Sunday, July 1 - Pat’s father, Junior, would join us tonight for the second night of Pennsylvania Sprint Week being contested at the Big Diamond Speedway. Upon our arrival we found a good sized crowd on hand to witness the three division program of 410 sprints (24), legend cars (29) and roadrunners (16). Warmups started at 7:30 with time trials on time at 8 PM. Twenty minutes later Daryn Pittman had bested the 24 car field with a time of 13.430 seconds around the 3/8 mile semi-banked dirt oval. The roadrunners would run two heats first with the 410 sprints running three heats with Brian Montieth, Alan Krimes and Lance Dewease winning. The legend cars spun off three heats quickly and all heats were in by 9:25. Things were moving along nicely to this point and by 9:28 the 20 lap roadrunner feature was ready to go. This was by far the best we have seen these guys run in our limited appearances with only two cautions and Joey Brennan executing the winning move on lap 18. Only the legend cars needed a consie and by 9:51 it was intermission time.
At this point we felt the show fell apart as the intermission stretched out to 33 minutes until the first sprint car was rolled onto the track to be pushed off. Track maintenance was performed in this time period and to us and many of our friends around us this was unnecesary as the track was in good enough condition to contest the 30 lap sprint feature at this point. On a Sunday night especially the goal should be to have the crowd on the road back home between 10 and 10:30 as the majority of them have to work on a Monday. Another big mistake was when you are running sprint cars you need more than four push trucks to push off the field. From the time the first sprint car was rolled onto the track and the green flag was waved was an additional 15 minutes pushing the start to 10:40. When the green flag waved the dust rose off the racing surface and everyone wondered why we spent 33 minutes “grooming” the track. Unlike the USAC sprint feature back in early June which went non-stop this one had one red and two cautions to allow the dust to settle down a little. The first stoppage occured on lap 7 when Paul McMahon flipped the Buch #13 in turn four to bring the action to a swift halt. With one tow truck/push vehicle tending to the damaged race car that left only three vehicles to push off 23 sprint cars. You do the math and figure out how long that must have taken. Brian Montieth started first and that is where he finished collecting another $5000 for the win and bringing his weekend total to $17,260 for winning three races totalling 85 laps. Not too shabby, eh!! Can you say hot, hot, hot!! Finishing second behind the high flying Montieth was another rim rider in Danny Dietrich with Daryn Pittman netting third, Lance Dewease nailing down fourth and Alan Krimes rounding out the top five. Four of the five finishers came out of the top six so you can see passing was at a minimum. Australian visitor, Darren Mollenoyux turned in another good run being nipped at the line for the ninth position. It was not until 11:10 that this one saw the checkered and that to us is much too late for a Sunday night. And there was still one feature to go.
We decided to stay and watch the 20 lap legend car feature while the parking lot emptied out and we were glad we did. These guys put on a very exciting 20 laps of racing including a last lap, last turn pass for the lead. In between there was some intense side by side racing and plenty of passing. Greg Burd gave everyone a few scary moments when his car erupted in a ball of fire racing down the backstretch on lap 16 while running in the top five. The oil fire went out quick but it was scary until Burd climbed out of his racer and signaled to the relieved crowd that everything was OK. Scott Houdeshell looked like a sure winner ffrom the fifth hole until Jason Rochelle dove under him coming off turn four for the checkered and outraced Houdeshell by a half car length to claim the win as the clock struck 11:42. Rochelle started back in 12th and earned this one over Houdeshell with Chris Spidle taking third, Bill Diehl fourth and Paul Rochelle III capping the top five. The quote of the night came from our friend, Marshall, who stated afterwards that it was so dusty during the evening that you couldn’t see the moon anymore!! And I don’t want to bash someone but sometimes announcers feel that they must talk all the time and Tim Pitts is one of them. When you do this you tend to come up with some stupid statements and Pitts’ pre-race testimonal prior to the sprint car feature to the Big Diamond track crew for the “awesome” track surface they produced might go down as one of those occurances!!! One last thing to mention as constructive criticism is if you are going to play music to entertain the fans during the intermission period you might want to keep it to a level that people are able to have conversations with each other and don’t have to hold their hands over their ears because it is sooooo loud!!!
Tuesday, July 3 - I decided to take a half day at work so I could attend the special program that was going to be held in the afternoon on part of the infield configuration of the long road course at the Pocono International Raceway. The Tobias slingshots would be running a rare Tuesday afternoon race on a 3/4 mile road course set up with two chicanes, one on the homestretch and the other on the backstretch to reduce the speed on the long straights. A good field of 20 cars pulled into the facility to race on this sunny, hot afternoon as I arrived around 1:30 and walked pit road to check out the cars and drivers of various ages. The driver’s meeting was conducted at 2:15 and by 2:30 the cars were taking practice laps around the road circuit. This was a special day for me as it would be the 100th track I have attended in the state of Pennsylvania becoming the 14th trackchaser to cross the 100 track mark in this state. Guy Smith was first to greet me at Pocono and also is first in the state in tracks attended at 186. His wife, Pam, along with Paul Weisel, Bing Metz, Mike Knappenberger and Jeff Sands were other trackchasers in town for this event.
The first 15 lap feature took the green at 3:50 with Linda’s Speedway track champion, Justin Thompson, jumping out to the early lead. Four full course cautions slowed this event but each time Thompson clung onto the lead. The veteran racer, Randy Smith, made a last lap charge at the wire to try to pass Thompson but was not able to pull off the move and I’m sure starter, Mike Feltenberger’s eyes were as big as saucers as Smith bore down on him at the line!! Kyle Luck made the biggest move in this one advancing from 8th to claim the last podium position. This one took a while at 32 minutes with time spent removing broken down cars and the such so the second round was cut to 10 laps and the officials learned from the first one leaving any disabled cars off the racing surface remain sitting where they pulled off and continued racing. The second race went non-stop in 7 minutes with Tom Arntz coming from fifth to score the win over Ray Nemeth second and Scott Miller placing third. The final checkered waved at 4:54 and according to one report the racing had to be finished by 5 so they accomplished their mission. It was an enjoyable afternoon on a sunny day and a unique way to register my 100th PA track.