Saturday, May 19 - We decided to venture somewhere different so we decided to head to the Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway, a 1/8 mile high banked clay oval, near Newmanstown, Pennsylvania. Tonight was fan appreciation night with the $8 admission price waved as free admission was granted tonight. A good size crowd of 1700 fans took advantage of the bargain and packed the place. Many other short tracks would kill for a crowd of this size! Along for the activities this evening was Pat’s dad, Junior, who use to be a regular attendee here. We arrived at 5 PM for the 6 PM start and secured seats about two thirds of the way up in the grandstand toward turn one. The facility is very nice with nice bathrooms and concession stands with the pits located outside of turns three and four. The Lanco Micro Sprint Racing Club founded 54 years ago has grown to 200 cars now registered to race here. The race track was named Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway to honor the track’s first flagman. The racing program consists of five divisions of open wheel micro sprints with the classes being 270 two strokes (33), 600’s (30), sportsman (19), 125’s (21) and 250 four strokes (14).
Racing got underway at 6:10 with three 270 four stroke heats followed by three 600 heats, two sportsman heats, three 125 heats and two 250 four stroke heats. It takes a while for the next heat to come onto the speedway after the previous one ends which causes down time which is unnecessary. It took two hours to run all the heat racing without any major accidents or cleanups. The 270’s and 600’s were the only classes that needed consies and all qualifying was in the books by 8:36. Clyde Martin is only an 1/8 mile oval but the track is wide and banked so much side by side racing is possible. The heats were entertaining and everyone seemed to enjoy the action. Next was intermission and at Clyde Martin management opens up the pit area for the fans to visit and see the cars and drivers. Autographs and race cards are available and I’m sure it is a big hit with the youngsters. It was almost an hour until the first of five features all 25 laps in distance was brought to the post which was the 270 two stroke feature. Mike Rutherford came out of the 11th hole to grab the lead on a lap 11 restart and pull away from Jesse Maurer to score the victory. Female racer, Christi Sweigart, ran a strong race to claim third with Mike Skias fourth and Billy Logeman rounding out the top five. When they were racing in this one the action was good and close but with nine cautions slowing the proceedings this one could not be considered a gem by any standards.
The 25 lap 600 feature got off to a rough start when high school football player, Jeff Halligan, rolled his race car three times on the backstretch. After that things settled down and Jermain Godshall, a young black man built like an football lineman, looked like the guy to beat as he paced the field for the first seventeen laps. On a restart Mike Rutherford dove low exiting turn four to take the lead and never looked back to score his second win of the evening over Godshall with Mike Dicely advancing from 12th to 3rd with Tyler Esh fourth and Jeff Stelter finishing fifth. It was now 10:30 and with three features to go we decided we have seen enough witnessing the top two classes so it was exit stage right. It is an entertaining program but to us it seems too long. On the way back home we all discussed the evening of racing and agreed that you couldn’t beat the price!! Seriously it was a change of pace and a nice facility and the Lanco Micro Sprint Racing Club and its members should be proud of their setup.
Friday, May 18 - It takes us two hours to drive to Williams Grove on a Friday night and we arrived just before the starting time of 7:25. They were kind enough to give us enough time to park and trudge through the parking lot and up to our seats before the first green waved at 7:36. The 358 sprints would start off the program tonight with three run for the 24 car field on hand. This year the heats for the 410’s are lined up by draw allowing everyone an equal opportunity to start up front to qualify as in the beginning of the night the track is just rounding into shape and passing from the rear can be quite the task. Heat one had some early action as Logan Schuchart and Cory Haas tangled in turn four with Haas flipping over. In heat two Justin Henderson wrecked on the homestretch bouncing off the inside fence and tipping over on his side. The third heat ran clean and by 8:48 all heat qualifying was done. Only the 30 car 410 field needed a consie and that was spun off by 9:14.
As is the common practice at the Grove the 410 sprints run their feature first with the green flag flying at 9:39. Sheldon Haudenschild, the son of the legendary Jac “The Wild Child” Haudenschild, jumped off the front row and into the lead. The youngster was strong tonight in the Wintermyer #3W and commanded the field for the first 12 laps until Lance Dewease ducked to the low side entering turns one and two to take the lead with Sheldon returning the favor down the backstretch. Dewease regained the lead in turn three and would not relinquish the top spot after that. The racing was far from over with Fred Rahmer taking second from Haudenschild with five to go. Danny Dietrich was next up racing Haudenschild hard with the two touching several times. On the last lap Dietrich ran Haudenschild high in turn two with the kid charging right back into the fray. Dietrich got out of shape half way down the backstretch with Brian Montieth close on his tail and climbing the left rear tire of the #48 and rolling over as the red flag appeared. Dewease was declared the winner as he allegedly crossed the finish line before the red flew. It was Dewease’s 80th career win at Williams Grove with Fred Rahmer taking second and Sheldon Haudenschild claiming third at the finish. Fourth was 12th starting Greg Hodnett with Curt Michael grabbing a strong fifth.
The night was not over as the 358 sprints had 20 laps to run and they did it without the aid of any cautions. The track was going away and that is what Rodney Westhafer did at the start taking off from his second starting position. He was clearly the class of the field until encountering lap traffic late in the event and struggling to pass them. Eric Tomecek closed on the leader using the extreme high groove and at several points looked as if he would steal the win but Westhafer passed one of the lap cars to give himself some breathing room and hold unto the lead. Tomecek especially had trouble with one lap car and coming to the wire female racer, Brie Hershey, caught and passed Tomecek for the runnerup spot. Tomecek showed his displeasure with the offending driver slowing and cutting off the driver on the backstretch after the finish. Jacob Allen came home fourth with another female racer, Amy Ott, nailing down the fifth spot at the end. All racing was completed by 10:36, just an example of another good night of racing at Williams Grove which seems to be the norm and not the exception.