PORT ROYAL, PA – With the historical 50th annual Tuscarora 50 looming at Port Royal Speedway, after six weeks of work, it is my pleasure to offer and release this never before assembled compilation of results of the first 49 years of the prestigious event.
Saturday, Sept. 21, 1968: The original “Mr. Excitement,” Mitch Smith of Linglestown scored the inaugural running of the Tuscarora 50 in an outstanding performance aboard the Gary’s Auto Wreckers No. 5. The race required one restart on the 39th lap for Sam Yoder. Johnny Grum, who finished second, started closing the gap Smith had built on the 30th lap and was on Smith’s bumper when the caution appeared. Grum had the lead coming up the frontstetch on the restart but Smith got through the first turn and held the lead the rest of the way. Yoder had led from the drop of the green until John Ebersole took over on lap four. Then Junior Ritchey took over on lap six and held sway until Smith powered to the head of the field. Heats went to Lynn Paxton, Jim Kennedy and Smith with Ritchey taking the consolation.
Saturday, Oct. 3, 1969: Delayed by rain from Sept. 27, Mitch Smith roared to his second consecutive Tuscarora title in the second running of the race. Smith took $1,000 for the win with Elmer Ruby taking home $800 for second and Steve Ungar scoring $600 for third. Jim Kennedy had the lead at the end of the first lap and would hold it for ten until his car went sour and Smith took over. Kennedy had set a new one-lap track record of 22.05 seconds before dropping out. Smith then broke the record three more times before the checkers to record a 21.57, breaking the 22-second mark for the first time in oval history. Heats went to Dan Miller, Kennedy and Ruby with Tommie Spriggle taking the consolation in a new 10-lap record time of 3:45.15.
Friday, Sept. 11, 1970: Mitch Smith went three-for-three in the Tuscarora 50 in 1970, yet again aboard the Gary’s Auto Wreckers No. 5 owned by Gary Wasson. Smith took the 50 after also winning the Labor Day Classic a few days earlier. The $1,000 50 victory was Smith’s 32nd career win at Port Royal where he also won the 1970 season lidlifter. It turned into a big weekend for “The Linglestown Leadfoot,” as Smith towed to Selinsgrove Speedway the next night and romped to a win in the “Selinsgrove 70,” worth $1,095.
Saturday, Sept. 11, 1971: Smokey Snellbaker blew the engine in his regular sprint, the Roy Morral 880, climbed into the Al Hamilton 77, and drove like he owned it and won the fourth annual Tuscarora 50 to give Hamilton his first event victory of what would end up being five in his illustrious ownership career. Snellbaker pocketed $1,000 for the win. It was a big night for car owner Hamilton as his other driver, Billy Cassella, finished second and it was the first time that Hamilton’s cars ever finished one-two in a race. Track champion Elmer Ruby blew his engine while running second and Johnny Grum went out with front-end troubles. Lynn Paxton was without a ride. Heats went to Paul Ober, Jim Kennedy and Snellbaker with Barry Camp taking the consolation.
Friday, Sept. 8, 1972: Lynn Paxton of Mechanicsburg captured the 1972 Tuscarora 50 aboard the Emrich Chevrolet No. 1, pocketing $1,200 for the checkers. Johnny Grum led throughout most of the event and at times had a full straightaway spread over Paxton but Grum seemed to have trouble getting through lapped cars and Paxton kept closing the gap. On the 37th tour Paxton took over for the win. Heats went to Bobby Allen, Rick Ferkle and Jan Opperman. Smokey Snellbaker won the consolation and set a new eight-lap track record of three minutes flat. Officials estimated event attendance at 15,000.
Friday, Sept. 7, 1973: Midwest transplant Kenny Weld scored his second career Port Royal victory in the 1973 Tuscarora, giving No. 29 car owner Bob Weikert his first of what would end up being five total checkers in the event. Weld won the 50 just a few days after claiming the annual Labor Day Classic, which was his first career win at Port Royal in his 17th recorded oval start. Reports had Weld winning the 50 “after another exciting battle with an all-star field.” The caution was out only once during the 50-lap event, on the 18th loop. Jimmy Boyd and Weld took heats with Jim Edwards winning the consolation. Weld set a new one-lap track record in his heat with a time of 20.82 seconds.
Saturday, Sept. 7, 1974: Again in the Emrich No. 1, Lynn Paxton won the seventh running of the Tuscarora for his second oval win of the year in the season-ending event after also winning the season opener. The exciting 50-lap event saw Van May take the lead at the start and hold it for the first seven laps when Bobby Weaver flipped in the first turn. On the restart Rick Schmelyun grabbed the lead and held it until the 19th lap when track champion Smokey Snellbaker took over. Snellbaker led until the 37th lap when his rear end went out. Meanwhile, Paxton, who had went to the rear after pitting under caution on lap 14, had worked his way back up to second and took over the lead. Heats went to Paul Pitzer, Paxton and Jimmy Boyd with Dub May winning the consolation.
