Teens make impact on dirt tracks
There were a number of drivers who scored their first wins in their chosen type of local racing this year.
This week we’ll take a look at some of those drivers.
In the 410 sprint car ranks, three drivers claimed their first wins in that division this year on the local circuit. Ironically, all three of those drivers got their wins at Lincoln, and they all happened within a month. All three were teenagers at the time of their wins.
The first to score his first 410 win was York’s Chase Dietz. While a former champion and winner in the 358 sprint ranks, this was Dietz’s first season in the 410s. He raced mainly at Lincoln in a Scott Gobrecht-owned car. Dietz got his win on Aug. 15.
Of course, Dietz is the son of former racer Tim Dietz and a nephew to current sprint car racer Cory Haas.
Two weeks later, on Aug. 29, Brandon Rahmer raced to his first sprint car win. The third-generation driver is in his second year of sprint car racing, following some time in SpeedSTRs and 305 sprints. His father is the area’s, and Lincoln’s, all-time career win leader.
Just one week after Brandon Rahmer won at Lincoln, his younger (by a few minutes) brother, Freddie Rahmer, scored his first sprint car win. Like Brandon, Freddie had raced SpeedSTRs and 305 sprints and is in his second year of sprint car racing.
Both Rahmer boys drive for their father's, Fred Rahmer’s, team, and work closely with the team’s other driver, Stevie Smith.
The 358 sprints: In the 358 sprint ranks there were six drivers who scored their first wins in that class. The biggest winner was Jeff Halligan, who claimed three wins this season. Halligan won twice at Lincoln and once at Trailway. Halligan comes from a multi-generational racing family that concentrated on midget racing in the past.
Cody Fletcher picked up his first two career 358 sprint wins at Trailway this season. Fletcher also comes from a family with a long heritage in local racing. His grandfather, Harry Fletcher, who died this fall, was a longtime car owner who fielded cars for some of the area’s biggest winners. Cody’s father, Bobby, was one of the drivers who won in Harry’s cars.
The other double first-time winner in the 358 sprint ranks this season was Kody Lehman. In his second season with the 358s after a successful career in the 305 sprints, Lehman won once each at Williams Grove and Lincoln.
High school student Cole Young got his first 358 sprint win at Lincoln. Moving up from the micro-sprint ranks, Young is the son of veteran racer Niki Young.
Another driver who moved up from the micros and won this year in the 358s was David Holbrook, who scored his win at Trailway.
The sixth driver to score his first 358 sprint win this season was Bill Stine. Stine raced with a limited budget in the 410 ranks for a number of years, but got a 358 ride this season. He scored his win at Lincoln, which is also where he got his only 410 sprint win.
Super sportsmen: For the super sportsman racers, the advent of wingless racing at Path Valley added a number of drivers to the ranks, and also produced three first-time winners.
Second-generation driver Tony Jackson got his first sportsman win at Path Valley and added two more there during the season. He also got his first winged win this year at Williams Grove. Jackson is the son of division superstar Larry Jackson.
Ryan Greth got his first sportsman win this season at Path Valley, as well. Greth has been a top talent in both micro and midget racing over the years.
The other driver to score his first sportsman win also did so at Path Valley. Tracey Reading is a veteran of many forms of local racing. He has competed in most of the sprint car classes, as well as midgets and even modifieds. This year, he raced wingless sportsman cars at Path Valley and was a fixture in the top five, scoring his only win in the season’s final race on Oct. 11.
I’m not sure about the late model racers a little ways outside the area, but I’m pretty sure that former pro-stock racer Jason Schmidt’s win at Port Royal, and journeyman driver Chad Hollenbeck’s win at Selinsgrove, were their respective firsts in that class.
Indoor racing soon: The first of the area’s indoor three-quarter-midget races will be held on Saturday, Jan. 2, at the all-new PPL Center in Allentown. Of course, with this being a new building, it will mark the first time for the TQs at the facility.
The last time the TQs raced indoors in Allentown was 50 years ago in 1966. Of course, Allentown was once a hotbed of local outdoor racing. The Allentown fairgrounds was once a part of the national sprint car circuit and the former paved oval at Dorney Park was a longtime area favorite.
Other indoor racers this winter include the Atlantic City events on Jan. 29 and 30, and Trenton on Feb. 26 and 27. The outdoor season is also set to open on Feb. 27 at Lincoln.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.