Maryland Clay Dirt
By Doug Watson
“Deese and Sheppard Take Round Two at Hagerstown”
Laurel, Maryland’s Roy Deese Jr. and Waterloo, New York’s Matt Sheppard took round number two last Saturday afternoon at the Hagerstown speedway. Deese, The 08’ Hagerstown late model champion, made his first start of the season a good one as he collected his 19th career Hagerstown late model feature win and for Sheppard, he earned himself a guaranteed starting spot in the season-ending Octoberfest event with his victory in the 30-lap small-block modified headliner.
Once again solid car counts graced the Hagerstown pit area as 27 late models and 30 small block modifieds signed in for the days activities. The smaller than normal crowd was treated to some very good racing on a day that temps hovered in the mid-40’s. As per Hagerstown norm, the show offered hot-laps, six heat races, two consolations and two thirty-lap features and the last checkered flag of the afternoon fell at 3:45. Here’s some notes from the show-
* Selinsgrove Pa.’s Dylan Yoder continued his impressive early season runs at Hagerstown. Driving his CKC Trucking Rocket no.27X Yoder drew the pole for the feature and led the event for the first two laps before s ettling for a very solid third place feature finish.
* Big Cove Tannery Pa.’s Frankie Plessinger Rolled to his second straight top-five of the season on Saturday. Plessinger has certainly found something with his Rocket chassis no.9, as he raced in the top-five the entire 30-lap contest before collecting fourth at the finish.
* Thompson Pa.’s Dan Stone endured quite a miserable afternoon. Not long after taking a thrilling win in the second late model heat, Stone’s power plant went up in smoke on his family owned Rocket no.21D, scratching the machine for the rest of the afternoon.
* Hagerstown Md.’s Alan Sagi had a solid afternoon wheeling his LeBarron Motorsports GRT no.8A. A win in the first late model heat earned Sagi the sixth starting spot for the feature. Sagi hung around the front the entire event coming home with a fifth place run, A one spot improvement from the week prior’s sixth place effort. Once again Sagi’s machine had Hoosier rubber on all four corners….
* Hamburg Pa.’s Scott Haus, The 2008 Port Royal Speedway late model champion, Made a rare Hagerstown start on Saturday. Driving his Rocket no.76 Haus was just a tick off with the car as he started the main 14th and only improved one spot finishing 13th. Haus is one of only less than a handful of drivers in the region to have won in a late model, Modified and a sprint car during his car eer. Since his return to the late models in 1995 Haus has collected well over 125 late model feature wins…..
* Once again hats-off to the Hagerstown track-prep crew. With overcast skies and temps in the mid- 40’s the Hagerstown surface stayed very good during the heats. For feature time the track did, however, take some rubber but there were two grooves of racing, but both feature winners did use the bottom to score wins…
* South Park Pa.’s Jared Miley looked strong through the early stages of
the race. Miley took the lead on lap-3 and appeared to have the car to beat as
he led the event until he slipped just a bit off turn two on lap-19 allowing
eventual winner Roy Deese Jr. to slide by. This is the best run ever at
Hagerstown for Miley as he would hold on to place second in the event, topping
his seventh place finish in the opener.
* 2007 Hagerstown Late model champion JT Spence made his first start of the season on Saturday. Piloting his familiar Rocket no.91, Spence started the main from 15th, and even on the dry-slick surface, Spence would take 9th in the feature.
* Williamsport Md.’s Pete Weaver, a weekly campaigner in the late model sportsman division, was on hand racing with the late models. Even with his LMS motor in the car Weaver ran quite well staring the main 23rd and finishing the main 17th. Weaver, a one-time LMS feature winn er in 08’, was not in his familiar MasterSbilt chassis, but has opted to put his colors and number 16 on a Rocket chassis for 09’.
* Good start for Delco Signs at Lincoln Speedway in 2009. Brian Montieth,
the 08’ 410 champ, has gone 2 for 3 in 410 sprint car competition while
defending track champion Jeff Rohrbaugh took his first 358 sprint win of the
season last Saturday afternoon. Both cars carry graphics packages from the
McSherrystown, Pa. based company. News or notes to
March 8, 2009
Maryland Clay Dirt
By Doug Watson
“Solid Car Counts Grace Hagerstown’s Opener”
With rumors running ramped on how the economy will affect local short track racing, the critics were quickly quieted in last Saturday afternoon’s season opener at the Hagerstown speedway.
