York County racers were well represented over the weekend.
Drivers from the county not only won both major races on the local circuit, but also showed well on the national stage.
York's Adam Wilt held back several serious challenges to win his second Lincoln Speedway Icebreaker 30 in the past three years. Meanwhile down in Hagerstown, York's Rick Eckert was kicking off the local late-model season with a big win.
Out in Tulare, Calif., Hanover's Logan Schuchart was turning some heads in World of Outlaws competition. It's true Schuchart didn't win any races, but fans definitely knew he was there on both nights of competition. On Friday night, Schuchart won the dash, started on the pole of the 35-lap feature and led for 22 laps before slipping to eighth at the finish. The race was won by former local competitor Daryn Pittman.
On Saturday night, Schuchart's qualifying wasn't quite as good, but he did better in the race, coming from mid-pack to finish second to Rico Abreu.
For Wilt, Saturday's race at Lincoln made the most of some winter changes on his North York-based, family-owned team. Over the winter, noted crew chief Lee Stauffer, also a Yorker, was hired to oversee the team. In his first outing with Stauffer, Wilt was in contention from the drop of the green flag. He took the lead on the second lap, lost it to Brian Montieth, but regained the lead and then had to fend off Alan Krimes for the win.
In victory lane, Wilt had what may be the quote of the year.
"On opening day you bring all your best stuff," he said. "You even wear new underwear."
Eckert's win at Hagerstown was his 22nd career win there, and by my count was his 175th career win in a late model. He wheeled Paul Crowl's racer to the victory after suffering some engine woes in his heat race.
Lincoln notes: Lincoln had 30 sprint cars for its opener.
Actually there were 29 410s in competition, plus one 358 sprint. Defending 358 sprint-car champion Niki Young debuted with his new team, the Mike Miller- and Jeff Bol-owned No. 91. The team elected to get in its practice time while competing, rather than waiting for the post-race practice session.
It appeared to be a last-minute decision, but one that worked out well. Young actually qualified for the feature in the consolation race and raced from the 21st starting position to finish 14th in the feature.
Lincoln had plenty of new competitors for the opener. Some had a few laps at the end of the 2013 season, and some were making their first starts. Manchester's Austin Hogue, Shane Hoff, Tyler Ross and Hanover's Tim Wagaman were all up from the 358 sprint ranks, while Alex Schanz, Freddie Rahmer and Brandon Rahmer were up from the 305 sprint ranks.
Hogue and Hoff each got top-10 finishes.
Lincoln's post-race practice session drew plenty of cars as well. There were 20 legends cars, six 358 sprints and two each of the limited-late models, super sportsmen, All-American Outlaws and street stocks.
As it does each year, the Icebreaker packed the Lincoln grandstands.
Hagerstown drew 33 late models and more than a full field of late-model sportsman racers. The support classes were down in numbers.
What a turnout: The late-model history roundtable at the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing on Sunday afternoon produced quite a turnout of late-model racers.
It also produced some very interesting stories about the history of local late-model racing.
The list of past and present late-model drivers who participated is long and very impressive. Five of the top 10 drivers in career wins were among the 21 drivers on hand, including the three top winners of all time on the local tracks.
Gary Stuhler, Denny Bonebrake and Buddy Armel are the top three winners from the area. They were joined by Tom Peck (eighth) and Jimmy McBee (ninth) from the top 10. Others who were part of the presentation included Nathan Durboraw, Gary Snelbaker, Charlie Weirman, "Big Slim" Devilbiss, Larry Gorman, Jim Nave, Roy "Chock" Adams, Gene Saine, Don Zechman, Al Richards and Jim Adams. Jim Shuttlesworth and Wesley Bonebrake were there as well.
Of course, Museum kingpin Lynn Paxton owns 14 late-model wins as well, and he was part of the panel presenting the roundtable, as were current late-model racers and racing history buffs Eric Zembower and Alan Sagi.
One sad note that was passed along on Sunday is that former super-sportsman champion and sprint-car winner Bobby Brymesser died last Tuesday.
Weekend racing: Lincoln switches to evening racing this week.
The Saturday slate will be its first multi-division show of the season with the 358 sprints and limited-late-model joining the sprint cars. Port Royal has the sprints, late models and Xtreme stocks on its Saturday evening slate. Hagerstown will race Saturday evening as well, with the late models headlining over late-model sportsmen, pure stocks, hobby stocks and mini stocks.
Trailway is set for a Saturday afternoon show of micro-sprint and Legends racing.
After losing last weekend's modified races, Selinsgrove is set to open Sunday afternoon with the sprint cars making their first visit of the season.
Meeting: The York County Racing Club will host a general membership meeting Wednesday at the club hall in Zions View. Super-sportsman driver Rick Barr will be the guest speaker for the 7:30 p.m. event.
1980: The 1980 racing season finally got started in the area on this weekend in 1980.
Friday night racing was rained out at Selinsgrove, but on Saturday evening both Lincoln and Port Royal raced. At Lincoln "Gentleman" Jimmy Edwards raced to the season-opening win. I believe at the time Edwards was driving the Moskat No. 71. Billy Steif finished second, followed by Steve Siegel, Bobby Weaver and Doug Potts.
At Port Royal, it was Lynn Paxton in victory lane in the Boop's No. 1. Paxton's win came over Keith Kauffman, Barry Camp, Jimmy Nace and Joe Gravino.
— Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.