Saturday, August 11 - We woke up to a cloudy and dreary day. The track cancellations started coming in on Rained Out, a service that some track provide which sends out text messages to your cell phone with rainout information. First it was Delaware International aka US 13 followed by New Egypt and Bridgeport. The rain was a coastal storm moving up the eastern seaboard and when Bridgeport’s message came in we immediately called Jeff Ahlum, the track announcer at Bridgeport, to see where he wanted to venture to. Jeff likes to visit other tracks when his announcing duties allow him to and today was one of them. Since we had painted a dire forecast for Williams Grove on Friday and they snuck it in we felt obligated to drive him wherever he chose to go. The choice was the 1/2 mile at the Selinsgrove Speedway and off we went at 4:30 from Hellertown. We arrived around 6:30 and headed onto the grounds choosing a seat in the wooden bleachers toward turn one instead of our usual covered grandstand choice. It was a nice day in central Pennsylvania with temperatures in the mid 70’s with low humidity. By race time the sun was going down and the night was cool and comfortable.
On tap tonight at Selinsgrove was a four division program with two open wheel classes, the United Racing Club (URC) 360 sprints and the regular 358 sprints, along with the late models and the roadrunners. Thirty one URC sprints were in town with the regular 358 class only fielding 18 with 15 late models and 17 roadrunners. The first heat got underway about 15 minutes off the starting time but once underway there was no stoppage of action. The URC sprints spun off three competitive heats with the 1978 Selinsgrove Speedway champion and 25 time winner, 62 year old Kramer Williamson winning and Robbie Stillwagon and Davie Franek winning the other two heats completed in just 22 minutes as compared to the 51 minute debacle witnessed at Grandview on July 21st. The late models and the 358 sprints only needed two heats each and then the URC B main was run followed by two heats for the roadrunners. It was 9:04 when all qualifying was completed.
The URC sprints would run their 25 lapper first with the green flag flying at 9:23. Kramer Williamson took off from the first starting position and led until Mark Smith caught and passed him off turn four coming to complete lap 12 for the lead. Smith, a Selinsgrove regular and one of four doing double duty tonight, pulled away from the field after taking the lead and only one caution brought him back to the field. Smith had started 12th and on the restart took off again and was gone. Davie Franek, the 8th starter, made a late race charge to nip Kramer Williamson for second with Robbie Stillwagon fourth and Kevin Darling rounding out the top five when the checker waved at 9:36. Franek would retain the URC point lead and the former Selinsgrove regular might have made things more interesting if this race had gone maybe five lap longer. It was at this time that Pat mentioned that she had been following the going ons at Grandview for the $20,000 to win Forrest Rogers Memorial 50 at Grandview via southjerseydirtracing.com and they were in a rain delay after all heat qualifying was completed and four laps of the late model feature had been completed. It registered in my head that maybe just maybe we could make it back to Grandview in time to catch the Forrest Rogers Memorial, our original destination, until Jeff had picked Selinsgrove instead.
The 25 lap late model feature was next and went green at 9:44. The race would go non-stop and though it was not as good as the URC race it was a decent race none the less. Tony Adams who started first jumped off the pole and held sway the entire distance. Dylan Yoder passed Dave Zona on the last lap to garner second with Meade Hahn fourth and Jim Bernheisel rounding out the top five. The 25 lap 358 sprint featue was next and at 10:07 it was go time. Veteran Phil Walter charged from fourth into the lead early and looked like a winner even though ninth starting Pat Cannon had caught him and was applying the pressure from lap 20 on. The only caution waved on lap 22 and this was all that Cannon would need. On the restart Cannon ran right off the tail tank of Walter’s sprinter and coming to the flag on lap 23 he made his move and passed the long time leader. Cannon passed under the checkered flag at 10:20 for his fifth win of the year at Selinsgrove over Walter, eighth starting T.J. Stutts, tenth starting Mark Smith and seventeenth starting Jason Shultz. It was the best race of the evening. We decided to stay and watch the 12 lap roadrunner feature event which took the green at 10:27. Just two cautions slowed the action here and the first five or six laps was some good side by side racing. Bob Bussey powered to the front pass the halfway mark from his ninth starting position and went on to record his seventh win of 2012 with the final checker waving at 10:39. Once we reached the car Pat checked South Jersey dirt and nothing additional had been posted. A call to our buddy, Russ, who was in the Norm Hansell hospitality box informed us that Kenny Rogers, the grandson of the late Forrest Rogers, announced that they would try everything humanly possible to get the Forrest Rogers Memorial race in. We all talked about trying to make the unlikely double and drove on down the road discussing the fine night of racing we had just witnessed and Pat and I agreed that this was the best night of racing we had seen this year from start to finish. We motored down Rt. 15 to Rt. 322 and onto I-81 which connects with I-78 east toward Reading. As we approached Rt. 61 another call was placed to Russ who said that the 358 modifieds were coming trackside to hot lap and run the track in. This would be followed by three 358 modified consies and a sportsman consie before the Forrest Rogers Memorial would take place. We picked up Rt. 73 off of Rt. 61 and headed toward Boyertown which is below Grandview Speedway. Pat continued to check the South Jersey website and as we drew near Boyertown she announced that the three 358 modified consie was just completed. As we hit Rt. 100 north and climbed Passmore Road and pulled into the speedway grounds we heard announcer Ernie Saxton state that the sportsman consie was ready to go. We found a parking space in the crowded parking lot and gathered our blankets and writing pads and headed toward the front gate. As we approached the front gate we heard Ernie giving the starting lineup for the main event as we scattered toward the bathrooms before climbing into the homestretch grandstand where we found seats about two thirds of the way up. At 1:04 the Forrest Rogers Memorial 50 was off and running to the delight of the weary crowd on the same date way back in 1963 when the Grandview Speedway swung open their gates for the first time ever under the direction of Forrest Rogers.