Quality fields of 33 late models and 28 big-block modifieds lined the Hagerstown pit area on an absolutely picture perfect day for racing with temps in the mid-70’s and clear skies. A very good crowd turned out for the show, and even though both feature winners scored flag-to-flag victories, the racing was very good. Hagerstown management kept the show moving quite well as seven heat races, two consolations and two thirty-lap features were spun-off in less than three-hours, having the fans on their way home by 4pm. Here’s some notes from the show-
* Mechanicsville Md.’s Dale Hollidge, the 2008 Hagerstown pure stock champion, Made his late model debut on Saturday. Hollidge scored a fourth place run in the fourth late model heat to earn himself the 16th starting spot for the feature. However his fortunes quickly went south as a multi car crash took him from the event before a lap was even scored. Even though his Rocket no.0 appeared to have minimal damage, Hollidge decided to park the car and he would be paid for 23rd.
* South Park Pa.’s Jared Miley, the 2007 PPMS late model champion, shows that perseverance pays off. Late to stage for the feature event made Miley forfeit his 11th starting spot for the feature and start the main at the rear of the field. Miley made the most of what he had and drove through the field to collect a hard-earned seventh place feature finish.
* Gettysburg Pa.’s Mike Walls was on hand for the show. Walls, a former thundercar champion at Trail-way , has decided to call Hagerstown home in 2009 after a couple seasons in the central Pa. 358 late model ranks. “ I think were going to come here and play a little bit this season.” Walls stated. “We have a pretty good motor this season, and besides, the 358 late model division has become such a crash fest the past few seasons, we wanted a place to be able to race and Hagerstown’s late model division has some of the cleanest drivers around so we’ll see what happens.” Walls outing on Saturday was less than memorable. Qualifying through the consolation gave Walls the 24th starting spot for the feature. However, mechanical problems were discovered on his Rocket no.1W forcing him to pit where he would eventually be paid for 18th.
* Noticeably missing from the event was defending and six-time late model track champion Roy Deese Jr. “ I haven’t felt all that goo d the past few weeks, so we decided to skip the event.” Deese commented. “I’ll miss not being there but daytime shows take a lot out of you and I don’t think I’m physically up to it right now.” Other notables missing from the program was 08’ opening day feature winner Rick Eckert and 2007 track champion JT Spence.
* Mercersburg Pa.’s Tyler Hershey continued his miserable luck at Hagerstown. Hershey discovered mechanical problems with his BRC Lazer no.74 during the third late model heat, forcing him to pit. Hershey’s heat race woes would trailer the machine for the rest of the program earning him a DNQ for the day.
* Rocket chassis definitely seems to have the upper hand at Hagerstown as 8 of the top-10 finishers were all in a Mark Richard’s creation. DJ Myers (4th) was using a PPM while sixth place finisher, Alan Sagi was in a GRT.
* Even with bright sunshine and 70 degree temps, the Hagerstown surface stayed pretty racy all day long. The track took rubber as expected, but there still was plenty of passing, especially in the modified headliner.
* Upperco Md.’s Paul Crowl had an interesting afternoon. A heat race tangle forced him to the consolation, which he won, giving himself the 21st starting spot for the feature. Piloting his MD1 race cars chassis no.1MD, Crowl soldiered on through the 30-lap contest coming home with a very respectable 12th p lace feature finish.
* Youthful Dylan Yoder produced a good day as well. Driving an identical Rocket like his father Jim, numbered 27X, Dylan qualified through his heat race and ran quite well, earning a solid tenth place finish, in his first-ever late model start at Hagerstown.
*After announcing plans to run American Racer tires in 09’, The LeBarron motorsports team of Scott Lebarron and Alan Sagi were both on hand for the show with Hoosier rubber bolted on their GRT’s. Alan had the best run of the duo as he took a solid 6th in the main while team owner LeBarron was not as fortunate as he crashed late in the event, placing 14th at the finish.
* Winchester Va.’s Ronnie DeHaven Jr. left Hagerstown with a badly damaged racer. DeHaven was swept up in the lap one incident that left his mount with heavy right side damage. Oddly enough, DeHaven was not in his trusty GRT, but had his familiar yellow sheet metal wrapped around a Rocket chassis.
* Congrats to Duane Watson (No relation!) as he took his second consecutive “Spring Thaw 20” thundercar opener a Lincoln speedway on Saturday. Watson’s $500 feature win was the 21st of his Lincoln career, tying him with Mike Walls for 7th on the all-time Lincoln win chart. A respectable 19-car field was on hand for the opener. News or notes to firstname.lastname@example.org
Maryland Clay Dirt
March 1, 2009
By Doug Watson
“Wagaman Set for Busy 2009 Season”
Entering his second full season in the ever-tough central Pennsylvania 358 late model division, Gettysburg Pa.’s Craig Wagaman is set for a full-out assault in 2009.
Wagaman was able to produce a pair feature wins in 2008 with wins coming at Lincoln and Williams Grove, however, Wagaman has his sights set a lot higher for the up coming campaign.
