By MIKE LEONE
PULASKI, PA – The Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Series powered by Pace Performance is set to begin its fifth year of operations heading into the 2017 season. Series Directors Vicki Emig and Mike Leone are proud to release the 2017 Touring Series schedule, which will feature 17 events getting underway on Saturday, April 22 at Virginia’s Winchester Speedway.
The 2017 Touring Series will feature 13 premier Marquee Events paying a minimum of $2,000 to-win that are primarily centrally located within the region on weekends utilizing a group qualifying format featuring $100 FK Rod Ends “Shock the Clock Qualifying” and $25 to-win FK Rod End heat races. In addition, another four “optional” Platinum Events are scheduled paying a minimum of $1,500 to-win. Once again, additional incentive packages for supporting Touring member racers will also be part of the Touring program. (See below for additional information.)
“Last year we totally reformatted our Touring program,” explained Emig. “We took into account feedback from racers, speedways, and what we felt did and didn’t work over the years. In the end, we were very pleased with the results as we had the largest core of traveling touring teams that we’ve had in several years and car counts were up. A similar slate of events are on tap, and we’re looking forward to our first ever Tour races at Stateline, Genesee, and Bradford. We’re really anticipating our return to Winchester with our opener coming up on the 22nd as well as returning to the former Black Rock Speedway now called Outlaw under the reigns of second year promoter Tyler Siri. Bradford will not only be a new venue for the Tour, but also presents one of the richest events on the schedule along with Pittsburgh that has chosen to make the coveted ‘Jook George Steel City Classic’ a Tour event for the first time ever!”
For the first time in nearly two years, the cars and stars of the Sweeney RUSH Tour will converge at Winchester on Saturday, April 22 for a $2,000 to-win Marquee Event. Three of the Tour racers have already competed at Winchester in Sweeney Weekly Series events prepping for the opener including Eric Wilson, Jason Knowles, and Greg Beach. Past Tour winners at Winchester include Allen Brannon, Walker Arthur, and Rick Singleton. Brannon in fact won the April 15 Sweeney Weekly Series race at Winchester.
For the first time in the 10 plus year history of Crate Late Model racing in the Northeast, Stateline Speedway will hold a Sweeney Tour event. The “Bill Law Memorial” will pay tribute to the late crate racing pioneer with a $2,000 to-win Marquee Event on Saturday, May 20. Stateline has become a big proponent of RUSH under the Scott and Horner Family ownership as their second full year of ownership will also see them running the RUSH Pro Mods weekly along with the Late Models on Saturday nights in 2017.
Two days later, action will cross the border for this year’s only stop in Canada at Merrittville Speedway for a $2,000 to-win Platinum Event as part of the track’s Victoria Day holiday celebration on Monday, May 22. This will mark the third straight year the Sweeney RUSH Tour will compete at Merrittville, but first under new track owner Don Spiece. In 2015, Max Blair won the inaugural event at the track over an 18-car field and then the car count increased to 28 at last year’s event won by John Waters.
Eriez Speedway will host two events in 2017 at Bobby and Kathy Rohrer’s track located just outside of Erie, Pa. in Hammett. The first will be on Sunday, May 28 during Memorial Day Weekend and then again on Sunday, July 30. The Blairs won both events in 2016 with Robbie winning on a threatening, rain-delayed program in May and then Max over a 33-car field in July.
Outlaw and Genesee Speedway have teamed up as a Friday-Saturday night track in 2017 with several special events for RUSH Late Model teams. The New York tracks will host back-to-back $2,000 to-win Marquee Events on Friday and Saturday, June 2-3. Outlaw, the former Black Rock Speedway, is now under the ownership of Tyler Siri; they lasted hosted a Sweeney Crate Late Model Tour event in 2012 won by Wayne Robertson at the Dundee track. The Outlaw event will be known as the “Gary Montgomery Memorial”. Genesee meanwhile is under the second year of operations by RUSH Late Model racer Jim Johnson, and the event will mark the first ever Crate Late Model Tour event at the Batavia oval.
Like Eriez, Sunday night facility Tri-City Raceway Park will host a pair of $2,000 to-win Sweeney Marquee Tour events in 2017. The first on June 18 will be the annual “Bill Emig Memorial” honoring the legacy of the father of RUSH Director, Vicki Emig; while race two will occur on August 20 and will again by the site of “Manufacturers Night” presented by MSD Performance. At the 2016 event, Max Blair beat an all-time Northeast Crate Late Model record count of 58 cars as over $50,000 in cash and contingencies were awarded. Eriez has graciously dropped the RUSH Late Models from their weekly program on these two nights.
While Lernerville Speedway doesn’t run the RUSH Late Models on a weekly basis, the competition and car counts at the events are annually some of the best. The Sarver, Pa. oval will again host two $2,000 to-win Marquee Events with the first on Friday, June 30 and then during the annual “Steel City Stampede” on October 13-14, which will be the Series’ finale. Lernerville is now home to weekly racing for the RUSH Pro Stocks and will also host seven events for the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds including a pair of Bicknell Racing Products Tour events on the same nights as the Sweeney Tour for Late Models.
Old Bradford Speedway will become the third new facility to host a Sweeney Tour event in 2017. The Bradford, Pa. 1/4-mile bullring will host a special 50-lap event part of the Independence Day holiday on Sunday, July 2. The Marquee Event will pay $3,000 to-win with an increased payoff from the standard $3,000 to-win purse. In addition, due to just a maximum of 20 cars starting the feature, an increased paying non-qualifier event will also be contested. While the RUSH Late Models will again compete regularly on Sunday nights, track owner Norm Asel has also brought the RUSH Pro Mods onto the weekly card this season.
