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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.

Dirt Racing

PPMS, Latrobe and Lervnerville Cancel Saturday Events

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PITTSBURGH, PA (May 25, 2024) A forecast calling for thunderstorms after 3 p.m. with gusty winds and possible hail throughout areas of Western Pennsylvania on Saturday is forcing local tracks to cancel their Saturday nights events.

Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway made the decision early to cancel their Choice for Change Action Event with the RUSH Sprint Cars.  All tickets purchased for the event are eligible for a full refund.  Next up at PPMS is the Western PA Speedweek event on Thursday with UEMS Racing Series.

Penn Ohio Pro Stock Touring Series and Latrobe Speedway officials are also postponing the tour’s season-opener because of Mother Nature.  The good news is the delay is only one week.

Three Rivers Karting

“Despite the unfortunate weather forecast that canceled our fourth race in a row, we have a silver lining,” said SNB Promotions Dennis Bates. “Thankfully, we were able to reschedule the Homak Penn Ohio Pro Stock Tour for the following Saturday, June 1. Providing a new opportunity for our stakeholders to enjoy a modified six-division event. Most Homak Penn Ohio Pro Stock touring teams have more than a two-hour drive to the speedway, so it made sense to postpone the race.”

The modified six-division show will also include the K2 Engineering FASTrak Pro Late Models, Joe’s Body Shop & Towing Pure Stocks, Special T Metals LLC Modified 4 Cylinders, the Marilungo Disposal LLC Strictly Stock 4 Cylinders, and the Dean Pollock Hobby Stocks.

The grim forecast is also causing Overdrive Monster Truck and Lernerville Speedway officials to postpone tonight’s event. The show will now take place on Sunday, May 26 with VIP gates opening at 2 p.m.  The grandstands will open at 2:30 p.m. with a scheduled start of 6 p.m.  All tickets purchased in advance will be honored for May 26.

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Dirt Racing

Red-Hot Spithaler Continues His Winning Ways At Lernerville

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SARVER, PA (May 24, 2024) There its not a hotter driver in the local 410 Sprint Car ranks than Brandon Spithaler.  One week after finishing fourth in the World of Outlaws A Main at Attica Raceway Park, Spithaler picked up the checkered flag in the People’s Natural Gas feature Friday night at Lernerville Speedway.

Spithaler started eighth in the 19-car field and held off Bradon Matus and Michael Bauer to pick up the win.  AJ Flick finished fourth and hard-charger Dan Kuriger rounded out the Top 5 after starting 18th.

Flick remains atop the Championship standing followed by Carl Bowser, who trails flick by 16-points.  Bauer and Matus each sit 19-points back of Flick with Baurer holding down third in the standings by virtue of his 2-Top 5 finished.  The victory moves Spithaler to sixth, 29-points back despite participating in only 2-events.

Tyler Dietz started on the front row and took home the victory in the Precise Racing Products Late Model feature.  Colton Flinner finished second followed by Michael Norris and John Garvin Jr.

Norris remains atop the Championship standings with Flinner in second, 1-point behind.  Garvin is 7-points behind in third and Dietz’ victory leaves him sitting in fourth, 13-points behind.

Three Rivers Karting

Garrett Krummert is your winner in the Diehl Automotive Big Block Modifieds.  Krummert started seventh and expertly worked traffic to get past second-place starter and finisher Rex King Jr.  Jeremiah Shingledecker finished third followed by Will Thomas in fourth.  Ayden Cipriano rounded out the Top 5.

The Top 4 finishers are your Top 4 in the Championship standings with King Jr 5-points behind Krummert.  Shingledecker sits third, 16-points back and Thomas is only one point back of third, 17-points behind Krummert.

Pole sitter Chris Schneider held off a hard-charging Dietz to win the Millerstown Pic-A-Part Pro Stocks feature.  Christian Schneider came home third after starting sixth followed by Corey McPherson in fourth and Jason Fosnaught in fifth.

Dietz and Christian Schneider are tied atop the Championship standings with 113 points each.  Chris Schneider is third 9-points back in a battle that is bound to go down to the final weekend.

Saturday night’s Overdrive Monster Trucks event has been postponed to Sunday due to the forecast.  VIP Gates will open at 2 p.m. with grandstands opening at 2:30 p.m.  The event will start at 6 p.m.  All tickets purchased in advance will be honored for May 26.

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Dirt Racing

Dietrich Does It At The Grove

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Williams Grove Speedway

MECHANICSBURG, PA (May 24, 2024): Danny Dietrich got a break at the start of the John Trone Tribute A Main at Williams Grove Speedway, and he made the most of it. Dietrich fell in behind Lucas Wolfe on the initial green, but a multi-car crash before the entire field crossed for lap one necessitated a complete restart. Dietrich was better prepared for the second try, and he was able to keep Wolfe behind him motoring down the long straightaway. Still, Dietrich had to fend Wolfe off once or twice during the contest to ensure the $10,039 win. Wolfe slid out of the rubber once in the late going, and Spencer Bayston scooted by for second.

