Last weekend's racing schedule started on a sad note when two men who have made a major impact on the local racing scene died.
One had a direct effect on local sprint-car racing, while the other had an indirect impact.
Car owner Jesse Keen died late Friday afternoon, at nearly the same time as Hoyette Hodnett also died. Keen fielded local sprint cars on and off for many years. Hodnett was the father of local sprint-car ace Greg Hodnett.
I first noticed Keen's name as a sponsor with the super-sportsman machine of multi-time champion Larry Jackson. He later began fielding sprint cars for Randy Wolfe, who earned many wins and a Port Royal track title.
After stepping away for several years, Keen had an active interest in the team his son Shawn fielded. Shawn raced for a number of years and also fielded a car one year for Australian champion Skip Jackson. When Shawn stepped away, Jesse Keen did also for several years. Then, just a few years ago, he returned with Pat Cannon as a driver. Midway through that season, Daryn Pittman took over the Keen car. The next season, Tyler Walker replaced Pittman, and then Todd Shaffer was in the seat. This year Brian Leppo drove the Keen car.
Over the years, the Keen car was always a winner, but more importantly, Jesse Keen was always a great gentleman.
Hoyette Hodnett was first a racer, and then a racer's father. He was a top driver around his Memphis, Tenn., home for many years, and then worked as a mentor for his son, Greg. Hoyette made sure Greg understood all the workings of a race car before he allowed him to become a driver. Greg's record on the local circuit shows just how good Hoyette was as a mentor.
FISH FRY: Sunday, the 12th annual Gary Wolford Fish Fry was another big success at the Latimore Valley Fairgrounds.
A large crowd was on hand to eat fish and french fries, talk racing, bid at the charity auction and, of course, watch the blindfold race.
The unlikely team of Gene Knaub and Bobby Beard drove to victory in the race, with Logan Schuchart and Brian Leppo in second. Carmen Perigo Jr. and Scott Geesey were third and the father-son team of Bob Scott Jr. and Jenn Scott finished fourth.
FEMALE WINNER: Franklintown's Brie Hershey became Lincoln Speedway's third female sprint-car winner on Saturday evening.
Hershey, the daughter of former sprint-car racer Tim Hershey, led all 20 laps for the win in the 358 sprint feature.
Becca Anderson won two 358 sprint races at Lincoln a number of years ago, and Erin Stattler won a 305 sprint race there.
OUTLAWS COMING: The World of Outlaws visit the area this week.
Things start on Wednesday evening with the Outlaws' return to Lincoln Speedway. The Outlaws last visited Lincoln in 1998, when Fred Rahmer was the winner. The Lincoln race has a Thursday rain date.
The Outlaws then go to Williams Grove for a two-day show on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Other local racing this week includes two days of racing at Trailway. Friday, it's 358 sprints, limited-late models, Legends and limited stocks. Saturday, the micro sprints and Legends take center stage.
Selinsgrove hosts the Mach 1 358/360 Sprint Challenge Series Saturday for the Jack Gunn Memorial Race. Late models and roadrunners also compete.
Susquehanna Speedway Park will host the Steel Block Bandits late-model series on Saturday. Also on the Susky slate are the street stocks, Xtreme stocks, sidewinder micro sprints and Women on Wheels minivans.
50 YEARS AGO: Three races were scheduled on this weekend 50 years ago in 1962, but only two made it into the record books. The Saturday show at Port Royal was rained out.
On Friday, Williams Grove did race, and Dick Tobias won in the Regester Chevy No. 6. The win was Toby's fourth overall for the season. Bobby Hersh, LeRoy Felty, Johnny Crawford and Johnny Dubendorff completed the top five.
Toby was back in victory lane Sunday at Susquehanna for his fifth win of the season. However, this time it wasn't in his trusty No. 6. Toby had to borrow a ride in the backup Yorkshire Garage/Emrich Chevy No. 1080 to secure that win over Neil Haight. Bobby Gerhart Sr., Pee Wee Pobletts and Gene Goodling made up the top five.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sports@yorkdis patch.com.