Rob?s brother Tim drove the 2H to a sixth place finish in the points. Hopefully, more news will be forthcoming.
AFEWNOTESANDWHATKNOT?Steve Anderson who has worked with many sprint car teams in western Pa., got married last weekend in Las Vegas?Tony Beaber has his new t-shirts on sale now?Speaking of t-shirts, if your looking for a great deal checkout the pre-season special at Racewear by Classic Impressions. Check out the website at www.classicimp.com and give me a call at 800-775-8337 ext 107 or e mail me at DJ@classicimp.com. When you call, ask me about the hottest new promotional item, a metal trash can with your race car on it in full detail plus your sponsor?s logo?s.
Drop me a line at DJ1360RPM@aol.com
Hershey wins Path Valley 305 Sprint finale, plans move to 410?s in 2005.
In what might have been his last race in a 305 sprint car, Greencastle, Pa.?s Joey Hershey passed Randy Kaylor with one lap to go in the PA305 Sprint finale at Path Valley Speedway Park last Friday. The 21-year old driver had a very successful season in 2004 with 8 wins and several second place finishes in his first full season in the 305 sprint car. Hershey picked up wins at Williams Grove (1), Path Valley (4), Hesston (2) and Port Royal (1) along with a track championship at Path Valley Speedway Park and a second place finish at the Hesston Speedway. While Hershey hasn?t spent as much time in the 305 sprint cars he feels that the time might be right to make the move to the 410 sprint cars. ?We?re going to put a 410 in this car and an adjustable wing and that?s about it, that?s all we?re going to change.? said Hershey. As far as how often they plan to compete in the 410 class, Hershey said economics will play a part in planning their 2005 schedule. ?We didn?t decide yet, either Williams Grove or Port Royal, just one night a week. Unless we get a big-time sponsor that will be it, one night a week.? Hershey explained. I asked Joey why the jump to 410 sprints in lieu of the natural progression to the 358 sprint cars before jumping to the 410?s? ?In the 358?s they spend also as much money as the 410?s. They get new cars and everything and if you?re going to spend money you might as well race the 410?s.?
For those fans who have never visited Path Valley Speedway Park, you?ll be pleasantly surprised at everything from the close racing action to hospitality shown by the entire speedway staff. When the fans entered the track at main gate they were given the opportunity to help themselves from a large bowl of candy in celebration of Halloween.
Speculation on several speedways in Ohio and western Pa. continues to be a hot topic. Pittsburgh?s Pa. Motor Speedway could have things finalized before sources close to the situation have related. No date has been provided on the track website as of this writing.
While the Lernerville Speedway has announced their 37th annual Lernerville Awards Banquet to be held Saturday, March 5, 2005 at the Days Inn, South of Butler, on Rt. 8.
The Tri-City Speedway will honor the top five point men in each series with special awards at the 2004 Tri-City Speedway Banquet on January 8th.
Rossburg, Ohio?s Eldora Speedway has been rumored to have been sold but no official word on who will own and operate the world?s fastest dirt track has been announced. The only thing that is official is that promoter Earl Baltes has retired.
Rumors continue to swirl around several speedways that may be sold if the promoters/owners receive offers that are too good to pass up. More on this in future columns.
Wow, what a long weekend of racing with so many races being held without any weather getting in the way. I had my doubts for a few minutes on Friday night at the Lernerville Speedway when a few rogue showers came through but didn?t impact the show.
The Bauman Memorial was an All Star sanctioned event with 52 cars on hand which tied the season record for entries with the Fremont Speedway. Fremont?s May 8, 2004 All Star race had 52 entries early in the season and the All Stars return to the Fremont Speedway with coming Saturday, September 11 for their last appearance of the season.
While the Bauman Memorial was won by Jeff Shepard in dominating fashion, the story of the entire weekend might be Dean Jacobs in the Webb 51 Eagle.
Jacobs had a right rear shock fall off and he still managed to hold on second keeping Dale Blaney in Fritz Andrews?s number 72 at bay. Blaney had a good run but after starting on the pole he was somewhat disappointed finishing third.
Shepard had a close call in his heat when the Barry Jackson?s JEI Chassis ran out of fuel. Shepard said they just didn?t have enough fuel in it but it didn?t matter as he qualified for the A-main by finishing fourth. The Kriner powered machine was no worse for wear as he did just blow away the field for his second Bauman Memorial victory.
On Saturday the 24th Annual Sharon Nationals got in the books with a first time winner of the event as Bobby Clark of Fremont, Ohio took the lead with two laps to go over Dean Jacobs for an impressive victory.
Clark, who has won many races all over, just doesn?t get out as much as he use to.
?We only race mostly local now, there was a time when I use to race all over so, its not like I am new to this, I just don?t get out and travel with these guys we can?t really afford to do that? said Clark before Sunday nights action at Sharon. ?It?s the end of the year and we just freshened the motor up so we wanted to get some of the bigger shows in.?
Clark is thankful to have Andy Potter on board as his mechanic. ?There?s not a guy in the pits here that wouldn?t like to have Andy help him? Clark said.
Clark was able to pass Dean Jacobs with two laps to go on Saturday for the win on an excellently prepared race track according to several car owners and drivers.
?I?ve raced all over and this track kind of suits me a little better? said Clark. ?Naturally for a driver the more comfortable you are probably the better off you are going to be? Clark said.
Night two of the Sharon Nationals brought 44 cars through the gate down a bit from the 50 cars on Saturday night (Sportsman?s Speedway in Knox, Pa. had 24 cars which was their highest sprint car count of their short season).
The few cars didn?t have an affect on the action as Jeff Shepard showed the boys how it was done again winning two of the three All Star races over the weekend. Shepard thought that maybe they didn?t make the best tire choice on Saturday night but that wasn?t a problem on Sunday.
?My guys made a great decision on tires tonight. We missed on them a little bit last night,? Shepard said while in victory lane.
It was good to see the ?Tall One? Dale Blaney, emerge from a badly torn-up race car after he got up on the rear tire of 2004 Attica champion Mark Keegan who had slowed for a flat right rear tire. Blaney and Keegan were ok but the two cars were retired for the night.
I?ll have more on Jeff ?The Jet? Shepard and the Barry Jackson/Bob Kriner team in next week?s column.
The Sportsman?s Speedway in Knox, Pa. benefited from the Tri-City Speedway not running the sprint cars during their special Labor Day Weekend event as 22 local drivers and Australian Rod Maxwell made up the record field.
Another ?The Jet? Jamie Smith bested the large field at Sportsman?s Speedway for his second win over the past few weeks at the recently reopened race facility.
The Marion Center Speedway had a $1,500 to win show for the sprints on Labor Day Monday and we?ll cover that in next weeks column.
The Mid American Sprint Series finally got their last race of their inaugural season in last Saturday at Attica Raceway Park. With 34 sprint cars on hand at Attica, the locals bested the MASS touring racers with Craig Mintz in the 8s taking the win over Byron Reed, Alvin Roepke, Andy James and Andrew Palker.
410 Rookie Cameron Dodson won the MASS Championship which for a true rookie is a real accomplishment. Tom Busch finished second to Dodson in the points race by the scant margin of 27 points. Mark Clark, Patrick Haynes, and Curt Trainer finished third through fifth in the final standings.
This coming weekend sprint car fans you have a number of races to choose from as Mercer Raceway Park has ?On Tour 2004? which will feature the BRP Modified Tour for big blocks, Sprint Cars for $2,000 to-win. ?On Tour 2004? will be a good night of racing and I expect a good car count for all divisions.
One of the biggest 360 sprint car races of the year occurs at the Black Rock Speedway as the ?Bully Hill Vineyards Fall Sprint Nationals? will pit some of the best in the sport against each other for this great event. There will be sprint cars from many sanction bodies and tracks as far away as Knoxville, IA. This is one race that I am told is just a blast, maybe not this year but soon.
This coming Friday and Saturday are two of the best nights of the year at the Port Royal Speedway for the ? Night Before The 50 on Friday and Saturday is the Tuscarora 50 for 410 sprint cars. The 50 is a great, exciting, you never know what might happen kind of race. Also, some of the best food you will ever eat is available as the Juniata County Fair is in full bloom. Don?t miss this one folks, Jeff ?The Jet? Shepard and his JEI number 8 is a probable entry for this event.
