Another edition of Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek is completed.
It was another very successful series for local racers.
Stevie Smith raced to his first Speedweek title with perhaps the most dominant performance ever during the holiday series. Eight of the nine races were completed, with Smith winning a record five events. The most a driver had won during a single Speedweek in the past was four. Smith's car owner, Fred Rahmer, did that last in 2005. Spring Grove's Greg Hodnett had done it twice before that.
But Smith didn't just win five races. His finishes in the other three races were second, third and sixth. The second-generation driver joins his father, Steve Smith, who was the very first Speedweek champion back in 1991. Smith will take home $10,000 as the Speedweek champion.
Smith wasn't the only driver to have a great week. In fact there were four drivers who had top-10 finishes in all the races. Danny Dietrich, who finished second in the Speedweek point chase, had finishes of third, second, first, third, fourth, eighth, fifth and fourth. Hodnett, who finished third overall, was second, 10th, ninth, second, eighth, fourth, third and second. Fourth-place Lucas Wolfe was fourth, eighth, sixth, fourth, third, ninth, eighth and seventh.
While the Speedweek title was Smith's first, it was also the first as a car owner for Rahmer. However, the man known as the "King of Speedweek" isn't unfamiliar with winning the Speedweek championship. Rahmer did it 13 times as a driver.
It was quite a Speedweek for Rahmer. Not only did he field the championship-winning car, but he promoted an extremely successful Speedweek event at Path Valley Speedway. One interesting note. When Rahmer decided to race the whole series with Smith's car, he didn't want to have it thought that he would take advantage of his role as promoter at Path Valley. For that night, he asked rival driver Hodnett to draw the pill for Smith's time-trial slot. For the record, Hodnett drew a 61 pill and Smith went out next to last for time trials.
This year's Speedweek moved the count to 171 Speedweek races completed at 12 different tracks. A total of 37 different drivers have won Speedweek races, with Steve Buckwalter adding his name to the list with his Port Royal win. Smith moved his Speedweek win total up to 11, which is fifth on the career list. Rahmer still leads the way with 30 Speedweek wins.
A record 88 different drivers took part in this year's Speedweek series.
You know you're getting old when ... : I've often told folks that it seems strange that I'm now watching the start of racing careers for the children and even grandchildren of drivers I saw start their careers years ago.
That really struck home on Sunday night at Selinsgrove. There were two veteran drivers in victory lane that night and I realized that I had known both of those winners when they were just youngsters.
Speedweek sprint winner Stevie Smith was always at the races with his father, Steve Smith, and I can recall my first meeting with Stevie Smith. It happened at Susquehanna when Steve Smith suffered a broken leg, the only serious injury of his long career. I was a teenager doing publicity work at Susky at the time. I can recall staying with pre-teen Stevie as his father was being checked out for a trip to the hospital.
With super sportsman winner Chad Criswell, the early memories go back to his baby days. His father Cris Criswell was a sprint car racer in the late 1970s and 1980s. Cris Criswell and I have always been good friends and I can recall a New Year's Eve gathering at the Criswell home in West Virginia when Chad was just a baby.
Chad Criswell won his Sunday race over Kevin Nouse, with Mike Enders, Frankie Herr and Dover's Chad Trout in the top five. Rounding out the top 10 were Jay Fannasy, Wellsville's Scott Geesey, Doug Dodson, Dillsburg's Rich Eichelberger and Steve Fannasy.
Tyler Reeser won the 305 sprint feature over Zach Newlin, Derrick Bowersox, James Pryde and Drew Ritchey.
Drivers from the area won two of the three races on the All Star Circuit of Champions series last weekend.
Red Lion's Cody Darrah ended the weekend in victory lane Sunday evening at Ohio's Millstream Speedway. Ryan Smith was Saturday's winner at western Pennsylvania's Mercer Speedway. Lee Jacobs had won Friday at Mercer.
Weekend events: Williams Grove has a two-event weekend planned. Friday, the sprint cars and 358 sprints compete at the historic oval. For the 358 sprints, the race is part of the Nouse Signs and Graphics 358 Sprint Summer Series. On Saturday, the super sportsmen, limited late models and street stocks compete in the Saturday Night Series events.
The limited late models take center stage at Trailway on Friday evening. Also on the program are the Legends, limited stocks and street stocks.
Saturday at Lincoln is Fallen Firefighters Night, with the sprints and 358 sprints in action. Also, in a schedule change, the Mach 1 358/360 sprint challenge feature that was twice rained out as a part of the USAC Eastern Storm program will be competed. The 360 sprint drivers who are in the event should note that since they won't have another event on the program, they will receive four complimentary pit passes, but only if they confirm that they will be there in advance. The 358 sprint teams will have another program and will not be eligible for the passes.
Port Royal hosts the sprints, UFO late models and econo late models Saturday.
Hagerstown also has a schedule change on Saturday. The late model portion of the program will be the once-rained-out Red Ninninger Memorial Race. The late model sportsmen, pure stocks and hobby stocks also compete.
Both Susquehanna and Selinsgrove take the weekend off for their "summer vacations."
1970: This was a busy weekend on the local circuit in 1970. On Friday at Williams Grove, Jimmy Sheaffer drove to his third victory of the season in the Killinger No. 111.
Saturday at Lincoln, it was Kenny Weld scoring his 14th victory of the season in the Bud Grimm No. 88. The USAC sprints visited Williams Grove on this Saturday night and local racer Dick Tobias scored the win in his Russ Ruppert-prepared No. 2.
In a weird twist of fate, Port Royal was rained out on this Saturday, so Port Regular Johnny Grum towed to Selinsgrove to score his 10th win of the season in Harry Fletcher's No. 66. Grum would also put Fletcher's car in victory lane at Hagerstown on Sunday for his 11th of the season.
Susquehanna had a rare Sunday sprint car race this week and Mitch Smith scored his eighth win of the season in Gary Wasson's No. 5.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Speedway Motors/Champion Racing Oil Central Pennsylvania Sprint Car standings
Presented by Hoseheads.com
1. Greg Hodnett (9) 1,095
2. Danny Dietrich (6) 869
3. Brian Montieth (8) 809
4 Lucas Wolfe (2) 713
5. Brent Marks 591
6. Stevie Smith (6) 503
7. Aaron Ott (1) 496
8. Alan Krimes (1) 409
9. Steve Buckwalter (3) 358
10. Lance Dewease (1) 345
PENNSYLVANIA SPRINT CAR SPEEDWEEK FINAL STANDINGS
1. Stevie Smith 1,286
2. Danny Dietrich 1,119
3. Greg Hodnett 1,100
4. Lucas Wolfe 1,020
5. Brent Marks 846
5. Aaron Ott 846
7. Doug Esh 629
8. Alan Krimes 623
9. Brian Montieth 580
10. Lance Dewease 482
10. Brock Zearfoss 482
CAPITAL RENEGADE 358 SPRINT SERIES POINTS
1. Brad McClelland (4) 517
2. Doug Hammaker (3) 495
3. Issac Sneeringer (3) 402
4. Matt Campbell (2) 397
5. Dwight Leppo (1) 332
6. Jeff Halligan (3) 324
7. Cody Fletcher (1) 320
8. David Holbrook (1) 296
9. Adrian Shaffer (2) 264
10. Kevin Nouse 248