Friday, May 25, 2012

John Buzzard Remembered

John, in the Emig Mustang, 1974
In conjunction with the Bill Emig Memorial Weekend at Sharon Speedway will be the John Buzzard Memorial Dashes, and how appropriate that will be. Buzzard raced for Emig in the early and mid '70s, before an accident at Expo Speedway in 1975 took his life. The Emig/Buzzard combo produced some great wins and memories. Behind the famous Emig 6-cylinder Comet, Buzzard was a force to be reckoned with - in the Super Six class at Canfield on the dirt, and pitted against the V-8 Semi-Lates on Sharon's asphalt. In 1973, John finished second in the Canfield Super Six points by a scant five markers to rival Jerry Rydarowicz. And at Sharon, John was named Co-Champion with Jim Lewis - in his V-8 #300 Chevy Semi-Late - as the duo were part of the "David and Goliath" Show.

  Those were special times back in the early '70s. Canfield was my "home" track, I was in high school, and I was just starting to do some writing on the sport. I became friends with John - and his wife Diane and some of their friends. Looking back, I think part of what made it special was that I was a kid making his first adult friendships. John was six years older than me and I was just getting out of high school, and I wasn't a kid anymore.

  When Emig came calling in 1973, things kept rolling along. Not sure how many people know this - FASTRAK NE Co-Director Vicki Emig and I have known each other since she was in grade school and I was in high school. It was a heady time back then, with enough innocence around for everyone. In '73, John's rivalry with Jerry Rydarowicz heated up, and those Saturday nights at Canfield Speedway are legendary. We were all wrapped up in the moment, and I can really say it was magical.

But time marches on. Things change. And 1973 was the final year for Canfield Speedway. And Butler. And Heidelburg. And the changes continued as the Emig/Buzzard team made the move to Late Models in 1974.

  Time was split between dirt and asphalt, eventually settling on an all dirt schedule. My brother and I started following the Ohio asphalt circuit more closely. I was seeing my friend John a little less.

Then came April of 1975. My favorite aunt passed away unexpectedly and John met his fate at Expo, all within a week of each other. Life was looking, suddenly, very different.    
My column in Mid-American Auto Racing News, May 9, 1975

Stock Car Racing - Last Week and This

A few quick updates of some action around area ovals:

  • Barberton, 5/1/8 - Don Harvery, Jr. over Rick Sibila, Gary Whipkey, Doug Sommers.  Fields continue to grow, two heats in Late Models.  Tonight, Kid's Night, under six, free.  Late Model points:  1. Harvey 402, 2. Taylor Racing 384, 3. Sibila 268, 4. Mike Mazzagatti 237.
  • Raceway 7 - Chad Wright made it two Late Model features in a row last Friday, the 18th.  Regular show tonight.  Can Wright do a three-peat?
  • TBRA - Neil Brown over George Skora III, Jeff Amsdell, Bobby Henry and Matt Sever in the series opener at Motordrome.  Next on the schedule, this Saturday, the 26th at the Lake Erie Speedway opener - 100 laps, $2000 to win.
  • Midvale - Mark Willison pulled off an upset of sorts, over Bryant Smith and point leader Rick Sibila.  This Saturday, 50 lap features for both the Late Models and Modifieds at the Smith family showplace. 
  • Sharon - Bobby Whitling took his first career Late Model win since moving up to the class in 2008, after a successful and impressive run in the Stock Car class, with over 80 wins to his credit.  Whitling held off current Sharon FASTRAK point leader Will Thomas for the win, who was hoping to make it three feature wins in a row. It will be one of Sharon's biggest weekends of the season this Saturday and Sunday with the Bill Emig Memorial "Wild Card Weekend". The FASTRAK NE Touring Late Models go for $1500 to win each night, plus point money.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Stock Car Racing at it's Best

Two of my favorite racing series - the Main Event Racing Series and FASTRAK NE Touring - could not be more different, with the Main Event being on asphalt and FASTRAK NE on dirt being the most obvious, but not the only points of difference. 

But while it may seem they have nothing in common, that couldn't be further from the truth.  Both series are well run and professional.  The racing and competition is off the charts.  And both are surrounded by great people - on the tracks, in the pits, up in the tower, and behind the scenes, as well as the fans that follow them. 

