Selinsgrove Speedway Opperman Memorial update

4/1/02, Selinsgrove, PA -- With under a month to go before the running of the inaugural Jan Opperman Memorial for 410 sprint cars on April 28, Selinsgrove Speedway officials continue to embellish the night. Meant to honor the 1973 track champion,...

4/1/02, Selinsgrove, PA -- With under a month to go before the running of the inaugural Jan Opperman Memorial for 410 sprint cars on April 28, Selinsgrove Speedway officials continue to embellish the night. Meant to honor the 1973 track champion, the 30-lap memorial will kickoff the four-date Middleswarth Potato Chips Susquehanna Valley 410 Sprint series at the speedway.

After last month's announcement that a $10,000 challenge will be posted, the speedway will remember one of the sports all-time greats when it presents an extensive pictorial and statistical biographical display prior to the memorial. Opperman shifted his focus to Indy Racing in 1974 and the presentation will focus on his entire career.

Former promoter Jack Gunn first brought California transplant Opperman to Selinsgrove Speedway in April of 1970. Gunn partnered with Etters's businessman Harold Hank to put Opperman behind the wheel.

At the helm of the Hank's Auto Parts No. 4, Opperman drove to six wins in the area in '70, two of which came at Selinsgrove. In his first appearance at the track, Opperman drove to a runnerup finish behind Mitch Smith.

At present, Opperman's No. 4 has been restored by Eastern Museum of Motor Racing president Larry Stoner of Carlisle and Stoner will trek north with the car for the memorial. Also on display will be Al Hamilton's No. 77 as currently driven by Lance Dewease. Opperman piloted the Hamilton Special intermittently between 1974 and 1976 while recording three victories. Dewease will sign autographs from 4:45 to 5:15 p.m.

Also on the agenda will be the area's first offering of "Living Where The Thunder Hides, Jan Opperman's Life Story and Ministry." Authored by Jack Albinson and published by Witness Productions, the 128-page account of what Opperman believed and spent his life sharing with others is the fourth major publication on his life. Limited quantities will be available at the speedway on April 27 and 28 with a portion of the proceeds going to the Jan Opperman Fund.

Last month, Middleswarth Potato Chips of Middleburg and Lash Service Center of Beaver Springs joined with the historic oval to post "The $10,000 Chip Challenge" for the late April contest. In order to be claimed one of the scheduled front row starters must opt to start at the rear of the field and then proceed to win the memorial. If the challenge is not claimed, the winner will receive $3,000.

In addition, former Opperman car owners Luke "Dick" Bogar Jr. and Hamilton announced their involvement. Bogar, owner of Opperman's championship No. 99, will distribute $99.00 to the winner of each heat event as well as the dash and to the night's fast qualifier. Bogar will also pay $20.00 to the leader of each circuit in the 30-lap memorial. Hamilton will pay $77.00 to each of the second place finishers in the heats and the dash.

The Opperman Memorial includes the Super Sportsman and carries a raindate of June 2. It will be part of a huge weekend at Selinsgrove as the speedway hosts its Second Annual Pack The Track Night on April 27, featuring free general admission to fans. Gates for the Opperman tribute will open at 4 p.m. with hot laps slated for 5:30.

The Middleswarth Series returns to the speedway on Sunday, July 7 when the oval hosts the final leg of Pennsylvania Speedweek. The event includes the weekly 358 sprint cars and carries a July 8 raindate.

Labor Day finds another open wheel double header scheduled at the speedway when along with the Super Sportsman, the series returns for an evening program.

The series climaxes on Saturday, September 14. On tap will be the 20th Anniversary Alexander Family Dealerships Sprint Car Open, featuring both the 410 and 358 sprint cars. The final show of the season at Selinsgrove, the Open is raindated for September 15.

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