Well, I have to get going, thanks for all of your support during these trying times and hope to see you all soon. Drop me a line at DJ1360RPM@aol.com
Here it is my Knoxville Nationals preview for 2004. To begin with, the Southern Iowa Speed Week really started on last Saturday night at the Knoxville Raceway with a night of racing for the 410 and 360 sprint cars.
Southern Iowa Speed Week includes all the sprint car racing, with and without wings at the Knoxville Raceway and the Southern Iowa Speedway. Points are earned for each night of racing so the teams that run the most races with high finishes can collect the money and the ?Mr. Sprint Car? title.
Getting back to the Nationals preview, you don?t have to go far down the list of previous Nationals winners to pick the winner of 2004 Nationals. While its easy to pick Steve Kinser or Danny Lasoski to win, there aren?t many others that will challenge those two.
Outside of the King and the Dude, the list is fairly short. Mark and Karl Kinser have Dennis Roth?s Beef Packer?s Maxim running really well so they should be included on the list. Sammy Swindell would be next as Sammy has won three WoO races this season in two different cars. Sammy won the WoO race at Eldora last Friday in his own number 1 car which was white with Kistler power. Sammy even took the wing off for the Mopar Million race on Saturday at Eldora and finished second behind Kevin Huntley.
Third on the list is Donny Schatz. The close-but-no-cigar kid will be in the hunt again this year but only bad luck or making a mistake could put and end to his chances.
The others, some call them contenders would be Terry McCarl, Craig Dollansky and Joey Saldana.
Not to slight guys like Tim Shaffer, Chad Kemenah, Kenny Jacobs, Dale Blaney, Paul McMahan, Jason Sides Lance Dewease, Fred Rahmer and many, many others, Knoxville is just different. It takes a super solid combination to win this race. While twenty-four cars will make the race many of the teams will have their best Nationals ever but the list of guys that can win are a few.
The local contingent of racers headed to Knoxville includes Ed Lynch Jr., Chad Hill, Ralph Spithaler, Andy McKisson, Mike Lutz and Brent Matus.
Of all the drivers headed to Knoxville Chad Hill has the biggest up hill battle, no pun intended.
While Chad Hill has two wins this year at the Lernerville Speedway in a J&J Chassis, his next win will come in a Maxim Chassis.
Hill damaged the chassis he had planned on racing at Knoxville several weeks ago and he didn?t feel he could compete at the highest level with a repaired race car.
Chad?s hand was forced by Jack Elam of J&J Chassis when Elam was unable to build him a race car like he had.
?I didn?t want to take a bent race car, something that has been cut apart out there (to Knoxville). At the time there was two and one-half weeks before Knoxville and I called Jack and I told him I needed another car and he said at this time he couldn?t build me a car like I had.? Hill said.
Most western Pa. sprint car fans know that Chad Hill is the brother-in law of Ed Lynch Jr. The car that Chad had planned on using at Knoxville had won many races including the Don Martin Memorial a few years ago.
?At this point in time in my career especially a week before Knoxville, I didn?t feel comfortable with anything else. The car I had drove it self, it was that good. It was a lot of stuff that Ed Lynch Jr. helped designed with Jack back and forth in designing this car, I was very comfortable with the car.? Hill continued.
Hill made it very clear that he was very happy with the J&J.
?One thing about J&J?s, the workmanship, craftsmanship, the service, the quality of the cars, they are all second to none. I was very, very pleased with everything about Jack?s race cars and Jack and Bonnie personally.? Hill added.
Hill went on to say that changing cars wasn?t something he had planned on.
?I was just in very awkward and uncomfortable situation a week before Knoxville to get something I knew was going to work and Jack had told me he couldn?t build the car.? Hill explained.
Hill was positive about the switch, he went on to explain that while Jack was willing to build him a car, it wouldn?t be a car that he would feel comfortable in.
?I just didn?t feel with what Jack was willing to build; I didn?t feel that I was going to be able to get as comfortable in that as I would in the Maxim.? Hill said.
The fourth year driver will continue to run Kriner motors in his new mount.
And now for NEWSKNOWSANDWHATKNOTS?Scott Bonnell traveled to Hartford, Michigan on Friday to compete in the SOD/URC Challenge where he won the B-main and finished 12th in the feature after starting 19th. Darren Long the former NRA champ won the event Nick Mulheim finishing 7th?Jimmy Weller captured his first 410 win at the Sharon Speedway last Saturday night and capped it off with his second win in two weeks in the Green Flag Sprint Division. Weller will travel to Knoxville as an observer and the driver of the Dave Blaney Driving Experience two-seat sprint car?Caleb Griffith the Fremont and Attica regular was on hand at the Lernerville Speedway last Friday where he finished in the 6th spot...Rob Eyler is on a terror with another win at Mercer Raceway Park this time with the wing on. Eyler also picked up the win at the Tri-City Speedway on Sunday for a two win weekend?At Port Royal Judi Bates picked up a second place finish in her JEI Chassis behind eventual winner Lenny Thompson?This Thursday at Susquehanna Speedway Park there is an open 358/360 race which should be pretty competitive. If you haven?t been to a race this year at Susky, you?re in for a real treat?Congrats to Eric Stambaugh on his win at the Lincoln Speedway last Saturday night. The 4 car has been on a roll since Eric?s win at Susky a few weeks back?At Mercer Raceway Park this Saturday it?s the Ken Carbone Memorial & Bully Hill 360 Sprint All-Star Dash Qualifier. All the 360 sprint car hot shoes will be at ?the Park? for this one?No sprints at Lernerville this week due to the WoO DLM ?Show Down in Sarver-town??Sharon Speedway, Tri-City Speedway and the Sportsman?s Speedway all have 410 sprint cars on the schedule this weekend?
As always, feel free to drop me a line at DJ1360RPM@aol.com
Well, the WoO controversy has seemed to have calm down a bit and we should know more after a hearing that was scheduled for Monday, July 26, 2004 between the Johnson Group and Boundless Motor Sports Racing Inc. has been pushed backed to Friday, July 30, 2004. It seems that BMSR was trying to collect sanctioning fees from a few tracks that Ted Johnson, former owner of the WoO, had already collected sanction fees from. So, Boundless adjusted the monies that they owed Ted and BANG! Ted says, oh no you don?t. Well anyway, a real judge will hear the case. Although it would be funny to have Judge Judy hear the case. Wouldn?t you just love to see her yell at Ted?
If you look closely at the SEC files on Boundless you have to ask yourself whether they have enough cash to buy everything on their list. I am not sure that they do. Don?t be surprised if Ted or someone else owns the series before all is said and done.
The post race press conference at Lernerville was informative as Sammy Swindell spoke about his young crew, his son Kevin is 15 and Kevin?s 16-year old friend was helping Sammy along with Amy, Sammy?s wife. Sammy said later that he wasn?t sure if he could continue to Williams Grove, he wanted to see how well the crew could do on Wednesday morning with the car before heading east.
The funny part of the press briefing was when someone asked if Sammy had told the media what is pit crew was tonight?
Mark Kinser popped up and said ?I sure told mine (Mark?s crew) what his (Sammy?s) was.?
That remark even drew a smile and a chuckle from Sammy as the crowd laughed at Mark?s response.
The duo even took a few jabs at the recent political climate of the WoO.
Just as a note, second place finisher Steve Kinser did not attend the post race press conference and no reason for his absence was given.
As I mentioned last week at the end of my column, Danny Wood is back on the dusty trail in the Write One Construction 35 that was driven previously by Jonathan Allard. Wood had been racing some ASCS stuff and was doing fairly well when the call came to join the troops when the series headed to Lernerville. Wood said he expected that the team would take a few races to jell but he felt they could be competitive rather quickly.
Wood was pretty on the money about being competitive in a few races as after three races together he and the 35 team gather a second place finish behind the ?King? at Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, NY last Sunday night.
