HOUSEHOLDER: It's time to pay tribute to some regional dirt-track legends
The Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and as usual, many of the local tracks will play host to races paying tribute to the stars of the past on the local circuit.
Some will even honor those still among us.
I’d like to start this column by wishing a happy birthday to one of those men.
Stewartstown’s Charlie Wierman celebrated his 80th birthday on Sunday. He’s one of this area’s true legendary figures. Wierman started his career sometime in the very late 1950s or early 1960s in the limited-stock class, winning a race or so in the car that was dubbed “the Chinese Offenhauser.” This car sported an inline six-cylinder GMC engine, thus the odd name.
When local promoters began replacing the limited-stock class with a new class called semi-late-model stock cars, Wierman was one of the first to take note. Of course, this class is what we now call super-late models, and Wierman was the first big star of the division.
In the formative years of the class, starting around 1963 or so, Wierman became a big star, winning numerous races and multiple track titles at Williams Grove, Lincoln, Selinsgrove and Susquehanna speedways.
As the decade of the 1960s wound down, Wierman shifted his focus, taking his racing south of the border and to tracks coated in asphalt, and not dirt. He raced the weekly shows in Maryland and Virginia with NASCAR’s late-model sportsman division, and again the wins and track tiles kept coming his way. This class also visited some of NASCAR’s bigger tracks and Wierman was competitive there as well. Today these cars are known as the Grand National Division and race most weekends as the lead-in to the Cup Series.
As the 1970s began to wind down, Wierman returned to his local roots and kept right on winning in the local dirt-track late-model class up until he vacated the cockpit in favor of his son, Jere.
Davey Brown Sr.: Williams Grove Speedway’s race this Friday will be sanctioned by the All Stars, but it will honor another true local legend.
As they have done for the past several seasons, Williams Grove will pay tribute to a local legend who is still living. In this case, not only still living, but still on top of his game and producing winning race cars.
Mention the name Davey Brown Sr., and the name sends shock waves throughout the sprint community around the globe. The man still lives near Pinchot Park and still turns out winning sprint cars.
His first win came with a full-sized stock car sporting a flat-head Ford engine and a driver named Johnny Mackison Sr. That was at Bowling Green Speedway in May of 1954. Every year since then, Brown has, as either chief mechanic or engine builder, found victory lane, usually on numerous occasions. His most recent win was just last Friday with Lance Dewease at Williams Grove.
His wins have come all across the nation, and in some of the biggest races, such as the Knoxville Nationals, the Historical Big One at Eldora, and of course, the Williams Grove National Open.
Friday’s $10,000-to-win race at the Grove is the Davey Brown Tribute Race, and many folks from his past will make an appearance to honor him. In many cases those folks will be the children of some of his best drivers.
In recent weeks, Williams Grove publicity director Shawn Brouse and I have worked hard to find out just how many races Brown has won in his career as a mechanic. We’ll probably never know an exact total, but the number we found will be released Friday.
By the way, this coming Sunday will be Davey Brown’s 87th birthday.
Bob Weikert: Port Royal Speedway has its big Bob Weikert Memorial weekend planned for this week.
The All Stars also venture there for the Saturday and Sunday shows. Saturday, the sprints race for $10,000 to win and the 305 sprints are also there. Sunday’s race offers $29,000 to win in honor of the Weikert No. 29 sprint cars. The wingless super sportsmen also race that night.
Weikert was one of this area’s biggest winners as a car owner, and also one of its most colorful car owners ever. He was a true supporter of the sport.
Hank Gentzler: Lincoln Speedway’s Saturday show will be the Hank Gentzler Memorial for the local sprint cars.
Gentzler was a sprint crew member who went into the business of building sprint parts that became known around the nation. He became quite involved with Lincoln’s Manufacturers’ Appreciation Race, and in fact organized the race for many years despite failing health.
Over the years, Gentzler gathered hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of racing products to be given to local sprint teams at this race.
In addition to the 410 sprints, the 358 sprints and legends will race at Lincoln Saturday.
Other events: The Friday show at Trailway Speedway will be a big one. The super-late models visit the track for a qualifying event for the Junior Eckert Memorial later this season.
The limited-late models will also be there.
The new Bloomsburg Fairgrounds track will open for its first race on Thursday evening. The ARDC Midgets and 600cc micro sprints will compete in the Bloomsburg lid-lifter. The big news is that the admission for the grandstands will be free.
BAPS Motor Speedway has the Britton Finkenbinder Memorial for the super sportsmen Saturday, along with the wingless super sportsmen, limited-late models and extreme stocks.
Hagerstown Speedway hosts the late-model sportsmen, crate late models, pure stocks and hobby stocks Saturday.
Selinsgrove Speedway gives the cars a week off for a big monster-truck event this weekend.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.
CHAMPION RACING OIL
CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA SPRINT CAR SERIES
Presented by Hoseheads
Wins in parenthesis
1. Anthony Macri (3) 540
2. Danny Dietrich (1) 401
3. Freddie Rahmer (2) 387
4. Lance Dewease (3) 330
5. Dylan Cisney (1) 301
6. Chase Dietz (1) 299
7. Tim Shaffer (2) 281
8. Logan Wagner (1) 269
9. Justin Peck (2) 268
10. Alan Krimes (1) 256