ESS: Little Valley 2001 review, 2002 preview

"A Look Back at Little Valley Speedway's Super Season and a Peak at the Excitement for 2002" Little Valley, NY...Reflecting on the 2001 racing season at the Little Valley Speedway and the plans for 2002 at the Cattaraugus County Fairground ...

"A Look Back at Little Valley Speedway's Super Season and a Peak at the Excitement for 2002"

Little Valley, NY...Reflecting on the 2001 racing season at the Little Valley Speedway and the plans for 2002 at the Cattaraugus County Fairground facility will have tri-state race fans wishing that Memorial Day Weekend was a few days away rather than a few months away. That dynamite show, the first event of the new season, will cap an incredible weekend of dirt late model action, which starts at Raceway 7 in Conneaut, Ohio on Friday, moves to McKean County Speedway in Smethport, Pennsylvania on Saturday, and concludes on Sunday at Little Valley. Each track will present a 33 lap feature paying $3333 to win. The best late model drivers in the tri-state area and beyond should be on hand vying for the big money being offered.

Records- By any accounting, Little Valley's 2001 racing season was the best ever. Race car counts were up in all classes for each event, and the spectator count was up as well. Prize money was at an all time high, including a record breaking $8000 point fund which was shared by the top teams in each of the Speedway's home track divisions: late models, super stocks, and street stocks. Of the $8000 point fund $5000 of it was paid to the super stocks and street stocks for eight events. That may very well be a record for support divisions for any race track in the country.

Late Models- Forty different super late model teams, a record number, competed at LVS in 2001. Dick Barton invaded from his home track, Raceway 7, and walked away with the track championship. Barton wheeled his Bolt Place Rocket chassied Mustang to a pair of second place finishes and a win on the final night to top McKean County Raceway super star Bob Close by a mere five points in the championship battle. Close, the Eldred, Pennsylvania speed shop operator guided his GRT chassied creations to two fourth place finishes and a runner-up spot on the final night, just enough to put Buckeye State wheelman, Tony Lombardi, of Niles, OH on the third step of the championship podium. Bill Cunningham of Ashtabula, Ohio, finished in the top ten at each of the events to earn fourth place in the final point tally. Mike Wonderling of Scio, New York, used points earned from his victory in the season opener to propel him to fifth in the final point standings. Dan Dunham of Scio, NY, Jim Mazur of Batavia, NY, Jeff Hoffman of Clarendon, PA, second generation racer Jerry Johnson of Olean, NY, and Chad Ruhlman of Bemus Point, NY, rounded out the top ten in super late model points.

Super Stock- Forty-eight different super stock teams, still another record total, competed at LVS in 2001. Bob Babbitt of Pavilion, NY, won the season opener and held on to the top point position for the balance of the season. Two show position finishes and a fourth in subsequent events offset an 11th and a dns to earn him the champion's step on the podium. Alabama, NY, driver Russ Prentice put together a string of four top ten finishes and was just outside the top ten in his other starts, good enough for runner-up honors. Just two points behind Prentice in the final tally was Smethport, PA, speedster, Bob Dixon. Dixon, like Prentice, had four top ten finishes along with an 11th and 13th to earn his spot on the championship podium. Finishing fourth in the points battle was the July 15th race winner, Todd Rice of Eldred, PA. Scio's Tim Dunham parlayed a strong and consistent effort into the fifth place point dollars. Freedom, NY neighbors Ron Baker and Don Wagner were next in line for point money distribution. T.J. Shaw of Portville, NY, Tim Rockwell of Salamanca, NY, and Brock Young of Scio, NY, rounded out the top ten in the super stock point derby.