I can?t remember a time when the Lernerville regulars did so well in the heat races as Rob Eyler and Chad Hill both won their respective heat races and Ralph Spithaler made the show with a third place finish in his heat.
Rob Eyler was the highest finishing local in the feature as the Franklin, Pa. driver finished 16th ahead of names like, Haudenschild, Dollansky, Ed Lynch Jr. and Kraig Kinser.
Eyler was very impressive in his heat race holding off Craig Dollansky, Jason Sides along with Danny Lasoski.
?Well I had a bunch of fast cars behind me and the pressure was on and I knew I had to hit my marks. I was just running as fast as I could go? said Eyler.
Rob was ecstatic about winning his first WoO heat race. ?We?ve been down here, I think this is either my fourth or fifth Outlaw show, haven?t made one yet and the one we do make we go out and win the heat race? said Eyler.
Rob Eyler?s week got even better as he won the wingless sprint car feature portion of Mercer Raceway Park?s double features for the Sprint Cars and the ARDC midgets.
?You can?t ask for a much better week than what we?ve had? said Eyler.
?Making the Outlaw show and this is my first wingless win, I?ve only done this twice (before) this is the third time? Eyler stated.
With Arnie Kent having his right arm restraint getting caught which caused him to spin out and lose the lead to Rod George. George then decided to cut turn four a little close and ended up driving through the edge of the infield which then gave the lead to Eyler.
?The biggest thing I wanted to do was stay consistent and smooth, I think I managed to do that. Ralph Quarterson is the one that set my car up and if it wasn?t for him, I wouldn?t have had a good of a car as I had? Eyler said with a smile.
Also at Mercer Raceway Park, a great show put on by the ARDC midgets featuring Ray Bull. This guy was not to be denied and while plenty of clich鳠and puns could be used, let?s just say he had a bullish of a night. Also, the traveling group was very complimentary to the Mercer staff for putting on a great show which included a very racy surface and a show that was run off in four hours. It was great to be on the road before 11 pm in time to listen to the WoO feature at Williams Grove on SCN.
Todd Kane had luck on his side on Friday night at Attica Raceway Park as he held on to the lead with plenty of crashing behind him with seven laps to go.
Also at Attica, Rookie sprint car driver Chris Andrews of Sandusky, who had never raced anything before in his life, survived five cautions to take his very first win. The sixteen year old managed to bobble against the cushion a few times but hung on against Brian ?Boom Boom? Smith and a host of 305 hot shoes from Attica and Fremont. I just love 305 sprint car racing.
Well, its time to wrap this up as I have already exceeded my deadline. I had hoped to include more on the WoO race at Lernerville but I just ran out of time.
I do however want everyone to know how much my family and I appreciate the prayers and well wishes for my Mom who has been in the hospital battling a lengthy illness. It is very uplifting to see smiling faces at the race track and have all the heart felt support that everyone has given to us. Thank you
OK, here is the column you?ve all been waiting for its The Sprint Car Speed Week handicapping issue for Dummies or for those guys who just want to donate money.
Let?s start left to right; Ohio is left of Pa. if you have a map in front of you or if you are geographically challenged. I?ll pick the guy I would bet on to win and I?ll even give the reason why I think that driver will win.
*THIS IS JUST FOR FUN AND NOT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY* FOR AMUSEMENT AND MOTIVATION ONLY***
2004 OHIO SPRINT CAR SPEEDWEEK
SATURDAY, June 26 at the ELDORA SPEEDWAY-Winner: Jac Haudenschild.
Haud is the very best outside of guys that won?t be there to race Earl?s high banks.
SUNDAY, June 27 at ATTICA RACEWAY PARK-Winner: Chad Kemenah.
Chad is the youngest of the tall drivers that could win this race.
TUESDAY, June 29 at FREMONT SPEEDWAY: Winner: Byron Reed
If Byron can't win here, maybe John Ivy can. No tall drivers winning here.
WEDNESDAY, June 30 at the SHARON SPEEDWAY-Winner: Ed Lynch Jr.
This race belongs to the western Pa boys. If no Ed Jr. then Chad Hill or Kevin Schaeffer.
THURSDAY, July 1 back to the FREMONT SPEEDWAY-Winner: John Ivy
Fremont will make a difference as the Speedweek Champ will have to do well here.
FRIDAY, July 2 at LIMALAND-Winner: Greg Wilson
Greg has always liked this track. This win could be very big for him.
SATURDAY, July 3 at the K-C Raceway-Winner: Randy Hannagan
K-C is such a quick track and Randy is due.
OVERALL OHIO SPEEDWEEK CHAMPION: Jac Haudenschild because Jac is having fun and is very secure where he is. While some drivers have done well so far this season and I shouldn?t bet against any winners, I just can?t help myself.
2004 Pennsylvania Sprint Speed Week
Saturday, June 26 at the Fabulous Lincoln Speedway-Winner: Fred Rahmer
Fast Freddy is the real deal at Lincoln Speedway in 2004.
Sunday, June 27 at the Grandview Speedway-Winner: Greg Hodnett
Hodnett has done well there and I see that continuing.
Monday, June 28 RAIN DATE-Winner: The Bedford Speedway
This would be a great date for the Bedford Speedway to have. Unless all the Speedways can have a rain date then no one should have a rain date. And Bedford has great lights.
Tuesday, Jun 29 at the Big Diamond Raceway- Winner: Lance Dewease
Lance is all around the winner circle and will there this week.
Wednesday, June 30 at the Silver Spring Speedway- Winner: Don Kreitz
This guy defies logic. He wins and then he isn?t a factor. He?s back this week.
Thursday, July 1 at the Susquehanna Speedway Park- Winner: Fred Rahmer
Fred?s fast but he will be challenged by a few young guns.
Friday, July 2 at the Williams Grove Speedway- Winner: Fred Rahmer
Fred was good here last week also.
Saturday, July 3 at the Port Royal Speedway- Winner: Keith Kaufmann
If the ?Man from Mifflintown? doesn?t then look for Todd Shaffer
Sunday, July 4 at the Selinsgrove Speedway- Winner: Mark Smith
It?s a Zemco kind of day.
OVERALL PENNYSLVANIA SPRINT CAR SPEED WEEK CHAMPION:
Fred Rahmer gets the nod because he is on a roll. Kaufmann, Smith, Hodnett and Dewease don?t make it easy. The young guys, Erdley, Layton, Siegel, Leppo, Wolfe and Nouse are all coming into there own. It?s good to see and will be a great week of speed. Good luck to all the drivers, tall and not so tall. Have fun, be motivated and stay safe.
*Just a note about the above. This is just for amusement, nothing serious, just racing fun.
NEWSVIEWSNOTESANSWHATKNOTS: A note of interest at the Sharon Speedway was Pete Groves in his own number 70 that Ryan Coniam drives had a 360 motor in the machine and was having fun. Ryan hasn?t had his best season this year and he might be looking for a new ride soon?Kevin Schaeffer picking up another win at the Sharon Speedway is just fantastic?Kenny Jacobs ran away with his heat race despite have the radiator being covered from the front. Teams often put cardboard or something in front of the radiator to warm up the engine. In Kenny?s case, it wasn?t removed causing the motor to over heat?The Winged Sprints on Asphalt will be racing in western Pa. this weekend with a stop a Motordrome on Friday and on Saturday at the Jennerstown Speedway?The All Stars make a stop at the Lernerville on Friday after being in Va. on Thursday night. The All Stars will run a last chance race and then the A-main that has been rained out many times?Good to see Rod George back in the winner?s circle after suffering engine woes?This past Tuesday at Attica they ran make up for the Jack Hewett race, more details next week?Jarod Larson destroyed a brand new race car at Sharon last Saturday. Larson was scheduled to race at Tri-City last Sunday with his Tri-City designated mount?Good to see all the young guys taking wins and Brian Leppo picked one up last week in central Pa?Well, its time to go. Be safe and we?ll have to miss this Friday?s MACS/All Star event at Lernerville as my youngest niece is getting married.
