Tuesday, July 26 - A week day show promoted by Brett Deyo and billed the Anthracite Assault featuring the ROC modifieds and sportsman was on the dance card for tonight. Since we both work in New Jersey it is a chore to make it up into coal country by 7:30 but we pulled off the feat. We were signing in at the pit shack as the first sportsman heat took the green flag at 7:33. Three heats were run for the 30 sportsman in attendence with three heats for the 600 cc modifieds also on the card. The modifieds needed four heats for their good 38 car field with all heat racing in the books by 8:47. The track surface for the heat racing was only about a groove and a quarter so passing was at a preminum. An interesting combination of heat winners in the modifieds from various regions, Billy Decker from central New York, Brett Tomkin representing the Southern Tier region, Matt Jester from Delaware and Pennsylvania local Tommy Sheetz Jr. The only serious accident in the heat racing was in the fourth modified heat when Mike Mammana made a foolish move exiting turn two trying to split the middle on two cars with the two crunching him in the middle causing Mammana to launch over the hood of one of the cars and flip over the banking on the backstretch. The car was leaking fuel but Mammana exited the wrecked car uninjured. At 9 PM the green waved on the 20 lap XCel 600cc modified feature. These miniature replicas of the modifieds ran a good feature with Nick Mady winning. This was followed by one sportsman consie and two modified consies wrapping up at 9:40. A thirty minute intermission followed with track prep performed and this did help as the racing surface was widened and better feature racing would unfold.
The 60 lap Anthracite Assault feature took the green at 10:10. Nine cautions slowed the event mainly for the annoying flat tire, stop on the track rule to bring out the caution. The feature racing was good and solid but not great with some impressive individual performances turned in. The first was executed by veteran Jimmy Horton who charged from 17th to 2nd by lap 24 and pressuring Stewart Friesen who took the lead from Doug Manmiller one lap earlier. Horton’s night would be ruined on lap 40 when he suffered a flat tire. Pennsylvania runner, Duane Howard, broke out of the pack in the late stages of the race from his 13th starting position and began to reel in Friesen. He caught up to the young driver from Niagara-on-the-lake, Ontario but didn’t have enough left in the car or the tires to make a serious challenge for the victory. The third starting Friesen flashed under the checkered flag at 10:47 scoring his first career Big Diamond victory and was very excited in victory lane. The victory came one day after his 28th birthday and was a good late birthday present. Brett Hearn marched from 14th to finish 3rd while Ryan Godown came from 11th to 4th and Danny Johnson made his usual charge advancing from 18th to round out the top five. Jeff Strunk wrestled fifth away from Johnson on the last lap after starting 15th but spun on his own after sliding high between turns three and four. Another good run was turned in by youngster, Larry Wight, moving from 21st after winning the first consie and winding up 7th at the end. The track was the dustiest we have seen it all year and we were both disappointed in the overall surface on the evening especially after last Friday when the weather was much hotter and the surface threw limited dust that evening. We decided since it was a work day tomorrow we would bag the 30 lap sportsman feature (won by local Jared Umbenhauer) and make our way out the gate for our 1 1/2 hour trip back home.
Sunday, July 24 - It was another hot day but no where near the 100+ degrees from the two previous days. The mid 90’s almost seemed pleasant. It is unusual to have racing in our area on a Sunday night but Lincoln was running their normal Saturday show on Sunday night due to the World of Outlaws running at Williams Grove Saturday. So at 3:30 we left 50 River View Drive and started the round up to head to Lincoln. The first stop was the park & ride in Hellertown where we met up with Jeff Alhum. From there the three of us drove to the west side of Reading where our next stop was the park & ride in Adamstown. Here we teamed up with Russ Fri and he drove the remaining one hour plus to Lincoln. We arrived at 6:15 for the 7:30 start and secured our seats in the cement grandstands. Cement sure does hold the heat on a hot sunny day. It felt like you were sitting on a stove top.
There was a good field of 358 sprints on hand and they ran 4 qualifying heats for the 32 cars. They started 10 minutes late, which is unusual for Lincoln, and Jeff made sure I corrected my notes to reflect the tardy start. For some reason everything just seemed to be a bit sluggish tonight and I am sure the extreme heat had something to do with it. The 410 sprints only numbered 23 and all qualified in their three heats. It took over an hour to run the 7 qualifying heat races and then it was followed up with a consolation for the 358’s. The 410 car count was down due to the fact the World of Outlaws were running at Lebanon Valley Speedway in New York and several of the PA Posse went North to challenge the traveling group of outlaws.
