As with every year, my racing season started at the the local car shows. The Tri-City Speedway always hosts one of the best car shows in the area at the Cranberry Mall. The 2001 Cranberry Mall Race Car Show is set for March 1-4.
My first race of the year was at Lernerville Speedway where Craig Rankin won infront of a good sized crowd, considering the chilly temperatures. Opening nights at Sharon Speedway and Mercer Raceway Park were won by Daryl Stimeling and Mike Lutz. For the second year in a row, Ed Lynch Jr. picked up Tri-City's opening night victory. Jimmy Hawley once again had a good year. Hawley won five feature events at Mercer this year, three at Sharon, two at Tri-City, and twelve altogether; all of which I attended. Hawley also won one of two 410 sprint car races conducted at the Hickory Speedway this year. Mercer Raceway Park attracted a good field of sprints for Western Pennsylvania Sprint Speedweek this year. Mark Keegan, driving the Steinbrick Motorsports #92 sprinter, won the event. California native Ryan Flynn competed in this year's speedweek. Chad Kemenah, driving the Harble Motorsports #15k, won the Western Pa. Sprint Speedweek title.
Saturday, June 10th, it was off to the Challenger Raceway where it was Central Pa. invader, Mike Wagner, showing the local drivers how it's done winning the 20 lap main. Also on hand from Central Pa. was Port Royal regular Pierron Reasnor and longtime eastern Pa. competitor Jim Nace.
Saturday, June 24, the ARDC midgets invaded the Mercer Raceway Park. Mark Freeland won the race after an exciting battle with Walt Stearly. Non-winged sprints shared the card with the mighty midgets that night. Young racer Rob Chaney passed Jamie Smith on the last corner of the last lap to win the race.
Monday, June 26, the Wayne County Speedway held the second leg of the annual Ohio All-Star Sprint Speedweek. Byron Reed came from eleventh to win on the dustless track surface.
Saturday, July 1, was a night Kevin Andrusky will never forget. Kevin won infront of a packed grandstand at the Mercer Raceway Park that night. Kevin is certainly a hard charger and we wish him the best of luck in 2001.
In only his second year in a sprint car, Garland Pa. native Dave Scott won the Lernerville track championship, along with two wins at Lernerville and two wins at Tri-City. Dave is an accomplished late model driver and is known for his "sporatic" victory lane interviews.
Friday, July 7, was probably the most memorable night of the year at Sharon. Teenager, Bryan Castline, wired the field for his first career 410 sprint car win. Throughout the summer months Bryan and his dad travel all the way from Colorado to race in Ohio and western Pennsylvania. In victory lane that night Bryan said, " We have about two tracks that run sprints. They only run every other week or so that just aint enough!" We hope to see the Castlines racing in our area again next year.
Co-promoters, Mike Graham and Roger Crick, sure had a tough year at the Tri-City Speedway with one-third of their races being canceled due to rain. The nights they did run the grandstands were usually packed though. Once again the support from the sprint cars wasn't there as the sprint car counts rarely surpassed 12 or 13. Sportsman's Speedway, on the other hand, hardly every gets a decent crowd; but the sprint car counts are usually good ranging from 15 to 25 cars per night.
Saturday, July 16 the USNA mod tour set up camp at the Mercer Raceway Park for their big, two-day, $150,000 purse race. Billy Pauch and Lou Blaney won the two 30 lap qualifiers on Saturday night. The big 200 lapper on Sunday had to be canceled due to rain. Also on Saturday night, the obvious attraction, a 30 lap, $2,000 to win sprint car race. Along with driving a modified, Billy Pauch was also in action driving the Gene Jenkin #55 sprint car. Jimmy Hawley took top honors in the feature.