I always have a great time at either Series' races.  Great racing for all....

Below is a quick summary of their latest stops.

FASTRAK NE Touring Series' Winning Ways in Canada

The FASTRAK NE Touring Series continues to impress and put on thrilling races.  The latest on Sunday, May 20 was for the Canadian National Championship at Humberstone Speedway.  Humberstone is a racey little track, not much bigger than a quarter mile, and a record 26 cars - from PA, OH, WV, and NY - made the trek north of the border just 17 miles from Buffalo - joining local ONT, CAN racers for the $2000 to win 30 lapper. 

As is a FASTRAK NE Touring common sight, racing was close and thrilling.  When the dust settled, it was Series' hot shot, Max Blair, coming away with the win (after starting 9th).  Blair and arch-rival Mike Pegher, Jr. battled side by side for several laps before Blair finally got the advantage on lap 22.  Blair bested at least six other racers in a last lap shootout following a caution with one to go.  Chad Ruhlman made a frantic last lap charge that saw him move from fourth to second.  Darren Peters crossed the line third, but was disqualified in post-race tech for a modified oil pump.  In the wild one lap free-for-all to the checkered, Pegher, Jr. went from second to sixth (5th following Peters' DQ), Nolan Dalton seventh to fourth (now 3rd), and Butch Lambert eighth to fifth (now 4th, after starting 19th!).  Only three cautions slowed the frantic pace - two on the first lap, and the final with one to go. 

Both Blair and Ruhlman sang the praises of the Humberstone track in victory lane, and the largely Canadian filled grandstand enthusiastically embraced the Series. 

Max Blair won the thrilling FASTRAK NE Touring Canadian National Championship at Humberstone Speedway

FASTRAK NE Touring Top Ten Points following race number four at Humberstone:

  • Max Blair 148
  • Butch Lambert 132
  • Chad Ruhlman 127
  • Mike Pegher, Jr. 117
  • Ryan Montgomery 113
  • John Over 106
  • Justin Tatlow 104
  • Nolan Dalton 104
  • Dan Angelicchio 87
  • Chad Wright 87



Main Event Racing Series Successful Opener at Sandusky Speedway

The Main Event Series got underway Saturday, May 19 at Sandusky Speedway.  If that was any indication of things to come, the asphalt late model series is in store for a banner season.  Chris Tolloty and Kevin Jaycox expanded the series to 13 races this year and it seems interest is on the rise. 

Entering the pits at Sandusky were 27 immaculately prepared Outlaw Super Late Models.  The quality of the cars on hand was, well, staggering. 

Defending MERS Champion Bud Perry set a new Late Model track record during time trials on the half-mile track of 16.366.  The pill draw had an invert of eight at the start of the 75-lap, $2,000 to win feature. 

When the checkered flew on the fleet affair, it was Justin Schroeder taking the win.  Schroeder, of Canton, MI, has Flat Rock and Dixie credentials in his back pocket and looked impressive on the larger 1/2 mile Sandusky.

Justin Schroeder took the 2012 Main Event season opener at Sandusky 5/19

Shawn Stroble looked very impressive in his career best Main Event finish in second.  The busy Stroble looks to concentrate on the Main Event Series this year in his new Port City racer.  

Shawn Stroble recorded his best Main Event finish at Sandusky in second

Pit side lights shine on Stroble's sharp #4 Outlaw Super Late Model

Jimmy Carter, Harold Fair, Jr., and Don Hill closely followed Schroeder and Stroble in the closing laps and at times the five were under a blanket.  

It was great seeing and talking to many folks - Tolloty, Terry Meyer, Nick Guirukis of OLMS, Frank Oriti, the Sandquists, John Crumrine, - and meeting Jaycox for the first time.  

I left the track with a positive vibe for the track, and especially for the Main Event Series.  The MERS wastes no time getting started, and continues this weekend with a trip to Auto City Speedway in Flint, MI, closely followed by Columbus(6/2), Shady Bowl(6/9), Barberton(6/15) and Dixie, MI(6/22).  

