PORT ROYAL, PA (October 17, 2020): Mat Williamson picked the perfect time to score his first win in the Short Track Super Series for Modifieds. The driver, who earned the nickname “Money” after scoring some big victories in the rival DIRTcar Super Series, carried $53,000 out of Port Royal Speedway. His share of the bounty would go back to St. Catharines, ONT, where he and his fiance are planning to build a home.
COVID travel restrictions kept Williamson on the northern side of the Canadian border for most of the 2020 racing season. While he did get to race several times (successfully), the purses were much smaller, and he never got into a rhythm like he could do when he was able to cross the border at will. Williamson, who said that he was “tired of eating Ramen noodles,” came into the United States for a few weeks, starting with OctoberFAST (the Super DIRTweek substitute) and concluding with the Eastern States 200. “It sucks that we cannot celebrate with family and friends after a win like this,” Williamson said. He and his two traveling companions planned to party hearty and then start to prepare the car for the upcoming Eastern States race. He plans to serve out his quarantine deer hunting upon his return to Canada.
Second place finisher, Stewart Friesen, who is also Canadian by birth, did not face such restrictions, as he is now a permanent resident of Sprakers, NY.
Both drivers overcame some mechanical difficulties to get to the front of the highest paying race of the 2020 Modified season. Friesen’s problems came during Friday night’s qualifications. He blew the engine in his primary car, which was powered by a 430 cubic inch open small block. He switched to a back-up car that was equipped with a 360 cubic inch small block, and used a provisional to start 39th in the talent-laden field. While the car was down on power, series rules allowed it to race at a light 2300 pounds, and Friesen was able to get the most out of the machine. Williamson’s difficulty came during the open red at the halfway mark of the big race. The team decided to change front shocks to improve forward bite. They broke a critical part in the process and they had to scramble to find a replacement in the infield hot pit area, as crossing the track to retrieve one from the hauler was not allowed. They found the piece in Anthony Perrego’s toolbox. Perrego was leading at the break and would go on to finish fourth in the final tally.
The first ten starters were lined up by the luck of the draw. Alex Yankowski started on the pole and Danny Bouc was next to the rapid teen. Aussie Peter Britten and Mike Gular were in row two. Erick Rudolph and Matt Sheppard, a pre-race favorite, were in row three. Max McLaughlin and Mike Maresca were in row four, with Maresca driving a borrowed car after suffering a terminal engine failure at the checkers in his Friday heat race. Williamson lined up next to Billy Pauch, Jr. in row five. Perrego and Mike Mahaney were in row six.
Yankowski blasted out to the lead over Bouc and Britten while Maresca and Rudolph were fighting for position. Just as the leaders crossed for lap one, veteran Billy Van Pelt brought out the first caution of the double century contest.
Yankowski held the advantage through lap 16, when Williamson surged to the front. Although Sheppard and Bouc would also pass Yankowski, the youthful driver held his own reamining in or just outside the top five for most of the first half of the race.
Meanwhile, Friesen was methodically passing cars using the highest groove possible. He was able to roll up beside cars and pass them off the corner before they even realized that he was out there. He reached 13th by lap 20 and was positioned to assault the top ten when drama unfolded.
Billy Pauch, Jr., who was biding his time riding just outside the top ten, had his throttle stick going down the long back chute. Although he tried desperately to shut the car down, he was unable to do so, and he collided massively with the turn three fence. He punched a hole in that as the car burst into flames and then tumbled to a stop yards away. The car lost its roof and the top of the cage was exposed to oncoming traffic, but all others were able to avoid contact with Pauch. Pauch climbed from the demolished car unscathed. It took track crews over an hour and fifteen minutes to make repairs to the fence.
After that break, Williamson continued to lead, but the car was not performing up to its full potential. Perrego, who would become Williamson’s savior a short time later, rode the rim to the front on lap 86. Soon thereafter, a caution came out, and Friesen surrendered P4 to pit for tires and fuel. This enabled him to play out a strategy that would give him track position over Perrego, Williamson, Sheppard, and others.
Perrego led to the halfway mark, with Williamson, Sheppard, McLaughlin, Britten, Ryan Godown, Yankowski, Alan Johnson, Ryan Susice, and Billy Dunn making up the top ten.
Dramatic interlude number two began with drivers declaring their intentions with regard to the mandatory pit stop. Drivers that elected to stay on the track could get fuel only. Drivers entering the hot pits could make any adjustments they wanted, including changing tires. Perrego stayed on the track, while almost all others came into the pits. After his crew looked over the tires, Perrego chose to enter the pits, losing only a minute or two of worktime. The racers who stayed out got the preferred starting positions, while those that went into the hot pits lined up behind them according to running order. So, Fiesen and his cohorts got track position with tires only 14 laps old, while Perrego, Williamson, et al. were ninth on back, albeit with fresh tires.
