by Mike Leone
Hartford, OH July 2, 2019 One of the season’s biggest events is mere days away as Sharon Speedway is set to host the 11th annual “Lou Blaney Memorial” presented by Ollie’s Bargain Outlet this Saturday night (July 6) featuring Tony Stewart’s Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars and The Mod Tour for the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds. The gates will open early at 3 p.m. for the festivities with the live auction (see list below) that benefits the Alzheimer’s Association beginning at 4:30. Warm-ups are scheduled for 6 p.m. followed by Sprint qualifying and racing.
For the fifth straight year, Saturday’s “Lou Blaney Memorial” will be under the All Stars’ sanction. This year’s event has been increased to $6,000 to-win, $550 to-start for the All Star Sprints. It took 10 years, but there was finally a repeat winner for the Sprint Car portion of the “Lou Blaney Memorial” last season, and it was none other than track owner, Dave Blaney.
Series owner, Tony Stewart, won the inaugural event in 2009. Mike Lutz was the first local winner taking the 2010 version for Jim Chappel. Texan Sam Hafertepe, Jr. won in 2011, while Californian Brad Sweet, who now races with the World of Outlaws, was victorious in 2012. Jack Sodeman, Jr. became the second local driver to win the prestigious event in 2013, while Dave Blaney won his father’s memorial for the first time in 2014. Sheldon Haudenschild, who is in his third season with the WoO, won the 2015 event. Pittsburgh’s Danny Holtgraver won the biggest race of his career in 2016. Christopher Bell won his first race at the track in 2017, and Dave Blaney became the event’s first repeat winner last year.
Unfortunately both of the prior scheduled All Star events this season were rained out. Rain hit before warm-ups on May 4 with a big field of cars assembled and then days of rain saturated the facility for the Ohio Speedweek show on June 18. The “410” Sprint Cars have put on three tremendous shows this year with Cole Duncan withstanding the challenges of Tony Stewart for the $3,000 FAST-sanctioned victory that came over an excellent field of 43 cars back on May 11. A.J. Flick then out-dueled George Hobaugh on May 18 for the $3,000 non-sanctioned win, his first ever at Sharon, with 33 cars on hand. Then on Saturday, Dave Blaney prepped for the “Lou Blaney Memorial” winning $3,000 as he ironically also became the first driver in the past 11 “410” Sprint Car races at Sharon to repeat!
With his fourth victory of the season last Saturday night, defending All Star Champion, Aaron Reutzel, has regained the Series points lead by just two points over Dale Blaney, who has two wins this season. California racer, Cory Eliason, is third in points with one win. Paul McMahan is fourth still in search of his first win of 2019, while All Star rookie Brock Zearfoss, completes the top five with one win. Completing the top 10 in points are Greg Wilson, Gerard McIntyre, Jr., Skylar Gee, George Hobaugh, and Spencer Bayston.
The Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds will round out the two-division show in a $2,000 to-win Mod Tour event that will see the winner receiving a guaranteed starting spot for the July 30 $7,500 to-win Super DIRTcar Series event.
Like the Sprint Cars, there’s been nine different winners in 10 “Lou Blaney Memorial” events. New York legend Jack Johnson captured the inaugural 2009 race, while local Ohio drivers Jim Rasey and Rob Kristyak stole the thunder in 2010 and 2011. Kevin Bolland won the prestigious event in 2012 and fellow western Pa. racer Dave Murdick joined him in 2013. In 2014, Rex King, Jr. won the event part of his dream season, while in 2015 Jim Weller, Jr. added his name to the win list. Rasey became the first and only driver to repeat in the event with his $2,000 win in 2016! Jeremiah Shingledecker got his first event win in 2017, while New York’s Mike Maresca ended the locals’ run of eight straight event wins thanks to his victory last season.
Unfortunately, due to rain for the second straight year, the Big-Block Modifieds have yet to complete an event this season at Sharon. Rex King is the division’s top active winner with 54 Sharon wins, while his son Rex Jr. now has 25. Rasey has 19 wins at the Hartford, Ohio oval.
The Mod Tour has completed four events in 2019 with Rex King, Jr. victorious twice, while Jeremiah Shingledecker and Rex King have also picked up wins. King, Jr. has a 19-point lead on Shingledecker with the elder King in third. Dave Murdick, Rick Regalski, Jr. and Jimmy Holden are all tied for fourth in points. Kyle Fink, Jim Rasey, Kevin Hoffman, and Brad Rapp complete the top 10 in points.
