The points battles remain close at Port Royal Speedway. Chad Layton is 15 points ahead of Rick Lafferty in sprint car action. John Heane holds a 45-point lead over Dan Berry in pro stock competition. The most interesting battle is in the late model class, where Scotty Haus remains 105 points ahead of Tim Wilson.
Despite the fact the gap is wider in late models than other classes, if any thing dramatic is going to happen, I think this is where it will be. In fact, there's been a lot of drama already.
Wilson led the late model points quite awhile before Haus overtook him. Wilson's had a run of bad luck. Haus has been fortunate most of the year. Yet Wilson continues to stand like Rocky in one of the movies, living to fight another day.
Last week was the most dramatic week yet. This story is one most fans don't know and once they hear it, they might tell it to the next generation in years to come. Wilson moved quickly toward the front and was running second early in the feature. Contact took place with another car and Wilson circled the raceway under caution. Something didn't feel right in the front end. It didn't come from the contact on the track.
The damage likely was caused from an earlier crash at Selinsgrove Speedway. Wilson's championship hopes could have ended right there. The problem was the control arm on the front suspension was torn loose from the frame. You can't very well drive, let alone race a car like that. Wilson did.
"I went to the pit area and the control arm was torn from the frame. I couldn't think of any way to fix it quick and then I just took a ratchet strap and ratcheted the control arm tight to the frame," he explained. "I went back out there and stayed in the back four or five laps because I didn't want to hurt any one. It felt alright and was staying put so i decided to go for it."
Wilson came from the rear to finish seventh and didn't lose any points to Haus, allowing him two more shots to win the title. Wilson knows he has his work cut out for him, but also knows it can be done. Haus may have to have some misfortune along the way, but one thing for sure, Wilson is going to try.
Wilson has extra laps tonight and is the defending champion of the Butch Renninger Memorial race. I'm not ready to count him out. Haus has won the title six times. Wilson is seeking his first. Both are champions in my book and Port Royal will be proud to have either of them as the winner. Good luck guys.
Waylon Wagner has been fast at Port Royal. Last week though, the late model driver hit a snag - the bottom end of Wagner's engine disintegrated while running second in the feature. In fact, parts were lying on the racetrack. Wagner should be ready to go this evening with another motor. That's the good news. The other motor is done for now.
Tonight the sprint cars, late models, pro stocks and enduro cars race at Port Royal. Action starts at 7:30 p.m. It's the final points race for the enduro cars. There will be added purse for the late models, enduro and pro stocks.
The late models take center stage this evening as the seventh annual Butch Renninger Memorial race will be run. The winning late model driver will earn at least $2,200. Drivers must have 10 races to be eligible to compete. The feature will be 33 laps.
The Auto Racing Club of Hagerstown, Md., will be on hand to present awards to winning drivers. If you are an ARCH member, show your membership card to save $2 on the purchase of general admission tickets. Kids have a chance to win one of 50 bicycles that will be given away at intermission. Some one is also going to win a half-scale late model capable of reaching speeds in excess of 85 mph.
I have to comment on Butch Renninger. He was a man who taught many of us a lot. His stabilizing effect is lacking and sorely needed right now at Port Royal Speedway. Renninger showed us how to live and enjoy life. Having fun was a priority, but so were family and friends. Racing was done first, then the fun came after ward.
I could write a book on funny stories involving Butch Renninger. More important to me was that I got to know him and become friends. His spirit never left the Port Royal Speedway family and never will. Tonight we honor him.
Congratulations to Robin and Mitch Hack on the birth of their son Aug. 24. Brady Mitchell Hack joined us around 11 p.m. Tuesday night. Mitch is third in late model points at Port Royal Speedway.
The Selinsgrove Speedway 358 sprint car National Open is Sept. 4. NRG Controls has posted additional money and the winner will now earn at least $8,000 dollars to win. Some 410 drivers are entering the race including Mark Smith, who has been sponsored by NRG in the past.
Bedford Speedway hosts a five-division show of late models, limited late models, street stocks, cruiser hobby and 4-cylinder cars next Friday night. Race time is 7:15.
Packer Concessions and longtime mechanic Fred Grenoble will again have race cars on display Tuesday at the Grange Fair in Centre Hall. The cars of Keith Kauffman, Billy Johns and Blane Heimbach will be on display from 3 to 8 p.m.
Promoter J.R. Keiffer will host a race track meeting later this fall. Area tracks will be gathering to discuss issues and ideas and hopefully meet with representatives from the state Department of Environmental Protection who will discuss racetrack preparation.
For once I can say there is a government agency that is using its head. DEP knows it can't stop dust from racetracks and isn't trying to run anyone out of business. They want to talk about what they can live with and how all tracks can get to that point. I would urge track operators to attend the meeting just for that reason alone.
Last week the URC sprint cars were at Bedford and URC officials had their hands full with irate drivers after Becca Anderson was moved back two spots in the field while under yellow for inconsiderate driving practices. I was at the show and most drivers supported Anderson, who tried a slider move on J.J. Grasso that didn't work. Grasso later had steering failure and while under yellow Anderson was put back. Other drivers felt Grasso should have let off the gas and was being overly aggressive himself. To me it was just racing.
URC has stated it doesn't want to have to police drivers that way but will. It does not want race cars busted up as they are a traveling series and need car count like every one else. To that extent URC plans to police the teams and did. I do not think Anderson did it on purpose. She's not that kind of racer.
That's going to do it for this week. Until next week, please drive safely!
Craig Rutherford writes about motorsports for The Sentinel. He is associated with Port Royal Speedway.