PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Its often been said the community of racing is a big family and that is quite evident when you talk to Sprint Car driver Carl Bowser and his wife Kristin Swartzlander.
Bowser remembers his first trip to Lernerville Speedway in Sarver and it was not long after that he caught the racing “bug”.
“I kind of first got the bug probably a lot later in life than most guys,” Bowser told The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast. “I didn’t do the go-kart deal, my first experience with racing was going to Lernerville and watching. I was probably 12 or 13 (years old) when I started going to Lernerville as a kid watching.”
Swartzlander comes from a racing family and spent countless hours surrounded by racing.
“I was raised in it,” Swartzlander told The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast. “My generation is the fourth generation. My Great Grandfather Neil raced. My Grandfather Melvin raced and my Uncle Brian obviously still races in the Big Block Modified division. My parents have a machine shop that they’ve had since I was about six-years-old, so I grew up in that environment.”
The environment sparked a curiosity in Swartzlander.
“I really liked seeing how things were made and seeing how things work and Brian’s shop has always been housed up there so I got to really see how the mechanics of everything worked,” said Swartzlander. “In 2004, I think I was 18, my family both a speed shop so we got a lot more involved. We started selling parts out of the store and I started doing trackside service and really getting involved on that level and that’s how Carl and I met.”
“My first experience was working on race cars,” said Bowser. “I actually worked on Ralph Spithaler’s 410-sprint car at Lernerville so that was kind of what got me hooked was watching them and working on them.”
Bowser then hopped in a micro-sprint and found success pretty quickly.
“I think I won 9-races that first season and it was kind of like ‘alright what’s next?’,” said Bowser. “What’s next was a 410-car and that’s where we started there in 2005 running 410-winged cars. We just kind of started running Lernerville and that’s really all, and until 2009-2010 that’s all we did.”
While Bowser was getting experience behind the wheel, Swartzlander went to school.
“I went to Columbia to get my engineering degree thinking I would work on race cars,” said Swartzlander. “But I got really involved in marketing while I was at Columbia so I went in that direction.”
Swartzlander’s marketing path took her to stints with the Arena Football League and to the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers and eventually back to Pittsburgh.
“When I moved back to Pittsburgh and Carl and I started dating, we saw the same opportunity that we’re seeing right now in racing, where there’s just a wide-open playing field for people who want to do marketing well.”
“I started dating Kristin in 2010 and being around her family kind of really encouraged me to take the next step and race more,” said Bowser. “I only ran whatever Lernerville raced, that was pretty much it for the first five years of racing, so it was 15-18 races-a-year so it wasn’t until 2010 when I started taking it more seriously. It was purely a one-night-a-week thing when I started. A lot of people don’t know but her Dad was a big supporter of mine long before we were even together, helping me with parts and working on the car and just kind of teaching me.”
Taking the next step involved some a combination of the pairs strengths.
“We got together and it was ‘we can turn this into a business’ and she had a lot of ideas,” said Bowser.
“If he could race more and if we could apply some of the things that I’ve learned in professional sports to his team, that would make a good match so we started applying some of those things,” said Swartzlander.
Bowser said the additional seat time and approach has paid dividends.
“Since Kristin and I have been together and she’s kind of really shown me how to run racing like a business, we’ve won 35-races, which is a lot,” said Bowser. “I think I have 40-career wins.”
2019 was a frustrating season for Bowser on the track, blowing a motor early in the season and losing a car around the mid-point. Bowser felt like they finally hit their stride late in the year.
2020 will see the pair putting their driving and marketing skills on a schedule of local, regional and national events.
To hear the complete Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast featuring Carl and Kristin click here.
Determined Dewease Destroys Port Royal in Night Two of Tusky 50 Weekend
PORT ROYAL, PA (September 9, 2022): Lance Dewease romped to an impressive win on night two of the Tuscarora 50 weekend at Port Royal Speedway. The $10,000 win was number one hundred twenty-one in his career, putting him just eight wins behind Keith Kauffman on the track’s all-time list. For Dewease, it was his ninth Port Royal triumph against the All Stars in the fifty-nine races held at the Speed Palace, and his fourty-third career triumph with the touring series.
