Thursday, April 26, 2012

FASTRAK NE Touring Series

FASTRAK NE Touring had their second race of the Touring season on Friday, April 20 at Roaring Knob, in a double header with the Lucas Oil Super Late Models.  Another impressive field - 42 cars - showed up for the growing Crate Engine/Hoosier Tire Series.  Close racing with a field of compeitive cars make fans happy, while a seemingly endless array of contingency awards/money, fair pay-offs throughout the pits, and a strictly enforced rules/procedures/rules of conduct policy keeps drivers/owners content.

A good example of all of that - rules enforcement, fan excitement, and monetary reward - was found Friday at Roaring Knob, as George Kowatic won the third of five heats.  Kowatic failed to weigh in after his win, and was promptly disqualified.  The penalty relegated Kowatic to the tail of the second B-Main.  Kowatic then zoomed his way through the B-Main in exciting fashion to claim the win, transfering him to the feature with a 22nd starting berth.  He then proceded to thread his way through the feature field, finishing eighth and earning the $100 Precise Racing Products' "Pedal Down" Hard Charger Award gift card, given to the driver who most improved his position in the feature.

FASTRAK NE standout Mike Pegher, Jr. won the 25 lap feature over an impressive Justin Tatlow of Western New York.  Tatlow has indicated a desire to follow the Touring Series this year, and after two races, finds himself ninth in points.  Defending Champion Max Blair was third followed by Butch Lambert, Kyle Thomas, Josh Holtgraver - back in action after being sidelined in the opener due to two broken legs - and Dan Angelicchio. 

Mike Pegher, Jr. in Victory Lane at Roaring Knob's FASTRAK NE Touring race 4/20

Touring Race, Round Three, this Friday, 4/27 at Dog Hollow Speedway.

Touring Points after two events:

1.  Max Blair  68
2.  Butch Lambert  59
3.  George Kowatic  58
4.  Mike Pegher, Jr.  54
5.  Damian Bidwell  52
6.  Dan Angelicchio  51
7.  Chad Ruhlman  49
8.  Ryan Montgomery  48
9.  Justin Tatlow  45
10. John Over  42
11. Joe Martin  41
12. Will Thomas  38

Dan Angelicchio, night pit scene at Roaring Knob

Pre-race calm for Pegher's #1C at the Knob

Dan Angelicchio, winner of the K&N Dash for FASTRAK NE Touring at Roaring Knob

2011 FASTRAK NE Touring Champion, Max Blair, finds himself atop the standings after two races in 2012

Justin Tatlow had an impressive second place FASTRAK NE finish at Roaring Knob 4/20

Ryan Montgomery, 2011 Future's Cup Champion, pre-race prep at Roaring Knob

Lucas Oil Super Late Models

Lucas Oil Super Late Models invaded the picturesque Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex Friday, April 20.  An impressive field of 42 cars were on hand for the 50 lap $10,000 to win feature.  Josh Richards set fast time, but a rare mis-cue in his heat relegated him to the B-Main, where Richards' fans experienced a nail-biter with his third place/final cut off transfer spot finish. 

The feature saw fifth place starter Scott Bloomquist and seventh place started Jimmy Owens quickly take control of the event.  What was shaping up into a robust affair through lapped traffic was curtailed with a caution at the five-to-go point. 

Bloomquist led the final five go-rounds with Owens ready for any opening.  Following the duo at the finish were Dale McDowell, Earl Pearson, Jr., Tyler Reddick, Tim Senic, a from the rear Richards, John Blankenship, Jeremy Miller, and Dennis Erb, Jr. 

Austin Dillon's crew preps for Lucas Oil feature at Roaring Knob

Josh Richards settles in for the Lucas Oil Super Late Model feature at Roaring Knob

Winner Scott Bloomquist's #0 prior to feature
The following night's Lucas Oil event at Hagerstown was rained out.
Barberton Raceway Park opened a new era last Friday, April 20 as promoter Jake Francis debuted a myriad of improvements at the historic 1/4 mile oval.  Francis, flanked by co-owner Jim Ripley and Norton mayor Mike Zita celebrated the improvements with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Now with a NASCAR sanction, widened backstretch, complete re-paving, reburbished bleachers and up-dated facilities, the track has a renewed energy, largely courtesy of the 22 year old Francis.

A huge crowd turned out for the opener, laying to rest any doubts that a switch to Friday night from Saturday night racing may have had.

Barberton veteran, former Main Event Series Champion and Super Late Model stand-out, Gary Whipkey returned to his Barberton roots and showed his wiley ways on the tight track claiming the Late Model feature.  Whipkey was wheeling the Jeff Taylor #39, and Taylor is expected to be in the car this week.  Following Whipkey was another Barberton pro, Don Harvey, Jr., Rich Marcum, and Barberton vets Doug Sommers and Gene Molnar. 

Mark Lushes took an emotional win in the Sportsman feature.  Lushes' father, Richard Lushes - former owner of Barberton and long time racing fixture - passed away unexpectedly last year, immediately after the 2011 opener.

Car counts are expected to climb at the track, as reports coming in indicate several were not ready for the opener. 