Win, place and show at Sandusky's Main Event - Justin Schroeder, Shawn Stroble and Jimmy Carter
Don "Zero" Hill made a charge to fifth from his 10th starting berth

Brian Short finished eighth, after starting 17th


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Stock Car Races of note this Weekend

Lots of racing coming up this weekend, whether it be a local track or touring series.  Be sure to support your favorite, or check one out if you are new to the sport.  Of note, are....

One of my favorite touring series gets underway this weekend, the Main Event Racing Series.  The Asphalt Outlaw Super Late Models are simply awesome.  I've been following this Series since it started, and it rarely disappoints. 

The 2012 debut is set for Sandusky Speedway, Saturday, May 19, on the half-mile paved oval, with a 75 lap, $2,000 to win affair.  Joining the Outlaw Super Late Models at the track will be the MSA Super Modifieds, making up the Super Nationals program.  The Super Modifieds can almost be scary they are so fast, vibrating the entire grandstand at Sandusky.  Can't wait.


The TBRA Series also gets underway, as the series kicks off on Friday, May 18.  The template bodied asphalt Late Model series is set for a $2,000 to win 100 lapper at Motordrome Speedway in Smithton, PA.  Look for a strong field at the fine half mile facility, with driers such as Glenn Gault, Jr., Bobby Henry, Garry Wiltrout and Barry Awtey.


The FASTRAK NE Touring Series goes International this weekend, as the series visits Humberstone Speedway in Ontario, Canada for the Canadian National Championship.  Most of the top Touring drivers are expected to compete in the 30 lap, $2,000 to win feature, set for Sunday, May 20.  It will be my first time to the track. 

FASTRAK NE Touring at Eriez Speedway

FASTRAK NE Touring race #3 was at Eriez Speedway Sunday evening.  This was my first trip to Bobby Rohrer's racing facility and I was pleasantly surprised  The track seems to be a bit of a throw back, albeit very well maintained.  New, attractive billboards adorn the backstretch, a variety of concessions and clean rest rooms all make for a great experience.  This was topped off by a first-rate prepared track that produced little or no dust.  Nestled among the concessions was the debut of the new FASTRAK NE trailer being helmed that evening by Donna Inskeep, selling the new line of FASTRAK NE apparel. 

I suppose it's no secret that I'm a big supporter of FASTRAK NE, both the Weekly Shows and the Touring Series.  It is at once forward thinking, yet reminds me of Late Models years ago - when more drivers/teams had a legitimate shot, more cars were competitive, and the financial outlay was more affordable.  FASTRAK NE seems to keep a reign on rules and regulations better than most.  The Touring Series offers decent purses and point fund, with a chance for exposure that any touring series would offer, and a seemingly endless list of contingency product and money offered to competitors.  The 25 lap, $1200 to win event at Eriez is but one of many examples. 

Thirty-two cars, four heats, two B-Mains, the K&N dash, a 25 lap feature and a six lap Non-qualifyers race had plenty of racing and awards for all.  The track proved racey and competitive, as defending Touring Champ Max Blair made it through the strong field from his 17th starting slot of the 24 car starting field.

Blair didn't take the top spot until four to go after previous leaders Ryan Montgomery and Chad Ruhlman kept a strong contingent at bay, including Billy Henry, Jr., Justin Tatlow, Matt Latta, and Mike Pegher, Jr.  Pegher and Nolan Dalton tangled with four to go, negating both of their strong runs.  Blair led Ruhlman at the finish over Latta in the Bidwell # B1D(up from ninth), Montgomery, and Butch Lambert, up from 21st after transferring from the second B-Main.  Steve Dixon took sixth, with John Over claiming the Precise Racing Products "Hard Charger" Award with his seventh place finish after starting 24th!  Over moved up 17 positions, and both Blair and Lambert improved 16 positions. 

FASTRAK NE Touring four-wide parade lap at Eriez Speedway
Max Blair in victory lane at Eriez Speedway following his FASTRAK NE Touring win

Chad Wright, after winning the K&N Dash for FASTRAK NE Touring at Eriez Speedway

FASTRAK NE Touring goes international this week to Humberstone Speedway in Ontario, Canada for the $2,000 to win Canadian National Championship.