171st annual Trumbull County Fair in Cortland, Ohio will again feature the RUSH Late Models for the 10th consecutive year at the 5/8-mile Expo Speedway track. This year’s event will be on Wednesday, July 12 and will again be a $1,500 to-win Platinum Event that will also include the Bicknell RUSH Sportsman Modified Tour. Fairboard member and promoter Bud Rogers has been a longtime proponent of RUSH.
For the first time in several years, Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway will host a pair of Sweeney Tour events; both Marquee designations. And for the first time ever, the “Jook George Steel City Classic” will be a Tour event. The “Jook George” will take place on Saturday, August 12 and is currently slated to pay a minimum of $3,000 to-win, which could increase by the day of the event through the efforts of Branden Lockwich, who did a phenomenal job with the event last year. For the second straight year, the Sweeney Tour will be part of the “Pittsburgher” for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series on October 6-7. The $2,500 to-win event will again be the “Bill Hendren Memorial” and will feature additional prizes courtesy of the Hendren Family.
McKean County Raceway will be hosting numerous special events throughout the 2017 season under promoter Chris Zuver. The Sweeney Tour will again be part of the annual McKean County Fair race on Thursday, August 17 paying $1,500 to-win. A second $1,500 to-win Platinum event will be held at the East Smethport, Pa. track during the annual “Fall Classic” on Saturday, September 30. McKean has also stepped up to host a minimum of seven events for the RUSH Pro Mods.
Membership is $125 or $225 for both Touring and Weekly. As always, Weekly member drivers also receive points at Touring races. Membership includes $100,000 of excess participant accident insurance over and above one’s personal health insurance and track’s insurance.
Drivers will be able to use a maximum of one of the Platinum Events as a substitution race for a missed Marquee Event. Drivers will also be able to use up to a maximum of three Platinum Events to replace their worst Marquee Event finishes. If a driver uses one of the Platinum Events as a substitution for a Marquee Event, he or she will then only be able to use up to two additional Platinum Events to replace their worst Marquee Event finishes.
While the top 12 drivers in 2017 Touring Series points will earn point fund monies, RUSH will guarantee a minimum of $250 in point fund monies to an additional eight drivers with perfect attendance (13 Marquee Events or 12 Marquee Events and 1 Platinum Event). This means possibly 20 drivers could earn Touring Series point fund monies!
A loyalty program will also be included. For every four consecutive Marquee Events attended, Touring member drivers will receive a free $100 entry fee at their next event. This will be an additional $300 to those drivers that have perfect attendance.
2017 Sweeney RUSH Late Model Touring Series Schedule*
• Sat, April 22 Winchester Speedway (Winchester, VA) – Season Opener – $2,000 to-win (Marquee)
• Sat, May 20 Stateline Speedway (Busti, NY) – “Bill Law Memorial” – $2,000 to-win (Marquee)
• Mon, May 22 Merrittville Speedway (Thorold, ON) – “Victoria Day Celebration” – $2,000 to-win (Platinum)
• Sun, May 28 Eriez Speedway (Erie, PA) – $2,000 to-win (Marquee)
• Fri, June 2 Outlaw Speedway (Dundee, NY) – “Gary Montgomery Memorial” – $2,000 to-win (Marquee)
• Sat, June 3 Genesee Speedway (Batavia, NY) – $2,000 to-win (Marquee)
• Sun, June 18 Tri-City Raceway Park (Franklin, PA) – “Bill Emig Memorial”- $2,000 to-win (Marquee)
• Fri, June 30 Lernerville Speedway (Sarver, PA) – $2,000 to-win (Marquee)
• Sun, July 2 Old Bradford Speedway (Bradford, PA) – $3,000 to-win (Marquee)
• Wed, July 12 Expo Speedway (Cortland, OH) – Trumbull County Fair – $1,500 to-win (Platinum)
• Sun, July 30 Eriez Speedway (Erie, PA) – $2,000 to-win (Marquee)
• Sat, Aug 12 Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway (Imperial, PA) – “Jook George Steel City Classic” – $3,000 to-win (Marquee)
• Thr, Aug 17 McKean County Raceway (East Smethport, PA) – McKean County Fair – $1,500 to-win (Platinum)
• Sun, Aug 20 Tri-City Raceway Park (Franklin, PA) – “Manufacturers Night” presented by MSD Performance – $2,000 to-win (Marquee)
• Sat, Sept 30 McKean County Raceway (East Smethport, PA) – “Fall Classic” – $1,500 to-win (Platinum)
• Fri-Sat, Oct 6-7 Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway (Imperial, PA) – “Pittsburgher” – “Bill Hendren Memorial” – $2,500 to-win (Marquee)
• Fri-Sat, Oct 13-14 Lernerville Speedway – “Steel City Stampede” – $2,000 to-win (Marquee)
*Schedule is subject to change. Additional date(s) may be added.
RUSH Late Model marketing partners include Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC, Pace Performance, Hoosier Tire, Bilstein Shocks, Sunoco Race Fuels, Bazell Race Fuels, Insinger Performance, MSD Performance, Holley Performance Products, Earl’s Performance Plumbing, Quick Fuel Technology, FK Rod Ends, Maxima Racing Oil, Schoenfeld Headers, Jones Racing Products, Alternative Power Sources, Precise Racing Products, ARbodies, TBM Brakes, K&N Filters, Lincoln Electric, Velocita-USA, Classic Ink USA, Rocket Chassis, Landrum Performance Spring, CrateInsider.com, RockAuto.com, and Valley Fashions.
E-mail can be sent to the RUSH Racing Series at firstname.lastname@example.org and snail mail to 4368 Route 422, Pulaski, PA 16143. Office phone is 724-964-9300 and fax is 724-964-0604. The RUSH Racing Series website is www.rushracingseries.com. Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/rushlatemodels and follow us on Twitter @RUSHLM.