Also grabbing a win was Logan Spahr in the PASS IMCA 305 Sprint undercard.

“We had a good draw, but we had a bad start,” the Gettsysburg pilot observed. “I like racing with Lucas (Wolfe) because he will always race you clean. Lucas got me, but we were better the next time.” Dietrich explained that there was some moisture in the middle of the track, and that was where Wolfe launched at the drop of the green. “I didn’t push him up enough, so the second time I moved up and I got a better run,” Dietrich added.

Dietrich started on the pole carrying the traditional red, white, and blue colors and the historic number 29 that always adorned the Bob Weikert-owned machines over the years. The next generation of Weikerts sponsor Dietrich’s car, owned by Gary Kauffman of Biglerville, and the Kauffman/Dietrich team pay homage to the iconic car and the famous owner over the Memorial Day Weekend. The same livery will be used in the two-day event at the Port Royal Speedway.

Wolfe was on Dietrich’s flank for the start of the twenty-five lapper. In the row behind were Devon Borden and Bayston. Row three paired up Chase Dietz and Cory Eliason. Anthony Macri and Rico Abreu made up row four. Next were T.J. Stutts and midwestern star Brian Brown. James McFadden and Kyle Reinhardt occupied row six.

The first lap melee eliminated several cars, including those of current points leader and defending champion Freddie Rahmer, Jr., and Lance Dewease.

After the failed attempt to start the race, Dietrich claimed the lead that he would never relinquish. Wolfe stayed close, particularly in the early going. He was followed by Bayston, Borden, Dietz, Eliason, Macri, Abreu, Brown, and Reinhardt. Dietrich had a comfortable margin eliminated on lap eleven when Austin Bishop stopped on the track for the first official caution.

On the restart, Wolfe drove in the middle grove entering turn one. He was able to get along side of Dietrich, but the bottom was the better line due to the accumulated rubber. So Dietrich was able to drive away from his challenger in turn two. Bayston remained in third, with Dietz and Eliason next.

Two laps later, Abreu spun himself out of the top ten. He managed to keep moving, so there was no caution but, now, Abreu was at the tail of the field. Bayston got a good run on Wolfe for second a lap later, but Bayston slid up the track and handed third over to Dietz. Bayston was able to regain the position by lap fifteen, when Abreu and Aaron Bollinger tangled in turn one.

Three Rivers Karting

On the restart, Dietrich continued to lead Wolfe and Bayston. Bayston was pressing Wolfe while Dietrich began to pull away. With just two laps remaining, Wolfe slid up off the rubber in turn one, losing second to Bayston in the process.

At the checkers, it was Dietrich by a wide margin over Bayston, Wolfe, Eliason, and Dietz. Macri, Borden, Reinhardt, Brown, and Stutts completed the top ten.

The four heat wins went to Abreu, Bayston, Wolfe, and Dietrich. Cameron Smith prevailed in the B Main. Eliason was the fastest qualifier this night, topping Group A with a lap of 17.898 seconds. Macri was best in Group B with a time of 18.278 seconds.

Josh Beamer had the pole for the twenty-lap nightcap for the PASS IMCA 305 Sprints. Beside him was Erin Statler. Row two consisted of Jason Roush and Spahr. The third row matched Andrew Boyer with Kenny Heffner. Drew Young shared row four with Mike Alleman. Owen Dimm and Danny Buccafusco raced from row five, and they were trailed by Landon Price and Mike Melair.

Beamer dashed out front, but Spahr was into second in no time at all. Roush, Heffner, Boyer, and Young followed closely. As the lap counter advanced, Beamer and Spahr separated themselves from Heffner, who raced alone in third. Positions four on back were hotly contested.

Spahr assumed the lead on lap eleven, just one round ahead of the lone caution of the race for Croix Beasom.

On the restart, Spahr got a tremendous jump on Beasom. Young lost several positions after the race resumed. Moving ahead of him were Christian Rumsey, Heffner, Melair, Statler, and Buccafusco.

Spahr showed no mercy to his competitors over the final eight laps. Beamer registered a second place finish, ahead of Rumsey, Melair, and Statler. Positions six through ten went to Heffner, Buccafusco, Young, Boyer, and Dimm.

Boyer and Heffner shared the heats. There was no B Main.

Next week, the 358 Sprints will return to support the 410 Sprints. The 358s will go for twenty-five laps with extra purse money on the line. The month of June will commence with the 410s and USAC East Coast Sprints in the Bill Gallagher Memorial. On June 14, the USAC National Sprints will be the added attraction, along with the 410 Sprints. June 21 will be the tune-up for Central PA Speedweek.

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