If I had to pick a "favorite night of the year," it would definately be Thursday, August 17, at the Port Royal Speedway. The race had to be delayed due to rain, leaving the track super heavy. Each car was shooting a 20 foot roost of clay; it was an awsome sight! Fred Rahmer lead early in the race with Keith Kauffmann right on his tail. Both dropped from the race with mechanical problems. Lance Dewease charged from the back of the pack to win! Todd Shaffer finished second, not too far behind Dewease.
Two highlights of the year were both of Tommy Heinz's wingless challenge races. Bud Keading picked up the win at Hickory over Tony Elliott, and Dave Darland won at Sharon over Rob Chaney. Hopefully Heinz will continue to host wingless events in the future.
The Sharon Nationals are usually my favorite races of the year. This year's nationals were decent, but something seemed to be missing. Maybe it was the fact that Donnie Kreitz and Lance Dewease ran so awful. Joey Saldana won the nationals last year, this year it was Phil Gressmann, next year it will be Greg Hodnett driving the Bob Stewart Apple Chevorlet. lol
For the second year in a row, Ed Lynch Jr. won the Chuck Marsh Memorial sprint car race at Mercer. Tommy Quarterson driving the Schuler #61 finished second.
It has been quite a while since I've been to a race in November. This year I was fortunate enough to make it to the Dog Hollow Speedway on Saturday, November 4. This was my first trip to Dog Hollow and I thought the track was pretty cool. I think Dog Hollow would make a good sprint car track.
All in all, 2000 was a good year for racing. I attended 58 races, suffered through 18 rain-outs, and made it to 11 different tracks. Here is a list of tracks I attended in 2000:
Challenger Raceway Dog Hollow Speedway Hickory Speedway Krieger's Raceway Lernerville Speedway Mercer Raceway Park Port Royal Speedway Raceway 7 Sharon Speedway Tri-City Speedway Wayne County Speedway
I saw 33 different winners in 2000. Here is a list of winners I saw in 2000:
Kevin Andrusky #7 Arnie Kent #18 Tommy Burns #16 Jarod Larson #47 Ken Carberry #47 Mike Lutz #27 Bryan Castline #8c Ed Lynch Jr. #2L Rob Chaney #42 Mark Murphy #98M Dave Darland #25 Tommy Quarterson #27 Lance Dewease #88 Craig Rankin #77 Brad Ellenberger #87 Byron Reed #5 Brian Ellenberger #20 Jeff Schrum #2M Ralph Engle #55 Dave Scott #3D Mark Freeland #4 Jeff Shepard #4J Phil Gressmann #9 Ralph Spithaler #1P Jimmy Hawley #c3 Jamie Smith #5 Kenny Jacobs #6 Daryl Stimeling #30 Jason Jacoby #4J Mike Wagner #55 Bud Keading #129 Terry Young #00 Mark Keegan #92
Let us take a moment of silence as the racing community lost one of it's all-time greatest affiliates. "Old Port Grandstands", you'll be greatly missed. Fans enjoyed motorized racing in those famous grandstands for 61 years. 1939-2000
Well, that's my year in review. See you at the track in 2001!
Only a hand-full of races left. It wont be too long before the snow starts flying. This is the time of the year a race fan dreads. If only I were an Ausie, right? Waybe its not so bad after all. There's always Florida speedweeks. Hagerstown, Williams Grove. and Lincoln open up their gates in February. After a long drawn-out winter the best feeling in the world has to be hearing that first sprinter push off. Second best being the first hot lap session! Mark it down on the calendar, June 23, 2001 the Mercer Raceway will host the largest midget show on the east coast! For the second year in the row the CARQUEST Auto Parts, American Racing Drivers Club(ARDC midgets) will be invited to the event. Track owner Vici Emig is in the process of negotiating a possible clash race between ARDC and an undecided second midget organization. Included that night will be a complete show of wingless 410 sprint cars.
On the list of improvements at the Mercer Raceway Park for 2001 include new VIP suites, a new state of the art score board, and new fence along with barriers down the backstretch. New fence has already been constructed along the third and fourth turns. The new fence is located much closer to the racing surface than the old fence.