Friday, Sept. 12, 1975: Aboard the O.J. Myers No. 19, Steve Smith Sr. of New Oxford made his first-ever win at Port Royal Speedway a big one by scoring the 1975 Tuscarora 50 worth $1,200. Buck Buckly led the first 15 laps from the pole before pulling pitside, handing the lead over to three-time 50 winner Mitch Smith. Smith led for the next 10 circuits until a sour motor sidelined him, giving Lincoln Speedway powerhouse Steve Smith control all the way to the finish. Although never credited with leading a lap, Smokey Snellbaker actually got the lead twice in the race. Snellbaker first took the lead when he blew under Buckly for the lead on the 14th lap only to blow a tire and tag to the rear for a restart. Snellbaker then motored back to the front and moved into the lead around Smith with 23 laps to go but couldn’t hold the line. After a side-by-side race with Smith for several laps, Snellbaker pitted with 11 to go with a broken radius rod. Heats went to Keith Kauffman and Jim Sheaffer with Jimmy Nace winning the consolation. The original race date of Sept. 5 was rained out.
Friday, Sept. 10, 1976: McAlisterville driver Jim Nace scored the bicentennial Tuscarora 50 edition aboard his No. 44. Nace watched as Lynn Paxton and Jay Myers, the two top ranked Port Royal drivers during the season, both got knocked out, and then he took the lead with 19 laps left. Paxton the point champion was knocked out before the first lap was completed as a spectacular crack-up in the first turn took out four cars including Paxton, Gary Howsare, Chris Crisswell and Dave Reigle. Then Myers became the new favorite from the ninth starting spot and when green reappeared he shot into third where he stayed until lap 25 when he made his move and began pulling away from Barry Camp, the leader of the first 24 laps. Myers had a commanding lead by lap 27 but soon withdrew under caution on lap 28 with a broken rear end. Camp inherited the lead back and built a sizeable margin but Nace, now up to second, found the door open on lap 32 and squeezed past Camp coming off the second turn to pull away. Only six cars completed the entire 50 laps of the race and only eight were running at the finish. The win was Nace’s first ever in his own car.
Saturday, Sept. 17, 1977: Again delayed a week by rain, Tuscarora 50 laurels went to Everett’s Gary Howsare in 1977. Howsare was at the wheel of the Boop’s Aluminum Special No. 1 machine during what car owner Maynard Boop dubbed the “Boops Rent-A-Racer” season due to having no long-term, fixed driver for the year. Howsare claimed the 50-lap special by out-dueling Steve Smith in the late stages. The early leader, Howsare surrendered the number one spot to Mitch Smith on the 17th lap but regained it eight laps later and then stayed in front the rest of the way. Heats for 43 cars went to Jay Myers, Howsare and Mitch Smith with Jim Sheaffer taking the consolation.
Friday, Sept. 8, 1978: The driver who would become the all-time track favorite and winningest driver, Keith Kauffman of Mifflintown won the ’78 Tuscarora in what was an odyssey voyage for his first event victory. Battling his way from the rear of the pack, Kauffman caught Steve Smith in the final turn on the final lap to claim the checkers. During warm-ups, Kauffman found his machine spewing oil so he returned the car to his shop and changed engines only to return to the track with heats finished and just the consolation race remaining before the 50. An initial consolation red flag gave Kauffman enough time to get into the pits and unload and tag the consy field in which he raced up to second for a spot in the 50. Bill Stevick led the first lap of the main before Smokey Snellbaker took over before blowing his engine on lap 22. That pushed Steve Smith into the lead but with five laps to go Smith began struggling with lapped cars and Kauffman rode his tail before using the high line to steal the win in the final turn. A field of 35 cars competed.
Friday, Sept. 7, 1979: Veteran Smokey Snellbaker took his second career 50 in 1979 from the eighth starting spot aboard the Lloyd No. 56. Tom Bryner led the first two laps of the race from the pole before a restart saw Keith Kauffman take over. Snellbaker chased Kauffman from the third lap until the 14th lap when he slid into the lead as the cars came around for lap 15. Lynn Paxton began to challenge for the win on the second restart of the race on the 18th lap through lap 31 when he suddenly pitted. The race went non-stop from lap 33 to the finish. The race marked the end of a quarter-century run by Leroy Felty who for the first time in 26 years went through an entire season without competing in any feature at Port Royal Speedway.
Friday, Sept. 5, 1980: A crowd estimated at over 10,000 people saw Lynn Paxton of York Springs win the 13th annual 50, his career third and final in the event, coming aboard the Boop’s No. 1. Paxton took command of the race after early leader Randy Wolfe blew a tire while leading. Paxton’s winning margin was about 20 lengths over Keith Kauffman. Kauffman blew a tire mid-race and had to come back from the rear.
