The York County Racing Club played host to its 35th annual Hall of Fame Banquet on Saturday evening at the Wyndham Garden in West Manchester Township.
Nearly 300 people attended the affair, which saw six new members inducted into the YCRC Hall of Fame.
Tommy Sanders, a 1987 Hall of Fame inductee, returned to York to serve as guest speaker for the banquet. Sanders, a native of the Hanover area, got his start in racing as a pre-teen when he followed a purple No. 77 racer to its new home in a neighboring garage. That car was the Ken Appler-owned stock car driven by Stoverstown’s Gene Goodling.
Sanders worked with the Appler team during his teenage years before joining Bobby Allen’s team. From there, Sanders went on the road with numerous top drivers on the touring sprint car circuits. He even spent some time at the Indy 500. Later he worked as the manager at the Gambler Chassis company. He now lives in Tennesee, and works for longtime race sponsor Wirtgen.
Here's a look at those honored Saturday evening.
Past Driver: Jim Shuttlesworth was honored as the Past Driver inductee into the Hall of Fame.
A stint as a teenage crew member for a neighboring late model team launched Shuttlesworth on a career that would see him excel at both limited late model and super sportsman racing. Shutttlesworth won nearly 100 races in a career that saw him win the biggest races in both classes. Shuttlesworth’s win in the Sportsman 100 goes along with his being the all-time win leader in the Silver Spring Late Model 50.
He was also the first driver to win in both classes at Silver Spring on the same night. Shuttlesworth took a try at sprint car racing but discovered he was too big to be competitive in the pre-weight-rule era. So he hired a driver for his sprint car and went back to racing the limited late models. On one memorable night, Shuttlesworth was in victory lane at Silver Spring when his sprint car driver, Jeff Shepard, called from Selinsgrove’s victory lane.
After retiring as a driver, Shuttlesworth began a career as a race mechanic, which has seen him working for the Middleswarth team, and now for Brock Zearfoss on the sprint car circuit. Being a mechanic now is a natural fit. Shuttlesworth did most of his mechanical work during his racing days, and feels he was probably a better mechanic than driver.
Past Owner or Mechanic: East Berlin businessman Floyd Swope was inducted in the Past Owner or Mechanic category.
Swope, a single father of five, began taking his family to the races in the 1980s. He quickly found himself sponsoring Steve Smith’s efforts. Later, he would own sprint cars for Jeff Rohrbaugh, Johnny Mackison Jr., Eric Stambaugh and Brian Leppo.
Past Miscellaneous: Late racing announcer John Lawrence was the Past Miscellaneous inductee.
Lawrence began his career in radio, working on air and in sales. His sales efforts with Lincoln Speedway in the late 1970s found him developing a love of racing, which carried him to Lincoln’s announcing booth for more than a decade.
During that time, Lawrence also did a stint as Susquehanna’s announcer and produced program books for both tracks. He was also instrumental in bringing much-need outside sponsorship into local racing.
Present Driver: Dover’s Gene Knaub was the Present Driver inductee.
Knaub started his career in racing in the 1980s in the old semi-late division, where he was quickly a winner. He moved to the 358 sprints, where he again was a winner. It was while making his mark on the 410 sprint circuit that Knaub suffered a back injury that put his career on hold. While he never won in the 410s, Knaub did finish second to Steve Smith one night at Lincoln.
After sitting out for a number of years to allow his back to heal, Knaub returned to racing stock cars, first with the extreme stocks and then the thundercars. He won frequently in both, before venturing into the limited late model circuit. That’s where he really turn up the heat, scoring well more than 100 wins in less than 10 years.
Of late, Knaub has been doing most of his racing in the super late model class, where he has again been a winner. His career win stats stand at nearly 150 wins in five different divisions.
Present Owner or Mechanic: Hanover area native Moon Byers was honored as the Present Owner or Mechanic inductee.
Ironically, Byers was a childhood neighbor of guest speaker Sanders and got his start in much the same way. Byers joined Steve Smith’s team as a crew member while still a youngster.
Later, Byers would drive midget racers, earning rookie of the year honors in two different clubs, before returning to the mechanical end of racing. He has worked for several top teams and spent quite a bit of time on the road with the World of Outlaws.
