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Racing A Family Affair For Carl Bowser and Kristin Swartzlander

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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.

Three Rivers Karting

“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.

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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.

Three Rivers Karting

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.

Three Rivers Karting

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.

Three Rivers Karting

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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