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FightForTheRail

What is the second most famous dirt Modified race of all time?

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I have thought about this question at various times over the years. I don't think there is much dispute that the Batmobile at Syracuse in 1980 is the most famous/most iconic/most discussed dirt Modified race of all time. If we accept that premise, what is the second most famous dirt Modified race ever? i am not necessarily looking for some amazing battle for the win and really not looking for a race famous because of a fatality. But what race still gets debated and discussed years or decades after the fact because events were so memorable or controversial or impossible to believe?

I acknowledge that some of this may be based on where an individual poster watches their racing, but here are some suggestions off the top of my head. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

* 1987 Flemington (N.J.) 200: Who knows what driver really won? Tom Hager? Kevin Collins? Bob McCreadie? Somebody else?

* 1989 Super DIRT Week: Alan Johnson wins Syracuse (N.Y). from 49th after getting into the race on a dicey "dead heat" call in the last chance race.

* 1987 Lebanon Valley (N.Y.) 200: Who actually remembered that Danny Johnson won the Valley 200 after Jimmy Horton intentionally wrecked Brett Hearn out of the lead following a Hearn and Horton tangle earlier?

* 2010 Eastern States 200: Stewart Friesen gets jobbed by OCFS (N.Y.) officials, then stages an on-track protest

* 1983 Nazareth National (Pa.) 4-25s: A personal favorite of mine. Jack Johnson wins the first three of the day's four features from deep in the pack each time, then runs out of time while chasing down Dave Kelly in the fourth feature.

* 1983: Nazareth National (Pa.) $50,000 to win: Kenny Brightbill wins in a race famous for taking on Super DIRT Week at the height of Syracuse's power:

* 1992 Fulton (N.Y.) Victoria 200: Of all the amazing races from the glory days of the Victoria 200, this is the one that most stands out to me. Billy Pauch lost for the first time in six tries at the Vic the year before, but the '92 race is still the one I remember for Tom Kinsella making his own line through the infield, angering Pauch so much that he refused to even take his third-place trophy from the race.

* 1973 Reading (Pa.) 4-25s: Carl Collis at Nazareth (Pa.) and Billy Pauch at Bridgeport (N.J.) have both matched the feat of winning four big-block Modified features in one day, but Brightbill at Reading did the unthinkable when he swept the 4-25s program in October of that year.

1985 Eastern States 200: On the same weekend Richie Evans is killed in a NASCAR Modified at Martinvills (Va.), a distraught Jack Johnson starts the the Eastern States 200 at Orange County (N.Y.) from last via a provisional and wins.

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Great list there; about half of which are before my time. that 1992 Victoria sticks out to me but it is my home track. Also I think Horton should have been more upset as he was in better position to win that race in my opinion.

 

 

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That is a great list. Being from upstate NY, the 92 Victoria definitely sticks out in my mind. Pauch was definitely pissed. 

Two others are the late 80's Flemington 200 in which a virtual unknown by the name of Mike McKinney almost pulled off the huge upset. Later it was revealed that the driver was actually Roger Laureno.

Also, the 1982 Syracuse race that had Merv Treichler grab his 2nd consecutive victory, this time using a rather unique front hood scoop.

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One that sticks out to me was Syracuse not sure which year, but within the last 10-15 yrs,  when Horton took the lead from Danny Johnson looked to be cruising to the checkered, then he was snoozing at the wheel with a handful of laps to go and Johnson blasts by on the outside going into turn 3 for the win. Doesn't make it the best ever, but a great moment nonetheless.  

I just looked it up, it looks like it was the 2006 edition of SDW. 

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15 hours ago, HighPlainsDrifter said:

That is a great list. Being from upstate NY, the 92 Victoria definitely sticks out in my mind. Pauch was definitely pissed. 

Two others are the late 80's Flemington 200 in which a virtual unknown by the name of Mike McKinney almost pulled off the huge upset. Later it was revealed that the driver was actually Roger Laureno.

Also, the 1982 Syracuse race that had Merv Treichler grab his 2nd consecutive victory, this time using a rather unique front hood scoop.

That was the 1986 Flemington 200. I actually did consider the McKinney/Laureno race, then decided against it. I didn't want to have two Flemington 200s from the same period on the list. For those not familiar with that race, Laureno, who was racing under the alias of "Mike McKinney" that day, led the Flemington 200 until the final turn, when he backed off and allowed Jimmy Horton to take the win. The reason for this was that Laureno was on workman's comp from his job and did not want the publicity and photos of such a high profile win.

That is certainly a famous race, though, because of the details surrounding it.

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Before I even read your list, the first thing that came to mind was the 89 SDW race that AJ should not even been in (since he didn’t qualify). I’m sure Glenn would’ve put him in as a promoters choice regardless.

