The Icebreaker 30 for sprint cars is scheduled to go off Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Speedway.
However, a look outside the window makes things look bleak for sprint-car racing in our area this coming weekend. I'm afraid it would be a true "icebreaker" should Lincoln be able to race this weekend.
As this is written, the Icebreaker is still on, but conditions outside will have to change drastically this week for it to happen. Lincoln Speedway has been able to start its season in February in 12 of the past 20 years, including the past two years, and three of the past five years. Right now, however, this year looks doubtful.
All told, the area has tried to host February openers for each of the past 30 years. If it were to happen this year it would mark the 31st time it's been attempted in the area. The record of actually making the opener in February is almost a 50-50 shot. There have been 16 local openers hosted in February. The earliest was Feb. 20, 1999, when Fred Rahmer won in Al Hamilton's No. 77.
30 years ago: Since Mother Nature doesn't seem willing to let go of winter just yet, I'll continue my look at area season openers over the years. This week I'll take a look at 30 years ago.
Back in 1984, Hagerstown was the track that opened the local sprint-car season, and it happened in February. That year actually marked the first February opener in the area. Hagerstown actually offered two weeks of sprint-car racing before winter moved back into the area, and it took two more weeks for another track to open its gates.
Hagerstown opened the 1984 racing season on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 26. On that day, Keith Kauffman drove Al Hamilton's famed No. 77 to the victory. Kauffman's win came over current NASCAR driver Dave Blaney, with current modified racer Craig Von Dohran in third. Smokey Snellbaker and Scott Tobias completed the top five.
On March 4, Kauffman again won at Hagerstown, this time over Kevin Collins, George Ferguson Jr., Steve Stambaugh and Snellbaker.
The next local sprint-car race took place on Saturday evening, March 17, at Port Royal. The Port had lost one week of racing to the weather before getting the season underway. In that one, Blaney drove his Blaney Lumber No. 10 to the victory over Jimmy Nace. Stambaugh finished third, followed by Donnie Kreitz Jr. and Garry Howsare.
Williams Grove opened the following afternoon, and Kauffman was back in victory lane for the third time that season. Nace followed Kauffman to the line, with Randy Wolfe in third. Blaney and Kreitz completed the top five.
Lincoln opened its season on Saturday, April 7, that year, with Richard Lupo driving Bobby Allen's No. 2A to the opening-day victory. Lupo's win came over Hellam's Bobby Weaver, with Jac Haudenschild, driving the Weikert Livestock No. 29 that season, in third. Stambaugh and Craig Keel completed the top five.
Selinsgrove opened its season on the same night, with George Bischoff racing to victory in his No. 3B. Bischoff's win came over Allen Klinger, with Thomasville's Randy Ruth in third. Buck Buckley and Doug Baum completed the top five.
A couple of other opening sprint-car races deserve a mention as well. That season, Trailway Speedway offered up one sprint-car race on its schedule. The race was rained out on its first attempt, but one week later, on May 13, the local sprint cars tackled the tricky quarter-mile mile oval. Haudenschild drove the Weikert car to the victory that night over Steve Siegel, with Wolfe, Nace and Jimmy McBee in the top five.
Susquehanna Speedway was on the rebound that year and the sprint cars returned to the oval for the first time in several years. Sprint cars had last raced at Susky during the summer of 1981. The track then offered a year of modified racing before closing after one modified race at the start of the 1983 season. Jeff Hartlaub re-opened the track in 1984 with a shot at Friday night super-sportsman and limited-late-model racing.
By June, Hartlaub was ready to try something else. On June 10, he brought the sprint cars back to Susky for a Sunday night show. It worked well, and Hartlaub offered Sunday night sprint-car racing at Susky for a number of years afterwards.
That June 10 show saw Kreitz score the victory in his familiar powder-blue No. 69K. Siegel finished second, with Weaver, Steve Smith and Van May in the top five.
Florida winners: The sprint-car races in Florida have gotten started.
After several days of rain, Bubba Raceway in Ocala hosted the All-Star sprint cars on Feb. 9 and 10. In the first race, it was NASCAR racer Dave Blaney who scored the win, with Outlaw regular Kerry Maden the winner of the second. The All-Stars moved to Volusia for racing on the 12th and 13th, with rain again causing a cancellation on the 12th, and Outlaw Joey Saldana winning on the 13th. The World of Outlaws then moved into Volusia, with Brad Sweet winning on Friday and Donny Schatz besting Red Lion's Cody Darrah on Saturday.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Opening-day winners: Following is a list opening-day winners on the area dirt-track scene:
1932: Reading, May 15, Freddy Frame.
1933: Reading, April 30, Billy Winn.
1934: Reading, May 19, Johnny Hannon.
1935: Reading, April 28, Doc McKenzie.
