By LEON ANDRUS
My column will tell you about Delores and my trip down to the first state to the big Friday and Saturday events at the Georgetown Speedway in Georgetown, Delaware. We actually left Thursday to try and get an extra day without the snow which for the most part that happened. We did have a couple of snow squalls just before the Lehigh Tunnel and as most know by now there was some flakes at the speedway on Saturday. I had to do a little shoveling Thursday morning to clear a good path for Delores and then it was south bound and down.
A lot things that happened at the track are in my weekend wrap-up and some things I would like to see at all big events and even weekly races. That part will be my opinion and I will remind you then again that it is just that. I will close with the big race-car show coming up this Saturday and Sunday in Scranton, Pa. It will be the first time in quite sometime that a show like this has been held in Northeast Pa. And I expect it to be wall to wall folks there.
Georgetown Speedway was holding the opener here in the Northeast for the Modifieds as some of the Sprint tracks have already held a race or two. I first want to say congratulations to all the winners in every division that competed the two days at the track. I also want to say it was nice to see such good crowds both days for how cold it was, as it tells me that the race fans are alive and well and should be a banner year for tracks as it appears the fans are craving the on track action again. Knowing it was the first of race of the year for this type of cars was going to bring in fans and racers from all over but with the temperatures and wind like it was is very impressive indeed.
The racing action on the track both days was enough to even warm up the coldest folks as it was the kind of action that had to satisfy all types of fans. Very close racing action, my favorite with leaders working lapped traffic, there was a nasty flip on Friday to satisfy the folks that go for the wrecks and also many competitors from all over the Northeast. Saturday night’s 49-lap feature for the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) fueled by Sunoco Velocita-USA South Region race was the topper of the weekend for me. It was the 50th race for the STSS Modifieds and the first for the South Region of eight scheduled this season and you know the winner has a leg up on their competitors for the South Region championship. After many laps of high intense racing the ‘Electric Company’ Ryan Watt parked his potent Modified in victory lane after a spirited duel with ‘Super’ Matt Sheppard. As I told some fans and I know some will know what I am talking about when I say that race so reminded me of the great racing that used to be seen at the Rolling Wheels Raceway back in it’s heyday. WOW What a Race! Or as the result press release read Watt a Race.
It was also the first South Region event for the Crate 602 Sportsman Saturday and did they turn out for the show. Young Gun Alex Yankowski, a 13-year-old out of the Scranton, Pa., area cruised to the win after his first time at the track. He was a feature winner the previous season at his home track the Penn Can Speedway. A bright future awaits this young speed merchant I truly believe. All results in all divisions I will leave to the pr experts as most have probably read that by now. I will tell you folks in my wrap-up on how all the other Southern Tier competitors fared.
Craig Von Dohren was the winner Friday night in the small-block Modified portion of the weekend. With that win it gave him the shot to pull the double on the weekend, but he fell short of that feat. The Rush Crate Late Models were on the card and their entries were low but not being a series race and early in the season that was about what I expected.
Weekend Wrap-Up: The whole weekend was run under the moniker of the Melvin L. Joseph Memorial. Mr. Joseph was the builder and founder of the speedway and when he raced he used the number 49 and that is why winners pay and some other things ended in that number. It also was why the Modified feature was run as a 49-lap affair. Chesapeake Paving pushed the Modified purse from $4900.00 to a whopping $6949.00 for 49 laps. The Crate Sportsman had money added courtesy of Rent Equip as they added $149.00 to the winners share. They also paid $49.00 to win the five heat races for the Crates and gave an extra $49.00 to the top Delaware finisher.
How The Southern Tier Runners Fared: Friday in the 358-Modified the best of these runners was Danny Creeden, last years Thunder Mountain Speedway Champion. He finished in eighth and also had a 15th place finish on Saturday. The other finisher was Andy Bachetti who garnered a 22nd place finish is the defending track champion at the Afton Motorsports Park. Jeremy Smith, a Thunder regular and an Afton regular this year, failed to qualify both Friday and Saturday with mechanical woes. Billy Decker, who will run STSS as a teammate to Smith who owns the car, blew up his ride in hot-laps and finished fourth on Saturday. Friday also saw Thunder regular Shayne Spoonhower failed to qualify his Crate Sportsman with the 358 as he just didn’t have enough horsepower. Saturday in the Modified division other then ones already mentioned was another driver who failed to qualify and that was Brett Barrett. Barrett ran early in the season last year before setting out the rest of the year. He ran at Afton and at Five Mile Point. The car just got finished up prior to coming to Georgetown and it seems like the set-up was just a little off but was plenty fast.