Friday, Sept. 11, 1981: George Ferguson Jr. of Fort Washington scored his first ever sprint car win by becoming the ninth different winner of the Tuscarora 50, beating a field of 37 sprint cars. Aboard the Ferguson No. 52, Ferguson saw early leaders fall out of the event. Steve Siegel, the early leader, brought out the caution flag on lap eight with a broken driveline. Smokey Snellbaker then inherited the lead for laps nine through 36 with Ferguson and Billy Stief close behind. On lap 36 Snellbaker got a flat tire, causing another yellow flag and handing the lead to Ferguson. On the restart Stief passed Ferguson for the win and led laps 37 to 42 before retiring with engine woes. A final yellow with two laps to go found Ferguson unheeded for the victory.
Friday, Sept. 10, 1982: One of the original outlaws, Hanover’s Bobby Allen dropped off of the outlaws trail, invaded and walked off with the 1982 Tuscarora crown to pick up his 18th overall win of the season while it was the first of his career at Port Royal. Allen passed 1982 track champion Randy Wolfe on the 42nd lap to get the win. Van May led the first 16 laps while Wolfe headed the pack from laps 17 to 41. Allen started 19th and motored into second at the halfway point. Allen then dropped back to third before retaking second with 14 laps to go before moving in on Wolfe for the victory. Allen was credited with a new 25-lap track record after running the final 25 non-stop in a time of 8:22.56. Heats went to May and Wolfe.
Friday, Sept. 9, 1983: Dave Blaney of Hartford, Ohio, made his third Port Royal appearance of the 1983 season a profitable one by claiming the Tuscarora 50. Blaney inherited the lead from Bobby Davis on the 36th lap when Davis’ car caught fire while under caution. At the lap 25 mandatory break in the action, 15th starter Blaney had Davis leading with Bobby Allen in second and Keith Kauffman in third. Kauffman dropped out with engine woes on lap 32 and Allen went to the rear after replacing a flat tire on lap 35. Heats went to Davis, Kauffman and Lynn Paxton. The start of the racing program was delayed to allow a large crowd time to enter the speedway.
Friday, Sept. 7, 1984: South Dakota’s Doug Wolfgang won his first Tuscarora 50 of what would be four in a row in 1984 at the wheel of the Weikert’s Livestock No. 29 machine. Wolfgang inherited the lead and $4,000 win from Van May on the 31st lap when May pitted with a flat tire. Jim Nace took home $3,000 for second place. The race was red flagged on the initial start for a Keith Kauffman frontstretch accident. Kauffman climbed Paul Lotier’s wheel sending his Hamilton machine out of control and into the wall. The last place car came onto the scene seconds later and broadsided Kauffman who was waving his arms trying to get the car to stop before the collision. The impact sent Kauffman’s car some 60 feet sideways. Then Billy Howard flipped in the first turn after hitting Randy Wolfe while trying to avoid Kauffman. Heats went to Lotier, Maynard Yingst and Dave Wickham.
Friday, Sept. 6, 1985: In the midst of an unprecedented season at the wheel of the Weikert No. 29, Doug Wolfgang won his second 50 in a row in 1985, taking over $4,000 for the win that was his 44th overall on the season. Wolfgang passed Jim Nace off of the second turn to take the lead and win on the 15th lap. The race was marred by a terrible accident on the 26th lap that injured drivers Van May, Kenny Smith and flagman Bob Hockenberry. When Smith lost power on the frontstretch, may climbed his rear wheel and nearly flipped onto the stage before vaulting into the starter’s stand, destroying it and knocking Hockenberry to the ground while continuing to flip toward the first turn. After being cut from the car, May was airlifted to a hospital. In trying to avoid May’s flipping sprinter, the cars of Keith Kauffman and Smokey Snellbaker were destroyed as they flipped into turn one with the fuel cell of Smith being impacted and bursting into flames. Also enveloped in the fire were Joey Gravino and Jerry Stone. Heats went to Randy Wolfe, Kauffman and May with Snellbaker claiming the consolation.
Friday, Sept. 5, 1986: Doug Wolfgang took the lead from Cris Eash on the ninth lap going down the backchute and then held off Dave Kelly mid-race to easily claim his third 50 in a row for Bob Weikert, worth $7,785. Jerry Stone overtook Maynard Yingst for third on the final lap. Heats were won by Keith Kauffman, Wolfgang and Darren Eash with Gary Gollub taking the consolation.
Friday, Sept. 25, 1987: Doug Wolfgang surged from the eighth restarting spot at the mandatory lap 25 restart to get his record-setting fourth Tuscarora 50 in a row in 1986 while also scoring an unprecedented fifth event win for car owner Bob Weikert. During the lap 25 stoppage for refueling, Wolfgang changed gears, tires and torsion bars on his car, allowing it to hook up to the smooth track. Todd Shaffer led the first six laps before Bobby Weaver drove by in lapped traffic. Shaffer retook command from Weaver with a daring inside move in traffic on the 23rd circuit. Wolfgang got by Paul Lotier for fourth on lap 35 and Dave Kelly for third a lap later. With 37 laps down, leader Shaffer spun to bring out the yellow flag and Joey Allen moved from fifth to third on the restart and then closed in on Wolfgang and new leader Weaver. With 10 laps to go, Allen drove by Wolfgang and then took the lead from Weaver with eight laps to go. A lap later, Weaver broke a spindle, forcing a caution and Wolfgang used the restart to get around Allen before Allen lost his motor while racing close for the win on the 45th tour. Wolfgang pocketed over $6,000 for his night of work that included another victory on the night, in the Miller Winner’s Classic.
