Friday, June 29, 2012

Rick Sibila - Blast From The Past

My new hero in Ohio asphalt racing is quickly becoming Rick Sibila.  Sibila (and his brother Bobby for that matter, who runs in Western OH and IN) possesses the race ethic of days gone by: hands-on involvement in car prep, a willingness to attack any track, and not afraid to run two or more tracks a week.  In a day where it is increasingly common - especially in the asphalt ranks - to run only once a week, Sibila is but a handful of racers seemingly running as often as he can. 

And Sibila is having the kind of year that careers are made of, tearing up the tracks at Barberton on Friday, and Midvale on Saturday. He has closed the gap in Barberton points, in third, and has three feature wins at the tricky track that so many are afraid of.  He is currently leading points at the Smith family showcase, Midvale Speedway, and just recorded his second feature win there last Saturday, a day after winning at Barberton. 

Sibila's penchant for good driving and hard work come naturally, a combination of his parents, driving legend dad Bob Sibila and mom Rindi.

Catch his driving talents weekly at Barberton, Midvale, or quite possibly, a track near you.

Sibila's Skulltastic Spoiler

A common sight this year, Rick Sibila and Victory Lane

FASTRAK NE's storybook night

It was kind of like a Hollywood script.  One of FASTRAK NE Touring's most prestigious races is the Gary Knollinger Memorial, this year at Sharon Speedway on June 25, topped by a 30 lap, $2,000 to win feature.  Knollinger was a tough FASTRAK competitor who loved the series and was the epitome of sportsmanship and professionalism.  When Knollinger lost his life the result of a traffic accident in December, 2010, the loss was felt across the racing community. 

Such was Knollinger's impact and persona a force at FASTRAK NE, a special award was instituted to be given at thier annual Award Banquets, the Gary Knollinger Memorial Golden Award.  Recipient of the innaugural award was Joe Martin, a competitor who mirrors Knollinger's qualities.  No matter the situation, Martin's low key demeanor and integrity are front and center.  Martin said the award meant more to him than any other award he had received. 

The 2012 season had been anything but kind to Martin entering Sharon's Memorial race, having only one top five Touring finish out of seven events, an unusual state of affairs for the driver of the black and yellow Wylie Chassis #55.  Things were to change for him on this special night, as he promptly dominated his qualifying heat, then proceeded to a flag to flag win in the feature.  After a side by side duel with Andrew Satterlee in the early going, Martin regrouped and cruised to a convincing win, being met in victory lane by Gary Knollinger's parents, Gary Sr. and Bev. 

As if that wasn't enough, Knollinger's longtime friend and fellow competitor, Joel Prosser showed up at Sharon with a special paint job on his #77.  The right side was emblazened with the look and number - 38K - of his friend Gary's racer.  Prosser led the four-wide salute at the start of the feature.  Prosser's night, however, looked dim as he failed to qualify for the main event.  Things turned around though, as Prosser went on to win the Non-Qualifiers feature, and over some stout competition including a couple of New Jersey front runners.
Prosser met Gary's parents in victory lane, in what was another emotional moment at the track that evening.

The starting line-up for the FASTRAK NE Gary Knolinger Memorial at Sharon Speedway

Joe Martin holding the special Gary Knollinger Memorial trophy following his FASTRAK NE Touring win at Sharon Speedway

Joel Prosser celebrates his Non-Qualifier Feature win in style at the FASTRAK NE Gary Knollinger Memorial at Sharon, as FASTRAK NE/Sharon flagman Todd Beichner looks on approvingly.  Prosser's graphics on his racer pay tribute to his friend's #38K.

Joining Joel Prosser in victory lane following his Gary Knollinger Memorial NQ feature win are Gary's parents, Bev and Gary Sr. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Main Event Rolls Into Barberton Friday, June 15

I'm not afraid to admit it, one of my favorite races is when the Main Event Racing Series comes rolling into Barberton Raceway Park.  The tight confines of the quarter mile track is a challenge to any driver, while also producing some of the best drivers around who honed their skills on the unforgiving paperclip. 

Freshly paved and preened this year, with about 15 extra feet of width on the backstretch, the track looks deserving of it's new NASCAR pedigree.  That 15 feet will be welcome space for many, but the infamous turn four will still be waiting to snatch whatever dreams are in sight. 

I've seen out-of-state drivers seem to be in shock at their first look of the legendary track.  Some have taken to it quickly and with success, while others never seem to get used to the tight turns.  When the Outlaw Super Late Models of the touring Main Event Series comes to the town, magic hits the Magic City track.  The thunderous noise of the low slung chariots cause earthquake-like shuddering in the bleachers.  The lightning fast speeds down the straighaways which come to an almost sudden halt as the tight corners approach, cause the red glow of brake systems often and early. 

Some abhor the place, some choose to ignore it.  But more - the brave, the fearless, the skilled - choose to conquer it.  I embrace it.

