The third Dream Race Extreme is upon us at Port Royal Speedway.
Previous winners are Sean Michael and Greg Hodnett. This year's race pays the winner $15,000 to win. Second place is worth $9,000 and third pays $6,000.
Each starter receives $1,000 upon taking the green flag. There will be other activities going on during the day including Cody Darrah's race simulator and Gary Pyle's steam engine for fans to see.
Sue Pontius has worked hard to secure several sponsors and fastest car in time trials will have a nice payoff. Other awards will be given to drivers based on their time trial. It should be a good night for all. Time trials start at 7 p.m. tonight.
Some folks may not like the fact that the top payoffs have been reduced but given the economy we live in, it's still a big deal. There aren't many local races that pay a $1,000 to start let alone $15,000 to win. With Lincoln Speedway taking the night off, a full field of the best cars from central Pennsylvania is expected.
I have to share a story with you but before I start I must tell you these guys are not normally on my radar screen because they race micros. Many of you know of my involvement in Port Royal and Bedford speedways where sprint cars and stock cars are the norm.
Last weekend I visited with some area racers. This story is interesting for several reasons.
First, the main characters became friends and later business partners after meeting at work. They are involved in sand blasting and powder coat painting. They also do excavating work primarily at Rockview State Correctional Facility near State College. They live in the Milroy/Reedsville area.
Rob Grassmyer is an officer at the prison but is very involved in racing. His shop is a one-bay garage behind his home in Milroy. He fields a micro sprint racer that races at Clinton County and Path Valley speedways. Matt Carter, another corrections officer at Rockview, is the driver.
Grassymer also owns a 305 sprint car which is driven by Lewistown's Ronnie Aurand. That car is kept elsewhere. Last season Grassmyer also attempted to field a 410 sprint car with an engine purchased from Bolger Racing but after deciding his resources were stretched, Grassmyer decided to stick with micros and 305s for 2009.
As I walked around the shop, I couldn't help but notice a verse of scripture from the Bible on the micro sprint's wing.
"We're Christians. But we also have fun," Grassmyer said. "The scripture verses we put on our cars have some relation to racing such as we are told that God didn't make us with timid hearts."
The current verse on the micro wing was 2 Timothy 1:7.
"In the past we had a verse from 2 Corinthians concerning running a good race," Grassmyer added.
How did Grassmyer get his start in the sport? By watching it.
"I saw a sprint car race at Williams Grove," he said.
That was in 2004. By 2006, Grassmyer owned a micro sprint.
Eric Orndorf is Grassmyer's business partner. He also is an officer at Rockview. Orndorf owns a micro sprint driven by his 17-year-old son Trevor who will be a senior at Indian Valley High School this fall.
Orndorf plans to play football and has run track. He hopes to enlist in the military following graduation. He has been racing for five years and has three years experience in micro sprints. Trevor started racing at Selinsgrove Speedway's go-kart/micro track.
"It was the only track with a junior class," Eric stated. "We were going to buy a four-wheeler and were looking for something the family could do together. The family attended some racing action together and went to the track to help Grassmyer's team."
Eric's wife felt it could be fun and the next thing the family was looking to purchase a micro sprint.
"We priced four-wheelers and got a micro sprint instead," joked Eric. "In micros it's more of a driver's deal than sprint cars."
The family will run a limited schedule the rest of this season and hope to move up to a 305 sprint car in 2010. Their shop is the two-bay garage attached to their home.
Grassmyer, Orndorf, and Carter are not the only Rockview personnel that are involved in racing. Corrections Officer Dave Lucas is racing go-karts in the Clearfield area.
I am glad to tell the stories for these folks story because there are a lot of local people racing go-karts, 305 sprint cars and micro sprints in our area. Since I don't get out to their tracks that often, I don't know them. I'm glad I got to meet these folks. They help make racing possible and will work their way up in time. There's more folks like them out there in our area.
The sprint car summit came and went in Pittsburgh a couple weeks ago and here's what I've learned:
Look for bigger fuel cells next year and an increase in the weight limit by 50 pounds in the major sanctioning organization.
I have been informed Goodyear has tentatively won a contract to supply rear tires for some sanctioning bodies with a compound rule. There may be a different plan formulated for Pennsylvania and one track operator is already exploring options.
It is going to be interesting to say the least. I'll keep you informed as more information becomes available.
That's going to do it for this week. I'll be back next time with more news and opinions. Please drive safely!
Craig Rutherford is a Sentinel correspondent. He is affiliated with Port Royal Speedway.