Top drivers heading to Lincoln Speedway

Perhaps May should be included as another month of money in Central Pennsylvania auto racing. Last week the All Star Circuit of Champions visited the area and presented great shows. This week end local tracks also have special events planned.

Lincoln Speedway has the big Saturday night show in the Weldon Sterner Memorial sprint car feature, which pays the winner $6,900. The race will be 33 laps. Sterner was a masonry contractor who fielded sprint cars, most notably for Van May. Chuck Reinhart also drove for Sterner. The program should draw the area’s top drivers.

Fred Rahmer enters the Lincoln program on a roll. Rahmer leads the area in sprint car wins this season and has 13 top-five finishes out of 15 starts. That’s impressive. I expect Danny Dietrich, Brent Marks and perhaps Donnie Kreitz Jr. to be on hand in addition to the Lincoln regulars. It’s also York County Racing Club Night this evening at the pigeon hills oval. Time trials get under way at 7:30 pm.

If that’s not enough, Selinsgrove Speedway headlines the pro stock class with a 20-lap feature that pays the winner $1,000. The 358 sprint cars, late models and roadrunners also race starting tonight at 7 p.m.

At Port Royal Speedway it’s Little League and softball night and all youngsters will be showing up in their uniforms and they’ll be admitted free. The 410 sprint cars and late models are joined by the ARDC midgets for a special night of racing. Race time is 7. The pro stocks have the week off before returning next week for a championship race.

In the world of NASCAR racing all eyes are on Talladega, Ala., where the Aaron’s 499 will take place tomorrow. Race time is 1 p.m.; Fox has TV coverage starting at noon. Brad Keselowski is the defending race champion.

There’s an excellent article on Kyle Larson’s career in the week end edition of USA Today. Larson not only is competing in NASCAR but also comes out to the dirt tracks to play. Larson visited Port Royal Speedway last week where he came from the 22nd starting spot to sixth place before a spinout ended his run.

Penske Racing’s penalties were upheld this week by a three-member appeals board for failing inspection last month at Texas Motor Speedway. Confiscated rear suspension parts are at the heart of the suspension, which applies to Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, their car chiefs and seven team members. Both crew chiefs were fined $100,000.

The Trackside Restaurant hosted a highly successful race car show and meet and greet for area drivers and fans last week end. Port Royal regular Keith Kauffman was joined by All Star Circuit of Champion drivers Tim Shaffer, Dale Blaney and others. Tim Wilson represented the area’s late model drivers and local drag racer Mark Harpster was on hand with his car. All were interviewed by Jed Donahue for his sports network program.

The All Star Bob Weikert Memorial race was the best All Star show I’ve ever seen Guy Webb’s group present on Central Pennsylvania soil. Fourteen travelers came with the group and the names are impressive. There were 43 cars on hand. A large crowd packed the Juniata County oval and it was announced that the race will return to its original format since the first running. Next year’s feature will be 29 laps.

I can’t allow this weekend to pass without honoring the late Butch Renninger, who left us nine years ago this week. Renninger was a stabilizing force on the fair board and in the pit area. His life will be celebrated with the memorial race featuring the Three States Flyers late model series opening night of the Juniata County Fair.

On a personal note, I have to say thanks for the cards and words of encouragement from fans, family and friends. It was a tough week in the Rutherford family as my father, Stan, passed away. To add to our concerns my mother followed with a heart attack the day of my father’s funeral.

The Sentinel published a nice story on my father pointing out there are two of us carrying on his sports legacy. That is very true for me – if it weren’t for my dad’s involvement in local sports and his interest in auto racing I may never have made it to a race track in my life.

Along the way I met Gary Shipp, longtime coach and administrator at Greenwood High School and Bill Hubler from the Juniata County School District. Those two men hired two unknown guys together – Tommy Little and myself – at Port Royal Speedway. Little and I went on to more than 20 years of day-to-day involvement at that facility in addition to other area raceways. It never would have happened without my dad and those men. I’ll never forget it.

Until next week, please drive safely!

Craig Rutherford writes about motorsports for The Sentinel