The Amsoil USAC Eastern Storm will bring the always exciting non-wing sprint cars to Pennsylvania and it all gets underway on Tuesday night, June 13 at the Grandview Speedway. The Eastern Storm will continue on Wednesday night, June 14 at the Lincoln Speedway, Thursday night, June 15 at Williams Grove then close out the weekend on Saturday night, June 17 at Port Royal and Sunday night, June 18 at the Susquehanna Speedway. This will mark the eleventh annual swing of USAC here in the east.
One local car owner has been a behind the scene advocate of non-wing racing and to have it return to the east. Reading, PA businessman Gene Franckowiak is so committed to the success of the Eastern Storm, he is involved with at least three teams that will be racing in the Amsoil USAC non-wing sprint events kicking off Tuesday night at Grandview. On race night, look for Franckowiak to be somewhere around the sprint cars of Shane Golobic, Thomas (T-Mez) Meseraull and Kyle Moody, as he has some involvement with each car.
Gene Franckowiak’s ties go back to the Reading Fairgrounds, working as a crew member in 1970 and he drove a sprint car for the first time in 1974. Very few know that Gene was a driver, until he suffered serious injuries in a crash at Reading in 1976. Gene drove a few more years before making a transition to being a car owner. He seemed to enjoy the car owner role as he loved working on cars, the friendships, traveling and the competition that comes out of racing.
If you know Gene, he is never short on words and always has strong opinions, especially when it comes to capping the cost of sprint car racing. “I have a love of sprint car racing and fought hard over the years to keep costs down and the racing competitive for everyone, not just the fortunate few”, said Franckowiak.
“I was fortunate to have some great mentors in this sport like Lee Kunzman, Steve Chassey, Gary Bettenhausen, Rich Leavell, Larry Dickson, among others”. Franckowiak added, “I can honestly say that I cherish each and every friendship I have made past and present in my association with USAC and look forward to the Eastern Storm”.
Gene is known today for having very good equipment, but that was not always the case, in fact, his nickname at one time was “Junkyard Gene”.
“I was not always in a position to have the best and I struggled for many years using other people’s cast off parts”. Franckowiak continued, “I was forced to leave the sport because of high costs and I vowed to work really hard in my career to make sure that doesn’t happen to more people”. Gene is a believer that non-wing sprint car racing is an affordable way to go racing.
Ironically, it was Gene Franckowiak who brought together USAC Race Director Greg Staab and local special events promoter Bob Miller in 2005. Miller, who also has ties back to the Reading Fairgrounds and had a passion to bring USAC back to the east. In 2007, the Eastern Storm invaded Grandview Speedway and introduced the return of USAC to Berks County, the first event since 1979 at Reading.
Looking to the Eastern Storm 2017, Gene is fielding a car for California driver Shane Golobic that will be maintained by Dave and Mike Ely. Gene, along with Mike Heffner and mechanic Sean Michael will have a car for T-Mez, Thomas Meseraull also a California resident. Gene is also helping local Pennsylvania driver Kyle Moody in his efforts in the Eastern Storm.
The Amsoil USAC Non-wing Sprints Eastern Storm will open at the Grandview Speedway on Tuesday, June 13. This will also mark the opening event of the NAPA Auto Parts Thunder on the Hill Racing Series presented by Pioneer Pole Buildings. If you have never seen a non-wing 410 sprint car race (especially at Grandview Speedway) this is the show to see.
The Tuesday, June 13 event at Grandview Speedway will get underway at 7:30 PM. Joining the USAC non-wing sprints on the program will be the 358 Modifieds chasing a $3,000 payday for the 30 lap run. Craig VonDohren, Duane Howard, Jeff Strunk, Ryan Godown, Billy Pauch Jr., Ryan Watt and Rick Laubach are some of the expected modified entries. Qualifying will take place for both divisions.
The Amsoil Eastern Storm continues.
It’s off to Abbottstown, PA for a stop at the Lincoln Speedway, an Eastern Storm staple since 2010 bringing the series into night two on Wednesday, June 14. The 358 Sprints will be part of this double header event that will carry a 7:30 PM starting time with gates opening at 5 PM.
Other USAC entries to expect include Fort Branch, Indiana’s Chase Stockon, Kokomo, IN driver Shane Cottle, Sikeston, MO favorite Hunter Schuerenberg, USAC’s Triple Crown champion Dave Darland of Lincoln, IN and Landon Simon of Tipp City Ohio. I’m sure we all remember the 2016 Grandview performance by Mooresville, North Carolina’s driver Jarett Andretti, almost taking the win. Tyler Courtney of Indianapolis, IN, and Greenfield, IN driver C.J. Leary are hoping to break through for an Eastern Storm taste of victory.
On the local scene, Danny Dietrich a 410 sprint car feature winner at Grandview and the winner of the 2016 National Open at Williams Grove, plans to make his initial foray into USAC for Eastern Storm on the “hill” at Grandview. Defending ARDC Midget champion and 2016 Chili Bowl Midget Nationals preliminary feature winner Alex Bright, is a regular in USAC’s midget division, and will try his hand for the first time in a USAC Sprint Car.
Advance tickets for the Grandview USAC/358 Modified events are available by calling 443 513 4456. Please leave your name, phone number and the number of tickets you need. You may pay for and pick-up your tickets on race night at the Grandview Speedway WILL CALL window after 4 PM. Advance ticket holders may enter the grandstand at 4:30 PM with General Admission tickets going on sale at 5 PM.
GPS USERS: 43 Passmore Road, Bechtelsville, PA 19505
Located less than a mile off Route 100, 10 miles north of Pottstown, PA
Speedway Phone: 610-754-7688
Thunder on the Hill Racing Series Phone: 443-513-4456 (Call for advance tickets)
Series Website: Track Website: http://www.grandviewspeedway.com
EASTERN STORM EXPECTED DRIVERS
3 SHANE GOLOBIC/Fremont, CA
5 CHRIS WINDOM/Canton, IL
11 JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA
12 ROBERT BALLOU/Rocklin, CA
13 DANNY DIETRICH/Gettysburg, PA
13K ALEX BRIGHT/Collegeville, PA
14 TREVOR KOBYLARZ/Birdsboro, PA
14x CHAD WILSON/Troy, OH
15F AARON FARNEY/Brookston, IN
17GP STEVIE SUSSEX/Tempe, AZ
17R KYLE ROBBINS/New Castle, IN
18 JARETT ANDRETTI/Mooresville, NC
21 CARMEN PERIGO/Stoystown, PA
23c TYLER COURTNEY/Indianapolis, IN
24 LANDON SIMON/Tipp City, OH
27 THOMAS MESERAULL/San Jose, CA
30 C.J. LEARY/Greenfield, IN
32 CHASE STOCKON/Fort Branch, IN
39 MATT GOODNIGHT/Winchester, IN
39x JERRY COONS, JR./Tucson, AZ
44 KEVIN THOMAS, JR./Cullman, AL
50 TONY DiMATTIA/Malvern, PA
52 ISAAC CHAPPLE/Willow Branch, IN
54 MATT WESTFALL/Pleasant Hill, OH
63 BRADY BACON/Broken Arrow, OK
69 CHAD BOESPFLUG/Hanford, CA
71p DAVE DARLAND/Lincoln, IN
74 J.R. BERRY/Fleetwood, PA
77 DUSTIN SMITH/Russiaville, IN
99 KYLE MOODY/Lewisberry, PA