Tonight they were running a make up feature for the thundercars that was rained out back on June 4. The car count was also down so in order to conserve time they ran two features only. With only 14 cars it was not necessary to run qualifying events. The first of these two features immediately followed the 358 consolation. It took the green at 9:05 and the 20 lap event was run off with only 3 cautions. These guys run real hard and always put on a good show. Sam Gallagher picked up his fifth win of the year and 21st of his career here at Lincoln. He is 8th on the all time win list. He was followed accross the line by Todd Miller and Mike Slaybaugh.
It was 9:43 when the 410 feature got underway and it was a good one. It started out with a spin on lap one by third generation driver Hunter Mackison, son of Johnny Mackison Jr. This was Mackison’s first time running a 410 sprint, coming straight from go-karts. He needs a little more seat time. The next 15 laps were run off without a hitch until Adam Wilt and Cory Hass tangled in turns three and four. Brent Marks in his new ride is looking real good and it only is a matter of time until he is in victory lane. Unfortunately that would not be tonight as the #14 came to a halt in turn one while running second with only 5 laps remaining in the event. At this point Brad McClellan was running in first and appeared to be a sitting duck for the fast closing cars of Aaron Ott and Brian Monteith. During the running of the final laps McClellan was able to hang on for his first 410 sprint win to the delight of the crowd. Ott finished second followed by Montieth, Kevin Nouse and Danny Dietrich. This was a very good feature with multiple battles taking place simutaneously around the track during the majority of the 25 laps.
Victory lane took a little longer then normal being McClellan’s first win and the 358 twenty lap feature did not take the green until 10:17. I know you are thinking 10:17 is not late. It is not if you only have an hour to travel home but from home to Lincoln is 2 and 1/2 hours with no stops and our train made two stops before the final one in our garage. There was a tangle before the sprints even got to the green flag and I thought here we go. But when racing resumed it was smooth and swift. Logan Schuchart moved into the lead on lap 8 and it was all over. The caution would come out two more times for minor spins but no one was passing Schuchart. The winner was Logan Schuchart, grandson of the great Bobby Allen, followed by Billy Pauch Jr. and Jeff Rohrbaugh. This was also a very good competitive event.
The second road runner feature was still left to run and if this would have been a Saturday night we probably would have stayed. But it was Sunday and the alarm clock rings at 6:10. The track was not in bad shape considering the extreme heat. The racing was competitve and very entertaining but I thought the show should have been over sooner. It was run like a Saturday night event not like a Sunday night event where there should be more urgency to get the show over by 10:00. It was 10:45 when we pulled out of the parking lot and 1:30 when we pulled back in the driveway at 50 River View Drive. There was a time getting less than 5 hours sleep did not bother me but then I am not getting any younger.
Friday, July 22 - The WOO sprint cars were racing at Williams Grove but we don’t care for their racing format so when I realized the ARDC midgets were running at Big Diamond Speedway the decision was made to venture into the coal region of Pennsylvania and check out the racing there. We arrived early (for us) at 7:15 for the scheduled 8:15 start with racing getting underway at 8:30. It was a full four division program with 27 ARDC midgets, 15 roadrunners, 23 358 modifieds and 23 sportsman lining the pit area. Each division ran three heats with the exception of the roadrunners who only ran one. No consies were needed and all qualifying was completed by 9:25.
It was right into the 25 lap ARDC midget feature with Brett Arndt starting second and I told Pat that if he did not break it was his race to lose. Arndt jumped off the outside of the front row and into the early lead. This race had its moments of surprise but overall was not a masterpiece with six cautions slowing the action. Arndt easily led until lap 16 when he slowed on the homestretch and headed up the access road into the pit area off of turn one. Tim Buckwalter took over at this point and looked to be the man to beat but he began to slow on the homestretch with three to go. Buckwalter continued but something was amiss with the right rear tire or maybe the rear axle of the #52 and with just two laps remaining young Steve Drevicki caught and passed him between turns three and four for the lead. Drevicki would go on to win his second race of the 2011 ARDC season over 15th starting Ryan Smith and 25th starting Ryan Watt who actually came from 27th after being involved in one of the early scrambles. Buckwalter held on for fourth with Drew Heistand rounding out the top five. The 20 lap roadrunner feature was next and was spun off in good order in 13 minutes with Elvin Brennan III taking the lead in the late stages of the race to score his second straight roadrunner victory. Jeremy Becker and Ed Kuperavage rounded out the podium finishers.
