HOUSEHOLDER: York County Racing Club Hall of Fame adds seven new members
- The York County Racing Club Hall of Fame added seven new members over the weekend.
- Ronnie Dunstan, Bill Richards, Frank Fiore Jr., Mark Smith, Jim and Sandy Kline and Scott Gobrecht were inducted.
- Three special awards went to Rob Cappetta, Davey Brown and Gail Kreitzer.
The York County Racing Club Hall of Fame grew by seven members over the weekend.
The YCRC held its annual hall of fame awards banquet on Saturday evening at Wyndham Garden York, with Erin Crocker Evernham serving as the guest speaker.
Seven new hall of famers were inducted: Ronnie Dunstan in the past driver category, Bill Richards in the past owner or mechanic category, Frank Fiore Jr. in the past miscellaneous category, Mark Smith in the present driver category, Jim and Sandy Kline in the present owner or mechanic category and Scott Gobrecht in the present miscellaneous category.
Three special awards were also presented to Rob Cappetta (Kevin Gobrecht Memorial Special Achievement Award), Davey Brown (Ed Stauffer Memorial Mechanic of the Year) and Gail Kreitzer (Paul Miller Memorial President's Award).
Evernham, meanwhile, related tales of her time racing, from her beginning in the quarter midgets at age 7, through her time in a World of Outlaws sprint car, right up to her stock car racing with NASCAR and ARCA. She also passed along some tales of her husband, former NASCAR mechanic and car owner Ray Evernham.
The evening ended with the presentation of the 2018 Champion Racing Oil Sterling Lubricants Central Pennsylvania Sprint Car Series championship hardware to driver Lucas Wolfe and car owner Michael Barshinger.
Following is a look at the new hall of famers and the award winners:
Past driver: The versatile Dunstan raced from 21 until health issues forced him to retire at 64. In between, he was a winner in numerous forms of racing, with titles in the late models, midgets and eventually the Legends. He also won in sprints and modifieds, and raced with the Dirt Champ cars.
One interesting aspect of Dunstan’s career that some never realized is that for a number of years he drove the tow rig for A.J. Foyt’s NASCAR team. Dunstan would take the rig to the NASCAR track, fly back to where he himself was racing, and then fly back to retrieve the rig following the races.
Dunstan made the trek from his Florida home for the banquet.
Past owner or mechanic: Richards operated an auto body shop and salvage yard near Cly for most of his life. He also had a great interest in auto racing and helped many teams in an era when parts often came from the salvage yards.
Richards started racing late models himself in the late 1960s and then put together a team in which he shared driving duties with one of his younger brothers, Al. That was 1976 and Bill won a race at Williams Grove before an arm injury set him on the sidelines. Al finished out the year, winning several races, and became the driver for Bill Richards’ team. Together they won numerous late model races and the 1994 Hagerstown track title.
When Al retired, several other drivers piloted the Richards car, including Alan Sagi and Paul Crowl.
Wife Becky, daughters Leisha and Marcy and brother Ed accepted the award.
Past miscellaneous: With accomplishments in all three categories, Dallastown's Fiore joked that he did his career backwards.
In an era when the average man could still field a team for the Indy 500, Fiore’s father often did just that. As a teen, Fiore was at Indy with his father’s team, sleeping in the tow rig and sneaking into the garage after it closed for the evening.
The team missed qualifying several times in the late 1960s, but in 1971 Denny Zimmerman not only made the race, but ended up as the race’s Rookie of the Year in the Fiore car. Al Laquasto made the show in a Fiore car in 1973. But it was the 1978 race, when Manchester’s Jerry Karl drove for Frank Fiore Sr., that changed Frank Jr.’s life in many ways.
Karl made the race, but there were mechanical issues on the final practice day that forced Frank Sr. to take a second mortgage on the family home to repair the car. Frank Sr. then suffered a medical emergency that saw him watch the race from a hospital bed, while Frank Jr. served as crew chief for a 13th-place finish.
Frank Jr. also met his wife while in the area working with Karl, eventually moving here from his native California and racing his midget in the area, picking up a midget point title. Fiore also did some sprint racing and ended his career as a tech man at both Williams Grove and Lincoln.
He has since restored the Indy car that Zimmerman drove for his father in 1971.