Action at Sharon Speedway

Sharon Speedway continues to host one of the best programs around at the first class facility.  Kevin Bolland celebrated his 20th career feature win at the track in the DIRT Big Block Modified feature.  Bolland surived the threats o a challenging Rex King.

The FASTRAK NE Late Models again put on a heck of a race.  Young Matt Latta continues to impress and took the lead at the outset, before Dave Airgood took the lead on a lap four restart, with last week's winner Will Thomas not far behind.  As the laps clicked down, Airgood led a close Thomas as the duo was catching lapped traffic.  The last lap proved chaotic, as an about-to-be-lapped Lauren Longbrake spun in a 360 degree pirouette just as the leading pair approached at turns on and two.  Thomas took to the outside, as Airgood took the more precarious inside, with Thomas getting the better deal. 

Will Thomas and his dad in Sharon's Victory Lane following feature win number two.

                                                                       It was two wins in a row for the former asphalt standout Thomas, while Airgood had a career Sharon best in second.  Latta was third with Billy Henry, Jr. up from 11th to fourth and Chad Wright - winner the previous night at Raceway 7 - up from 10th to round out the top five. 

Tim Burns took the win and point lead in Sharon's exciting Stock Car class over Shaun Hooks. 

What appeared to be certain victory for Brad Blackshear ended with a blown engine on the final lap.  Blackshear got to the front the hard way, starting at the tail of the 20 car Econo Mod feature.  Blackshear's bad luck was Brian Hathaway's good fortune, as the 18 year old youngster claimed his first career win. 

No matter what the division - DIRT Big Block Modifieds, FASTRAK NE Late Models, E-Mods, Stock Cars, EconoMods, or Mini-Stocks, Sharon has been having some great racing this season, and it's hard to imagine any fan leaving disappointed.

Barberton Raceway Park comes through....

BPR's improvements have had fans talking about the quarter-mile track all season.  The newly paved track and widened backstretch not only make for better racing, but looks great too.  The clean look extends to the entire facility, freshly painted in white and red. 

The highly anticipated first leg of the Ohio State 500 Series for Modifieds was on tap for last Friday, May 11.  A nice purse with $1,000 set for the winner, on a night when there is virtually no asphalt Modified competition had fans hoping for a large field.

BPR honchos Jake Francis and Jim Ripley appeared to have solved any potential problems earlier in the week when they opened up the tire rule.  But for whatever reason, when the pit gates opened, a slim field of Modifieds decided to take advantage of what Barberton was offering. 

As had been the case this year, Barberton took whatever was presented to them and made the best of the situation and succeeded.  The racing was great and the Modified feature - trimmed to 30 laps and $700 to win - was an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride for fans.  Joe Shannon barely held off the persistant challenges of Foster Mackey to win, as the Modified run was fever pitched the entire distance with Steve Klinect, John White and Mike Lawson added elements to the fray that saw spins, tempers and black flags. 

Steve Klinect's sharp and mean looking Modified, post race in the pits at Barberton.  Klinect had better fortunes the following night at Sandusky, winning the feature

Rick Sibila's successful season start continued, taking control early and going on to claim the Late Model checkered, less than a week after his Midvale win.  Sibila led Barberton pro Gary Whipkey. 

Rick Sibila in victory lane after his Barberton win last Friday

Never afraid to try the new and unconventional, Francis and Ripley added a 15-lap, $250 to win/$50 to start Dash for Cash, featuring the top four finishing Late Models and Modifieds in their respective features.  With the Modifieds lined up in front, Scott Baker wasted no time, driving like a banshee in the Jeff Taylor #39 Late Model to wrest the lead from the Modified trio in front of him.  Baker cruised to the win over Whipkey in the Francis #33, leading the Modified frantic duo of Shannon and Mackey, who kept John Ambose, Jr. in the Mike Mazzagatti #87 Late Model, a frustrated fifth, as all three were under a blanket. 

The Dan Shannon owned trio of Shannon, Klinect and White were invovled in dust-ups in both the Modified and Dash for Cash events, that had fans abuzz in the grandstands and crew members squabbling pit side.  It's nice to see the Barberton magic continue.  

Hobby Stock cars take a break in the action at BRP.

Oh that tight Barberton track!  Too tough to tame, with apologies to Darlington.

