Two locals to be inducted into National Sprint Car Hall of Fame

Bryan Householder
For The York Dispatch

The National Sprint Car Hall of Fame announced its Class of 2023 last Friday, and two racing personalities from the local circuit will be among the honorees when the induction ceremonies are held in the late spring.

Hanover native Tommy Sanders will be among those who honored in the Owner, Mechanics, Car Builders class. Sanders grew up in the Hanover area and actually got his start in racing with the late Ken Appler’s team. As a youngster, Sanders would hang around the Appler shop doing whatever work the team asked of him. As a reward Appler would allow Sanders, who came from an under privileged family, the opportunity to ride along to the races on the back of the pick up truck he used to tow the car to the track.

Tommy Sanders, a Hanover native, will be inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame's 2023 class.

Sanders became invaluable to the team as a teenager, and would later go on to help another local team, that of Bobby Allen. Allen spent time on the road and Sanders found a calling while traveling with Allen’s team. He would later move to several World of Outlaws teams before settling in as manager of the Gambler Chassis Company. While at Gambler, Sanders also worked with the Al Hamilton team and driver Keith Kauffman.

The other local to make the Class of 2023 is promoter Alan Kreitzer, who will be inducted in the Promoter, Official, Media category.

Kreitzer literally grew up at the Silver Spring Speedway, which was owned by his grandparents and promoted by his father. Kreitzer started his promotional activities at an early age, promoting go-kart events at the Springs, while also putting together the program books and yearbooks for the Speedway. Eventually, he spent a year driving a super sportsman car before settling into the role for which he had worked all his life — promoter at Silver Spring.  

Along the way, Kreitzer took over ownership of the Speedway, and kept it going until the property became just too valuable to remain a Speedway. But Kreitzer had already begun to branch out. He spent several years as the owner of Susquehanna (now BAPS) Speedway, and worked as a co-promoter at Williams Grove for a number of years.

He joined the Leiby brothers in purchasing Lincoln Speedway in the early 1990s and still retains an interest in that facility. Along the way, he also joined the team that kept the Selinsgrove Speedway going for many years.

While involved with many of the local Speedways and maintaining a great working relationship with almost every Speedway in the area, Kreitzer also took over the role as promoter of the Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek. He has held that position for many years now, and with the help of a few other dedicated local individuals, Kreitzer has built the PA Speedweek into one of sprint car racing’s premiere events.

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Others announced to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023 include drivers Ken Hamilton, Chad Kemenah, Cory Kruseman, Bobby Marshall and Joey Saldana. Owner mechanics Johnny Capals and Paul Hazen join Sanders in his category. On the promotional side, other inductees will be Max Dolder, Ralph Sheheen and Johnny Vance.

PA SPEEDWEEK

The schedule for the Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek has been set for this coming season. A few changes will greet fans for the event, which will run from June 23-July 3 in 2023. Most obvious of those changes is the fact that there is an extra day. With July 3 falling on a Monday, and also being a notably good day to race, Speedweek will end on a Monday this year. That leaves room for one day off in the middle of the series.

The other change in Speedweek for 2023 is another increase in purse money. The lowest-paying race will offer $8,000 to win, while five of the events will reach the $10,000 or more stage.  

Speedweek starts at Williams Grove with $8,000 on the line the first night. Lincoln’s Kevin Gobrecht Memorial the next day offers $10,092 to win. BAPS on the first Sunday pays $8000, with Lincoln’s Monday show also offering $8,000. Tuesday at Grandview for the Greg Hodnett Classic offers $10,000, while Wednesday at Hagerstown is $8,000.

Thursday will be the off day for this year’s Speedweek, with teams returning Friday for Williams Grove’s Mitch Smith Memorial. This year, that one pays $20,000 to win and leads into a weekend of high-dollar shows. On Saturday, Port Royal honors Hodnett with a $10,000-to-win show, while Sunday’s Opperman/Bogar/Hentzilman Memorial also pays $10,000 to win. Things wrap up Monday, July 3, at Port Royal with another $10,000 on the line for the winner.

LATE MODEL SPEEDWEEK

The Appalachian Mountain Late Model Speedweek will return in 2023. Driver and car builder Jim Bernheisel has taken over the promotion of the Late Model event and will bring it back after the series ended in 2018.

Bernheisel is still working at a complete schedule, but right now there are seven events confirmed and perhaps two more to be added. There will be at least two off days planned into the schedule. The events will pay a minimum of $4,000 to win and $400 to start, with several higher purses planned, including at least one $10,000-to-win show.  

Right now, Clinton County will open the series on Friday, June 9. Port Royal and Hagerstown will follow that weekend, with Selinsgrove currently next on Wednesday, June 14, Bedford on June 16 and tentatively wrapping up at Lincoln on June 17.

June 12 and 15 are planned off dates, with June 13 and June 18 open for races if dates are secured.

ALLEN TO CHILI BOWL

Hanover’s Jacob Allen will be racing at this year’s Chili Bowl Indoor Midget racing event in January. A World of Outlaws Sprint Car regular, the popular second-generation driver will be driving a car owned by drag racing legend Cruz Pedregon. Associate sponsorship on the car will come from the York-based Speed Dawg Shifters.