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1 hour ago, scottnorwood said:

Great list there; about half of which are before my time. that 1992 Victoria sticks out to me but it is my home track. Also I think Horton should have been more upset as he was in better position to win that race in my opinion.

 

 

Horton was also using that line in the race. At the post race press conference, Horton said he did not have any idea who was driving the blue "3" car.

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Outstanding topic. I was at a good portion of the races you listed. I was sitting in turn 4 for that 1987 Flemington 200 with my good friend Mark Garman. We would have a habit of scoring all the extra distance races we went to, keeping track of lapped cars and drop outs. To this day, with all respect to Bob McCreadie, I will swear Tom Hager won that race. That race, the flag man went back to green as soon as he had a good restart lineup, catching a good portion of the field making pitstops, thus putting them all at least one lap down. Let’s just say chaos ensued. Pretty sure that is where DIRT got the rule in extra distance races now where every caution period must have a minimum numbers of laps under yellow before they go back to green.

Also, I believe the great Al Tasnady also swept a 4-25 lap features event at the Reading Fairgrounds.

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13 hours ago, Mark Fegley said:

Outstanding topic. I was at a good portion of the races you listed. I was sitting in turn 4 for that 1987 Flemington 200 with my good friend Mark Garman. We would have a habit of scoring all the extra distance races we went to, keeping track of lapped cars and drop outs. To this day, with all respect to Bob McCreadie, I will swear Tom Hager won that race. That race, the flag man went back to green as soon as he had a good restart lineup, catching a good portion of the field making pitstops, thus putting them all at least one lap down. Let’s just say chaos ensued. Pretty sure that is where DIRT got the rule in extra distance races now where every caution period must have a minimum numbers of laps under yellow before they go back to green.

Also, I believe the great Al Tasnady also swept a 4-25 lap features event at the Reading Fairgrounds.

Great post. For those not familiar with the complete clusterfuck that was the 1987 Flemington 200, Tom Hager argued with officials that he was the rightful winner for hours after the race. Officials completely lost control of the scoring midway through the race. Eventually, it seemed as though officials just threw up their hands and declared Bob McCreadie the winner.

I am inclined to believe that race may be my choice for the answer to the question I posed in the original post.

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As an aside, for years after the '87 Flemington 200, my friends and I would have a running joke every time Bob McCreadie would suffer some bad luck that it makes for the Flemington 200 that he really did not win,. LOL

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 I'd like to add an event not mentioned in the original list...

The Rolling Wheels event when Danny Johnson quit the Ray Bramall Freightliner 6 in the middle of the show, and started dead ass last in Bill Trout's/Gary Tomkins backup car. With just 3 hotlaps in the car prior to the feature, Danny put on a clinic, tore through the field, ripped through the middle of an awesome 3 car battle for the lead between Hearn, Plazek and Tomkins in the late stages of the event, and won going away.

I'm not sure of the date, but Mel Thomas has sold tons of videos over the years and that particular event is by far and above his best seller ever.

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20 minutes ago, BobMiller said:

 I'd like to add an event not mentioned in the original list...

The Rolling Wheels event when Danny Johnson quit the Ray Bramall Freightliner 6 in the middle of the show, and started dead ass last in Bill Trout's/Gary Tomkins backup car. With just 3 hotlaps in the car prior to the feature, Danny put on a clinic, tore through the field, ripped through the middle of an awesome 3 car battle for the lead between Hearn, Plazek and Tomkins in the late stages of the event, and won going away.

I'm not sure of the date, but Mel Thomas has sold tons of videos over the years and that particular event is by far and above his best seller ever.

You know, along with the 1986 Flemington 200, that is the other race I thought of and considered putting on the list. The only reason I didn't include it, and this isn't any kind of iron-clad declaration that I refuse to deviate from, is that most of the other races on the list were on bigger stages than than just a standard series race.

But that is absolutely one of the other races I did think about, and I don't have any issue with that race being thrown into the mix.

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This was my haggling point...

Some of the events you nominated, I attended. Others, I don't remember. But the Danny Johnson last to first? When you bring up a rainy day conversation about the best races you've ever seen, that one always gets mentioned. Decades later, people still talk about it. And Mel still gets requests from time to time for DVD's. 

You're right. It wasn't a Nazareth or Langhorne show where the big stage was part of the draw. But 20 years from now, the Rolling Wheels event will still be talked about.

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 Not sure about these races being the second most "famous" or not  but...

The Rolling Wheels show with Danny driving the Trout car was for sure  a good one.

Alan Johnson winning Syracuse last to first. 

And Danny Johnson winning the last race on dirt at Flemington, 

These were some of my  personal favorite races that I have witnessed

Long........time ago

 

 

 

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I’d think the last SDW at Syracuse probably had the most publicity surrounding it. 

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2 hours ago, BobMiller said:

 I'd like to add an event not mentioned in the original list...