It was now 10:25 with two features to go and management took a 25 minute intermission to work on the track which wasn’t going to help things any on this hot, hot night though it was never very dusty the entire evening. At 10:55 the green waved on the 25 lap 358 modified feature with Ron Haring Jr. taking the early lead. He led until lap 7 when Dan Hineline went to the point but not for long. Craig VonDohren, who started 13th, powered by Hineline on lap 10 and that was all she wrote. VonDohren pulled away to score his fourth win of 2011 at Big Diamond and his 73rd career win there. Meme DeSantis advanced from seventh to place second with Billy Pauch Jr. advancing from tenth to third. The most impressive drive of the evening was turned in by Doug Manmiller who drove the second car out of the stable of owner Harvey Bitler as a teammate to DeSantis for the first time. Manmiller sliced his way from 18th to 4th ahead of 16 year old Michael Weinert who notched fifth. This checkered flag waved at 11:11 and we elected to skip the sportsman feature and head home after a mundane night of racing. The dictionary defines mundane as ordinary and not unusual and this term fit the night of racing. Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the length of the program but we seen much better racing here than tonight. Well, I guess they all can’t be barnburners, eh!!
Wednesday, July 20 - I left work a few minutes early in hopes to get home before 6:00. That was the time Bruce and I wanted to leave the house for our mid-week destination. The previous night I did the same and we started out for Bridgeport to see the conclusion of the Wingate Classic, rained out earlier in the year, and another complete show but mother nature put a halt to that. Luckily we are good friends with Jeff Alhum, the announcer at Bridgeport, and he called as just prior to us getting onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike and advised us that it was raining in Bridgeport. He said it did not look good. The sun was shining in Quakertown and we decided to grab a bite to eat before proceeding. Within 10 minutes the next call came in from Jeff and the show was canceled. They experienced heavy thunderstorms and at home we had sunshine. His call saved us time and money. We ate and were back home prior to 8:00. The race was rescheduled for Wednesday but we had already made plans for Wednesday and we decided not to change them.. Thus I left work early again and got home in time to change and we were on our way by just prior to 6:00. Our destination was The Fairgrounds at Kutztown and we pulled in at 6:40 for the 7:00 start. Yes it was very hot and humid with the temperature in the high 90’s but that did not keep the cars away as there were 84 cars between the four divisions of what you could call small cars: 270 micros, Xcel Sportsman modifieds, 600 micros and slingshots.
The Kutztown area is home to me and was for my first 28 years. I grew up in Berks County not all too far from here, my mother was from Kutztown and for 10 years I worked in this town. As a child I came to the Kutztown Fair every year so coming here is like coming back home. Kutztown is also the home of Kutztown University. As a matter of fact the university is right across the street from the track and the entire backdrop of the backstretch is university buildings. Rumor is the university would love to get their hands on the fairgrounds property to expand their buildings but luckily the fairground’s board of directors has held out and kept it the way it has been for as long as I can remember. At one point in time, back in the 1940’s, there was a 1/2 mile dirt track located here but today it is home to a 1/5 mile slightly banked clay oval. If you ever go there and look off turns three and four, the embankment under the trees is where the turns of the former track were located. In addition to all of that Kerry Meitzler, promoter of The Fairgrounds at Kutztown, has been a long time friend for well over 25 years. Not to mention the men at the Optimist Club made some of the best Pennsylvania Dutch beef and turkey bar-b-que around. There is a family atmosphere as nearly all the fans present in the stands seem to know each other. The announcer, Barry Angstadt, is very good and knows not only the names of the drivers but a lot of the fans. Upon entering the stands we spotted some of our racing buddies, to mention a few Dwight Bucks, Donna and Dave Keller and decided to sit up with them to enjoy both the racing and the back and forth banter. Later another friend Jeff Sands came in but he decided to leave prior to the end of the racing events.
The green fell on the first heat at exactly 7:00. They do not mess around here as they are located inside the town limits and they have a 10:30 curfew. They ran three heats each for the 270 micros and the 600 micros and two heats each for the Xcel sportsman modifieds and slingshots. As one was running the next sat patiently off turns three and four waiting to enter as the prior exited. The only division requiring a consolation were the 270 micros and all qualifying was complete by 7:50. This was followed by a 25 minute intermission and then it was feature time. During the intermission they manicured the track laying down water, as the sun scorched surface became quite dusty on this hot summer day.