Some of Byers’ most productive times were with his now grandfather-in-law Al Hamilton. The driver with whom he won most often was his current car owner, Fred Rahmer. Byers has also worked very well with his original driver’s son, Stevie Smith. Word is that in their younger days, Byers was sometimes Stevie’s babysitter.
Byers’ career win stats are very close to 300.
Present Miscellaneous: Hanover area sign painter Dave Loss was the Present Miscellaneous inductee.
Loss’ father, Virgil, owned stock cars in the early 1960s, which started his son’s interest in racing. But ironically, it was with the same Ken Appler team where Tommy Sanders worked that Loss got his real start in the sport. Loss’ first lettering job came on the Appler car, when Loss was 14 years old. That one took three nights after school to complete.
Loss has lettered literally thousands of race cars in his time, and even in this day of vinyl lettering, still does a handful of hand-lettered cars each year.
While known for his Delco Signs, Loss has done much more in racing, serving as a flagman at tracks such as Susquehanna, Hagerstown and Potomac over the years. He also handled handicapping at Lincoln for a while.
His biggest love is the Auto Racing Club of Hagerstown, where he has served as an officer for may years. Loss is one of only two people who have served multi terms as ARCH president.
Kevin Gobrecht Special Achievement Award: Albert Ciarrocchi was presented the Kevin Gobrecht Memorial Special Achievement Award.
No one knows what that means, but if I said “C n B Chubby” got the award, everyone would know who the winner was. Chubby has been a racing supporter for most of his 82 years, and has sponsored multiple race cars each year since getting involved in the 1970s.
Among the seven or eight race cars that carried his name in 2016 are Speedway Motors champion Greg Hodnett and the Bobby Allen World of Outlaws team cars of Logan Schuchart and Jacob Allen. Chubby has supported the Allen team since the early 1980s.
Paul Miller Memorial President's Award: Named in honor of the club’s longtime president, this award goes to someone who does so much behind the scenes in local racing.
This year, the award went to Lincoln and Selinsgrove promoter Alan Kreitzer — not for his well-known deeds, but for the many things he also does behind the scenes.
Kreitzer is a longtime supporter of all the local racing clubs, YCRC, ARCH and Checkered Flag. His other longtime calling is the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing, where he has long been a big financial supporter through various fund raising efforts.
Valor Award: The YCRC presented a special Valor Award this year to two drivers who went above and beyond to help their fellow racers this year.
Shawn Burke is credited with saving the life of fellow 305 sprint car driver, Jake Waters, after a fiery crash at Selinsgrove during Sprint Car Speedweek. While Waters still has a road to complete recovery, Burke’s efforts in pulling him from the burning car, while suffering burns himself, saved Waters’ life.
While the after effects were not nearly as serious, Port Royal champion Doug Esh helped free fellow racers from burning race cars twice during the 2016 season. Early in the year, Esh helped Mike Eardley from a burning car, while late in the season he came to Danny Dietrich’s aid in a similar situation.
Speedway Motors/Champion Racing Oil Champion: Spring Grove’s Greg Hodnett picked up his award for another overall championship on the local circuit.
The title was Hodnett’s seventh in the last eight years locally.
Ed Stauffer Memorial Mechanic of the Year: While all of the YCRC awards were well earned and brought applause from the crowd, the winner of the Ed Stauffer Memorial Mechanic of the Year Award got a standing ovation from those in attendance.
Dover’s Davey Brown was the award winner. Brown just completed his 63rd consecutive winning season as a mechanic and engine builder on the local circuit. Brown was the race-night mechanic, and engine builder, for the Don Kreitz Jr.-owned team that Lance Dewease put in victory lane 10 times in 2016.
The team only raced 26 times this year, but won 10 times, and finished second another five. Add in four more top fives, and four additional top 10s, and that marks 23 top-10 finishes in 26 races.
And, all of the wins were in special races with larger purses, including two against the World of Outlaws.
It should be noted that earlier in the evening, guest speaker Sanders called the 80-something Brown his childhood hero.
Bryan Householder covers dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.