WILLIAMS GROVE, PA (August 14, 2020): It was a good night to be leading points at Williams Grove Speedway. Each of the three feature winners sat atop the standings in their respective classes. Winning the Billy Kimmel Memorial for the 410 Sprints was Brent Marks. Taking the 358 Sprints was Derek Locke. And, taking the first ever USAC East Coast 360 Sprints was Steve Drevicki.
“It feels good to be at home racing,” said Marks, also known as the Myerstown Missile. “We were going to do a lot more traveling,” he said, “but the virus situation changed that.” Marks had spent the last several seasons touring with the World of Outlaws, and he planned to run a true outlaw schedule, mixing in better paying local events with All Stars and World of Outlaws treks. But Marks has remained close to home while series and track schedules went through radical adjustments. Now, he finds himself leading the points battles at the Grove and at Port Royal Speedway, an unexpected benefit for sure.
The win for Marks was his first of the season at the Grove, and his tenth career win. It was his first since knocking off the National Open last fall. Unfortunately for Marks, though, the track was only giving show-up points this night because the date was penned in after the cancellation of the 2020 Knoxville Nationals. Originally, the Grove was to be dark to allow competitors to journey west. Several drivers did opt to attend the One and Only, the substitute for the 60th running of the Nationals, but the majority of them stayed home to race at the Grove.
The win did not come easy for Marks. “That was a really hard race, it was the hardest that I’ve raced in a while,” he said as he struggled to catch his breath. Marks had to chase down pole sitter Brian Montieth, who led from the outset. “I made a lot of mistakes, Brian made a lot of mistakes.” Marks continued, “I thought that I lost the race, I got bottled up down there (pointing toward turn four) and, then, he did the same thing two laps later.” That enabled Marks to get a good run at Montieth and he nipped him at the flag stand as they registered lap 21. Montieth fought back to regain the lead in turn one, but Marks had the better line and he was able to power off turn two with the lead once and for all.
Montieth was paired up with another hungry veteran, Lucas Wolfe, on the front row for the 25 lapper. Jeff Halligan and Marks were in the second row. Freddie Rahmer, Jr. and Matt Campbell were in the third, and Chad Trout and Tyler Ross were in the fourth. The fifth row was made up of Rick Lafferty and Kyle Reinhardt.
Montieth wasted no time building up a lead over Wolfe. Wolfe could not hold onto second for very long, as he was displaced by Marks and Halligan with a couple of laps in the books. Rahmer nestled into fifth, followed by Campbell, Ross, and Trout.
Montieth survived a pair of restarts, on laps six and seven, brought about by minor incidents.
The final 18 laps were run under the green. Marks closed in on Montieth around the halfway mark. Montieth led by a nose on lap 15, but he was able to open up a few car lengths on his challenger when Marks got hung up behind some lapped cars. But Marks rallied and drew close to Montieh as the laps clicked away.
Things got very exciting over the last five laps. When Montieth got caught behind some slower cars, Marks made his move. He grabbed the lead at the line, but then he had to fight back Montieth’s counterattack in turn one. Marks was able to do so successfully and he held the lead to the end.
Following Marks and Montieth were Campbell, Rahmer, and Trout. Halligan, Zeb Wise, Wolfe, Kyle Moody, and Reinhardt completed the top ten. It was Moody’s first race in several weeks, as he was sidelined with a concussion.
Heat wins were scored by Campbell, Lafferty, and Rahmer. There was no B Main.
In the 358 Sprints, Derek Locke scored his second career win at the Grove in remarkable style. Locke took command just two laps into the race and he cruised to the easy win. Doug Hammaker raced up to second, and he was followed by two-time winner Kevin Nouse. Cody Fletcher was fourth after leading the first two circuits. Zach Newlin was fifth. Dylan Norris, Matt Findley, Chris Frank, Scott Fisher, and Chad Criswell rounded out the top ten.
In the USAC 360 debut, Steve Drevicki scored his first career win at the Grove. He had finished second several times before in different classes of cars, but this was his first feature triumph of any kind at the historic venue. He had to fend off the charge of Alex Bright over the last ten laps. Taking third was a former New York Modified ace, Billy Vaninwegen. Joey Biasi out dueled Carmen Perigo, Jr. for fourth. Early leader Bill Unglert crossed in sixth, followed by Kyle Spence, Bruce Buckwalter, Chris Allen, Jr. and John Stehman.
Next week, Williams Grove will host the World of Outlaws Late Model Series. Also on the card will be the 410 Sprint Cars. Coming up soon will be the Jack Gunn Memorial Twin 20s for the All Stars Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars.
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.