By Mike Leone
Hartford, OH July 22, 2014 The “Lou Blaney Memorial” is an event racers and fans look forward to each year at Sharon Speedway. This year’s event will take place Wednesday, July 30 as the sixth annual edition will again feature “410” Sprint Cars and BRP Big-Block Modifieds as part of the 85th anniversary season. Ollie’s Bargain Outlet will again present the benefit for the Alzheimer’s Association. Racing will begin at 7 p.m. The rain date is Thursday, July 31.

For the third straight year, Sprint Cars will race for $5,000 to-win! The 30-lap feature will pay $300 to-start. Also once again this year, the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modified will be sanctioned by the BRP Tour and will race for $2,000 to-win!

“This is a great event to remember Lou featuring the two divisions he made his mark in over the years,” stated fifth year Sharon GM Dave Willoughby. “Hopefully we get good weather for it as it was disappointing to lose the Ohio All Star Sprint Speedweek event last month for the second straight year. We look forward to the fans and racers turning out to support and enjoy this event.”

There has yet to be a repeat winner in the five prior “Lou Blaney Memorial” Sprint Car events! Tony Stewart, who just made a successful return to Sprint Car racing last Friday night winning a “360” event in Michigan, won the inaugural event in 2009. Mike Lutz was the first local winner taking the 2010 version for Jim Chappel. Texan Sam Hafertepe, Jr. won in 2011, while Californian Brad Sweet, who now races with the World of Outlaws, was victorious in 2012. Last year, two-time track champion Jack Sodeman, Jr. became the second local driver to win the prestigious event.

Dave Blaney, a winner of 27 Sprint Car features at Sharon in addition to two Modified mains, would certainly love to add his name as a winner to this special event, as would his brother Dale. The youngest of Lou’s sons has 13 career Sprint Car feature wins at Sharon including the 2011 Ohio All Star Speedweek event. Dale is the current All Star point leader and now has amassed 106 career wins, which is most all-time. Dave meanwhile has run Sprint Cars part-time again this season and has picked up a pair of victories including an All Star win in February in Florida at Bubba Raceway Park then on May 18 at Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex in western Pa.

While he won’t be competing, Lou’s grandson, Ryan Blaney, will be on hand to meet the fans. The youngest of the racing Blaneys is quickly making a name for himself in NASCAR. Ryan has only one career start at Sharon coming in a Limited Sprint Car several years ago. Ryan is a former PASS Super Late Model Champion and has had success in recent seasons in the NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East, Camping World Truck Series, and the Nationwide Series. In fact, Ryan was second in the Truck Series points heading into the event at Eldora Speedway.

Ed Lynch, Jr. is the speedway’s all-time leading Sprint Car winner at 50 and is expected to be part of the field. Unfortunately Sodeman won’t be able to repeat last year’s victory as the 12-time Sharon winner broke his leg in an accident at Lernerville Speedway on July 15. Other local racers like Lutz, Carl Bowser, Eric Williams, Brandon Spithaler, Adam Kekich, Dan Kuriger, Brandon and Brent Matus, and several others are expected. Central Pa. racer Billy Dietrich will be behind the wheel of Skip Dougherty’s #27. Several Ohio teams are expected to participate as well.

Note to Sprint Car teams: the national Sprint Car Hoosier Tire rule will be in effect, qualifying time trials will be used, and there will be a limited amount of methanol available at the speedway.

“410” Sprint Car Feature Purse: 1. $5,000 2. $2,500 3. $1,200 4. $1,000 5. $800 6. $700 7. $650 8. $600 9. $550 10. $500 11. $400 12. $375 13. $350 14. $340 15. $330 16. $320 17. $310 18-24. $300. $100 Tow/Non-Qualifier.

There has yet to be a repeat “Lou Blaney Memorial” winner in the Modifieds either! New York legend Jack Johnson captured the 2009 race, while local Ohio drivers Jim Rasey and Rob Kristyak stole the thunder in 2010 and 2011. Kevin Bolland won the prestigious event in 2012 and fellow western Pa. racer Dave Murdick joined him in 2013. The locals have won four straight “Lou Blaney Memorials”, will an outsider end that trend?

The BRP Tour has run three events to date in 2014 with three different winners including Rex King, Lonny Riggs, and Murdick, but it’s Rex King, Jr. atop the standings. The youngest King also leads the Sharon points with a division-high four wins.

Sharon has been the site of 16 BRP Tour events over the years with Rasey and King tied with the most victories at four. Bolland and the retired Ron Smoker each have three wins, while single victories have gone to Steve Feder, Riggs, Murdick, and most recently Ricky Richner in last year’s “Russ King Memorial”.

The Lou Blaney Memorial T-shirts are on sale now as well as on the night of the event. T-shirts are $18 and all proceeds benefit the ALZ Association. Shirts can be purchased at www.dbracing10.com or www.emleighsandmamabs.com.

Friends of Lou Blaney will again attend the Memorial Event to help celebrate the life and accomplishments of the Hall of Fame driver, who won more than 600 feature victories during a five-decade career. The legend has at least 121 Modified wins and another 11 documented in a Sprint Car at Sharon alone. Blaney passed away in 2009 after battling Alzheimer’s.

Tickets are on sale by calling Kate Blaney at 330-240-8975 or by going to SharonSpeedway.com. Advance ticket holders will be granted admission one hour earlier at 3 p.m. for preferred seating. Grandstand gates will open for all others at 4 p.m. Warm-ups will begin at 6:10 followed by time trials. Racing will begin at 7 p.m. Adult grandstand admission is $22. Kids 13 and under are free. Pit passes are $35.

Sharon Speedway is owned by the Blaney, Weller, and Kirila Families and is a 3/8-mile dirt track located on Custer-Orangeville Road in Hartford, Ohio near the intersection of Routes 7 & 305. For more information, check out the website at www.sharonspeedway.com or call 330-772-5481. Become a fan of Sharon Speedway on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sharonspeedway and follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/sharonspdwy.