Its that time again, Time to touch on the highlights of the 2001 season. After the first few months of the season that were filled with rain, the weather cleared up, and there was some real good racing! Unfortunately due to all the rain I only made it to seventy-eight races, all but one were Sprint Car races. I made it to 18 different tracks and saw the All-Stars, World of Outlaws, WoO2, KARS, NRA, BOSS, ARDC, NAMARS, USAC and IRA Sprint series and even the MACS Late models. The highlight of my season though would have to be having my Dad come down from Alaska to spend Speedweek with me. Now here's what I remember from the 2001 season.
410 Driver of the year: Lance DeWease, What a year for Lance, he won races all over, And he won the Williams Grove Track Championship and the National Open, what a year for the Harz team.
358 Driver of the year: Chad Layton, He owned Selinsgrove with twelve wins and the Championship. Chad was also the only driver to repeat in 358 action at Williams Grove. I'd really like to see what he can do in a 410.
Best Races of the Year: In no particular order, The inaugural Wingless Warriors race at Tri-City Speedway was a classic as Scott Bonnell came from the back of field to battle side by side with Scott Priester most of the race before going on to the biggest win of his career.....The Brad Doty Classic at Attica Raceway, Shane Stewart had a great race until Danny Smith ran him down in the final laps for the 13,000 dollar victory......The National Open at Williams Grove made for a great weekend, First it was great to see Tim Shaffer get his first ever Grove win, and then to see Lance DeWease beat up on the Outlaws that was just plain Awesome!......The Kenny Weld Memorial at Lincoln was something else, as Fred Rahmer drove the Hamilton 77 as hard as I've ever seen, as he and Lance DeWease made contact several times battling for the lead before Fred went on to the win in his final ride aboard the 77......Another great show at Attica was the IRA race where Jack Hewitt and Jimmy Hawley put on a super show for the fans with Hawley getting his first ever Attica win with a last lap pass.....The final Sprint show at Grandview Speedway was another classic as Keith Kauffman put on a clinic as he battled Lance DeWease in traffic the whole twenty-five lap distance and just plain out drove the hottest driver of the year for the victory, some guy named Fred Rahmer was third......Rob Eyler looked better than ever at the York Triathlon race at Sportsmans Speedway as he and Jimmy Hawley traded the lead and raced side by side most of the race before Rob went on for the victory.....Another exciting race was Mike "Hurricane" Walter's only win of the season, it came at Port Royal Speedway and I don't think Mike ever let off the gas the entire twenty-five laps , it was one of those, Wreck or Win races and Mike won in grand style.
Most Controversial Race of Year: Had to be the 1200 lb Nationals at Knoxville Raceway
Rookie of the Year: Brian Woodhall, First season in a Sprint Car and he already has a win.
Breakthrough Driver: Shane Stewart & Greg Wilson, These two won a bunch of races.
Most Improved Driver: Jay Reichard, Faster and faster every week at Port Royal
Tough Luck Drivers: Andy McKisson, Bruce Robenalt, Rodney Duncan, Daryl Stimeling, Dave Ely, Scott Priester, the list could go on, But hopefully all these driver have much better luck next year.
Most Frequent Flyer miles on the Year: Joe Diehl and Kyle Sauder, These guys went for some rides in 2001!
Disappearing act of the Year: Craig Rankin & Eric Rankine, They were the track champions at Tri-City and Fremont Speedway in 2000 and didn't race in 2001, Maybe this is a sign that the sport is getting too expensive.
Upset of the Year: P.J. Chesson winning the Historical Big One at Eldora Speedway
Hot Seat of the Year: Once again the Holbrook 8H had a host of drivers. Along with the Tanger 07 Car from Pa. Number seven, and I think they had seven drivers too.
Worst Crashes of the Year: Sammy Swindell's encounter with a push truck at Lernerville was definitely a scary one, Craig Keel took a nasty ride at the Kenny Weld Memorial at Lincoln Speedway, high enough to clip the lights that go across the track in turn three. And then there was the double flip, out of the park at Sharon Speedway by Marty Ling Andy Priest.
Low Car Count of the Year: Trail-Way Speedway's lone 410 Sprint show, Only 6 410's and two 305's made up the field of eight cars. Its a shame because I would have liked to see more Sprint shows there, Pretty cool place.
Best Looking Car of the Year: Brad Furr's circuit car at the Knoxville Nationals was definitely my favorite, Al Roepke's Mountain Dew car was also sharp looking
Best Track Food: Wayne County Speedway
Quickest run shows of the Year: Port Royal Speedway
Best New Series of the Year:The York Triathlon Sprint Series, I think this is the best thing to happen to Sprint Car racing in Western Pa in a long time, I hope it continues to grow.