The WoO rolled into town last Tuesday and while it was a bit over cast, it didn?t rain. If you didn?t go to the race because it ?always? rains, then you should kick yourself a few times. You should know by now that there is no one and I mean no one that can tell you if its going to rain or not, at least not on the Tuesday in May when the Outlaws visit Lernerville.
One of the first people I ran into at the Lernerville Speedway was Boundless Motorsports COO, Bobby Hartslief. Hartslief advised me that a first ever WoO disciplinary hearing would be held later Tuesday afternoon because of the on and off track incidents that occurred at the WoO event at Princeton, MN. Wow, how crazy is that, a disciplinary hearing for the WoO on the grounds of the Lernerville Speedway. Lernerville has had many ?first?s? with the WoO. Lernerville was the ?first? track to have a Gumout Series event. It?s usually the ?first? track when driver changes take place in the spring. It was also the ?first? track in Pa. to hold the WoO Dirt Late Models. See what I mean.
The hearing was held as a result of three incidents that occurred the previous weekend during the WoO event at Princeton, MN. Dave Helm, the owner of the 11H driven by Paul McMahan lodged an ?objection? according to the WoO press release against Craig Dollansky. After the WoO reviewed the race tapes, they (the WoO) agreed with Helm and Dollansky was fined and placed on a six race probation period beginning with the Lernerville Speedway event.
Another ?objection? was raised by Steve Kinser, owner of the 11K driven by Kraig Kinser against Dollansky. This time, the ?Crowd Pleaser? was exonerated of all ?objections? leveled by Steve Kinser.
The third and final case on the WoO docket was the off-track rules violation on Saturday night at Princeton against Steve Kinser. Reportedly Steve Kinser had a face-to-face at the scale house with Craig Dollansky while Dollansky was still sitting in the number 7 Maxim. ?The King? was fined for the incident and that was that.
Just an FYI, all fines will be paid to the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Drivers Benevolent Fund.
Earlier in the day on Tuesday, Hank Gentzler of Hank?s Performance Products had passed away after battling Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or what is more commonly known as Lou Gehrig?s disease. Hank and his wife Denise was a fixture in the pit area of many sprint cars races around the country for years but more frequently on their more turf of central Pennsylvania. Most of the time you could find Hank near the car of one of his closest friends, Lance Dewease.
Dewease commented on his departed friend. ?We loved him, he and I became friends about fifteen years ago before he ever helped me with the race car. It has been a long trying couple of years for him and he is in a better place now. He?ll be able to walk and look down on all of us and get up and smile, enjoy what is going to do. We?re here racing because that?s what he would have wanted us to be doing and we?re going to try our best to win this thing tonight and if not tonight when we get back home to try to put a show on for the fans and try to get him a outlaw win. It?s been about forty days since he had been to a race, he lived and breathe racing.?
When asked about Gentzler?s relationship with Dewease, Lance added that ?He was always a thinker. It?s funny because we are both alike and we?re both bull-headed a little bit. I guess that was why we got along so good, we never pulled no punches with each other. If he thought he was right or if I thought I was right, we would tell each other that. We grew real close and the last couple of years we got real close when the disease took a down turn for him. He loved racing and he has helped out a lot of people, he enjoyed this sport from the get go.
Henry ?Hank? Gentzler Jr. passed away at the age of 45. If you would like to make a Memorial contribution, there are several organizations that have been selected by the family. The National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum, P.O. Box 347, Knoxville, Iowa 50138; or the York County Racing Club c/o The Injured Driver?s Fund, 568 Yale Street, York, Pa 17403; or Southern Care, Inc. (Hospice), 340 Highland Dr., Suite 200
Mountville, Pa 17554 or to The ALS Clinic, 500 University Dr., Hershey, Pa 17033.
NEWNOTESANDWHATKNOT?Mark Kinser while not a member of the ?Mean 15? has plans of racing at all the tracks that they feel comfortable with that aren?t ?tire eater?s?. Mark feels that the area treats them well. ?The fans are great and the race tracks are awesome, they say fairly smooth and racey? said the veteran driver of Lernerville and Williams Grove. The team plans to race about 45 times this season, the WoO race at the Sharon Speedway on Friday, June 4th could happen but they will be at the Eldora Speedway on Saturday, June 5th?Danny Lasoski was less than 100 per cent as the ?Dude? was recovering from two broken ribs that he had re-injured at the Princeton, WoO event. Lasoski debut the Shrek 2 movie car at Williams Grove last Thursday. The car along with the Die Cast cars and the t-shirts were big hits with the kids of all ages and sizes. Stop by the Lasoski souvenir trailer at the Sharon Speedway this Friday and watch Janet, Davey Whitworth?s wife run back and forth just trying to fill all the requests for Shrek 2 stuff?Sammy Swindell had planned to run a few races after racing at Lernerville and Williams Grove but had engine problems at the ?grove going through three engines which sent the Beaver Tool car back to the mid-west?Dale Blaney has been tearing up the All Star tour recently with back to back wins at Wayne County and Attica Raceway Park. On Friday at Attica, it looked like the Dale of old. The number 72 of Fritz Andrews flew around the top just like Dale did when he was driving the 94 Hughes Motor Sports entry back in 1995 and 1996. There is much more to comment on but I?ll save it for a future issue?Dean Jacobs was driving his own number 27 DJR Maxim last week at the All Star races. Several former car owners and friends are assisting Dean. The number is his son Cody?s football jersey number and will Cody?s ride soon if a deal that I mentioned a few weeks ago comes through?I spoke with Bob Flemlee at Tri-City Speedway on Sunday and it doesn?t look like he?ll be making a come back after breaking his neck a few years ago. Good call Bob?Fellow RPM staff writer Rick Rarer and Myself did a little traveling this past week. On Friday it was off to Attica for the ASCOC event. Then it was to the Woo race on Saturday at the track that claims that it?s a media ?friendly? facility. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am sure which you can figure out which track I am speaking of as neither one of us will ever go back or write about them again. We still saw the race, it was an interesting one and I apologize that I can?t tell you all the details that I know about the event. But since we didn?t have media credentials from the track, you, the race fan loses. It didn?t have to be that way, but that is how the track management feel about the media and how they feel about the fans as well. If its true that the WoO plans on cutting back its schedule in 2005, I sure vote for this track to be one of scheduling victims?As always, stay safe and see you at the Palace of Dirt Track Racing, the Sharon Speedway on Friday for the WoO event and probably at the Lincoln Speedway on Saturday?stay safe and drop me a line at DJ1360rpm@aol.com
The WoO ?Mean 15? are set to invade Pa. and the first stop is at the Lernerville Speedway on Tuesday. While the sprint cars are still the same, many of the names have been added to the tour from the top of the Boundless organization to the racers.
A new addition to the Boundless organization is Craig Cormack. Cormack operates Eagle Raceway in Lincoln Nebraska. Now, he is working with the touring and just might be with the group when they head east.
Another to the WoO staff in 2004 was Barney Lyle who is the new Competition Director. Bill ?Barney? Lyle is a western Pa. guy who has paid his dues and worked his way up to the top sprint car sanction in the world.
The ?Mean 15? will bring Kraig Kinser, Erin Crocker, Jonathan Allard and a few others that will racing with WoO at Lernerville some for the first time.
The Lernerville WoO show could produce a first time winner in 2004 who by this time last year had won a race or two.
In 2003, Danny Lasoski had won six races prior to the May race at Lernerville. Tim Shaffer, a former Lernerville track Champion had won two and Donny Schatz had won two races going in and then won the Lernerville feature in a thriller.
So, you can see, a few WoO guys are due. But, and it?s a big but. Don?t count out a few local guys namely, Ed Lynch Jr. and Chad Hill. These two are running a good as anyone and have already won this season at Lernevrille. Time will tell but you won?t want to miss it. Check the track web site www.Lernerville.com for more details.
Another partial weekend wiped out by rain in many parts of the country. The WoO lost one night, the All Stars lost both of theirs and even Emmett Hahn?s Sprint Bandits lost a race. Now for the weekly tracks, that is way too many to mention.