After months of antcipation, Ratbag inc. has finaly released their sprint car computer game. You can choose from 16 official Pennzoil World of Outlaws cars or race one of many other realistic sprint cars. The highlight of the game has to be it's tracks. Williams Grove, Eldora, Knoxville, Terra Haute, Lincoln, Gas City, Kokomo, Wayne County, Hagerstown, Eagle, Manzita, Lernerville, Silver Dollar, Pike County, plus many more appear on the game with extreme detail. They even have the bridge over the backstretch and the tunnel in turn one at Williams Grove on the game.
The new moto-cross track in the infield of the Sharon Speedway will be ready for 2001. Racing wil be conducted on Sunday afternoons. As of now dirt bikes are scheduled to compete weekly.
Anything interesting can be sent to me at del@toolcity. Oh/Pa Sprint Car Weekly 10/2/00 My plans to head to Lakeville for their 360 sprint show came to a hault when a soft plug in the engine of my van sprung a leak. A good friend of mine was headed to Williams Grove when he had a fan blade go through his radiator. I guess a certain statement I made in last week's column backfired.
From what I saw on television, the World of Outlaws swing through Pennsylvania and Maryland was a boring mess; as usual. According to rpm 2night Sammy Swindell started on the pole at Hagerstown and won. Last year Donnie Shatz cheated Freddie Rahmer out of the Grove Nationals win by stopping on the track, bringing out the yellow, and putting Mark Kinser on his back bumper. This year Keith Kauffmann was passed by Shatz while leading then taken out with a flyer by Mark "Shoehorn" Kinser. Shatz went on to win the race. I think the Central Pa. locals ought to be ashamed of themselves! How can the World of Outlaws go to Williams Grove and out-qualify the regulars? Either they're cheating or their cars are ridiculously light weight.
odds&ends Rumors have been circulating about the Tri-City Speedway all year. It's speculated that track owners Mike Graham and Roger Crick will have a partner in 2001 and are contemplating bringing Late Models back to their weekly show..........Car owner John Sloss has bought two new Avenger chassis for the 2001 season. Sloss indicated a trip to Las Vegas for the WoO final is a possibilty. Terry Young took the driving duties of the Sloss #00 late this season..........Nothing against Freddie, but hopefully someone besides Rahmer wins the annual Kenny Weld memorial race at Lincoln..........The new grandstands expected to be constructed at Port Royal Speedway will ruin the atmosphere the Port is known for..........It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice............
Bits&Pieces USNA has cancelled their Sept.30 date at the Mercer Raceway Park.The big modified event was to pay $30,000 to the winner........Wingless competition set for Sept.26 at the Hickory Speedway has been cancelled........1998 All-Star mechanic of the year Todd Palmer was turning the wrenches on Jim Chappel's car Saturday night at Mercer.........Saturday Sept. 23, Lakeville Speedway in Ohio will host an open competition 410 sprint car race. The 40 lap race will pay $3,000 to the winner........A new sprint car computer game is set to release within the next few weeks.Check out some cool pictures and more news at www.ratbaggames.com ........Terry Young had made his way up to second Saturday night at Mercer when he had to pull off due to getting sprayed with alcohol from inside the car.......Mike Lutz took a hard crash at Port Royal last Monday. Lutz was taken to the hospital for x-rays on his neck.Lutz said that he had not broken anything and was ready to go racing this coming weekend.......Reports say that the Cannonball Speedway has cancelled their Sept.17, All-Star sprint date a mere week after the race was scheduled!........Rob Eyler took a nasty flip at Mercer on Saturday.When Eyler came to a stop he found himself hanging upside down on the second turn catch fence.........Congratulations to John Ivy on his win at Fremont, beating the All-Stars and Ohio's finest in the process........the 50/50 rafle winner at Fremont was from Nigeria!
