SARVER, PA – Four very deserving Hall of Fame candidates etched their names in the Lernerville Hall of Fame on Saturday night as the annual kickoff to the 2018 season took place at the Tables on the Green at Brackenridge Heights Golf Course. And on the same night, four dominant drivers who may very well end up in the Hall of Fame received honors as Lernerville’s Fab4 Champions in 2018.
Entering the Lernerville Hall of Fame in 2018 are four individuals which have either made or gloriously captured enduring memories at the facility for years on end, helping make the legacy of The Action Track one of the deepest not only in the area but also in the country.
HALL OF FAME ENTRANTS REPRESENTED SPEEDWAY AT A HIGH LEVEL
Brian Swartzlander’s career at Lernerville has seen him find victory lane a record 93 times thus far, becoming the all time leader in wins in the Diehl Automotive Big Block Modified division while racking up a staggering seven track championships. And he has done so with a high level of class and dignity, and respect for his fellow racers that has earned him the respect of virtually any driver or fan in attendance over the years. His driving skills, chief among them being his smoothness and unflappability in maneuvering through the field to the lead or around lapped traffic were enhanced by an uncanny knack to know the opportune moment to make his forward charge while driving clean and hard on virtually every lap. Brian becomes the first active driver to ever be enshrined in the Lernerville Hall of Fame.
Walt Wimer is a man who needs no introduction at any racing facility in the Western,PA- Eastern, OH geography. For over 50 years, Wimer has been the voice, the record, and the memory of more great moments in the area’s racing history than virtually any other journalist or announcer retired or active. His passion for racing is almost unmatched and his relentless pursuit of capturing area results and crafting well put together stories to help promote the sport to a wider audience has helped make racing in the area what it is today.
Without good car owners, the racing landscape would look much thinner than it is. Without great car owners, the careers of many great drivers who would go unnoticed otherwise, might be much less than they were. Martha Dionise was one of those owners. Starting in the early 1970’s and for over 40 years, Martha and her husband Bob owned the #15 Sprint Car that graced the clay at Lernerville and other area tracks and she kept the program running even after the passing of her husband. Her dedication to the sport and her commitment to the drivers were driving forces in helping establish the careers of some great individuals who represented her very well.
Bud Daum helped bring Lernerville to a wide audience with a wide appeal and friendly manner not only behind the mic at the track, but on the radio side too where he helped create new fans and new memories for everyone he reached. Bud served as announcer at Lernerville for years and brought his pre-race radio program at WISR 680 AM to the speedway where he interviewed drivers and fans alike and was a huge factor in promoting area racing on his Saturday Morning Sports Journal show. He brought joy to all with his passion for racing and enthusiasm. Bud passed away on October 24, 2017 at the age of 93.
FOUR DOMINANT PERFORMANCES
When one considers how deep the talent is across all four divisions of racing at Lernerville, the remarkable seasons turned in by this year’s four track champions become completely amazing. Through a mix of hard work, dedication and preparation combined with god given talent for racing, AJ Flick, Michael Norris, Mat Williamson and Corey McPherson managed a combined staggering winning percentage while keeping a pack of drivers normally accustomed to several wins a season from experiencing victory lane in 2017.
AJ Flick took his second track title in three seasons in the Peoples Gas DIRTcar Sprints and did so with an uncommon level of consistency. The young pilot amassed seven podium finishes, missing the top three on only two occasions while picking up important heat wins along the way in the title campaign, en route to a 19 point victory at season’s end over second place Dan Shetler.
Michael Norris was able to not only convert his potential to steady results, but was also able to convert potentially good finishes into wins as he cruised to his first career Lernerville championship in the Precise Racing Products DIRTcar Late Models. The young Sarver, PA native learned to master all three grooves and keep the pack behind him in his five feature victories and eight heat wins. He managed to put all his finishes in the top three over the course of the season while racking up a 34 point final margin over former champion Alex Ferree.
Mat Williamson had tasted season championships on three other occasions in his Lernerville career in the Diehl Automotive Big Block Modifieds, but in 2017, he simply owned the competition. Williamson collected seven feature victories and finished in second on two other occasions in quite possibly the most dominant season in Modified history at either Lernerville or a host of other home tracks quite possibly. The feature wins combined with four heat wins helped him roll up a 27 point lead in the standings over Hall of Famer Brian Swartzlander by the time the final checkered flag waved over the 2017 season.
For Corey McPherson, it was business as usual in 2017 in the Millerstown Pic-A-Part DIRTcar/RUSH Pro Stocks, and within the context of the word “usual” is a tremendous amount of hard work, time sacrifice and patience. McPherson wound up with six feature victories on the season while managing four heat victories in his 28 point win over second running Tyler Dietz, coming from deep in the field on several occasions once again. However his season was lifted to an even higher level in the postseason where he scored a defining victory over the invading Penn-Ohio Pro Stocks that left fans in the stands on their feet at the annual Autumn-Motive fest in September.
2017 Contingency/Achievement and Service Awards
Most Improved Sprint Car Driver- George Hobaugh Jr.
Most Improved Late Model Driver- Clayton Kennedy
Most Improved Big Block Modified Driver- Jeff Miller
Most Improved Pro Stock Driver- Noah Brunell
Hard Luck Winner- Joe Lockhart
Sportsman Award- Tim Thoma
Keith Blake Lernerville Appreciation Award- Bill Clark
Bob Cochran Sponsorship Award- Terry Bowser
Bill Steinbach Media Award- Carol Gamble