“We plan to hit it hard.” Wagaman stated as we caught up by phone last Sunday afternoon. “We plan on racing at Susquehanna and Lincoln this year full time with some stops at Hagerstown and Potomac when our schedule allows.” Last season saw Wagaman compete full-time at Williams Grove that produced a top-five finish in the point standings, so why the switch to Susquehanna? “Tires are the main reason.” Wagaman bottom-lined. “At Susky you can only run a 55 on the right rear where as at the Grove you can run a couple different tires. With the economy the way it is right now any way we can save some money and still be able to race is what were going to do.”
C&L motorsports owns Wagaman’s equipment and the car was significantly updated over the winter months. “We still have=2 0the same 05’ Rocket we had from last season but we took it down to Ronnie Frye’s place a while back and put a new rear clip on it and we also re-powder coated the whole frame. The car is like brand new.” Mark Small Machine will once again provide the horsepower for Wagaman’s mount. “Yeah we just got a new engine during the off-season and we’ll also have the one from last season as well, so I think we’ll be in really good shape.”
A good car owner and a quality driver to pilot the car are always a key ingredient to success, but good sponsors are what really makes a team successful at any level. “All the people involved with C&L are a great bunch to be associated with.” Wagaman explained. “We’ll have the same sponsors we did last season and we were able to bring on two new ones this season also. Speedwrapz just got done lettering the car and it looks awesome , especially with the new sponsors on there, so hopefully we’ll be able to produce a bunch of wins this season.” Craig Wagaman is a talented race car driver and I’m sure his sophomore season in the 358’s will be as success. If you ever get the chance to watch Craig race, especially when the track has a top groove, look out because he is worth the price of admission alone.
“SPRING THAW 20” FOR THUNDERCARS THIS WEEK AT LINCOLN- My favorite class at Lincoln Speedway will comp ete for a $500 payday in next Saturday Afternoon’s “Spring Thaw 20” thundercar feature event. 2007 thundercar track champion Duane Watson took the win in last season’s event and former thundercar stand-out Nat Tuckey collected Spring Thaw honors in 2007. Defending track champion and five-time feature winner from one season ago, Sam Gallagher will lead a talented list of drivers when the thundercars invade the pigeon hills. Brian Walls, a four-time Lincoln feature winner in 08’, is certainly another favorite to win the event as well. Gino Comi (3), Duane Watson (3), Ronnie Thomas (2) were all multiple feature winners at Lincoln last season as well and all should be on hand for the opener. Don’t be surprised to see former three-time Lincoln Thundercar champion Bobby Beard on hand for the event. Until the 358 late model season opens up Beard sometimes winds up in a thundercar and is always a threat to win. News or notes to email@example.com
Maryland Clay Dirt
February 22, 2009
By Doug Watson
“Racing Loses a True Friend…Alex Beaumont”
Last Saturday night, February 21, the Mid-Atlantic late model community lost one of its own as Severna Park Md.’s Alex Beaumont passed away at his home. Beaumont, just 55-years young, had been waging a gallant battle with heart disease for many years.
In a career that spanned nearly three-decades, Beaumont, driving his yellow no.22A machines, was quite a formidable competitor in the tri-state area. Most of his success came in the state of Delaware as he scored 27 career late model feature wins and the 1988 late model track title at Charlie Cathell’s Delaware International Speedway. Beaumont’s career also found him in victory lane at the Georgetown (DE) Speedway and he also scored at the Virginia Motor Speedway, with one of his VMS triumph’s being the fall classic in the mid-90’s.
In 2006 Beaumont decided it was time to hang up his helmet and he and his wife Teresa hired the services of two-time Delaware International speedway late model champion Donnie Lingo Jr. of Millsboro De., to pilot his potent Rocket no.22A. Lingo was never able to win a feature in Beaumont’s equipment but they did find some success with the MACS series in 2008 finishing 7th i n the final rookie of the year standings.
Even though Beaumont was a successful driver and car owner, he was a friend to all, Especially me. One night in 1980 when my father and I were at US-13 speedway, now known as Delaware International, I heard the announcer (Charlie Brown) introduce the driver of car no.22A and he was from Severna Park, Maryland, the same town I was from! As the years went by and I got more interested in local dirt track racing, I finally got to meet Alex Beaumont for the first time. In 1987 I worked at a Delicatessen in Severna Park and one day he walked in to get some sandwiches. Right away I knew who it was because I had seen his picture in AARN several times. I introduced myself to him and told him that I was a big fan of his. Alex, being more than friendly as he usually was, told me to stop by his house sometime and he’d show me his race car. I was in seventh heaven!
