The area dirt-track scene is in the midst of the Appalachian Mountain Late Model Speedweek, and is about to embark on the USAC Eastern Storm.
In other words, there's plenty of racing around the area all week long. Add in a big race for the local winged sprint cars, and there is something for everyone.
The Late Model Speedweek was hampered by rain last weekend, but the opener at Bedford fell to second-generation driver Nick Dickson. This week's action includes Thursday and Friday shows at Hesston, and a Saturday program at Hagerstown.
The USAC Eastern Storm begins Tuesday night at Grandview. The wingless 410 sprints of USAC invade the area for five nights of racing in six days. The Grandview show will feature the USAC sprints, and Grandview’s own modifieds.
On Wednesday, the Eastern Storm moves to Lincoln. This show also includes Lincoln’s 358 sprints. The USAC show at Lincoln was rained out at feature time two years ago, and then rained out again last year. That means this year’s program will also include an extra feature for the USAC cars. Word is that a USAC veteran, and 2016 Indy 500 starter, is actively seeking a Lincoln 358 sprint ride for Wednesday night.
USAC moves on to New Egypt, New Jersey, on Thursday evening. New Egypt’s own NEWS (crate) sprint cars will join the program.
USAC’s sprints take Friday off, but USAC will be in action. The sanctioning body’s Silver Crown series cars will visit Williams Grove for the first time since 1981. The Silver Crown cars are the evolution of the old Indy roadsters.
While they haven’t been there in a while, these cars have a long history at the Grove. Back in 1949, Williams Grove became the first half-mile track to ever host the Indy cars. Johnny Mantz won that race, a full year before he won NASCAR’s first-ever Southern 500 at Darlington. Indy 500 winners Troy Ruttman, Jimmy Bryan and Roger Ward all have wins at Williams Grove in these cars. Ward’s win came in 1959, and the next visit was in 1980 when Sheldon Kinser was the winner. The last race at the Grove for these cars was in 1981, when Eddie Levitt won.
The ARDC Midgets are also a part of the Grove show.
The USAC sprint cars pick up on the Eastern Storm on Saturday at Port Royal, where they will be joined by the 305 sprints and the Xtreme stock cars.
The Eastern Storm wraps up on Sunday at Susquehanna, where the ARDC midgets join the action.
For fans of local winged sprint car racing, the weekend schedule is different, but there are two big races. Friday Night Lights will take place at Selinsgrove, where the sprint cars will make a rare Friday start with $3,500 for the winner. The pro stocks also race at Selinsgrove.
Saturday, Lincoln presents the Dirt Classic Showcase for the sprint cars. This race pays $7,000 to win and assures the winner of a starting spot in September’s Dirt Classic. In addition, a special passing bonus will be in effect. If the pole sitter takes the challenge to start last, that driver will take home $15,000 if he should win.
The offer of a passing bonus will drop down the line until it is taken. Any driver other than the pole sitter, who takes the challenge will get $250 for every position he improves in the finishing order. Only the sprint cars will race at Lincoln Saturday.
Other action on Friday includes the 358 sprints, 270cc micro sprints, limited stocks and street stocks at Trailway, and wingless super sportsmen at Path Valley.
Susquehanna has the Carl Billet Memorial race for the limited late models Saturday, plus the super sportsmen and street stocks.
1966: It was another busy weekend in the area 50 years ago. The four Friday races found three drivers improving on their local win stats for the season, and one future Hall of Famer scoring his first career local win.
At Williams Grove, Ray Tilley parked Bud Grimm’s No. 88 in victory lane for the ninth time that season, while Ray Dovel got his eighth win of the season when he won at Winchester, Virginia, in the Lee Stultz No. S-3.
Bobby Abel won at Dorsey, Maryland, Friday in his own No. 2, and then pushed his season total to nine with a win at Lincoln on Saturday.
It was at Bedford on Friday night when a kid from Kansas City, Missiouri, parked his family-owned No. 94 in victory lane for the first time on Pennsylvania soil. Kenny Weld would add about 200 more wins in the area before he retired.
Saturday at Port Royal, legendary Mitch Smith kept pace with his rivals when he parked the Flock Brothers Flying Tiger No. 2 in victory lane for the eighth time that season.
While he is best known for his late model prowess, or maybe as the father of a NASCAR cup winner, Ed Spencer got his first local bug win of the season that Saturday at Selinsgrove. Out west in Everett at South Penn, Elmer Ruby was winning his first of the season in the family-owned No. 711.
Sunday at Susquehanna, the “heavies” ruled again as “Big Daddy” Vic Lewis scored the last local win for a coach-bodied car when he won in his own No. 116.
At Hagerstown on Sunday, future modified star Gerald Chamberlain parked the Don Rice Ford No. 31 in victory lane for his second win of the season.
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 SERIES
PRESENTED BY HOSEHEADS.COM
1. 27 Greg Hodnett 878 9
2. 48 Danny Dietrich 512 2
3. 21 Brian Montieth 423 3
4. 07 Doug Esh 359 1
5. 1/5W Lucas Wolfe 352 1
6. 19M Brent Marks 331 1
7. 87 Alan Krimes 266
8. 51 Freddie Rahmer 252 1
9. 52 Austin Hogue 242
10. 11c Cory Haas 240
11. 69K Lance Dewease 233 3
12. 3z Brock Zearfoss 228 1
13. 25 Aaron Ott 215 1
14. 94 Ryan Smith 214
15. M1 Mark Smith 202
16. 17B Steve Buckwalter 174 1
17. 55K Robbie Kendall 156
18. 8 Billy Dietrich 144 1
19. 12 Blane Heimbach 140 1
20. 15 Adam Wilt 137
21. 59 Jim Siegel 134
22. 55 Mike Wagner 133
23. 16 Gerard McIntyre Jr. 121
24. 20 Ryan Taylor 113
25. 51 Stevie Smith 112