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Big Pittsburgher 100 Weekend at PA Motor Speedway

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Steve Skarupa Photography

IMPERIAL, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – A huge weekend of racing is on tap this at Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway with the 31st Annual Pittsburgher 100, the Bill Hendren Memorial and Betsy Kriegisch Memorial.

The racing gets underway on Friday with six divisions of racing taking to “Dirt’s Monster Half-mile” including the Diehl Automotive RUSH Late Model Dirt Touring Series, the RUSH Sportsman Modified Dirt Series, the PPMS Pro Stocks, the Keystone Coach Works Hobby Stocks, the Four Cylinders, and the Young Guns.

In addition to those divisions Friday will also see the qualifying events (heats & dash) for the RUSH Late Model Dirt Series Bill Hendren Memorial and the RUSH Sportsman Modified Dirt Series Betsy Kriegisch Memorial.

Saturday, October 5, will feature the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series with a full program including the 100-lap 31st Annual Pittsburgher 100. The single-day event for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series will include a complete program of Miller Welders Time Trials, Heat Races, and B-Mains – highlighted by a 100-lap, $20,000-to-win feature event.

Saturday will also feature the 40-lap Bill Hendren Memorial for the RUSH Late Model Dirt Series, and the 2nd Annual Betsy Kriegisch Memorial for the RUSH Sportsman Modified Dirt Series.

Bill Hendren, the patriarch of the Hendren family and founder of Hendren Racing Engines, had the foresight to begin building his affiliation with crate racing. As many of his open engine customers looked to crate racing as an opportunity to continue racing, Bill began offering free advice via the well known 4M.net message board. As the concept grew throughout the country, his generosity and expertise were rewarded as many of those who had utilized his knowledge, in the beginning, utilized him as their engine rebuilder as their needs arose. Bill passed away on March 19, 2011, but his legacy and dedication to crate racing lives on through his sons, Steve and Mike, as the Hendren’s are recognized throughout the entire country as a leader in this specialized form of racing as they continue to operate Hendren Racing Engines.

“I look back to several years ago to a surprise phone call I received from Steve Hendren expressing interest in having a memorial event for his late father Bill Hendren in conjunction with a RUSH Touring event,” explained RUSH Director Vicki Emig. “Although I never knew Bill Hendren personally, I certainly was well aware of his pioneering spirit and great success in the world of GM Performance crate engine racing. And now to have the Hendren Family allow us to hold their patriarch’s ‘only’ memorial event of the year under the RUSH banner is truly an honor!”

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“My family and I are looking forward to returning to Pittsburgh for the ninth annual ‘Bill Hendren Memorial’,” stated Steve Hendren. “This year will mark the first time that my mother Bettie will be able to attend this event in Pittsburgh, and it will be the first time she’s been able to attend a RUSH event as well. As a family, we decided to move all future memorial races to the RUSH Racing Series, and we hope to continue our bond with PPMS as well. The professionalism of RUSH, PPMS, and the racers in the RUSH series is second to none. We would like to thank all of our sponsors for this event.”

“The Miley Motor Sports family is honored to host the Bill Hendren Memorial during the Pittsburgher 100 weekend again,” expressed Matt Miley. “Bringing back the Pittsburgher was a dream of Red Miley’s when he founded Miley Motor Sports. He always strived to make the Pittsburgher bigger and better and we’re again taking the event to another level, honoring another man who made a difference in our sport, Bill Hendren. I’m sure both are smiling down upon us.”

Daryl Charlier has won the last two “Bill Hendren Memorial” races at PPMS, while John Mollick won the event in 2016. Charlier and Mollick will be two of the favorites trying to stop Kyle Lukon, who has won both of the PPMS Sweeney Tour races this year including “Manufacturers Night” presented by MSD Performance and the “Jook George Steel City Classic”. Lukon’s wins accounted for more than $13,600!

Betsy Kriegisch, the mother of RUSH Sportsman Modified racers Chelsie and Jessica Kriegisch, passed away after an extended illness on February 21, 2018, at the age of 57. She was a strong supporter of both her daughters’ efforts and by their side as they rose to prominence in the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds. Both girls quickly became competitive and fan favorites. A memorial event as a Hovis Weekly Series show was put together and held last year at Pittsburgh that attracted an all-time Pittsburgh record count of 26, and was won by Rocky Kugel.

“This is going to be a tremendous weekend for RUSH,” said Emig. “To have both RUSH classes share the spotlight with the Lucas Oil Late Models is tremendous via the $5,000 to-win ‘Bill Hendren Memorial’ for the Late Models and the ‘Betsy Kriegisch Memorial’ for the Sportsman Modifieds. Through the gracious donations of so many people, we’ve been able to grow this event into the richest Sportsman Modified race in the history of the region. We have to thank Miley Motor Sports for allowing us to showcase our division at one of the region’s biggest events, and this will also be the RUSH Mods first-ever Tour race at the ‘Monster Half-Mile’.”

