Path Valley to host National Champions event

Path Valley Welcomes Return of National Champions March 26 Spring Run, PA_ Two years ago Johnstown's Jim Young raced to the Valvoline Cup National Championship in his Predator 600cc micro sprint but gave up the Path Valley Speedway Park ...

Path Valley Welcomes Return of National Champions March 26

Spring Run, PA_ Two years ago Johnstown's Jim Young raced to the Valvoline Cup National Championship in his Predator 600cc micro sprint but gave up the Path Valley Speedway Park championship to paraplegic Jim Brookens of Fayetteville.

Last year Sean Good of Middleburg won the Valvoline Cup in micro sprints with help from his six Path Valley 270cc wins, but the track championship went to Brian Walker of Somerset in 270's and to Young in the 600cc class.

When the 2004 Path Valley Speedway Park season opens March 26, senior race director John Winsett expects the 600 Sprints to quickly become the headline feature division with all of the above veteran drivers racing against such talented and nationally known stars as Mike Dicely of Hyper Chassis and the track's only racer with championships in two consecutive years, Donnie Hendershot of Clear Spring MD.

"We've watched the very best micro racers in the whole country for the past several years here," Winsett said, "and this year they still have the likes of Rodney Glass, Jimmy Callahan and Duane Harbaugh to challenge them." Callahan, of McVeytown, has only one prior track championship despite his many wins. Harbaugh, out of Hedgesville WV, began the season with three wins in Florida, and Glass, from nearby Ft. Loudon, is making a habit of winning the season opener.

"You should note that the micro drivers aren't our only national champions, because Harry Garber is back to race against Allen Felix in the Legends Cars and they both have INEX national titles under their helmets," Winsett added. Felix was last year's track champion while Garber took the track title in 2002 and then took a year off. In the Dwarf Cars that race when the Legends are off, track champion Mike Hay of Somerset regularly beat past national Dwarf champion Lynn Knepper in 2003.

In addition, Path Valley welcomes the return of several past and present national amateur motorcycle champions among the many classes and age groups of AMA motorcycle racers at the track every other Saturday night.

Every other week the full size PA 305 Sprints visit Path Valley to challenge for the top class honors and this year Scott Ellerman, of Landisburg, will have his hands full. With consistent front finishes every week and a sprinkling of wins; Ellerman has been the track's 305 champion four years in a row. This season young Chris Meleason of Carlisle and Von McGee of Spring Run would appear to be his top competitors, but young Joey Hershey of Greencastle started racing every week and winning more frequently at the end of last season and distinguished himself in the group's first 2004 race.

"Ellerman's new bright red #115 is a beauty," Winsett said, "but his competition gets better every year." He noted that the 305 roster has grown to more than 40 sprint teams including youngsters with national kart championships like Meleason. "We're going to see some great sprint racing this season," he predicted.

Meanwhile, among the stock cars that bring big teams and lots of fans to the track every week, all three 2003 champions and top challengers from the Shippensburg area are returning. Defending thunder car champion John Rasp will try to hold off Melvin Bigler, Ray Middaugh, and past champion Terry Smith.

In the mini stocks Jerry Bard will have his hands full with the likes of Gary Dehart, Kevin Thomas, past Rookie of the Year Kyle Wiser and past repeat champion Ricky Harper. Young Wiser, from Orbisonia, demonstrated a new sliding style in a recent practice session, but the thunder cars also feature several new drivers who have moved up from the Strictly Stock junkyard classes.

"Either four-cylinder class could give us a different winner every week, with talented and experienced drivers like Frankie Gordon and Kory Washinger just waiting for an opening to take the lead every week. Look at the top 20 in the mini stocks and any one of them is capable of winning," Winsett suggested.

An unknown factor this year is the V-8 Street Stocks that will race every other week when the 305 Sprints are off. Randy Patterson of Shippensburg won last year's title by more than 100 points. The quality and quantity of his current year competition is a total unknown because none came to the pre-season Bug Day practice sessions.

"Remember that the Friday night sprints and stock cars are only one part of our overall racing program," Winsett said. "The Burris karts and quads based on Bug Day numbers look real strong this year, and one of these years our Strictly Stock Saturday night show will be bigger than our Friday night races."

This season's first Strictly Stock race is March 27.

The first race for the four-cylinder, six-cylinder and V-8 Strictly Stock cars is Saturday night, March 27. Joining the low budget stock cars this season will be the Cyclones that raced occasionally last season. "Interest in low-cost racing is growing in all areas and we expect full fields in all three classes this season," said business manager Vicki Flowers of Two Wheel Promotions of the former Junk Car class.

The Strictly Stocks alternate with Saturday night motorcycles and the first Flat Track race for AMA Motorcycles and Quads is Saturday night, April 3, and the bikes and quads will generally alternate with the Strictly Stocks every other Saturday night. The karts in up to 20 classes and the four-wheelers race every Saturday afternoon. Gates open at 10 a.m. Saturday mornings and again at 5 p.m. Saturday evenings.

While racing thrills take all the notice, Two Wheel Promotions continues to improve the Path Valley racing facility. This year's special work includes adding more clay to the track as it can be worked into the existing surface, continuing to rebuild the grandstands, and continuing to expand the pits area to hold more racecars. "Little things like repairs to the plumbing and wiring, improving the lights and improving the sound system are requirements the people expect and hardly worth mentioning," Winsett said.

The Path Valley Speedway Park is located in Spring Run PA a mile north on PA Route 641 from the intersection with PA Route 75, halfway between Port Royal and Hagerstown. It is five miles east from the Willow Hill Exit 14 of the PA Turnpike. The new phone number at the track is 717-349-7111. For information on the 2004 schedule and rules, race teams and fans can consult our website at www.pathvalley.com or they can email Two Wheel Promotions at twp@pathvalley.com.

-pvsp-

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Series Kart
Drivers Chris Meleason , Von McGee