Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cloverleaf Speedway Memories

Early '60s action at Cloverleaf Speedway.
Cleveland, OH was home to a great paved, quarter-mile track from 1960-1990.  Friday, July 20 is the annual Cloverleaf Speedway Reunion and Hall of Fame.  Here are some memories.......
The legendary Tony DeLillo.  Being inducted into this year's Cloverleaf Speedway Hall of Fame.

This is probably my favorite photo of Jack Chambers.  Always brings a smile to my face.  Being inducted into this year's Cloverleaf Speedway Hall of Fame


Scott Baker leads Walt Ellis (an inductee in this year's Hall of Fame), around turns three and four on the 'Leaf's tricky quarter mile in the early '80s.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cloverleaf Speedway Hall Of Fame and Reunion

Cloverleaf Speedway, the famed quarter-mile  Cleveland paved oval, will be having their annual reunion and Hall Of Fame this Friday evening, July 20.

Hundreds of drivers, officials, and fans have fond memories of the track, which was in operation from 1960-1990.  A Sunday night mainstay, Cloverleaf also raced on Wednesday nights for several years.

Cloverleaf operated in what I consider The Golden Age of local stock car racing.  Drivers raced two, three or more times a week.  Dirt or asphalt.  Some would run the quarter-mile dirt at Canfield on Saturday, then Cloverleaf's paved quarter on Sunday.  Others ran the big paved half-mile of Heidelberg on Saturday, then go to the tight quarter-mile at Cloverleaf.

"The Leaf" was also part of the three track partnership of Cloverleaf-Lorain-Painesville, of which it was the crown jewel.  It's peak seemed to be in the ORA (Ohio Racing Association) days, with the watchful eyes of Shaver-Eisenhart-Giurukis.  The ORA (an organization, idea, ruling body, that today's paved tracks in Ohio and W. PA could sorely use now), expanded to several Ohio paved tracks in the mid 70s, but Cloverleaf seemed its anchor.

I have many memories of the track, and I would say all of them are good.  The great racing, huge crowds, modern facilities, great food.  One night - I believe in '75 - Sharon Speedway rained out early, and it seemed everyone headed to Cloverleaf to watch.  The stands were full of 'Leaf and Sharon fans, packed to the max.

Relive memories, look at photos and memorabilia, visit with old friends - this Friday evening at the Good Old Daze Tavern, 6001 State Rd., Parma, OH from 5-11 pm.  It is across the street from Shymski's Automotive, where free hot dogs, pizza, and soft drinks will be available. 

This year's inductees into the Hall Of Fame are an impressive group, many bringing bittersweet memories. 

Honored this year are:  Jim Bickerstaff, Jack Chambers, Gene Clark, Tony DeLillo, Walt Ellis, Bobby Giachetti, Nick Giurukis, Wimpy May, and Lew Zane.

Can anyone ever forget the words, "Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Cloverleaf Speedway!  I'm Bobby Conklin!" ?!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

FASTRAK NE Touring Speedweek

FASTRAK NE Touring Series just completed a very succesful "Cross The Borders" Speedweek in Ohio and Pennsylvania, that was dubbed by some as the "Hotter Than Hell" Speedweek, as temperatures were in the mid to upper 90s for four of the five straight days of racing.  The relentless heat caused some concern with overheating, but still could not deter the successful series, as record car counts were seen at Expo (Wed.), McKean (Thur.) and Eriez (Sun).  Only on Sunday did temperatures become comfortable for the show at Eriez.  Raceway 7 and Pittsburgh Motor Speedway rounded out the participating tracks for the Speedweek on Friday and Saturday, respectiviely. 

An incredible 89 Late Models participated at some point in the marathon, that saw some intense racing on a variety of track sizes.  Current Touring point leader, Max Blair picked up two of the feature wins, at McKean and Raceway 7.  Current Sharon point leader, Will Thomas took the checkered flag at Expo's huge track for his first Touring win, with two more drivers also claiming their first Touring victories - Chad Ruhlman at Pittsburgh and Matt Latta at Eriez. 

Claiming the overall Speedweek Point title was Max Blair, barely edging Will Thomas in a five day point race that showed how close and compeitive this series is. 