The 20 lap 600 micros feature was up first and point leader Jeff Hartman brought out an immediate red as he flipped the #026 in turn one of lap one. The race restarted at 8:22 and it would be slowed down 6 more times for minor spins and tangles. While they were racing it was good but there were way too many cautions in the event. Shane Lewis won followed by Brett Arndt and Luke Thomas. Next up were the Xcel sportsman modifeds and they also racked up 7 cautions in their 20 lap event. Kevin Gruber made in two in a row and Andy Ressler finished second. It seems like a pattern was forming when the 270 micros also logged 7 cautions during their event. Jared Kunkle lead the first 16 laps before breaking while in a battle with then second place Richie Hartman. Hartman went on to twin the event followed by Jonathan Pepe and Trevor Kobylarz. The last 20 lap event on the card was for the slingshots and no they did not have 7 cautions. They only had 1 caution and Gary Hieber was the winner followed by the Bieber brothers Travis and Brett. Travis’s # 114 has an identical paint job to the former #114 Bieber modified that became very famous on the Pennsylvania 358 modifieds circuit when driven by both Duane Howard and Craig VonDohren.
All was complete by 9:40 and we said our good-byes and headed to the car. By 10:30 I was standing in the front yard at home watering the plants. It was not the best racing I have ever seen at The Fairgrounds but then I am sure the near 100 degree temperatures had something to do with it. But we were not disappointed that we went. It is a nice little show on a little track and it is in my old backyard. We should probably go more often.
Saturday, July 16 - The decision was made to make the trek to Abbottstown, PA, the home of the Lincoln Speedway, for the triple header of 410 sprints, URC sprints and thundercars. Since it was a 360/358 challenge race the URC cars with the few added 358’s (3) would run a one lap time trial to determine starting positions with the fastest four qualfiers inverting for the feature and starting up front. Ed Aiken was the last car out for time trials and stopped the clocks at 14.837 seconds around the 4/10 mile semi-banked dirt oval for the fast time of the night. Time trials ended at 7:45 and just 15 minutes later the first of three heats for the 25 URC sprinters was trackside. They were spun off quickly (20 minutes) followed immediately by the three heats for the 28 410 sprinters on hand. Finally two thundercar heats were run for their 17 car field and all heat racing was in the books by 9:05. Only the 410 sprints needed a consie with John Barnett winning that one. Intermission was next on the card with a short 20 minute stoppage taken before the 25 lap 410 sprint car feature was called to the post. This is one of the things we like at Lincoln and Williams Grove is that the top class runs their feature first thus having the best racing surface to perform on.
The 25 lap 410 feature was the strangest one we have witnessed in quite some time with three different drivers doing complete 360 degree spins and continuing without bringing out the caution and their spins were not at the back of the field but instead either in the front of the middle of the pack. In fact one of the spinners was second running Gerard McIntyre Jr. who looped it between turns one and two on lap 13 with third running Brent Marks caught up in the mishap. Meanwhile Alan Krimes took advantage of the situation and advanced from fourth to second while this unfolded. McIntyre did a complete 360 spin before continuing with both him and Marks only losing one position each. Meantime up front Kevin Nouse, the new driver of the John Pinter #92, was holding off all challenges looking for his first Lincoln triumph. Somehow young McIntyre righted the ship and charged back forward to pass Krimes for second late and coming off the fourth turn for the white flag he used the high side to blast by Nouse into the lead. One lap later he flashed under starter, Galen Koller’s checkered flag first scoring the unlikely spin and win victory, the first I have seen happen since Danny Sullivan pulled the trick at the Indianapolis 500 passing Mario Andretti after spinning earlier. It was truly bizarre!! The happy winner explained in victory lane he had no idea how he pulled this one off but was overjoyed that he won. McIntyre became the 10th different winner in 17 races run at the Pigeon Hills oval in 2011. Nouse hung on for second with Danny Dietrich, last week’s feature winner, making a late charge from 12th to finish third with Alan Krimes fourth and Brent Marks rounding out the top five. This one was over by 10:06.
