By Steve Inch
HERSHEY, Pa. – Selinsgrove Speedway & Raceway Park wrapped up the 2011 season with the 11th Annual Awards Banquet Saturday night at the Sheraton Harrisburg-Hershey Hotel. More than 500 were in attendance at the $50,000-plus event to recognize and celebrate the year’s top performing race teams in the track’s 358 sprint car, late model, pro stock, roadrunner, micro sprint car, and go kart classes.
Track champions Blane Heimbach of Selinsgrove (358 sprint cars), Jeff Rine of Danville (late models), AJ Hoffman of Richfield (pro stocks), Bob Bussey of Northumberland (roadrunners), and Todd Hoover of Mt. Pleasant Mills (micro sprint cars) were also the recipients of custom championship rings from Foss Jewelers of Selinsgrove.
Heimbach clinched his third career title in the A&A Auto Stores 358 sprint cars with 12 top five finishes, including three feature wins, in the division’s 17 events. A former rookie of the year in 2002, Heimbach’s third championship ties him with former 358 sprint car driver Chad Layton of Harrisburg. Heimbach, however, has the best record of any 358 sprint car driver at the track with three titles and five second-place finishes in the season-long point standings in addition to his top spot on the all-time win list with 33 career victories.
Rine recorded his seventh career track title in the Jeff’s Auto Body & Recycling Center late models with 13 top five finishes, including eight feature wins, in the division’s 17 races. On July 16, Rine made history by becoming the division’s new all-time career leading feature winner, surpassing Bobby Croop’s 69-win mark, with his 70 career victory. He ended the season on top of the career win list with 72 victories.
Next year Rine will attempt to tie Richie Jensen’s record for the most consecutive championships (six) and Croop’s record for the most career titles (eight) at the track.
Hoffman scored his second consecutive track title in the Salem RV Center/Byers Built Engines pro stock division with 15 top five finishes in the division’s 19 events. His victory in the annual Pro Stock 20 was one of nine wins this season at the track. Hoffman, too, is his respective division’s all-time career leading feature winner with 36 victories entering next season.
In the Collier Paving & Construction roadrunners, Bussey was honored as the division’s eighth different champion. A career first title for Bussey, the second generation driver also scored his first career win in the same season. He ended the year with 13 top 5’s, including five feature wins, in the division’s 16 races.
Special recognition awards were also presented in the following categories: Most Improved Driver awards went to Cody Keller (sprints), Chad Davis (late models), Mike Kiehl (pro stocks), and Butch Shaffer (roadrunners). Sportsman Of The Year plaques were awarded to Derek Locke (sprints, in memory of Joe Whitcomb), Steve Campbell (late models), Jeff Ceballo (pro stocks), and Brian Johnson (roadrunners). Rookie Of The Year honors went to Michael Ruttkamp (sprints), Matt Hornberger (pro stocks), and John Fowler (roadrunners). There was no late model rookie of the year for 2011.
For the Selinsgrove Raceway Park portion of the awards ceremony, Hoover was honored for his third consecutive and fourth career championship in the Selinsgrove Ford 270cc micro sprint car division. Hoover recorded 15 top five finishes, including four feature wins, in the division’s 17 events in 2011.
Colton Young of East Berlin won his first career title in the 125 micro sprint car division with seven victories in 2011, while Cliff Loss of Penns Creek won his sixth straight mini micro sprint championship with seven wins.
Go kart champions were recognized in their respective divisions as follows: Rayce Miller (kid karts), Grace Long (rookie cage 5-8), Joe Kahn (rookie cage 9-12), Trevor Teats (rookies 2), Calvin Carr (jr. cage), Tyler Brown (lites), Adam Zimmerman (mediums), Josh Garbera (heavies), Chuck Paige (extra heavies), Justin Wise (adult cage flathead), Josh Kerstetter (adult cage animal), Nathan Herman (flat 350), and Darian Trego (senior clones).
2012 Event Dates & Announcements
The annual motorsports show at the Susquehanna Valley Mall, Hummels Wharf, will be held Sunday, Feb. 19 through Saturday, Feb. 25. Teams interested in placing their race car on display can contact Steve Inch after January 1.
Selinsgrove Speedway will open the 2012 season at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 11, with 410 sprint cars and pro stocks.
The fifth annual Icebreaker Weekend for Modifieds is slated for Friday, March 16, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 17, at 4 p.m. Friday night’s show will feature the 358 modifieds, while Saturday afternoon’s program will mark the fifth annual running of the Icebreaker 40 for big block modifieds.
The 358 sprint cars will make their season debut at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 24. The season’s first four division show of 358 sprint cars, late models, pro stocks, and roadrunners is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday, April 7.
Track officials are in discussions to promote a PA modified speedweek series as well as a 360 sprint car series at the Snyder County oval in 2012.
Selinsgrove Raceway Park will open its 12th season of go kart racing at 7 p.m. Friday, March 23. The micro sprint cars will join the go karts beginning Friday, March 30.
Upgrades to the half-mile track’s lighting system from turn one to turn three are nearing completion. For 2012, fans will have the opportunity to purchase season reserved seats in the top two rows of the first section of bleachers located in turn one. The bleacher season reserved seats (100 additional seats are available) will cost $30 each.
Technical specification changes for the 358 sprint cars and roadrunners for 2012 are as follows: The 358 sprint cars will be permitted wing sliders and titanium valves (other rotating titanium weight will not be legal). The roadrunners will be permitted original steel stock and stock appearing plastic noses (fiberglass and aluminum noses will not be legal).
For the latest news, results, and race status, visit selinsgrovespeedway.com or follow us on Twitter and Facebook. The speedway office can also be reached at 570.374.2999.