What a difference a week makes folks. Welcome back to Central PA Racing Scene and another collection of my thoughts on the racing weekend gone by. This weekend brought winter back to Central PA, as the race teams and fans froze our butts off Friday and Saturday night. Last weekend we where enjoying almost 80 degree weather in shorts and t shirts, this week we where back in our heavy winter coats and gloves just trying to survive the wind. Wonder if we will even get a spring, or we all will wake up one morning and it will just be 95 degrees? Oh well lets get to the racing.....
Friday night saw Williams Grove Speedway host the "New" Tony Stewart All Star Circuit of Champions presented by some collage in Ohio. Ok first off, if you need to tell everyone who owns the series because you are hopping to bring more fans.....I'm not quite sure if it really helps, but its one hell of a marketing strategy, why not use his name, he's more then likely not going to be there but if some NASCAR fan who never goes to a local short track shows up thinking Tony will be there, I'm all for it. Just hope they come back the next week to see the racing action once again. I for one have never been a big fan of the All Stars, never got real excited when they came to the area, because I never saw them as competition for our local drivers, but I was looking forward to see how it would play out this weekend, hell up to Friday Afternoon I was trying to talk myself out of heading up to the Grove to check out the race. The group actually brought cars to our area ( yeah remember 3 the other season) and sounds like they put on a great show with some pretty damn good drivers. A really good mix of veterans like the Blaney Brothers, Dale and Dave, Tim Shaffer and some new up and coming drivers like Parker Price Miller (who I had never heard of till a few weeks ago) so things are looking up for the All Stars. Your winner Friday night? Greg Hodnett.
I spent my Friday night taking in some Bullring action down at Trail Way Speedway. Was happy to finally make it back to my home track for the 1st time in 2015. Was looking forward to seeing if anyone had anything for the 19z of Issac Sneeringer who had won the first 2 races of the season. Got there a little early and after they finally got the track surface run in (over watered it a little bit, but I'll take that problem over blowing dust in hot laps ANY DAY) they ran a tight fast show, and got the fans out of that wind as fast as they could. Disappointed only 10 cars showed up to race, but it didnt really matter as we saw a major cat and mouse type race unfold. JB Cunningham back in action for the first time in two years started on the pole and BOLTED to what looked like an easy win. Hell at one point he had over a half track lead on the rest of the field. Sneeringer started dead last (which is a crock of #@!& if you ask me) but charged through the field until a caution waved with 9 laps to go. Cunningham had the lapped car of Zach Euculano between himself and second place Sneeringer and the fans hopping for a great race to the finish had their hopes dashed when Euculano ran 2nd place hard for a few laps letting Cunningham get away. Sneeringer had 1 last shot at the win, as he was chasing him down, but jumped the cushion coming to the white flag and he had no choice but to settle for 2nd place. All in all it was a good 25 laps other then that damn wind. Was cool seeing JB back in victory lane and even cooler seeing his car lettered up like Stevie Smith circa early 2000's.
Saturday night saw The Bob Weikert Memorial up at Port Royal Speedway and Red Lion native Cody Darrah picked up the impressive win. Nothing better then some home cooking to get ya back on track and make you feel good again. Darrah picked up $15,000 for the win and an additional $3,900 in bonus lap money the "kid" picked himself up some nice coin for a nights work. The big news coming out of Port Saturday night is next season the Weikert Memorial will be moving to Memorial Day Weekend and will be a 2 day show. Looks like I just picked up another race for 2016 as I can finally make it up for this awesome race.
Lincoln Speedway hosted a sprint car double header with the 410's and 358 sprinters on the card almost everyone seemed to forget about this week. Had to laugh (and almost smack someone) when I got to the track because no sooner did I get out of my truck I overheard a fan saying " Don't know why we bothered coming tonight, ya know Montieth is going to kill everyone tonight since all the FAST cars are up at Port." Well goes to show how much they knew. "The Edge" was never a real factor in the outcome Saturday night as JJ Grasso picked up his 2nd career feature win. He was fast in open track, but twice was slowed by lapped cars which allowed Montieth, and former 358 driver Tyler Ross to close in on him. Ross looked outstanding holding off Brian for most of the race. In the closing laps it looked like they both might get a shot at the win but Grasso made a daring pass in lapped traffic splitting two lapped cars and then driving away for the win. Scary flip in the heats as Mike Bittinger pulled a massive wheelie coming out of turn 4 and looked to hop the RR of Shane Hoff which sent the Shark Motorsports 12 car into a series of end over end flips down most of the front stretch. Mike was shaken up and took a few minutes to clime from the destroyed car. Luckily Mike was ok but cant say that about the car...
