Anthony Sesely won both nights of three-quarter midget racing in Atlantic City over the weekend.
Sesely, a former Wall Stadium asphalt modified champion, also won last year's Atlantic City Gambler's Classic. Last season Sesely limited his modified schedule to try his hand at 305 sprint-car racing in his native New Jersey. He did end the season with a win at Wall's Turkey Derby.
Again this year, the indoor races at Atlantic City could have been a tale of two totally different races. Friday's show was again filled with crashes and was very hard on race cars. In fact, only five of the 24 starters finished the race. Sesely took the lead from Ted Christopher on the ninth of 25 laps and went on to score the win over Matt Janisch, Rob Vivona, Brett Michalski and Rob Neely.
On Saturday, Sesely started from the pole position and led all 40 laps, but with constant challenges from a number of drivers. Saturday's race did have a few early crashes, but then settled down into a very good race. The last caution flag flew on the 22nd lap. The leaders were negotiating lapped traffic over the final five laps of the race and Sesely just edged Canadian driver Mike Lichty for the win, with Lou Cicconi a very close third. Andrew Nye and Mike Iles completed the top five.
In addition to drivers who compete in the three-quarter midgets on a regular basis, drivers from just about every form of Northeastern racing competed. Lichty and Cicconi both race asphalt super modifieds. Iles is a veteran dirt modified racer. Drivers from the local sprint-car circuit didn't fare too well this year, although they were represented.
The slingshot feature went to Simon Egan, who started 16th, and the champ kart feature was won by Anthony Colandro, who started fourth.
The next indoor racing event is planned for the weekend of Feb. 7-9 in Trenton's Sun Center. The Battle of Trenton is an all-new racing event this season, and brings racing back to a city that once hosted both the Indy Cars and NASCAR.
Friday's show at Trenton will feature Twin 20s for the TQ midgets, plus the slingshots. Saturday is the 40-lap main for the TQs, plus the champ karts.
On Sunday afternoon, the younger generation will get to race at Trenton, with the one-quarter midgets an go karts in action.
Local season starts in less than month: The conditions outside don't look too favorable right now, but the local racing season is set to begin in just a few weeks.
Lincoln Speedway's Icebreaker for the sprint cars is scheduled to go off on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 22. Lincoln plans to kick off its 62nd consecutive season of racing with four sprint-car-only daytime shows.
The new management at Hagerstown will be the second area track to kick off the new season. Rick Jones and Ernie Davis have set Sunday afternoon, March 9, as the opening date for Hagerstown this season. Returning to an old favorite, Hagerstown's season will open with the sprints and late models on the card.
The sprint-car portion of the program will be shootout races in conjunction with Port Royal. Hagerstown first opened in 1946, but had several seasons without racing before returning to weekly racing in 1963. It has been in continuous operation since then.
Selinsgrove Speedway actually has three opening dates for three totally different shows. The first weekend of racing will feature the Race of Champions modifieds and takes place on Friday and Saturday, March 14-15. The following Sunday, March 23, the sprint cars visit Selinsgrove. The regular season opens on Saturday, April 5, with the 358/360 sprints and late models. Like Hagerstown, Selinsgrove opened in 1946, but went through some tough times before getting back to regular weekly racing in 1963. It has operated continuously since then.
Port Royal's first racing event of the season is set for Saturday, March 15, with the sprints and late models on the program. There is a practice day before then. The track at Port Royal was used for horse racing when it first opened in the late 1800s. Auto racing became a part of the annual fair in the 1930s and weekly racing has been ongoing since 1951.
The Williams Grove Speedway will celebrate its 75th year this season. The Grove opens its season on Friday evening, March 29, with the sprints and 358 sprints in action. The Grove first opened in May of 1939, and has hosted races every year since except in 1943 and 1944, when racing was banned because of World War II.
Susquehanna Speedway will open for its regular weekly Stock Car Saturday on April 5. The sprint cars make their first visit of the season a week later on Sunday, April 13. Susky opened in 1954 and has hosted races every year since then, except for 1974.
Niki Young: While I didn't get a chance to spend this past weekend at the Dirt Trackin' show in York because of commitments in Atlantic City, I did stop by on Thursday evening when the show was being set up.
One interesting fact I learned that night is that Niki Young will have a new ride this season.
Young won last year's 358 sprint-car point title at Lincoln, but his team disbanded over the winter months. Young has landed a ride with longtime York racers Jeff Boll and Mike Miller. Boll and Miller have been fielding cars for many years, dating back to the early 1970s. Last season was the first in many years that they sat out for a season. They will return for weekly racing at Lincoln this year with Young behind the wheel.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.