“We had a plan going into the race, but we threw it out the window,” Williamson said. Because the car was hot handling properly, his team switched the front shocks and almost took the car out of the race. Perrego’s team came through for them in the pinch, though, and Williamson was able to rejoin the field for the second half. “We made the right calls,” Williamson said with a sigh of relief.
It only took Friesen six laps to take the lead. He began to stretch his advantage while Perrego, McLaughlin, Sheppard, and Williamson began their march to the front. Perrego reached second on lap 128, with Andy Bachetti sitting in third. He, like Friesen, opted for the earlier pit stop to gain track position. Then came McLaughlin, Sheppard, and WiIlliamson.
With Friesen and Perrego racing the high groove, Williamson moved forward by running about a car width off the inside fence. He reached third by lap 150. Sheppard was also moving forward, but he suddenly stopped on the track with 168 completed. He pitted for a pair of fresh rear tires. “I’m sure that the fresh tires helped,” he noted. “We had a tire going down so I pitted and put two new ones on.” Indeed, in the remaining laps, Sheppard had one of the fastest cars on the track, but he did not have enough time to catch Williamson and Friesen.
Friesen continued to lead Perrego, but they had another racer to contend with as the laps wound down. Williamson took second on lap 175 and the issues became whether and when he would make a move on Friesen.
It only took eleven more circuits for the fans to know. Williamson drove by the leader on lap 186. While Williamson did open up a several car length advantage, Friesen continued to flog the cushion in an effort to chase him down. Aided by a yellow on lap 194, Friesen did get his shot at the leader. However, Williamson held his line and rode home with the lucrative win.
“I tried to beat the heck out of it,” Friesen explained. “I was starting to come back before the last yellow. I may have been able to come back if we had some traffic. I think my tore cooled off and it didn’t come back after that last caution.”
At the finish, it was Willaimson over Friesen, Sheppard, Perrego, and Larry Wight. McLaughlin, Godown, Bachetti, Yankowski, and Billy Decker rounded out the top ten. Decker’s machine bore the battle scars of an early race skirmish, but it continued to function satisfactorily.
Just over half of the field completed all 200 laps.
Port Royal and STSS officials announced that the Modifieds would return in 2021, with a Spring race contemplated. No announcement was made whether the big Fall classic would be on the docket. That decision may await further developments as STSS boss Brett Deyo also promoted Fonda Speedway where the 2019 edition of the 200 was held. COVID limitations in the Empire State forced him to move the race to Port Royal.
Port Royal Speedway will hold its final race of the season on October 24. It will be the Ninth Annual Keystone RaceSaver Challenge for 305 Sprints. Limited Late Models and Mini Stocks will also be on the card. General admission will be a mere $5, as the speedway celebrates a fan appreciation day. Racing will start at 3 p.m.
Rahmer Breaks Dietrich’s Stranglehold on Lincoln; Owings Back in Victory Lane Too
ABBOTTSTOWN, PA (May 21, 2022): Freddie Rahmer, Jr. won the opener at Lincoln Speedway but then Danny Dietrich took over, reeling off four victories in the 410 Sprint Car ranks. Well, Rahmer came back in style, grabbing his second win of the season and twentieth in his career. Also gracing victory lane was Steve Owings who recovered from a vicious crash a couple of weeks ago to get the win in the 358 Sprint division.
“It’s been a little bit of a test lately,” Rahmer said. He added, “it’s been tough the last couple of weeks, this is a big relief more than anything.” Rahmer struggled after the Icebraker, not even making the race that would have allowed him to slice into Dietrich’s substantial points lead when Dietrich elected to attend a race elsewhere.
Rahmer explained that it was “tricky up on the top,” a sentiment that at least three other racers would echo. Two of them, Michael Millard and Trey Hivner, spun out while leading, and the third, Devon Borden, spun out just after surrendering the lead to Rahmer. Of the latter incident, Rahmer noted “I was lucky to get by him before he had his problem.”
Millard and Hivner had the front row based upon their points averages. Tim Wagaman and Jimmy Siegel were in the second row. Kyle Moody was inside of Borden in the third. Chase Dietz and Rahmer were in row four as the top point chaser to make the handicap. Tim Glatfelter and John Walp were next. Alan Krimes and Dylan Norris made up row six. Buried in twentieth was Danny Dietrich, who had a poor run in his heat race.
Millard took the lead at the drop of the green but his time out front was short lived. He spun in turn four with one lap complete, handing the lead over to Hivner, who did the same thing in the same place on the next circuit. That put Borden on the point for the restart and he would proceed to lead the next nineteen laps.