Ron Seltman took the early lead and looked strong in the early going. On a restart on lap 7 sixth starting Kevin Hirthler looked like he jumped the start but it was not called back and he was the new leader. On a lap 29 restart Seltman tried to slide up in front of Hirthler for the lead but the two tangled with Seltman sideways and someone able to keep it straight but the field behind were bouncing off each other with Kyle Weiss getting the worse of the deal with his car done for the evening. Doug Manmiller moved from 12th to challenge Hirthler toward the end and actually looked like he would pull off the pass but came up short. Hirthler flashed under the double checkers at 1:54 winning his first Forrest Rogers Memorial and also his first win of 2012 with Manmiller second, 13th starting Duane Howard nailing down third, 11th starting Craig VonDohren taking fourth and Jeff Strunk who was involved in a lap one crash coming from 29th to finish fifth. Positions six through ten were filled by Mike Gular with Ryan Godown, the highest finishing invader coming home seventh, Ryan Grim 8th, Ray Swinehart, last week’s feature winner ninth and Jon Kellner Sr. rounding out the top ten. New York invader, Billy Decker, only salvaged 12th at the end. It was an unusual Saturday night double and indeed the only reason we were able to pull it off was the 2 1/2 hour rain delay at Grandview. Congratulations to the track crew at Grandview for whipping the surface back into shape and for the Rogers family for sticking with it and take a fine on the chin to present the Forrest Rogers Memorial in honor of the founder of the Grandview Speedway.
Sunday, August 12 - It was a picture perfect Sunday as we left church and ventured west toward Topton, PA, the home of the Oreville Kart Track. This 1/5 mile road course was hosting the World Formula micro stocks on the day which is a countable class of cars for trackchasing purposes. We arrived at 1:02 with the posted starting time being 1 PM but warmups were still underway. We found a parking spot in the shade against the tree line of the facility off of the last turn of the road course before they turned onto the homestretch. Shortly thereafter New Jersey resident and trackchaser, Rusty Currie, came over to chat before the racing began. It is always enjoyable to converse with Rusty and today was no exception. Later on we spoted trackchasers, Paul Weisel and Bing Metz who also visited our primetime spot to discuss race happenings. There are no stands at Oreville but you are able to pull your car up against the chain link fence on the small hill that overlooks the road course with perfect viewing lines as the pits are located in a wooded area located off the backstretch. Racing did not get underway until almost 2 PM but once underway things were moved along nicely with the next two classes lined up on pit road ready to take the track when the previous class ended. There were ten classes of flat karts with the highest kart count being the vintage kart class at eight. These karts were the old time, bare bones type kart and they ran very good. The micro stocks were the last division to run their heats with two needed for the good 11 car field. A half hour intermission followed before the first of 11 feature events commenced at 3:30. The 20 lap micro stock feature took the green flag at 4:30 and was a good race with Bob Wagner Jr. coming from the rear of the field after an opening lap jingle where his rear bumper was pushed forward and was rubbing his rear tires. Wagner was able to use a long metal bar to pull the bumper back and allow him to continue. Wagner took the lead in the last few laps and won over Walt Mueller in another sharp looking 1940’s style coach or sedan bodied racer. The final checker waved at 4:47 and put the wraps on an enjoyable day spent at the races during a glorious sunny and near perfect Sunday afternoon.