FASTRAK NE Touring "Cross The Borders" Speedweek Points:
  1. Max Blair 155
  2. Will Thomas 152
  3. Dan Angelicchio 145
  4. Mike Pegher Jr. 142
  5. Chad Ruhlman 138
  6. Matt Latta 138
  7. Chad Wright 137
  8. Ryan Montgomery 133
  9. John Over 110
  10. Shane Weaver 94
FASTRAK NE Touring Season Points:
  1. Max Blair 443
  2. Mike Pegher Jr. 387
  3. Chad Ruhlman 384
  4. Ryan Montgomery 370
  5. Butch Lambert 325
  6. Dan Angelicchio 325
  7. John Over 322
  8. Will Thomas 295
  9. Chad Wright 252
  10. Joe Martin 237
  11. Shane Weaver 235
  12. Matt Latta 231
FASTRAK NE Touring returns to Mercer Raceway Park for the first time in two years this Saturday, July 14.  Mercer was a mainstay of FASTRAK, competing 41 times at the track.  The drivers have been wanting to come back, and by working together, FASTRAK NE co-directors Vicki Emig and Mike Leone; Sharon Speedway; and Mercer owner Bill Altman and Mercer General Manager Frank Benic; an agreement was reached to bring the Touring Series back "home".  Should be a great show.

FASTRAK NE Touring on the four-wide parade lap at the mammoth Expo Speedway in Warren, OH for stop #1 of the "Cross The Borders" Speedweek

Expo FASTRAK NE winner Will Thomas (center), with runner-up Matt Long to the right and third pace finisher Butch Lambert to the left.

Matt Long made the trek from Concord, NC to compete in the FASTRAK NE Speedweek.  Here he is in the tech line at Raceway 7, Conneaut, OH.

Raceway 7 FASTRAK NE Touring winner Max Blair's #111 in victory lane following his win, joined by runner-up Dan Angelicchio's #14, during Speedweek.

Start of the FASTRAK NE Touring feature at Eriez Speedway, Erie, PA, the final leg of the "Cross The Borders" Speedweek.

Matt Latta made his first FASTRAK NE Touring win a big won, claiming the $2000 prize money for the 30 lap Eriez Speedway feature on the tight track. 

Claiming the overall FASTRAK NE Speedweek point Title was Max Blair.

Main Event / Midvale Speedway

The Main Event Racing Series made their annual stop at Midvale Speedway, Tuesday,
July 3rd.  It was a memorable night all around.

First, greeting the Main Event racers and fans is a facility that continues major improvements every year since Randy Smith has assumed ownership of the one-third mile speedplant.  It is truly an amazing sight, seeing what has transpired at Midvale the last few years.  Cement and asphalt cover the pits, new cement sidewalks and steps, and bleachers are reaching out everywhere.  And if that isn't enough, on the drawing boards within two years, are more new bleachers to replace those on the front stretch, and new restrooms and concessions.  The Smith family is truly making Midvale one of the nicest tracks anywhere.

A pit area covered in cement and asphalt greet the Main Event Outlaw Super Late Models at Midvale

Wide expanses of asphalt and cement make the Midvale Speedway pit area first rate

Another concourse of the Midvale Speedway pits

It was a beautiful sunny day Tuesday, July 3, and it appeared to be a record crowd on on for the Midvale program, headed up by the 100 lap Main Event feature for $2500 to win. 
A packed crowd at Midvale for the Main Event Series Outlaw Super Late Models

Twenty-Four Outlaw Super Late Models signed into the pits, with multi-time main Event Champion, Gary Whipkey setting fast time in the Taylor Racing Cadillac.  When all was said and done though, it was a happy homecoming for Midvale favorite, Rich Rohrer, as he powered his Esber Beverage/Miller Lite/Port City Racecars #7 to a convinging win, from his eighth starting slot.  Point leader Bud Perry claimed second, but the the drive of the night was third place finisher Jimmy Carter moving up from 14th starting slot.  
Rich Rohrer, following his big 100 lap victory at Midvale Speedway in the Main Event Racing Seri:es 100 lapper
Main Event Racing Series Point Standing: 
  1. Bud Perry 971
  2. Jack Varney Jr. 918
  3. Harold Fair jr. 830
  4. Scott Drake 821
  5. Marcus Malcuit 815
  6. Nick Grodi 798
  7. John Flynn 760
  8. Justin Schroeder 628
  9. Jeremy Dennis 609
  10. Donnie Hill 596 
Midvale Speedway Late Model Point Standings:
  1. Rick Sibila 744
  2. Bryant Smith 705
  3. Bubba Smith 692
  4. Jonathan Reitter 652
  5. Ron Jaberg, Jr. 643 
Up next on the Main Event calendar in Dixie Motor Speedway in Birch Run, MI, this Friday, July 13 for a 100 lap test.  The MERS returns to Sandusky Speedway Saturday, July 21 for 75 laps/$2000 to win, then takes a trip to Shadybowl Speedway Saturday, Aug. 4 for another 75 lap/$2000 to win run.  

