Catawba, N.C. — (May 28, 2014) — The Western Pennsylvania sprint car scene is almost known as the younger brother to Central Pennsylvania, which is home to the famed PA Posse.
“I think it was the same back then,” former sprint car great and current television broadcaster Brad Doty said. “When I was running in Western PA, Central PA was considered the hot bed.”
Doty began to earn his prominence while competing in Western Pennsylvania nearly 35 years ago when he jump started an elite career in 1980 by garnering the track championships at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa., and at Tri-City Speedway in Franklin, Pa. He also claimed the Cavalcade Western Pennsylvania championship for winning the most races in the region.
“It was a big year,” he said. “That’s when I met Sam Bowers. He sat in the grandstands and sponsored a late model. He decided he wanted to go sprint car racing. We finished out the 1980 season with him. Then he moved me to Western PA and bought me new cars and my whole world exploded.”
Doty won Rookie of the Year with the All Star Circuit of Champions in 1981 and he picked up the same title in 1982 with the World of Outlaws.
“There was some very talented and still are some talented Western PA drivers,” he said.
These days Tim Shaffer has transitioned into the wily veteran of the region. Shaffer garnered the sports most prestigious prize in 2010 when he made a last-lap pass to win the Knoxville Nationals. It was a shocking victory that propelled all racing fans to their feet. It was also a win that Western PA could hang its hat on.
In recent years numerous up-and-comers have started to bloom in the region led by Danny Holtgraver.
“There’s a lot of good up-and-coming guys around here that are only a couple of years into it,” he said. “I think you’re going to see a lot more from this region.”
Holtgraver is edging closer and closer to a landmark triumph, which he feels is just around the corner.
“I think we’re really close,” he said. “Hopefully we get that marquee win before the Dirt Classic, but that’d be a great one to add to the résumé.”
Holtgraver has the inaugural Dirt Classic Presented by Kasey Kahne, which is set for Saturday, Sept. 27, at Lincoln Speedway in Abbottstown, Pa., circled on his calendar. First there are a pair of Dirt Classic qualifiers, starting in Western PA at Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex in Markleysburg, Pa., this Sunday.
“A lot of Western PA guys don’t get the respect they deserve,” PA Posse driver Greg Hodnett said. “When you go to anybody’s backyard they are tough.”
The front gates will open at 3:30 p.m. with hot laps scheduled for 5:45 p.m. and qualifying at approximately 6:15 p.m.
The second qualifier shifts east on Sunday, June 8, at Bedford Speedway in Bedford, Pa. Gates will open at 4 p.m. with hot laps at 6 p.m. and qualifying at 6:30 p.m.
“I think it’s an awesome deal, especially with the qualifiers,” Holtgraver said.
The winner of each qualifier is guaranteed a starting position in the inaugural $20,000-to-win Dirt Classic Presented by Kasey Kahne – a headlining race that could be the right break for a driver from Western Pennsylvania.
“Tim Shaffer coming out of Western PA and going to win the Knoxville Nationals, that shows there’s talent there,” Doty said. “As Shaffer and Holtgraver have shown by going out on the road, they have proven their worth. Those two guys can go up against anybody.”
THE DIRT CLASSIC PRESENTED BY KASEY KAHNE –
Date: Saturday, Sept. 27
Track: Lincoln Speedway in Abbottstown, Pa.
Prize: $20,000 to win; $50,000+ total purse
Qualifying Races: Sunday, June 1, at Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex in Markleysburg, Pa., and Sunday, June 8, at Bedford Speedway in Bedford, Pa.
MEDIA LINKS –