Street Stock- Fifty-nine different street stock teams, another record in a season of records, competed in 2001. Jim Kennerknecht of Erie, PA, put together a dream season with four wins, a runner-up finish, and a tenth in the final race of the season on his way to the LVS championship. Brad Pease of Wattsburg, PA, was the best of the rest to earn his spot on the second step of the championship podium. Rob Stromecki of Freedom, NY, recorded four top five finishes but missed two events, which relegated him to third spot in the final tally. Bergen, NY, driver, Lee Zimmerman, wheeled his IROC Camaro to three top five spots including a runner-up finish, which was good enough to earn fourth place honors. Wayne Robertson towed from his Canisteo, NY, shop to race with the "bold and best" at LVS for each of the six 2001 events. Robertson used his great run in the season opener, where he finished third, to propel him to fifth in the points battle. Ted Pierce of North Chili, NY, Ted Ingalls of Cuba, NY, Brandon Tolon of Erie, PA, "Quick" Rick Tingue of Machias, NY, and Randy Carlson of Randolph, NY, rounded out the top ten in the very popular street stock division.

School Buses- Kenny Foster from Great Valley, NY, was crowned the LVS School Bus champion for 2001, putting together a memorable season in which he never finished out of the top three. Ron Foster from Steamburg, NY, Ray Wright from Little Valley, Wayne Osgood, and Herbie Foster from Little Valley, completed the top five in the school bus championship series.

Big Block DIRT Modifieds- The Bicknell Racing Products / Hoosier Racing Tires / Sunoco Race Fuels DIRT Modified Tour made its first ever visit on August 25 and produced what many believe to be the best race of the year. Rex King of Ashtabula, Ohio, recovered from an early race tangle that resulted in a pit stop and then roared past 24 fellow competitors to win his first and only race on the Tour. King lead Dave Murdick of Slippery Rock, PA, and Jeff Hoffman of Franklin, PA, to Johnny Powell's checkered flag in a scintillating finish, which saw less than two car lengths separate the three at the line.

358 DIRT Modifieds- "Mr. Small Block," Pete Bicknell of St. Catharines, Ontario, took $2000 back to Canada after his win in the September 8th Syracuse / Victoria qualifier. Curt Van Pelt drove Dennis Shutt's TEO to runner-up honors behind Bicknell and in front of Niagara Falls, NY, driver Sam Crogan. Rick Richner of Niagara Fall, NY, and Ulysses, PA, speedster Lyle Sherwood rounded out the top five finishers on NAPA Night.

ADRC Midgets- Ray Bull won almost everywhere that ARDC raced in 2001 and LVS was no different. The mighty midgets have a great history at LVS, going all the way back to the 1940's when that form of racing was the standard for many of the great county fairgrounds race tracks in this country.

Empire Super Sprints- Two ESS shows were presented at LVS in 2001. All-time win leader, Mike Woodring, of nearby Eden, NY, won the April show for winged wonders on his way to another ESS championship. The final 2001ESS point race was held in September before another standing room only crowd who watched Granby, Connecticut's Scott Holcomb record the victory.

2002- For 2002 the specials only racing facility's schedule will be enhanced to eight events from the six-event schedule conducted in prior years. The eight-event schedule is complete, but waiting for closure on a couple sanctioning organizations contracts before it can be announced. What can be stated for 2002 is that LVS Promoter Gary Montgomery plans to have the alcohol burning feather weight super late models, the ground pounding 900 horsepower big block DIRT modifieds, the fleet 358 DIRT modifieds, the beautiful Winston Cup look alike cars from the DIRT Motorsports Pro Stock division, and "America's Real Race Cars" the fuel injected winged sprint cars from the Empire Super Sprint organization all sharing event billing with the LVS Super Stocks and the LVS Street Stocks which will be in competition at each event for the upcoming season. The wild and crazy School Buses will also return for special events in 2002.

Little Valley Speedway is located on the Cattaraugus County Fairgrounds in Little Valley, New York. Little Valley is on State Route 353 eight miles north of Interstate 86 Exit #20 [Salamanca] westbound and twelve miles northeast of Interstate 86 Exit #16 [Randolph] eastbound. From the Buffalo area LVS is accessed off State Route 242 10 miles southwest of Ellicottville / Route 219. The Speedway office phone is 315-536-3728 or 716-938-9146 [race day].

- www.littlevalleyspeedway.com

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About this article
Series Midget , Sprint , Stock car
Drivers Ray Bull