At Midvale Speedway, Christmas in July is set for this Saturday, July 14 with the weekly program of Late Models, Modifieds, Pure Stocks and Compacts.  July 21 sees Trucks added to the show.  On Saturday, July 28, 50 lap features are on tap for the Late Models and Modifieds.  If you haven't been to Midvale in a few years, you won't recognize the place. You need to check it out. 
Midvale Modified racer, Doug Meyer, sports a retro Tony Diano paint scheme
Main Event Outlaw Super Late Models lining up on the front stretch at Midvale Speedway

Monday, July 2, 2012

Main Event Racing Series to Midvale

The Main Event Racing Series sends its Outlaw Super Late Models to Midvale Speedway this week, on Tuesday, July 3 for a big 100 lap feature race.  A large field of racers are expected at the first class facility for the $2,500 to win test.  Every year more improvements are evident at the Randy Smith owned one third mile speedplant, and this year is no exception, with a slightly wider frontstretch, new cememt lane pit access from the grandstands along turn four, and new pit-side bleachers, being just some of this year's additions. 

The thunderous, low slung Outlaw Super Late Models should put on quite a show at the track, as the 2012 season looks to be one of the best for MERS of recent years.  So far, in four races, there have been four different winners.  Most recent to visit victory lane was Don Harvey, Jr., who took the win at tricky Barberton Raceway Park.  BRP is now Harvey's weekly home stomping grounds, but it was still a hard fought win, with Bud Perry, Jimmy Carter and Gary Whipkey all leading before Harvey took the top spot on lap 89 of the 100 lap race, from the brake-weary Taylor Racing #39 wheeled by Whipkey.  Following Harvey at the finish were Tim Ice in the Francis Engineering #33, Marcus Malcuit, Scott Drake and defending MERS Champion, Bud Perry.
Don Harvey, Jr., Main Event winner at Barberton Raceway Park
With birthday parties, trips to Aruba and possibly a fear of the Barberton track keeping some competitors away from the tight little quarter mile, the Main Event Racing Series Point Standings got an all-new look following Barberton.  The top ten:
  1. Bud Perry 777
  2. Jack Varney, Jr. 772
  3. Marcus Malcuit 685
  4. Nick Grodi 658
  5. Scott Drake 656
  6. Harold Fair, Jr. 641
  7. John Flynn 622
  8. Shawn Stroble 497
  9. Donnie Hill 471
  10. Justin Schroeder 446
Marcus Malcuit, second from right, discussing race set-up at Barberton Raceway Park with his crew prior to the 100 lap Main Event Racing Series feature

Jack Varney, Jr., leans against his #116 Outlaw Super Late Model, pondering his first trip to the unique track.  Varney finished sixth, for a good outing on the unforgiving track.  Varney is currently second to Bud Perry in the MERS point standings.

Also making his first appearance at Barberton was Scott Drake.  Drake was very impressive, starting the century grind in eleventh slot, and moving up and around the tight track to finish fourth, in his #81 Cadillac Outlaw Super Late Model.  Drake now finds himself fifth in the point standings.

FASTRAK NE Speedweek

The FASTRAK NE Touring Series is gearing up for it's busiest week of the season.  It's "Cross The Border" Speedweek gets underway on Wednesday, July 4, and continues daily through Sunday, July 8.  A $3,000 point fund is set for the five night test.

The marathon gets underway at Expo Speedway on July 4, with a $2,000 to win feature for the mammoth half mile track.  Expo has a long and colorful history, but now only races twice during the season, during the Trumbull County Fair.  Fair admission gets you into the grandstand race show, and on July 4, admission is only $4.00.  Not bad for the impressive FASTRAK NE Touring Series. 

On Thursday, the tour moves to McKean County Speedway in East Smithport, PA, the first of three $1,200 to win affairs.  Friday, the FASTRAK NE Touring Series makes it's only stop of the season at Raceway 7 in Conneaut, OH before moving to the big half mile at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway on Saturday.  

Speedweek concludes with a $2,000 to win feature at Eriez Spedway in Erie, PA on Sunday, July 8.   

After reeling off four straight wins, current point leader Max Blair has been shut out of victory lane the last two events, as Ryan Montgomery won at McKean on 6/16 and Joe Martin took the Gary Knollinger Memorial win at Sharon 6/23.  Points have since been shaken up a bit , and things have tightened up, especially for the top six spots. 

Current FASTRAK NE Touring Points:
  1. Max Blair 288
  2. Chad Ruhlman 246
  3. Mike Pegher, Jr. 245
  4. Ryan Montgomery 237
  5. Butch Lambert 232
  6. John Over 212
  7. Joe Martin 187
  8. Dan Angelicchio 180
  9. Bobby Rohrer 150
  10. Will Thomas 143