Mother Nature may balk, but Lincoln Speedway is scheduled to open season on Saturday
Lincoln Speedway is scheduled to kick off the local outdoor racing season on Saturday afternoon with the Icebreaker 30 for the 410 sprint cars.
At the moment, the Saturday forecast is pretty iffy – 36 degrees for a high with 10 mph winds, but little chance of rain. There is some rain in the forecast for Friday.
Still, as I have mentioned often in the past, the Adams County track near Abbottstown has had an amazing track record at getting the Icebreaker 30 into the record books as scheduled. Since Lincoln first tried the February start in the early 1990s, the track has had a success rate of about 60%.
The long-range forecast for the 2022 opener will likely have to change if Lincoln hopes to add to that record this season. Time will tell, but Lincoln has been known to pull off some miracles. Action Saturday is set to start at 3 p.m.
It seems like an appropriate time to look back to the first time Lincoln was able to best Mother Nature in February.
After two years of the opener falling to the elements, Lincoln first opened its season in February on the 25th of the month in 1995. Lincoln wasn’t the first track in the area to open in February. Hagerstown, in northern Maryland, had done it a few times before that. Lincoln, however, is the one that has continued the tradition for nearly 30 years.
Lincoln drew a field of 26 sprint cars for the February opener in 1995. The thundercars were also a part of the opener that day, which by the way didn’t carry the Icebreaker name yet. It was simply known as the Northeast Season Opener. There were just 15 thundercars on hand that day.
Lance Dewease, in Walter Dyer’s No. 461, opened the day with a win in the first heat race. Todd Gracey followed that up with a second heat win in the Cooper Motors No. 25, while the third heat fell to Steve Siegel in Jimmy Walker’s No. 1J. Thundercar heats went to Gregg Messersmith and Neil Smith.
With Cris Eash and Bobby Fletcher suffering mechanical ills in the heat races for the sprint cars, no consolation race was needed.
The 25-lap sprint feature got going with polesitter Dewease taking the lead and pulling away from the field. Sixth-starter Fred Rahmer gave chase and closed on Dewease late in the going. Coming off the fourth turn for the white flag, Rahmer was able to move the Apple Motorsports No. 12 into the lead and took the checkered flag ahead of Dewease to become Lincoln’s first February winner.
Dewease settled for a second, just ahead of his current car owner, Donnie Kreitz Jr., in the Kreitz No. 69K. Gracey finished fourth and Todd Shaffer completed the top five in the Beam No. 88.
Delaware driver Greg Coverdale made good on his new ride in the Weikert Livestock No. 29 with a sixth-place finish ahead of Jesse Wentz in his own No. 2w. Bill Case Jr. in the No. 15d, Kenny Adams in Sal Scarpitta’s No. 59 and Jeff Rohrbaugh in the Swope No. 45 completed the top 10.
From that top 10, only Dewease, Gracey and Rohrbaugh are still active as drivers today, while Rahmer and Kreitz both own race teams.
Messersmith raced to his second career thundercar win in the companion feature, taking the lead from Bryan Wagaman on the fifth of 15 laps and holding off Denny Hahn for the win. Wagaman, Gary Potts and Neil Smith completed the top five.
Racing continues in Florida: Racing continued in Florida last week when the East Bay Raceway hosted the All Stars on Monday and Tuesday and then the 360 sprint Winter Nationals over the weekend.
Defending All Star champion Tyler Courtney opened the All Star events at East Bay with a win Monday, while Cory Eliason was the Tuesday winner.
Courtney’s win came over Kerry Madsen, Giovanni Scelzi, Brent Marks and Justin Peck. Ryan Smith was sixth, Danny Dietrich was 11th and Dillsburg’s Anthony Macri was 21st.
Eliason won over Dylan Westbrook, with Courtney, Parker Price Miller and Macri in the top five. Marks was seventh, Ryan Smith was 13th and Dietrich was 21st.
The 360 Nationals started Thursday with local racer Mark Smith in victory lane over Sam Hafertepe Jr., Terry McCarl, Ryan Smith and Westbrook. Davie Franek was credited with 21st.
Friday Aaron Reutzel was the winner over Mark Smith, Garrett Green, Ryan Smith and Westbrook. Franek was 23rd.
Saturday’s big event saw Hafertepe take the win with Mark Smith again second. McCarl was third with Ryan Smith and Westbrook taking fourth and fifth for the third night in a row. Franek made it to eighth.
Reach Bryan Householder at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ydsports.