Friday, Sept. 9, 1988: Some 13 years after his father took a Tuscarora 50 win, Stevie Smith of New Oxford scored in 1988 to etch the first and only father/son winners in 50 record books. Aboard the Creasy Signs No. 19, Smith was billed as an “easy” winner in a race that took place “before the largest crowd in speedway history.” Smith took the lead on the fourth lap from Fred Rahmer and pocketed $12,000 in cash for the triumph. After getting the lead, Smith ran away with it, lapping up to eighth place by the finish. His pace was halted for a flip by Ricky Hood aboard the Weikert sprinter when Hood flipped over the first turn fence after climbing the wheel of Bobby Landis. Track big guns Keith Kauffman and Paul Lotier failed to qualify for the event. Heats for 48 cars went to Frankie Kerr, Dave Kelly, Allen Ruth and Landis with consolations going to Roger Fickett and Lance Dewease. Smith also won the Miller Beer Dash later in the night from 14th starting spot for another $2,000 and then scored at Lincoln Speedway a night later to pocket another 10K.
Friday, Sept. 8, 1989: Bobby Allen won the second 50 of his career in the 22nd running of the event, inheriting the lead and win on the final lap when Doug Wolfgang coasted to a stop with a blown motor. Tim Dietz led laps one through 19 before being passed by 1989 track champion Dave Kelly. Dietz and Kelly raced side by side for 10 laps before Kelly finally got the lead. Kelly held sway until lap 31 when Wolfgang used the high groove to pass him on a restart caused by Dietz’s stopped machine. Once in front, Wolfgang built a big lead with Allen passing Kelly for second with nine laps to go but failing to close on the leader. Heats went to Bobby Landis, Bobby Weaver, Dietz and Kelly with Lance Dewease winning the consolation.
Friday, Sept. 7, 1990: An emerging Todd Shaffer of Millerstown struck for his first Tuscarora win in 1989 in an event delayed four hours by rain. The victory was the biggest in Shaffer’s young career to date. The pilot started fourth in the main and passed Tim Dietz going into the first turn on the ninth lap for the lead. Shaffer pulled away from the field until a lap 15 flip by Bobby Strawser caused a red flag. Shaffer opened up a half-lap lead after the restart, before the mandatory lap 25 stoppage. The second half of the race saw very little passing although second runner Dave Kelly was able to close on Shaffer between laps 40 and 45 in traffic before a caution for a stopped Lance Dewease cleared the way. Heats went to Shaffer, Kelly, Dan Dietrich and Strawser with Paul Lotier and Judd Shepard claiming the consolations.
Friday, Sept. 6, 1991: Again aboard his familiar Turnbaugh No. 11, Todd Shaffer made it back to back 50 wins in 1991 with the victory being his 21st overall of the season. Shaffer started sixth and moved into third at the halfway point of the first segment before taking the lead with 18 laps to go. His margin of victory was 15 car lengths and was worth over $8,200, capping off a week in which the car earned over $20,000. Barry Camp was a flip victim in the feature with three laps to go.
Friday, Sept. 11, 1992: Len Krautheim III., of Penns Creek, scored one for the Selinsgrove Speedway fans in the Silver Anniversary Tuscarora as the Selinsgrove oval ’92 track champion invaded Port Royal and walked away with the $7,500 loot from the pole, leading all 50 laps. Numerous caution and red flag periods hampered the race including for flips by Bobby Weaver, Bobby Strawser and Billy Crawford and for a nine-car pileup with 16 laps to go. Aboard the Steve Kemble, KNK Motorsports No. 3K, Krautheim outran another Selinsgrove regular, Chuck Reinert, for the win although Reinert was quickly tracking him down on the high side at the finish before running out of laps. Interestingly, Krautheim’s mechanic Rob Peters discovered under a red flag period that his car had lost its right front torsion bar and arm and under another red flag, Peters discovered that the motor had lost its lower radiator hose. Both times, Peters was able to mend the issues, allowing Krautheim to preserve the win. Heats went to Lance Dewease, Keith Kauffman, Bobby Strawser and Krautheim with consolations going to Glen Fitzcharles and Troy Camp.
Friday, Sept. 10, 1993: Alan Cole led the first five laps of the 1993 50 before track champion Lance Dewease took the lead in the Dyer No. 461. Dewease checked out on the field during the mid-stages but following a lap 33 restart, No. 69K Don Kreitz Jr. raced with Fred Rahmer for second before securing the spot with nine laps to go. Kreitz then quickly closed in on Dewease and took the lead with a fourth turn pass on lap 43 before pulling away to his first-ever Tuscarora 50 checkers. Heats for 43 cars went to Todd Shaffer, Keith Kauffman, Dewease and Dan Dietrich with twin consolations going to Bill Brian Jr. and Jim Nace.
