The local auto racing calender begins to fill up this weekend, with several more tracks kicking off their seasons.
On Friday evening, Williams Grove starts its 76th season of auto racing with the sprint cars and the late models on the racing slate.
The Grove held its first race in May of 1939. However, there were two years during World War II when the speedway was forced to sit idle. Other than that, the Grove has been in continuous operation since May of 1939. Legendary Tommy Hinnershitz won the first feature race held at the Grove. Last year Danny Dietrich won the season opener. Fred Rahmer leads all drivers with six wins in the Grove’s season openers.
From there, it’s a rather full Saturday slate of racing. Trailway kicks off its season on Saturday afternoon. The 270cc and 600cc micro sprints are joined by the Legends racers for the season opener there.
Selinsgrove is set to open its season Saturday evening with the Race of Champions big block modifieds on the slate. The modifieds will also start their season here in the Northeast with the Ice Breaker 40.
Lincoln moves to its Saturday evening schedule this week with a 6 p.m. show. The sprint cars will be on hand for their fourth show of the season. The limited late models will join the sprints for their first show of the season.
Port Royal is also in action on Saturday evening. Week No. 2 at the Port will feature the sprints and late models, just like the opener.
YCRC meeting: The York County Racing Club will play host to a general membership meeting on Wednesday evening at the club hall in Zions View.
The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. with Chase Billet as the guest speaker. Billet is the defending limited late model champion at Susquehanna Speedway.
A member of a multi-generation York County racing family, Billet has become a force in the local limited late model wars. His father, Mark Billet, was a big winner and champion in the class, while his uncle, Carl Billet, was one of the area’s top late model and limited late model stars. Cousin Steve Billet is also a winning limited late model driver, and grandfather Carl Billet Sr. was a top mechanic in years past.
EMMR: The Eastern Museum of Motor Racing will play host to one of its third Sunday round-table discussions this Sunday afternoon. The topic this time around will be the Tobias family.
Dick “Toby” Tobias was a big star in local sprint car and modified racing before losing his life in a USAC sprint car race at Flemington, New Jersey, in the late 1970s. Son Ronnie was a top modified racer, while son Scott was a top sprint car racer. Son-in-law Paul Lotier was also a top modified and sprint car racer. Scott Tobias and Lotier both suffered career-ending injuries in sprint car races, while Ronnie Tobias suffered a fatal heart attack after competing in a modified race at Susquehanna.
Dick Tobias also promoted racing on the dirt track at Penn National for several years, with daughter Debbie Lotier taking over after his death. Tobias Speed Shop was a local staple for many years, becoming one of the first to build a modified chassis for sale.
Another son, Richie Tobias, has carried on the family tradition. A top modified racer in his own right, Richie has branched out into all the family interests in racing. Has has created several budget classes of racing, building the cars for both the SpeedSTRS and the slingshots. In addition, Richie is the promoter of the Wednesday evening races at the Kutztown Fairgrounds.
Hodnett: In three local races this season, Spring Grove’s Greg Hodnett has been almost flawless.
Hodnett won the season-opening races at both Lincoln and Port Royal. In between, he finished second in Lincoln’s second race. Hodnett was a top contender in all the racing during the Winter Heat series in Arizona in January, and had all top-10 runs during the Florida Speedweeks.
Other notes: Danny Dietrich was the only driver to try the double on Saturday.
Dietrich finished fifth at Lincoln in the afternoon, watching his older half brother Billy race to victory. Then he headed north to Port Royal, where he was leading the feature for several laps before tire issues ended his day.
Lincoln drew 21 sprint cars Saturday, while Port Royal had 25. Expect those numbers to grow at Lincoln this week, when the track switches to night-time racing.
Lincoln also had about 20 cars from other divisions for its post-race practice session. Several drivers who practiced at Lincoln also did a double. Susquehanna had an evening practice session. About four drivers did test and tune at both tracks.
The Susquehanna session was a big unveiling for the renovations in progress at the York County speedway. Exactly half of the grandstand has been completed, but the biggest rave reviews were for the track surface, which was smooth and very fast.
Susky had a large turnout of cars for its practice session. Probably close to 80 cars were pit side at Susky. Free admission also produced a large crowd of spectators. Susky has another test and tune on Wednesday evening.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.
2016 SPEEDWAY MOTORS/CHAMPION RACING OIL
CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA SPRINT CAR POINT SERIES
PRESENTED BY HOSEHEADS.COM
(Wins in parenthesis)
1. Greg Hodnett (2) 135
2. Brian Montieth (1) 110
3. Adam Wilt 71
4. Alan Krimes 56
5. Billy Dietrich (1) 50 1
6. Danny Dietrich 44
7. Freddie Rahmer 39
7. Gerard McIntyre Jr 39
9. Jim Siegel 36
10.Glenndon Forsythe 35
10. T.J. Stutts 35