Winter is always a good time to catch up on some housekeeping chores.
This winter, however, has been a busy one on the local dirt-track scene, so it wasn’t until this past weekend that I was able to get all of my record keeping fully recorded. Since I’ve got things in order now, I thought it might be a good time to take a look at the area win lists for the top drivers in each class.
Fred Rahmer still leads the way in the sprint-car class, although he's been retired since the end of the 2013 season. Rahmer has won 420 races in sprint cars. The breakdown for those wins shows all but six of them in what is now the 410 class. He also has five in 360s and one in 358s. Rahmer also won 99 races in modifieds before venturing into the sprint cars.
Lance Dewease, at second, is the only active driver in the top 10. In fact, the next active driver on the list is Brian Montieth in 33rd. Dewease pushed his sprint total to 339 last season. Six of Dewease’s sprint car wins came in 360 competition. Dewease also owns a midget win in his career.
Keith Kauffman stands in third spot with 304 sprint wins. All but one of those wins came in what are now the 410 sprints, although during his career the cars evolved from unlimited to 312s, to unlimited, with big-block engines in use, back to 467, and eventually 410s. Kauffman also won one race in the 360 class, which was actually 366 at the time. Add in three wins in the late models and one in the dirt-champ cars on top of the 304 sprint wins.
After getting together with Greg Hodnett last summer before his fatal accident, I now list him fourth on the list. Hodnett won 285 races in sprints as best we could figure, with 34 of those wins in the 360 sprint class.
Bobby Allen ends up fifth with 276 wins in the sprints. Of course, Allen’s wins start before the cars were even sprint cars and actually began on the paved tracks of his native Florida before he made the move north in the mid-1960s. While I think I’m complete with Allen’s win total, there's a chance that I have missed some of his earlier victories.
Rounding out the top 10 in the sprint class are Steve Smith with 266. He’s also won eight late-model races. Lynn Paxton is next with 225, plus 14 in the late models and one in a midget. He is followed by Stevie Smith with 222; Kenny Weld with 215 (three in 360s) plus perhaps 30 in modifieds; Donnie Kreitz Jr. with 200 (13 in the 360s); and Todd Shaffer with 196.
Stuhler leads late models: In area late-model competition, Gary Stuhler is still at the top of the list. Stuhler added to his total last season, bringing it up to 354. Denny Bonebrake is second with 212, followed by Buddy Armel with 202.
York’s Rick Eckert moved to fourth last season with 192 wins. Eckert attended the recent Racing Xtravaganza show in York and revealed that after his car owner retired he has been unable to put together a new ride on the World of Outlaws late-model tour and will field his own car for big races on the local circuit this season.
Ronnie McBee rounds out the top five late-model drivers with 187. Completing the top 10 are Rodney Franklin with 181; Scott Haus with 178, plus a good handful of wins in sprints and modifieds; Tom Peck with 171; Jimmy McBee with 165; and Jeff Rine at 158.
Wolford tops super sportsmen: On the super-sportsman side of things, the late Gary Wolford is still far and away the win leader. He won 145 times in those cars, along with five in what are now the sprint cars.
Rich Eichelberger didn’t win a super-sportsman race last season before his knee surgery, but still stands second with 88 wins. Eichelberger did win a 358 sprint race last season and now owns four wins there and a handful in the limited-late models.
Johnny Murphy is third with 83, Larry Jackson is fourth with 82 and Frankie Herr is fifth with 81. Rounding out the top 10 are Russ Smith at 69, Dwight Leib at 68, Carmen Perigo Jr. at 62, Fred Putney Sr. at 59 and a tie between Howie Locke and Bobby Weaver at 48 each.
Cannon No. 1 in 358 sprints: In the 358 sprints, Pat Cannon still leads with 85. Cannon also owns 15 super-sportsman wins, nine 410 sprint wins and four 360 sprint wins.
Brad McClelland is second in 358 sprint wins with 56 and also owns a 410 sprint win, plus a ton of micro-sprint victories.
Chad Layton has 55 wins in the 358s for third on the list. Layton also won 36 410 sprint features and has a 360 sprint win to his credit as well.
Mike Lehman with 51 wins is fourth, and Jeff Rohrbaugh is fifth with 44. Rohrbaugh also won in 410 sprints, semi-lates and thundercars during his career.
Rounding out the top 10 in 358 sprint wins are Blane Heimbach with 42, Kevin Nouse with 37, Billy Dietrich with 32 and a tie between Bob Beidleman and Adrian Shaffer with 31 each.
Florida this week: Wingless and 360 sprint racing take center stage this week in Florida.
The USAC national tour of wingless sprint cars race at Bubba’s Raceway Park in Ocala Thursday through Saturday, while at the same time the 360 sprints are at Tampa’s East Bay. The late models and modifieds spend the week at Volusia County near Daytona.
Florida, 1991: There was sprint racing in Florida this week in 1991 as well.
The Winternationals series wrapped up with four nights of racing at East Bay from Wednesday through Saturday. Former local competitor Bobby Davis Jr. drove his own No. 4 racer to the first three wins, bringing his Florida total to five wins. The final night found Kenny Jacobs parking the locally-owned Wintermyer No. 1w in victory lane for his third win of the Florida series.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.