Eight years after retiring, Fred Rahmer remains leader of sprint pack in local dirt racing

Fred Rahmer

Fred Rahmer retired in 2013.

The standout driver, however, is still at the head of the class when it comes to sprint wins among local dirt-track drivers.

With the area auto racing season finished, it’s a good time to revisit the all-time winners from some of the region’s top classes. There have been a few changes near the top of some of the lists, but most of the big winners remain the same.

That, of course, includes Rahmer in sprint competition. He leads the all-time win list in that division and he will likely hold that position for a very long time.

During his career, Rahmer won 420 sprint races, mostly in the 410 ranks, although a few were with the 360 and 358 classes. Rahmer also won 99 modified features before moving to the sprints.

Rahmer ended his driving days eight years ago to help with the racing careers of his sons, Freddie and Brandon.

Lance Dewease is the only active driver in the top 20 in sprint wins, coming in at No. 2. With eight wins this past season, Dewease now owns 362 sprint wins during his career. Like Rahmer, the vast majority of Dewease’s wins have come in the 410 ranks, but there are a few 360 wins in there as well. Dewease has also won in the midgets.

Retired driver Keith Kauffman ranks third on the all-time sprint win list with 304 during his career. Kauffman also won a few times in the super-late models, and owns a win with the dirt-champ cars as well.

The late Greg Hodnett ranks fourth on the all-time sprint win list, although many of his early wins came in the 360 class around his Memphis home. Hodnett has 285 sprint wins to his credit, with about 34 of them in 360 competition.

Retired driver Bobby Allen rounds out the top five with 276 sprint wins, which actually started in the days of the bugs before sprints became the weekly main attraction in the area. A few of Allen’s early wins came on asphalt around his Miami-area home before he moved north to compete locally. Also, a good number of his wins came on the road with the World of Outlaws and All Stars.

As noted, Dewease is the only active driver ranked in the top 20 in wins. Among active drivers, Mark Smith is second with 154 wins, but 99 of those have come in the 360 sprint ranks. Smith ranks 24th overall. Danny Dietrich is third (26th overall) with 119 sprint wins, while Lucas Wolfe with 64 and Blane Heimbach with 41 complete the top five (43rd and 58th overall, respectively). Of those drivers, only Dietrich has won all of his races in the 410 ranks.

Super-late models: In the super-late models, Gary Stuhler is the area’s career win leader. In a career that started in 1975 and is still going strong, Stuhler’s win this season was his 355th overall. He also has a few limited-late-model wins to his credit.

York’s Rick Eckert’s three wins this season moved him into a tie with retired driver Denny Bonebrake for second on the late-model all-time list. They each have 212 wins. Eckert also has a few wins in other stock-car classes. Buddy Armel with 207 and Ronnie McBee with 187 round out the top five.

Following Stuhler and Eckert among active drivers are Jeff Rine, who is 10th overall at 173; Jason Covert, whose 91 wins is 21st overall; and Luke Hoffner, whose 66 wins is 29th overall.

Super sportsmen: Looking to the super-sportsman ranks, the late Gary Wolford still holds a sizable lead in career wins. Wolford won 147 super-sportsman-type races during his career, while also claiming five in the stock cars that preceded today’s sprints.

Frankie Herr now has a solid hold on second on the super-sportsman list. His five wins this season moved his sportsman total to 97. He also won a number of times in 358 sprint competition. Herr plans to return to the 358 and 360 sprints next season.  

Legendary driver Rich Eichelberger will most probably be stepping away from the driver’s seat next year, but he does so sitting in third on the all-time super-sportsman list with 88 wins. He has also won in 358 sprints and limited-late models. Next year, with Freddie Rahmer as his driver, he will seek a win in the one class that has eluded him as a driver, the 410 sprints.

Retired drivers Johnny Murphy with 86 and Larry Jackson with 83 complete the all-time top five in super-sportsman racing.

Among sportsman drivers who were active this season, Carmen Perigo Jr. is third (eighth overall) with 65 wins, while Russ Mitten, at 39 wins, is fourth (19th overall) and Steve Wilbur, at 35, is fifth (20th overall).

The 358 sprints: Pat Cannon, who returned to 410 sprint competition this season, still leads all 358 sprint drivers with 85 wins. Brad McClelland is second with 56, while Chad Layton at 55 and Mike Lehman with 51 are next in line.

Fifth-place Jeff Rohrbaugh is the only driver who competed in 358 sprints this season in the all-time top five. Rohrbaugh’s two wins this season moved his total to 47. Rohrbaugh has also won in 410 sprints, semi-lates and thundercars.

Following Cannon and Rohrbaugh among the top-five active drivers are Heimbach (sixth overall with 42), Doug Hammaker (eighth overall with 34) and Billy Dietrich (ninth overall with 32).

Among the top-five active 358 sprint winners, only Rohrbaugh didn’t compete in 410 sprint competition in 2021.

Reach Bryan Householder at sports@yorkdispatch.com or @ydsports. Please consider subscribing to support local journalism.