This & That: Learning the Ropes – DTD Exclusive

By Ed & Betty Biittig

On Friday at Albany-Saratoga, Jeremy Pitts was the modified winner, and points leader Demetrios Drellos held onto his lead in the division by finishing fifth. Only three drivers are in contention for the title at the Great Race Place: Drellos with 676, Matt DeLorenzo with 653, and Adam Pierson with 643.

When Mike Engwer decided he wanted to race, he did it with passion and enthusiasm, just like he does everything in his life.

We met Mike at Albany-Saratoga on Friday, but he calls Lebanon Valley his home track and races only occasionally at Malta. Mike has had some memorable rides in his No. 22 Limited Sportsman. The last time he raced at the Malta oval, he rolled his car in turn two. On Friday, he finished 12th in the Limited Sportsman and was satisfied just to finish after his last experience.

Mike’s interest in racing began as a fan at Lebanon Valley as a kid. He hadn’t attended as an adult but had done work at Lebanon Valley through his company, Proline Power. When he decided he wanted to sponsor a car, he called Chad Jeseo. When Jeseo told him what it would cost to sponsor a car, Engwer asked what it would cost to race and decided he would race.

That decision put him in touch with the most winning driver in dirt modified racing, Brett Hearn. Engwer hired Brett to build and maintain his car and teach him how to race because Mike knew nothing about life behind the wheel of a race car. As a matter of fact, Mike says, “I didn’t even know how to get in the car.”

Mike races  at The Valley weekly with Brett Hearn watching and giving him driving tips and advice on all aspects of racing, set-ups, and driving the car. Hearn told him he is the easiest to teach because he has no bad habits.

Engwer says he knows that when you move up a division, you have to start over each time. He plans to move up quickly and be in a Modified by next year because taking division-by-division steps would take him too long.

The sponsors on Mike’s car are Proline Power, Dagen Trucking, Scott Signs, Divergent Alliance, Volts Maintenance & Repair, and IBEW Local 1249. The crew consists of Brett Hearn, Connor Sage, Mike’s wife, Casey, his stepson, Preston, and his daughter, Lillian.

Utica-Rome Speedway racing rained out this past Friday, setting up two nights of racing this Friday and Sunday.

Friday’s program will be the final points for the Pro Stocks, Four Cylinders, and Slingshots, and champions will be declared in those divisions. The remaining divisions will be decided on September 8.

Sunday’s New Yorker 50 is the second of Ollie’s Elite Series events and the ninth event in the North Region for the STSS. Also on the card for Sunday are the Limited Sportsman, Pro Stocks, All Star, and Junior Slingshots.

At Lebanon Valley on Saturday, the undisputed King of the Valley, Kenny Tremont, Jr., who recently announced his retirement from racing, picked up his 142nd win at the track he has called home for his entire life. His father, Ken, Sr., has owned cars at The Valley since 1962.

This Saturday, Lebanon Valley hosts the Super DIRTcar Series for Modifieds, Mr. Dirt Track USA.

The DIRTcar Pro Stock Series moved into Glen Ridge on Sunday night, and Luke Horning defended his home turf against the series travelers.

Last week, our column mysteriously disappeared before we sent it to Dirt Track Digest to post, and as we tried to recreate it, we forgot a couple things that we are adding to this week’s effort.

We profiled Limited Sportsman driver Tyler Bobar in last week’s column but forgot about his sponsors and crew. Tyler won the Limited Sportsman event at Glen Ridge this week, highlighting his sponsors and crew: Shults Auto Center, Dirty Diamond Diggers, Paul’s Landscaping, Stone Motorsports, and his dedicated crew: Kadon, Kirk, and his dad, Trevor.

We forgot to include our weekly Tremont Trivia, so here we have included two: Tremont recorded many extra-distance wins in his career—33 wins, 100 laps, or more—at eight different tracks.

This Saturday will be Tremont’s final Mr. Dirt Track USA event, and if he wins, it will be his 10th. He won in 1985, 1988, 1992, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2005, 2018, and 2019.

Until next week, please send all news and/or comments to