Friday, June 10, 2011

The Write Track – “Clash at the Can” – Penn Can Speedway June 7th, 2011

The Write Track – “Clash at the Can” – Penn Can Speedway June 7th, 2011
By: Tom Ames

Somewhere down the winding road (Route 171) in Susquehanna, PA sits a little dirt track that they call, Penn Can Speedway. Very interesting track, if you have never been to this track, I suggest that you give it a try and won’t be disappointed. The promoters Al Wilcox and Reed Miller always have good car counts and the racing speaks for itself. I have been to Penn Can only two occasions before and each time the racing was close in every division, and this night proved no different. However, this event “Clash at The Can” was going too make history at the speedway with the highest paying modified show ever there at the track. With all the hype of this race roaring across the forums, and media papers and websites, you had to know it was a huge event. With the race being Co-Promoted by Brett Deyo, who has promoted the short track super nationals and also the one many have heard of, “The King of The Can”, which is a big race there, not someone who is king of sitting on the throne! This race paid $8,000 to the winner was going to be the biggest payday, for the winner, but the whole purse structure was huge as well, paying good money to start too. The payday is good for a 60-lap main event. Also racing was the 600 Excel Modifieds and the Trackside Products RoC Street Stocks.
It was a nice hot and humid morning and was planning on working, which I did for about 2 hours, as well as surf the internet, and had no intentions of heading to Penn can as it is two-hours away from me and I was broke. With that being said, my uncle who lives north of the speedway had been bugging me forever about this race, as he knew all the drivers and who is who in the modified world was going to be there. He always wants me to go, as he knows I pay attention to the races and always am quicker than him to know what drivers are driving what cars. (Well Sometimes). I was able to manage to get some money around from my awesome Grandmother and took half the day off, so I left Arkport, NY right about 3pm giving me just enough time to get there when the gates open. My uncle wanted me to go to this race so bad he paid for my way in!! He is obviously family, but that is the best part about it as it is RACING TOO!! So it is about 5:20pm and there I sit in turn one at the speedway and can’t believe it, the haulers are lined up all the way back to Rt. 171. The parking lot is crowed more than I have ever seen the last two times I was there. The numbers shooting around the crowd was that there was 80 Modifieds registered for the event, however only 66 modifieds showed up. Wait, ONLY 66!?!?! Yeah right that is one heck of a car count, not even close to what the Big Blocks bring in at the Mile anymore, so I was thinking that this show might be the biggest show I see all year. I don’t even think Hagerstown comes close in their Octoberfest races in the fall with car counts. There were drivers from New Jersey, PA, and also NY. Some of the biggest names that have ever been in a modified were there. Look at the list of those who did not qualify and heck they are all superstars! With a total of 66 cars on hand there was going to be 6 heats, holy crap this is freaking amazing and at first I didn’t know some of the drivers, but what a great PA system the speedway has and the announcers were great, I took notes all night thanks to them. My uncle Dennis gave me a lawn chair to sit in and that was cool, reminded me of Woodhull Raceway where you can sit on the bank…
The announcers said all night we are getting our money’s worth and see 6 mini-features (heats), along with 3 consolation races and then the big one, which is like 10 features in a row with all the big names there. I was very impressed; the car count was more than I expected, but the weather was great which I’m sure had some things to do with it. But more importantly Brett Deyo worked his ass off to get this event together and deserves a big hand for a successful show along with the help of Al and Reed. Two of the biggest surprises is after the heats and consolations, former 2010 ROC Dart Dirt Champion Stewart Friesen didn’t qualify and also multi-time Super DIRTcar Series champion Brett Hearn didn’t either. Of course my buddy who was there was getting drilled on, as his guy didn’t make it. However the guy my uncle was rooting for seemed to rub bumpers (so to speak) with every car close to him and he actually made the feature. Before the feature Hearn declined the buy-in option and then Danny Creeden was added to the show, Friesen was added with a provisional. The re-draw had Jimmy Horton starting on the pole that took place on the front stretch with Garth Tonkin Jr. second and Shaun Walker starting third. I have