1936: Reading, April 26, Vern Orendorff.
1937: Reading, April 25, Tony Wilman.
1938: Reading, April 24, Ted Horn.
1939: Reading, April 23, Mark Light.
1940: Reading, April 28, Mark Light.
1941: Reading, April 20, Jimmy Wilburn.
1942: Reading, April 19, Joie Chitwood.
1945: Williams Grove, Sept. 30, Ted Horn.
1946: Williams Grove, April 14, Walt Ader.
1947: Williams Grove, April 20, Ted Horn.
1948: Williams Grove, April 17, Ted Horn.
1949: Reading, April 3, Tommy Hinnershitz.
1950: Reading, April 2, Tommy Hinnershitz.
1951: Reading, April 8, Bill Schindler.
1952: Reading, April 6, Tommy Hinnershitz.
1953: Reading, March 29, Tommy Hinnershitz.
1954: Reading, March 29, Johnny Thompson.
1955: Bowling Green, Jan. 1, Jerry Banks.
1956: Williams Grove, April 15, Johnny Mackison Sr.
1957: Williams Grove, March 31, Johnny Mackison Sr.
1957: Susquehanna, March 31, Bobby Hersh.
1957: Reading, March 31, Johnny Thompson.
1958: Williams Grove, April 13, Johnny Thompson.
1958: Susquehanna, April 13, Troy Funck.
1959: Susquehanna, April 5, Bobby Hersh.
1959: Reading, April 5, Elmer George.
1960: Susquehanna, April 10, Gary Wolford.
1961: Reading, March 26, A.J. Foyt.
1962: Reading, March 25, Jim Hurtibise.
1963: Reading, March 24, A.J. Foyt.
1964: Susquehanna, March 29, Johnny Crawford Sr.
1964: Reading, March 29, A.J. Foyt.
1965: Reading, March 27, Jud Larson.
1966: Susquehanna, March 27, Bobby Abel.
1967: Reading, March 31, Larry Dickson.
1968: Susquehanna, March 29, Kenny Weld.
1969: Susquehanna, March 16, Mitch Smith.
1970: Susquehanna, March 15, Tommie Spriggle.
1971: Susquehanna, March 14, Mitch Smith.
1972: Susquehanna, March 12, Ed Zirkle.
1972: Hagerstown, March 12, Kenny Weld.
1973: Port Royal, March 24, Jan Opperman.
1974: Port Royal, March 23, Lynn Paxton.
1975: Williams Grove, March 23, Jan Opperman.
1976: Reading, March 14, Jay Myers.
1977: Lincoln, March 6, Van May.
1978: Lincoln, April 1, Bobby Allen.
1978: Port Royal, April 1, Jay Myers.
1979: Reading, March 11, Billy Steif.
1980: Port Royal, March 22, Lynn Paxton.
1981: Port Royal, March 21, Keith Kauffman.
1982: Port Royal, March 27, Steve Smith.
1983: Port Royal, March 12, Bobby Davis Jr.
1984: Hagerstown, Feb. 26, Keith Kauffman.
1985: Hagerstown, March 3, Van May.
1986: Williams Grove, March 16, Keith Kauffman.
1987: Williams Grove, March 8, Cris Eash.
1988: Hagerstown, Feb. 28, Fred Rahmer.
1989: Williams Grove, March 2, Stevie Smith.
1990: Williams Grove, March 4, Kenny Adams.
1991: Hagerstown, Feb. 24, Steve Smith.
1992: Hagerstown, Feb. 23, Keith Kauffman.
1993: Williams Grove, March 7, Keith Kauffman.
1994: Lincoln, March 20, Glenn Fitzcharles.
1995: Lincoln, Feb. 25, Fred Rahmer.
1996: Lincoln, Feb. 24, Fred Rahmer.
1997: Lincoln, Feb. 22, Fred Rahmer.
1998: Lincoln, Feb. 21, Todd Shaffer.
1999: Lincoln, Feb. 20, Fred Rahmer.
2000: Lincoln, Feb. 26, Keith Kauffman.
2001: Lincoln, March 3, Fred Rahmer.
2002: Lincoln, Feb. 23, Keith Kauffman.
2003: Lincoln, March 15, Chris Knopp.
2004: Lincoln, Feb. 21, Fred Rahmer.
2005: Lincoln, March 12, Fred Rahmer.
2006: Lincoln, Feb. 25, Doug Esh.
2007: Lincoln, March 3, Lance Dewease.
2008: Lincoln, March 1, Niki Young.
2009: Lincoln, Feb. 28, Brian Montieth.
2010: Williams Grove, March 19, Fred Rahmer.
2011: Lincoln, March 5, Brian Montieth.
2012: Lincoln, Feb. 25, Adam Wilt.
2013: Lincoln, Feb. 23, Brian Montieth.