Friday, Sept. 9, 1994: A year after nearly getting his first-ever win in the 50, Lance Dewease put it all together for that elusive first 50 triumph in 1994 aboard the Walt Dyer No. 461. The Waynesboro driver took the lead on the 14th circuit from Todd Gracey and then held off Fred Rahmer in the middle of the race and Billy Pauch near the end. Heats for 35 cars went to Dan Dietrich, Craig Eshenaur and Dewease with Todd Shaffer taking the consolation race.
Friday, Sept. 8, 1995: Millerstown’s Todd Shaffer led all 50 laps in a romp to record his third event victory in the 1995 installment of the 50, aboard the Beam No. 88 sprinter. Shaffer had three lapped cars separating himself from Fred Rahmer on a restart with five laps to go, taking the edge off of any potential final lap moves for a late upset. Heats for 39 cars went to Mark Richard, Len Krautheim III., Shaffer and Craig Eshenaur. Twin consolations went to Alan Cole and Tim Kuhn.
Friday, Sept. 20, 1996: After leading the first 25 laps and appearing headed to his second Tuscarora win, Lance Dewease came up lame with a flat rear tire and surrendered the lead at the halfway break to Salfordville’s Fred Rahmer aboard the Hamilton No. 77. Todd Shaffer came to second during the last 15 laps but failed to steal the win as Rahmer went on to seal up his first-ever 50 triumph with three more to come in his career. Heats for 41 cars went to Shaffer, Mike Wagner, Alan Cole and Kevin Gobrecht with consolations going to Jeff Thompson and Will Cramer.
Friday, Sept. 5, 1997: No. 69K Don Kreitz Jr. led the race early from the second starting spot as invader Dale Blaney in the Hughes Wheel & Axle No. 94 raced in second and got around Kreitz during the second half only to see Kreitz reclaim the point. Aboard the Hamilton Motorsports No. 77, Salfordville’s Fred Rahmer, who started 12th in the field, got around Kreitz for the lead during the last six circuits for his second victory in a row in the prestigious event. Heats for 38 cars went to Todd Shaffer, Lance Dewease, Kreitz and Cris Eash with twin consolations going to Dave Ely and Jeff Rohrbaugh.
Saturday, Sept. 12, 1998: Carrying a sanction for the first time in its 31-year history and expanded to a two-day show for the first time ever as well, the 1998 Tuscarora 50 would belong to Memphis, Tennessee, pilot Greg Hodnett aboard the Apple Chevrolet, Bob Stewart-owned No. 12. Making his first starts ever as a Pennsylvania regular in the races sanctioned by the All Star Circuit of Champions Sprints, Hodnett took the lead from Fred Rahmer on lap 13 of 30 on Friday night, taking the $4,000 victory by a half lap. In Saturday night’s 50, Lance Dewease led the first 41 circuits with Kenny Jacobs and Hodnett lurking before Hodnett took over and Dewease blew a tire shortly after. The $10,000 event win was the first of Hodnett’s career. Some 42 cars were in action for the 50 with Jeff Shepard setting quick time with a lap of 16.554 seconds. Heats went to Cris Eash, Johnny Mackison Jr., Dean Jacobs and Hodnett with James Chesson taking the B Main.
Saturday, Sept. 11, 1999: Aboard his No. 69K, Don Kreitz Jr. of Sinking Spring started second in the race and destroyed a stellar field of sprints, taking his second career Tuscarora 50, worth more than $10,000. A total of 42 cars were in action in a race sanctioned by the All Star Circuit of Champions Sprints with Joey Saldana setting fast time in qualifications with a lap of 16.353 seconds. Heat races went to Shawn Keen, Johnny Mackison Jr., Greg Hodnett and Jeff Shepard with Paul McMahan taking the B Main. A second sprint car main staged following the 50 highlighted the night as the make-up Labor Day Classic was spun off after rain postponed it earlier in the week. Jeff Shepard took that victory with Kreitz finishing second. The Friday night 50 preliminary was scored by No. 77E Dave Ely in what was his first-ever win in a sprint car anywhere with 43 cars in action.
Saturday, Sept. 9, 2000: Fred Rahmer took his third victory in the Tuscarora 50 in 2000, taking home $10,000 for the win while leading 39 laps of the contest that was back to being an unsanctioned event. Amid lapped traffic, Lance Dewease scooted by Rahmer for the lead on the seventh tour but found Rahmer wrestling to regain command, which he took on the 18th lap. A volley of flat tires with 20 laps to go sidelined the likes of second runner Dewease and third runner Jeff Shepard along with Mark Richard and Keith Kauffman, placing Todd Shaffer in second and although Shaffer gave it a run during the final stages, Rahmer streaked under the checkers for the win. Heats for the 32-car field went to Cris Eash, Mark Richard, Brian Gobrecht and Kauffman with Tim Kuhn scoring the consolation race. Lance Dewease won the Friday preliminary race in what would be his first of two in a row. The win was also the first of four career in the precursor for car owner Joe Harz.