The 25 lap URC sprint car feature was next up and took the green flag at 10:26. The track was worn out and the smaller cubic inch sprinters were having a difficult time getting the power to the ground. Therefore passing was at a premium and that was good for second starting Curt Michael who started in the top four after previous top four qualifier, Aaron Ott, blew his motor in the heat race and Michael moved up from fifth. This race went non-stop in 8 minutes with Rory Janney making up some serious ground over the last five laps to close on Michael but not enough to attempt a pass on the leader. It was Michael’s 45th career URC victory and his first of 2011. Chasing the top two across the line were Dave Ely, Kevin Nagy from 9th and Ed Aiken. Glenndon Forsythe, one of the regular Lincoln 358 runners, made the biggest charge advancing from 11th to finish 6th. This checker waved at 10:34 and we decided to forgo the thundercar feature to make the 2 1/2 hour tow back to eastern Pennsylvania.
Yes, it was a strange night and people will be talking about the spin and win 410 sprint feature won by Gerard McIntyre Jr. for some time to come.
Friday, July 15 - There are several tracks that we can get to on a Friday night after working all day but it is usually narrowed down between two; Big Diamond and Williams Grove. We ruled out Williams Grove because we do not care for time trial events and we plan on attending Big Diamond next Friday when the ARDC Midgets are also on the card. So for something different we decided to go to a track we have not been to in several years although we would past it every time we would go to the Grove. Linda’s Speedway is a 1/4 mile semi banked oval located along Interstate 78 where it intersects with Interstate 81. It is the perfect size track for micros and indeed that is what they run; 270 micros, 600 micros, 600 cc modifieds and chargers, a stocker class. Just recently the track had a problem with dust waffling out onto the Interstate and the rumor was that the State Police paid them a visit.
We arrived at 7:15 for the 7:30 start and they announced that during the week they put 18 truck loads of new clay on the track. It took a little longer then usual to get started but that could also have been because both John and Linda Batz the promoters of Linda’s Speedway were in the hospital for unknown reasons and their son was not only in charge of the track preparations but all of the functions they normally would have performed. At 8:00 the first heat took the green. They ran three heats each for the 270 micros, 600 micros and chargers. The 600 cc modifieds only ran two and all was complete in just under an hour. Amazingly there was very little dust and the track was smooth and fast. Next up was a brief 20 minute break before the consolations for the 270’s and the chargers were run.
The 270 feature was first and they lined up all the cars out on the track prior to the event and introduced each driver. The race ran smoothly until lap 17 when the leader slowed on the backstretch. Two laps later the second and final caution came out for a spin in four. Greg Miller who started in fifth went on to win the event followed by Jesse Maurer, Ryan Smith, Nick Skias and Pete Skias. Miller raved about the surface during his victoy lane interview. The 600 cc modifieds followed with a 20 lap event which had two major pile-ups in the first 5 laps. It cut the field down drastically. Shawn Light won this event with Kasey Ernst and Ryan Suchon finishing second and third. Third was the 600 micro 25 lap main event and it started out with a flip by Peter Michael in turn four. There was one quick caution shortly thereafter and Zach Light came home the winner. Yes it is the same last name as the 600 modifed winner. I believe they might be brothers. Terry Schaeffer, Shaun Brandel, Brian Carber and AJ Michael followed. This event was over at 11:07 and we decided to skip the chargers as their heats had a lot of crashes.
All in all it was a decent night of racing. The track did get dusty during the features but nothing major and every winner raved over the new surface. We were satified with what we saw for the low admission price of $6.00.
Saturday, July 9 - After attending the Stellar Construction High School Tournament (64 entries) at Cedar Beach Park in Allentown almost all day Saturday we decided to skip the evening games and head a half hour over to the Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville. Pat had called her father, Junior, and we decided to join us in the homestretch wooden grandstands for the night’s activities. Today was hot but the humidity was down so it was bearable.
Racing got underway ten minutes off the scheduled starting time of 7:30 and was swiftly moved along all evening long. The late models were first up and ran two heats for their 18 car field followed by four heats for the 41 358 modifieds in attendence. All heat qualifying was completed in 55 minutes even though there were a far share of cautions during the heat action. What is good at Grandview is the next two heats are lined up in the infield area and roll onto the track quickly after the previous heat is checkererd. This greatly cuts down on the down time and moves things along nicely. Just six minutes after the final heat checker flew the green flag waved on the 20 lap late model feature. When Pat mentioned that these boys would run with only three cautions I thought she was crazy but darned if she wasn’t right!! Danny Snyder started in the sixth hole and took the lead for good on lap 7 and held off the advances of fifth starter, Mike Kellner, to take his second win of the year at 8:53. Chuck Schutz advanced from seventh to gain third with 12th starting Ron Kline nailing down fourth and 10th starting Rick Todorow rounding out the top five. Two 358 modified consies followed and were in the books by 9:17. A short twenty minute intermission was taken before the 358 modifieds were called to the post.
