55th Annual Tuscarora 50 at Port Royal starts Thursday

Bryan Householder
For The York DIspatch

This weekend with the Juniata County Fair as a backdrop, the Port Royal Speedway will reel off the 55th Annual Tuscarora 50 for the 410 sprint cars.  The three-day event is sanctioned by the All Stars.

The Tuscarora 50 started in 1968 as a Friday night 50-lap sprint car feature.  That year legendary racer Mitch Smith drove to the first of three consecutive Tuscarora 50 wins in the Gary Wasson No. 5 sprint car.

When it first began, the Tuscarora 50 was the final race of the season at the Port and, with two exceptions, due to the make up of rainouts, it remained the final race of the season thru the 2002 race.  Back in those days the Port usually ended its season the week after Labor Day when the fair ended.

From 2003-2005 the Port added a later race for the World of Outlaws, but the Tuscarora 50 was once again the last race of the season from 2006-2013, before more races were added following the Tuscarora since 2014.

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The Tuscarora 50 was a single day standalone event from its inception until 1998, when the tradition of “The Night Before The 50" began.  That is also when the Tuscarora 50 moved from Fridays to Saturdays.

A third night on Thursday was added for the 2015 Tuscarora weekend, but that only lasted one year.  The third night was revived during the COVID-shortened 2020 season and has remained on the schedule since then.

So this weekend, the three-day All Star sanctioned Tuscarora 50 weekend is on the racing slate.  All three nights are standalone events, with $8,000 to Thursday’s winner, $10,000 to Friday’s winner and $55,000 to Saturday’s winner.  The PASS 305 sprint join Thursday’s show, and the super late models are a part of Friday’s event.

Lance Dewease has won seven Tuscarora 50 events at Port Royal Speedway.

Over the years, Lance Dewease has been the biggest winner in Tuscarora 50 history. Dewease has won seven Tuscarora 50 events. Amazingly, the first five came for different car owners. His first was with Walter Dyer’s famed Brickmobile No. 461, followed by wins for Joe Harz, Al Hamilton and Pete Postupack. Dewease’s last thee Tuscaroa 50 wins have come with the Donnie Kreitz team and mechanic Davey Brown.

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Last year’s Tuscarora 50 was won by Logan Wagner in the Zemco sprinter. Wagner is shooting for his fifth consecutive Port Royal point title this year.  Last year’s win was his first in the Tuscarora 50.

Doug Wolfgang won four consecutive Tuscarora 50 events in the mid 1980s while driving for Bob Weikert.  Fred Rahmer is the only other four-time winner of the event.

In addition to Mitch Smith, local racing legends Lynn Paxton, Todd Shaffer, Donnie Kreitz Jr and Greg Hodnett have won three times

Two-time Tuscarora 50 winners include Smokey Snellbaker, Keith Kauffman, Stevie Smith, Doug Esh and Bobby Allen.

Of those winners, only Todd Shaffer and Doug Esh have not yet been inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame.

Other races:  Many local tracks will remain dark this weekend as Port Royal reels off the Tuscarora 50 weekend, but a few other races are scheduled.

Lincoln Speedway will be in action on Saturday but will not feature the 410 sprint cars. Instead, the super late models will make their first start of the season at Lincoln. Joining the late models for this show at Lincoln will be the wingless super sportsman, the extreme stock cars and the four-cylinder limited stocks.

Hagerstown ends its season this weekend with the Small Car nationals. While not smaller cars, the event is aimed at the lower budget classes of racing. The late model sportsman, pure stocks and hobby stocks are on the slate.  It’s a two-day program with qualifying events Friday and main events Saturday.

Path Valley’s show this weekend will include limited late models and Legends.

Point title: While many tracks have yet to determine their season champions, Freddie Rahmer’s win last Saturday at Lincoln clinched a third consecutive point title there for third -generation driver Freddie Rahmer. Although there are still several races remaining on Lincoln's slate for the 410 sprints, Rahmer has enough points to secure the crown.

Rahmer also leads the point standings at Williams Grove, although that one is by no means secure yet.