Dewease stamped himself as one of the favorites to take home the $60,000 winner’s share that will be on the line Saturday night. He has seven career wins in the classic, more than any other driver.
“It was a really good car last night, and it was good all night. We just timed sixth against a good group.” On this night, he timed second second in his group, which put him on the pole of his heat race. Although he had another tough group to race against, he had a much better starting position and easily won the preliminary to lock into the dash. While he did not get a good pill draw, he did pick up a couple of positions to move ahead in the feature line-up.
Dewease explained that his veteran crew made a motor change during the day and that they wanted to see how it would perform. The team also made a few other changes which he did not disclose. He added, “they know what they need to do to make it better.”
Dewease noted that the car does not like the dirty air. “I didn’t do a good job last night staying out of the dirty air. I did a better job with that (tonight). I was pretty good tonight keeping the wing loaded.”
Dewease mentioned that he got a break on a pair of lap eleven restarts. On the first try, Dewease entered the corner low to try to pass Giovanni Scelzi for second, and Danny Dietrich was able to sail past Dewease on the high side. But a multi-car wreck in the middle of the pack in turn one wiped that pass out and Dewease altered his strategy for the second go at it. That time, he entered the first corner in the middle and Dietrich did not have as much room to make a run on the outside. Dewease held third and then he went to work on Scelzi.
After dispatching Scelzi rather quickly, it only took Dewease three more laps to pass Brian Brown for the lead. “I didn’t want to show Brian a lane,” Dewease said. By the time Brown knew Dewease was down on the guardrail, the pass was history.
Dietrich used the high line to pass Brown about a lap later, and he was reeling in Dewease. The fans were ready for a full tilt fight for the lead in the waning laps, but Dietrich suddenly slowed coming off turn two on lap twenty-two. He stopped to bring out a caution. He went to the work area with teh assistance of a push vehicle, but the car was sitting down on teh right rear corner with apparent suspension damage that could not be repaired.
By winning the dash handily, Brown started from the pole. Scelzi was on his flank. Behind them were Cory Eliason and Kasey Kahne. Dietrich and Tyler Courtney lined up in the third row, followed by Brent Marks and Lance Dewease. Justin Peck and Rico Abreu were in row five, as the last of the dash competitors. Austin Bishop and Sye Lynch represented the millennials well in row six.
Brown, Scelzi, Courtney, Dietrich and Eliason led the way atthe start. Kahne, Marks, Dewease, Lynch, and Abreu followed. Dietrich slipped into third on lap two and he started to close on Scelzi when the first caution was displayed for Zeb Wise five laps into the contest.
Two laps after the race resumed, Dietrich was riding second, but Dewease was up to fourth and he was clearly the fastest car on the track at that time. Dewease sparred with Dietrich for a couple of laps before assuming the third position.
Another stoppage for Bill Balog set up the pair of restarts with eleven laps in the books. The first start was called off because of the chaos in turn one involving Lynch, Kahne, Bishop, and Mike Wagner. Wagner got airborne after running over the left front wheel that came off Lynch’s car. Wagner’s car was struck by two other cars while in the air and it briefly hung up on the tin that sits above the tiers of Armco barriers that ring the first and second turns. Fortunately, none of the drivers were injured in the wreck.
When the race officially resumed, Dewease was on a mission. He passed Scelzi for second on lap thirteen and Brown for the lead three laps later. Dietrich followed his advance, but he was several car lengths behind Dewease. The anticipated battle between Dewease and Dietrich never materialized, though, because of a mechanical failure.
Dewease easily outdistanced Brown over the final eight laps. Scelzi crossed in third. Marks briefly challenged for that position, but Scelzi was able to hold him off. Peck snuck by Marks for fourth in the final rounds. Positions six through ten went to Courtney, Dylan Cisney, Justin Whittal, Anthony Macri, and Eliason.
Whittal was the hard charger, coming from twenty-fourth to eighth.
“We were a third place car,” Brown said. He added that he was in the right place when Dietrich broke. Nevertheless, he was pleased with his run and he was looking forward to the fifty lapper on Saturday.