It was June of that same year I decided to take Beaumont up on his offer and I drove by his house. He showed me his garage and the beautiful Bullitt late model that was already loaded on the trailer headed for Delaware. He asked me, “Are you going to the races tonight?” I said no my dad has to go to a bull roast and he can’t go and he won’t let me drive that far by myself. At the time I had a beat-up 1971 Volkswagen beetle! So both Alex and his wife Teresa said “We have room in the truck why don’t you come with us tonight.?” I couldn’t believe they asked me to go. I raced home to tell my dad that I was actually going to the races with a real race car! Dad said “Go have fun but be careful the pits can be dangerous.” So I got back to the Beaumont’s house about 4pm and off we went to the races. Once we got to the track Beaumont’s crew chief Robbie Klebe let me help with various task’s on the car. So as my anticipation grew for feature time, I was soon to be y surprised. With two-laps left in the 20-lap late model feature Alex Beaumont took the lead and roared to his first of seven 1987 feature wins. I couldn’t believe it!! The first time that I’d ever gone to the races with a race car and here I was in victory lane, a sight I had only ever seen as a spectator. On the ride home Teresa said, “I guess you’re our new good luck charm, we’ll have to bring you every week!” Like I said Alex went on to win six more times that season and the following year, 1988, he would win four more feature and nail down the track title. That night in 1987 is something I’ll truly never forget.
I’ve been very fortunate over the years to have had some really neat jobs
in racing, all due in part to Alex and Teresa Beaumont. They introduced me many,
many people, most of which have gotten me to where I’m at Today. The late Bobby
Allen, Dave L oss of Delco signs, Pete Cameron (Former Potomac promoter) and all
the folks at AARN. If it wasn’t for Alex Beaumont I might me just another
I wish nothing but the best for Teresa and the rest of the family through this rough time. Alex Beaumont was my friend, and I will miss him. Thank you for everything Al!! firstname.lastname@example.org
Maryland Clay Dirt
By Doug Watson
“Billet Looking for Better Results in 2009”
After enduring a miserable season in 2008, Mt. Wolf Pa.’s Steve Billet is primed to make a comeback in 2009. A broken wrist in June of last year sidelined Billet for the rest of the season, However, Billet does plan to return to the central Pennsylvania 358 late model wars this season.
“To tell you the truth we were planning on taking the 2009 season off.” Billet said as we caught up by phone last Sunday afternoon. “My girlfriend Krissy and I are planning to get married and we want to buy a house and all that, so we thought we might put racing on hold for a year so we could get things going.” Billet’s team had other ideas. “All the guy’s on my crew weren’t real happy with the decision that I wasn’t going to race so they started to by new parts for the car, so it looks like we will be racing in 2009.”
During the off season Billet sold his Magnum chassied machine to Rick Todorow, who competes weekly at the Grandview (PA) speedway in the late model division. “Rick came to me and said he wanted the car so we sold it and we now have a brand new Magnum chassis sitting here in the garage. Mick Eisenhour racing engines will once again supply the horsepower and Hoosier racing tires will adorn all four corners of the car.
As far as Billet’s schedule is concerned, weekly visits to Todd and Rhonda Fisher’s Susquehanna Speedway Park is where they’ll be competing every Saturday night. “To tell you the truth we were really planning on getting to some other places this season, but Susquehanna is pretty close to home and we like racing there.” Billet surmised. “I really like racing at Hesston (PA) Speedway and we wanted to try to run Hagerstown a little as well, but our budget will allow us to be at Susky every week and we usually run pretty decent there, so we’ll see what happens.” Billet has scored one 358 late model feature win at Susquehanna which came back in 2007. “I’ll tell you what last season was rough.” Billet bottom lined. “After I injured my wrist in June it was really hard to sit and watch, so were really looking forward to this season. I just want to be the best we can every week.”
CARL BILLET TEAMING WITH LEINBACH MOTORSPORTS IN 2009- Defending and six-time Susquehanna Speedway Park 358 late model champion Carl Billet, of Carlisle, Pa. will enter his 30th year of racing piloting the Ronnie and Gayle Leinbach motorsports number NINE. After scoring two consecutive Susky 358 LM titles aboard the Updegraff no.1, Billet will serve as a teammate to Carl G raves in search of his third straight Susky crown. Billet has put together quite an enviable record over the past 30 seasons. Since his career began back in 1979, Billet has collected 172 (118 358 LM, 54 SLM) career feature wins and 17 track championships at six different speedways. 48 of his career 358 LM feature wins have come at Susquehanna, tops in the division. Billet replaces Sam Leonard Jr. in the seat of the Leinbach machine, However sources tell me that Leonard could possibly be back at Susky in 2009 in a street stock.
