Sharp-looking cars honored during Racing Xtravaganza show at York Expo Center

BRYAN HOUSEHOLDER
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The Racing Xtravaganza filled the Weis Center at the York Expo Center over the weekend with race cars.

That brought out plenty of fans to check out things out for the new season.

The new team of car owner Ron Rutherford and driver Matt Campbell had their new No.19R racer on display and the fans loved it. That car won the People’s Choice Award.

Chad Trout’s No. 1x sprinter gained the most votes among the judges for the Best in Show Award among the open-wheel cars.

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Daulton Bigler’s No. 24 late model won in the stock-car class, while Haiden Ort’s micro sprint and the Spangler quarter midget were winners in the small-car classes.

The vintage-car category was one that made the judges earn their money. Three newly restored cars battled until the final moment for the win. In the end, Van May’s restoration of the No. 69 sprinter he raced in the late 1970s barely edged out the Beitler No.19 late model that Gary Stuhler drove in the 1980s. A recreation of Bobby Allen’s No. 1a Reading modified from the early 1970s was also in the running right up until the end.

PIT STOPS

Track notes: Many of the local tracks, and a few from a little farther away, were on hand at Racing Xtravaganza and fans stocked up on schedules for the new season.

Here are a few notes from the tracks on hand.

Lincoln is set to open the new season with its Icebreaker 30 for the sprint cars on Saturday, Feb. 26.

Port Royal is not far behind with its scheduled opening on Sunday, March 6, with the sprint cars and super late models set to compete.

Williams Grove is set to go on Sunday, March 13, with the sprints and wingless super sportsmen.

The next weekend, Selinsgrove Speedway will open with the Short Track Super Series Modifieds on Saturday, March 19. Selinsgrove’s first sprint race is set for Sunday, March 27. The limited late models and roadrunners will also compete.

BAPS Motor Speedway will also kick off its season on Saturday, March 19, with the super sportsmen, limited late models and Legends. BAPS’ first sprint race of the season is set for Sunday, April 10.

Path Valley Speedway also opens March 19 with the wingless super sportsmen and micro sprints. Path Valley has a sprint show set for May 22.

The fairgrounds tracks at Bedford and Bloomsburg were also represented at the RX show. Bedford, one of the state’s longest-running fairgrounds ovals, with racing dating back to 1936, will open with late models on April 3. The All Star sprints visit there on April 28.

Bloomsburg has a rich racing history but opened an all-new track just last year. It will open with the United States Auto Club East Coast wingless 360 sprints and United Racing Club winged 360 sprints on April 14. The All Stars make the first visit by 410 sprints to the new oval on April 21.

The Bridgeport, New Jersey, oval, which also recently revamped into a 4/10ths mile oval, was also represented. That track will open with a three-day show for modifieds on the last weekend in March. The URC 360 sprints and 305 sprints are also a part of that weekend. The 410 sprint cars make their first visit of the season on April 19.

Some history: A few weeks ago, I did a look at some local racing history. 

While doing that research, I came up with an interesting tidbit of information. Sixty years ago, there were just four tracks in regular weekly competition locally. All four had champions from southern York County. The leading winner at three of those tracks was also from southern York county, although he didn’t win any of the point titles.

Williams Grove, Lincoln, Port Royal and Susquehanna were all racing regularly that season, while Selinsgrove and Hagerstown were a year away from reopening after being closed for a few seasons.

The 1962 season was also a very interesting one car wise. The cutting down of the full-sized stock cars was in full swing that year. In fact, several local teams made major size changes to their cars that year. That season saw full-sized cars competing with cars that were really about the same size as a modern sprint car.

At Williams Grove, the “Delta Dart,” Johnny Mackison, would wrap up his racing career with yet another point title. Mackison drove the very small Emrich Chevy No. 1 to six wins on his way to the Grove point title that year.

At Port Royal, it was Shrewsbury’s Frankie Thompson who won the point title at the wheel of Al McClure’s No. 15 Ford. Thompson won seven races at the Port that year.

Consistent Gene Goodling, from Stoverstown, drove Ken Appler’s No. 77 Ford to the titles at both Lincoln and Susquehanna. Goodling won twice at each track that year.

The big winner that year was Seven Valleys’ Bobby Hersh, who drove the Trone No. 39 Chevy to 24 wins overall. He was the leading winner at the Grove, Lincoln and Susky. He won 10 times at the Grove and seven each at Lincoln and Susky but didn’t win any point titles.

Smith, Franek shine down south: Sprint racing was set to kick off down south last weekend.

The All Star sprints were planning to race at Senoia, Georgia, but three inches of rain on Thursday forced officials to cancel that two-day program. 

At Hendry County, Florida, however, the American Sprint Car Series 360 sprints were able to kick things off with a two-day show that saw drivers from the local circuit in victory lane both nights.  

Davie Franek and Mark Smith each found victory lane at Hendry County over the weekend. Franek won Friday’s preliminary night feature, with Smith finishing eighth. Then in Saturday’s main event, Smith passed Franek at the midway point and went on to victory over Franek.

Reach Bryan Householder at sports@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @ydsports.