This Friday, June 15.  100 laps, $2500 to win.  MERS.  Barberton Raceway Park.

The view most competitors have gotten of Harold Fair, Jr. this year in the Main Event Series.  Winner last week at Shady Bowl, and current point leader.  Barberton awaits.

Consistency has paid off for Jack Varney, Jr. this year in the Main Event Series.  Second last week at Shady Bowl, Varney is also currently second in point standings. 

Current MERS Points

  1. Harold Fair Jr. 591
  2. Jack Varney Jr. 550
  3. Bud Perry 544
  4. Shawn Stroble 497
  5. Donnie Hill 471
  6. Nick Grodi 469
  7. Marcus Malcuit 446
  8. Jeremy Dennis 444
  9. Scott Drake 426
  10. John Stoble 414



Max Blair in his #111 has always been one of the drivers to beat in the FASTRAK NE Touring Series, but this season Blair has been making a shambles of the competition.  Last Friday the 8th, Dog Hollow Speedway was the sixth stop on the 2012 Tour, and it was Blair winning his fifth Tour race of the year, his fourth in a row.  The 22 year old from Centerville, PA has overwhelmed his competition, and it is certainly not a group to be taken lightly.  Despite extremely strong fields this year, with proven winners throughout, Blair is amassing what could become a magical season.  In racing, things can change abruptly, but so far Blair has done no wrong. 

His latest victory was over rival Mike Pegher, Jr., with Andrew Satterlee, Ryan Montgomery and Dan Angelicchio the impressive names following. 

Blair is building his point lead over Butch Lambert and Chad Ruhlman, now 228 to 189, as Lambert and Ruhlman are tied in second.  Rounding out the top five, and tied for fourth, are Pegher and Montgomery with 178 each. 

This weekend the FASTRAK NE Touring Series heads to McKean County Speedway on Saturday, the 16th.  You can be sure, all eyes will be on Blair. 

Andrew Satterlee in post race tech following his third place finish at Dog Hollow in the FASTRAK NE Touring race
Ryan Montgomery also in post race tech.  Montgomery came home fourth at Dog Hollow, and his currently tied with Mike Pegher Jr., for fourth place in FASTRAK NE  Touring points

Max Blair in vicory lane at Dog Hollow, where he picked up his fifth FASTRAK NE Touring race of the season, his fourth in a row


Racing Updates

Some quick notes from around the area....

  • Rick Sibila is having quite the season so far, and last weekend notched his second feature win at Barberton Friday, while finishing in the runner-up spot at Midvale on Saturday where he is the current Late Model point leader. 
  • It was Jeff Taylor following Sibila at Barberton with Mike Mazzagatti and Gary Whipkey in third and fourth.  Late Model point standings show Don Harvey Jr. still leading the way with 559, as Taylor Racing 541, Sibila 442, Mazzagatti 379 and Dave Martin 318 round out the top five.  The Modifieds returned to Barberton's tricky quarter mile for stop number two of the track's Ohio State 500 for the division.  Car count increased last week from their first appearance, but was still low.  Not sure what these guys want, but I thought they wanted to race.  Guess I was wrong.  Twin 35's were held rather than the 100 lapper, and Matt Marlowe won both rounds.  John White and Foster Mackey followed in the first, while it was Tigh Shaffer and Mike Bowers rounding the top three in the second.  Modified points see Mackey leading with 73 over Stephen Klinect 71, Joe Shannon 70 and Roger Miller 67. 
  • At Midvale, it was Jimmy Carter getting the Late Model win over Sibila and two time winner Mark Willison.  Sibila's 450 points lead the Smith brothers, Bryant with 408 and Bubba at 401, while Jonathan Reitter 384 and Ron Jaberg Jr. 379 complete the top five. 
  • Raceway 7 had a large field of FASTRAK NE Late Models on hand last Friday, warranting three heats.  Dave Airgood claimed his second feature win, over Bryan Salisbury, Josh Double, Will Thomas, Mike Mitchell, Matt Latta, Billy Henry and Josh Holtgraver.  Henry is leading points with 278, followed by Latta 251, Mitchell 239, Kyle Zimmerman 238 and Bill Cunningham Sr. 236.  This Friday, the 15th, Raceway 7 has Super Late Models added to the program for a $2000 to win feature. 
  • At Sharon on Saturday, Will Thomas cruised to his third feature of the year at the track, singing the track's praises in victory lane.  Thomas has made the transition from asphalt to dirt look easy, and in quick fashion.  Thomas took the win over Matt Latta, and the two head up the point standings with 236 and 209 respectively.  Bobby Whitling, Jr. 153, Josh Double 144 and George Kowatic 144 round the top five. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Main Event Racing Series

The Main Event Racing Series got their second race into the record books last Saturday at Columbus Motor Speedway, as the Series conitinued it's successful start of the season.  Another full field of competitve Asphalt Outlaw Super Late Models showed up to do battle on the almost circular Columbus third mile.  Last year's Champion, Bud Perry took the win over Harold Fair, Jr., Jack Varney, Jr., Justin Schroeder, Jamie Hunt, Marcus Malcuit and Shawn Stroble. 