The pit gates at Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway will be open from at Noon on Friday and all day on Saturday. The general admission gates are set to open at 5:00 p.m. on Friday and 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. A Dirt Racing Outreach service is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., followed by a driver’s autograph session at 4:30 p.m on Saturday. The on-track action will begin at 6:00 p.m. both Friday and Saturday.

Two-day tickets are available for both the grandstands and pits, as well as, a one day ticket for Friday or Saturday only. Visit PPMS.com for pricing and tickets.

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Rahmer Rapid at Williams Grove

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WILLIAMS GROVE, PA (September 25, 2020): Freddie Rahmer, Jr. won the final tune-up at Williams Grove Speedway before the World of Outlaws invasion for the National Open to be held on October 2-3. The win was Rahmer’s third of the season, and him gave him some much-needed breathing room in the points standings. Seeking to regain the track title, Rahmer saw his lead dwindle in recent weeks.

“We got it pretty good from where we were earlier in the summer,” Rahmer noted in Victory Lane. “We are getting close. I don’t know how good I was with the lapped cars. We had a few things go our way tonight.”

One thing that definitely went Rahmer’s way was the dash. His win over Robbie Kendall put him on the pole for the A Main, which Rahmer led from start to finish. T.J. Stutts lined up beside Anthony Macri, who is still searching for his first career win at the speedway. Brian Montieth and Lance Dewease were in row three. Dewease, who is seeking career win 100 at the track, was unable to finish the dash and his crew had to hustle to make repairs before the feature started. Brent Marks and Brian Brown occupied row four, with Chad Trout and Dylan Cisney in row five.

Rahmer jumped out front at the drop of the green for the 25 lap race. He never looked back and he never slowed down, as the race ran without interruption.

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Stutts moved into second on the opening lap, but Kendal got his momentum going on the top, and he was able to take over second just a few laps into the contest. Macri rode along in third, with Brown, Montieth, and Dewease fighting for position. That race within the race would not last for long as Dewease pulled in soon after the halfway mark.

Danny Dietrich, Rahmer’s biggest challenger for the track title, did a 360 in turn two with just a couple of laps remaining. That miscue was costly, as he lost several positions in the running order.

In the final rundown, it was Rahmer over Macri, Marks, Kendall, and Montieth. Stutts led the next quintet, which included Brown, Matt Campbell, Dietrich, and Kyle Reinhardt.

Heat wins went to Rahmer, Dewease, and Macri. The B Main winner was Jeff Halligan. The evening’s fastest qualifier was Stutts, with a lap of 16.629 seconds.

In the 358 Sprint undercard, Derek Locke won the battle and the war. His third season win clinched the track championship. His challenger, Kevin Nouse, led the early stages of the race and went on to second. The 2020 Sportsmanship Award winner, Brett Wanner, was third. Steve Owings and Alyson Dietz were fourth and fifth. Billy Heltzel had a vicious crash at the start of the B Main, and he was transported to a local hospital for observation.

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Lysakowski Named New Lernerville Speedway General Manager

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Stivason Photos/Lernerville Speedway

SARVER, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Lernerville Speedway officials announced the hiring of Mike Lysakowski as the new track manager in a podcast after the World of Outlaws Commonwealth Clash on Saturday night. Lysakowski, who takes over on October 1, follows Fr. Tim Tomson, who resigned midway through the Covid-adjusted season to devote more time to his ministry.

Lysakowski first met members of the Tomson family soon after they acquired Lernerville Speedway from the World Racing Group. “They attended the promoter’s workshop and I spent a lot of time with them that first year in between the seminars that I was teaching. I wanted to help introduce them to different people in the industry.”

But, as has been the case with other Tomson business ventures, members of the family took an active role in speedway operations. Hence, the appointment of “Padre,” as he is affectionately called, to be the general manager even though he was not familiar with the quirky world of racing.

“We started talking before Tim left,” Lysakowski said. At that time, he was not looking for a major career move, and the Tomson family was not planning any changes either. “I was talking to them about doing programs for the track.” One of Lysakowsi’s many accomplishments in racing is the production of programs for several Western Pennsylvania facilities under his Motorsport Aspects banner. But, the tenor of the discussions changed after Padre’s unexpected departure.

Other than some one-off appearances on the microphone at area tracks, Lysakowski noted that he has never had a racing job so close to his home in New Castle, PA. Most recently, he served as general manager at Jennerstown Speedway and as the announcer at Tri-City Raceway Park.

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Lysakowski was unsure how he would adjust his busy schedule. However, he was emphatic that Lernerville Speedway would be his “first priority,” and that he planned to devote his full-time attention to it. “I will be in the office five days a week, 52 weeks per year.”

Lysakowski did concede that he will cut down on his travel. For years, he traveled far and wide to broadcast races or to call the action. “I don’t want to be on the road traveling any more. It’s OK when you are young and looking for opportunities.”