In western Pa. we lost a big one. I mean one that many folks had been talking about for months. Probably well over one-hundred sprint cars were headed for Mercer Raceway Park when MRP owner Vicki Emig made the decision to cancel the show. It was the right decision to cancel and cancel as early as possible, too many people traveling from far ways places like Dillsburg, Pa. and Lima, Ohio. For the early cancellation, I thank her. For the forward thinking and for taking a chance on such a big race, I thank her.
I, like many others were looking for to this sprint-fest for a very long time. The Western Pa. Championships for the Sprint Cars was a tremendous idea. To have the 410, 360 and 305 Sprint Cars at one track on the same night would have been a home run no, it would have been a Barry Bonds type grand slam.
Vicki, you have a great idea here bringing in the 360 Sprint Cars from Knoxville, ESS, PSG, NRA and more. I only wish the fans could have seen the PA 305 Sprint Cars compete at Mercer Raceway Park. Vicki, if there is a way to get the 305?s back, I would you are able to do so. These guys are good and they are exciting, a blast to watch. I am glad I?ve already had a chance to see them twice so far in 2004, once at Lincoln and the other time at Williams Grove. If you?ve never seen the 305?s, don?t knock ?em. Some of the best sprint car racing you?ll ever see might be the 305?s at Attica or Fremont or at Path Valley or it might the Virginia Super Sprints or the Pa. 305?s. Go and see them, you won?t be disappointed. Why? Because they are ultra competitive and you will be viewing the sprint car stars of the future. You can check out the PA 305 SPRINTS web site at www.pa305sprints.com take a look at the schedule and catch a race.
If anyone is interested in a road trip to Fremont this coming Saturday, and I understand with the gas prices but this could be worth it. Besides Fremont?s 410?s on the card, the have the SOD?s or Sprints On Dirt-360?s coming from Michigan to compete against Fremont?s 305?s. yes, I said compete. It?s the SOD Sprint/305 Challenge. Look for probably eighty plus sprints in the pits this Saturday night. The 410?s are running for $2,500 and the Challenge is worth $1,500 to win. Folks, Fremont has been averaging 45-305 sprinters nearly every week. SOD President Jason Fausey, plans on bringing at least twenty sprints from Michigan for this event. Its been sixteen years since the group last visited Fremont. Word has it that some of the NRA 360?s are planning on competing at Fremont in this Challenge. Since the Mercer show was rained out, I do not plan to miss this one. Look for Fostoria, Ohio?s Jamie Miller and Fremont?s Brian ?Bad to the Bone? Smith to put on a good showing for the 305?s.
For information on this event, call the Fremont Speedway at 419-333-0478. Another little known fact about Fremont is their soft walls. In 2002, Fremont became one of the first dirt tracks in the U.S. to install the soft walls and do they ever make a difference.
Attica native Brandon Martin made his first ever trip to Lernerville last Friday in an attempt to miss the rain showers at Attica. Well, not only did he manage to do that, he finished fifth in the feature at Lernerville. This young man may travel on a budget but his priorities are in the right place. We might even see the young Martin back at Lernerville sooner than the June 25, All Star make-up race.
Jack Sodeman Jr. only has one kind of luck, bad. I am really starting to feel bad for the likeable sprint car driver. Jack even had a few special friends at Lernerville and they couldn?t even stop the bad luck from occurring. Former Indy car driver John Paul Jr. and a few other friends were in attendance hoping to cheer Jack on. Jack hurt the motor in his heat race which ended his chances for the evening. As a special note, I did an interview with John Paul Jr. which I hope to include in the future, it?s pretty interesting.
While I haven?t been able to mention it here in RPM Racing News, Rod George has been doing some R & D for Race Tire America and their American Racer tire brand. American Racer has a new left rear tire which is very different from the competitor?s left rear. Lynn Atkinson from Lias Tire explained ?The left rear has a new tread pattern on it, different side walls, and different construction. It is supposed to allow the tire on acceleration to grow a little bit more and to take the stagger out of the car going down the straight away which gives them a lot of straight away speed and will shrink back down to a certain size into the turns. When they get back into the throttle, the tire grows.?
There is more to this interview but I am up against the deadline so I?ll have to pick it up next week.
The plans this week is for no rain at Susquehanna Speedway Park on Thursday, Williams Grove on Friday and Fremont for the ?Challenge? on Saturday.
Drop me a line at DJ1360rpm@aol.com until then, be safe?
As you may have already read on many websites, BMSR announced the creation of the ?Mean 15?, on May 4, 2004. The ?Mean 15? is not the top 15 in WoO sprint points so far in 2004. Two drivers, Tyler Walker and Shane Stewart were not included in 2004, I am aware of Stewart?s other commitments, I am not sure what Tyler?s reason was for not joining the group.
The ?Mean 15? consists of current WoO Champion Steve Kinser, Danny Lasoski, Joey Saldana, Donny Schatz and Craig Dollansky, as well as Paul McMahan, Brian Paulus, Tim Shaffer and Daryn Pittman. Other members include, Kraig Kinser, Erin Crocker, Jason Meyers, Brian Brown, Jason Sides, and Jonathon Allard.
No one ever said these 15 were in best in the world. It would have been good to include other drivers but it is a start. I am sure next year it will be the top 15 in points, which make sense for the premier traveling sprint car organization.
I spoke with Danny Lasoski on the day of the announcement during a break in testing the IROC cars at Richmond International. Lasoski said that he voted for the move and he feels it will be good for the sport.
Another driver that showed enthusiasm to the ?Mean 15? was western Pa. Native Tim Shaffer. ?It sounds pretty interesting, a lot of good ideas, good for the future? said Shaffer.
On having a mix of veterans and younger drivers Shaffer commented, ?Having more people involved, many good young drivers will help with the representation of the series and to help find a sponsor.?
Sorry about not getting a column in last week here in RPM due to a computer problem so we?ll have to make for it this week. Co-editor Kittey always keeps track and since I get a penny a word for every word in my column, I need to make up for last week and be extra wordy this week.
Well, let?s start with the Mercer Raceway Park feature on Saturday, (April 24). Jack Sodeman Jr. was having another good run when a mistake, just a split second cost Jack Sodeman Jr. a win with the flag stand dead ahead. Jamie Smith is just so good at Mercer Raceway Park, a driver can?t afford to make a mistake when the ?Jet? is knocking at the door.
Ralph Spithaler had the blue car at Mercer on April 24th, the new red car was getting the night off. Cameron Dodson from Greenfield, Indiana made the long tow after destroying a car in Michigan the night before turned to his show car for the Mercer race. Gary Kriess Jr. will be handling the driving chores for Troy Preston while Preston is out with a back injury.
And now for catching up to last weekend, or what was left of it. Friday was wet in western Pa. and Ohio. It was a good night or should I say nights in central Pa. for Brook Weibley. Weibley the 43-year-old driver had a tough afternoon on Friday putting in a new power plant in his JEI Chassis. Brook has had some bad luck this year at both Lincoln and Williams Grove and now things are starting to work out. I told the readers a few months ago to watch out for the JEI Chassis and the teams that are using them. Brook isn?t done yet, there will be a few more wins this season.
Speaking of central Pa. there is a new promoter at the Newberrytown oval, which is now referred to as Susquehanna Speedway Park. Todd Fisher an area native has moved back into central Pa. after a few years of honing his promotion skills in North and South Carolina. Fisher is bright, energetic and willing to try something different. And I mean different, like race on Thursday night different. Another example that has been met with much enthusiasm is to get the fans out of the track and home at a decent time. Fisher has a self-imposed 10 P.M. curfew. That?s right, 10 P.M., I really like that one. Granted it?s only a two or three division show but, it?s a Thursday and the fans have the entire weekend to sit and watch a show with more divisions than necessary. Fans want to see a good race and be entertained, that?s it. Like they print in their press releases, ?Race fans can expect a fast paced 2 ? hour program each and every night (and as coined by a local reporter ?Done by 10.?).
Besides the 410 Sprint Cars, other classes include Stock Cars along with a special guest class frequently. On June 10th SSP with have School Buses as their third class. Last Thursday, Fred Rahmer turned a few laps in a bus. I bet that must have been fun to watch. Gates open at 5 P.M. and the heats begin promptly at 7:30. Sounds like a road trip coming up?
