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Pennsylvania Posse, World of Outlaws will renew their intense sprint rivalry this week

BRYAN HOUSEHOLDER
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A racing rivalry that dates back decades — the World of Outlaws vs. the Pennsylvania Posse — will be renewed this week on the central Pennsylvania dirt tracks.

Over the years, the names have changed, the cars have changed and the format has changed – numerous times.

The rivalry, however, remains red hot. The competition between the traveling pros and the local racers will be, as always, intense.

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The line distinguishing the Posse from the Outlaws has become muddled at times, since drivers from both circuits have joined the other circuits for periods of time. When they reach local soil, however, the rivalry is on.

How it started: The Outlaws sprint cars first visited the area in their first season of racing. That was 1978. They came to Lincoln Speedway twice that year, and both times the format was for a two-day show. Both times, the first night was run without wings and the second night the cars sported the wings. 

The one thing that was always the same was the name in victory lane at the end of the events.

Legendary local racer Steve Smith won all four of those races. With wings and without wings, Smith was the class of the field. In fact, the late racing great was so good at Lincoln that on one of those nights he had to borrow a car, but still won.

On one of the wingless nights, Smith’s own racer suffered mechanical woes early in the evening. He was offered the ride in one of his former cars, then owned and driven by Kenny Slaybaugh. In the end, the results were the same. 

If you check the old photos closely, one of those Outlaw wins for Smith came in Slaybaugh’s blue No. 61 racer.

The other local Outlaw visit that year wasn’t exactly a full Outlaw show. The touring series was on the West Coast in the fall, but the Williams Grove National Open offered a large enough purse that Outlaw founder Ted Johnson offered Outlaw points for that event as well, even though his main group of racers wasn’t in the area. Another local racing standout, Kramer Williamson won that event.

Thus, the legend of the Pennsylvania Posse and the World of Outlaws began. It would be a few more years before the term Posse would actually be coined, but the intense racing between the two factions has become well established.

There is nowhere else in the country where the Outlaw racers have been beaten more often. It’s true that the Outlaw drivers have won more local Outlaw races than the Posse drivers have, but that margin is much smaller than anywhere else.

Brad Sweet won last year's World of Outlaws stop at Lincoln Speedway.

This week’s Outlaws races: This week, things are set to kick off Wednesday evening with the Gettysburg Clash at Lincoln Speedway.

The Outlaws will take on the Posse for a $10,000-to-win show. Lincoln’s race has a Thursday rain date.

Last year, current Outlaw kingpin Brad Sweet drove Kasey Kahne’s No. 49 racer to the Lincoln win.

While Lincoln was on the original Outlaw schedule back in 1978, it hasn’t always been an Outlaw track. After Fred Rahmer won there in 1998, the Outlaws left Lincoln and didn’t return until 2012. 

Danny Dietrich won the first two times the Outlaws returned to Lincoln, while winners since then have been Stevie Smith, Greg Hodnett, Donny Schatz, David Gravel, Freddie Rahmer, Lance Dewease, Sheldon Haudenschild and Sweet. The Lincoln score since 2012 reads: Posse 6, Outlaws 4.

Friday evening, the Outlaws move to Williams Grove for the two-day Morgan Cup weekend.

With the National Open date the first year, the Outlaws have visited the Grove every year they have been around. 

Last year’s Morgan Cup weekend races fell to Outlaw drivers Carson Macedo and Arron Reutzel. Neither driver has been a local regular, but both have spent considerable time at the local ovals during their careers.

The Morgan Cup weekend features full shows on both Friday and Saturday evenings. Friday’s race pays $10,000 to win, while Saturday’s race offers $12,000 to the winner. With the $5,000 Morgan Cup bonus available to a driver who sweeps both contests, a weekend sweep at the Grove would be worth $27,000.

PIT STOPS

Other races: With the Outlaws in the area, some local tracks, such as Port Royal and BAPS, will be dark this weekend.

Other tracks will race.

Selinsgrove offers up a big race for the super late models. The Ron Keister Memorial Race will go for 52 laps and pay the winner $5,200. 

Ron Keister was a budding late-model racer just entering his prime when he suffered fatal injuries at Selinsgrove in 1976. The limited late models will also be on the program

Path Valley offers both the 358 sprints and the 305 sprints on its Saturday slate.

The United States Auto Club East Coast wingless 360 sprints join Grandview’s modified program Saturday.

Hagerstown has the late-model sportsman cars along with the Mid-Atlantic modifieds, pure stocks and hobby stocks Saturday.

EMMR: While Lincoln takes Saturday off after the Wednesday Outlaw show, the track will not be dark.

The Eastern Museum of Motor Racing will present their annual hot-rod show at the speedway Saturday.

A pig roast at the museum will follow.

Sunday at the museum on the grounds of the Latimore Valley Fairgrounds, it’s the Third Sunday Roundtable. Donna Gobrecht and her son, Scott, will talk about managing a foundation and a racetrack.

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