By Mike Leone
July 26, 2010
Mercer, PA…Mercer Raceway Park is set to host a big night of racing this Saturday night, July 31. Open wheel fans will be in heaven as the DIRTcar Sprint Challenge Series, ARDC Midget Cars, and the Approved Toilet Rentals Modifieds come together plus the Big Daddy’s Speed Center Stock Cars, and the M&D Paving Mini Stocks. Race time is 7 p.m.
The DIRTcar Challenge Series was formed over the offseason with a 15-position point fund established for the 10 events that will take place between Mercer, Lernerville, Tri-City, and Sharon Speedways. Saturday’s “Sprint Slug-Out” will pay $2,000 to-win in the first of two events at Mercer with the second coming on Saturday, September 11 as part of the annual “Western PA Sprint Championship”
To date, Rod George and Dave Blaney won the events at Lernerville and Tri-City Speedways, while the other event at Tri-City was rained out. Heading into Lernerville’s event on Friday, Ed Lynch, Jr. has an early two-point lead over Bob Felmlee and four over George, while Danny Holtgraver sits 10 back in fourth. The inaugural champion will receive $3,000.
The Luxaire Heating & Cooling Sprint Car division has been very competitive to date at Mercer with an amazing eight different winners in 10 events as only Lynch and Mike Lutz have been able to repeat. In Mercer’s points, the tables are turned with Felmlee leading the way by 26 over Lynch. Felmlee is seeking his fourth career Mercer championship in four different decades!
Making their first appearance in five years will be the popular ARDC Midget Cars. The East Coast-based club dates back in 1939 and over the years drivers such as Mario Andretti, Nick Fornoro Sr. and Jr., Larry Dickson, Johnny Parsons, Jr., Ron ‘Sleepy’ Tripp, Jan Opperman, Tom Bigelow, Smokey Snellbaker, Mitch Smith, Mel Kenyon, Wally Dallenbach, Pancho Carter, and many more have come from the ranks of ARDC.
Today, ARDC has really built back up a strong core of racers in recent years as they have returned to non-winged racing on dirt tracks only. Car counts have been in the mid 20s to low 30s all season long. Steve Buckwalter of Royersford, Pa. is the current point leader and is one of the nation’s top midget car drivers. Eight feature events have been held for ARDC in the past at Mercer with Ed Stimely, Jr. and Ray Bull victorious twice, while Mark Freeland, Tim Dietz, Buckwalter, and Mike Miller have also been winners. For more information on ARDC, check out their website at www.ardcmidgets.com.
Gene Steele, who is a good friend of Mercer Raceway Park and has towed in from western Ohio to compete with his Stock Car and E-Mod in years past, has put up a $100 bonus to the highest finishing Midget with a stock block.
The Modifieds will round out the open wheel part of the show. The Modified division has had a surge in car counts this season especially the past few events as more and more cars compete in this highly-competitive division. With the season beginning to wind down, Jimmy Holden holds on to a 49-point lead over three-time champion Frank Guidace. The Tiona, Pa. driver is one of six different winners in seven events to date as he closes in on his first track championship.
“If you’re an open wheel fan, this is a can’t miss show,” stated first year owner Bill Altman. “There aren’t too many places in the world where you can see 410 Sprint Cars, Midgets, and Northeast-style Modifieds on the same night! The Midgets have a strong history in American motorsports and will put on tremendous show on our bullring! I’m really looking forward to seeing them race again.”
The Stock Cars and Mini Stocks will complete this highly-anticipated event. Five-time winner Steve D’Apolito of Boardman, Ohio has an 18-point lead on Chris Haines in hopes of his first Mercer Stock Car crown. The Mini Stocks will be competing in two features as they start the night off with the July 24 make-up feature. Wally Stearns, Jr. of Harrisville, Pa. is the division’s only multiple winner with three victories and has a big 53-point advantage on Pete Blazczak.
Saturday’s four Shaffer’s Auto Service & Towing “In the Spotlight” drivers are Sprint Car drivers Danny Holtgraver and Eric Williams along with Stock Car standout Steve D’Apolito and faithful Mercer Mini Stock racer Rudolph Troples III. The first 300 fans will receive a custom, color autograph card of these four racers. Fans will be able to meet these racers and see their cars in the midway from 5:30 until 6:30 p.m.
Pits open at 3:30 p.m. and grandstand at 4:30 p.m. Warm-ups begin at 6:15 and the first green flag at 7. Adult admission is $17. The family pass for mom, dad, and up to four kids 6-15 is $38. Students 6-15 are $7. Children five and under and parking are free! Pit passes are $30.
Those holding grandstand rain checks from July 24 will be offered the following discounts due to confusion from an announcement made during the thunderstorm while people were exiting the gates: adults $5 off, families $5 off, students $2 off.
The schedule for the remainder of the July 24 make-up features include Modifieds (August 7), Sprint Cars & FASTRAK Late Models (August 14), and Stock Cars (August 21).
There will be an open practice coming up on Wednesday, August 4. Pit gates open at 4 p.m. with practice 5 until dark. Pit passes are $20.
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 late March through early October. The office in New Bedford, Pa. is open year-round late mornings and after 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information call the office at 724-964-9300 or the track on race day at 724-662-1310. Check out our website at www.mercerracewaypark.com for the latest. Go to www.twitter.com/mercerraceway or Mercer Raceway Park at www.facebook.com/mercerracewaypark to stay up to date.