Every year the Sharon Speedway hosts the Sharon Nationals, a two day show that usually attracts over 50 sprints and a horde of fans. Probably the best thing about the nationals is the varied group of competitors each year. This year ten central PA, nineteen western PA, fourteen All-Star regulars, two WoO regulars, seven OH regulars, one hoosier, and one TX racer (Travis Rilat of Texas City, TX) competed in the nationals! The first night fifty cars signed into the pits. Jeff Shepard set a new one lap track record of 15.71. Here are the top ten from qualifying: 4J Shepard, 12 Michael, 15K Kemanah, 20 Ellenberger, 22 Chesson, 9X Chaney, 6 Jacobs, 55 Wagner, 9 Gressman, 7 Kauffman. Heats were won by Jarod Hull, Kelly Kinser, Dave Ely, Kevin Huntley, and Todd Baver. New Castle's Arnie Kent won the Georgig Marketing C-Main. The Alky dash (slow dash) was a real nail biter! Brent Matus and C.W. Harshman had a fierce back and forth battle going on with C.W. taking the glory in the end. James Chesson put on an impressive show of aggression in the B-Main passing Kenny Jacobs, Chad Kemenah, and Brian Ellenberger to win. Travis Rilat missed the A-Main by one spot. Around 12:30 the feature was pushed off. Kenny Jacobs started on the pole with Rob Chaney on the outside. At the start of the race Chaney jumped into the lead. Chaney led the first twenty laps when a tire blew on his car. By then Jeff Shepard, who started sixth, had made his way to second. Shepard led the rest of the way to pick up the easy win. Top five from feature: Jeff Shepard 4J, Sean Michael 12, Keith Kauffmann 7, Chad Kemanah 15K, James Chesson 22.
Night two found Jeff Shepard setting fast time again. Second fast was Dave Ely. Heats for the forty-eight cars went to Lance DeWease, Paul McMann, Todd Shaffer, Greg Wilson, and Jarod Hull. Todd Shaffer cleaned house in the Commercial Truck and Trailor dash. Brian Ellenberger of Butler, PA, won the B-Main. Ellenberger had a good weekend with a fourth fast qualifying run the first night. Twenty-six cars started the forty lap, 10,000 to win A-Main. For the second night in a row Kenny Jacobs started on the pole. On the first lap of the feature Rob Chaney spun in the fourth turn and collected Scott Bonnell. Bonnell was taken to the the hospital. Jacobs took the lead at the start and led until lap four when Dave Ely spun in the third turn and brought out the yellow. Jacobs once again took the lead and led a non-stop dash from lap four to lap thirty-three when Brian Ellenberger stopped on the front stretch. By then Phil Gressman made his way into second from his seventh place starting spot. At the green Gressman took the lead from Jacobs after a session of flyers. Lap thirty-nine Mike Wagner flipped in turn three bringing out the red flag. At the same time Todd Shaffer dropped out of the race after coming from twelfth to fourth. Gressman led the final lap to become the fifteenth different winner out of twenty Sharon Nationals.
Driver Roster: Jeff Shepard 4J, Donnie Krietz 69K, Brian Ellenberger 20, Chad Kemanah 15K, Arnie Kent 18, Gary McCollum 17, Dave Penezich 34P, James Chesson 22C, Sean Micheal 1Z, PJ Chesson 76, Keith Kauffmann 7, Jarod Hull 51, Kenny Jacobs 6, Mike Wagner 55, Rodney Duncan 22, Ed Lynch Jr. 2L, Brad Ellenberger 87, Kevin Huntley 92, John Ivy 20J, Chad Hill 44, Todd Gracey 25, Barry Rubel 63R, Jamie McKinney 95, Mike Keckich 5K, CW Harshmann 53, Travis Rilat 1A, Kelly Kinser 4K, Brent Matos 33, Gary Rankin 16, Andy McKisson 47, Terry Young 00, Steve Seuver 36S, Scott Bonnell 3, Andy Rankin 24, David Scott 3D, Byron Reed 5R, Daryl Stimeling 30, Mike Lutz 07, Lance DeWease 88H, Sean Barris 101, Rocky Hodges 18H, Greg Wilson 63W, Dave Ely 29W, Phil Gressman 9G, Todd Bauer 45, Danny Smith 4S, Todd Shaffer 88, Rob Chaney 9X, Jim Nier 00N, Tommy Burns 16, Paul McMann U2.
