It was planned for Saturday evening, but in the end it happened on Sunday evening.
Fred Rahmer drove his last sprint-car race on Sunday at Lincoln Speedway. It was the end of a career that may never be matched on the local racing circuit.
Rahmer drove his first full sprint-car race at the beginning of the 1986 racing season after dabbling with the URC sprints some the previous year. At that time, he was the area's leading 358 modified winner, and when he left that circuit to pursue a career in sprint cars, Rahmer was the leading winner at Big Diamond, Grandview and Penn National.
When Rahmer came to the local circuit to race sprint cars, he already owned 99 modified wins and two wins with the URC sprint cars.
After Sunday night's "Last Call" race at Lincoln, Rahmer still owns 99 modified wins, but his sprint-car total stands at 420. Of those 420 victories, one was with a 358 sprint and five were with URC. All the rest were with the full-blown sprint cars. That's a truly remarkable record, and one that may never be touched locally.
Rahmer's closest challenger for local sprint-car wins retired about a month before Rahmer did. That was Keith Kauffman, who has 304 sprint-car triumphs.
The closest active driver is Lance Dewease, who has won 296 sprint-car features. Donnie Kreitz with 192 wins, and Greg Hodnett, with 182 wins according to my records, are next in line among active drivers.
Over the past two or three seasons, there were some fans who thought Rahmer had lost his edge and was fading as a driver. This season, Rahmer proved those folks wrong, and went out on his own terms. This season, Rahmer won seven times, including a $50,000 victory in the Williams Grove National Open. That win will go into the record books as the last win for "Fast Freddie." Imagine beating the World of Outlaws for $50,000 as the last win in a career. That's remarkable.
But the wins aren't the whole story about Rahmer's final year. The consistency is the rest of the story. Rahmer raced locally 66 times this season. He finished in the top 10 in 61 of those races. The records show seven wins, 12 seconds, seven thirds, nine fourths, five fifths, two sixths, six sevenths, seven eighths, three ninths and three 10ths.
Rahmer did drive in two other sprint-car races this season. They came last February at the Volusia County Speedway in Florida, when Rahmer subbed for some guy named Tony Stewart. Mechanical problems ended those runs.
His 2013 record was good enough for Rahmer to earn three point titles. He won his ninth career Williams Grove sprint-car title, his 11th career Lincoln point title and his 13th title in the area's overall series, now sponsored by Speedway Motors and Champion Racing Oil.
What a way to go out!
WEEKEND EVENTS: For the first time since mid-March, there is no Friday night racing scheduled for the area this week.
In fact, a pair of Saturday events make up the whole of the weekend racing schedule. An enterprising fan could probably make both races on Saturday, and take in an amazing 10 classes of racing on that day.
The day could start with the afternoon Candy Bowl at Susquehanna Speedway Park. Susky's schedule calls for six classes of racing. On the slate are the ARDC Midgets, 600cc micro sprints, sportsman modifieds, sidewinder micro sprints, Legends and thundercars.
About 15 miles away, Williams Grove will offer up the Fallfest on Saturday evening. At the Grove, it's a features-only program for the sprint cars, 358 sprints, super sportsmen and limited-late models. All four classes race regularly at the Grove, and the season point standings will be used to generate the starting fields.
For those who want to travel a bit on the weekend, Winchester (Va.) Speedway has a big late-model event Saturday.
1968: In a very interesting turn of events, two of the area's very biggest events were run on the same Sunday on this weekend in 1968.
The Williams Grove National Open and Lincoln's Pennsylvania State Championship Race went off back to back. Even more interesting is that the Williams Grove track champion won the Lincoln event, and one driver scored top-five finishes in both events.
The Williams Grove National Open was the afternoon event. It was a 100-lap race with $2,000 to the winner. For the second year in a row it was Bobbie Adamson who drove to victory in the National Open. Adamson wheeled Wilbur Hawthorne's No. 35 to his 12th win of the season.
Lynn Paxton finished second in that event, with Lou Blaney in third. Frank Gorichky and Henry Jacoby completed the top five.
From there it was on down the road to Lincoln, where the 70-lap Pennsylvania State Championship Race paid out $1,800 to the winner. At Lincoln, it was the Williams Grove champion, Ray Tilley, who drove to victory in Bud Grimm's No. 88. The win was Tilley's 25th of the season. Bobby Allen finished second at Lincoln, with Rick Schmelyun in third. Paxton got his second top five of the day after 170 laps of feature racing, with a fourth-place run, and the patriarch of that famous Indiana racing clan, Bob Kinser, completed the top five.
These events concluded the local racing season in 1968.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHAMPION RACING OIL
Presented by Hoseheads
(Wins in parenthesis)
1. x-Fred Rahmer (7) 1,603
2. Greg Hodnett (8) 1,360
3. Lance Dewease (1) 1,231
4. Brian Montieth (9) 1,123
5. Brent Marks (5) 1,113
6. Alan Krimes (5) 1,013
7. Danny Dietrich (6) 1,009
8. Logan Schuchart (5) 878
9. Blane Heimbach (5) 753
10. Chad Layton (5) 741
11. Donnie Kreitz Jr. (5) 560
12. Cory Haas (1) 519
13. Adam Wilt (1) 490
14. Jim Siegel (2) 488
15. Rick Lafferty (4) 447
16. Mike Wagner (2) 427
17. Doug Esh (2) 385
18. Stevie Smith (1) 374
19. Steve Buckwalter (1)343
20. Dylan Cisney (1) 341
21. Pat Cannon (1) 317
22. Ryan Smith 308
23. Mike Erdley 250
24. Brian Leppo 241
25. Billy Dietrich (1) 235
Associate sponsors: BioBased.US, ButlerBuilt Seats, Conroy "Pneu" Control, Eagle Motorsports, Bob Hilbert Sportswear, Hoosier Tire Mid-Atlantic, Maxim Chassis, the RAACE Foundation and Winters Performance.