By this time, everyone has probably heard that Selinsgrove Speedway will open up the rules in its sprint-car class to allow the 360 sprint cars to compete with the 358 sprints in 2014.
Selinsgrove stepped away from the 410 sprints and made the 358 class its top division in 2001.
The 2014 season will see the rules altered so that the 360 sprint cars can compete, and hopefully those with 358 engines will be competitive as well.
While the difference of just two cubic inches of engine displacement doesn't sound like much, it's the other engine rules that make a big difference in the two types of power plants.
The 360 sprint engine rules are a nationwide engine, which was adopted by the URC sprint organization many years ago. The 358 engine rule is a local take on limited-sprint-car rules. It was adopted locally by the now-defunct KARS group in 1989, and has been the standard for limited-sprint-car racing around the area since then.
At the time the theory on the 358 standard was that a number of other local classes run a 358 engine, and a driver or team could, at least in theory, advance from the street-stock type cars to limited-late models, then super sportsmen and finally 358 sprints with the same basic engine.
At the present time, Williams Grove, Lincoln and Trailway all plan to stay with the 358 engine rules. Trailway offers the 358s as its main division, and hosted 18 races for them in 2013, with another seven lost to rain. At Williams Grove and Lincoln, the 358 sprints are the support division for the 410 sprints. At the Grove, 11 races were held this year with another six lost to rain. Lincoln hosted 21 358 sprint races and lost two to rain.
The limited-sprint-car class was envisioned as a way for new drivers to move into sprint-car acing at a lower cost. It was to serve as a feeder system for local 410 sprint-car racing, and in many ways it did indeed do that. Current 410 sprint-car racers such as Chad Layton, Blane Heimbach, Billy Dietrich, Cory Haas, Doug Esh, Logan Schuchart, Danny Dietrich, Alan Krimes, Jacob Allen, Gerard McIntyre Jr. and Adam Wilt were all 358 sprint winners before starting their 410 sprint careers.
The class also allowed numerous 410 sprint drivers to extend their careers in a less-expensive type of racing.
The question remains what will happen with the area's highest-paying 358 track switching to a different engine format?
Selinsgrove has championed the 358 sprint class for a number of years, but has seen the need for a change. Will this change further water down the sprint-car ranks? With an already strong group of 305 sprints in the area, it could cause a decline in car counts in all the classes of sprint-car racing, and that's a concern of many in the sprint-car world.
It's something that has happened in many stock-car classes around the country, and locally as well. A classic (no pun intended) example of this was noticeable at Susquehanna Speedway Park's show last Saturday.
The Classic Cars and the All-American Outlaws were both on the schedule at Susky last Saturday. The Classic Car group was formed many years ago with spec chassis using a spec engine. The cars all carry specially designed fibreglass bodies that resemble the coupes or coaches of the 1950s and early 1960s.
A few years ago, the All-American Outlaws Series broke away from the Classic Car Series and allows more enhancements to its engines. Saturday at Susky, each class drew fields of 14 cars. Had they still been combined, that would have been a fine field of 28.
THIS WEEKEND: Local tracks will be dark this weekend.
A number of local racers will head south for the World finals in Charlotte. The dirt track at Charlotte Motor Speedway will be the host of the season-ending races for the World of Outlaws sprint cars, the World of Outlaws late models and the DIRT modifieds.
Sprint and late-model teams from the area will take part in the big events, which run from Thursday through Saturday.
Racing returns to the area the following weekend with the "Final Showdown" at Susquehanna Speedway Park on Saturday Nov. 16. That event will feature the sprint cars and the 358 sprint cars. The sprint cars will race for $10,010 to win. This season marks the 10th year at the speedway for promoters Todd and Rhonda Fisher. This event will be the final sprint-car show in the Northeast this season.
1968: Here's a final recap on our look at the 1968 racing season.
The season ended with 31 drivers having scored feature wins in the sprint/super-modified class. Ray Tilley was the season's win leader, having won 25 times in Bud Grimm's Ford-powered No. 88 sprinter.
Ray Dovel was second on the win list with 20 in the Lee Stultz Chevy No. S-3 super modified.
Mitch Smith ended the season third in wins with 19. Smith started the season with the Regester Chevy super-modified No. 6, moved into Regester's No. 6 sprint car for much of the season and then ended the year with Gary Wasson's No. 5 sprint car.
Lynn Paxton was fourth in season wins with 16. Paxton drove the Emrich Chevy No. 1 super modified for the season.
Fifth on the win list was Kenny Weld who had 15. Weld started the season with his own No. 91 super modified before completing construction on a roadster type sprint car for car owner Don Rice. The modified was Chevy powered, while Rice's Ford dealership provided Ford engines for the roadster.
It should also be noted that Milt Miller scored 12 wins in a Mopar Hemi-powered super modified. Miller tied Bobbie Adamson for sixth on the season win list.
Tilley was the track champion at Williams Grove, Selinsgrove and Susquehanna. Weld won Lincoln's point title, while Leroy Felty drove the Velvet Jet No. 7 super modified to the Port Royal title on the strength of four wins there. Milt Miller won the Hagerstown title and Dovel was the Winchester, Va., champion.
In the local late-model ranks, Bobby Goodling was the champion at Williams Grove, Lincoln and Susquehanna. Ronnie Dunstan was Selinsgrove's late-model champ and Merv Kauffman won the Port Royal title. Doug Bailey was Hagerstown's late-model champ.
Buzz Woodward won the late-model championship in a 12-race season on the asphalt, quarter-mile oval at the Hershey Stadium. It should be noted that dirt-track cars driven by Dunstan (one) and Ray Fanning (two) won three of those races. Paxton won a sprint/super-modified race there.
Dick Snare was the Silver Spring super-sportsman champion and Bobby Weaver won the super-sportsman title at Fredericksburg.
--Bryan Householder covers dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sports@yorkdis patch.com.