At the drop of the green at 9:47 Mike Laise jumped off the front row and into the lead as the red #15 looked hooked up on this night. The 22 year old from Pottstown has been racing for 6 years at Grandview without much to show for it but that would change tonight. Only three cautions slowed the action and each time Laise retained the point on the restarts. Nate Christman, another youngster from Oley, has been knocking on the door this year in his rookie season and don’t be surprised to hear or see his name in victory lane soon. Christman broke out the pack late in the going from his 9th starting position and began to cut into the lead of Laise. Meanwhile 17th starting Duane Howard weaved his way through the field and moved into third with just three laps remaining. He caught and passed fellow Oley resident Christman for second with two to go but Laise was too far out front to be touched. In fact Howard thought that the pass of Christman was for the lead and headed for victory lane but was waved off as Laise approached the scene out of turn four. Not only did Howard think he won but many in the crowd did not realize that the first time winner had actually won. Nate Christman held on for third with 16th starting Jeff Strunk catching Jarrad Miller on the last lap for fourth with Miller slipping to fifth at the finish. The final checker waved at 10:05 on another good night of racing at the track on the hill in Bechtelsville.
Sunday, July 3 - One thing we learned over the years is that late model fans arrive early and tailgate prior to the start of the event. Because of this we knew in order to have a parking space in the main lot and secure a good seat we knew we had to arrive early because the Lucas Oil Late Models were in town. Therefore we arrived at Muskingum County Speedway at 3:30 in the afternoon for the 7:00 start. The track is a 3/8 mile semi banked clay oval approximately 10 miles north of Zanesville, Ohio. There is a large grandstand the full length of the homestretch and it was very nice. The one thing that I thought was strange was the fact there were no permanent restrooms, once again only Job Johnny’s. This place was not primitive in any other respect. It was hot and humid and once we secured seats high up in the stands we opened up the folding chairs and tried reading through our eye lids. In other words we napped.
There certainly was a full pit area because not only were the Lucas Oil Late Models here but all of their regular divisions were also. In total there were 141 cars in the pits. Car counts were 10 mini wedges (yes, mini wedges again), 20 pure stocks, 37 modifieds, 23 four cylinders and 51 late models. The mini wedge heat was run at the completion of the late model time trials. The two pure stocks were up next followed by 4 qualifying events for the late models. They were pretty competitive considering the fast cars start up front and it is hard to make any real big moves forward. The track got pretty dusty and a breeze blowing in our face peppered us with dust. The qualifying events went to Jimmy Owens, Mike Marlar, Jared Landers and Scott Bloomquist. The modifieds ran 4 heats and then the 4 cylinders ran the final two heats of the night. Now it was consolation time. There were two late model consolations consisting of 17 and 16 cars, each qualifying 3 and two consolations for the modifieds. The next race prior to intermission was the mini wedge 6 lap event. Now it was 10:40 and the schedule called for an intermission followed by the fireworks. All prior to the 50 lap late model main event. But thank goodness for mother nature. For some reason they thought rain was on the way and we all know how quickly a show can be run when the threat of rain is in the area. I checked the radar on my phone and said to Bruce there is no green on the radar. It is not going to rain. They decided to run the Lucas Oil race prior to the intermission and fireworks and within 20 minutes the green dropped on the event.
There was a quick caution on lap one and on lap 20 a car stopped in turn three but aside from that it was clean (well actually it was very dusty) and green. Scott Bloomquist, who started in 4th, dominated the event and since he is not one of my favorite drivers I was glad when it was over with. The top four finishers started in the top five positions. Bloomquist won followed by Jimmy Owens, Earl Parson Jr. and Mike Marlar. The only real move was Steve Shaver finishing fifth after starting in 16th. At 11:25 we were heading for the gate to make a quick escape from the parking lot. At 11:30 there was still intermission, fireworks and three features to run with no rain in sight.
This was a nice facility (minus the lack of restrooms)and it was packed. They announced it was the largest crowd to ever see a race at the track in its history. All in all we enjoyed our visit and our entire Ohio weekend. Tomorrow there is no racing just a 7 hour ride back home.
