HOUSEHOLDER: Central Pennsylvania racing community loses three longtime supporters

BRYAN HOUSEHOLDER
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Randy Lisi

The central Pennsylvania racing scene lost three longtime supporters over the past week or so. 

Former car owners Ed Powell and Randy Lisi have died, as has Stan Lobitz, a well-known and loved racing figure.

Powell was best known for the late models he fielded over the years, although he also fielded sprint cars for a few seasons. Starting in the late 1970s with drivers Jim Adams and Ed Simerlich, Powell soon found rising star Scott Haus. With Haus, Powell won numerous races and several championships in the late-model ranks before moving on to the sprint cars. Haus is still the only driver to win at Williams Grove in late models, sprints and modifieds.

Among the others who drove for Powell when he returned to late models are Donnie Schick, Chris Shuey, Mike Bingaman, Andrew Yoder, Tim Fedder and Gary Beward.

Powell kept racing through most of the last decade and was always a winner. 

Lisi, owner of a Halifax Shell Service Center, fielded sprint cars for driver Mike Erdley for 15 seasons on the local circuit, retiring from the sport in 2015. While never a real big winner on the local circuit, Erdley powered the Lisi Shell No. 11 sprint car to some big wins over their tenure in the sport.

Included were Port Royal Speedway’s Labor Day Classic and the Tuscarora 50. They also bested the All Stars at Williams Grove Speedway and scored their biggest win in a National Sprint Tour event at Selinsgrove Speedway.

Lobitz owned the Lobitz Catering Hall in Hazleton and was a strong supporter of the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing in York Springs, as well as a fan of all motorsports, but especially midget racing.

 An annual movie party at the Lobitz Catering hall was, for years, one of the biggest fundraisers for the museum, and Lobitz's generosity for the museum far exceded the movie party. Lobitz is credited with rasing more the $250,000 for the EMMR over the years. He also hosted numerous banquets for the midget group over the years.

While his initial interest in racing came through drag racing, Lobitz quickly turned to the powerful little midget racers. He sponsored efforts of multi-time American Racing Drivers Club champions such as Johnny Heydenreich and Ray Bull over the years.

Lobitz also had a vast knowledge of the history of midget auto racing and also collected historic vintage midget race cars. His vast store of midget racing car parts was well known, and often used by those restoring midget cars from the historic era of the sport.

Above all, however, Stan Lobitz was a master story teller, with a vast knowledge of the sport. Perhaps his greatest contribution is the knowledge of the sport he passed on in his always-humorous manner.

Local racers compete in Georgia: The All Star sprint cars kicked off their season on Friday and Saturday at Screvens, Georgia.

They were set to return to action at East Bay, Florida, on Monday.

Friday’s action at Screvens saw 10-time World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz race to the $8,000 victory in the All Star sprint feature. Schatz bested defending All Star champion Aaron Reutzel for the victoery, with Tyler Courtney in third. Carson Short and Sam Hafertepe completed the top five. 

Rounding out the top 10 were Cory Eliason, Gio Scelzi, Hunter Schurenberg, Justin Peck and Ian Madsen. Local racers in the feature included Brent Marks in 11th, Dillsburg’s Anthony Macri in 16th, Danny Dietrich in 19th and Kyle Reinhardt in 22nd.

Saturday, it was Reutzel who raced to the victory.  Local racer Reinhardt finished second, with Hafertepe, Schatz and Peck in the top five. Rounding out the top 10 were Scelzi, Kerry Madsen, Hanover’s Logan Schuchart, Macri and Kraig Kinser. Other locals in the feature included Hanover’s Jacob Allen in 12th, Marks in 17th and Brock Zearfoss in 18th.

BAPS back in Speedweek: The announcement came out last week that the BAPS Motor Speedway, formerly known as Susquehanna, will be back as a part of Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek in 2021. 

BAPS, in northern York County, will join Speedweek regulars Williams Grove, Lincoln, Port Royal, Grandview, Selinsgrove and Hagerstown on the schedule this year.

BAPS will take over the first Sunday date on the Speedweek calendar this season, with racing there on June 27.

While known as Susquehanna, BAPS hosted Speedweek events from 1991 through 2006, with one rainout during that time. Steve Smith won the first Speedweek race at BAPS, while his son Stevie Smith won the last two there. Donnie Kreitz Jr. owns three Speedweek wins at BAPS, while his current driver, Lance Dewease, has two. Fred Rahmer also has two Speedweek wins at BAPS, as does Cris Eash. Single wins have gone to Greg Hodnett, Billy Pauch and Brett Mann.

The Red Robin Pennsylvania Speedweek will kick off this season at Williams Grove on June 25, and continue through Sunday July 4 at Selinsgrove. Williams Grove, Lincoln and Port Royal each have two events, while BAPS, Selinsgrove, Grandview and Hagerstown each have one.

Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sports@yorkdispatch.com.