Lysakowski was appreciative that there would be a few more weeks of racing at the Action Track so that he could familiarize himself with the ownership group, the staff, and the facility. “I have been coming to Lernerville since I was a child. I grew up in the grandstands here.” Lysakowski was proud that, on report card day, his good grades in school would give him more leverage with his parents to attend the weekly programs. His attendance at Lernerville declined as he began working in motorsports media and promotion. But, “I was still coming to Lernerville as a fan.” He knows that things will be different now.

“This is a place that doesn’t need change,” Lysakowski said. He has been in that situation before, when racing series or speedways would reach out to him to rehabilitate their images or improve their attendance or programs. “Everything is on the right course here. I’ve been brought into so many series or places that needed change. This bus doesn’t need a mechanic, it needs a driver,” he summed up.

Lysakowski added, “I don’t see challenges here, I see opportunities for growth.” He plans to use his contacts to the Butler area business community to help promote the speedway. He has established relationships with the Butler Chamber of Commerce and he was a founding member of the Butler Young Professionals, “back when I was young and professional,” he said with a laugh. He believes that his contacts and his enthusiasm can help bring new fans to the speedway.

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Gravel Seizes Opportunity to Win Commonwealth Clash at Lernerville Speedway

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Lernerville Speedway

SARVER, PA (September 26, 2020): David Gravel capitalized upon the misfortune of Sheldon Haudenschild to win the Commonwealth Clash at Lernerville Speedway. It was the Connecticut driver’s fourth World of Outlaws win at the Action Track.

“Sheldon was the class of the field, until he blew the tire we were going to run second,” Gravel observed. “I didn’t know where he was racing, he must have been setting a torrid pace around the top.” Indeed, Haudenschild was doing just that. He had amassed a lead in excess of seven seconds moments before the right rear tire let go with just over a lap and a half remaining in the contest.

“Ten years ago, I would have been running around the top until I went off the track,” Gravel noted. “But, after watching Donny (Schatz) and Brad (Sweet) win races here, I learned to race this track like they do.”

Gravel also noted that the car was not very good when they unloaded this night, but the crew kept adjusting and it was very comfortable for him come feature time.

Kerry Madsen and Sheldon Haudenschild were on the front row for the 35 lap A Main. Daryn Pittman and James McFadden held the second row, with Kraig Kinser and Gravel in row three. Carson Macedo and Brad Sweet were in row four, while row five belonged to Parker Price-Miller and Logan Schuchart. Shane Stewart and Jacob Allen had row six reserved.

Haudenschild wasted no time blasting into the lead. James McFadden followed him on the rim into the second spot, but he could not maintain the rapid pace set by the leader. Madsen settled into third, with Pittman, Kinser, Macedo and Schuchart in tow.

Haudenschild was quite comfortable riding the outside groove around the track. McFadden kept him in sight, but he was no factor to challenge for the lead.

With Haudenschild and McFadden racing all alone out front, the battle was for the third position between Madsen and Pittman. Pittman, recently reunited with his former car owner, Mike Heffner, claimed the third position by lap ten and he was hustling around the inside trying to make up ground on the leaders. Gravel was following him in the march toward the front.

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While they succeeded in closing in on McFadden, Haudenschild’s car was getting smaller and smaller as the laps clicked off. “I lost my rhythm in the middle part of the race,” McFadden explained. He was being pressed by Pittman and later, Gravel, for the second position.

Gravel moved into the second spot on lap 33, moments before Haudenschild’s tire exploded. He got the point for the restart, but he still had to hold off McFadden and Pittman for the remaining two laps.

“I lost some air pressure in the (right rear) tire under he caution, and the car was better after that on the restart,” McFadden commented. While he was able to maintain pace with Gravel, he could not mount a challenge for the victory.

After Gravel and McFadden came Pittman. “We’re thrilled with that,” he said. “For us, it’s like a win.

There were a couple of mistakes that I’d like to clean up,” he added. But, he did not get the opportunity to do so in the pair of laps left in the dash to the checkers.

Logan Schuchart was fourth, with Madsen crossing in fifth. Sweet was sixth, followed by Kinser, Macedo, Allen, and Schatz.

The hard charger was Cap Henry, who was plus eight on the night.

Heat winners were Daryn Pittman, Carson Macedo, David Gravel, and Kerry Madsen. Madsen was the dash winner. Carl Bowser topped the C Main. The B Main went to Cale Thomas. The evening’s fastest qualifiers were Price-Miler, who topped Group A with a lap of 12.746, and Kinser, who was best in Group B with a round of 12.961.

Justin Clark won the 20 lap A Main for the Allegheny Sprint Tour 305 feature. The midwest invader prevailed over Ryan Lynn, Dylan Shatzer, Robbie Bartchy, and Jimmy Morris. Heat wins went to Bartchy, Clark, and Shatzer. There was no B Main.

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