Stock Car Racing Round-Up

Weekend results from around the area.....

  • At Midvale, Bryant Smith led brother Bubba to the Late Model feature win.  A rough first week saw a lower car count in the Late Models this past Saturday, going from 21 to 15.  Lee McCreery won in the Modifieds.
  • Rick Sibila picked up the Late Model win at Barberton over Gary Whipkey, Mike Mazzagatti, and Scott Baker.  Joe Shannon won the special Modified Invitational over Forest Mackey, while Mark Lushes took the Sportsman win.
  • The Ohio Late Model Series had race number 2 at Sandusky, Saturday, May 12, and Mazzagatti took his template Late Model to the half-mile and claimed his biggest win.  Dustin Hayes, Norm Taylor and Brian Short completed the top four.  Steve Klinect took the Modified win.
  • Mercer had the All Star Sprints Saturday, wwith Tim Shaffer winning over Danny Holtgraver, Dale Blaney and Ed Lynch, Jr.  Andy Buckley took the Stock prize.
  • Two Super Late Model features were on the card at Roaring Knob, one a make-up rained out test.  Jared Hawkins took the make-up over Tim Senic, while Chuck Harper won the other over Senic.  In the FASTRAK NE Late Model feature, Nolan Dalton took the victory over Ryan Montgomery, John Over and Troy Shields.
  • At Wayne County Speedway, Danny Mumaw won in the 410 Sprints over Andrew Palker, while 26 Super Late Models were on hand, with Warren, PA's Ron Davies making the trip worthwhile with his win over Shane McLouglin, Keith Berner and Corey Conley.
  • Raceway 7 saw car counts climb on their second night, and 18 year old Chad Wright claimed his first Raceway 7 feature in the FASTRAK NE Late Models. Wright's win was over some tough competition, Billy Henry, Jr., Max Blair, and Kyle Zimmerman.
  • FASTRAK NE Late Model Weekly action continued the next night at Sharon, as Will Thomas made it two in a row at the track, as he came out on top of a thrilling, and unexpected, last lap pass over Dave Airgood, who was last week's Raceway 7 winner.    Matt Latta, Billy Henry, Jr.(from 12th) and Chad Wright(from 10th) followed.  Kevin Bolland got his 20th career win at Sharon in the DIRT Big Block Modifieds over Rex King, Rex King, Jr., and Dave Murdick.  It was Jack Young in the EMods over Joel Watson, while Tim Burns won in the Stocks over Shaun Hooks.
  • Friday at Lernerville, winners were Carl Bowser(Sprints), Chub Frank(Late Models), and Dave Murdick(DIRT Big Block Modifieds).
  • Hilltop had 27 Late Models, with George Lee coming out on top, with Ryan Markham and Charlie Duncan second and third.
  • Lucas Oil Late Models had two dates over the weekend, with Don O'Neal in a sweep.  O'Neal won Friday at Hartford, MI over Eric Wells, Austin Hubbard and Earl Pearson, Jr., while on Saturday at LaSalle, IL, O'Neal bested Jimmy Owens, Brian Birkhofer and Steve Francis.
  • At Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Motor Speedway, it was lights out, as electrical problems cancelled the features.
  • FASTRAK NE Touring went to Eriez, with Max Blair winning, and his dad, Robbie taking the Super Late Model win at the track.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Asphalt to Dirt in no time flat....

Well, that didn't take long.

Will Thomas had been successfully racking up wins and Point Championships on the Western PA and Western NY asphalt circuit for quite some time.  The 36 year old Hermitage, Pa native not only has a multitude of wins at Lake Erie, Motordrome and Holland, but also the '06 and '07 MAARA Crowns, and the '08, '09, and '10 Track Championship at Lake Erie Speedway.

Thomas, who comes from a racing family, looked at what was going on at the FASTRAK NE Series, both weekly and Touring aspects of the succesful dirt track sanctioning body.  It's a tightly run ship compared to many a race track and sanction, and Thomas liked the strict enforcement of rules, regulations, procedures and conduct.  Towards the latter half of last season, Thomas made the switch from asphalt to dirt, and many eyes were on him.  It was a limited schedule as Thomas acclimated himself to an all new kind of racing.  It takes talent to make a swtch, be it asphalt to dirt, or dirt to asphalt. 