ODDS 'n' ENDS 'n' RANDOM THOUGHTS
There is lots going on at Selinsgrove Speedway as along with many improvements to the track they announced that Cindy Rowe Auto Glass will be the title sponsor for the Sprint Cars in 2002. Also coming aboard will be Middleswarth Potato Chips as they will sponsor the Susquehanna Valley 410 Sprint Car Series, featuring four major Sprint Car events including the Jan Opperman Memorial on April 28, The Central Pa Speedweek Show on July 7, The Labor Day Classic on September 2, and the 410 National Open September 16th. They also changed the 358 Sprint Car weight rule to 1500 lbs, the same as Williams Grove and Lincoln Speedway.....After a strong finish to the 2001 season the Middleswarth team of Keith Kauffman and Todd Hestor will return in 2002.....Danny Smith will be the new driver of the Webb 51 formally driven by Jerrod Hull, They will run the full All-Star schedule in 2002......Mike Wagner will also return to the All-Stars next season in his #55.....The always exciting Tyler Walker will will return to Sprint Cars in the number three car formally driven by Mike Goodman on the WoO2 tour in 2001, Tyler will also run the WoO2 series.....It's musical owners at Attica Raceway as Janet Holbrook is the new owner/promoter in Ohio, I'm sure she'll do a good job.....Lots of driver changes with the World of Outlaws. Danny Wood will take over the driving duties of the Parsons #6 and will be sponsored by Casey's General Stores, Its good to see nice guy Danny get a ride so he can stay out on the road as Pepsi was done after this season. With Tim Shaffer going to the Beef Packers 83, that gives Stevie Smith Jr an opportunity to get behind the wheel of the Vivarin 11h. Jac Haudenschild has been named the new driver of the Forbrook #5 leaving Jeff Shepard without a ride, Haud and Forbrook haven't announced where they will run next year but it looks like they may pick and choose.....2001 was the first year I didn't attend a race at Challenger Raceway since they've been open, I hope they run some specials for the Sprint Cars next year I miss the place......Chad Kemenah will go from his familiar Gambler/Goodyear combo to Eagle chassis and Hoosier tires for 2002.....It's Mercer Raceway vs. Sharon Speedway next year on Saturday nights in western Pa, It should be a good battle.....It also looks like the All-Stars and WoO2 will be battling for dates in 2002 as the Gumout series continues to take dates formally held by the All-Stars......If your a racer check out the deals at www.racesuit.com They have a full line of suits, helmets, everything you'll need.....It gets harder to get to new tracks every year, this year I only made it to three, Cannonball Speedway, Trail-Way Speedway, and Latrobe Speedway, I did make it to Central Pa Speedway but unfortunately they cancelled just as I pulled in. I still might make it to the Indoor midget race in Fort Wayne Indiana on December 28th and 29th, You can get more info on this race at www.indoorautoracing.com.....I don't know about you but I'm going to miss OpenWheel magazine....A must see show in 2002 will be the Non-Wing World Challenge at Fremont Speedway on August 8th, Be there......The Wingless Warriors series are already looking for traces to book shows at in 2002.....Seventeen year old Kyle Drum was named the Empire Super Sprint Rookie of the year, It was a great year as Kyle became the youngest ESS winner in history winning at Brockville Speedway.....The Harz 88H driven by Fred Rahmer should be even stronger in 2002 as they have picked up sponsorship from Miller Bros.......The York Triathlon Sprint series point battle was a good one as Arnie Kent was the inaugural champion as he beat Jimmy Hawley by One point......It's going to be awesome to see the backstretch at the Lincoln Speedway next year.... For all you fans of Ratbag's Dirt Track Racing game here are a few great sites with lots of Skins and Leagues. The firs is my friend Tim's its called"Oval Track Sims" and is located at https://www.angelfire.com/pa5/ovaltracksims/index.html You can find skins, chassis, offline series, painting templates, and more for the PC game, along with a huge collection of replica 358 Limited Sprint skins from the Central Pennsylvania area along with Western Pa 410s.....Another great site is "Posse Central" located at http://www.paposse.50megs.com/Index.html It has one of the biggest and the best collection of central Pennsylvania 410 Sprint skins on the net.....And finally there is "PaDirtWorld" located at www.padirtworld.com A great place for central Pennsylvania replica 410 Sprint skins from the past and present. Including some real neat old replica skins of guys like Paul Lotier, Dave Kelley, and Billy Steif......Well thats about it for this edition, Once again I'd like to thank everyone for reading and be sure to check back for updates.