Brian Leppo has had a very strange season thus far on the local sprint-car circuit.
At the end of the 2011 season, Leppo was named to drive for Jesse Keen this season. He started out with up-and-down runs in the Keen car at the beginning of this year. There were several good runs, and a win early on at Lincoln on March 17.
Leppo also notched some top-five and top-10 runs in the Keen car, but then, at the beginning of May, the unthinkable happened. Car owner Jesse Keen suffered a heart attack while preparing to go to Williams Grove on a Friday evening and died.
Leppo was devastated by the loss of his friend and car owner, and he was also left without a ride. He sat out several weeks of racing, and didn't return to the driver's seat until June 2 at Lincoln.
Earlier that week he had picked up a ride with the York-based Scott Dietz team for Saturday night racing at Lincoln. His first ride in the Dietz car produced a top-10 run, and things were starting to look up.
At about the same time as Leppo was taking his first ride in the Dietz car, Sam Hafertepe and the Zemco team were parting ways. Since the Dietz team mainly races just at Lincoln, the Zemco team called Leppo and offered a one-night ride for last Friday's All Star show at Williams Grove.
Leppo took complete advantage of the ride in the Zemco car and drove it to victory in that race after a long-and-stirring duel with Brian Montieth. Leppo was back in the Dietz car at Lincoln Saturday, and was credited with a 20th-place finish in the non-stop race that saw 23 cars finish.
HELLO CHAMP: Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart joined the All Stars on both nights of local racing last weekend.
Stewart won the B-Main at Williams Grove and finished 14th in the feature. At Lincoln he won a heat race and was 17th in the feature. Stewart's heat-race run established a new eight-lap record for post-weight-rule sprint cars at Lincoln.
BATTERED AND BRUISED: York's Cory Haas and Hanover's Logan Schuchart both got beat up a bit last weekend.
Haas went for a wild ride at Williams Grove after the field got bunched up when Brian Montieth ran out of fuel on a restart with three laps to go.
While Haas climbed out of the car on his own, he did seek the ambulance crew to be checked out for back pains. Tests showed nothing more than bruises, and Haas was back racing Saturday at Lincoln. He finished fourth in the feature there.
Schuchart had a driveline break while running his time trial at Lincoln on Saturday. The driveline hit his ankle and caused some serious pain, but apparently nothing was broken.
WEEKEND SLATE: Williams Grove has a two-race weekend this week.
Friday the sprints and 358 sprints compete on York County Racing Club Night. Saturday it's the super sportsmen, limited-late models and street stocks.
Trailway also races twice this weekend. Friday the 358 sprints are joined by the limited stocks and Xtreme stocks. Micro sprints headline on Saturday.
Lincoln will host the Daryl Gohn/Glenn Gohn Sr. Memorial Race on Saturday. The sprint cars, 305 sprints and thundercars will be on hand to honor the memory of the former driver and car owner.
Port Royal hosts the sprints, late models, pro stocks and enduro dash racers on Saturday, while Selinsgrove has the Joe Whitcomb Memorial for the 358 sprints, plus late models, pro stocks and roadrunners.
The World of Outlaws late models invade Hagerstown on Saturday, led by defending series champion Rick Eckert of York. The hobby stocks also compete.
Susquehanna Speedway Park will take Saturday evening off, but hosts the sprint cars and 358 sprints on Sunday evening this week.
50 YEARS AGO: It was a busy weekend on the local circuit 50 years ago in 1962.
Things got started Friday evening at Williams Grove, where Roger Sowers drove Luther McCoy's No. 83 to his first win of the season. Sowers topped Dick Tobias, Johnny Mackison Sr., Pee Wee Pobletts and Ralph Smith for the victory.
On Saturday at Lincoln, Johnny Mackison Sr. drove the Yorkshire Garage/Emrich Chevy No. 1 to his ninth overall victory of the season. Neil Haight finished second, with Pobletts, Moe Harden and Gene Goodling in the top five. The cageless URC sprint cars were also at Lincoln that night, and Hank Rogers Sr. drove to the victory.
At Port Royal on that same night, Frankie Thompson made it two in a row in Al McClure's No. 15. Thompson's win came over Pete Swarmer, with Leroy Felty, Joe Lingle and Lauden Potts in the top five.
Action moved to Susquehanna on Sunday, where Bobby Hersh scored his fifth win of the season in the Trone's No. 39. Hersh bested arch-rival Mackison for the win, with Sowers in third. Goodling and Bobby Gerhart Sr. completed the top five.
-- Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.