I live in Kittanning, Pennsylvania – which is, I guess what you could call, the edge of western Pennsylvania. With western Pennsylvania comes western Pennsylvania weather; or as I like to call it – The Pittsburgh Climate. Mother Nature, who seems to always be hung over on Fridays, struck again causing many of the Friday night tracks in this part of the country to call it quits early. Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pennsylvania was denied for the third straight week from opening their gates for the 2011 season opener. The All Star Circuit of Champions made a visit to the Attica Raceway Park in northwestern Ohio on Friday, but it too ended in the same fashion as Lernerville; cancelling due to excessive rain and cool temperatures. The All Stars would get their Ohio Region schedule started the next night at Attica, as the two day event wouldn’t be denied completely. Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania was also forced to cancel the Friday night portion of the weekend program.
I have not been to a race in almost a month, or as it seems. My last appearance at a racetrack was back in mid March at the Williams Grove Speedway for their season opener. This past weekend could have had some racing in store for me, but, instead I spent the weekend with some college friends whom I haven’t seen is almost a year. Instead of ground pounding sprint cars, it was bon fires and burnt hotdogs. I can afford to miss a few every once in a while and live it up country style; or in our case- burning treated wood cause we had nothing else and cooking on a George Foreman. Life is good.
Although Friday night was a total wash out in the northeast part of the country, Saturday night proved to be different- as action all across the country took place in an exciting fashion; with Eldora Speedway being an exemption. The USAC National Sprint Cars were at the Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio for a two day event over the weekend. Although the rain seemed to move east as Saturday rolled in, the track and grounds were still too moist for action and too dangerous for competition. The USAC and Eldora officials determined it would be safest to cancel the Saturday night portion of the program; after only completing qualifying and heat races on Friday night before the rain came. A rain date is still trying to be determined.
Mercer Raceway Park in Mercer, Pennsylvania finally opened their gates for the 2011 season. 17 410ci sprint cars signed in for, what was for most drivers, opening night of competition in western Pennsylvania. Brandon Spithaler, who was at the Lincoln Speedway opener earlier this year in south central Pennsylvania, took his first victory of the year at the Mercer bullring. Brian Ellenberger, who had led most of the race, shredded a left rear tire with a few laps which in return suffered him some frame and cosmetic damage; allowing Mr. Spithaler to capture the season opener. This is Spithaler’s first win of 2011 and 2nd career win at the facility. I have to admit, I was sort of disappointed to hear that there were only 17 entries. The season is young and teams are still getting things in order for the year. Things will pick up eventually.
The Pennsylvania Posse were in action at three different tracks in a span of two days this past weekend; as a seasonal 410ci appearance at the Susquehanna Speedway Park allowed drivers to get a two race weekend in the books for the first time in almost a month. With the Pennsylvania Posse splitting up between Lincoln Speedway and Port Royal Speedway on Saturday nights, the traveling race fan would need to make a critical decision in deciding where to attend. If it were up to me, I would rotate each and every Saturday night. Lincoln Speedway saw the first repeat winner of 2011; ‘The Edge’ Brian Monieth picked up a 2nd win for the 2011 season and also became the first repeat winner of the Central PA point standings. Out of eleven races contested, there have been ten different winners. Talk about competition. Steve Buckwalter was not only the winner at the Port Royal Speedway over the weekend in his 410 sprinter, but also the ARDC midget sprint car winner at the Susquehanna Speedway Park on Sunday evening. The ARDC midgets were the co headline class of the evening; supporting the ever so popular 410ci sprint car class. Aaron Ott, a graduate of the 358ci sprint car class and now full time competitor in the 410’s, put the Hamilton #77 sprint car back in victory lane for the first time of the season at Susquehanna. Aaron became the tenth winner of the Central PA Series in 2011 as Lance Dewease still remains in the top stop.
If any of you reading this have never been to the Attica Raceway Park; I suggest you make plans to do so on Friday, May 20th. The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series will be making their annual stop at the Attica Fairgrounds for the $10,000 to win event. I am fortunate enough to say that I have been there for a few WoO events and it was well worth the price of admission each time I walked through the gate. I am a big fan of the facility and it’s not far from Cedar Point; big bonus! Anyways, Attica hosted the All Star Circuit of Champions this past weekend for what was supposed to be a two day event but shrunk to s ingle evening because of the weather. 48 cars signed in to what was basically an outlaw invasion. Lucas Wolfe, Paul McMahan, Joey Saldana, and Cody Darrah were just a few of the heavy hitters who decided to utilize their weekend off and hit the 3/8’s mile for a possible $5,000 pay day. Dale Blaney, a former All Star Circuit of Champions Champion and Los Angeles Laker – from what I hear- (still haven’t found any documentation proving this) came out on top at the Ohio Region All Star sanctioned event. Local western PA talent and Fully Injected team member, Danny Holtgraver, ended his night with a top five performance. Timing in at 10th quick, the defending Lernerville Speedway Track Champion earned himself a spot in the A main and a top 10 starting spot to earn a top 5 finish; Excellent. I must admit, I’m pretty excited to get back to Attica. It’s been two years since I have been out there.
I’d like to be the King of California. That would be an interesting title. Jonathon Allard would also like to be the King of California; and he made excellent head way at accomplishing that goal as he took the Golden State King of the West Series opener at Antioch Speedway Saturday night. The Chico, California native will attempt to repeat next Saturday night as the KWS hits the Thunderbowl at Tulare in Tulare, California! Someday I will make it to California. The plan is to spend an entire summer out there and watch USAC/CRA action…King of the West action…and the World of Outlaw swings. But that will probably never happen so for now I’ll keep my feet on the ground. Random note; Danny Lasoski picked up a win over the weekend in Missouri. “The Dude” led all 25 laps of the ASCS Warrior Region opener. Good to see “The Dude” back in victory lane.
I think that was all I wanted to talk about. Next weekend is a busy weekend as far as open wheel racing is concerned. The ASCS National Tour picks back up and hits the I-30 Speedway in Little Rock, Arkansas. The premiere 360 national series will headline a double header weekend at the I-30 Speedway before taking some time off again. Speaking of double header weekend; the World of Outlaws will also hit two tracks in two different states this weekend. Friday night they will compete at the Paducah International Raceway in Paducah, Kentucky; then travel to just south of St. Louis for the Ironman 55 preview. The Greatest Show on Dirt will compete at the I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Missouri on Saturday evening capping off the two race – two state weekend. The USAC National Sprint Car stars will get to try again next week, but this time just a little closer to home. Damian Gardner and the rest of the traveling traditional sprint car stars will hit three tracks in the state of Indiana; those being the Lawrenceburg Speedway on Friday, Kokomo Speedway on Saturday, and Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana on Sunday. That is another racing trip I would like to complete someday before I cash in my chips; follow the USAC Indiana Speedweek. That is a little more feasible than the California summer idea.
Next weekend will hopefully have some racing in store; as well as a 24 inch Rainbow or Palamino trout. Friday night will be a regular night at Lernerville with a trip to Mercer on Saturday night, probable. Saturday morning, I’ll be on the creek hoping to reel myself in a monster- as trout season is this part of the state kicks off at 8 AM!!
Thanks for reading, everybody! Stay tuned for more posts and updates all week.