Saturday, July 2 - Today was Pat’s day to do some shopping in Ohio Amish country and we visited various antique shops and other businesses including Hershberger’s which had Amish handmade items, baked goods and various chesses. It also had a pet area filled with puppies, goats, rabbits and giant horses and Pat enjoyed seeing the animals especially the baby goats which she hopes to have some of after we retire. We ate lunch at Farmstead Restaurant in Berlin which was delicious with some fine tasting Amish food on the buffet tables. Several thunderstorms rolled through the area during the day but it did not hinder our shopping spree. Shortly after three it was time to head northwest toward our late afternoon visit to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington. Mid-Ohio is a beautiful road course that is kept very neat and clean but with its various elevation changes we don’t believe that there was anywhere around the course where you could see more than maybe a quarter of the course. The 2.258 mile configuration with 12 turns was host to the F1600 and F2000 series today with two races starting at 6:00 PM. We would witness the F2000 series race with a full field of 28 cars take the green at 6. The F2000 series is an open wheel, open cockpit Indy type car with a rear wing with various chassis used but all ran the same engine, a Zetec one.
Our initial vantage point for the 35 minute race was near turns eight and nine before they moved into a straight stretch of track. A full course yellow in the early stages of the event gave us the chance to visit other parts of the course traveling over the bridge into the infield where we found a neat area of trees which overlooked a section of the course below. We eventually made our way over to the final two turns near the entrance to the track where we watched the last five minutes of the 35 minute timed run so we could make a speedy exit to head over to our night time track. Kyle Connery started up front and was never seriously challenged the entire way and flashed under the checkered flag winning over Tim Minor, Brian Tomasi, Robert LaRocca and John LaRue.
An hour later we pulled into the parking lot of the Barberton Speedway, a 1/4 mile asphalt oval, located south of the city of Akron. The speedway itself was showing some wear and tear and sections of the wooden grandstand that extended the entire length of the homestretch were suspect if you get my drift. The outside walls consisted of Jersey barriers and the pits were located outside of turns three and four leaving a clear infield for good sight lines anywhere in the grandstand. The only division we saw heat racing in was the pure stock division which ran two heats for the largest car count (13) of any of the classes. Following these heats the track went to intermission which lasted a reasonable 20 minutes. Tonight was also the Mid-Season Championships for all classes and first up would be the top class, the late models. They would run 25 laps for their eight car field with only one caution slowing the racing action. Track management has a rule that if you spin from contact of another car you get your spot back and it seemed so did the offending car. The first caution appeared on lap 21 when second place runner, Roger Smith, made contact with leader, Jesse Adams, with Smith spinning to the infield. Smith was placed back behind the leader and they went green again to complete the last four laps. Adams held on for the win with Smith second and Jeff Taylor rounding out the top three with the entire race being completed in just ten minutes. Next up were the sportsman class for their 20 lap feature event with seven cars going to the post. The front row consisted of Tim Schmitt and Aaron Prater and the two duked it out from the start. Schmitt ran Prater high on the initial start into the backstretch wall and it went downhill from there. On the restart Prater dumped Schmitt in turn three with both returning to the front again. They ran cleanly until the final lap when Prater got a good run to the inside of Schmitt entering turn two with Schmitt promptly running the pair into the infield and spinning. The restart saw Prater run Schmitt into the backstretch wall off turn two and finally the officials had seen enough and sent the pair pitside. All this time third place runner, Keith Henline, had sat back with a bird’s eye view of the banging in front of him and inherited the lead when the two exited the speedway. He went on to the victory over Steve Nestor and Jeff Mundell. At this point there was a delay in the racing when the ambulance had to leave the track caused a 25 minute downtime. When racing resumed the seven car, twenty lap hobby stock feature was waved off with Adam Arrington winning the ten minute affair with only one caution over Rick Pereces and a driver with the monikor of the Undertaker. The 20 lap pure stock feature was a wild affair with four cautions before Jake Emerling prevailed. The fifth division of the night was the truck feature which turned out to be the best race of the evening going non-stop in seven minutes with Danny Burden winning after starting last (7th) which was the best display of passing the entire evening. Denny Wood and Chet Collmar Sr. came home second and third. The last race of the night would be the advertised skid plate race and the crowd remained to watch this novelty event. It consisted of six cars with their rear tires removed with the rims mounted on top of skid plates which acted like a ski effect for the rear end. They slid all around and spun entering the turns and were all over the place. After watching one lap of this race we decided this was a good time to head for the exits and beat the crowd out.
All in all even though the car counts were low the racing was entertaining and everyone in attendence seemed to enjoy themselves and that is what it is all about. Look for the next blog which details our final night in Ohio and our fourth new track of the trip.