Saturday, Sept. 8, 2001: Lance Dewease took home over $12,000 for his second 50 win in 2001, aboard the Joe Harz No. 88H and pulled off the same feat as Greg Hodnett did in 1998 by sweeping both Tuscarora races, on Friday and Saturday night. In the Saturday 50, Dewease led early from the pole before Todd Shaffer used a lap 16 restart to motor by for control but Dewease then came back and drove by Shaffer on the backstretch with 11 laps to go after getting a great run off of the top-side of the second turn. Heats for the 34-car field were taken by Keith Kauffman, Greg Hodnett, Don Kreitz Jr. and Fred Rahmer with Alan Cole scoring the consolation race. Dewease took the lead late from a faltering Todd Hestor to pick up the Friday win.
Saturday, Sept. 7, 2002: Six-time track champion Lance Dewease of Fayetteville took his third career win in Port Royal’s most illustrious race in 2002, and for as many different car owners to boot. Aboard the Hamilton No. 77, Dewease bided his time early and then began moving forward near the halfway point. Meanwhile, early leader Sean Michael and challenger Fred Rahmer staged a spirited duel for control during the first 25 laps with Rahmer at the halfway helm and Dewease restarting second. Dewease squeezed between the inside rail and Rahmer to take the lead with 22 laps to go. The win for car owner Al Hamilton gave him a total of five in the event, tying him with Bob Weikert at the top of the all-time event win list for car owners. Heats for 32 cars went to Mark Smith, Michael, Todd Hestor and Rahmer with Kevin Frey taking the consolation. Don Kreitz Jr. led the first several laps of the Friday preliminary night before Greg Hodnett took over for the win.
Saturday, Sept. 6, 2003: With the race well in hand and threatening to sweep the weekend for the second time in six years, leader Greg Hodnett came up with a souring motor with 13 laps to go in the 50 and nursed his car and engine all the way to lap 48 when it finally quit spewing white smoke and he handed the lead over to 53-year old veteran Keith Kauffman aboard the Middleswarth No. 7. Kauffman then took the win, his second in the event and first in the race since 1978, pocketing $10,000 after moving into the second spot with nine laps completed. Heats for a 40-car field went to Mike Walter, Fred Rahmer, Stevie Smith and Lynton Jeffrey with Don Kreitz Jr. taking the last chance race. Hodnett took the lead from Todd Shaffer to win on Friday night.
Saturday, Sept. 11, 2004: Now a Central Pa regular for several years since his first 50 win in 1998, Greg Hodnett returned for a second event victory in 2004 aboard the Bob Stewart, Apple Motorsports No. 12. Hodnett started 12th in the field and drove by Don Kreitz Jr. for second on a lap 12 restart before dusting off early leader Todd Shaffer on lap 14 to take control. Mark Smith came to second with 33 laps to go but failed to challenge for the win. Heats for 33 cars went to Hodnett, Rick Lafferty, Kreitz and Darren Eash. Craig Keel won the consolation race. Fred Rahmer took his first of two consecutive wins in the preliminary race on Friday night.
Saturday, Sept. 10, 2005: Fred Rahmer became the third driver to complete a sweep of the Tuscarora weekend races when he pulled off the feat in 2005. On Friday the Salfordville speedster started 11th and was up to fourth by lap five before taking control from Chad Layton. In Saturday’s 50 itself, Rahmer started on the pole in the seat of the Harz No. 88H and led all 50 laps for the $10,000 victory, cruising through traffic during the final non-stop 25 laps to record his fourth win in the prestigious event and his last while joining Doug Wolfgang in history as just the second driver ever to win four Tuscaroras. Heats for the 36-car field went to Craig Keel, Lucas Wolfe, Justin Collett and TJ Stutts with twin consolations going to Mike Wagner and Lance Dewease.
Saturday, Sept. 9, 2006: Seven-time 2006 oval winner Mark Smith led by a straightaway early in the 50 over Fred Rahmer but third starter Lance Dewease was lurking aboard the Postupack No. 25. He moved into second, getting around Fred Rahmer on lap 14 and then mixed it up with Smith and challenger Doug Esh from laps 35 – 41 as the trio exchanged the front spots at will with Dewease first being scored the leader on lap 40. Esh took second with five to go and challenged for the win but Dewease ended up winning his fourth career Tuscarora 50 for his fourth different car owner, worth $10,000. Heats for the 35-car field went to Todd Shaffer, Dewease, Mark Coldren and Alan Cole with Kenny Jacobs scoring the consolation. Keith Kauffman led every lap to win Friday’s feature event.
Saturday, Sept. 8, 2007: Lincoln Speedway invader Doug Esh would pick up his first of two career Tuscarora triumphs in 2007 aboard the Leach No. 30. Esh of Lancaster started third in the field and followed early leader Sean Michael before pulling the trigger on the seventh lap. Aboard the Brian Golden No. 12, Kevin Nouse followed Esh and took second spot a lap later but gave way to Keith Kauffman for the spot during the final three laps. Esh took $11,000 for the victory, which was also his first career checkers at the oval. Todd Shaffer took his first of two in a row in the event in the Friday night preliminary.
