The indoor racing event at Baltimore's 1st Mariner Arena took a lot of last-minute preparation.
Baltimore's indoor soccer team played on Friday evening, and after the event was finished, work began on preparing the racing surface for Saturday's action..
The soccer field had to be dismantled, and then all of the walls, lighting and other items used for racing had to be assembled. Some of the catch fences from the Baltimore IndyCar event were brought in and assembled in front of the spectator areas.
The secret formula for racing on a concrete surface floor is putting cola syrup on the floor to create a "sticky" racing surface. All this was completed before 9 a.m. Saturday, allowing the surface to "cure" before practice began at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Baltimore event marked the first time in many years that electronic scoring was used for the event. But not without some headaches. Electronic scoring relies on wiring installed under the racing surface at the starting line. In the case of indoor racing where a concrete floor is already in place, electric lines can't be run under the floor. Carbonfibre tape was used to secure the lines to the floor, but it was quickly discovered that even carbonfibre tape doesn't hold up to spinning race car tires. Midway through the practice session, the lines were removed from the floor and run overhead. The transponders on the cars were moved from the bottom of the car to the top, and things went well from there.
The 1st Mariner Arena is smaller than buildings in Providence and Atlantic City, where other indoor races are held, and the racing surface was somewhat smaller than either of those venues. Time trials produced a fast time of just 6.350 seconds, with the majority of the 57-car field timing within one second of the fastest time. There were 19 drivers within a half second of the fastest time.
As always with indoor racing, action was intense, and there was some bumping and shoving to gain positions. But, all in all, the event went well, and fans were treated to a quick three-hour show that had them out the doors just after 10 p.m. Saturday.
The five heat races on Saturday were won by Joey Payne, Ryan Smith, B.J. McDonald, Ryan Greth and Rowan Pennick. Most of the heats were filled with cautions, but one went non-stop and took less than 11/2 minutes to complete.
I found the breakdown of the drivers' home states interesting. Of the 50 drivers who made it past the afternoon last-chance race, 15 were from New Jersey, with 13 from Pennsylvania. Ten were from New York, while there were two each from North Carolina, Delaware, Massachusetts and Canada. There was one each from Vermont, Florida, Connecticut and the host state of Maryland.
Feature winner Mike Lichty is from Canada, but six of the top 10 were from Pennsylvania. Two were from New Jersey, and one from Connecticut. The rest of the feature starting field included three more from both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, two from New York, another Canadian and one each from Florida and Massachusetts. The driver who was unable to start the feature came from New York.
358 SPRINT ALL-TIME WINS: Continuing my look at the area's all-time win leaders, this week I move on to the 358 sprint class.
Again there were no real changes in the order. Fairview Township's Pat Cannon still heads up the 358 sprint win list. In fact, Cannon added greatly to his lead. Cannon won 12 times this year and that moved his 358 sprint win total to 77. That's 22 wins ahead of second-place man Chad Layton, who won this year's 410 sprint-car point title at Port Royal. Layton has won 55 358 sprint features.
Long-retired Mike Lehman sits third in career 358 sprint wins with 51, while Blane Heimbach, who divided his time between the 358s and 410s this season, added two wins to his total, which now stands at 42.
There is now a three-way tie for fifth spot on the list. Billy Dietrich left the 358 ranks to race 410s this season and won three times there. Still, Dietrich's 358 win count stands at 32. York's Jeff Rohrbaugh won two 358 sprint races this season to move into a tie with Dietrich, and Brad McClelland, who divided his time between the two classes of sprint cars, won once in 358 competition to join the fun. All three drivers have won 32 times.
Dale Hammaker and York's Cory Haas remain tied at eighth spot with 28 wins each. Greg Leiby remains in 10th with 27 wins.
T.J. Stutts is fast closing on the top 10 with 26 wins, while Hanover's Cris Eash has 23 and Hellam's Adrian Shaffer has 20.
BANQUET: Don't forget the York County Racing Club's Hall of Fame banquet is fast approaching.
The event will be held on Jan. 5 at the Holiday Inn in West York. The deadline for tickets is Dec. 23. Tickets can be purchased from any board member.
-- Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.