The holiday season was a tough one for some members of the racing community, both nationally and locally.
NASCAR legend Junior Johnson died over the holiday week, as did local notables Maynard Boop and Tommie Spriggle.
While Johnson was known for his excellence, both as a driver and later as a car owner/mechanic on NASCAR’s top circuit, it should be noted that one of his 50 wins as a driver in the Cup Series came in the first race for those cars at Lincoln Speedway.
That win for Johnson came on June 10, 1955, when he drove his 1955 Oldsmobile to victory over Tim Flock and Buck Baker at Lincoln. That win was worth $1,000, which is about $9,400 in today's dollars.
Johnson, who grew up in the North Carolina mountains, got his start at fast driving by running moonshine from his daddy’s still. Interestingly, he never got caught while hauling moonshine, but was jailed after being caught at his daddy’s still, “just after returning from winning a race at a little track in central Pennsylvania (Lincoln Speedway).”
He later received a presidential pardon for his crimes.
Johnson’s hall-of-fame career, and his family’s moonshine business, was the basis for the movie “Last American Hero”.
Johnson, who died at age 88, went on to earn three Cup titles with Cale Yarborough as his driver and another three with Darrell Waltrip.
Maynard Boop: Boop, who died at age 99 on Christmas Eve, was a car owner in the area in the mid-to-late 1970s and early 1980s.
His Boop’s Aluminum Castings company started as a sponsor for Lynn Paxton and then he became a car owner. His team won the KARS point title with a host of drivers, including Kramer Williamson, Dick Tobias, Mitch Smith, Ed Zirkle and Gary Howsare. Ralph Hentzilman and Davey Brown Sr. and Davey Brown Jr. worked for Boop's teams as mechanics.
All told, Boop’s cars won 111 sprint races in the area and gained national attention. Some of those wins came at the expense of the World of Outlaws and All Stars.
Tommie Spriggle: Spriggle, who was 75 at the time of his recent death, started racing late models in the area in the early 1960s. He quickly moved on to the bugs that would become the sprint cars in this area, scoring his first of nine career wins on opening day 1970 at Susquehanna Speedway in Roy Morral’s famed No. 880.
He would later drive for the Trone’s No. 39 team, but it was with Wink Baker’s No. 42 that he claimed the 1977 Selinsgrove Speedway track title. Spriggle ended his career driving in the 358 sprint division, and later his son Alan would also race those cars.
Racing in Australia: As many local fans know, it's summer in Australia and sprint racing is going on all over that country. Over the holidays, Outlaw stars Brad Sweet and Donny Schatz both won there.
Another winner was Darren Mollenoyux, who was so impressive here during Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek this season. Mollenoyux led a number of laps at both Lincoln Speedweek shows and did get a second-place finish in one of those shows. Mollenoyux’s win came at Avalon.
Local racer Lucas Wolfe had a 10th-place finish over the weekend at Murray’s Bridge in Australia.
Indoor season starts this week: The indoor racing season will kick off this weekend at the PPL Center in Allentown.
The three-quarter midgets will have full shows on both Friday and Saturday evenings at Allentown.
The slingshots and champ karts are also a part of the weekend activities.
Banquets loom: The annual York County Racing Club Hall of Fame Banquet is set for Saturday night at the Wyndham Garden in West Manchester Township.
NASCAR Hall of Fame mechanic and car owner Ray Evernham will be the guest speaker for the evening.
The YCRC will induct six new members into its hall of fame and also present several special awards. In addition, Danny Dietrich will pick up his laurels as the 2019 Champion Racing Oil/RM Lubricants Central Pennsylvania 410 sprint champion.
Port Royal Speedway also has its banquet set for Saturday evening.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.