Borden was setting a rapid pace, but Rahmer was able to stay close. Wagaman settled into third, ahead of Dietz, Moody, and Glatfelter.
Things were unchanged up front for several laps, but Dietrich was making headway. He reached the top ten by lap ten, but further advancement was slower to come.
Rahmer slipped by Borden in traffic to take the lead on lap 22. Boren then spun in the high groove, backing his car into the turn one wall.
Rahmer held off Dietz on the ensuing restart. With the field bunched up, Dietrich was pressing to pass some more cars. An aggressive move by Dietrich in turn four caused some drivers to take evasive measures, and Norris got upside down.
Dietz thus got another shot at the leader, but he could not capitalize upon the opportunity handed to him with five laps remaining. He chased Rahmer home but he could not challenge for teh win. Krimes charged into third, followed by Wagaman, and Dietrich. The next five finishers were Tyler Ross, Glatfelter, Moody, Billy Dietrich, and Austin Bishop.
The 29 410s competed in four heats, with the won going to Siegel, Moody, Rahmer, and Millard. The consolation race went to Matt Campbell.
Steve Owings had the pole for the 358 Sprint race, which was the first round of the Summer Series. Travis Scott was his dancing partner. Owings led into tun one, but Scott spun whil running second. Because Scott did not come to a complete stop, he was returned to the outside front row starting spot for the second attempt to get the race going.
This was a fortunate break for him, as he kept his car straight in tun one on the restart.
Owings led Scott for the entire 25 laps. Their run to the checkers was slowed for two minor incidents.
Cody Fletcher improved from sixth to third. He was followed by David Holbrook, and Chris Frank. Kody Hartlaub, Matt Findley, Nash Ely, Jeff Rohrbaugh, and Wyatt Hinkle completed the top ten.
Four heats were held for teh 34 358s on hand. Takingthe checkers were Cody Phillips, Holbrook, Hinkle, and Findley. Cameron Smith won the consolation.
Lincoln Speedway will host the Bob Leiby Memorial over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The Central PA Legends will join the 410 and 358 Sprints. Then, on June 4, the much anticipated Steve Smith Tribute race will be held. $19,000 awaits the winner of that one. The USAC East Coast 360 Sprints and the ARDC Midgets will provide the support. June 11 will be the Fallen Firefighters Night in Memory of Brandon Little. That race will be for the 410 and 358 Sprints.
Weather Claims Another Win at Tri-City Raceway Park; No Racing Memorial Day Weekend
FRANKLIN, PA (May 22, 2022): Confronted with saturated grounds and a swampy race track; and facing the prospect of additional rain, high winds, and colder temperatures; Tri-City Raceway Park canceled the Sunday Thunder program scheduled for May 22. Plus, track owner Merle Black has announced that there will be no racing at the Venango County oval over the Memorial Day weekend.
“We want our racers and staff to be able to spend the holiday with their families and friends. We are concentrating our energies to be ready for a big event, the finale of the Second Annual Western PA Speedweek.”
The June 4 special will pit the stars and cars of the Shawgo Real Estate 410 Sprints against all comers. Last season, Central PA racer and All Star competitor Bobby Howard took the checkers. Other Central PA racers and some travelers were on hand for the re-launch of the popular mini-series and even more are expected this time.
Joining the 410 Sprints will be the Donovan & Bauer Auto Group 358 Modifieds, the 4 Your Car Connection Mini Stocks, and the RUSH Sprint Cars.
“This will be a great way to start our 2022 season,” Black said. “We hope that the weather will cooperate with us so that we will have a big crowd, a great field, and spectacular racing,” he added.
Watch the website and social media platforms for any changes.
Further information about Tri-City Raceway Park can be obtained by calling the track office at 724-967-4601, or by e-mailing the office at email@example.com. Or, you can check the web at Tri-CityRacewayPark.com, or the Facebook page at Tri City Raceway Park. Tri-City Raceway Park is located just a few miles north of Franklin, PA, at 3430 State Route 417 in Oakland Township.
Dewease and Locke Dominate at Williams Grove Speedway
WILLIAMS GROVE, PA (May 20, 2022): Lance Dewease scored his first feature win of the season and 104th of his career at Williams Grove Speedway. Dewease held off a number of younger challengers, each of whom had late race chances to overtake the Hall of Fame driver on restarts. Also getting into victory lane was Derek Locke in the 358 Sprint Car undercard.
Normally, the leader is not happy to see a rash of late-race cautions, but this time Dewease was relieved to get them. “I could run really hard on the bottom for about two laps before the (tire) pressures built up.” When asked if he was worried about having Anthony Macri on his tail for the last restart, with two to go, Dewease responded in the negative. “I got good runs in one and two and again in three and four, and I knew that I didn’t have to change my line.”