News and Notes For those of you who see that I have misspelled names or words; too bad!..... I have only one complaint about the two nights. Sunday's races were to start at 7:00 and did'nt start until after 8:00......Ed Skillmann (owner of the Sharon Speedway) is hoping to have a USAC Sprint car show next year.....Brian Gobrecht blew an engine on the first night and was forced to go home.....Lance DeWease also blew a motor.......Saturday night I went in the pits after the races and saw Mike Goodman's howler. Goodman never brought out the car...why?...... ......the eagle has landed.......
August 25 Sharon Speedway. 21 sprints filled the pits for the last regular show of the 2000 season. Heats were won by Todd Bauer and Jimmy Hawley, and to put it simple, Jarod Larson smoked everyones ass in the feature! Larson started in the third row and he had the lead by the second turn! Congratulations to Gary Edwards and crew on their 2000 Sharon Speedway track championship. 20 laps:1 Jarod Larson 47.2 Ed Lynch Jr. 2L. 3 Gary Edwards 61.4 Jimmy Hawley 3.5 Brad Ellenberger 87.
August 26 Mercer Raceway Park. Walking into the Mercer Raceway Park is like walking into a prison! Every time you turn around you have got a security guard staring at you. It reminds me alot of the Lernerville Speedway. For those of you who haven't been to Mercer, instead of taking pictures on the track they have an area behind the grandstands for the picture taking. What are the other purposes of that area you may ask? To let the fans get autographs and possibly shake the winners hand!!!! Last Saturday night at Mercer Mark Murphy#98 won his first ever sprint car race. All the fans went to the winner's circle to congratulate him, BUT the annoying Mercer security guards and mouthy Balentine photographer wouldnt let the fans in!!!! My conclusion, MORE MERCER BULLSHIT!
twig&berries Jarod Larson and Craig Rankin both requested to be taken to the hospital after seperate flips at Tri-City on Sunday....... Western Pa sprint car driver Bruce Powell was driving an E-mod at Tri-City on Sunday,result, a fourth place finish! Apparently Powell is considering switching to an E-mod next year to better fit his budget......... Apparently Dave Ely wont run the Sharon nationals because of the All Star weight rule........ Congratulations to Skip Dougherty#27 on waxin' everyones ass in his haet at Tri-City!
August 18 Sharon Speedway Apparently tonight's races were WoO sanctioned as both the heats and the feature were won from the front row.Brian Ellenberger would find himself in victory lane as he led all 20 laps of the Amain. 20 laps:Brian Ellenberger20.2 Jimmy Hawley3.3 Jeff Schrum2m.4 Craig Rankin77. 5 Jarod Larson47.
August 19 Mercer Raceway Park For the second week in a row the locals put on a good show.Tommy Quarterson dring the Powell 27 came out on top after a back and forth battle with Jimmy Hawley.
August 20 Tri-City Speedway 15 sprint pit side 20 laps:Jarod Larson47. 2 Craig Rankin77. 3 Chad Hill44. 4 Terry Young00. 5 Jimmy Hawley3. note. Hawley spun out 3 times in the feature!
Bits and Pieces Jeff Schrum came fro 15th to finish 3rd Friday night at Sharon...... Look for David Scott to run all 3 nights of the Sharon Nationals this year...... Mike Lutz had a brand nem Davey Brown motor in use Thursday night at the port.... Indiana Andy Hillenenburg put together a sprint car to run Sharon ,Mercer ,and Tri-City this weekend. Sammy Swindell's Knoxville car was uglier than shit!