Friends of Lou Blaney will again attend the Memorial event to help celebrate the life and accomplishments of the Hall of Fame driver, who won more than 600 feature victories during a five-decade career. The legend has at least 121 Modified wins and another 11 documented in a Sprint Car at Sharon alone. Blaney passed away in 2009 after battling Alzheimer’s.
The pits will be open throughout the afternoon with pit passes and general admission ticket sales opening at 3 p.m. A drivers meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. followed by Sprint engine starts, warm-ups at 6 with qualifying and racing to follow. Adult admission is $25. Advanced and reserved tickets are on sale by visiting SharonSpeedway.com. Pit passes are $35. Children under 14, parking, and camping are FREE! Sharon has a no carry-in cooler policy.
Here are the items for Saturday’s live auction that will begin around 4:30 p.m. that will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association:
1. Crew shirt and hat signed by Tony Stewart
2. Kyle Busch die cast car signed by Kyle and his crew chief Adam Stevens. Includes a camo long sleeve shirt and 36″x24″ twist and fold yard car
3. Two (2) Cleveland Indians vs. Kansas City Royals tickets to the July 20 game in Cleveland. Seats above the first base line, includes the Club Lounge with access to food and beverages. (Value $206)
4. Chase Elliott signed racing gloves worn at the All Star Race in Charlotte on May 18, 2019. Includes a Chase Elliott flag.
5. (For the Ladies) from THOM DUMA Jewelers a beautiful pair of GOLD earrings from LANA Jewelry. 14K gold bezel set faceted with round crystal detail triangle and chain drop. Approx. 3″ in length. (Value $650)
6. 2 VIP Experience tickets to the LUKE BRYAN & COLE SWINDELL “Sunset Repeat Tour” September 14, 2019 at the Blossom Music Center in Cleveland. (VIP experience includes invitation to “Luke’s Lounge” before the show and an exclusive gift. Package also includes a signed CD from each Bryan and Swindell.
7. Actual racing “Support our Troops” tire signed by Jimmy Johnson that was used in May 2014 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (certificate of authenticity)
8. STP hat signed by Bubba Wallace and Richard Petty
9. 4 tickets to the Federated Auto Parts 400 Monster Energy Cup race in Richmond, VA September 21, 2019. Access to the indoor Federated Hospitality village and pre-race pit road access during the NASCAR approved times. Guest will receive a Federated race day pack containing an array of goodies, an event cap and t’shirt. Tickets available also to the Xfinity race Friday night.
10. “One of a Kind” 3 X 5 Checkered Flag signed by 40 drivers from the All Star Circuit of Champions including Kyle Larson and Rico Abreu
11. Front Nose wing from 2019 Dave Blaney sprint car signed by Dave and Ryan Blaney
12. 2 Harley Davidson casual outdoor chairs and large outside umbrella
13. Discount Tire photo framed featuring and signed by all 3 Penske Racing drivers Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Also includes a Discount tire diecast #2 Brad Keselowski car and Discount tire diecast #22 Nationwide car of Ryan Blaney from his Kentucky win
14. Side board from Dave Blaney’s Amoco Busch Series car from Daytona race in 1999 signed by Dave along with a signed diecast Amoco car.
15. Special “one of a kind” Blaney corn hole boards. “Thanks for the Memories Lou” Made by John Corbin and detailed by Ed Miller. (Value $400)
16. 2 Tickets for each night at the 59th Annual Knoxville National August 7-10, 2019. Seats on the 2nd floor of the Clubhouse (Value $792)
17. Special 16 person Sharon Speedway suite for the World of Outlaws Late Model show on Friday August 30th. Includes hospitality (value $1,000)
18. Menards Racing Jacket and racing shoes both signed by Ryan Blaney.
Sharon Speedway is owned by the Blaney, Weller, and Kirila Families and is a 3/8-mile dirt track located on Custer-Orangeville Road in Hartford, Ohio near the intersection of Routes 7 & 305. For more information, check out the website at www.sharonspeedway.com or call 330-772-5481. Become a fan of Sharon Speedway on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sharonspeedway and follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/sharonspdwy.