The 57th running of the Williams Grove National Open was also the richest-paying event in those 57 years.
Winner Brent Marks took home $65,000 for his win.
The Champion Racing Oil National Open drew 53 cars for Friday’s preliminary event, and 49 of those cars were able to return for Saturday’s main event. Four drivers suffered mechanical problems that kept them from returning the second night.
That field included drivers from 13 states and Australia. The breakdown showed about 30 Pennsylvania Posse racers, 12 from the World of Outlaws, five from the All Stars and assorted other invaders.
The crowds for both nights were very impressive, as they should have been for the biggest-paying race ever held for sprint cars on the East Coast.
Marks really had to work to make his way into the Saturday race. He had a poor qualifying time, and had to advance from fifth in a heat race that only transferred three cars to the A-Main. Since the heats are lined up heads up by time, that meant he had to pass several faster cars. He actually went far enough to make the dash and then won that to start from the front row of the feature.
The World of Outlaws allow provisional starting spots for drivers who are high in points, but don’t qualify for the feature. The catch is that those drivers don’t earn any money until they surpass a position that pays the last-place starting money, and then they only earn the difference in pay between what was the starting money, and the position they finished in the feature.
Friday, the Outlaws drivers used four provisionals, while Williams Grove used the two that they are allowed. Saturday, the Outlaws used three and the Grove again used two.
Over the two nights, only three of the drivers who used provisionals were able to advance high enough to earn any money in the feature. All three were from Pennsylvania, although one of the three competes regularly with the Outlaws.
Friday, Freddie Rahmer advanced from 26th to 16th. Only Outlaw point leader Brad Sweet passed as many cars as Rahmer on Friday. Since Sweet went from 20th to 10th, he earned the Hard Charger Award.
Saturday, Brian Montieth had the run of the weekend, advancing from 26th to eighth, and earned the Hard Charger Award. Hanover’s Logan Schuchart went from 25th to 14th on Saturday.
The Beerhill Gang again collected some big money for the National Open Rookie of the Race. This year’s award, which is open to any driver making his first National Open start regardless of how much experience he has in a sprint car, was worth $3,000. It went to fourth-place finisher Aaron Reutzel, who is, of course the All Star champion.
Veteran midwestern racer Wayne Johnson was shocked when he learned that for this race he was a rookie. Johnson won Saturday’s C-Main, but was unable to advance any more.
It probably was fitting that the biggest-paying sprint race on the East Coast saw the big money each night stay on the East Coast. Friday’s winner, David Gravel, is from Connecticut, while his car owner, Bobbi Johnson, is a native of East Berlin. Gravel earned $10,000.
Saturday’s winner, Brent Marks, is a native of Myerstown.
This week: Saturday finds two events on the local racing slate.
BAPS Motor Speedway offers the sprint cars and a 358/360 sprint challenge on its late-afternoon show.
At Port Royal Speedway, it’s the Blue Collar Classic. The 305 sprints headline in their biggest race of the year. The Mason-Dixon limited-late models, Xtreme stocks and mini-stocks also compete.
1991: This wasn’t really a good weekend for local racing in 1991. A special Friday night sprint show at Path Valley Speedway was rained out, and then on Saturday, the lights went out at Lincoln before the action could really get started.
A number of the local sprints did travel south to the Delaware International Speedway for a special Saturday night show that was won by Kenny Adams in the Stallings No. 28. The win was Adams’ fourth of the season.
Sunday, Selinsgrove wrapped up its season with the Jack Gunn Memorial Race, which was won by Randy Wolfe in the Gano No. 57. The win was Wolfe’s seventh of the season.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.
CHAMPION RACING OIL/RM LUBRICANTS
CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA SPRINT CAR SERIES
(Wins in parenthesis)
1. Danny Dietrich (12) 1,742
2. Freddie Rahmer (9) 1,188
3. Brian Montieth (5) 1,052
4. Lance Dewease (9) 912
5. Anthony Macri (2) 850
6. Ryan Smith (1) 849
7. Lucas Wolfe (5) 845
8. Logan Wagner (6) 748
9. Kyle Moody (2) 545
10. Cory Haas (2) 520