Present driver: Smith doesn’t remember a time when he wasn’t at the races.
In fact, he said Saturday night that he “almost” was born at Williams Grove. His father was hall of fame mechanic Ree Smith.
Smith started in go karts at a young age, and through the karts actually got his first ride in a modified at Middletown, New York. Then, a year or so later, the stars aligned when driver Dwight Leib retired as the driver of the McNair super sportsman car that Ree Smith was wrenching at the time.
Mark took the ride and advanced through the ranks, winning races and titles each step of the way. He has more than 50 wins each in 410 sprints and 360 sprints, and about half that many in the super sportsmen. He was the area’s leading open-wheel winner in 2018 with 15 wins in the 360s and one in the 410s.
He also operates Mach 1, which builds sprint cars.
Present owner or mechanic: The Klines got started as sponsors and then started their own team for son Dean.
Dean won a 358 sprint race at Williams Grove but eventually shifted his focus from racing.
Jim and Sandy kept going and fielded top cars for a number of drivers — first Darren Eash, followed in order by Kenny Jacobs, Jason Johnson, Fred Rahmer and Greg Hodnett.
While no longer owners, the Klines still are active in racing and will sponsor Anthony Macri’s car in 2019.
Present miscellaneous: Gobrecht currently owns BAPS Motor Speedway and the Central Pennsylvania Legends Series, along with the sprint car driven by Trey Starks.
Gobrecht started racing go karts with his brothers and helped late brother Kevin get into the sprint cars. He's always maintained an interest in the sport.
Kevin Gobrecht Memorial Special Achievement Award: Cappetta, a former sprint racer and NASCAR crewman, has been building engines for several years now and has compiled more than 200 wins.
For the past several years, he's been the engine builder of note for the Kasey Kahne Racing Team. The 2018 Special Achievement Award centered mainly on the 2018 Knoxville week, when Kahne driver Brad Sweet won the Capitani Classic on Sunday, swept his qualifying night and then won the Nationals on Saturday — all with a Cappetta engine.
Ed Stauffer Memorial Mechanic of the Year: In his mid 80s now, Brown wrenched Lance Dewease to 12 wins in 2018, including the Williams Grove National Open.
Brown’s first win came on May 23, 1954, at Bowling Green, with Johnny Mackison Sr., and his most recent win came on Oct. 5, 2018 with Dewease.
Paul Miller Memorial President's Award: As always, this award is presented to someone behind the scenes who does a lot for auto racing.
Kreitzer, of course, is the sister of promoter Alan Kreitzer and the mother of 2018 sprint champion Lucas Wolfe.
She joked on Saturday that in her time working the concession stands at various speedways, she had probably served 99 percent of the people in attendance Saturday night.
Flores, Janisch win in Allentown: Ryan Flores and Matt Janisch each won three-quarter midget features over the weekend at Allentown's PPL Center.
Flores, a tire changer for Ryan Blaney's Penske Racing team in NASCAR, won Saturday's main event. Janisch, the reigning three-quarter midget champ, won his first indoor race on Friday. Each race paid $2,000 to the winner.
Saturday, Flores' win came over New York state 360 sprint racer Scott Kreutter, with URC 360 sprint racer Eddie Strada in third. Dirt modified standout Erick Rudolph and asphalt modified racer Earl Paules completed the top five. Rounding out the top 10 were Andy Jankowiack, Ryan Tidman, Tyler Thompson, local sprint racer Kyle Reinhardt and NASCAR modified champion Justin Bonsignore.
Friday, Janisch passed Thompson, a teenage super modified driver, just past the midway point of the race and went on to win over Rudolph, Bonsignore, Flores and Kreutter, Rounding out the top 10 were Chad Jones, Kyle Lick, Joey Payne, Anthony Payne and Pat Bealer.
Brandon Rusczek won Friday's champ kart feature and Jared Silfee won Saturday's slingshot feature.
Bowling Green note: When I spoke with Hall of Fame late model driver Charlie Weirman on Saturday, he passed along the fact that he had attended the New Year’s Day race at Bowling Green that was the subject of last week’s column.
He was 13 then and said he remembers that it was a sunny day, but the temps never got out of the 30s.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.