MERCER, PA – Over 230 members of the racing family from Mercer Raceway Park gathered Saturday night at the Normandy Banquet Hall of the Hickory V.F.W. to celebrate the 2015 season and to honor the track’s biggest achievers. Taking the top honors were seven divisional champions. In addition, two special awards were conferred on second generation racers.
Jack Sodeman, Jr., from North Jackson, OH celebrated his third track championship in the 410 Sprint Car division that was presented by 4 Your Car Connection. Sodeman now occupies second place all by himself in that category, trailing only the legendary Ralph Quarterson. Brandon Matus, Michael Bauer, and A.J. Flick were second, third, and fourth, respectively. Finishing fifth in the final tally was The Martha Dionise car driven by Scott Priester, with some assistance from Arnie Kent after Priester sustained season-ending injuries at another area speedway.
Alex Paden, Brent Matus, John Garvin, Jr., Dennis Wagner, and duo of Gale Ruth, Jr. and Sr. completed the top ten.
Martha Dionise received a stranding ovation from the crowd in tribute to her ownership of a 410 Sprint for 45 seasons. Dionise announced her retirement from the sport just before the final point contest of the year.
In the Approved Toilet Rentals 358 Modified class, Tiona’s Jimmy Holden claimed his fifth crown despite challenges from Lonny Riggs and Kyle Fink. Jeff Schaffer, Jr. and Sid Unverzagt, Jr. also received top five honors. Kevin Green, Tommy Kristyak, Tom and Kyle Holden, Richard Whitney, and Jeff Schaffer, Sr. were also honored for their accomplishments.
The Bonnell’s Tod Shop Outlaw Sprint Warriors had the closest finish, with the outcome being decided on the final night of racing. George Hobaugh, Jr. and Jimmy Seger teamed up in the Lockhart 58 machine to edge out Andy Priest by only nine counters. Mike Marano, II, Gregg McCandless and Mike Miller completed the top five. Darin Gallagher, Eric L. Williams, Greg Doborsky, George Englert, and the Rod Jones/Justin Peck team received awards.
In the Precise Racing Products Stock Cars, William Hurrelbrink was a model of consistency in 2016, earning his first title. Ryan Moyer was gracious in passing the top spot to his rival. Curt Bish, Pat Fielding, and Russ Byler made for a competitive season. Shawn Smith, Andy Thompson, Steve Allison, Terry Wheeler, and Dan Fedorchak were other top runners in the class.
Doug Jones topped Mark Marcucci in the Rock Concrete Supply Modified Lites. Shane Webb, Vivian Jones, and Jason Johnson logged top fives, followed by Jacob Bova, the tag team of Levi Spinneweber/Chris Logan/Kenny Meadows/and Keith Smith, Kurt Eckstrom, Dusty Frantz, and Bill Stivason.
Tyler Fulton reigned in the Mini Stocks, which were under the twin banners of Eperthener’s Auto Wrecking and Ray’s Racing Collectibles. Isaac Paden, Shane Shook, Tim Callahan, and Jacob Rice were top five pilots as well. William Haylett, Karlee Longwell, Ed Haylett, Summer Pitts, and Josh Rathbun had positions six through ten nailed down.
The first Elder Junior Sprint title belonged to a third member of the Jones family, Roman Jones. He was chased to the line by Jordan Simmons, Ayden Cipriano, Sam Darby, and Chase Metheney. Austin Cavanaugh, Maddie Bova, Alivia Bish, Jaren Dye, Peyton Bova, an Ty Lance completed the top ten.
Vivian Jones was heralded as the most improved driver, and William Haylett was touted as the rookie of the year. These teens vowed to be back in action at the Park throughout the 2017 season.
Management presented the tentative 2017 schedule, which promises to be chock full of excitement and variety. The season will kick off on March 18, with a practice session, followed by the Snowflake 25 for the Mini Stocks and the Jack Frost Enduro 100. The Chiller Thriller will be up next on March 25, featuring the BRP Modified Tour in the first of two grudge matches with the track’s 358 Modifieds. The return match will be the August 12 Smackdown! Other special events will be the ULMS Late Models on April 15; The All Star Circuit of Champions Sprints on May 6; the B.O.S.S. Sprints without wings on May 27; the Patriot Sprint Tour for 360 Sprints on July 1; the Putzy Kekich Memorial on August 5; and the FAST Summer Shootout for 410s and 305s on August 19. The Little Guy Nationals will have a Preview in July, and the finale in Late September or early October. Please note that these dates are tentative and subject to change.
Remember that you can get alerts regarding the cancellation of any racing event at Mercer Raceway Park sent directly to your smartphone or other electronic device. To register, please go to the track’s website, www.mercerracewaypark.com, click on the icon for RainedOut.com, and follow the easy steps.
Marketing partners for the 2017 season at Mercer Raceway Park are still being signed up. Interested parties can contact the track office at 724-662-1310 for details.
About Mercer Raceway Park: Mercer Raceway Park is a 3/8-mile dirt track located minutes from both Interstate 79 and 80 just off Route 19 on Fairground Road in Mercer, Pa. Dirt track racing and quality family entertainment are presented weekly from late March through late September. For more information, check out www.mercerracewaypark.com, www.twitter.com/mercerraceway, or www.facebook.com/mercerracewaypark.