Barberton has a long and storied history, and some of the best Late Model drivers got their start and cut their teeth at the unique little track.  In addition to Whipkey and Harvey, you can add Scott Baker, Tim Ice, Roger Black, the Millers - Bob, Mike and Paul -, John Crumrine, Bud Middaugh, Roy Gemberling and many more - either as having Barberton roots or having successful stints at the track.

Barberton hot shot from the '60s, Bud Middaugh


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Coming Up...

  1. FASTRAK NE Touring race Fri., 4/20 at Roaring Knob.  Double header with Lucas Oil Super Late Models.
  2. The greatly anticipated grand-opening of the reburbished Barberton Raceway Park, thanks to enthusiastic and young promoter Jake Francis.  Fri., April 20.
  3. Season opener at Wayne County Speedway, Fri., 4/20.  Continue to watch the resurgence under the direction of Jason and Kristin Flory.
  4. Opening night of "Fab Four" racing at Lernerville, 4/20.
  5. ULMS Super Lates and Open Stock Invasion at Sharon on Sat., April 21.
  6. Midvale Speedway season opener.  Tom and Sue Smith continue to invest in the 1/3 mile paved speed plant.  See what's new Sat., 4/21.
  7. Pro-Late Sizzler and full Action Event at PPMS Sat., 4/21.

Nostalgia rules for a day...

Twin State Auto Racing Club had their Retired Drivers/Movie Party get together on 4/15.  Lots of bench racing and trips down memory lane.  Memorabilia galore thanks to Diz Dean, and stacks of photo albums courtesy of John Stasiak.  Among the many luminaries, those that touched my nostalgic heart included Wimpy May, Gus Iacozili, Jeep Iacabucci, Lou Gentile, Bob Axe, Bill Bannick, and Jerry Bickle.  It was very nice seeing Don Gamble of Speedway Productions.

O. J. Tucker brought his restored '57 Chevy Stocker.

Chuck Dillon brought this restore Midget

The tip of the iceberg of John Stasiak's extensive photo collection.

Diz Dean brought just a portion of his highly detailed models.
Two cool highlights were two restored racers on display in the parking lot at the Lordstown, OH Administration Building.  O. J. Tucker brought his '57 Chevy Stock Car, and Chuck Dillon displayed a restored Midget, representing the Vintage American Race Car group. 

Motordrome opener...

Motordrome Speedway opened last Friday, and it was a good show for the 1/2 mile asphalt facility in Smithton, PA.  I hadn't been to the track since the mid-70s when it was dirt, and was impressed with the grounds and the well run and quickly paced program.

Met promoter/manager Stan Lasky for the first time.  A very gracious man and hands-on operator.  It was pretty cool parking in the infield and spending the evening there, and in the infield pits.  Friendly and ready to help track officials were a bonus.  An elevated platform made viewing the races easy.  Made the trip there with well known racing photographers Jim Balentine, Jr., and Frank Wilson.

The 50 lap Late Model feature was a close affair that went down to the wire with Bobby Henry winning over a quickly closing team mate Garry Wiltrout - both in Baker Race Cars -, with Barry Awtey on Wiltrout's bumper. 

Bobby Henry took the Late Model opener at Motordrome.

Garry Wiltrout caught team mate Henry, and threatened for the win.

Late Models entering the track for feature time at Motordrome.

Baker house car, piloted by Steve Black finished fourth.
Motordrome is one of the key links in the 2012 TBRA Series, which has four stops at the track - May 18, June 22, Aug. 3, and Sept. 7-8.  TBRA has an interesting history in it's relatively short existance, and I'll be looking at that soon here.

Kowatic wins Sharon opener

George Kowatic in victory lane at Sharon Speedway's opening FASTRAK Late Model feature April 7.

Kowatic, season opener FASTRAK winner at Sharon.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A new stock car racing blog....

Josh Double, 2011 Sharon Speedway FASTRAK Late Model Point Champion
Drew Charlson, Sandusky Main Event, 5/11
With the demise of so many racing papers, and I feel a confusing array of websites, I've decided to give blogging a whirl.  This blog will concentrate on stock car racing in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and surrounding areas, with possibly a few asides to NASCAR.  After 50 years of going to races, I have discovered that I enjoy both dirt and asphalt racing equally, with the simple premise of, I love racing. 
Jimmy Carter, Main Event winner at Midvale, 7/1/11

FASTRAK NE at McKean County, 8/18/11
Of course the popular sentiment is, that you either like one or the other.  We've all seen the T-Shirts - "Asphalt is for Racing, Dirt is for planting Potatoes", "Dirt is for Racing, Asphalt is for getting There".  Well, it's all racing, it's all good, and most of it is pretty darn exciting.  So I guess I'm going to challenge that entrenched feeling out there of many race fans of closing off half of the sport, and take in the entire spectrum of local stock car racing.  There's nothing like the feeling of pulling up to a racetrack and looking forward to the night's events, be it dirt or asphalt.    Hope you come along for the ride.
Scott Baker, Main Event, Columbus, 9/25/11

Terry Senneker, Main Event XXIV winner at Columbus, 9/25/11
Jeep VanWormer prepping at Eldora for the World 100, 9/11
With the 2012 season having just gotten underway, these are a few highlights of the 2011 season.....

Max Blair (3rd), Mike Pegher, Jr. (1st), and Josh Holtgraver (2nd) at FASTRAK Grand National at Dog Hollow, 10/9/11
Scott Bloomquist, World 100, 9/11