Weekend focus on Williams Grove, Outlaws
Most area race fans are focused on Williams Grove Speedway this weekend where the World of Outlaws compete.
Tonight’s program pays the winner $12,000. There’s an additional $5,000 prize to the driver that claims the Morgan Cup, honoring deceased track owner Morgan Hughes.
Joey Saldana leads the Outlaw points entering the week trailed by Paul McMahan, Donny Schatz and Daryn Pittman. The top six drivers are separated by just 150 points. Schatz won last May’s Williams Grove outlaw event.
The outlaws visited Lincoln Speedway Thursday evening. PA Posse driver Stevie Smith scored an $8,000 victory. Greg Hodnett finished second with Daryn Pittman third. The trio finished under a blanket.
Young Freddie Rahmer qualified for his first Outlaw feature which made his father proud. Overall the Rahmers had a great night as winner Smith piloted a car owned by Fred Sr. Weather played a small part during the evening as light rain during qualifying changed track conditions, forcing the track crew back into service.
Lincoln Speedway is dark this evening because of the Williams Grove Outlaw event. Next week the Adams County oval presents the Hilly Rife Memorial sprint car race, which pays the winner an increased purse.
Port Royal Speedway is dark tonight, returning to action next Saturday with the Fallen Heroes Championships. The sprint cars go 25 laps for $5,000 to win. Late model racers cover 25 laps and earn $2,000. The 305 sprint cars also will see an increased purse.
The Fallen Heroes event honors the memory of racers who have died at the Juniata County oval. The first fatality occurred in 1947 when Frank Blaney perished. Harold Swarmer and Hal Hoose were lost in a separate crashes during the 1958 season. Strodes Mills driver Denny Snyder perished in 1972. Mechanic Randy Thompson from Jim Nace’s race team died as a result of a pit accident in 1973. It should be noted that Harold Swarmer is the brother of the late Pete Swarmer from Ferguson Valley, Lewistown.
Selinsgrove Speedway hosts the Empire Sprint Club tonight for a 25-lap championship race which pays the winner $3,000. Also on the program are the late models, pro stocks and roadrunners. Action starts at 7 p.m.
McClure driver Brad Mitch has won four pro stock features so far this season at the Snyder County oval. T.J. Stutts has dominated Empire Sprint Club action, having won three of the last four Empire races run at Selinsgrove.
With the United Racing Company scheduled to run last night at Bedford, there should be extra 360 sprint cars in the region this weekend available to race at Selinsgrove.
While on the subject of Bedford, it will be in action twice over the Memorial Day weekend. Next Friday the Three States Late Model series invades for the running of the Johnny Grum Memorial event. On May 26 the track features limited late models, 305 sprint cars and vintage modified stock car racing.
Hagerstown Speedway operates tonight with a full program of stock cars starting at 7.
Beaver Springs Dragway has a four-day Memorial Day weekend planned starting next Friday night and continuing through Monday. Highlights of the week end include a 200 mph jet tractor big rig truck and the Southern Bracket Racing Association series. Visit beaversprings.com for show times and information.
Long time MRN Radio Network announcer Eli Gold is being inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame today for his work in racing and other sports. Gold remains the play-by-play announcer for Alabama Crimson Tide football and previously covered professional baseball and hockey. Gold joined MRN in 1976.
Susquehanna Speedway near Newberrytown celebrates 60 years of racing this weekend. The original opening day was set for May 16, 1954. Rain forced the program to be run May 23. This evening’s event features late models, classic cars and street stocks. Race time is set for 7 p.m.
The Petty family has especially been hit hard by tragedy this spring. Earlier Richard Petty’s wife passed and now brother Maurice lost his wife, Patricia, on May 11.
Kurt Busch has been shuttling between Indianapolis and Charlotte as he attempts to compete in the Indy 500 and Coca Cola 600 next weekend. Reports indicate Busch is adapting well to the Indy cars. A back up driver will be on standby for Busch at Charlotte in case of late arrival.
Are race fans changing their viewing habits and attendance of racing programs? Viewership for the recent Talladega race was down 5 percent, drawing an overall 4.4 rating and 6.9 million viewers. The race saw its ratings drop 14 percent overall since 2012. Despite that, the broadcast was the second highest sports telecast on any TV network that weekend next to the Kentucky Derby.
It seems fans are returning to their local tracks where it is more affordable and fan friendly to attend.
Until next week, please drive safely!
Craig Rutherford writes about motorsports for The Sentinel.