LOCAL AUTO RACING: 2014 promises to be exciting for central Pennsylvania sprint cars
SELINSGROVE - With several driver retirements, driver changes and an influx of younger drivers, it's set to be an exciting season in the 410 sprint cars in the central Pennsylvania region in 2014.
"I think this is a pretty exciting year, not only at Lincoln, but all of central Pa.," said Alan Kreitzer, who owns and promotes Lincoln Speedway, along with brothers Bob and Don Leiby. "It seems to me like it is wide open. Fred (Rahmer's) retired, Greg (Hodnett) and Lance (Dewease) are both in new rides. I really think it's open for somebody to get their act together and do well. It's going to be fun. Who knows who it will be? There are a lot of different scenarios. It's going to be an interesting year and somebody could really step up and make a name for themselves this year. There are a lot of big races, too. It's going to be a fun year around here."
WILLIAMS GROVE SPEEDWAY
The Grove will celebrate its 75th anniversary season in 2014 with a March 28 opener featuring the 410 and 358 sprint cars.
The Grove will pay $3,600 to win a regular 25-lap sprint car feature once again this season, with bonus money available including $10 per lap led; a $500 bonus to a winner that started in rows four, five or six; a $1,000 bonus to a winner that starts outside row six.
Plenty of special, higher-paying shows dot the Grove's schedule once again this year. The World of Outlaws visit three times for double-header weekends including one in May, the Summer Nationals in July and the $50,000 to win National Open in October.
The Grove title should be up for grabs. All-time champion and win leader Fred Rahmer has retired. Other former champions Lance Dewease and Greg Hodnett will not likely run for the title. Four-time track champion Donny Kreitz won the most races there last season and could be a title threat if he decides to run all the races.
PORT ROYAL SPEEDWAY
The biggest announcement out of Port Royal so far this season is the return of the World of Outlaw Sprint Car STP Series on Oct. 25.
It will be the fourth season that Steve O'Neal and his promotional team have run things at the Juniata County track.
The 410 sprints will be the headline division on Saturday nights, along with the super late models. Port Royal has started a new division called the 355 econo late models. The cars have super late model chassis, but have limited motors, shocks and other parts to keep costs down.
Selinsgrove's Blane Heimbach beat Harrisburg's Chad Layton for the sprint car championship in 2013. It was Heimbach's first career 410 sprint car title.
Port Royal's all-time win leader and champion Keith Kauffman has retired and veteran racer Doug Esh will take over the Heckman Tree Farm No. 8H this season.
More improvements were made this season, including removal of the old tin fence in turns one and two. It has been replaced with steel guardrail that is nine rows high.
The Adams County track kicked off sprint car season last weekend with Adam Wilt getting the win. The Outlaws visit Lincoln in May and
again in July. Hometown driver Danny Dietrich, of Gettysburg, has beaten the Outlaws the past two seasons.
However, the date that jumps off Lincoln's schedule is the "Dirt Classic presented by Kasey Kahne" on Saturday, Sept. 27. The unsanctioned event for the 410s will pay $20,000 to win.
PENNSYLVANIA SPRINT CAR SPEEDWEEK
This year's Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek will once again start at Williams Grove on Friday night, June 27. The series heads to Lincoln Speedway from there for the Kevin Gobrecht Memorial on Saturday night. Fred Rahmer will promote Speedweek's third stop at Path Valley Speedway on Sunday night.
From there, it's off on Monday night before Grandview Speedway on Tuesday, July 1, and Hagerstown (Md.) on Wednesday, July 2. The series heads to Port Royal for its first of two shows on Thursday night, July 3, and then the Mitch Smith Memorial at the Grove on Friday, July 4. They head back to Port Royal on Saturday night and head to Selinsgrove Speedway for the Jan Opperman Memorial to conclude Speedweek.
Greg Hodnett of Thomasville is the defending Speedweek champion.
USAC EASTERN STORM
The USAC Sprint Car Eastern Storm begins on Tuesday night, June 3 at Grandview Speedway followed by a return to Lincoln Speedway on Wednesday, June 4. The URC 360 sprints join the USAC Sprints at Lincoln for a winged/wingless double-header.
The series heads to New Egypt Speedway (N.J.) for a Thursday night, June 5 date. Port Royal Speedway will host the Eastern Storm for the second straight season on Saturday, June 7, and it concludes at Susquehanna Speedway Park on Sunday night, June 8.