Fifteen points separate the top five in the 410 Sprint Car standings. Lance Dewease is the point leader followed by Greg Hodnett, Fred Rahmer, Don Krietz and Eric Stambaugh.
I spoke of other sprint car racing last weekend and you couldn?t ask for a better setting than Knoxville Raceway for the WoO Friday & Saturday. It reminded me of days gone by when heard there were sixty-plus cars for a WoO show at Knoxville. The new surfaced seemed to have guys guessing and someone other than Danny Lasoski or Steve Kinser would win the race.
A different winner in it self is amazing and for drivers to have started outside the first three rows to move like they did is pretty amazing. Case in point is Tim Shaffer, who started twenty-first and finished fourth at Knoxville is pretty damn good. Shaffer said the new surface was to his liking. Donny Schatz started twenty-second finished seventh that must have been a great race. Another tip-of the hat and probably the guy I would have liked to see win the most vs. the WoO at Knoxville is All Star Champ Chad Kemenah. Kemenah made the tow from Ohio to take on some of sprint car racings best and really put it to them finishing second to future dirt late model driver, Mark Kinser who was recently fitted in Rocket chassis.
By the way, in case I fail to mention it, Chad and the All Stars will visit the Lernerville Speedway this Friday for a feature and last chance race for non-qualifiers. The 2003 Baumann Memorial A-main for the sprints was rained out last year so the plan was to run this event this Friday, May 7, because the All Stars had originally been booked at a central Pa. track on Saturday night and at that time this all made sense.
The new Lernerville management team has been catching some flack over this feature only event from the Internet message boards and it isn?t justified. In all actuality, they are putting out the money for this event when they didn?t have the opportunity to take it in as is evident with only a ten-dollar admission ticket this Friday.
NEWSNOTESANDWHATKNOT?When the WoO DLM?s were at Lernerville a few weeks ago, word was out that there was trouble in paradise, ie the WoO Sprint tour. The WoO brass that attended the race at Lernerville with the DLM?s, including CEO Paul Kruger and COO Bobby Hartslief had planned to tour the Challenger Raceway on Saturday, April 24 prior to traveling to Hagerstown for the next DLM race. Their plans were cut short, as they were needed at the Talledega Short Track where the sprint cars were competing. Johnson, it has been reported has not been traveling with the sprint series as of late and Craig Cormack, who joined the Boundless group recently to assist Hartslief with the WoO brand is reportedly traveling with the sprint cars. More on this and other WoO news as it developes?
Lets talk a little about what is happened, happening and will happen in the world of sprint cars. Many people have asked if I grow tired of seeing the same drivers win much of the time. Well, let me ask you that question. Do you grow tired of the same driver winning races?
This past weekend I visited Lernerville on Friday and Attica Raceway Park on Saturday for the All Stars first racing weekend in Ohio. From what I was told by fans and other media members the Friday night ASCoC's feature was a good one with Chad Kemenah passing Mr. Attica, Mark Keegan in his X machine for another All Star win. Chad's win at Attica was his second of out three All Star races run this season.
On Friday at the Lernerville Speedway, Ed Lynch Jr. came from his usual twelfth starting position (starting spot when you win the previous race), the beat the field including the usual suspects of Chad Hill and Rod George among others.
Last weekend Steve Kinser won his 502 career WoO feature which just happened to be the 100th WoO A-feature at Eldora. Kinser has already won five WoO mains this season along with several preliminary wins. Kinser had 31 A- main wins last year so don't be surprised if he wins close to 45 or so this year.
Referencing the question above, is anyone ever tire of the same driver winning? I am sure many people offer different perspectives. Is it fair to compare a local driver who races at the same track versus a touring driver?
What about a driver who races two nights a week on average and ventures out on the road and beats the WoO and the All Stars?
I don't know about you but I like to see great racing at every race. It doesn't always have to be a race for the win, a race within a race is good to see. I am concern about the fans though. They want to see their favorite driver win first then if not him someone else but not the same guy.
The fact that the same guys win frequently might not be the factor, maybe its just domination. I think domination, a guy jumping to the front shortly after the green flag waves might be worse than the same guy winning frequently. Sometimes domination makes the other racers look inferior.
A driver told me recently that he understand why Steve Kinser wins so much, he is just that good. He also said he questioned how Greg Hodnett could dominate Williams Grove. You noticed he didn't say winning, he said dominate. Now, that's the question. When a driver can run anywhere on a race track and win from a number of different starting positions well, that is domination.
I know how Greg Hodnett and Lee Stauffer dominate the Grove. They do it the old fashion way…they earn it. It is very simple, just watch them. Take a look at the car, very closely and you'll notice that there are a few innovations on the Apple Motorsports entry that make it different from other sprint cars. Another reason is that Greg Hodnett is in great physical condition, there is no way he'l never fall out of the seat. And one more reason, they make good decisions. Take for example a few a weeks ago when the track was going to change the tire rule for the day. Fred Rahmer said it best when he actually stuck up for the 12 car by saying that they did their homework and the other teams, including his didn't.
That is why the Apple car dominates at Williams Grove, they just out work about everyone else and I don't think the other teams are inferior by any means. Last year, they had something like 25 wins, this year who knows how many they'll have by the end of the season. One thing is for sure, they will get them at home and on the road by working hard and never giving up trying to build a better mouse trap.
Well, this is one subject I never thought I would write about, Mark Kinser driving a dirt late model. I read on the web that Mark Kinser would be driving a late model for Darryl Saucier this season. No way, I said to myself but as a guy who digs for the story, I put a call into Mark for the straight scoop. Mark was out of town racing but he did return my call early Monday evening. We chatted for the first few minutes then I asked him the $64,000 dollar question. Is what I read on the web true about you racing a dirt late model?
Mark laughed when he said "hat might be the only true thing ever said about me on the internet." Excuse me? That's right, a DLM is in Mark's future.
"What really sparked me was all these late model races close to home. There are as many as five or six $10,000 to win races on the same night" said the Indiana native. Mark also brought up the amount of travel in the sprint cars and the fact that there aren't as many of those high paying races for the sprints anymore.
Mark said "I don't know what's going to happen. In a perfect world it will be a month or so". Mark and I spoke for about a half an hour about several subjects and agreed to talk again soon and in fact, we are planning to do up-dates on his progress in his new Rocket Chassis over the next month or so.
When I mentioned to Mark that western Pa. was Rocket country, he said he'd love to race a DLM at Lernerville someday. Can you imagine if Mark is as good in a DLM at Lernerville as he is in a sprint car? WOW!
I'll have all the Mark Kinser information for you right here and in RPM Racing News and Area Auto Racing News as well.
A few notes from the weekend. Chiapelli Motorsports and driver Stimeling have split up. They plan on having several drivers test drive the 98 over the next few weeks. Anyone interested should e mail them at email@example.com details…Fritz Andrews owner of the 72 that Dale Blaney drives was in a MVA last week prior to the show at Attica. Fritz will make a 100 per cent recovery after a slight concussion and some cuts and scratches…Susquehanna Speedway Park opened last Sunday, their rain date night with 15 sprints. Regular action is scheduled for Thursdays at 6:30 for warm ups and racing at 7:30. Check this out, three divisions and last checkered flag dropped at 9:58, two minutes before their self-imposed curfew…The Tri-City Speedway with new Pit Stewart Lou Long will open the gates this Sunday for their opener…Have a great weekend and feel free to drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org.
While I missed the opening night of the East Bay Raceway Park 410 Winter Nationals, I did get to listen to Bill Green and Roby Helms over the PA system on SCN Radio. Mike Martin from SCN has some really cool plans this season on the Sprint Car Net. The website www.sprintcarnet.com will be redone giving the user easier access to tuning in organizations, tracks and possibly some radio type shows. Keep checking the website for details. What a great idea from Mike Martin and SCN Radio-The Sprint Car Network.
Thursday when I landed in Tampa the weather was just beautiful. Then the bizarre occurred. During the qualifying I was sitting with Steve Sinclair when we noticed fog beginning to develop across the track over on the hill. We fought the fog all night but the willingness to race prevailed. From what the drivers told me about racing in the fog that it wasn?t too bad except for the moisture on their shields was extremely heavy.