The Rolling Wheels event when Danny Johnson quit the Ray Bramall Freightliner 6 in the middle of the show, and started dead ass last in Bill Trout's/Gary Tomkins backup car. With just 3 hotlaps in the car prior to the feature, Danny put on a clinic, tore through the field, ripped through the middle of an awesome 3 car battle for the lead between Hearn, Plazek and Tomkins in the late stages of the event, and won going away.

I'm not sure of the date, but Mel Thomas has sold tons of videos over the years and that particular event is by far and above his best seller ever.

7/2/1998. I’ve about worn out the vhs. 

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Wasn't there a race at hagerstown that Gary Tomkins and Tim Fuller did battle back and forth the whole race.

 2004 maybe

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2 hours ago, BobMiller said:

This was my haggling point...

Some of the events you nominated, I attended. Others, I don't remember. But the Danny Johnson last to first? When you bring up a rainy day conversation about the best races you've ever seen, that one always gets mentioned. Decades later, people still talk about it. And Mel still gets requests from time to time for DVD's. 

You're right. It wasn't a Nazareth or Langhorne show where the big stage was part of the draw. But 20 years from now, the Rolling Wheels event will still be talked about.

One of my clearest racing memories is that race when Danny went to pass Gary and he gave him a friendly swerve toward his car on the front stretch, like “hey man, how about this?.”😃

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3 hours ago, BobMiller said:

 I'd like to add an event not mentioned in the original list...

The Rolling Wheels event when Danny Johnson quit the Ray Bramall Freightliner 6 in the middle of the show, and started dead ass last in Bill Trout's/Gary Tomkins backup car. With just 3 hotlaps in the car prior to the feature, Danny put on a clinic, tore through the field, ripped through the middle of an awesome 3 car battle for the lead between Hearn, Plazek and Tomkins in the late stages of the event, and won going away.

I'm not sure of the date, but Mel Thomas has sold tons of videos over the years and that particular event is by far and above his best seller ever.

Ok again just to clarify, the car Danny drove was actually the car I had been running that season and had some wins with, we were actually trying out a BRP rear coilover car for that race, but the car he ran was as good as anything there in my mind. Still a great feat though!!

 

1 hour ago, Rmitchell said:

Wasn't there a race at hagerstown that Gary Tomkins and Tim Fuller did battle back and forth the whole race.

 2004 maybe

Yes March of 2004. That was an awesome race, we ran basically side by side for 75 laps. I still haven't seen a video of it though.

My other nomination would be the 1979 SDW where Jack Johnson won!

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This kinda turned from "famous" races to "great" races, so I'll mention a few ...

 

Lebanon Valley -

  • 1971. Corellis wins the LV 100 with his regular, small block, Saturday night car against some of the greatest ever with their fuel injected big blocks. engines ... Pete Corey, Kenny "The Shoe", Will Cagle, Frankie Schneider, Bill Wimble, and a handful of other Hall Of Famers were in it. He passed Cgle and Whip Mulligan on the final lap, taking the lead in the third turn.
  • The first time Corellis ran the #57.  His car died in the heat race, so the Hughes Brothers offered theirs. He started last in the 100 lap Race of Kings, (provisional as track champ), and lapped the field. 1975 I believe. (I'm told by Brian Bedell this might not have been the race of kings).


Fonda -

  • Stewie winning the initial Firecracker 50 this year (2019) by squeezing between Matt and the wall.
  • Mike Mahaney ... an almost unknown at the time, coming to the Ice Jam  ... his first time ever at Fonda ... and winning. People called it a fluke. The next time he came, he won again. Skeptics silenced. ... 2013?


Malta -

  • 2011? Keith Flach was mopping up the field. No one had anything for him. A caution comes out. On the restart, Jack Johnson managed to get to run him down, and after several hard fought laps, wrestle the lead from him. Brett Hearn ran them both down and took second from Flach. As Hearn took the lead from Johnson, Flach went with him and got back into second. From there it's a blur because they each had the lead at least one more time, with Hearn winning, Johnson second and Flach third.  ... For years I have told Keith it was more impressive than any of his wins, and as much as it sucked to lose like that, he held his own against two of the best ever. ... I would imagine that anyone who was there remembers that race.
     

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2 hours ago, HighPlainsDrifter said:

The first  Super Dirt Week held at Oswego merely for the track conditions and ensuing carnage.

"I'm just happy to be alive!"  -  Brett Hearn when asked if he was happy finishing third.

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I thought for quite a while about this one, and I'm still thinking. I would throw out for consideration the Eastern States 200 when both Lou Lazzaro and Kevin Collins were running out of fuel on the last lap. I just remember it was crazy and The Monk won.

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I didn't get to see some of the races you guys are talking about. I love when people on hear talk about the old races . I didn't start going racing until the mid to late 90's. So please keep bringing up the old days, Just breadind about them I try to picture the race in my head as if I was there. I just love hearing about old race's.

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