to be honest, I never heard of or seen Walker or Tonkin race before. On the start of the race it looked like Horton was sleeping and fell backwards before the start and finish line. No idea what really happened but he went backwards quick. Either way in the end Billy Decker won over this young kid, Danny Tyler who led many of the laps in the race. When Decker got by him I knew it was over for him as Decker was hooked up and he started all the way from 12th position. Jimmy Phelps started 16th and worked his way up to finish third, and it was an impressive run for him. If you have never been to this place, the modifieds just slide their cars into turn one sideways and right back on throttle, and it was always tight and close racing. I was just amused at how fast these guys were going, incredible!! This is a race that I will never forget as how I got there to see it as well as listening to Danny Tyler’s interview, as he was excited for finishing second and then not for not winning, you could tell it was mixed emotions, but the young kid did the best he could and he was impressive that’s for sure.
Other classes that were racing were the 600 Xcel 600 Modifieds and these are what I like to call, “mini-mods”. They have 600 cc motorcycle engines in them and yeah, they sound just like a “crotch-rocket”, and man did they haul some serious ass! (Meant speed). They had 27 cars and all of them started the feature and they were going four-wide at times, which was amazing as they were carrying a lot of speed through the corners. The race went right down to the wire with three drivers competing for the win, on the final turn, the #15(name?) lost his left rear wheel and lost the race, letting third place running car finish second. Very exciting.
The final race of the night was the Trackside Products RoC Series, which I was following as a local guy we know who runs Blackrock speedway Bob Buono was there as well as woodhull regular Russell Morseman III. Bob was tied for the points lead going into the event and well lets just say this, he got a flat tire on like lap 4 and went to the pits and still finished in 8th place. I think he would have been higher but a car behind him always got a jump starting high and not in single file. Very impressive run anyways. Morseman ended up getting tenth. Not bad runs for the local guys I know.!
With all that said, I had a blast and this event is now history, but will still and always remain in the books as the first ever-biggest payday “Clash at the Can”. This track has two ponds on both ends of the track on the infield, which I have still never seen a car go into either one of them. The place didn’t change much from what I can remember from the last time I was there. The place was super jam-packed with people and all the fans were friendly. The food lines moved rather quickly too, and the staff needs a big thank you on that note, with a big crowd, they were ready! Oh, the food was good too, sausage and hot dog and french fries I had. Almost forgot the popcorn!!! Bathroom rating is a 7 out of 10, and that is just for the men’s room as I didn’t have a girl reporter with me to give me numbers for the women’s room, so any women out there that read this, let us know!! Just about like Fulton speedway, they also had a golf-cart, not quite the same, but at Penn Can you pay and have to walk up a hill to the stands. A gentleman was giving rides for those who needed assistance to get to the stands. That was neat as the guy almost ran over my friends as they couldn’t hear him say, “excuse me”. It was a very good time and thanks to Brett Deyo along with Penn Can Speedway Al Wilcox and Reed Miller for putting on one heck of a show with practically no flaws at all that I could see. Kudos to Brett also for getting many sponsors and awards to hand out to the drivers, full list below. I don’t think that there is a bad seat in the house. Either way I found one thing to complain about and that was just after the second heat my allergies kicked into high gear, which haven’t bothered me all year yet, and that kind of really sucked! It wasn’t until the dirt started flying, no way, who would have thought, getting dirty at a dirt track? I won’t complain, as it isn’t racing unless it is on dirt!! So if you ever want to complain about a show being too dusty anywhere, shut up and stay the heck home!!! I’m glad I didn’t, as it was very awesome to see many friends again and thanks Dennis as you made my day, as we were there to witness history! Full Results below along with all the important links for info on the World Wide Web. Get out to the races and support local racing and Keep it on “The Write Track”. Until the next time, keep your head up and keep going forward! - Brett Deyo Motorsports Media - Penn Can Speedway - Xcel 600 Modified Series - Race of Champions Dart Dirt Tour
Mods/Sportsman/Street Stocks