Dewease explained that he has been fighting a tight race car of late. “Davey (Brown) wasn’t happy with the car last week, so we came out to get some track time to get ready for next week.” Brown, his Hall of Fame chief wrench, wanted to get the car right for the invasion by the All Stars Circuit of Champions. The touring series will compete against the Possee in the Randy Wolfe Tribute race at the Grove, paying $10,000 to win, before heading north to Port Royal Speedway for the Bob Weikert Memorial weekend. Those races will pay $10,000 and $29,000 respectively.
Williams Grove Speedway experimented with a new race format for this round of the Diamond Series. Time turned in hot laps were used to set the starting lineups for the heats. A pill draw determined the number of cars to be inverted, but Dewease pulled a 0, so the heats had the fastest car on the pole. The first two finishers from each heat were handicapped to the front of the feature field, with the racers being inverted based upon their average earnings per race entered.
So, after winning the opening heat, Dewease was scheduled to start in fourth. He got moved to the inside of row two when his dancing partner, T.J. Stutts, was unable to make the call to stage for the feature event because his crew was feverishly making repairs after his heat race win. Stutts was able to make the race, but he was relegated to the tail of the field.
The pole belonged to the winner of the second heat, Robbie Kendall. On his flank was Brett Shearer. Then came Dewease and his new mate, Devon Borden. Row three had Dylan Norris matched with Chase Dietz. Behind them were Danny Dietrich and Matt Campbell. Freddie Rahmer, Jr. and Steve Buckwalter were in row five, and Dylan Cisney and Justin Whittal were in row six. After a poor heat race finish, Anthony Macri rolled away in position seventeen.
Kendall took the early lead with a hole shot on Shearer. Dewease followed Kendall into second. Norris, Borden, and Dietz all charged past Shearer, who became the first racer to cause the caution to be displayed. Before that happened, though, Dewease surged ahead of Kendall for the lead.
When the race resumed, Kendall was under attack from Norris and Borden. Borden rolled the cushion to take over the second spot, and Kendall got cross-wise between turns one and two, collecting Norris in the process. Rahmer and Whittal were also involved in the skirmish.
Dewease held off Borden on the restart and he was able to open a significant lead on the youngster. Dietz was on the charge after that restart, and he worked his way past Borden for second on lap twelve.
Dietz got his shot at Dewease on a restart held six laps later. With Dewease leading Dietz, Dietrich went to work on Borden, but he could not take the position from him. Meanwhile, Macri was into the top five.
Dietz got another chance to overtake Dewease on lap twenty-one, after Borden stopped his car halfway down the backstretch. Dietz could not make a move on the wily veteran, and he was struggling to keep Macri at bay.
The night ended for Dietz on lap 23, when he checked up in turn four. Macri reacted quickly and did not run over Dietz as he slowed to a halt. While he was being removed from the speedway, the officials called for a fuel stop.
Now it was Macri’s turn to come after Dewease. But the nation’s leading race winner was no match for Dewease. Dewease got the strong run on lap 24 to give himself some breathing room for the final trip around the venerable half mile.
At the checkers, it was Dewease ahead of Macri by just over two-tenths of a second. Taking third was Dietrich. Cisney made the most out of the final restarts, picking off Lucas Wolfe on lap 21 and getting a good run on Dietrich on lap 23. Although Cisney pulled ahead slightly entering turn three, Dietrich stormed bay on the inside of turn four to hold onto the final podium spot. Wolfe trailed Cisney across teh finish line.
Rahmer Jr., came back through the field to get sixth. Campbell, Mark Smith, Norris, and Kyle Moody rounded out the top ten.
There was no B Main.
The 358 Sprint Cars provided the support this night. Getting the win was Derek Locke for the tenth time in a row! Locke’s remarkable winning streak dates back to September of 2020.
Locke started in the fifth spot and he wasted no time getting to the front. Using the middle groove, Locke passed veteran Frankie Herr for the lead just five laps into the contest.
Young Jayden Wolf charged into second, but he was no match for the speedy Locke. Tyler Brehm and Steve Owing also got by Herr in the final stage of the race.
Doug Hammaker, Zach Newlin, Nash Ely, Justin Foster, and Kody Hartlaub were the next five finishers.
The heat victories belonged to Ely, Herr, and Foster. There was no B Main.
After the Wolfe Tribute All Stars event next week, Williams Grove will open the month of June with the 410 Sprints joined by the USAC East Coast Wingless Sprints. Fan appreciation night will be held June 10, with all fans allowed to visit the pit area before the 410 and 358 Sprints fire off. The USAC National Sprint Tour will join the 410s on June 17. Then Williams Grove will host the first night of Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speed Week on June 24.