HOUSEHOLDER: Central Pennsylvania dirt-track circuit loses well-known sprint car owner
A week after the conclusion of Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek, racing returned to the area last weekend, although it had to wait one day.
Friday’s action at Williams Grove and Trailway speedways was rained out.
Actually, racing began Wednesday night when the United States Auto Club East Coast wingless 360 sprints visited the 1/5th-mile oval at the Kutztown Fairgrounds in Berks County.
That race turned out to be a bittersweet win for young Briggs Danner. Danner’s fifth win of the season came on a night when his car owner, Bill Gallagher, was hospitalized with an illness that would claim his life later in the week.
Gallagher has been fielding top-notch 360 sprint cars for years. Both Todd Rittenhouse and Todd Rittenhouse Jr. raced to wins in the Gallagher cars.
Later, Curt Michael was the top threat in the United Racing Club with the noted Gallagher No. 5G. Michael now maintains the cars for the team, with Danner taking over the driver’s seat full time this season.
Gallagher also sponsored various events during Grandview Speedway’s Thunder on the Hill programs. Grandview is also located in Berks County.
He will certainly be missed on the central Pennsylvania circuit.
Saturday at Lincoln Speedway in Adams County, both sprint classes saw York County cars in victory lane, as did the sprint class at Port Royal Speedway in Juniata County.
While 410 driver Tyler Ross is from Lincoln University, Chester County, his car owner, Rick Lefevre, is from the Manchester area, and is continuing a family tradition that dates back to the early 1970s.
The Lefevre Electric No. 75 powered Ross to his second Lincoln win of the season.
Then, the 358 sprint feature became a dream come true for the Strickler family of York when older brother Brett scored the win over Jordan Strickler in a family one-two finish.
The win was Brett Strickler’s second career win at Lincoln, where his father, Mark, also has a win.
Meanwhile, at Port Royal, Dillsburg’s Anthony Macri was racing to victory in his family’s No. 39M.
The win was Macri’s third in the 410 sprints at Port Royal this season. He also has a URC 360 sprint win there this year.
The Macri family’s concrete business has a long history of race sponsorship in the area, having graced the sides of many top local cars over the years.
Friday rain woes: Williams Grove, in Cumberland County, was forced to cancel last Friday’s program when a heavy storm hit the track just as they planned to open the gates at 5 p.m.
That rainout was the eighth weather-related cancellation already this season at Williams Grove.
Trailway, the local area’s other Friday night track, hasn’t fared much better, although its season started a little later than the Grove’s. The Adams County track has been postponed by weather at least five times this season.
On the other side of the coin is Lincoln, which lost its first race of the season on Feb. 20 because there was still snow on the ground. Since that time, however, all of Lincoln’s scheduled races have been completed.
On Memorial Day weekend, Lincoln did lose its Saturday show, but quickly rescheduled it to Memorial Day Monday. Lincoln has completed 20 consecutive shows.
Lincoln has managed to beat the weather on four occasions when its neighbor to the north, Port Royal, has been forced to cancel because of rain.
This weekend: The new track at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds will have a double race week, with action on Wednesday and Friday.
Wednesday, the Short Track Super Series Modifieds make their first-ever visit to the Columbia County oval. The 602 crate sportsman modifieds will also race.
Friday, the URC 360 sprints are joined by USAC’s East Coast wingless 360 sprints for a double open-wheel program.
Williams Grove will try to return to action Friday with the 410 sprint cars going in a World of Outlaws tune-up program. The 358 sprints will also be on hand with a “Summer Series” event.
Trailway offers the $8,000-to-win Junior Eckert Memorial for the United Late Model Series on Friday. The Mid-Atlantic Modifieds also compete.
Junior Eckert was one of this area’s top stock-car racers and started a family tradition that has extended to four generations. While Junior was the first to race in the family, his father, Irvin Eckert Sr., joined him on the track. Later, two of Junior’s sons and three of his daughters also found their way to action. Later, several grandsons also raced.
Former World of Outlaws late-model champion Rick Eckert has been the most successful of Junior’s offspring.
Saturday at Lincoln, three classes of open-wheel racing will be presented. The 410 sprints, 358 sprints and midgets will be in action at Lincoln.
Port Royal also offers three classes of open-wheel racing Saturday. The 410 sprints are joined by the 305 sprints and the wingless super sportsmen.
The super late models return to Hagerstown Speedway in northern Maryland Saturday, along with pure stocks and hobby stocks.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHAMPION RACING OIL
SPRINT CAR SERIES
Presented by Hoseheads
(Wins in parenthesis)
1. Anthony Macri (4) 726
2. Danny Dietrich (1) 682
3. Freddie Rahmer (4) 664
4. Brent Marks (6) 612
5. Lance Dewease (7) 608
6. Logan Wagner (1) 442
7. Alan Krimes (1) 422
8. Dylan Cisney (1) 417
9. Justin Peck (3) 390
10. Chase Dietz (1) 361