By starting the A Main with a provisional, Logan Wagner was named the 410 Sprint Car champion atthe speedway for the fifth time in his career.
The five heat winners were Eliason, Kahne, Dewease, Dietrich, and Abreu. Abreu battled Macri in the early going, but Macri made hard contact with the wall followed by a 360 between turns one and two. Somehow, he kept the car going and limped into the work area. Although the right rear tire was replaced, other damage prevented his return. Macri rebounded for the B Main victory. The C Main winner was Zach Hampton. For the second night in a row, Courtney was the fastest qualifier. His lap time was 16.225 seconds.
In the Super Late Model feature, veteran Jason Covert picked up the win. Although he started on the pole, he lost the lead at the start to his dancing partner, Mike Lupfer. Lupfer led the first ten laps before Covert took control. Once in the lead, Covert disappeared from the field.
In the second half of the race, Lupfer had an extended battle with Hayes Mattern for the second position. Lupfer held him off, though. Taking fourth at the end of the race was Colton Flinner. That assured him of his first track title. Gary Stuhler, who had a mathematical chance of taking the crown, was fifth. Last year’s titleholder, Dylan Yoder, was sixth. Gene Knaub, Trever Feathers, Dillan Stake, and Deshawn Gingerich rounded out the top ten in the non-stop affair.
Late Model preliminaries went to Lupfer, Yoder, and Flinner. There was no B Main.
Macri Masters Port Royal Tusky Opener
PORT ROYAL, PA (September 8, 2022): Anthony Macri celebrated the return to his familiar, family-owned mount by steering it into victory lane on the opening night of the Tuscarora 50 weekend at Port Royal Speedway. The $8,000 victory was his eighteenth of the season overall.
“We spent a month on the road and we got our butts kicked a little bit, but I learned a lot, different scenarios and tracks,” Macri noted. Truth be told, his experience behind the wheel of the Sam McGhee Motorsports number 11 was not all bad. He did chalk up a win with the car at the Bedford Speedway a couple of weeks ago. But, you could tell that he was more comfortable, and more aggressive, in his own car.
Macri fell back at the beginning of the race. While that may have concerned some, it was all part of his strategy to save his tires. He noted how tires worn in the heat races, and he wanted to make sure that he had enough rubber to go the distance. Conserving tires will be even more important in the big fifty lapper that will close out the fifty-fifth running of the Tuscarora 50.
“I wanted to play the beginning of the race calm and cool,” he explained. He dropped to third behind Bill Balog and Danny Dietrich. “Balog got out there and I decided , I knew, it was time to go.” And, once he got going, there was no stopping him.
Dietrich, who finished second, quipped, “I kept Anthony honest up until lap twenty-two. Then I came up on some lapped cars. They were running three abreast, a lot of dirty air.” Nonetheless, Dietrich was pleased with his performance. “That’s the best by far that this car has been up here. It really stuck in the middle.”
Perhaps the fastest car on the track in the second half of the race, though, was the Zemco number 1 driven by Logan Wagner. Wagner, who is seeking his fifth track championship this weekend, came on strong to take the third position. Wagner was disappointed with his run in the dash, which was only good enough to put him eighth on the grid. “I feel if I had capitalized a little better in the dash and put ourselves into a better position . . .” his voice trailing off.
Balog was on the pole as a result of his dash win. Macri was his wingman. Justin Peck and Dietrich occupied row two. Giovanni Scelzi and Mike Wagner were in row three. Jeff Halligan was slated to start inside row four, but when he had a fuel pump problem, he had to borrow a car to start at the rear of the field. That moved Lucas Wolfe up a row and placed him beside Logan Wagner. Justin Whittal and Cory Eliason made up row five. Freddy Rahmer, Jr. and Brian Borown were paired in row six.
The talent laden field included Brent Marks in row seven, Lance Dewease and Rico Abreu in row nine, Tyler Courtney in row ten, and Dylan Cisney in row ten.
