Here it is, the end of another year already.

Time to start looking forward to the 2014 local racing season.

However, before we do that, let's take one last look at the big stories from 2013.

Here are what I consider to be the five biggest stories of the 2013 local racing season.

No. 1, Fred Rahmer: At the top of my list would be the year Fred Rahmer had in his final season as a sprint-car driver.

Just past midseason, the news slipped out that Rahmer would retire. By that time, Rahmer was already riding a tremendous string of consecutive top-10 finishes. Although he didn't go the whole season without dropping out of a race, Rahmer did rack up 61 top-10 finishes in 66 local starts.

He won three times each at Williams Grove and Lincoln, and once at Susquehanna. Those wins pushed his career sprint-car win total to 420, and his career win total, including modifieds, to 519.

Rahmer also won the point titles at Williams Grove and Lincoln, along with the Speedway Motors/Champion Racing Oil overall local title.

But perhaps the biggest of Rahmer's accomplishments this season was his final career win. That came in the Williams Grove National Open against the World of Outlaws. Not many drivers can say they won the area's biggest race, against the world's greatest sprint-car drivers, for their final win.


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The National Open at the Grove was about the only local race Rahmer had never won in his storied career. By the mob scene in victory lane, it's apparent that most in attendance were thrilled to see him win the race in his final try. As Rahmer said several times during the season, after several un-Rahmer-like seasons, he went out on his own terms.

No. 2 -- Retirements: Rahmer's retirement was just one part of the big picture. With the number of top drivers and car owners who retired at the end of the 2013 racing season, it certainly looks like the end of an era.

Joining Rahmer in the retirement line were Keith Kauffman, Cris Eash, Denny Bonebrake, Barry Klinedinst and John Trone.

Rahmer and Kauffman are the top two drivers on the area's all-time career sprint-car win list. Eash has also been a big winner in local sprint-car racing. Bonebrake is second on the area's all time career late-model win list.

Klinedinst prepared and owned cars for many of the area's top late-model racers, and Trone revived his family's name in local sprint-car racing as a big winner as a sprint car owner.

No. 3 -- Tragedies: The 2013 season was also a tragic one for local race fans.

Two much-loved drivers were fatally injured during the course of the season.

Jason Leffler left the NASCAR scene to return to his favorite type of racing -- sprint cars on dirt tracks. The California native had started his career in wingless competition with sprint cars, midgets and dirt-champ cars.

For the 2013 season he joined Tom Buch's team to make his first try at winged sprint-car racing. Leffler was still getting settled into this form of racing when a mechanical failure in a sprint-car race at Bridgeport, N.J., resulted in a crash that claimed his life.

Leffler's time with us in the area was short, but he certainly made a lot of friends in that short time. His best finish in a winged sprint car had come at Susquehanna on May 12 when he finished fifth.

It was early August when we lost Kramer Williamson in an accident at Lincoln. Williamson and his Pink Panther sprint cars were a local institution. Williamson started his career at the Silver Spring Speedway while still in high school, and won a point title there before moving to sprint cars in 1971. He was rookie of the year that season at several local tracks and went on to win races and point titles at many of the local ovals.

Williamson won most of the big local races, including the Williams Grove National Open. Later in his career, Williamson moved to the URC 360 sprint-car ranks, where he won numerous races and point titles. It was in a URC heat race at Lincoln that Williamson suffered his fatal injuries.

His crash resulted in the first driver fatality at Lincoln since Steve Howard in August of 1975.

No. 4 --Parity: The fourth-biggest story would have to be the closeness of the competition in local sprint-car racing this year.

How many times did I report that most of the field was within a half second of one another during time trials this season?

That showed up in the end results for the season winners as well. The big winner for the season was Brian Montieth, who won just nine races. Greg Hodnett won eight and three drivers (Rahmer, Donnie Kreitz Jr. and Danny Dietrich) each won seven. Five more drivers won five times -- Brent Marks, Alan Krimes, Logan Schuchart, Chad Layton and Blane Heimbach.

No. 5 -- Changes: The fifth-biggest story of 2013 actually pertains to 2014.

There are a number of changes on the horizon for local auto racing next season.

With all the retirements at the top of the class, 2014 will usher in a new era for local auto racing. But those retirements are not the only changes for the new season.

Citing low car counts as the main reason, Selinsgrove Speedway has shifted its rules to usher in the 360 sprint cars as its top-billed division. Selinsgrove has long been the local leader for the 358 sprints, but feels it's time for a change.

The rules will be tweaked to allow the 358 sprints to race with the 360s during a phase-in period. Selinsgrove feels the 360s are the wave of the future, but it's a tough decision in the only area of the nation that's always shunned the 360s in favor of the 358s.

And, the 360s in this area just might not be all that healthy either. The URC organization, which has long hosted 360 sprint competition around the Northeast, has tweaked its rules to allow the 305 sprints to compete with their 360s for the 2014 season.

Sprint cars are not the only local classes that will see changes for 2014. Two local tracks, Lincoln and Port Royal have dropped their entry-level street-stock-type classes of racing.

Port Royal has dropped the pro-stock class in favor of a stock late-model-type class. The Port's new class will use late-model frames with a crate engine.

At Lincoln, the thundercar class is no more. The thundercars raced regularly at Lincoln for 24 years, but have been dropped for 2014. Instead of creating a new class, Lincoln instead will offer more dates to various other types of entry-level racers as their third division.

Both tracks cited declining car counts as their reasons for the changes.

Finally there's already news of a major retirement at the end of the 2014 season. "The King of the Outlaws," Steve Kinser, has announced that 2014 will be his last year as a full-time Outlaw racer. Kinser, who will turn 60 next year, has been with the Outlaw tour since it started in 1978. He has won 20 Outlaw point crowns, and a combined total of 714 Outlaw races, broken down to 577 A-Mains and 137 preliminary-night wins.

Kinser's career win total in sprint cars is well over 900, with 78 of his wins coming on local ovals. But, note, Kinser says he won't be an Outlaw regular, not that he's retiring completely.

YCRC banquet: The York County Racing Club will host its annual Hall of Fame banquet this Saturday evening at the Holiday Inn in West York.

Rising NASCAR star Ryan Blaney will be the guest speaker. Blaney's father is current NASCAR driver Dave Blaney, who has spent considerable time on the local sprint tracks. His uncle Dale Blaney has also raced locally frequently, as did Ryan's grandfather Lou Blaney.

Six new members will be inducted into the YCRC's Hall of Fame, and numerous special awards will also be presented.

Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sports@yorkdispatch.com.