Rick’s Racing Roundup: Race Tracks Kicked Off the 2020 Season With Perfect Weather

| June 17, 2020

Tom Holden in victory lane after an emotional win at Tri-City (Rick Rarer photo)Western Pennsylvania was graced with perfect weather over the weekend as several area race tracks opened their 2020 seasons.

(Photo: Tom Holden in victory lane after an emotional win at Tri-City. Taken by: Rick Rarer)

A standing room only crowd filled Thunder Mountain Speedway in Knoxdale for their first race of the season.

An impressive field of thirty-five super late models filled the pit area for the 20th annual ULMS season opener.

Ohio’s Doug Drown put in an impressive performance besting some of the northwest’s best late model drivers for his second career ULMS win. Mike Pegher, Max Blair, Chub Frank, and Michael Lake would follow Drown across the line to round out the top five. Drown made it a two-win weekend scoring another win Saturday night at Wayne County Speedway in Ohio. Thunder Mountain will be back in action this Friday. The ULMS late model series will return to action on Sunday when they travel to Bradford Speedway.

Doug Drown bested a strong field of late models to take home the opening night honors at Thunder Mountain. Photo taken by Rick Rarer.

Doug Drown bested a strong field of late models to take home the opening night honors at Thunder Mountain. Photo taken by Rick Rarer.

Hummingbird Speedway also opened their gates on the 2020 season over the weekend. For the Bird, it begins their 56th season of racing and a big crowd and field of cars turned out to get the season going. Opening night winners included Jon Lee in the super late models along with Bryce Swauger (pure stocks), Bruce Hartzfeld (street stocks), Nick Erskine (semi lates), and Shawn Hadden (four cylinders). Hummingbird will be back in action this Saturday with another five division racing program along with the Young Gun Jr sprints.

Brandon Spithaler celebrates his first career win at Tri-City Photo taken by Rick Rarer.

Brandon Spithaler celebrates his first career win at Tri-City Photo taken by Rick Rarer.

On Sunday, Tri-City Raceway completed their second show of the 2020 season with another action packed four division show. Another good crowd gathered and saw Brandon Spithaler put together an impressive performance in the sprint car feature at near record speeds. After last week’s win Tim Shaffer was the odds on favorite Sunday but he couldn’t keep up with Spithaler’s torrid pace during the twenty five lap feature.

Spithaler would lap up to fourth place to score his first career win at the Venango County oval. Shaffer would settle for second place this week with Jack Sodeman Jr. and last week’s runner up Lee Jacobs rounding out the top four.

“This track was perfect tonight.  If Tri-City was like this every week, I would love it,” Spithaler declared in victory lane.  “When I saw that Shaffer was behind me on the scoreboard under caution, I knew I needed to take every chance in lapped traffic, to keep him in second place.”

In the 358 modified feature, Tom Holden, of Sheffield, scored an emotional win with a late race pass of Eric Beggs for his first win of the season. In victory lane, Holden dedicated the win to his late father and sister who recently passed. In the stock car feature, Rod Laskey would pass Curt Bish on the final lap for a thrilling win. Dillon Speer swept both mini stock features to close out the evening. Tri-City will be back in action this Sunday evening with the 410 sprint cars headlining the show and the first appearance of the vintage modifieds this season.

After holding a practice this past Friday, exciting news from Lernerville Speedway finds the action track finally reopening this Friday with the return of Fab 4 racing. Fans will be required to sign a COVID-19 waiver before entering the track and wear a mask when entering. As always, racing will get under way at 7:30 sharp.

It was also announced that the 14th annual Firecracker 100 featuring the World of Outlaws will take place the following weekend. The Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup is also a go with action slated for Tuesday July 21st.

Mercer Raceway Park also announced they will be opening their gates for the first time on the 17th, and the 24th for open practice.

Then, on Saturday June 27th, racing will return with a big six division show; 410 & 305 sprint cars, big block modifieds, limited modifieds, mini stocks, and mod lites will all be on the card.


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