POTOMAC FOLLOW UP- Two weeks ago I wrote a story on the change of ownership at Maryland’s Potomac speedway and all the changes that have taken place during the off-season. I paid a visit to the speedway last Saturday afternoon and the changes that are going are absolutely jaw-dropping! I’ve been associated with Potomac since 1988 and I’ll tell you what that place, in my opinion, has NEVER looked better. What Ronnie Hollidge and Pete Cameron have done to the track itself is simply amazing. The re-shaping of the turns and the overall widening of the racing surface should produce the best racing Potomac has ever seen. For those people who’ve been to Potomac before will certainly appreciate all the hard work everyone has put into that place during the off season, and for those who’ve never been there before, it will definitely be a must-see racetrack during the 2009 season. News or notes to email@example.com
February 2, 2009
Maryland Clay Dirt
By Doug Watson
“Fifteen Different Drivers Shine at Hagerstown in 08’”
Highly touted as the “Capitol” of dirt track racing, Western Maryland’s Hagerstown speedway once again lived up to it’s reputation. Twenty events were spun-off for the headline late model division in 2008 and within those twenty races fifteen different drivers were able to score feature wins, with two of those drivers scoring their first-ever Hagerstown late model feature wins. Let’s take a look at Hagerstown’s incredible late model season.
March- After the original opener was lost to snow, the first official event of the season fell on March 2 and saw York Pa.’s Rick Eckert take the win. Eventual track champion Roy Deese Jr. would take second, WoO regular Josh Richards was third, Dan Stone was fourth and Jim Yoder would be the top- five over the 26-car field. With more down-time with the WoO, Rick Eckert was back for more as he scored his second-straight late model feature win on March 15. The win for Eckert would be his 20th career Hagerstown LM feature win, but his last of 2008. The top-five was almost a mirror image of the opener as Roy Deese Jr. took second, Josh Richards was third, 07’ LM champion JT Spence was fourth and20Dan Stone completed the top-five. 34 cars entered the event. The final event of the month fell on March 29 and found Selinsgrove Pa.’s Jim Yoder in victory lane for the first time in his Hagerstown career. JT Spence took second, David Williams was third, Roy Deese Jr. collected fourth and Alan Sagi filled the front five, over the 33-car field.
April- Continuing his streak of top-five’s, Laurel Md.’s Roy Deese Jr. collected his first feature win of the season on April 5, and his first at the track since March of 2005. Gary Stuhler was second, JT Spence was third, Jim Yoder took fourth and Scott LeBarron completed the top-five. 38 cars entered the program. Deese made it back-to-back wins as he scored again on April 12. The win was the 18th of his career at Hagerstown and his final win of 08’. Nathan Durboraw was second, Kirk Ryan was third, Mike Lupfer was fourth and Alan Sagi took the top five over the 30-car field. April 18 found Gary Stuhler in Hagerstown’s victory lane. The victory was Stuhler’s 124th career LM feature win at Hagerstown. Tommy Armel was second, Andy Anderson was third, In his best run of the season, Mike Atherton was fourth and Jason Covert was fifth. 42-cars attempted to qualify.
May- The first race of the new month, May 17, found Stewartstown Pa.’s Les Hare in victory lane. It would be Hare’s only win of the season and his first at the track since June of 1996 . Gary Stuhler was second, Kirk Ryan was third, Roy Deese Jr. was fourth and Billy Wampler took fifth. 32-cars were pitside. May 24th featured yet another new winner, DJ Troutman. The win was Troutman’s first-ever at Hagerstown and it would also be his last of 2008. Marvin Winters, in his best run of the season, was second Nathan Durboraw was third, Jim Yoder was fourth and Frankie Plessinger filled the top-five over the 36 car field.
June- Greencastle Pa.’s DJ Myers took his first and only Hagerstown LM feature win on June 7. Following Myers to his 14th career Hagerstown LM feature win were David Williams, in his best performance of the season, Gary Stuhler, Roy Deese Jr. and Brent Smith who also tallied his best run of the season as well. 31-cars were in the pit area. Winchester Va.’s Ronnie DeHaven Jr. became the eighth different winner of the season as he scored his solo Hagerstown LM feature win on June 21. Alan Sagi, in his best run of the season, took second, Gary Stuhler was third, Jamie Lathroum was fourth and Kirk Ryan completed the top-five over the 33-car field.
Martinsburg West Virginia’s Andy Anderson closed out the month (June 29) with his first, and only Hagerstown feature win of the season. Trailing Anderson to his 16th career Hagerstown LM triumph were, JT Spence, Roy Deese Jr., Jim Yoder and Daryl Hills. 35-cars were in attendance.