Motors were the victims on Thursday as Hodnett, Mark Smith and Pittman in Gene Jenkins car all suffered motor problems. While Hodnett made a motor change and finished fifth in the A-main. The Zemco team and Gene Jenkins? team made changes for the next night. Jenkins? got a Mopar from Joey Saldana for Friday night?s event and driver Daryn Pittman finished fifth in the A-feature.
As I mentioned the night was bizarre with the fog but the feature finish has just as bizarre. Jim Nier was leading the race very handily when Jim thought he saw the checkered flag and then let up after he went under the flag he began to slow when he got behind some slower traffic with McCarl hard on the gas blew right by him.
On Friday when I did an interview with Jim Nier for Sports Plus Video when he admitted that he thought he saw the checkered when he in reality saw the white and the move over flag. Maybe it was the fog, who knows but Jim said it was his mistake. He could have easily said that he broke or that he ran out of gas but he didn?t. Jim is a competitor and one hell of a driver.
Nier was driving one of the two Barry Jackson?s JEI Chassis? at East Bay. Nier?s JEI right out of the box was arguably the fastest car at East Bay. Nier was second in points only to Terry McCarl going into the finale.
Also on Thursday as I was strolling through the pit area I had an opportunity to speak with Jason Johnson. Jason and his wife Bobbi were attending the race as fans and Jason was just catching up with friends in the pit area.
To say that Jason was going through some tough times is an understatement. While he lost his ride in Al Harrison?s number 22, he and his family suffered a much bigger loss when his sister Kayla succumbed to injuries after an automobile accident while Jason was in Australia.
Jason upon hearing of the accident attempted to catch a flight home but there were no flights available until the next day. After consulting with his parents, Jason competed in the series finale that night and was able to win the feature. Needless to say, the win meant very little at the time.
Jason said while being interviewed during the race that night, he mentioned Kayla was in a serious accident and he would be leaving as soon possible. After the race, Jason signed autographs for two hours as the fans expressed their feelings and support to the likeable young American.
Many times a traumatic event changes a person. Jason told me that he learned so much about his sister from her friends that he didn?t know because he had been away racing.
This all leads up to how Jason feels about his former car owner Al Harrison?s decision to quit sprint car racing. Keep in mind how Jason?s life changed just prior to learning that his car owner has decided to sell of the assets of the 22 car.
That being said, Jason told me that does not have any hard feelings or places any blame on Al for his decision. Jason feels and understandably so, that it was the timing of the decision was unfortunate. At 72 years old, Al Harrison has every right to do what he wants. If he wants to sell off everything and spend time with his grand children or doing some traveling in his motor home, that?s his business, related the 27 year old driver.
One thing is for sure, Jason Johnson will survive this latest set back of losing his ride. His families? loss of Kayla will take much longer to deal with. A loss of a loved one doesn?t even come close to losing a ride or a job for that matter, nor should it.
Jason feels that his chance will come. You won?t hear Jason Johnson bad mouthing anyone in order to better his chances. To Jason Johnson, loyalty is very important. More important than going in and trying to steal a guys ride. While his plans are open, one thing is for sure is that the ?Cajun Sensation? will ride high again. We?ll all keep the Johnson family in our thoughts are prayers.
While I am thinking about it, I guess it would be a good time to talk about the 2004 - 410 sprint car season. The best place to start would be the WoO now owned by Boundless Motorsports Racing Inc. While Boundless recently took over the title of the ship, Captain Ted Johnson still maintains control of the wheel. While in Florida I heard many stories, rumors and innuendo?s about all forms of racing. One rumor concerns Les Wulf who held the position of President of Boundless Motorsports. Word has recently surfaced that Wulf was relieved of this duties. Hopefully, Boundless COO Bobby Hartslief will address the issue when he is interviewed on www.dollanskyracing.com which will be archived as well.
Other news on the WoO front has Bill ?Barney? Lyle taking over the Competition Director duties from newly named WoO Dirt Late Model Competition Director, Bobby Jackson. Barney last held the same position will the All Star Circuit of Champions before being let go by All Star President, Guy Webb. Jack Hewitt left the All Stars after the 2003 season for reasons that have never been made public.
While Jackson will be dealing with the ?new dirty dozen?, Lyle will be overseeing racers he has known for a while and has experience with. When I spoke with ?Barn? last week, he was excited about the new challenge and being back on the road again. Congratulations to both, I am sure they will do well in 2004 and beyond.
I attempted to finish this column earlier in the week but that didn?t happen, so I am going to wrap this soon.
But first, Jimmy Weller III is a young driver who has had some success in a Big Block Modified and decided late last season he wanted to go sprint car racing. Jimmy?s dad is partners in the Sharon Speedway with Dave Blaney so getting started in the right direction wasn?t a problem. In late 2003 Jimmy made a few races and ran a bunch of laps in a car that was more meant for him to get laps in than to compete up front.
Jimmy Weller made his 2004 debut at East Bay Raceway Park during the Winternationals. The J & J Chassis really handled to his liking during the week. Jeff McCall of the Dave Blaney Driving Experience will be assisting Weller when possible as Jimmy hopes to race the sprint car about seventy times during the 2004 season. Jimmy mentioned that he plans on making a few races in the Big Block Mod for a local team probably running at the Sharon Speedway.
Another quick note from East Bay involves Kevin Frye?s recovery from Brown Recluse Spider bite which happened last August. Kevin is coming along well now after dealing with a 105 degree fever and being ill which lasted into November. Wow. His plans are to run a few different races along with more non-wing shows in 2004.
The King of the 360's got kicked off at East Bay Raceway on Wednesday the 28th with Joey Saldana taking the win in Red Stauffer number 2s. Joey who arrived in Tampa on Tuesday night after racing in Australia was tied in the points with Danny Lasoski who finished third in Wednesday's race was driving an Eagle Chassis owned by his father, George.
The ageless one Roger Rager, came home third in points after finishing second in Wednesday's feature. Roger enlisted the help of his old buddy Deuce Turrill to turn the wrenches. Deuce related a story about this old friend Rager .
When Roger gets out of the race car, the 54 year old driver goes to the front end of the sprinter and lifts the car to his waist. According to Deuce, Rager has done this for years even when Roger raced his silver crown car which weights a bit more than the sprint car.
You really need a line up card to tell some of the drivers from their temporary mounts. As I mentioned, Joey Saldana is in Red Stauffer's number 2, Lasoski in the 20L which will be driven by Tony Stewart next Tuesday and Wednesday at the Volusia USCS show. Jeff Shepard is driving Kasey Kahne's number 67, a JEI Chassis by Barry Jackson. Chad Kemenah is driving the yellow number 20K owned by Ron Hammons of Ohio. The other driver in a different machine is Kelly Kinser who is driving the Joe Seeling owned number 97. Also in attendance were Greg Wilson, Lance Dewease and Terry McCarl in their own race cars with 360 motors.
While I've mentioned some of the 410 guys, there are some pretty good 360 racers here in Florida. One of the best ever, Kenny Adams lives in the area but races with the USCS most of the time .Danny Martin Jr. is a good young racer along with last years King of the 360's Sport Allen. Sport Allen works a 50-hour a week job as a UPS drive and he still finds the time and energy to race competitively. Besides reigning East Bay Champ Johnny Gilbertson others that include Sprint and Midget Editor Doug Auld, Team Hulk Hogan racers Gene Lasker and Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, of course Red Stauffer and Wayne Reutimann who is driving a former Donnie Krietz Jr Avenger Chassis. And finally a name that all sprint car fans know is Jan Opperman Jr. who races here at East Bay.
I really like this race because you get a good cross section of 360 racers from all over the country. Some examples are Jesse "the Bulldog" Giannetto a Knoxville regular, Mike Chadd the ESTS Champ, Darren Long who is driving a team car here to SOS Champion Glenn Styers who also owns the Oshweken Speedway in Oshweken, Ontario, Canada. Roger Rager is from Pequot Lakes, Minnesota, Gary "Dream Weaver" Wright from Hooks, Texas and Phil Mott from Hinsdale, NY.
