Hello again race fans. Happy Easter to all.
I could tell you about all the racing that's scheduled this weekend. The real story is weather so I'm not going to talk about racing that's not likely to happen. There are some other items of interest in our area that do merit coverage.
It's been awhile since I mentioned much about go kart racing. However, it's alive and well in Mifflin and Juniata counties.
I visited yesterday with Johnny Strawser of McAlisterville and Rob Boyer of Port Royal. Some of you are familiar with both. The pair have teamed with Mifflintown Airport owner Bruce Lisle to bring asphalt go kart racing back to Juniata County in 2011.
It's happened before. The Port Royal Street races were a big deal until liability insurance issues ended racing in the mid-1980s. The street races went on from from around 1976 to 1985 or '86. National drivers Michael and Jeff Andretti and others came to the area for those shows.
From 1982-86, Mifflintown Airport hosted racing that attracted the area's future dirt track stars. Todd Shaffer, Jeff Strunk, Kevin Gobrecht, Daryl Stimeling. Chris and Matt Shuey, Jeff and Judd Shepard and Lance Dewease all have tried their hand on the 1/3-mile tri-oval constructed out of the airport runway and support roads. Speeds will reach 70 mph when karting resumes.
Strawser is expecting entries from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Connecticut, Ohio, New York and New Jersey, perhaps further. Plans include 18 classes and nostalgia karts from days gone by. That is unique to most go kart programs.
The American Kart Racing Association will sanction the three-race show which will be run Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day weekends. General admission will be free to fans. A Facebook page for information has been set up under "kart a rama series."
The Memorial Day and July 4 programs will pare down the field to a 32-car money race that pays the winner at least $1,500 for a 20-lap feature event. Lap money is also being collected.
It's been a big task organizing the project. Businesses have committed to help sponsor the event.They have also been busy lining up racers to compete. Local drivers Denny and Jason Nace plan to race. Denny Nace is a former late model driver at Port Royal Speedway. Former great Roger Stutts will also be in action. A motorcycle stunt show team will be on hand Labor Day weekend. Other special events are in the works.
It sounds like Strawser and Boyer have their act together and are going to make it work. I wish them well.
If that's not enough, the Middle Road Speedway near Lewistown Country Club will offer go kart racing in addition to lawn mower racing in 2011. They were scheduled to have a practice session last Saturday but weather put a damper on things.
Highlights on the schedule there include a Relay for Life race on May 14, an Outreach race on June 4 and charity events Aug. 20 and Oct. 22. Most dates are tractor racing only; a complete schedule is available for that track on Facebook as well, under "Middle Road Speedway."
I planned to attend and get more information. I will follow up on this venue and let you know what's going on. I hope they do well.
Now let's talk about some other news.
Port Royal Speedway will host Guy Webb's All Star Circuit of Champions sprint cars for the Bob Weikert Memorial Race next week. If you want to see the All Stars then Port Royal is the place to do it. The $20 general admission ticket is cheap. Florida ticket prices for the same show were double that.
Tyler Walker will run a Weikert replica car in the race. Todd Weikert is one of the best guys going and will have give aways plus cash money from companies his firm does business with.
As for regular weekly racing at Port Royal, there have been some changes. Drivers will draw for starting positions in heat races. The top two finishers in each heat race will redraw for feature starting spots.
Also, drivers may opt for a financial bonus by choosing to give up the starting spot he or she is entitled to and take the feature green from the 11th spot (or further back, if multiple drivers choose this option). If any of the drivers who are eligible choose this option, the others will move ahead in the starting lineup. Any starter who is in the 11th position or further back will be eligible to claim the bonus cash by winning the race.
Why did this happen? Because the track needs race cars - every track is down on car count so far this season. Was it a good move? It depends on who you ask. Many professional sprint car drivers love it. Some late model drivers view it as a gift because they can now travel to other tracks special events such as Three States Flyers shows and face no penalty when they come back to Port Royal.
Some plan to do that very thing, which seems the opposite of what the track intended. There's no good solution except to run enough divisions to put 85 to 100 cars in the pit area on a weekly basis. If that isn't achieved, local tracks will not make money. Just my opinion.
Don't forget the Lucas Oil Late Model series visits Bedford Speedway Friday night for a $10,000-to-win feature event. The best late model racers in the country will be at Bedford next week.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup teams have the weekend off for the holiday. May you and yours enjoy the weekend. I'll be back next week with more news and opinions. Until then, please drive safely!
Craig Rutherford writes about motorsports for The Sentinel.