Local racing season featured wide range of champions at different tracks

From Williams Grove to Lincoln to BAPS, each track had its own distinguished drivers in different racing classes.

Bryan Householder
For The York Dispatch

The local outdoor racing season has drawn to a close, and that means it’s time to take a look at the champions from around the area. This week, a look at the drivers who claimed crowns in the full-sized, open-wheel race cars.

Of course, over the past couple of weeks, I’ve covered Dillsburg’s Anthony Macri’s second consecutive title in the Champion Racing Oil Central PA Sprint Car Series, so now it’s time to look at the individual tracks and some of the other sanctioning bodies.

At Williams Grove, Danny Dietrich scored his second 410 sprint title. Dietrich’s drove Gary Kauffman’s familiar sprinter to his first Grove crown since 2019. The second-generation driver edged Freddie Rahmer for the crown by just 10 points, or one position, in the final race of the season. Dietrich scored three wins at Williams Grove this year.

Danny Dietrich is shown after an April victory at Lincoln Speedway.

Rahmer claimed his third consecutive Lincoln title this season. On the way to that title, the third-generation driver won six races at Lincoln for new car owner Rich Eichelberger. Eichelberger, a former standout in the super sportsman division, stepped out of the driver’s seat this year to field 410 sprint cars for Rahmer.

Logan Wagner set a new standard for sprint car champions at Port Royal this season. The second-generation driver powered the Zemco sprinter to his fifth consecutive title at the Port. Wagner won five times this year at the Port on his way to the title. No driver had ever won five in a row in sprint car competition at Port Royal.

Selinsgrove hosted seven races for the 410 sprints in 2022, which is more than in the recent past. The track, which once hosted 410 sprints on a regular basis, crowned hometown hero Blane Heimbach as its season champion in the 410s. Heimbach drove Jeff Creasy’s car to two wins in those seven races.

On the 358 sprint side of things, Derek Locke raced to his third consecutive Willims Grove points title. The third generation driver put the family owned car in victory lane 3 time this season at the Grove.

At Lincoln, Steve Owings made it two titles in a row in the 358 sprint cars. Owings was a three time winner at Lincoln this season.

For the super sportsman competitors, Kenny Edkin scored his second BAPS title this season. Edkin put the family-owned racer in victory lane four times at the track in 2022.

For the 360 sprint cars, Jason Shultz won his second URC tile this season with three wins in that class. The wingless 360 sprint cars of the USAC East Coast series saw Briggs Danner claim 12 wins on his way to the title for the second year in a row.

Garrett Bard won 12 times on his way to the PASS 305 sprint car title this season.

On the national 410 sprint car scene, Brad Sweet drove Kasey Kahne’s sprinter to his fourth consecutive World of Outlaws title, while Tyler Courtney made it two in a row with the All-Stars. 

EMMR

The Eastern Museum of Motor Racing on the grounds of the Latimore Valley Fairgrounds will hold its annual Christmas Open House on Saturday and Sunday this week. The museum will be open with numerous items for sale in the gift shop which should make great Christmas gifts for race fans on your list.

As always, the Open House will also provide entertainment both days as well. Saturday of the Open House weekend is dedicated to drag racing, while Sunday is set aside for oval track racers.

This year’s Sunday slate will include the Gerhart brothers from Lebanon. Both Bobby and Billy grew up watching their father compete in local racing of various forms. Bobby Gerhart Sr. was a top contender at Silver Spring in the flathead days, moved to the more powerful cars on the local circuit and progressed through the evolution from the full-sized stock cars to the bugs and sprint cars.

Often racing with both that class and the newly formed late model class in the mid 1960s, Gerhart eventually moved to the modified cars in the more eastern sections of the state. He was a winner and champion in everything he did.

His sons followed in their father’s footsteps, but took it even farther. Bobby Gerhart Jr. started racing in the modified class, as did brother Billy. Eventually, they left the modifieds with Bobby as the driver and Billy as the mechanic. The Gerhart team competed in both the Cup and Grand National series with NASCAR, but found the most success with the ARCA stock cars on the super speedways.  

Bobby Gerhart is the leading ARCA winner at Daytona and has also won at Talladega.

YCRC

The York County Racing club will also be active this weekend, with the groups annual Christmas Part set for Sunday at the Club Hall in Zions View. Dinner is served at noon with entertainment and Santa to follow.

The YCRC provides the main course for the meal, with each family asked to bring a cover dish entree for the meal.  Parents should also remember to bring a gift for Santa to provide to their child.