July- Gary Stuhler returned to victory lane on July 5 sco ring career win number 125, in the Red Ninninger Memorial, an event named after his car owners father. Tyler Armstrong scored a career best second place feature finish, likewise Keith Jackson in third, Marvin Winters took fourth and opening day winner Rick Eckert completed the top-five over the 32-car field. Gettysburg Pa.’s Jeremy Miller scored his first feature win of the season on July 12. Jason Covert was second, Dan Stone took third, DJ Myers collected fourth and Brent Smith completed the top-five. 31-cars were on hand.
August- Zanesville Ohio’s Bart Hartman made a triumphant return to the Hagerstown speedway as he took the win in the Lucas Oil Series event on August 2. This would be Hartman’s only Hagerstown feature win of the season and his first win at the track since October of 1997. Jimmy Owens was second, Josh Richards took third, Eventual series champion Earl Pearson Jr. was fourth and former WoO champion Steve Francis completed the tip-five over the 52-car field. August 9 found yet another new winner as Big Cove Tannery Pa.’s Frankie Plessinger drove a brand new Rocket to his only Hagerstown feature win of the season. Andy Anderson was second, Roy Deese Jr. took third, JT Spence collected fourth and Marvin Winters filled the front five. The season low of only 21 late models were on hand for the show. Hagerstown’s Nathan Durboraw became the 13th different winner of the season as he scored his 71st career Hagerstown feature win o n August 16. JT Spence collected second, Gary Stuhler was third, Devin Friese, in his best run of the season, was fourth and Mike Lupfer completed the top-five over the 26-car field. 2007 late model champion JT Spence finally put it all together as he scored his lone Hagerstown feature win on August 23. Gary Stuhler, Daryl Hills, in his best run of the season, Roy Deese Jr. and Mike Lupfer were the top-five. 27 cars signed in for competition. The final event of the month fell on August 30, and it was Gary Stuhler collecting his division leading third feature win of the season and his career 126th. Ray Kable Jr., who led the event for 34-laps, came home second, Kirk Ryan was third, Jamie Lathroum took fourth and DJ Myers rounded out the top-five over the 31-car field.
September- Jeremy Miller captured his second and final feature win of the season on September 12. In securing his 25th career Hagerstown LM feature win, Miller became one of only four drivers all season long to win more than one feature. Jason Covert was second, DJ Myers took third, Jamie Lathroum collected fourth and Jack Pencil raced to his lone top-five of the season. 50-cars entered the event.
October- The final event of the 2008 season was the Octoberfest 350.
Watertown New York’s Tim McCreadie became the 15th and final late model feature
winner of the season with his win in the 100-lap late model event. Josh Richards
came from the rear to finish second , 2008 MACS champion Jason Covert was third,
Rick Eckert took fourth and defending race winner Alan Sagi completed the
top-five. 38-cars signed in for the two-day show. News or notes to
January 25, 2009
Maryland Clay Dirt
By Doug Watson
“Dirt-Trackin’ 2009 News and Notes”
This past weekend was the 26th annual Dirt Trackin’ 2009 race car show at the York Fairgrounds in York, Pennsylvania. Many, many beautiful new and restored race cars were on display throughout the three-day show. Sprint cars, late models, thundercars, you name it, plus numerous speedway and novelty booth’s make this show a must-see for any racing enthusiast.
As I spent most of the afternoon on Saturday manning the Hagerstown speedway booth, However, I did have the chance to catch up with some drivers and get their thoughts on the up-coming season.
Economic trouble or not?- Despite the dismal economic forecast, Dover Pa.’s Larry Baer plans to race this season have not been de-railed. “Yeah, I’m a little concerned about the economy, but I own all my own stuff. We’ve got four motors and two cars so I’ll race till’ I’m broke!” Even though Baer called Hagerstown home in 2008, plans for 2009 are still up in the air. “One thing is for certain Colby Frye will drive my car at selected events during the season, starting with the first super late model show at Williams Grove this season.8 0 Baer explained. During the off season Frye vacated his 08’ ride, the Krenn Tire Rocket no.32 and will be back in his familiar Fryeco Rocket no.F1, when not piloting Baer’s GRT no.0. Frye’s replacement in the Krenn no.32 is youthful Dylan Yoder, who competed last season in the LMS ranks at Hagerstown…
No plans are sometimes good plans- That’s just the case for Shermansdale Pa.’s Jake Jones. Entering his eighth year behind the wheel of a 358 late model, Jones has no set plans for the up-coming campaign. “We haven’t really decided yet.” Jones remarked “We’ve been racing at Susquehanna for the past few seasons, but we’d really like to be able to get to some other places this season. We might just jump around a bit.”
Beautiful thunder- Is the best way to describe the only two thundercars at the show this year. One was the no.2W of 08’ Trail-Way thundercar champion Brian Walls and the no.57 of Brad Shank who was also a winner at Lincoln in 08’. Both machines were meticulously prepared and should be formidable threats on the thundercar scene in 09’.
