The final weekend of this winter’s indoor auto racing series is on tap Friday and Saturday.
The Gambler’s Classic inside Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall will wrap up this season’s indoor series in the Northeast.
Racing inside Boardwalk Hall dates back many decades. While there was a break in the action after Boardwalk Hall was renovated in the early 1980s, the series resumed just after the turn of the century, and has been going strong ever since.
The three-quarter midgets headline the action, with the slingshots and champ karts also seeing action. Friday evening in Boardwalk Hall, the TQs will have four 20-lap qualifying features, while both the slingshots and champ karts will also see action.
Saturday evening, there will be qualifying events, plus the weekend’s main feature events, topped off by the 40-lap Gambler’s Classic for the TQs, which offers $5,000 to the winner.
New York state dirt modified driver Erick Rudolph won the first race of the series in Trenton, back in early December. The second leg of the series was held New Year’s weekend in Allentown. There, Ryan Flores won both main night features.
Flores is a New Jersey native who works for the Penske NASCAR team during the week, and then changes tires for the Wood Brothers, Ryan Blaney-driven, NASCAR entry on NASCAR race days.
ARCH banquet: The Auto Racing Club of Hagerstown held its annual banquet on Saturday at the Elk’s Club in Hagerstown.
Each year, ARCH honors sportsmanship drivers from each of the tracks at which they host a club night during the racing season. They also hand out a number of special awards.
The members of ARCH vote on their favorite drivers each year, and those drivers receive an award at the banquet. This year’s winners were: open wheel, Alysa Rowe; late model, Marvin Winters; limited late model, Alan Sagi; pure stock, Chris Ebersole; and four cylinder, Bailey Johnson.
The Frank Sagi Memorial Best of Show awards are presented each year to best appearing cars in many divisions. Sagi, the longtime voice of Hagerstown Speedway, hosted a number of race car shows in the area during his many years in the sport. His son, Alan Sagi, presented the awards, which went to: open wheel, York’s Jeff Rohrbaugh; late model, Devin Friese; limited late models, Jake Jones; street stock, Strinestown’s Eddie Richards; and four cylinder, Shane Sixes.
The ARCH Tribute Award went to longtime Port Royal official Steve Arnold, while the “Chub” Shadle Memorial “Officials” Award went to Lincoln flagger Galen Koller. Bill McIntyre, who has coordinated the 358 sprint car point series for eight years, got the “Butch” Renninger Memorial Award, and the Harry Fletcher Memorial Award for a young racer went to J.J. Loss, while his grandfather, Dave Loss, got the Will Kreitzer Memorial Award.
ARCH also selects two individuals for induction into their Hall of Fame each year — one a living member of the racing community and one a deceased member of the community.
“Bud” Watson was the living inductee. Watson is a longtime figure in the local racing community. He got his start while helping his longtime friend, Mike Woolford, with his late model racer in the 1960s and 1970s. As Woolford’s race driving career was winding down, he and Watson founded W and W Racing Tires, and provided parts trucks at a number of area speedways. Eventually, Woolford moved to the public automotive side of the business, while Watson stayed with the racing side of things.
W and W eventually became Hoosier Tire Mid Atlantic, and is now the main supplier of Hoosier Racing Tires throughout this entire area.
The second inductee into the ARCH Hall of Fame was longtime late model driver Rodney Franklin. Franklin’s late model driving career spanned the time frame from the 1970s into the early 2000s, and he was a big winner everywhere he raced. A Winchester, Virginia, native, Franklin raced both to the south and north of his home state.
He was a winner of close to 200 late model features, including races at Hagerstown, Williams Grove, Lincoln and Trailway.
Racing extravaganza: It’s just one week until the doors open for the 2017 Racing Extravaganza at the York Expo Center. Scott Gobrecht will again promote the long-running race car show.
Numerous race cars from around the area will be on display, along with racing products and novelty items. Over 50 race drivers from around the area will be on hand to sign autographs at various times during the two-day show.
The Racing Extravaganza runs Feb. 4 and 5 inside the Utz Arena.
Most of the area speedways will also be on hand with season schedules and information on the new season.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.