Early this season, Thomas was having some impressive runs.  Then came Saturday, May 5 at Sharon Speedway when Thomas took his first dirt track feature win.  And it came the hard way.  Thomas was lined up in eighth on the grid, and was surrounded by FASTRAK NE heavy hitters, including Joe Martin starting on pole, defending Sharon FASTRAK NE Point Champion Josh Double starting fourth, and opening day feature winner George Kowatic in ninth.  The feature was a crowd pleasing affair, as Martin and Thomas put on a rousing duel for the lead, with Thomas getting control on the 18th circuit of the 20 lapper.  Double and Kowatic were in the mix to challenge at any time, as Thomas took his maiden dirt win over Double, Martin and Kowatic. 

Thomas plans to run the FASTRAK NE Touring schedule, along with weekly shows at Raceway 7 and Sharon.  He appears not to have skipped a beat from his impressive asphalt days.

Will Thomas savors his first dirt track feature win at Sharon, 5/5/12, after a very successful asphalt resume'.

Stock Car Racing Round-Up

It was kind of a busy week here, so no posts until today.  Some good racing got in last weekend, Friday being hit and miss, but a beautiful Saturday greeting race fans all over the area.

  • Last Friday, the FASTRAK NE Touring Series was set for Dog Hollow, along with the tracks regular program, including Super Late Models.  Over 30 cars in each division showed up, and just as racing was nearing, the skies opened up.  The FASTRAK NE Touring event has been reset for Friday, June 8.
  • With rain everywhere in W. PA, it was something of a miracle that Lernerville Speedway got their entire show in.  Stopped there on the way back from Dog Hollow, and saw the finish of the Sprint feature, and the Super Lates and Sportsman.  Pete Miller III celebrated his 21st birthday with his Sprint win, after a close encounters duel with Ed Lynch Jr. that left Lynch sidelined and towed to the pits.  The Super Lates and Big Block Modifieds both saw some carnage, as Jared Miley won over Garrett Krummert in the Super Lates, and Jeremiah Shingledecker took the Mods.
  • FASTRAK NE Late Models did get the show in at Raceway 7 Friday, with Dave Airgood taking the win over Billy Henry, Kyle Zimmerman, Bob Craig and Matt Latta.  In the EMods, it was Russ Dunn over Mike Kinney.
  • Barberton Raceway Park waited out a rain delay Friday, and got the program in, that has seen Late Model car counts climb each week.  Former track hot shot, John Ambose Jr. made a statement with his return, winning in the Mike Mazzagotti owned car.  Following Ambrose was Don Harvey, Jr., Brad Channell, Rick Sibila, and Mike Miller.  Starting to sound like the Barberton of yore.  Johnny Buckshot took the Sportsman win, Ken Price in Hobby Stock, Tim Farrar, Compacts, and Dan Burden in Mini-Trucks.  Tonight, 5/11, Modifieds return to the tight quarter mile for a 100 lap, $1,000 to win affair. 
  • Midvale Speedway finally got their season underway Saturday, and as is Midvale tradition, controversy ensued.  The Bryant Smith/Doug McMillen dust up continued into the new season, with McMillen again getting the worst of it.  Meanwhile, 21 Late Models showed up with Marcus Malcuit the fastest at 14.571.  When all was said and done, Rick Sibila showed the form of his dad, Bob, winning the feature contest over Blake Mackey, Rich Dessecker, Bubba Smith and Mike Miller.  In the Modifieds, it was Randy Smart over '11 Point Champ Dave Dobbins and Doug Myer. 
  • The Ohio Late Model Series kicked off at Sandusky Speedway last Saturday, with round two this Saturday at the track,  Brian Short got the win over John Sandquist, Jr., Ryan Kirkpatrick and John Sandquist, Sr.
  • At Pittsburgh's Pennslyvania Motor Speedway, the ULMS/UFO Penn National 51 for Super Lates, went to Gregg Satterlee over Keith Barbara, Alex Ferree, Jared Miley and Jason Covert.  A strong FASTRAK NE field had Andrew Satterlee take the win over Tommy Schirnhofer, Jr., Dan Angelicchio, Ron Hall and Colton Flinner.
  • At Mercer, it was Rod George in the Sprints and Frank Guidace in the 358 Modifieds.
  • In Columbus it was Chad Pendleton winning over Bobby Justus in the Late Models.
  • Hilltop had bulging pits with 166 cars registered, including 53 for the Renegades of Dirt Modifieds and 33 Late Models.  Lance Elson bested the huge Modified field over Tyler Carpenter and Nick Hoffman, while George Lee won the Late Model main over K C Burdette, Corey Conley and Devin Moran.
  • The Eriez Speedway Sunday extravanza saw Ron Davies survive for the Super Late Model win over Mike Knight and Greg Johnson.  FASTRAK NE Late Model pilot Billy Henry won that feature over Chad Wright, Bob Dorman, Jamie Brown and Max Blair.
  • Other rainouts included Wayne County, and Roaring Knob, after the Charger feature.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