Hagerstown staying with Hoosier- Naturally much of the chatter during the off-season usually concerns tires for the area late model racers. In an area that has been dominated by Hoosier’s for many years, a lot of drivers have been switching to American Racer, which is supposed to be a bette r tire than Hoosier. Who’s to say, right? According to Hagerstown’s Steve Crumbacker, “We’ve always been a Hoosier racetrack and we’re going to stay that way.” That should silence the critics.
Potomac to level the playing field- According to Potomac Promoter Greg
Gunter Both Hoosier and American Racer tires will be allowed in 09’. “I think
the whole tire deal is getting a little out of hand.” Gunter remarked. “We don’t
want racers to stay away from our racetrack because they think they might have
to buy tires just to race here.” “Potomac has been predominately a Hoosier track
he years, but if a someone comes through the gates with American Racers bolted to their car, they’re fine in my book.”
Elksnis prepared for flagstand duties- After taking over as head flagman
at Potomac late last season, veteran Maryland racer Mark Elksnis prepares for
his first full season as Potomac’s chief starter. With nearly twenty-five years
behind the wheel as a driver Elksnis gives Potomac that presence in the
Flagstand that the speedway has lacked for several years. Oh and by the way,
your’s truly will be returning to my old home of well over ten years, Potomac’s
announcers tower!! News or notes to djm5507@aol.
Maryland Clay Dirt
By Doug Watson
“Dave Leidy Jr. Stepping Up To 358 Late Models”
After a big season in the so-called “small car” ranks of central Pennsylvania, Neelyton Pa.’s Dave Leidy Jr. has announced that he will be racing in the ever tough 358 late model division in 2009.
What a season indeed it was for Leidy, as he scored fifteen four-cylinder stock car feature wins and he also annexed the 2008 Williams Grove Speedway Four-cylinder track title. “Yeah, we had a pretty good season this year.” Leidy stated. “We were able to win races at The Grove, Susquehanna, Hill Valley and Path Valley, and it was really special to wrap-up our season with the championship at Williams Grove.”
Leidy had often thought the 358 late model division is where he wanted to be, eventually, but the decision was made not long after the 2008 season was completed. “My dad walked into the garage one day and said hey, let’s get a car together and race 358’s next season.” So now with a plan in mind the Leidy’s went out and prepared for 2009. “We got an 05’ Rocket off of Bob Wearing Jr. and we got one of Jason Covert’s 358 engines when he raced at Silver Spring for Steve Motter.” Leidy explained. “We’re really excited about the opportunity to race in this class next season, and I feel that we have some pretty good equipment at our disposal, so hopefully we can run pretty decent next season.”
Even with fresh equipment in his stable, Leidy is still undetermined where his team will compete in 2009. “I’m not really sure yet.” Leidy replied. “There’s a lot of really good tracks in the area and The Grove has been pretty good to us and Hagerstown is pretty close to home too, So we’ll check the schedules from all the tracks that run the 358’s and kind of take it from there.”
Four cylinder racing has been very kind to Leidy over the years and he may
continue to race in the class part-time next season. “There’s a guy we know who
has a four-cylinder car that he races on Friday night’s at Path Valley and he
asked me if I would drive it for him when my schedule allowed.” Leidy said.
“Even though we have the late model now, we still haven’t sold our four cylinder
car yet. Even though dad told me everything has to go, it sure will be hard to
sell that car with all the success we’ve had with it.”
Speaking of 358 late model drivers, what a season Belleville Pa.’s Derek Byler put together in 2008. Byler scored eight feature=2 0wins and was also able to nail down track titles at both Bedford and Hesston Speedways.
“We ran 37 races last season and in those 37 events we had 27 top-fives and 34 top-tens including eight feature wins.” Byler stated.
“Even though we had a lot of success at our home tracks this season, I would have to say the highlight of our season is when we won a late model sportsman feature down at Hagerstown this season.” Oddly enough, after Byler captured that first-ever Hagerstown triumph that would be his last visit to Hagerstown of the season. “It was great to win at Hagerstown.” Byers explained. “But Hesston is only ten-minutes from home and we’ve had some success there over the years so with the price of fuel and everything it just made sense to stay there, and I guess it did because we were able to win the championship.”
So what does the future hold for Derek Byler? “I’m not sure what we’re
doing next season.” Byler bottom-lined. “There’s been talk that Hesston may not
re-open which would really be a shame because it’s a good track and its so close
to home. I’m sure we’ll be back at Bedford on Friday night’s and depending on
what Hesston is going to do maybe we’ll be at Hagerstown more often next season,
because I Love to race there and it’s really something special when you can win
at Hagerstown.” News or note to djm5507@ aol.com
January 1, 2009
Maryland Clay Dirt
By Doug Watson
“My Top-Ten Moments From 2008”
Now that the 2008 racing season is said and done, there were several special moments that made this season, especially for me, one that I’ll never forget. Let’s take a look back at what made 2008 such a special season indeed.