Balog led Macri into turn one, with Dietrich fighting Peck for third. Dietrich prevailed, and he immediately pressured Macri for the second spot. Dietrich to that on lap two. Macri regained the second spot as the field completed lap five.
Meanwhile, Balog was setting a blistering pace. He was more than two seconds ahead of Macri at one point. However, Macri tracked him down and assumed command on lap eight. Soon thereafter, Dietrich took over second again and he began to reel in Macri.
By the halfway mark, Balog was fading. The top five included Macri, Dietrich, Peck, Mike Wagner, and Scelzi. Logan Wagner was sixth. After Balog came Whittal, Abreu and Marks. Dewease was up to eleventh and he was stalking Marks for a position in the top ten.
Logan Wagner picked up speed as the race went on. He was up to fourth by lap twenty and third by lap twenty-five. While he continued to close in on Dietrich, he was unable to make a move for second in the final rounds.
At the checkers, it was Macri over Dietrich, Logan Wagner, Peck, and Mike Wagner. Whittal was sixth, followed by Scelzi, Abreu, Dewease, and Marks.
Heat wins went to Balog, Eliason, Wolfe, Dietrich, and Halligan. The C Main went to Zach Hampton, with Courtney taking the B Main. The evening’s fastest qualifier was Courtney, who turned in a lap of 16.371 seconds.
In the PASS 305 Sprint undercard, it was Garrett Bard who was the third and final leader of the event. Drew Young started on the pole and led the first ten laps. However, he withdrew from the race after taking the crossed flags. That put Zach Rhodes into the lead, which he held for six rounds before giving way to Bard.
Rhodes held on for second, followed by Mike Melair, Ken Duke, and Jeff Weaver. Justin Mills, Scott Frack, Jimmy White, Tyler Snook, and Josh Spicer completed the top ten.
Bard, Rhodes, Mills, and Frack were the heat winners. The twin B Mains went to Kenny Heffner and Chad Phillips. The second B Main had a wild, three-car crash on the opening lap. Fortunately, none of the drivers were injured in the melee.
Labor Day Finale Sunday at Tri-City Raceway Park
FRANKLIN, PA (September 2, 2022): Tri-City Raceway Park will present its final race of the 2022 season on Sunday, September 4. Instead of the planned two-day special holiday event, the speedway will present a Sunday Thunder card. The standard purse structure will be used for all divisions and Sunday Thunder ticket pricing will apply. Pit gates will open at 2 p.m. and spectator admission will begin at 4 p.m. Racing will commence at 6 p.m., as usual.
The Shawgo Real Estate LLC 410 Sprint Cars, the Donovan & Bauer Auto Group 358 Modifieds, the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Pro Stocks, and the 4 Your Car Connection Mini Stocks will not be racing for points, as track champions were named following the racing on August 28, Congratulations to A.J. Flick, Kevin Hoffman, Tyler Wyant, and Levi Maskal for their success and thanks to all sponsors, competitors, and fans for their support.
The speedway grounds will be available all weekend for free camping even though racing activity will only be held on Sunday of the holiday weekend. The bonfire will be moved to Saturday night, with the time to be determined. All attending the bonfire will be responsible for their own refreshments.
“We regret any inconvenience for our racers and fans who were anticipating a two-day program to close out the season,” said track owner Merle Black. “Everybody is welcome to come to the speedway to enjoy camping and to gather with friends before we have our last show of the season on Sunday. The racers will be able to go all-out with no fear of how the outcome will affect the season championships,” he added.
Adult admission on Sunday will be $15 for those aged 16 to 62. Seniors, aged 62 and up, will be admitted for $13, Students aged ten through 16 will be admitted for $10. The children below age of ten will be admitted for free, as usual. The Family Passes will be $45, and that will apply for two adults of any age and two students. Pit Passes will be $30.
Further information about Tri-City Raceway Park can be obtained by calling the track office at 724-967-4601, or by e-mailing the office at email@example.com. Or, you can check the web at Tri-CityRacewayPark.com, or the Facebook page at Tri City Raceway Park. Tri-City Raceway Park is located just a few miles north of Franklin, PA, at 3430 State Route 417 in Oakland Township.