PORT ROYAL, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Port Royal Speedway swung open the gates for the first time in 2020 this weekend. A banner field of 73 cars checked in, 46 in the 410 Sprint Car division, and another 27 in the Super Late Models. Among the entrants were a number of Western Pennsylvania drivers making their first appearances of the season in the sprints and two others, one in a Sprinter and one in the Late Model, making their first northern starts.
Cory Eliason, from Visalia, CA romped to the win in the Sprint Car ranks. A front row starting spot made life quite a bit easier for him. The same was true for Trevor Feathers, as the Winchester, VA driver dominated the Late Model finale.
Finishing behind Eliason were Brent Marks, Logan Wagner, Lance Dewease, and Anthony Macri. Trailing Feathers were Dan Stone, Jason Covert, Andy Haus, and Ross Robinson.
A.J. Flick, who plans to make Port Royal his Saturday home in 2020, put on an inspired drive in his heat race. Coming from ninth to fourth on a slick daytime surface was really impressive for the third-generation driver from Apollo. Mired deep in the pack for the feature, Flick kept his nose clean and logged a sixteenth place finish.
Chad Kemenah and Johnny Garvin were on hand in the team cars fielded by Liz Matus. Kemenah made the show and was right behind Flick at the finish. Garvin struggled all day, and did not finish his heat or the B Main due to mechanical woes. They will chase the All Stars in 2020.
George Hobaugh had a prime starting spot for his heat race, but he faded to eighth at the finish. He retired early from the B Main and was given credit for 17th. Hobaugh will also be making the rounds with the All Star Circuit of Champions again in 2020.
Irvona’s Jonathan Jones made his first 410 start at Port Royal. Jones, who spent the last few seasons aboard a 305 Sprint, did not finish the B Main.
The surprise of the day was the return of the 98 fielded by Tom and Fran Chiappelli of Cairnbrook. They had Kyle Reinhardt behind the wheel. Reinhardt survived an incident in his heat, spinning while running fourth, but managed to keep the car going, so he was not charged with the caution. The New Jersey transplant was fifteenth in the feature. Look for this new team to be regulars at Port Royal. Reinhardt will pilot the familiar 91 at other venues.
Colton Flinner was the lone Late Model driver to venture east this weekend. Flinner was caught up in a multi-car jingle in the feature, but kept moving and was given his position back for the restart. He charged hard on the top in the final seven laps in the feature to take sixth.
Port Royal will be back in action Saturday evening with a 4 p.m. start. Sprints and Late Models will be on tap. The following weekend will have the first two-day event at the Speed Palace. Sprints and Late Models go Saturday, along with Limited Lates. Late Models and Modifieds take to the track Sunday.
Pennsylvania Racing Economic Impact Surveys Released
PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The Motorsports Council of Pennsylvania (MCP) is sending out economic impact surveys to Pennsylvania race tracks, teams and racing related entities.
The data collected from the surveys will be compiled by Washington & Jefferson College professors Rob & Leslie Dunn, who along with the MCP, will produce a study on the range and economic impact of the racing industry in the Keystone State.
The economic impact study will be a valuable tool for race tracks, teams and marketing professionals in their efforts to attract partners, sponsors and other assets that may be available throughout the State.
Race teams are needed to take part in the survey! Here is link to the team survey: https://forms.gle/XWTehM4nsKGfzTC58
Fans are also asked to help the MCP in the efforts. Here is a link to the fan survey so take a few minutes of your time to support race tracks and teams in this endeavor: https://forms.gle/vEcZR5XJbQHKPBLLA
Marketing and media professionals have a survey that the MCP is asking them to complete. Here is a link to that survey: https://forms.gle/EX32bbXubANUaUGr7
Race tracks are also participating in the survey, if a track has not received a survey directly from the MCP, here is a link to that survey: https://forms.gle/fkhuwgg3EDvFTGuR7
The Motorsports Council of Pennsylvania hopes to have the Economic Impact Study completed by the start of the 2021 racing season.
Editors Note: Robert Johnson of the Motorsports Council of Pennsylvania will be one of the guests on the next episode of The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast.
Western Pennsylvania Sprint Speedweek Is Coming Back
SHIPPENVILLE, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Five local dirt tracks are teaming up to bring back Western Pennsylvania Sprint Speedweek for the 2021 season.
Michael’s Mercer Raceway (Mercer, PA), Thunder Mountain Speedway (Brookville, PA), Lernerville Speedway (Sarver, PA), Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH) and Tri City Raceway Park (Franklin, PA) are the five tracks where the owners and promoters have aligned to bring back the event for the 410 Sprint Cars.
“The ‘410 Sprint Car’ division in the local area has been through many ups-and-downs over the last two decades, but there’s no doubt it’s as strong now as it ever was”, said Dave Willoughby, Sharon Speedway’s General Manager. “You see our guys competing for spots up front everywhere they go, and that even includes out at some of the tougher Central PA tracks.”
Additional details will be released in the near future regarding the established point fund and other race night details.
Here’s the full schedule:
- Wednesday, June 2nd – Michael’s Mercer Raceway
- Thursday, June 3rd – Thunder Mountain Speedway
- Friday, June 4th – Lernerville Speedway
- Saturday, June 5th – Sharon Speedway
- Sunday, June 6th – Tri City Raceway Park
Western Pennsylvania Sprint Speedweek was previously run from 1993-2000 by the All-Star Circuit of Champions.
Indy Autonomous Challenge Race Car Unveiled
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The world’s first high-speed, head-to-head autonomous race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will feature Dallaras as the race cars.
Energy Systems Network (ESN) and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) this week unveiled the official race car that will be autonomously driven by scores of university teams in the Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) at the Racing Capital of the World on Oct. 23, 2021.
Dallara has been the sole racecar supplier of the Indy Lights series since 2002, and now the modified Dallara IL-15 is the official IAC racecar.
“Dallara is the best racecar engineering company in the world, yet designing the chassis for autonomous racing was really challenging,” explained Stefano dePonti, CEO and general manager of Dallara USA. “Dallara loves innovation and technological challenges, and we share the IAC’s passion for education and motorsports.”
“The Dallara-built IAC racecar is the most advanced, fastest autonomous vehicle ever developed,” stated Paul Mitchell, president and CEO of ESN, and co-organizer of the IAC. “Our IAC sponsors are providing radar, lidar, optical cameras and advanced computers, bringing the value of each vehicle to $1 million.”
One of the teams competing in the challenge is the Panther AV RAS-ing team from the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.
Panther AV RAS-ing is part of more than 500 undergraduate and graduate students, PhDs and mentors who excel in artificial intelligence software that have responded to the challenge. The challengers represent 39 universities in 11 countries on four continents and 14 U.S. states.
The IAC is scheduled for October 23, 2021, at the IMS, with a qualifying simulation race during the Indy 500 week in May. The total IAC prize purse is $1.5 million: $1 million awarded to the winning team of the October IAC race, and an additional $500,000 for winners of the hackathons and simulation races.
“The IAC is going to bring the best minds from around the world to solve a very complex problem, right here at the Racing Capital of the World,” said IMS President J. Douglas Boles. “As the birthplace of motorsports’ innovation, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a fitting setting for this event, and we can’t wait to see the winning entry cross the Yard of Bricks into history.”
Two companies headquartered in Western Pennsylvania are sponsors of the event. Ansys, a global leader in engineering simulation that is headquartered in Canonsburg, and Aptiv, an autonomous vehicle company who is relocating from O’Hara Township to Hazelwood Green.