ESS regular John Karklin is here along with new teammate Doug Emery. The two 360 drivers decided to pool their resources to make their assault on the ESS title for 2004.
The B-main here on Thursday was a good one as T-Mac, Terry McCarl took the win over Danny Lasoski with a lap to go.
Thursday's A-feature lined-up with the quick six that made it inverted. Drivers on the outside of the A that were looking in were Roger Rager and Kenny Adams.
Shane Stewart took the lead and after Danny Martin spun on lap 1, Terry McCarl and the"Dude" rounded out the top three. McCarl jumped out on the restart, Stewart was second then the dogfight ensued with Greg Leonard, Lasoski, Wright and Saldana to duke it out. Shane passed McCarl on lap 17 with the others still in tow.
On the restart, Lasoski was low into turn two and as he slid up, Greg Leonard got pushed up towards the turn two wall and on his side. At the same time Terry Gray ended up stopped along the turn one wall.
Shane really hung on for a great win at East Bay Raceway Park. Shane took the win over McCarl, Lasoski, Gary Wright and Jeff Shepard.
A few other notes from here…Mike Chadd has Scott Benic providing a helping hand here at East Bay this week. They put together a new Maxim on Thursday beginning at 9:30 and finishing up around 4 PM and went out a qualified 11th. Mike was sporting the colors of his sponsor Carpet Land which will be Mike's main sponsor this year…Word has it that Sammy Swindell could be back with Dennis Roth in 2004. The only question will be, will Sammy and Tim Shaffer both be on the road with the WoO or will someone have to stay an race in California?...Joey Saldana will in the 50 car this season and the team plans on running about 80 races this season. Weather really played havoc with Joey's travel plans as his trip from Australia took about 28 hours. Joey and Shannon Saldana have their son here in Fla. with them as does Rob and Kathy Hart has their daughter with them. It is great to see the families together at the track.
While at East Bay I spoke with Justin Collett. The URC racer isn't racing here at the 360 Winternationals, he is just down checking out the opening event for the 360's. Recently, I asked a Justin a few questions a little bit about himself.
I do a bio sheet for the Racewear Sprint Car Show and to assist in some of the columns I do in RPM and on the web. Here are some of his answers.
The 18 year old high school student/driver plans to attend Delaware Technical College majoring in Mechanical Engineering. That figures since his favorite driver is none other than Greg Hodnett. While Justin has been racing for eight years he also enjoys fishing, skiing and lacrosse.
Check out Justin's web site at www.justincollett.com for more information.
While it has only been a little over a month since I?ve done a column, the sprint car world has been a busy place.
Let?s take the World of Outlaws first. Boundless Motor Sports Racing Inc. or BMSR on the stock exchanges said on Oct 31, 2003 that additional funding was being sought and they hoped to close the deal with Ted Johnson by Nov. 24, 2003. Well, since Thanksgiving has come and gone, I think they missed that target and might be able to have things wrapped up shortly.
A few months ago BMSR stock was trading at over $7.00 per share. On Nov. 28, 2003 the stock closed at $2.75 per share. Ouch, if you bought any at the higher price. If I was Ted Johnson and part of the deal was for shares of stock and not cash, I wouldn?t sign the WoO over either.
I think Ted?s deal is back on the rise. He, not Boundless, just signed a deal with the Outdoor Channel and it seems to be for everyone. The deal with Boundless might have sounded good at the time for Ted but, now I am not so sure. Ted needed bailed out and Boundless did that. Boundless held up their end but Ted well, we know he has been close to selling the WoO before but didn?t pull the trigger. Maybe Ted is just holding out for cash, no shares of a downward heading stock. Only time will tell but the season opener at Manzy is only a few months way.
If you go to the website, www.boundlessmotorsportsracing.com you?ll notice that it hasn?t been updated since Nov. 4, 2003. The fact that the site hasn?t been updated and they haven?t sent any recent press releases just makes me wonder.
By the way, have you noticed that there is no mention of BMSR on the WoO site? Now, doesn?t that make you wonder if the two were getting close at least a link to the BMSR would be on there?
In my last column I wrote that the All Stars were close to signing on with Volusia County Speedway for speedweek. It was announced recently that Volusia County will run the USCS Sprints in 2004 and not be a part of the All Star schedule in 2004. It sounds as if putting dirt on DeSoto is out of the question as once proposed by All Star President Guy Webb. That is really too bad, I would have liked to seen that.
Another thing that isn?t the same with the All Stars is the location of their annual banquet. When the PRI Trade show was in Columbus, Ohio the group used the facility which worked out well for everyone. The last few years the group has celebrated their night in Indy. The 2003 banquet will be in Dayton, Ohio on the grounds of Wright University. More info on the banquet can be obtained from the All Star web site.
You may have seen the recent press release from Jerry Slade the President of GLOSS, the Great Lakes Outlaw Sprint Series. I spoke with Jerry a few weeks ago and I know he had been entertaining the thought of disbanding the sanctioning body but I had hoped that would not be the case. One could understand given the circumstances that Jerry faced. For those that didn?t know or haven?t read Jerry Reigle?s story in Area Auto Racing News, Jerry Slade has Cancer and has battled it for the past 10 years.
Dealing with Cancer is reason enough to stop racing but throw in a season where the group ran only 11 races and you get the idea that it was tough. I don?t blame Slade for disbanding the group. Its unfortunate, but it is said that when God closes one door, another one opens and so is the case for 410 sprint car racing in the upper center of the country.
Word has it that the Mid-America Sprint Car Series will kick off the 2004 season racing in the same basic area where GLOSS raced over the past five years. Scott Benic who supplied the parts truck at the GLOSS races has joined up with Joe Darmofal to form the new series. Darmofal will be a guest on the Fremont, Ohio based radio show the Last Lap next Monday, Dec. 1, 2003.
From what I have heard, the series will pay $2,500 to win and $300.00 to start the race. Danny Smith won the 2003 GLOSS Championship and figures to follow the new series.
I must admit, from what I?ve heard, I think Scott and Joe have a winner on their hands. Only time will tell but I am looking forward to their opener, whenever it might be.
One of the races that I saw in October was at Muskingum County Speedway which was unsanctioned event. I liked the event but I have to say that it was a longer day than was necessary. I?ve heard from more than one team that if the race had been sanctioned it might not have been a ten hour day. That?s one way to think about it but I think if a promoter wants to add the sprint cars to track that doesn?t run sprint cars on a regular basis, then they need to be prepared.
It wouldn?t hurt to bring someone in to help organize the event without paying a sanction fee. Also, in order to educate the fans on the sport of sprint car racing, bring in someone to assist the track announcer with a class that he is unfamiliar with.
Below is a picture of Cameron Dodson a Indiana driver who made the move to the 410 sprint car racing late this season. The Muskingum race was the youngster's sixth of the season. What a great paint job. Cameron plans to run with the All Stars next year.
Pictured above is eventual winner and crowned the Ohio State Champion was Jim Neir. Neir the owner of K-C Raceway told me that he plans to make a few changes to the K-C Raceway for the 2004 season.
Caleb Griffith gets some laps in a 410 Sprint Car at Muskingum
If you look closely at Dale Blaney?s helmet you?ll notice the former WVU Mountaineer basketball star was being politically correct by wearing the Ohio State Buckeye?s colors at the Ohio State Championships.
Other notes include word that a former track announcer is being rumored to be the new promoter of a go kart track in NW Ohio. More on this story as it develops.
Don?t forget to stop by the Racewear booth at the PRI Trade Show next week in Indy to say hello. We are located in the A Section Booth 7015-7017. The Racewear Sprint Car Show will hit the web next season in April in a new format. More details on the show will be released next week at the PRI show.
The Annual Sprint Car Poll Awards presentation will take place on Thursday, December 5 during the PRI Trade Show. You can get the details on the awards at the NSCHoF web site.
Well, I am sending this one in and be sure to check back next week as I?ll have a report from PRI. Until then stay safe. Drop me a line at DJ1360RPM@aol.com