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Lernerville Speedway Opening Night Preview

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SARVER, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The green flag finally gets a chance to fly as Lernerville Speedway opens Friday night after being unable to open due to State restrictions related to COVID-19.

Friday night’s events will be the first Fab4 Revved up with Marburger Farm Dairy program of 2020, which features The Peoples Gas DIRTcar Sprints, Precise Racing DIRTcar Late Models, Diehl Automotive DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds and the Millerstown Pic-A-Part DIRTcar/RUSH Pro Stocks.

Jack Sodeman Jr., is the defending Champion in the Peoples Gas DIRTcar Sprint division.  Sodeman beat out Carl Bowser and A.J. Flick in 2019 to pick-up his second track Championship.  A couple of other drivers to watch in 2020 include 3rd generation racer Sye Lynch of Apollo; Jimmy Morris, who finished fourth in the standings in 2019 as well as Ralph Spithaler and Brandon Spithaler, who picked up the victory Sunday night at Tri-City.

Ken Schaltenbrand is the defending Champion in the Precise Racing DIRTcar Late Models.  Schaltenbrand was the runaway winner in 2019 leaving Tyler Dietz, Jared Miley, Colton Flinner and Mike Miller to battle it out for spots 2 thru 5 in the final standings.  Two-time Lernerville track Champion Michael Norris will certainly be a factor all season.  Norris ran a limited amount of races at Lernerville in 2019 because Clint Bowyer Racing tabbed Norris to fill-in for the injured Don O’Neal.

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Brain Swartzlander is the defending Champion in the Diehl Automotive DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds.  The Hall-of-Famer held off Rex King Jr to win his eighth track Championship in 2019.  Rex King was not far behind that duo with Dave Murdick and the elder King fighting it out for third and fourth place.  Keep an eye out for Garrett Krummert and Jeremiah Shingledecker who are also expected to be in the mix in 2020.

Tyler Dietz is the defending Champion in the Millerstown Pic-A-Part DIRTcar/RUSH Pro Stocks division.  Dietz and Corey McPherson staged an epic battle that went down to the wire in 2019.  Joey Zambotti finished third in the standing in 2019 and is hoping to improve by two spots in 2020.

Fans will be permitted into the Lernerville grandstands but the must fill-out and sign the COVID-19 waiver, which can be found on the tracks website, www.lernerville.com. The Speedway encourages all fans to print-out the waiver at home and bring it to the track to expedite the process of entering the facility.  All fans will be required to wear masks to enter the speedway and fans will need to maintain social distancing as part of the tracks COVID-19 safety plan.

Pit gates open at 4 p.m. with the grandstands opening at 5 p.m. Racing starts at 7:30 p.m.  Adult general admission is $15, $12 for seniors and $10 for students ages 11-17. Children 10-and-under are free.

Fans that can’t make it to the track can now take advantage and watch the action on Lernerville.TV.  The speedway has partnered with SPEED SPORT TV to bring Fab4 action into homes and onto mobile devices for 2020.

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Local Racing

Pennsylvania Racing Economic Impact Surveys Released

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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

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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.

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Local Racing

Western Pennsylvania Sprint Speedweek Is Coming Back

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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.”

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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.

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IndyCar

Indy Autonomous Challenge Race Car Unveiled

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Indy Autonomous Challenge/Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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.”

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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.

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