From Tony Veneziano
Concord, NC — While it’s still over five months away, the date of Sunday, May 30, 2010 is circled on everyone at Tri-City Speedway’s calendar and is shaping up to be the biggest day in the 50-plus year storied history of the half-mile located in Franklin, Pennsylvania. After all, that’s the day that the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series will make their debut at the banked oval.
Race cars hit the track at Tri-City Speedway for the first time in 1954, with sprint cars competing for the first time in 1961. Over the years, a venerable “Who’s Who” of sprint car racing has won at the track including: 20-time World of Outlaws champion and Hall of Famer Steve Kinser, fellow Hall of Famer and former World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year Brad Doty, 1995 World of Outlaws Champion Dave Blaney, as well as Rick Ferkel, one of the “Original Outlaws,” the legendary Jan Opperman, Bobby Allen, who won 25 times in his career with the World of Outlaws, Hall of Famer Kenny Jacobs, Lou Blaney, Ed Lynch Sr. and Hall of Famer Smokey Snellbaker among others.
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series has competed at the track for each of the last five years and will compete again in the two-day Oil City Region Labor Day Classic in 2010 over the Labor Day Weekend, with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series visiting the track on Sunday, May 30 as part of the Memorial Day Weekend, with Monday, May 31 serving as the rain date if needed.
Rich Hetrick, the owner of Tri-City Speedway, and his staff are hard at work each day gearing up for the World of Outlaws debut at the facility. After a successful first year of promoting Tri-City in 2009, Hetrick is counting the days until the 2010 season kicks off and he begins his second full-year at the history-rich half-mile in Western Pennsylvania.
“We were looking for another excellent show to add to the schedule and the World of Outlaws Late Models had come a few times and always put on a great show,” said Hetrick. “We just started working to see if we could put on a World of Outlaws Sprint show as well.”
While it will mark the first time the World of Outlaws have competed at Tri-City Speedway a number of drivers competing full-time with the series in 2010 have raced at the track in the past, including 20-time series champion Steve Kinser, who was victorious at the half-mile with the National Sprint Tour in 2006. Kinser enters the 2010 season with a record 552 career A-Feature wins with the World of Outlaws.
Joey Saldana, who led the World of Outlaws with 21 overall wins in 2009 and finished third in points in the closest three-way point race in series history, is a former winner at Tri-City Speedway, taking the checkered flag in 1998 in an All Star Circuit of Champions event over Kenny Jacobs. In three career starts at the track, the native of Brownsburg, Indiana has finished first, fifth and 10th. Saldana enters the 2010 campaign ninth on the series all-time win list with 57 A-Feature triumphs.
Brian Ellenberger, the reigning World of Outlaws Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year, picked up a win at Tri-City Speedway in 2000. The native of nearby Butler, Pennsylvania has competed nearly 50 times in his career at Tri-City Speedway scoring over 35 Top-10 finishes along the way.
“This will be the biggest event that Tri-City and the entire area has ever seen,” Hetrick noted, when asked about the inaugural World of Outlaws event on May 30, 2010. “It’s safe to say that. We are all very excited.”
With the recent announcement that Tri-City Speedway, along with Lernerville Speedway, Mercer Raceway Park and Sharon Speedway all utilizing Goodyear Tires in 2010, just as the World of Outlaws are, a strong car count is expected for the event on May 30. One of those drivers is Ed Lynch Jr. who is a former winner with the World of Outlaws at his home track of Lernerville Speedway. Lynch is the current track record holder at Tri-City Speedway, turning a blazing lap of 14.615 seconds at 123.161 mph during qualifying for the final sprint car race of the 2009 season at the half-mile, where he has won 25 times in his career.
Other drivers expected to compete in the inaugural World of Outlaws event at Tri-City Speedway include: Rod George, the winningest sprint car driver in the history of the half-mile, as well as Bob Felmlee who is second on that list and most recently competed with the World of Outlaws in the 2009 season ending World Finals, as well as Andy Priest, who won a heat race with the World of Outlaws for the first time in his career at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in New York last October and was the winner of each of the last two sprint car races at Tri-City Speedway in 2009.
“We have strong support around here with the other three tracks,” Hetrick explained. “With the new Goodyear deal and all four tracks in the area being part of that, it will be an exceptional count on cars for that race.”
The World of Outlaws inaugural event at Tri-City Speedway on Sunday, May 30 will be one of three stops in Western Pennsylvania for the series in 2010, as they will return on Tuesday, July 20 to Lernerville Speedway for the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup Twin 30’s and then also on Saturday, September 25 to Lernerville for the Commonwealth Clash. Monday, May 31 which is Memorial Day will serve as the rain date if needed for the series first ever stop at Tri-City Speedway.