The York County racing community lost another of its top racers recently with the death of Dover’s Scott Ausherman.
Ausherman died at age 60 after suffering a long illness.
Ausherman got his start in racing as a mechanic with the team of fellow Dover resident Jim Strausbaugh back in the early 1970s. Just a teenager, Ausherman worked with a super sportsman team that Strausbaugh formed in 1970. Bobby Brymesser drove the No. 77 car and young Ausherman learned the trade twisting wrenches.
When Strausbaugh was hired to work on Eddie Zirkle’s No. 33 sprint car in 1972, Ausherman went along as a mechanic, but it wasn’t long before he got the itch to drive. It was just more than a year later that Ausherman put together his own sprint car and began his driving career.
While racing the sprint car, Ausherman scored two wins at Williams Grove. His first win came on July 21, 1978, with Steve Smith finishing second. The second win came just a few weeks later, and ironically it came over Zirkle.
After a number of years racing sprint cars, Ausherman found the expenses too much and moved into the super sportsman class, where he raced for many years. While racing the sportsman cars, Ausherman scored a total of 10 wins, with eight of those wins at Silver Spring. He also won once each at Lincoln and Susquehanna.
As his career began winding down, Ausherman stepped into the 358 sprint cars, where he again was a winner. Ausherman scored single 358 sprint wins at Bedford, Lincoln and Trailway. The final win of his career came at Trailway in the first race of the 2003 racing season.
While Ausherman was a winning driver, he was also the whole package as a racer. His early time with Strusbaugh left Ausherman with a strong knowledge of the workings of a race car, and he was a fine mechanic as well. Strausbaugh also left him well versed in the knowledge to repair crashed race cars, and Ausherman was one of the few in the area who was able to help his fellow racers repair their cars, instead of having to buy new racers.
My deepest sympathies go out to Ausherman's wife, Candi, and his father Wayne.
Racing this week?: It seems like the winter we didn’t have in December, January and February has set in now in March.
It’s played havoc with the local racing calendar. If the weather lets things happen this weekend, here is the racing schedule.
Williams Grove is set to go on Friday with sprint cars and late models on the agenda.
The Saturday slate includes Lincoln, Port Royal Susquehanna and Hagerstown with racing, and Selinsgrove and Trailway with practice.
Lincoln is slated with the sprints and 358 sprints, while Port Royal has sprints, UFO late models and Mason-Dixon limited late models on its calendar. Susquehanna is set to open with the super sportsmen, limited late models, street stocks and legends. Hagertown has the late models, late-model sportsmen, pure stocks and hobby stocks on its slate.
Thus far this season in the area, only the Ice Breaker 30 for the sprint cars at Lincoln has made it into the record books. If you remember way back then, Danny Dietrich scored the win.
All of the other local divisions are still awaiting their first races of the season.
Over the course of local racing history, it's the exception, rather than the rule, that there is such a long break between the first race of the season and the second.
I did a little research on the three tracks that offer sprint cars weekly in the area — Williams Grove, Lincoln and Port Royal. Here are some interesting facts.
►The longest any of those tracks has waited to complete their first race was six weeks. That happened at Port Royal twice, in 1993 and again in 1996. In 1996, the first five weeks were completely canceled, while the sixth week got rain at feature time.
►As far as the wait between the first race and the second, five weeks is the longest time I have found. It happened at Williams Grove in 1993, when the fifth week there was a feature rain out. In addition, the make-up feature was all that got completed the next week.
►However, the Grove also had a year where it lost four races in a row in May after four races had been completed.
►Port Royal has once gone four weeks between its first race and second race, and Lincoln has gone three weeks between it first race and its second on four occasions, counting this year.
1972: It was the third week of the 1972 racing season in the area in 1972, and again Susquehanna and Hagerstown went head to head on Sunday afternoon.
This time, however, Penn National also hosted a USAC sprint car race that day as well. Gary Bettenhausen was the winner at Penn National.
At Susquehanna, Manchester’s Eddie Zirkle drove his own No. 33 racer to his third consecutive win. This time, Zirkle’s win came over Kenny Slaybaugh. Rick Schmelyun finished third, with Paul Pitzer and Mike Lloyd in the top five.
At Hagerstown, Jan Opperman drove the Bogar No. 99 to the win over Irvin King. For Opperman, it was his second win of the season, with his other having come at the Tampa Fairgrounds in February. Elmer Ruby, Buddy Cochran and Lynn Paxton completed the top five.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.