Speedway honors Clark on Saturday
PORT ROYAL — Port Royal Speedway has been honoring Living Legends of the speedway with its annual race for the past 10 years.
This year was a little different.
Promoter Steve O’Neal decided to honor the legacy of the man that helped guide the speedway back from the brink and turn it into one of the top racing facilities in the country.
The late Juniata Co. Fairboard president Don Clark hired O’Neal to run the speedway at the end of the 2010 racing season when Clark became the fairboard president.
It was a very special night for O’Neal as he honored his friend. The pairing began with a November 2010 kitchen table meeting at Clark’s house.
“Don Clark was one of the most honest men I ever met in my life,” O’Neal said. “He told me, you come back and run the races, and I’ll leave you alone, and I’ll run the fair. I knew I could take his word and that’s exactly how it was.”
O’Neal ran the speedway for several years in the late 90’s as well.
“Don also had a vision for this place just like I did,” O’Neal said. “Something this community could be proud of. I knew he wanted to see it grow and have people come back here. It gives me goose bumps to think about our meeting that night to where we’re at right now. He loved his family. All of Don’s family is here. It has been a privilege to work with this board of directors because they have the same vision, too. These people work hard and all the credit goes to these people.”
With the support of the fairboard, O’Neal and Clark brought the speedway back from the verge of extinction.
The turnaround has been tremendous. Fans and teams flock to the speedway once again.
Unfortunately, Clark lost his battle with cancer over the winter months. O’Neal has dedicated the season to him.
It was only appropriate that Clark be honored and he was Saturday night.
His widow, Brenda, along with the rest of his family, were presented with the Living Legends Dream race legacy award. Current fairboard president Seth Koser, who was hand-picked by Clark, was also presented an award.
The plaque read: “Don Clark in recognition of dedication and support to continue the dream of Port Royal Speedway.”
That wasn’t the only honor. The biggest off-season project at the track was a new tunnel under turn one.
A sign -The Donald G. “Don” Clark Tunnel of Dreams – will be hung in the tunnel honoring Clark.
“Don had a dream; I had a dream, this fair board is carrying on that dream,” O’Neal said. “It’s not just a tunnel down there. What this means to me is when you walk in or out of that tunnel, everything that has happened on these grounds for the past 10 years is part of that sign. Through his leadership of this board, and the hard work of this board, it’s everything that has been accomplished and that’s what the living legend dream means.”
Current fairboard members and Clark’s entire family joined together for photos in victory lane with their awards and the sign.
O’Neal couldn’t do it alone as he assembled a great team and had support from Clark and the fairboard along the way.
Clark loved the speedway and fortunately got to see it turn into one of the best dirt track racing facilities in the country.
The race itself, however, was unfortunately postponed as heavy rain hit the speedway just before the main events.
The Living Legends Dream Race for the sprint cars will be made up on Saturday, Aug. 22 and the Late model feature will be made up on Sept. 5.
Two-time and defending Sprint car track champion Logan Wagner will start on the pole with 2017 track champion Brock Zearfoss starting second. Brent Marks and Lance Dewease share row two with Tyler Bear and Anthony Macri in row three. Steve Buckwalter, TJ Stutts, Ryan Smith and Dave Blaney complete the top 10 starters.
Zearfoss set quick time over the 31-car field with a lap of 16.157. Wagner, Ryan Smith, Anthony Macri and Dewease were in the top five. TJ Stutts, Brent Marks, Tyler Bear, Steve Buckwalter and Dave Blaney rounded out the top 10 in qualifying.
Dewease won the first 16-lap semi-feature. He took the lead from Marks with three laps to go as Marks was forced to check-up behind a slower car entering turn one. Dewease took advantage and raced inside of Marks taking the lead and onto the $2,000 win.
Marks, Zearfoss, Buckwalter and Smith completed the top five. Ryan Taylor, AJ Flick, Jeff Miller, Kyle Reinhardt and Justin Whittall rounded out the top 10 and transferred to the main event.
Macri won the second 16-lap semi-feature. Tyler Bear led the first 11 laps before Logan Wagner took the lead. Wagner got caught behind a slower car in three and four allowing Macri to make an inside pass and go onto the win. Wagner, Bear, TJ Stutts and Dave Blaney completed the top five. Jared Esh, Mike Wagner, Blane Heimbach, Jeff Halligan and Kody Lehman rounded out the top 10.
The top three from each semi redrew for the 30-lap main event.
Dylan Cisney won the B-main over Paulie Colagiovanni, Jason Solwold and Kyle Smith.