Friday, July 1 - For the last several years Bruce and I have always attended Pennsylvania Sprint Week during the 4th of July Weekend but last year we decided to do something different this year. Since both of us had to work on Friday the 1st, it narrowed down our search for somewhere to go. Bruce got out of work at 11:15 and I had to be there until 12:00. Till I got home and we were on the road it would be at least 1:30 so we had a six hour window to find our first stop of the weekend trip. Bruce came up with Ohio and although I am not a big fan of this state, the area he picked was one I liked. All of the tracks we would see would be a first time visit and a new track added to our list. Friday night it was the 250 Speedway in Cadiz, OH and they were starting at 8:00. This would give us 6 and 1/2 hours to get there and we figured with a full tank of gas we would not need to make any stops along the way. The Pennsylvania Turnpike can be a struggle during the holidays and it was full of cars. Several times we slowed but traffic in our direction never really stopped. We left the motorhome at home this weekend because the itinery called for some quick jaunts from one track to another and you cannot make a quick jaunt in a 31 foot motorhome. After the lot of crazy drivers we encountered on the turnpike I was glad we were in the car.
We made it to the track in plenty of time as we pulled into the 250 Speedway at 7:30. We drove by the track on a previous trip but this was our first visit. This track is located on Highway 250 and is nestled in between the mountains and rolling hills of the area. You are totally surrounded by green and it is very scenic picture. The track on the other hand is a bit primitive. You park in a field and walk down a dirt lane to get to the ticket booth of the 3/8 mile dirt oval. The walls of the track were made up of Jersey barriers and the surface looked very dry. The hill off the homestretch was terraced and the fans lined the terraces with their folding chairs. At the top of the terrace was a wooden bleacher section that could hold about 200 people if packed and this is where we sat. The were no real restroom facilities. Only a line of Job Johnnys when you entered and unfortunately they were not marked men and women. Girls, you know what I mean. The concession stand was a small trailer down in turn four and you had to be part mountain goat to navigate the terrace to get down to it. Of course I sent Bruce for the food and I must admit the nachos with bar-b-que and cheese were delicious. The announcer was in a small wooden shed type building with speakers standing outside of it like those of a band performing in the local tavern. Yes it was primitive but the place was packed with fans.
They were running make-up features from the previous week and they were scheduled to start at 8:00. Of course they never started until 8:30 and they ran all the make-up features in one night. There were 5 of them. I guess they never heard of perhaps running some one week and the others the next. But there was no chance of rain tonight so they had all night to get everything in and it probably took them all night to run them.
The modified 20 lap feature was first and the green dropped at 8:30. The first 10 laps of the race were competitve but once the second place runner dropped out it got strung out. DJ Cline picked up the win followed by Randy Gray and Rob Melzer. The 15 lap super sports were up next and they ran a non-stop event with Tony Gibbs taking the top honor. Rich Schweitzer took this win in a race that saw only one caution. The 4 cylinder feature had some problems and eventually Brandon Welker was in victory lane. After each event we had the victory lane celebration pictures and the interview. Now it was time for the final rained out event, the mini wedges. I never saw these cars before and do not care if I ever see them again on a regular sized race track. This division is made of of kids ages 6 through 14 and they look like topless late models. They are the size of a go-kart if not smaller and they are way too tiny to be run on a 3/8 mile track with ruts and bumps. They probably should have run them first when the track was smoother or if they really want to run them they should build a small inner oval especially for them. Some of the cars wuld hit the ruts and stall out. Not to mention they ran 10 laps which was about 6 laps too many. It took over 20 minutes to complete this event. It was their only event of the evening, thank goodness.
Now it is 10:00 and they started the complete show all over again. There would be heats for all 4 divisions and consolations. The three modified heats were first and we watched them before making the decision to head for the field. After a morning at work and the long ride out we were tired. Yes we are getting old. There seemed to be no need to hurry the show along because of the late hour and to tell you the truth the fans did not seem to mind that this show would probably go to 1:00 in the morning before it was complete. It was like 30 years ago back home, everyone was content and there for the duration. Now we are so spoiled that if the show is not over before 11:00 we are complaining of the late hour. Most shows in our area are over by 10:30. But this entire area seemed a bit more laid back then the northeast. Anyway on the way down the terraces in the dark I almost fell in the mud. Luckily it was just my sneaker that was totally engulfed in the mud hole which I could not see.
Tomorrow we would be getting up early to head into Holmes County and Amish country where I plan on doing some antigue shopping. It was an interesting night. By the way, “What Year is This?".