On The Racing Card This Week

FASTRAK NE Touring Series heads to round three at Dog Hollow Speedway Friday evening May 4, in Strongstown, PA.  The highly competitive, Hoosier tired, GM Crate engined series saw it's top two drivers win the opening two rounds at Roaring Knob, Max Blair April 1, and Mike Pegher, Jr. two weeks ago.  As is the case with FASTRAK, any one of several drivers could walk away with the win, so the question is, who will be next to add their name to the Touring Series win list.  Expect another full field.

The Ohio Late Model Series kicks off it's season this Saturday, May 5 at Sandusky Speedway for template bodied asphalt Late Models.  The OLMS is kind of a continuation of the Bounty Series of a couple years ago.  Several of the cars competed in the TBRA Series last year.  The Tom Fares, Sr. helmed TBRA has essentially become a Pennsylvania Series, while OLMS is concentrated in Ohio.  Sandusky is getting the bulk of the OLMS dates with stops at Midvale, Barberton, and Lake County (Painesville).  Longtime asphalt race director/promoter Nick Guirukis, along with Sandusky's Kevin Jaycox are at the helm of the series and are quite bullish on it.  CRA cars could easily run the Series, and a few have sent queries.  Some drivers may also try their hand in both the OLMS and TBRA.  A decent field of cars at Sandusky is a strong possibilty, and would bode well for the Ohio Late Model Series.  

Wayne County Speedway continues its renaissance with their Friday night shows, under the watchful eyes of Jason and Kristin Flory.  This week brings their first special, as the Renegades of Dirt Modifieds travel to the 3/8 mile oval for a $1500 to win affair. The Renegades join weekly staples 410 Sprints, Super Late Models, Modifieds and Pure Stocks.  Mark your calendars for Friday, May 25, when the World of Outlaws Late Models travel to the Orrville, OH facility.

Will this finally be the week Midvale Speedway gets in its' 2012 opener?  Twice now a victim of cold and wet weather, fans are anxious not only for some racing, but to see the latest improvements owners Randy and Sue Smith have done to the facility over the winter.  The Smith's are turning Midvale into a showplace, and each year more oohs and aahs are heard at the one third mile race track.  Double points await all divisions this Saturday - Late Models, Modifieds, Pure Stocks and Compacts.

After three consecutive Saturday rain-outs, race fans in the Mahoning and Shenango Valley are chomping at the bit for some racing action. And speaking of showplaces, you would be hard pressed to top Sharon.  Modern, state-of-the-art facitilties greet fans and competitors alike.  Concessions, restrooms, safety crews are second to none at the legendary track. The successful "Steel Valley Thunder" program continues, with DIRT Big Block Modifieds, FASTRAK Late Models, E-Mods, Stocks, EconoMods, and Mini-Stocks.