Clash at the Can Race of Champions Dirt Modified Tour Feature Finish, 60 laps: BILLY DECKER ($8,050), Danny Tyler, Jimmy Phelps, Duane Howard, Matt Sheppard, Tim McCreadie, Mike Gular, Danny Johnson, Jeff Strunk, Wade Hendrickson, Nick Rochinski, Shaun Walker, Bobby Varin, Stewart Friesen, Pat Ward, Rick Laubach, Kevin Albert Jr., Doug Manmiller, Roy Bresnahan, Kevin Bates, Alex Tonkin, Brett Tonkin, Joey Grammes, Mike Colsten, Danny Creeden, Kevin Hartnett, Garth Tonkin Jr., Alan Rudalavage, Keith Hoffman, Mike Nagel Jr., Ryan Watt, Jimmy Horton.

Did Not Qualify: Bobby Trapper Jr., Alan Johnson, Darwin Greene, Mike Sabia, Justin Holland, Dan Pompey, Larry Wight, Dave Gerhart, Jamie Batzel, Tommy Scheetz Jr., Bobby Trapper Sr., Billy Van Pelt, Clinton Mills, Ken Titus, Craig Von Dohren, Michael Storms, Jeff Crambo, Mike Trautschold, Mike Lartz, Lance Willix, Butch Tittle, Dale Planck, Brian Weaver, Brett Hearn, Joey Colsten, Rob Bellinger, Rusty Smith, Mike Schane, Glenn Strunk, Kenny Peoples Jr., Allan Kellogg, Billy Pauch Jr., Grant Hilfiger, Ryan Phelps.

Lakey's Tavern Lap leaders: G. Tonkin Jr. (1-12), Tyler (13-47), Decker (48-60)
Manmiller Electric Heat Winners ($50 each): Walker, Decker, G. Tonkin, Hendrickson, Nagel Jr., A. Tonkin
Dirt Track Digest Consolation Winners: Sheppard, Howard, Hartnett
Hard Charger ($100): Tim McCreadie (24th to 6th)
American Racer Tire Giveaway: Decker
Dart Heads Drawing: Walker
BFP Specialty Gift Certificate (Draw, 6th-10th-place finishers): Gular, seventh
Mirabito Travel Center Subway Sub: Decker
Selinsgrove Speedway Icebreaker TWO FREE Passes for March 2012: Decker
New Egypt Speedway Friends of Mike Guaranteed Spot: Decker
Shiley Fabrication Hard Luck Award (front and rear bumpers, left and right rubrails): Nagel

Trackside Products Race of Champions Street Stock Feature Finish, 25 laps: HARRY MARVIN III. Butch Green, Ken Sparks Jr., Brenton Miller, Earl Zimmer, Shane Wolf Jr., Dave Pope, Bob Buono, Kevin Boynton, Russell Morseman III, Buck Mills, Kris Shimer, Paul Harrington, Nick Robinson, Matt Spencer, Chad Stone, Dave Predmore, Karl Shimer, Rich Powell, Doug Polhamus, Nick Nye, Gene Sharpsteen, Dan Babcock, Don Russell Jr.

Did Not Start: Jason Butler

XCel 600 Modified Feature Finish, 20 laps: ALEC BARTHOLOMEW, Richie Hitzler, Jeromy Guistwite, Nick Mady, Butch Getz, Chris Stockham, Brian Mady, Pasco Tomaino, Cody Coons, Kevin Rex, Aaron Bowes, Burrows Micheal, Sean Weiss, Kevin Rex Sr., Ryan Higgs, Brad French, Arielle Roldan, Mark Howanitz, Kailee DiMorier, Jon Horn, Steven Sherwood, Madison DiMorier, Paul DeRuyter, Mike Keppler, Joe Fanelli, Ryan Mohr, Cory Coons.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Write Track – June 4th, 2011 Raceway 5 Fan Racing Experience

