York’s Rick Eckert will be one of eight drivers inducted into the National Late Model Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2017.
The induction will be held next August at the Florence Speedway in Union, Kentucky.
Eckert is the youngest son in a well-known racing family from York. His father. Junior Eckert, was the first in the family to step behind the wheel, but then his grandfather, Irvin Eckert Sr., also decided to give racing a try.
Junior Eckert was a late-model winner in the 1960s before losing part of his foot in an accident at Williams Grove Speedway in the early 1970s. Junior Eckert returned to racing in the late 1970s, racing in the street-stock class and scoring numerous wins.
As his children grew older, many followed in Junior’s footsteps. Older son Oz Eckert was a street-stock-class winner, as were daughters, Kitty, Candy and Lori. Candy also won a point title at Selinsgrove Speedway. More recently, Cody Darrah, Kitty’s son, has raced successfully in sprint cars.
Rick Eckert followed the family tradition and began his career in the figure-eight class at Trailway Speedway, before moving into the street stocks. When Junior moved back to late models, Rick followed, and started winning plenty of races and local point titles. He even tried sprint cars for part of a season.
As some local tracks began dropping late models in favor of the 358 sprint cars, Rick Eckert moved his career in a different direction. He took his show on the road and was still very successful. Rick Eckert has won several national late-model titles, including the 2011 World of Outlaws late-model point crown.
Final Showdown set for Saturday: The last program of the local outdoor racing season is set for Saturday afternoon at Susquehanna Speedway.
The Final Showdown will feature the 410 sprints and 358 sprints.
The sprint cars will race for $5,000 to win, while the 358 sprints go for $1,000.
Susquehanna began running The Final Showdown in 2010, with the same two divisions always competing in the early November event.
On the sprint-car side of things, Chad Layton won the first Final Showdown, with Donnie Kreitz Jr. winning the next two. Derek Sell scored an upset win in 2013, while Greg Hodnett and Danny Dietrich have been the two most recent winners.
For the 358 sprints, Aaron Ott won the first event in 2010, with Pat Cannon winning the next two. Josh Beard won in 2013, while Chase Dietz has won the last two.
Banquets: The banquet season is starting this weekend.
Selinsgrove Speedway will honor its top drivers from 2016 on Saturday evening.
Lincoln and Port Royal speedways both have their banquets scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 19.
YCRC's Monte Carlo Night: In between the banquets, the York County Racing Club has its Monte Carlo Night set for Saturday, Nov. 12.
For those not familiar with a Monte Carlo Night, participants gamble with play money, and then use their “winnings” to bid on donated items at an auction.
While a number of the items donated for the YCRC Monte Carlo Night are racing related, there are just as many donated items without any racing relationship, which makes this a fun night for all.
EMMR expansion: The Eastern Museum of Motor Racing is undergoing an expansion.
Lobar Inc., under the direction of its president, racer Rich Eichelberger, is adding to the west end of the museum. The new expansion will house a new research room to house all of the historical racing items that have been donated over the years.
The goal is to have the new space opened for the 2017 season.
Racing shows: The dates have been set for both of this area’s big winter auto-racing shows.
The Racing Xtravganza at the York Expo Center is set for the weekend of Feb. 4 and Feb. 5. Scott Gobrecht will again promote the show, which will be held in the Utz Arena. BAPS will again be the show sponsor.
The Motor Sports show in Oaks, promoted by Len Sammons Promotions, is set for the weekend of Jan. 20-22. Auto Racing legend Richard Petty will be the major guest, and many of his vintage race cars will be displayed.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.