The past few weeks the auto racing community has suffered through some trying times with the passing of a few racers, both locally and nationally, and possible season-ending injuries to former NASCAR champion and dirt track star, Tony Stewart, but Saturday night is slated to be a celebration of a "true legend."

Known locally, nationally and internationally, Keith Kauffman, who will be retiring from racing at season's end, will be honored by Port Royal Speedway.

Kauffman, who is 63 years old, known as "The Man from Mifflintown" to his legion of fans, started his spectacular racing career in 1970, and graced victory lanes across the United States and Australia. Sprint cars, midgets, late models, USAC Champ Cars - if it had wheels on it, Kauffman drove it and won with it.

Throughout his storied career, Kauffman ran for some of the best car owners in the business, both locally and nationally, amassing 25 feature wins on the All Star Circuit of Champions trail, five feature wins chasing the World of Outlaws Series, one USAC Silver Crown Champ Car win and numerous other victories across the U.S., In total, Kauffman amassed more than 300 sprint car wins.

One constant though was his affection for his hometown track of Port Royal Speedway.

His records at the Juniata County Fairgrounds will most likely go unbroken - 13 sprint car track titles, 130 total sprint car wins and two late model victories. One must also realize that those numbers would probably be larger, but Kauffman was a touring pro for many years with the All Stars and WoO Series, so for many years he may have only raced a few times at his home track.

A glance at the records of the 2004 National Sprint Car Hall of Fame inductee also indicate he found plenty of success at other area tracks, totaling 51 feature wins and two sprint car titles at Williams Grove Speedway and he also won track titles at Selinsgrove, Susquehanna and Hagerstown Speedways throughout the years.

Port Royal Speedway, just a stone's throw from Kauffman's Mifflintown home, will honor him in many special ways. The first sprint car he ever drove will be on display. Fans are asked to wear Keith Kauffman t-shirts (the older, the better), and many former car owners including Al Hamilton, the Bob Weikert family, John Groninger and others will honor him. Former driver and close friend, Ohio's Kenny Jacobs, will also be on hand to salute one of the greatest drivers to ever grace our racetracks.

A three-division show will be a part of the Keith Kauffman Farewell Tribute Special, as the 410 sprint cars will race 33 laps for $5,000 to win, the late models will run for $2,100 in a 21-lap feature event and the enduro cars will round out the night. Numerology played into the features, as a sprint numbered K-33 was one of his early successful mounts and the No. 21 late model carried him to his two late model wins.

In reflection of season's past, I have been lucky to have had the pleasure of watching Keith wheel around our area tracks over the years, getting to know him personally, and one of my prized possessions happens to be a picture with Keith in Big Diamond victory lane from a few years back, when I was an official at that track.

In race action throughout the area this weekend, Big Diamond hosts its three weekly divisions of 358 modifieds, sportsman and roadrunners, along with the popular Coca-Cola Challenge match races for the modifieds. The match races are a one-on- one, one-lap shootout featuring the top 11 in points. Williams Grove is also in action tonight presenting twin-20's for the 410 sprint cars. Time trials and qualifying events will set the field for the 20-lap features.

On Saturday, Williams Grove showcases its popular $5 Saturday Night Series of winged super sportsman, limited late models and street stocks. ...Hagerstown Speedway hosts a Small Fry Night, featuring the pure stocks, late model sportsman and hobby stocks. ...Lincoln Speedway hosts a sprint car doubleheader featuring the 358 sprint cars, 410 sprint cars and an exhibition featuring some of the cars from the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing. ...Grandview Speedway hosts a three division show of 358 modifieds, sportsman and limited late models.

Selinsgrove Speedway hosts its weekly four-division card of 358 sprint cars, late models, pro stocks and roadrunners, as the points races come to a close in a few short weeks. Tickets are still available for the upcoming Labor Day weekend, two-day World of Outlaws Late Models special. Tickets can be purchased by phone at 374-2999 or at the track office on raceday.