The MERS rolls into Shady Bowl Speedway this Saturday, June 9 for another 75 lap, $2000 to win affair.  Then another hang-on-to-your-hat track comes but six days later, as the thundering, rumbling, low slung chariots take on the quarter mile paperclip of Barberton Raceway Park for a 100 lap fest worth $2500 to the winner.  Don't miss it.

Current Point Standings in the Main Event Racing Series:
  1. Justin Schroeder 396
  2. Harold Fair, Jr. 389
  3. Bud Perry 386
  4. Shawn Stroble 353
  5. Jack Varney, Jr. 350
  6. Donnie Hill 326
  7. Marcus Malcuit 296
  8. Nick Grodi 291
  9. Jimmy Carter 285
  10. Jeremy Dennis 266
Bud Perry, Main Event Racing Series winner at Columbus, 6/2/12

Current Main Event Racing Series point leader, Justin Schroeder


The FASTRAK NE Touring Series continues its ambitious schedule this Friday, June 8 at Dog Hollow Speedway.  The Strongstown, PA oval will be making up the Touring stop that was rained out on May 4.  Expect another impressive field of the Crate-engined Late Models that have been putting on some of the best racing around.  Co-directors Vicki Emig and Mike Leone run a tight ship and it shows, with full fields of competitve racers and for the most part, a pit full of satisfied customers. 

The most recent stop for the Touring Series was at Sharon Speedway for the Bill Emig Memorial Wild Card Weekend.  Max Blair continued his winning ways picking up the feature win on the opening night of the double-header, while rains came to the Hartford, OH facitlity the following evening, after the preliminaries were run.  The race will be made up when the Touring Series returns to the first class speedplant on August 18 for a rare double feature night of Touring races, making for a high-stakes night of strategy.

Current FASTRAK NE Touring Series points:
  1. Max Blair 193
  2. Butch Lambert 166
  3. Chad Ruhlman 163
  4. Ryan Montgomery 146
  5. John Over 146
  6. Mike Pegher, Jr. 144
  7. Nolan Dalton 130
  8. Dan Angelicchio 121
  9. Will Thomas 114
  10. Joe Martin 112
Bill Emig Memorial Victory Lane, Night One at Sharon Speedway, 5/26

Barberton Raceway Park

This Friday evening June 8, Barberton Raceway Park presents the second leg of their Ohio State 500 Modified Series.  The opener had a low car count, but the racing was second to none - a thrilling event that went down to the last lap, and had its share of controversy.

Looking to bolster the car count, Barberton management headed by Jake Francis and Jim Ripley, has tweaked the rules a bit, in hopes of appeasing drivers' concerns.  I certainly hope this helps, and that the drivers return the favor by supporting the track.  In today's world, it is rare indeed that you see so much money and improvements put into a track, and it certainly seems in the interest of all, that the efforts are supported.  In the future, I don't think anyone wants to be complaining that there is no place to race. 

Tires approved for the Modified Series  are now Hoosier 970 or 980, or Goodyear Tires from Midvale or Lorain.  Crate engined cars go with 2300 lbs and an 8" spoiler.  There is no entry fee, but all drivers must have a NASCAR license.  Let's hope this brings a serious field to the tricky quarter-mile for the $1000 to win 100 lapper.

One of my favorite races is when the Main Event Series rolls into the tight confines of Barberton.  The MERS appears to be off to a great start this year, and the Barberton stop is just over a week away.  The don't-miss-it event is set for Friday, June 15. 

Current Late Model Point Leader at Barberton Raceway Park is Don Harvey, Jr.


Area Tracks Early Season Point Standings

Checking out some area Late Model Point Standings so far this season....

  1. Rick Sibila 372
  2. Bryant Smith 337
  3. Bubba Smith 334
  4. Rich Dessecker 317
  5. Jonathon Reitter 313
  1. Don Harvery Jr. 490
  2. Taylor Racing 462
  3. Rick Sibila 356
  4. Mike Mazzagatti 303
  5. Dave Martin 258
  1. Will Thomas 191
  2. Matt Latta 166
  3. George Kowatic 144
  4. Bobby Rohrer 143
  5. Chad Wright 134
  1. Billy Henry 225
  2. Kyle Zimmerman 207
  3. Matt Latta 200
  4. Bill Cunningham Sr. 189
  5. Mike Mitchell 180
  1. Brian Short 71
  2. Norm Taylor 67
  3. John Sandquist, Jr. 63
  4. Ryan Kirkpatrick 56
  5. Dustin Hayes 54
  1. George Skora III 197
  2. Sam Fullone 178
  3. Matt Brandt 170
  4. Matt Sever 170
  5. Bob Weber 164
  6. Garry Wiltrout 164
  7. Wade Miniea 164
  8. Bobby Henry 164