Finally the 602 Crate Sportsman had the most competitors of the Southern Tier with six. Here is how they did; Yankowski first as mentioned above, Spoonhower forth as mentioned above and did a good job late as you could tell the motor was laying down on him. Corey Cormier Thunder regular last season and Afton regular this year came home sixth. Tom Collins, Thunder’s champion last year, brought his machine home in 11th. Hunter Lapp, who ran on occasion at Thunder last year in the Rookie Sportsman, finished 21st. Rumor has him running Afton and Thunder this season and time will tell. One other who failed to qualify due to mechanical issues was Skyline racer Stacey Jackson.
Counts and Firsts: Ryan Watt, with his win he became a first time winner for the big-blocks as he has won in the small blocks before. It was also his fourth win in the STSS for Watt. The car counts for the weekend for these three divisions stood at 358’s with 35, Modifieds with 48 and the Crates with 51. Solid all the way around. Another first was the use of transponders for scoring with also a lap counter on the backstretch. The all new clay surface and new banking to bring it back to its original build made for incredible and fast racing. At least twice I saw true four-wide racing.
Good Deal Reward: Promoter Brett Deyo put out a little extra incentive for the Four-Cylinder Cars and Trucks that are always on their schedule for every race and tries to reward them as they just run feature many of the times. During their feature it was announced that if either of them can go without a caution the driver would get in free the next race. The truck drivers got in free Saturday as they went caution free.
Sponsor Exposure: The Deyo’s did a great job in getting sponsors to their track as I counted thirty-two billboards along the homestretch plus the two large one on the outside of the backstretch. Also a new Pace Truck from sponsor First State Chevrolet made its debut this weekend. I am assuming that it will be getting wrapped in the future. What I thought was great and a great way for a sponsor to expose their product was First State Crane with a huge crane outside the speedway and at race time they swing it around with a huge American Flag for all to see and use for the National Anthem. One last one for me to mention was the pickup truck in the infield with the visual advertising board from Ad-Arts Sign Company. It was showing rather the race program was under red, yellow or green which Mr. Deyo controlled from the tower. It also showed some racing, advertising and a few other things. Ad-ArtSign Company also gave the first first state finisher in the Modified feature $249.00 and it went to 14th place finisher Carson Wright.
Dedications & Recognition: On Friday night a huge dedication was given to a former flagger at the speedway. Bill Lawson who flagged for 28 years around the Delaware area and for just about all those years right there at the Georgetown Speedway. His family knew about it but he didn’t and it was a great site and honor for him when Brett Deyo and his family showed him the sign that was dedicating the flagstand in his honor. It is a tradition since Deyo has taken control of the speedway to dedicate parts of the grandstand but this time the flagstand. How cool is that? On Saturday the track got great recognition as a new huge plaque/marker was awarded to the Deyo’s to be put up on Speedway Road. Folks from the first state archives along with many political folks on hand to hand it out. State Senator Brian Pettyjohn read what was written on the sign. He was joined on the frontstretch with the Mayor of Georgetown and a few other state representatives. Pettyjohn said Georgetown Speedway is back on the map. It is always great to have political folks on your side in this sport for sure.
My Ideas and Opinions: Here is something I was really thinking about during the rain/snow delay on Saturday and I would love to see not only in weekly racing but especially during any big special event. I would like to hear interviews going on from the pits leading up to hot-laps instead of just music. I know the announcer has to plug sponsors and has other things to do also but you can only say the same thing so many times. I also realize some tracks with pits quite far away it might not be feasible. The second part for sure is to have track side commentary at an accident scene as many of a drivers fan would love to know if their driver has got a chance to get back out. Again my opinion but would love to see it.
Speed Sport Showcase this Weekend: I, along with so many that I have heard from, are awaiting for the door to swing open wide at 10am Saturday morning for the return of Speed Sport Showcase at 3 West Olive Street in Scranton, Pa. It will be the first time in many years that a show of this magnitude will grace Northeastern Pennsylvania. The show was the original brainstorm of Dick & Phyllis Longstreet, Reed Miller and Steve Post and now it is being renewed by a new trio of promoters Tony Frable, Nick Petrilak and Bryan Chase with Anthracite Auto heading up the sponsorship of this fine event. The trio have done a great job securing sponsorship for this show and it is great to see the Longstreet Family involved and giving away $500.00 for the best in show. I have been guaranteed a front row seat for the Miss Speed Sport contest. Sweet! The show is Saturday and Sunday with hours Saturday 10am to 9pm. Sunday it runs from 11am to 4pm. I will be going around gathering some notes I hope about some of the racers at the show and grabbing some more schedules from the tracks in attendance I haven’t gotten yet. I will also be spending a lot of time at my Saturday track Thunder Mountain Speedway booth. It will be weird as this will be the first Speed Sport Showcase that I will not be working in some capacity but will enjoy it anyway for sure. Race cars, race tracks, vendors and many race fans, how can it get any better. Don’t miss this one folks as it is going to be HUGE. Thank you Tony, Nick and Bryan for bringing this show back. See you at the show and until next time Race On.
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