The 358 feature was outstanding as John Braim, Chris Arnold, Adrian Shaffer, Chandler Leiby, and Kevin Nouse all ran balls to the wall in the 20 lap feature. Briam faded in the closing laps as Arnold looked to have the feature in the bag driving away from the pack, only to have Adrian Shaffer pull another one out of his hat and make it two wins with two last lap passes for the win. Watching it from turn 1 stands I looked at my friends and gave the throat slash to them saying it's over, no way he's getting him, and Shaffer got a great run going down the backstretch, and pulled the perfect slider for the win. That was far from the only highlights though ads Central 358 Point Series presented by Capitol Renegade point leader Doug Hammaker made a steady climb through the field for a solid 4th place finish, and the "Old Man" Jeff Rohrbaugh charged through the field after getting to aggressive trying to pass rookie Cole Young in his heat race and starting in the rear of the feature. Jeff finished a respectable 7th.
One last thing from Lincoln Speedway Saturday night. Props to Fred Putney on the great racing surface this week. 8 sprint car heats, 2 consi's and 45 laps of sprint car features and the 358's still had an awesome track to race on. Cars running top and bottom for 20 laps. Simply amazes me how good the racing in the 358 division has gotten since the 410's got away from the old "Drag" Hoosier tires. No more rubber down, choo choo , cat fishin tracks for the 358's, and the statistics back it up. Not as many first time winners anymore in the division since starting position does not mean as much.
Now I wanna ask everyone a quick question....Why is it we feel the need to have 30+ cars show up at a race track every night? Why is it if only 20 or say 24 cars show up at a race track it's such a big deal? Why does larger car counts constitute a better race? Yeah I know it's great to watch teams battle in the heat races and watch to see that 1 big driver who might not make the show,or I know the tracks love it because that's more money for them to continue to race the next week..... But I'm going to look at this from another angle so bear with me .....
Watching the racing action Friday and Saturday night this week, 1 thing struck me, and that's the money the race teams are and aren't making. Mike Gill had a conversation with me a few years ago about the low car counts and it really struck a cord with me, and has made me rethink what lower car counts truly mean. Here is his explanation....Lets say we get 40 cars in the pits on Saturday night, only 24 cars make the feature, that means 16 race teams just went home making no money for the week. Guess what if that happens to often then those race teams stop coming to the track because they can't afford to race any longer. The perfect night at the track is 24 cars because at the end of the night 24 race teams made some money and can make it back the next weekend to race again..... Now that my friends make a hell of a lot of CENTS does it not?
We all love seeing 40 plus cars in the 410 and 358 pit area, and some folks pine for the days when they had that many every week, but all those race teams means quite a few wont last to long in the sport. Yeah I know survival of the fastest, sucks to be them, if they where any good they could make the show, blah blah blah. How many times have we all (yes me included) sat in the stands and said so and so should just pack his stuff up and quit because they suck? Don't lie because a lot of us have said it at 1 time or another. Well guess what most of them have, but not because they sucked, it was because they didn't make any money and couldn't afford to keep going and get better. Watching 10 358's at Trail Way Friday night, then turning around and seeing 30+ at Lincoln made me wonder why the hell some of them don't try to run on Friday night and make some money? We watched 8 358's and 9 410's at Lincoln go home with nothing. Now keep doing that week after week and guess what? They wont be back to much longer. Every race team needs to make money to keep going I don't care how much money the car owner has. Mike Heffner needs to make money, and so does every low dollar team in the pits, and there are more low budget teams in the pits then there are big budget, even those who claim to be low budget.
So next time you sit in the stand and say to yourself "Where the hell are all the race teams at this week?" Think back a few weeks and see how many race teams didn't make any money and just couldn't justify going without again this week just to entertain all of us at the track. We dont need 40 cars to have a great show, 20 to 25 cars in the pits is perfect, because then each team makes something to help get them back next week.
I wanna take a second here and thank Tony De Seta for allowing me to use his awesome photos here on Central PA Racing Scene. If you have a few minutes go check out his face book page Racing Photos by Tony De Seta and take a look at some of his pics from our local race tracks. Make sure to like his page on Face Book (he personally thanks each and every person who likes his page) and let him know how much you enjoy his outstanding work.
That's it for me this week. Thanks again for checking out the site and my thoughts on the racing action. Remember you can find all the racing stats for both the 410's and 358's from Central PA right here on the site, as I make sure to update them ASAP. Make sure to check back through the week as I will be posting the updated point standings from all our local race tracks, as well as pictures from Tony, and from time to time of the old days from the old racing programs. Hope everyone has a great time tonight at Path Valley for the Party at the Path , and we will see each other next weekend. Friday night Williams Grove is back in action with a 410/358 double header, Saturday night Lincoln Speedway host the Weldon Sterner Memorial for the 410's as well as the 358's, Port Royal has the Free Student Night/Youth Baseball & Softball Uniform Night with the 410's and Selinsgrove Speedway has the 35th annual Jack Gun Memorial for the 360 sprint cars with the URC co sanctioning the race. So where ever you choose to catch a race next weekend, hope the weather is warm, the action is hot, and the beer is cold. Have a great week folks, I'll see you all Friday night in the stands at Williams Grove Speedway.