The ice has been broken.
It took two weeks and one day, and actually happened on the sixth try. After three postponements, plus two postponed rain dates, Lincoln Speedway used a last-minute rain date to complete the Icebreaker 30 for the sprint cars.
Lincoln wasn’t actually scheduled for a Sunday rain date this past weekend, but when Port Royal Speedway threw in the towel at midweek, Lincoln added the rain date to its show. That turned out to be the charm.
There were 23 sprint cars on hand for the opener, and a handful of other cars for the postrace practice for other divisions. Actually one of the 358 sprints on hand joined in the sprint races for the opener.
Strange happenings: There were a few strange notes about opening day.
The last car to enter the pit area drew the pole position for the first heat race. Even stranger, the second-to-last driver to draw for heat starting positions drew the pole of the second heat race.
Then there's the fact that eventual Icebreaker winner Lucas Wolfe was the next-to-last driver to draw for the feature and drew the pole position. Wolfe also drew the pole for last year’s Icebreaker and for Williams Grove’s opener last year.
He won the race at the Grove a year ago, but had problems in last year's Icebreaker. By the way, Wolfe also drew his car No. 24 in the heat-race draw.
Perhaps the strangest draw, or maybe it could be called most ironic, or even most eerie, came when Ryan Smith’s team drew the No. 27 in the heat race. Smith of course, is driving the Michael Heffner No. 72, which is the same team for which the late Greg Hodnett drove the car No. 27 last year.
Good crowd, considering conditions: Even though it was late and started under cloudy and cool conditions, the Icebreaker drew a good crowd on Sunday afternoon. It wasn't as big as some of the Icebreakers that have happened on really nice days, but still a good crowd.
There was still plenty of snow in evidence when the Icebreaker started. The parking lots were still snow covered and even the infield viewing area was snow covered at the start of the show. Not surprisingly, a number of cars got stuck in the grass-covered parking lots.
As could be expected with all the moisture in the ground and rain the night before, the race track was very wet, which of course made it narrow and passing was tough. The track was, however, very fast. In winning the third heat race, defending track champion Brian Montieth turned a lap at 12.919 seconds. Lincoln’s official track record for the sprint cars is 12.577 seconds.
Wolfe’s win in the opener marked the first time he has won the area’s first race of the season, although last year he did win the opener at Williams Grove.
Some issues in feature: Lincoln’s heat races ran through very well, but some problems cropped up in the feature. Dover’s Chad Trout and York’s Glenndon Forsythe tangled at the start. Then the race went nonstop through 16 laps before troubles struck again.
Freddie Rahmer, a three-time Lincoln winner last year, flipped on the 16th lap. Then Tyler Esh, an early-season winner at Lincoln last year, flipped on lap 19. On the restart after Esh’s flip, Spring Grove’s Tim Glatfelter, who won Lincoln’s last race last year, flipped. There were no injuries.
This weekend's schedule: Lincoln will return to action this coming Saturday afternoon. The sprints and legends will be on the slate. Lincoln’s starting time is 2 p.m.
Port Royal is set to try again to open its season late this coming Saturday afternoon. The Port goes with a 4 p.m. starting time, which means a double is most probably not possible. Sprints and late models are on the agenda.
Williams Grove joins the fold this weekend with a Sunday afternoon opener. The Grove’s 2 p.m. show will be sprints only.
1991: This coming weekend in 1991 was set to be a three-race weekend on the local circuit, but Mother Nature had other ideas.
Lincoln and Selinsgrove were scheduled for Saturday, with Williams Grove’s Early Bird Championship (now known as the Tommy Classic) set for Sunday afternoon.
Lincoln was forced to postpone its show because of snow that blanketed its track during the week. Amazingly, Selinsgrove didn’t get enough snow to slow down its program.
A former local regular who had moved on to the All Star circuit made a trek back to his favorite track to pick up the win at Selinsgrove that weekend. Frankie Kerr, who now serves as crew chief on a NASCAR truck series racer, won that race at Selinsgrove.
Just to prove the Selinsgrove win was no fluke, Kerr came back the next day to win the Early Bird at Williams Grove.
By the way, Kerr was driving the Stan Shoff No. 23s that season. It was a ride he had picked up late the previous season when Shoff released his former driver. The man Kerr replaced in that car was a kid named Jeff Gordon.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.