Raceway 7 opens the curtain on their 2012 season this Friday evening at the Dan McDonald owned 3/8 mile dirt oval.  The Conneaut, OH track's successful program conitnues with FASTRAK Late Models, E-Mods, Stocks, and Mini-Stocks.  Later in the season, Super Late Models return, June 15 and August 17.    Raceway 7 has an attractive $10. adult admission.                                                                                                                                              


Racing Round Up

Rain has played havoc on racing this spring, especially merciless on Saturday shows.  Fridays have been hit and miss, and that cold snap didn't help.  A few of last weekends highlights:

  • Toledo Speedway, 7-Up Twin 100s.  Sunday afternoon, April 29 saw 60 Late Models at the high banked paved 1/2 mile.  Thirty-five entered the ARCA/CRA Super Series Late Model Tour for Template Late Models.  Brian Campbell bested the field over Boris Jurkovic, Johnny VanDoorn, Alec Carll, and Becca Kasten, up from 25th starting slot.  The ARCA Allegiant Gold Cup Late Model Series for Outlaw Late Models saw 25 entrants, with Terry Senneker dominating, over Steve Needles, Mike Root, fast timer J.R. Roarhig and Dakota Carlson.
  • Dirt fans have been itching for a local Late Model show, as Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Motor Speedway and Sharon Speedway have been beset with Saturday rainouts, Sharon three in a row.  Pittsburgh has gone with a Sunday rain date starting one hour earlier and got a show in last Sunday.  Michael Norris picked up the Super Late Model win over John Garvin, Keith Barbara, Tony Musolino and Daryl Charlier.  The Pro Late/FASTRAK Late Models saw Garvin win his his crate car, over Kyle Lukon, Tommy Schirnhofer, Will Thomas in only his second PPMS start, and Laura Lukon.
  • Wayne County Speedway continued it's successful ways in last Friday's four division show on the 3/8 mile dirt.  Caleb Helms took the Sprint feature over Cole Duncan.  In the Super Lates, it was Shane McLoughlin picking up the win over Corey Conley, George Lee, Ryan Markham, and Rick Bond.
  • Kil-Kare Speedway down Dayton way raced Friday also, with Justin Alsip winning in the Late Models.  Interesting little note, both Friday paved tracks - Kil-Kare and Barberton - each had eight cars in Late Models, but a Sibila entered in each.  Bobby finished second at K-K, while Rick, in promoter Jake Francis' car after his own #63 broke early, finished 6th. 
  • Friday night hallmark, Lernerville's Fab Four show had winners Brian Ellenberger (Sprints), Kevin Bolland(DIRT Mods), Gregg Satterlee(Super Lates) and Carey McPherson(Sportsman).

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Welcome to the new Barberton Raceway Park

Made my first visit of the season to Barberton Raceway Park last Friday, April 29.  The improvements implemented by new young owner Jake Francis are immediately apparent, from the freshly painted and spruced-up buildings, new bleacher seating, and the smooth, all-new paved racing surface on the unique 1/4 mile track.  The overall look is crisp and clean.

Despite a very cold night, a decent crowd showed up for the NASCAR Wheelen All-American Series program.  And even with some low car counts, the racing was exciting and close in the six division program. 

Fast qualifyer Don Harvery, Jr. took the Late Model feature win in his immaculately prepared #112.  Harvey led Dave Martin and Mike Mazzagotti - a late arrival who started scratch - to the checkered.
Don Harvey, Jr pulls into Victory Lane after winning the Late Model feature at Barberton Raceway Park

Barberton did a smart and clever thing, combining the Sportsman and Hobby Stocks into one feature.  All the Sportsman cars started at the tail, having to weave their way through the Hobby Stock field.  Sportsman point leader Johnny Buckshot took the win.  Dennis Wood was the Hobby Stock winner, in fourth.

It was Twin State Auto Racing Club Night at Barberton last Friday.  Gene Leamer presents Pure Stock (Compact) feature winner Tim Farrar with a club plaque and decal.  All feature winners received the same.  Farrar and Randy Cecil provided much of the night's excitement in the full field of Pure Stocks

All in all, a great experience at Barberton - good racing, and a lot of it too... over 20 races.  We are hoping car counts grow a bit in the coming weeks, and they should. 

Twin State's Terri Wertz presents Legend feature winner Larry Young club awards as he poses with track trophy

Oh, by the way, Barberton concessions merit an A+ - items like stuffed pepper soup, salisbury steak and mashed potatoes, and actual good hot dogs, among the many other items. 

Mini-Truck winner Dan Burden being congratulated by Twin State Auto Racing Club's Leamer

Barberton Raceway Park - the little track that could!