mercer raceway park
mercer raceway park

By Mike Leone

Mercer, PA… Mercer Raceway Park will close out the month of August this Saturday night the 28th with a special race event put on by the Auto Racers for Kids Charities. On the card will be the Bonnell’s Collision Center Sprint Car Shootout along with the Big Daddy’s Speed Center Stock Cars and the M&D Paving Mini Stocks. The night will begin at 7 p.m. with the July 24 Stock Car make-up feature.

The Auto Racers for Kids Charities Sprint Series will close out its inaugural season Saturday night with a 25-lap feature paying $3,000 to-win part of $13,430 purse. The Ti22 Performance Dash will pay $300 and will set the lineup for positions 13-18. The event will have an open tire rule.

The first three events have produced three different winners. Owasso, Oklahoma native Daryn Pittman, who now resides in Pittsboro, Indiana, claimed the opening event on June 20 at Sportsman’s Speedway over a 33-car field. North Jackson, Ohio’s Jack Sodeman, Jr., who is having his best season ever, won his biggest career race over a 29-car field at Eriez Speedway on July 22 as did Wooster, Ohio’s Danny Mumaw on July 27 at Raceway 7 over a 30-car field.

None of those three racers are Mercer regulars; in fact it, took Sodeman 16 years to claim his first at Mercer when he won the DIRTcar Challenge Series event on July 31, while Mumaw only has one career Mercer start.

Pittman meanwhile has been a true “Outlaw” this season running whenever and wherever for Pennsylvania car owners. He started the season in the Jesse Keen #17 before swapping rides with Tyler Walker and has found a nice home with collectible guru Michael Heffner and his #27. Pittman recently finished 11th in the Knoxville Nationals for car owner Tom Buch. It’s been quite the year for Pittman in Heffner’s ride scoring nine victories since May 27 including the Keystone Cup Championship. Pittman, who has never competed at Mercer before, will easily be considered a favorite.

Mercer’s Luxaire Heating & Cooling Sprint Cars have put on some tremendous racing in 2010 with nine different winners in 13 events. Stars, Ed Lynch, Jr., Mike Lutz, Bob Felmlee, and Danny Holtgraver, have all been able to score a pair of victories. Lynch led the points for much of the year until missing a few events to compete in the Kings Royal and Knoxville Nationals. Lutz started the season off strong winning two of the first three events. A blown motor during Lernerville Speedway’s World of Outlaw event put Lutz on the sidelines for the past month, but Lutz is expected back out Saturday night to contest for the season’s richest event.

Felmlee was the last Sprint Car winner on August 14 as his second victory of the season came in the July 24 make-up and extended his point lead in search of his fourth track championship in as many decades. Holtgraver sits 15 points behind and won a thriller on August 7 stealing a win away from World of Outlaw racer Brian Ellenberger on the final lap for his second Mercer win of the season. Holtgraver has been red hot scoring his first career Lernerville win last Friday night and also has a $2,500 victory last month for his first career win at Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway. Holtgraver will be signing autographs in the midway area from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and will have his autograph cards available.

Other top contenders expected include Ohio standout Rob Chaney, Rod George and Dan Kuriger, who have yet to win a feature in 2010 at Mercer, Carl Bowser, Arnie Kent, Andy McKisson, Todd Bauer, Pete Miller III, Dan Shetler, Jason Dolick, Gale Ruth, Jr., and others.

The Stock Cars will begin the night with their July 24 make-up feature followed up by a complete new program. Steve D’Apolito holds down a 21-point advantage on Chris Haines, but Haines and the rest of the racers will have a great opportunity to gain some ground. Neither D’Apolito nor Haines own a Mercer championship. Stock Car racers should note the weight rule adjustments on the track website.

The Mini Stocks will round out the three-division program. With the second straight rainout, Wally Stearns, Jr. inches closer to his first championship of any kind. The Harrisville, Pa. driver is the division’s top winner at three and leads two-time winner Pete Blazczak by 25 points. The Mini Stocks have produced an amazing 11 different winners in 15 races! Just two point events remain before the fall and winter specials.

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 $15. The family pass for mom, dad, and up to four kids 6-15 is $35. Students 6-15 are $7. Children five and under and parking are free! Pit passes are $20. All proceeds benefit local children’s charities thus those holding August 14 rain checks cannot redeem them at this event. Those rain checks will be honored at any other remaining event in 2010.

Since its formation in 2007, Auto Racers for Kids Charities has united the racing community with local charities in order to benefit local children and youth. In the past three years, Auto Racers for Kids Charities has distributed nearly $80,000 to 13 local non-profits including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Children’s Miracle Network, Sarah Reed Children’s Center, Achievement Center, Junior Achievement and Butterflies for Kids, among others. For more information about the Auto Racers for Kids Bonnell Collision Sprint Car Shootout, visit www.autoracersforkids.org or contact Kristin Swartzlander at kswartzlander@gmail.com or 724.448.5120.

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.