By: Tom Ames

Saturday night June 4th, 2011 I ventured north up route 63 to Batavia N.Y. to the Genesee County Fairgrounds, formally known as Genesee Speedway and now known as Raceway 5. I always check the radar because this day in age I can’t afford to waste the gas and besides I want to see Dirt Racing! I have been there many times before as I used to work at the place and also used to go there back in the day when my father used to be the pit steward when Ray Bliss won many championships. Along with Al Graham and Greg Burch being the promoters at one time. It was uncertain after the last promoter Mike Lauterborn left that the place was going to open up again and with Jim and Annette Mazur the place has come back to life. It doesn’t matter anymore what type of track asphalt, concrete, dirt or whatever type of racing it is no one likes to see a track close. I would have loved to take some more people with me to the races, but thanks to my friend Chris I had someone to talk racing with on the way there. I checked the radar and it was all clear, time to go racing!!!
It was only ten bucks to get in the gate, which I think is about normal nowadays for a dirt track for a weekly show. The first thing that I noticed is that the Pit sign in gate has moved from behind the grandstands and is now down at the lower road. Also the grandstands that were in front of the concession stands have disappeared and are now full of picnic tables and the platform for handicap individuals is to the left of the concessions. One major thing is that the staff uniforms and logo of the track is green, odd (if it was on a racecar), along with many other structures painted green as well. There is a brand new section of grandstands in front of the tower that you can tell are built sturdy with big steel beams and brand new boards to plop your butt on. The most odd thing that I found is that behind the grandstands near the entrance from the stands to the pits is a big platform for victory lane celebrations. This apparently is where they were going to do victory lane interviews. Only time would tell. I didn’t get into the pits until after the racing was over, but didn’t seem much has changed there.
On to the track surface, when I first seen it I thought oh my god no way are they going to get this track ready to go racing. It was soaked due to Mother Nature dumping loads of rain on it all week and the day before. So Mother Nature helped out in the watering process for the track. It was heavy with big clumps of mud/clay all over the place and I found out that the big packer truck they had broke down, so it was up to the racers to pack it in. Not much has changed with the track it self and it is the same layout, entrance to the track from turn two and exit off to the pits in turn one. The grader was out working some of the piles of clay off the track while the tow trucks were also. I noticed not just one, but a couple four-wheelers on the track.
It was amazing how the track was coming around when the cars were on the track. It was real good to see John Powell on the starters stand doing what he loves to do and flag the races. It was to my surprise that Steve Kellogg would have been they’re flagging, as John Powell flags at Mckean County Raceway, which got rained out so John was able to flag. During the heats the track was still a one-groove track, but mainly in turn one, the third and fourth turns were coming around. Watching the heat races was a bit comical, as the track was very tacky and fast and a bit sloppy on the outside groove. When the cars got on the high side they were losing traction and going more sideways than they wanted too, and slowing down and had to straighten out there line. Causing many behind them to check up, many people will disagree with me as some say it was rough driving, but it wasn’t like that I thought. Well as any race fan likes to see cars wreck as long as all cars involved are okay. Well I go to watch the races obviously and don’t want to see any cars wreck, but after you know the drivers are okay then we can say crazy things on how it was a crazy, hilarious, “what was he thinking” type of conversations that pursue afterwards. With that said in the Sportsman modified heats Poncho Cartwright who has not raced a car in over 15 years was going down the backstretch racing John Venuto, got into the outside barrier and it sounded like he never lifted and had the whole right side of the car off the ground until he came to a rest partially on the left hand side of Venuto's car before coming to a rest at the entrance of turn three. He would be okay, but the wreck caused about $2,000 in damage. All the people around me thought he was racing a 358 mod as it sounded bigger than the open/crate sportsman car, but that is neither here nor there. It was good to see him race while he lasted. (Sorry Poncho you know I tell it how I see it) The racing in all the heats was very close and all put on some good tight/close racing, and fast as the track was really fast. Heck if you want to go to a dirt track and see no dust, then go up to Raceway 5, I don’t think I seen any dust all night, thank you again Mother Nature!!!
After all the heats were completed the track came right around especially with almost two grooves now in turn 1 (was a bit sloppy on the low side) and after about 15 minute intermission, it was time to go racing. The street stocks put on one heck of a show, with Pat Powers starting on the pole with matt Pfalzer on the outside pole and what a race it came to be, these two battled it out for quite a few laps and Bill Weller and Butch Zimmerman were charging from the back and made it to the front rather quickly. Powers and Pfalzer swapped the lead for a bit and then Bill Weller came into the picture and lead a few laps and also Butch Zimmerman was there as well. Attrition played a role in this as many cars were dropping out and Butch ended up with his rear bumper tore off and would later retire from the race. Bill Weller would end up in the lead after a caution and just how the announcers put it, he was coming out of turn two and hit the inside bank and launched the whole car in the air like “Dukes of Hazzard Style”, and it was exciting while he was in the lead. The whole crowd was laughing the whole time. On the last lap Pfalzer was leading going into turn three and didn’t have it coming out of turn four. Pfalzer got loose (from my POV) and looked like the 10t car of Randy Taylor bumped him a bit, and the 211 car driven by Jason Babbitt and also Bill Weller snuck by and it was a bumper apart at the line with Babbitt taking the checkers, who I think started last or dang close to it. He was in the right spot at the right time. This was a very exciting race to say the least, to sum it up you had to be there to believe it!