Sunday, Sept. 7, 2008: After a Saturday rain out, the Sunday make-up date found Elizabethville’s Mike Erdley scoring the big victory in the 50, worth over $10,700. Aboard the Lisi No. 11, Erdley trailed polesitter Brian Leppo for the first 20 laps before biting fast to the bottom groove off of the second turn to drive by for the lead. After taking the lead, Erdley had to hold off a charging Greg Hodnett who was going for his third career 50 win. Heats for 34 cars went to Blane Heimbach, Dave Hahn, Cliff Brian and Brian Montieth with Chad Layton taking the consolation race. Erdley had a pair of good runs on the weekend, finishing second on Friday to preliminary winner Todd Shaffer.
Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009: Aboard the Kline No. 22, Greg Hodnett won his third career Tuscarora 50 in a flag to flag performance from the pole of the event. The Thomasville speedster took home $12,750 for the win. Third starter Daryn Pittman came to second early and trailed Hodnett as he entered traffic on the ninth loop. Pittman and Stevie Smith battled for second as the race waned, swapping the spot a few times before Smith took it for good with six laps to go. Heats for 42 cars went to Keith Kauffman, Pittman, Hodnett and Todd Shaffer. Twin consolations went to Kerry Madsen and Dave Ely. The Friday night preliminary race was rained out.
Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010: Lincoln Speedway track champion Brian Montieth of Phoenixville won the 2010 version of the 50 after swapping the lead for several laps mid-race with 21st starter Fred Rahmer. Aboard the Parrish No. 21, Montieth started on the pole and led until lap 26 when Rahmer took over but Montieth then used the top lane to track down Rahmer in a rousing run to go back out front on lap 32 for his first ever Port Royal win. A close three-car race for second that wasn’t far behind the leader was destroyed on the 11th lap when the second, third and fourth place cars of Lance Dewease, Stevie Smith and Greg Hodnett crashed out. Heats went to Rick Lafferty, Danny Dietrich, Mike Erdley and Greg Hodnett with Rahmer taking the consolation race. Stevie Smith drove the Zemco No. 1 to his first of three career wins in the preliminary race on Friday night.
Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011: Stevie Smith of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, scored his second career Tuscarora 50 in the 44th annual running of the event with a flag to flag run aboard the Zemco No. 1 in 2011. Smith scored a clean sweep of the night by winning his heat race, worth $300, the dash, worth $100 and the feature worth, $11,000 and adding lap money on top of that, Smith had earned nearly $13,000 by the end of the night. Justin Henderson chased Smith for the first 46 laps before a surging Danny Dietrich blasted into second before running down Smith only to run out of laps in an effort to get the victory. Heats for a 45-car field went to Smith, Todd Shaffer, TJ Winegardner, Mike Wagner and Doug Esh. Brent Marks took the B Main. The Friday preliminary was rained out thanks to a relentless monsoon-like thunderstorm during the event.
Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012: With the All Stars again sanctioning the big event, Lancaster’s Doug Esh struck for second blood in the 2012 50, staging a come-from-behind victory aboard the Leach No. 30 to pocket $11,450 for the win. Trying to claim his first ever 50, Mike Wagner stretched out a big lead early while Brent Marks raced into second. In traffic, Marks tracked down Wagner and took the lead with 18 completed. Meanwhile, a fierce battle between the surging cars of Danny Dietrich and Lance Dewease ended in disaster when contact sent them into the outside first turn wall on the 24th lap while vying for sixth. On the restart, Esh began blasting forward, making a two car pass using the ragged outside edge with 22 to go and he used that edge to take third a lap later. Esh finally ran down Mike Erdley for second with 18 laps left and then on lap 35 he went out front for the win. Heats for the 40-car field went to Keith Kauffman, Cap Henry, Erdley and Dewease with Blane Heimbach scoring the B Main. Quick time was set by Daryn Pittman with a lap of 17.343. In the Friday, Night Before The 50 race, Ohio’s Dale Blaney became the first bona-fide card-carrying All Star to ever win an All Stars event at the track since the series first visited the oval in 1981.
Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013: A field of 40 All Stars and Pennsylvania sprint cars contested the 46th annual Tuscarora 50 with Sinking Springs’ Don Kreitz Jr. taking his third career victory in the event, worth $13,200, after having not laid eyes on the track in four years. Kreitz never even intended to enter the event until he was at the track for the Friday night precursor to help teammate Ryan Smith and found the surface to his liking. And both Smith and Kreitz started on the front row for the 50 with Kreitz taking control and entering traffic on the sixth lap. Meanwhile, 24th starter Brian Montieth was blasting to the front, using the outside rail as a stabilizer, moving into fourth on just the 18th circuit. Just before the lap 25 stoppage, Monteith got by Tim Shaffer to score third and on the restart both he and 15th starter Danny Dietrich set sail after Kreitz from third and sixth respectively. The pair whizzed into second and third with 18 to go and Montieth would overtake Kreitz for control with 13 laps to go. That move forced Kreitz to move up a lane in an effort to come back and the lane choice worked as he was able to split a lapped car to his inside and Montieth to his outside to regain the lead in wild fashion with just 10 laps remaining. Heats went to Adam Wilt, Stevie Smith, Lance Dewease and Mike Wagner with the consolation going to Brian Leppo. Tim Shaffer set quick time with a lap of 16.827. Greg Hodnett led all 30 laps to win the Friday night All Stars race.
Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014: Greg Hodnett of Thomasville made a bold first lap, thread-the-needle move to take the lead in the 47th annual event to trump the field for the fourth 50 checkers of his career worth over $13,000 in the 2014 All Stars event. Fourth starter Hodnett got by front row starters Lynton Jeffrey and Danny Holtgraver on the first lap for the lead. Hodnett restarted after the lap 25 break with two lapped cars between himself and Stevie Smith in second and Dale Blaney in third. The final half of the event proved anti-climactic and Hodnett earned the checkers, giving a first-ever triumph in the race to No. 27 car owner Mike Heffner. The fourth career 50 win for Hodnett moved him into a four-way tie to be the winningest 50 driver in history with Lance Dewease, Fred Rahmer and Doug Wolfgang. Heats for a 41-car field went to Hodnett, Rick Lafferty, Jeffrey and Lance Dewease with Rodney Westhafer taking the B Main. Dale Blaney set quick time with a lap of 16.776 seconds. Stevie Smith won Friday night’s All Stars Night Before The 50 aboard Fred Rahmer’s No. 51 machine, overtaking Doug Esh on the 11th lap of the non-stop 30 lap main.
Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015: Capping off an amazing week of competition at Port Royal, No. 19M Brent Marks of Myerstown won the 48th annual Tuscarora to record his third oval win in the four races held at the track during the 2015 Juniata County Fair. After winning the Friday night preliminary event, he also became the fourth driver in history to sweep the Tuscarora weekend, joining Greg Hodnett, Lance Dewease and Fred Rahmer in the feat. The 50 itself was delayed a day due to Saturday rain but it was worth the wait with the first 25 laps proving electrifying with multiple lead changes. Ryan Taylor led lap one before Doug Esh took over. Esh nearly lost the lead on the seventh lap when he had to spin his car to avoid hitting a crashed Dylan Cisney however he kept going and retained it. But the restart saw Danny Dietrich power by for control however Esh was up to the challenge and tried to reclaim the helm and the two ended up colliding, taking themselves out of the race. This handed the lead to Mike Wagner under caution however Wagner never got to be scored the leader as the restart saw Ohio youngster Sheldon Haudenschild make a two-car pass and blast from third to the lead on lap nine. Marks moved into second with 12 away and restarted there after the lap 25 stoppage. Haudenschild erred on the restart, entering the first turn in the middle, allowing Marks to blast the top and take control. And once at the front, Marks turned on the afterburners to drive off from the field for the rest of the nonstop distance, pocketing $12,625 for the laurels. Sanctioned again by the All Stars, heats in the 41-car event went to Esh, Rodney Westhafer, Wagner and Lance Dewease. Twin B Mains went to Greg Wilson and Todd Shaffer with Greg Hodnett setting quick time of 18.138.
Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016: The 49th running of the Tuscarora 50 proved to be record breaking when six-time track champion Lance Dewease of Fayetteville became the first five-time event winner, putting himself at the top of the all-time event win list while also scoring his 100th career victory at the Port Royal Speedway while aboard Don Kreitz Jr’s No. 69K. Dewease started eighth in the All Stars field and took the lead on the 12th circuit when leader Greg Hodnett broke the rear end on his machine. Hodnett too was vying to win his fifth 50. Dewease’s 2016 50 win was also his fifth for as many car owners, with prior wins coming for Walt Dyer in the 461 in 1994, for Joe Harz in the 88H 2001, for Al Hamilton in the 77 in 2002 and for Pete Postupack in the 25 in 2006. Dewease restarted sixth in the field with eight laps down and poured on the power to move into second with 11 down. Stevie Smith raced into second before the lap 25 stoppage and at the new green, he kept pace with Dewease in the first and second turns while Dewease would regain the ground he lost in the fourth corner on every lap. A final caution with 19 to go reset the field but Dewease would again get away to take the $12,975 win, in fact checking out over the final circuits to win by nearly eight seconds. Heats for the 41-car field went to Blane Heimbach, Dale Blaney, Sheldon Haudenschild and TJ Stutts with Mike Wagner winning the B Main. Danny Dietrich set fast time with a lap of 16.479. Smith won his third Night Before The 50 event on Friday but only after Greg Hodnett and Dewease both took turns leading.
Synopsis and information researched and compiled by Shawn Brouse and Steve Swarmer. Thanks to Mifflin County Historical Society, Lewistown Sentinel, Juniata Sentinel, Port Royal Times and Area Auto Racing News for providing historical information and files.