10. Jeff Sheppard’s 410 sprint car Speedweek win at Hagerstown. This was a special moment in more way than one. This was the first time in my announcing career that I had the opportunity to call a 410 sprint car race, and it also served as Sheppard’s first-ever sprint car win at Hagerstown. Unfortunately, Sheppard would be injured at a crash during the Knoxville Nationals later in the summer, that would ultimately lead to his early retirement from sprint car racing.
9. Jamie “The Jet” Lathroum making a name for himself in area late model competition. It was just a matter of when for Mechanicsville Md.’s Jamie Lathroum. Three feature wins and a second in points at Maryland’s Potomac speedway, was a sign of things to come for the talented second-year late model pilot. Later in the season Lathroum set the late model world on it’s ear as he scored a huge win in the Delaware Dirt Track State Championships in November, and would then close out the year with a big win over Ricky Elliott at the Georgetown Speedway later in the month.
8. Brian Walls break-out thundercar season. Gettysburg Pennsylvania’s Brian Walls enjoyed quite a successful season in the central Pa. thundercar ranks this season. Four feature wins and the 2008 Trail-Way track title, plus four feature wins over at Lincoln Speedway, made it quite a good season for the talented 19-year-old Pennsylvania racer.
7. Wagaman finds success in Pennsylvania 358 late models. After a long and storied career in area thundercar racing, Gettysburg Pa.’s Craig Wagaman was also able to make a name for himself in the ever-tough 358 late model wars this season. With nearly 100 thundercar feature wins and several track titles, Wagaman was up to the challenge as he scored two feature wins this season, one at Williams Grove and one at Lincoln.
6. Beard stripped of Williams Grove points. In late August, McSherrystown Pa.’s Bobby Beard, Was the current 358 LM point leader, and four-time feature winner, at Williams Grove. However, Beard denied a Gene Knaub protest of his engine and lost all his season points, denying him of his first-ever Grove title.
5. David Williams caps off season with Potomac LM title. Fifteen years after scoring a Potomac street stock title, Avenue Maryland’s David Williams put it all together for his first-ever late model title at the historic southern Maryland bullring. Four feature wins and a late season rush by point runner-up Jamie Lathroum, made Williams championship march last until the final point event.
4. Mark “Digges” four-cylinder racing. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the world’s biggest four-cylinder fan, but the season put together by Mark Digges definitely deserves it’s due attention. Digges was able to win features this season at Hagerstown (Shamrock Nationals), Potomac (Southern Maryland Nationals), Williams Grove, and Winchester where he was also crowned the 2008 track champion.
3. Kyle Lear becomes formidable threat in 2008. The understatement of the year. After scoring his first-career 358 LM feature win at Hagerstown in 2007, Lear came fully prepared for 2008. With a brand new MD1 Race Cars chassis and a fresh A&C Racing engines power plant , Lear, nineteen, responded nicely with a six-feature win season. Lear scored three-times at Hagerstown including back-to-back feature wins in early May and would then post three feature wins at Potomac including the biggest win of his young career as he scored a 40-lap S.MA.R.T series win in August. Look for Lear to go super late model racing in 2009.
2. On the front stretch with Fred Rahmer. By far the crown jewel of my announcing career. Over the years I’ve been able to interview some pretty big names like, Scott Bloomquist, Brett Hearn, Darrell Lanigan, Gary Stuhler and others, but Fred Rahmer was the one I wanted. As the laps wound down at this season’s Octoberfest event at Hagerstown during the 410 sprint car race, Rahmer had built up an insurmountable lead and eventually won the event. When he and I reached victory lane, I don’t know who was more excited to be there me or him! Like him or not, Fred Rahmer is arguably one of the best sprint car drivers in the world, and it’s truly a moment I’ll never forget.
1. Announcing at “The Capitol”. This is number one, no doubt’s about it. When Hagerstown’s competition director Steve Crumbacker called me in late December of 2007 and asked me if I would like to announce for him in 2008, I couldn’t believe my ears! The likes of Glenn Presgraves, the legendary Frank Sagi and most recently John Krall have all handled the microphone at the historic Maryland oval. What a season it was, although it seemed as though I was bad luck at times, because we did rain-out six times during the season! At any rate, I was able to make many new friends and also get re-acquainted with some old ones, so needless to say it was the most fun I’ve ever had working at a racetrack. Once again a big thank you to all the staff for a great year and I’m eagerly looking forward to 2009. News or notes to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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