With another local racing season in the books, it’s an appropriate time to take a look at how the recently completed season changed the overall win statistics for some of the area dirt-track racing classes.
In the 410 sprint ranks, only one active driver is in the top 10 in overall career wins. Lance Dewease’s nine-win season moved him a little closer to Fred Rahmer at the top of the list for the 410 sprinters. Dewease now has 348 career wins in the sprints, but still trails Rahmer (419) by more than 70.
Keith Kauffman (304) Greg Hodnett (285) and Bobby Allen (276) round out the top five. Completing the top 10 are Steve Smith (266), Lynn Paxton (225), Stevie Smith (222), Kenny Weld (218) and and Dewease’s car owner, Donnie Kreitz Jr. (200).
The next active driver on the list is this season’s win leader, Danny Dietrich, who stands 24th overall with 100 career wins. Next among active drivers is Brian Montieth, who is 28th all-time with 94 wins.
The super late models:In the super late models, there are three active drivers in the top 10, and York’s Rick Eckert made a jump toward the top this season, going from fourth to third. Eckert’s nine wins this season pushed him to 205 career wins.
Gary Stuhler still leads the way with 354 career wins, with Denny Bonebrake sitting second with 212, just seven ahead of Eckert. Buddy Armel (202) and Ronnie McBee (187) complete the top five. Rounding out the top 10 are Rodney Franklin (181), Scott Haus (178), Tom Peck (171), Jimmy McBee (165), Jeff Rine (who pushed his total to 161 this season) and Bobby Goodling (124).
The super sportsmen: For the super sportsmen, both winged and nonwinged, Gary Wolford still stands tall at the top of the list with 145 wins. Although he didn’t win this season, Dillsburg’s Rich Eichelberger is second with 88 wins. Frankie Herr jumped ahead two spots this season. His four wins this year placed Herr third with 85 wins.
Johnny Murphy (83) and Larry Jackson (82) complete the top five. Rounding out the top 10 are Russ Smith (69), Dwight Leib (68), Carmen Perigo Jr. (63), Fred Putney Sr. (59) and a tie between Howie Locke and Bobby Weaver at 48.
The 358 sprints: Looking at the 358 sprints, the top four no longer compete in the class, with Pat Cannon still the leader at 85, followed by Brad McClelland (56), Chad Layton (55) and Mike Lehman (51).
The first active driver on the list is West York’s Jeff Rohrbaugh, who won once this season to bring his total to 45. Kevin Nouse is sixth with his three wins this season, bringing his total to 40. Billy Dietrich has 32, while Doug Hammaker’s nine wins this season bring him up to 31, which places him in a tie with Bob Beidleman and Adrian Shaffer.
Some explanation: Of course, many of the top drivers didn’t limit themselves to just one type of racing, and their career wins totals are, in some cases, much higher than their wins in just one class.
Since the division between the 410 sprints and the 360 sprints was, at one time, much less divided, I have always included the 360 wins in a driver's total count for the 410s.
Maybe a little history to explain myself here. For a long time, there was no engine limit on any type of sprints. The once-dominant United States Auto Club series did use a 305 cubic-inch limit for many years after the V-8 engines took over from the four-cylinder Offy engines.
Then this area had a 312 cubic-inch limit for about a half dozen years before going back to unlimited, then 467 and now 410. The thing is, for many years, groups that are now 360 organizations used the same rules as the area tracks, or in fact, for those half dozen years, were even higher.
Keith Kauffman and Jay Myers actually won United Racing Club races (then a 366 limit) with the 312 engines. I should add that Mitch Smith’s legendary three-win USAC sweep in the early 1970s came when he bolted a much smaller USAC-legal engine in his local car.
So it’s hard to say that a 360 win for Greg Hodnett, Lance Dewease or Fred Rahmer shouldn’t count, when they do indeed count for stars of the past such as Kenny Weld, Ray Tilley, Bobby Allen or Jan Opperman. Ditto for Mitch Smith’s USAC wins. That’s why I do things that way.
The numbers game: For the record, Rahmer has five 360 wins (actually at the time 366 wins) in his number. Dewease has six, Kauffman has one, Hodnett has 34, Allen has one, Weld has three and Kreitz has 13.
Overall, Rahmer won his 419 in sprints, with one in 358 sprints, and 99 in modifieds. Dewease has a midget win to his credit. Kauffman has an additional three wins in late models and one in a Silver Crown car. Steve Smith has eight late-model wins, while Paxton has 14 late-model wins and a midget win, Weld and Kreitz each have a number of modified wins, in addition to their sprint totals.
On the other side of the coin, sportsman legend Wolford also won five times in the stock cars that preceded the local sprints, while late-model aces such as Armel (two) and Haus (three) also had sprint wins. Haus also won in the modifieds and is still the only driver to win at Williams Grove in all three.
Bobby Weaver has those 48 sportsman wins and another 48 in sprints. Eichelberger has also won in 358 sprints and limited-late models.
The most versatile? Perhaps the most versatile of all drivers who have ever graced the local tracks is Billy Pauch Sr.
Pauch won 62 races in the sprints, including biggies such as the Williams Grove National Open and Syracuse.
However those 62 sprint wins are just the tip of the iceberg in Pauch’s career. He has won more than 700 races. Most of his wins came in the dirt modifieds, but he also has wins in asphalt modifieds, late models and Speedstrs.
Pauch is still going strong and was the Bridgeport, New Jersey, modified champ this year.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.