Port Royal set to kick off (again) tonight

Hello again race fans. Weather has been a major headache in Central Pennsylvania and only Lincoln Speedway has raced the last couple weeks. That should change this evening.

Port Royal Speedway kicks off the 2013 campaign today starting at 5 p.m. Scheduled to compete are sprint cars, late models and pro stocks. A kids’ Easter egg hunt is also planned.

At Lincoln Speedway action will get underway at 6 with 410 and 358 sprint cars plus thunder cars.

Selinsgrove Speedway has a regular show planned this evening – 358 sprint cars and late models are the headline classes.

Last week Hagerstown Speedway was unable to complete last years “Brawl in the Fall” makeup for sprint cars, late models and modifieds. This is the second time the Hub City oval has not been able to race this spring and officials are unsure when they will make up the date. Race teams have been told it may not be until this fall.

NASCAR Sprint Cup teams have the week off for Easter and that will give some drivers a week end off. Not all drivers though – locally, Hartford, Ohio, native Dave Blaney campaigned a 410 sprint car at Williams Grove Speedway Friday.

This evening Blaney intends to race at Port Royal for the first time in many years. Blaney is a former Tuscarora 50 winner at the track and knows his way around the speedway. Normally Blaney will race a Roush Racing engine in his sprint car but he doesn’t have it for this weekend. Heffner Racing which is fielding a car this season for Lance Dewease, apparently loaned Blaney an engine to compete. Jason Leffler is expected to race this evening at Lincoln.

I attended the annual celebrity bartender charity night Thursday evening, which benefits Port Royal Speedway kids activities and Kids Night each season. The Trackside Restaurant in Mifflin hosted the event and a large crowd attended. Owner Wade Cleck and manager Tom Little had something for everyone including a DJ and plenty of race car drivers came by to help out.

Late model Rookie of the Year Trent Brenneman along with fellow late model drivers Terry Naugle, track champion Tim Wilson and Jamie Brown, who represented Patrick Bryner, helped out. Also in the stock car contingent was Enduro driver Ryan “Pete” Leister. The sprint car division was represented by Keith Kauffman and rookie Cody Sieber. WJUN Radio personality Mel Thomas also was seen serving. It was fun to watch these folks deliver food and beverages while enjoying themselves.

It was a chance to learn a few things, too.

Cody Sieber has two cars and plenty of spare parts to start the season but he is taking a sensible approach to his rookie year. Sieber plans to race as hard as possible while taking care of the equipment in hopes of completing the year not being out of money or equipment.

Terry Naugle is set to race with two Mastersbilt Cars by Huey. Naugle purchased another car this winter and when inquiring how the car drove and what he would need to do with them when approaching the corners he was told to drive it as one would on the street. Needless to say Naugle was skeptical until bug day when he found he was correctly informed, much to his surprise. Naugle also has plenty of horsepower as two Phil Miller Racing engines are at his disposal. A 421 cubic inch and a 430 cubic inch engine are ready to go. Naugle plans to compete on Hoosier Tires.

Tim Wilson has one car from last season and another new Mastersbilt car that he is working with for the new year.

Eric Zembower purchased a Phil Miller Ford engine from Scotty Haus and was busy in the shop this week installing it for this evening’s program.

Car owner Ed Powell is back and will bring two race cars to Port Royal’s late model class each week. Former multiple-season track champion Steve Campbell of Sunbury will return to Port Royal on a regular basis. Selinsgrove Speedway pro stock driver A. J. Hoffman is moving up and will drive for Powell at Port Royal.

And I have learned former late model driver Dave Kepner has purchased a pro stock and intends to return to the racing wars.

It appears there will be plenty of cars to start the season at the Juniata County oval.

In another note of interest former late model, ARCA and NASCAR driver Graham Taylor is going drag racing and I would expect he will turn up at Beaver Springs Dragway. Taylor is from Port Royal.

Trackside staff also informed me they will host a special Saturday morning event April 27 at 7:30 a.m. for the All-Star Circuit of Champions’ visit to Port Royal for the Bob Weikert Memorial event. The program will include drivers, race cars and a remote radio broadcast.

One final note: Lewistown Late Model driver Mike Mort is planning to travel more in his racing endeavors this season. Mort purchased another race car during the off season.

And so it’s off to the races tonight. We’ve waited a long time to see it. Be safe and have fun at the speedway of your choice.


Craig Rutherford writes about motorsports for The Sentinel.