Brian Kotarski won the 360 late model race making it two in a row for him. After the checkers Jon Rivers who finished 2nd tapped him a bit out of four for a congratulatory bump and Kotarski got in the deep mud and need a push to victory lane. I did not get a chance to get the whole story from both sides, so I’ll leave that alone. Also Brian is looking for sponsors on his car as it plain black with his name and number on it at the moment, if anyone is interested get a hold of me and I can get you in contact with him.
The sportsman modifieds were up next with the biggest car count in any division of 19 cars, which provided 3 heat races. The heats were won by Ray Bliss, John Venuto, and Ron Cartwright Jr. The feature was on the line and Tony Pangrazio started out on the pole and the first caution waved on lap two when Ron Cartwright got turned around, and with no where to go, John Venuto got into the side of him and Cartwright was taken to the pits on the hook. (Go get them next week Ronnie, your luck has to change sometime, just don’t let dad run the car again.) On the restart saw Ross Vleck on the pole in his 83 numbered sportsman and with a few other cautions, he was able to hold off the field and cruise to his first ever win. I have seen Ross race before and it was exciting for me as I was rooting for him and he finally got one, Congrats Ross!! Rob Pratt was in second followed by Ricky Newton in the last podium position.
Tyler Walker would lead all the laps in the 600 Micro Sprint feature and cruise to an easy victory, and the track was smooth for them and they were doing some fast lap times. It was unfortunate as Tyler’s dad was not in attendance and I was able to send the picture to him, they really show that racing is a family and all are involved with the car. Great job Tyler and crew on your win.
In the Mini Stock division Val Stephens had the pole position, but elected to start on the outside pole giving the pole position to Chad Dickinson. Chad stumbled a bit at the start of the race and Val would take the lead and continue on to win with no cautions. Two main events went caution free as the 600 Micro Sprints did as well. Congrats on your win Val!
Overall my experience at Raceway 5 was really enjoyable and the racing was great, close racing in all divisions and very competitive. After watching Matt Pfalzer race for many years, he is bound to get into victory lane, it usually is some bad luck that keeps him from not getting the checkers – Matt forget about the last race go and get ‘em the next week! Val Stephens and Brian Kotarski start their season off with back-to-back wins and this coming week we will see if they can go three for three. Jason Babbitt was very lucky to be where he was to get the victory in the streets and that was the best race of the night. Congrats to all racers that was in attendance and thanks for the great show.
The food prices were all very reasonable and the food was good as well so everyone told me I did not get anything to eat as I ate before I got there. The track does not sell beer there and you can bring in some in the six-pack coolers, just no glass for those who want some adult beverages. I did get to speak with Shawn the announcer and also Dave McCready who was also helping in the tower. It was a pleasure to meet up with Jim, who is dedicated being there with a pinched nerve and all. I’m not 100% sure on this, but I’m thinking that the restrooms are mainly taken care of by the fairboard, and not the staff at the track, but it was seen a staff member bringing in more towels in the men’s room, yeah, I’ll rate that 8 out of 10. The ladies room had a very good report with help of some ladies there in attendance. The girls say there are new soap dispensers; hot water and the stalls are clean so that was 9 out of 10. So the restrooms won’t keep you away and the racing that goes on will be sure to bring me back in the future. This was the first time that I was at a racetrack and I never seen a victory lane celebration. Jim (Mazur) was thinking that with the victory lane behind the grandstands that the show would get done quicker, which it did, but no one can really hear the interviews. Jim did mention that everything is still a work in progress and he might be doing some tweaking to a few things. Because myself and other race fans are not going to leave their seat and miss racing going on to witness the celebration of the previous race. There were a few patches of rain coming toward us from the west, the racing was done at approximately 9:20 pm. Besides the victory lane issue I had a blast and so did my buddy Chris. Thanks to the entire staff and Jim and Annette for putting on a great show and saving a racetrack from demise. It was good to see a bunch of old friends and the weather was a great night of racing. Until the next time get out and support local racing and keep it on “The Write Track”. You can find out more on their website here or contact Jim or Annette here (585)-344-1656 or by email
Full Results are below;

Raceway 5 Results June 4th, 2011

Yasses Trucking and Construction Street Stocks – JASON BABBITT, Bill Weller, Randy Taylor, Matt Pfalzer, John Gagner, Pat Powers, Andy Bunx, Tim Trotter, Scott Stanton, Byron Dewitt, John Zimmerman, Doug Jones, Butch Zimmerman

Johnnys Bar 360 Late Models – BRIAN KOTARSKI, Jon Rivers, Carl Shetler, Tommy Kemp, Dave Dubois, John McKay, Jason Bridge, Jim Johnson, Bob Babbitt

Grease Lightning Modified – ROSS VLECK, Rob Pratt, Ricky Newton, Ray Bliss, Ray Smith, TJ Newton, Tony Pangrazio, Tim Downs, Dick Park Jr., Chris Brown, Stubby Pangrazio, Gary Donnelly, Rob Richmond Jr., Colton Chappius, Dan Norton, Matt Richmond, Ron Cartwright Jr., Andrew Patton, John Venuto

Pizza Log Sprint 600 – TYLER WALKER, Mickey Ciliberto, Eric Wise, Keith Heater, Cory Grenzy

Dickinson Auto Service Mini Stock – VAL STEPHENS, Chad Dickinson, Tom Urban, Marty Hein